Five Cats and Three Women

Days passed, then weeks and months. The cat settled in. Albert tried to like it, but there wasn’t much about the cat to like. It was loud, demanding and unaffectionate. It had no loyalty and no sense of personal responsibility. The best you could say for the thing was that it was well-groomed, cleaning itself often, even compulsively, especially in the summer. He kept the cat for something like twelve years, living alone with it in the house he used to share with his wife.

A guy might reasonably expect a cat of this advanced age to mellow out, quit sprinting from the room every time he sat in a chair, stop sniffing its food bowl for ten minutes before its first date. But no. Like a human being, the cat grew entrenched in its bad habits and developed ones that, though entirely new, were absolutely true to form: for example refusing to use its litter box, instead demanding to be let outside so that it could relieve itself in somebody’s garden (as if that were somehow cleaner), and the cat did this many times each night. At the height of this routine he was getting perhaps three hours of sleep a night. His dreams were full of monstrously distorted cat sounds and he half-woke on several occasions during those hours to respond to door-opening requests that proved to be false alarms.
Sleep mattered to Albert; he was a mailman, he had to get up early, he needed the energy to walk.

So, on his day off one week, he went down to the hardware store and bought himself a heavy-duty moulded-plastic per portal. He pulled the basement door off its hinges and jigsawed the appropriate-sized hole, then screwed in the portal and spent much of the next several days directing the mewing cat through it; a thankless task, as it extended its claws when picked up and coiled itself into a ball, so that Albert was forced to push it through the opening, suffering multiple bleeding wounds on his hands and arms in the process. But in the end the project was a success. The cat seemed to relish its newfound independence.


1. Albert’s cat was
A. loving and loyal
B. dirty.
C. gentle and quiet.
D. none of the above

2. The older Albert’s cat grew,
A. the more unshakable its bad habits became.
B. the gentler it became.
C. the fonder it became of its food.
D. the more it came to resemble its master.

3. Sleep was
A. of no importance to Albert.
B. essential to Albert’s cat.
C. of great importance to Albert on account of his job.
D. all of the above.

4. Albert got scratches on his hands and arms because
A. he tried to push his cat through a hole he’d made in the basement door.
B. his cat got into a fight with another cat.
C. he repeatedly maltreated his cat.
D. he forced his cat to coil into a ball.

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