(Based on a fable from India)

Stepan Chapman

Near the city of Vidasha, there grew a great tree. A field mouse, a wild cat, and an owl all lived in the tree.
The mouse lived in a dry place under a root.
The cat lived halfway up the trunk.
The owl had a nest in the highest branches.
The cat hunted by day, and the owl by night. They both kept an eye out for mice, because they both liked to eat mice. The owl also kept watch for the cat. The cat’s sharp claws were just as dangerous to an owl as to a mouse.
As for the mouse, she lived in fear of both her neighbors, day and night. Her neighbors never saw her, and that was just how she wanted things to stay.
One day around sunset, the mouse was in a field, looking for something to eat. She heard the cat snarling.
Then she saw why he was snarling. He was caught in a trap made of rope. A farmer had set it in some tall weeds. The cat was trying to chew through the rope that held his leg, but his teeth weren’t the right  sort of teeth for the job.
The mouse hid in the weeds, with her small black eyes wide open and her ears angled out. Seeing the cat in a trap made her feel very happy. She felt so happy, she did a little dance among the weeds.
While the mouse was watching the cat, the owl was perched on a branch high above them. The owl blinked its big yellow eyes and thought about how good mice taste. It spread its wings and got ready to swoop.

Why does the mouse do a dance?
– She has made a new friend.
– She is glad her enemy has been trapped.
– She likes to dance in the nighttime.

Right then the mouse caught sight of it. There was no dark hole she could run to. Whichever way she ran, the owl would drop down and get her. But perhaps there was one place that was safe from the owl.
The mouse took a deep breath, scampered into the tall weeds, and ran straight up to the cat.
“I got here as fast as I could,” she said. “I ran all the way. Since we two are neighbors, of course I was sad when I heard about your problem. Please allow me to bite through the rope that’s around your leg. As a neighbor, it’s the least I can do.”
The cat was surprised by this offer. “Oh yes please!” he yowled. “Please free me from this trap little mouse! If you can do so, I will be grateful now and forever.”
“Not at all, not at all,” said the mouse. “It’s nothing, really. I’ll get started.”
The moon rose in the night sky. The mouse chewed at the rope and chewed at the rope and chewed at the rope a while longer.
“How long will this take?” asked the cat.
The mouse took a quick look at the owl. “It could take all night,” she said.

Why does the mouse want to help the cat?
– So Cat won’t be caught by the owl.
– So Cat won’t get caught by the farmer.
– So Mouse won’t get caught by the owl.

The cat sighed. And high above, the owl sighed as well. Hungry as it was for a taste of mouse, it wasn’t going anywhere near that wild cat.

The sun rose in the morning sky. The owl yawned and flew off to its nest. All at once the rope gave way to the mouse’s tiny teeth. The cat was free.
“Oh thank you, mouse, thank you a thousand times,” said the cat. “I am yours to command, little mouse, from this day forward, for I owe you my life.”
“Yes yes,” said the mouse. “Please don’t mention it.” Then, quite suddenly, she turned tail and ran home to her burrow.
After that night, she stayed away from the cat, just as usual.
A cricket asked her why this should be so. “After all,” said the cricket, “the cat owes you his life.”
The mouse explained the situation  to the cricket.
“When the time is right,” she said, “an old enemy may become a friend. But a cat is still a cat.”

Read these sentences from the story.
The owl had a nest in the highest branches. When something is the highest, it is
full of height.                                                         like being high.
more than high.                                                   the most high.

2. But a cat is still a cat. Which answer BEST explains what this sentence means?
Enemies are also friends.
Cats will always hunt mice.
Cats will always be mean to others.
Friends are not made by helping others.

3. Why did the author write the story “The Mouse, the Owl, and the Cat”?
to teach a lesson about life
to show why cats hate mice
to tell a funny story about animals
to give facts about mice, owls, and cats

4. When did the mouse do a dance?
after she saw the owl
after she helped the cat
after she ran away from the cat
after she saw the cat in the trap

5. Based on the story, how are owls and cats ALIKE?
Both hunt at night.
Both like to eat mice.
Both hunt during the day.
Both live halfway up a tree.

6. Why did the mouse decide to help the cat?
to get rid of the trap
to be a good neighbor
to stay safe from the owl
to make friends with the cat

One thought on “MOUSE, CAT, AND OWL

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