All of the mice met in council to discuss the best way to secure against attacks of the cat. After several suggestions were debated a mouse of experience and standing got up and said: "I think I have hit upon a plan which will ensure our future safety." We will fasten a bell around the neck of our enemy, the cat, which by its tinkling will warn us of her approach."
As the proposal was being applauded, a mouse who was even wiser stood up on his feet and said: "It is easy to propose impossible solutions. I agree that it is an admirable plan, but who is going to bell the cat?"
As legend goes, the cat once caught a mouse and was about to eat the tasty little morsel when the mouse chided the cat for her bad manners. "What?" cried the mouse, "You're going to eat me without first washing your face and hands?"
The mortified cat immediately dropped the mouse and began washing, and the clever little mouse promptly scooted off. Ever since, cats have not washed up before dinner.
According to an old Polish legend, many springtimes ago a mother cat was crying at the bank of the river in which her kittens were drowning. The willows at the river's edge longed to help her, so they swept their long graceful branches into the waters to rescue the tiny kittens who had fallen into the river while chasing butterflies. The kittens gripped on tightly to their branches and were safely brought to shore. Each springtime since, goes the legend, the willow branches sprout tiny fur-like buds at their tips where the tiny kittens once clung.
Another version goes:
A farmer, annoyed that his barn cat had just given birth to another litter of kittens, decided that his farm had enough mouths to feed. He put the newborn babies in a feed sack, went down to the riverbank and threw the kittens in the water to be rid of them. In the turbulence of the fast moving river, the tie on the sack became loosened which set the kittens adrift. On the riverbank witnessing this horrible sight, the distressed mother cat wept loud and pitifully.
A cluster of willow bushes, along the riverbank downstream, heard her cries and in sympathy held out their branches like mooring lines. This enabled the desperately floundering kittens to grab hold as they drifted by. Now in mythology, when the life we are assigned on earth is doomed but because the spirit is eternal, myth dictates that the spirit can live on but must be in another earthly form. Because the kittens were destined to die, but their spirits were saved, they then became part of the willows which had saved them. Ever since then, in Spring, the willow-without-a-flower decks itself out in gentle velvet buds that feel to the fingers like the silky coat of a small cat. These buds are known today as catkins and remarkably, in every country, these soft willow trees are named after cats.
The fox was boasting to the cat of his clever devices for escaping his enemies. "I have a whole bag of tricks which contains 100 ways of escaping my enemies," he said.
"I have only one," said the cat, "but I can generally manage with that."
Just at that moment they heard the cry of a pack of hounds coming towards them, and the cat immediately scampered up a tree and hid herself in its branches.
"This is my plan," said the cat."What are you going to do?"
The fox thought and thought as he looked in his bag of tricks, and while he was debating the hounds came nearer and nearer. At last the fox in his confusion was caught by the hounds and soon killed by the huntsmen.
Miss Puss, who had been looking on, said: "Better one safe way than 100 on which you can not reckon."