March 22, 1899

Ellie Woods loved cats.

At the tender age of five, she was introduced to her first kitten at a neighbor’s house. While she begged and pleaded with her father for a cat of her own, her father would have none of it.

After several weeks, Ellie managed to gain permission from her mother to feed a stray cat. She did this by placing a saucer with milk in the kitchen.

Each day, Ellie would feed the cat.

Soon, the cat was accompanied by a second feline, so Ellie put a dish out for that cat as well.

By the end of February, she had eleven cats coming on a daily basis.

Her mother referred to this as Ellie’s Kitten Parties, and all the mothers in the neighborhood remarked what a wonderfully sweet child she was. Soon, Ellie’s mother and the other women were beseeching Ellie’s father to allow her a cat.

Still, the man refused.

Ellie, he insisted, would not be responsible enough.

On March 22, 1899, as Ellie’s mother and father sat in the parlor, entertaining guests, an ungodly scream tore through the house.

The adults raced toward the sound, which had issued from the kitchen, and there they found Ellie Woods.

Tears of frustration fell from her eyes and saucers were knocked askew, the milk spilled across the floorboards. In her small hands, she held the lifeless body of a large, orange tom cat. Blood splattered her mouth and stained her teeth.

Mr. Woods shook his head, gently removed the cat from her hands and set it on the floor. Then, with surprising tenderness, he picked his daughter up and whispered, “I know. They don’t taste nearly as good as they look.”

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Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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