Strange things happen to you when you’re a kid.  At least they seemed strange to me when I was 5 years old.  Such was the case of a strange and sad kitty event that we talked about for years after.

My Sad Kitty Tale

My family lived in a small house, in a very modest neighborhood. We were a young family comprised of my dad, mom, my middle brother and one on the way. The house was very old but well kept.  A coal-burning furnace heated our house.  We live on the main floor of the house.  The basement was pretty much dedicated to the furnace and coal storage.  In a small area of the basement, there was the washing machine and a workshop where Dad would putter around.  The coal truck would come every week with a load of coal. My brother and I would watch in fascination, as the coal would go down the coal shut to basement next to the furnace.

Sad Kitty,

It was fun watching dad work the furnace and stoked the fire.  The furnace had an automatic feed, but every now and then Dad felt the need to check it and poke around.  Part of keeping the furnace in good order was keeping a small window vent open when the furnace was in full swing.   The furnace would creak, rattle and crank, making all kinds of weird noises.  It was almost as if it were alive. Add that all together, for us, the basement was a place of mystery.

The window vent would pose a problem at times if it were left open a little too wide.  Part of the problem what the grate the was meant o keep out the creators needed repair, something my dad hadn’t taken the time to fix. Every now a then a squirrel or field mouse would find itself in the basement.  We loved it when that happened because we had the chance to watch dad capture and release the critter to the outside.

Sad Kitty,

It was particularly harsh winter and the furnace was blazing away.  Because of that the furnace needed more attention than was usual.  The window vent had to be just so.   So up and down the basement stairs dad would go to attend to the furnace, with my brother and I not far behind.  We thought it was great fun.  I’m not so sure my Dad thought the same.

One night just before bedtime, off we traipsed to watch dad do his thing with the furnace.  When we can down the stairs we were able to make out a small black and white sad kitty in the far corner on dad’s workbench.   My 5-year-old heart melted.  I really wanted a little kitty.  Dad Sad Kitty, findingourwaynow.comwouldn’t have any of it and hurried us upstairs and grumble under his breath about critters getting in the basement.  He could hear him from upstairs making all kinds of racket, clanging, banging and shouting of all kinds.  All I could think was that poor little kitty.  Then it was quiet, and we heard him rush up the stairs bound down the hall to my parent’s bedroom.  Out it came in a huff with a shotgun in hand.  My eyes went wide.

Sad Kitty, findingourwaynow.comHe rush back down to the basement and then there ensured more noise and then it was quiet again; for a moment at least.  Then KABOOM.  I was horrified.  I started to cry.  I just knew that dad had shot that kitty.  We heard the basement door open to outside.  My brother and I rushed to the window, overlooking the backyard. There we saw dad holding a shovel WAY out in front of him with a lifeless black and white kitty at the shovels end.  I cried.  Mom tried to comfort me and explain, but I wouldn’t hear it.  Dad quickly buried the dead kitty and rush back to the house.  In all the panic and upset I hadn’t noticed the smell.   It was wafting up from the basement into the house.  It stunk so bad that I choked and had to hold my breath.  When Dad came into the room, it was worse. That was when I heard the word skunk.

We had to leave the house for a few days to air it out.  Dad had to take a few baths in some stuff to make him smell better. After we returned home dad immediately repaired the basement window grate. I still didn’t quite get that the black and white kitty had caused all the trouble until my dad sat down to tell me about the kitty that wasn’t a kitty.

Sad Kitty,

What did my sad kitty tale teach me?  Never jump to conclusions.  Listen to what is said.  It can give you some very valuable insight.  In my case, it was learning the different between a kitty and a skunk.

Do you have a family story that has stayed with you for years after?  One that made you sad and laugh at the same time?  I would love to hear it.

Life’s journey continues…

If you liked this, check out Crawdad Hunting, Shifting Gears and Springhouse Frog. 

PS: What are some of your favorite stories? If you would like to write a guest post about an experience, we would love to hear from you.

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  • Broadcasting Sunny

    Your dad took out Pepe le pue ;)

    I’ve been so busy this summer, when I saw your story blog it put a smile on my face. I love listening to the story in the background and I love the images – I just love the cozy home feel :)

    • Susan P. Cooper

      Yep, he did. He actually hadn’t meant to but the buckshot hit just so and the “kitty” was a goner.

      Thank you so much for your kind words. I am doing a happy dance right now. :-)

  • Leora Wenger

    Your story makes me think about my own experiences with animals. I once had a bat in the house when no one else was home (I was an older teen and it was the first time my parents had left me alone). I also wonder how my daughter would tell stories about the animals we have caught and released in our backyard, including a skunk. We learned not to set the trap at night.

    • Susan P. Cooper

      Hi Leora, It would be a fun exercise to give them a chance to tell the stories from their perspective, don’t you think?

      My poor dad hadn’t wanted to kill the skunk, just scare it out. Years later and in retrospect he had said he should have put some food just outside the window to entice it out, but he was to much in the moment and buckshot hit it just right. I did get my kitty a few weeks later. :-)

  • Cheryl Therrien

    OK That was a really good story. I knew what it was before you did the big reveal. :)

    • Susan P. Cooper

      Thanks Cheryl, It was hard to hide the facts… LOL

  • HomeJobsbyMOM

    Aww poor skunk. No wonder the place had to air out. That had to smell awful. I think I my son would have freaked out. He wouldn’t understand.

    • Susan P. Cooper

      Hi Krystle, It was pretty memorable all around. My for dad had not mean to kill the poor thing. He had a devil of a time convincing me of that, but the memory of the smell sure did help with that… LOL.

  • Patricia Weber

    Fun story to share with us Susan. Thanks! Since I couldn’t imagine any father (or mother) shooting a kitten, I knew you must not be seeing what you were seeing and your thinking was not reality based! Living in several areas where we were close to the woods, I know all too well that skunk scent! Thanks.

    • Susan P. Cooper

      Hi Patricia, As a five year old I had not concept of a skunk versus a kitten. To me it was a cat. The smell, how ever was one I have never quite forgotten… LOL

  • Jacs Henderson

    Lovely story Susan, just the furnace sounded exciting! – I can’t say I’ve ever encountered a skunk, so never knew the smell was so bad you had to evacuate or that you would shoot them! Quite an experience for a 5 year old, but a memorable way to learn a lesson!
    Just love all your pictures – they really bring your story to life :)

    • Susan P. Cooper

      Hi Jacs, The furnace was fun. We loved listening to it giving our imagination rise. My poor dad was just trying to frighten it and didn’t mean to send him to his maker… LOL. If you never smelled skunk then it’s hard to imagine how it really smells. Suffice it to say you haven;t missed anything. :D

      • Jacs Henderson

        Your poor dad! bet he felt like a good cry too ;)

        • Susan P. Cooper

          I’m sure he did. I was so wrapped up in my upset I honestly don’t remember. :-)

  • Along Came Mary

    Awww! Poor baby Susan, & little skunk :)

    • Susan P. Cooper

      Hi Mary, it was a sad thing. The hard part for my dad was he did’t mean to kill the skunk, only to scare it out. The buckshot hit the skunk just right. Sigh. :-)

  • Jeri Walker-Bickett

    Oh, that was a good one! At first I was like why would your dad shoot a little kitty? Gotta love twists like that :)

    • Susan P. Cooper

      Thanks Jeri, :-) Actually he hadn’t intended to kill the poor skunk. He was just trying to scare it out of the basement but the buckshot hit him just right and he was a goner. :-)

  • Arleen Harry

    What a story. Our backyard is full of squirrels and my husband traps them. He doesn’t hurt them, they just go into a cage where he has food. One day my son saw the squirrel in the cage and couldn’t believe that he was stuck it there. My husband told my son to jump into the truck and he was going for a ride with the squirrel. My husband let the squirrel go into the woods. At the end of the day our son was so happy that the squirrel could run around in the woods. So everyday he begged my husband to trap a squirrel because he thought the one in the woods would be lonely.

    • Susan P. Cooper

      Thanks Arleen, That is a very cute story about your son and the squirrels. Did your husband catch another one for him for that purpose? :-)

      • Arleen Harry

        Yes he did. He caught 3 more and told him that now the squirrel had the whole family, the mother,the father and brother and sister.

        • Susan P. Cooper

          That is so great. What a good dad. :-)

  • Jo-Anne

    I have always wondered how a person gets the skunk smell off their body, and how wrong it is that skunks look like cats in bad light or to young eyes…..

    • Susan P. Cooper

      Hi Jo-Anne, It isn’t easy that’s for sure. My dad used tomato juice. Lot’s and lots of tomato juice… LOL. They do look like kitties if you’re not paying attention, don’t they? :D

  • Elizabeth Scott

    Susan – I can imagine you sitting there with your mom tears streaming down your face. David read the story but then I showed him the podcast and he was amazed at the art. He loved all the background sounds you add. Love it as always.

    • Susan P. Cooper

      Hi Elizabeth, I was not to be consoled until the smell… LOL. I am so glad David enjoyed the podcast and my drawings. :-)

  • Mommywithaplan

    This story was so cute! Love the graphics in the video. The lesson of never jump to conclusions has been a constant lesson in my home so this helped relay that message. Love your blog!

    • Susan P. Cooper

      Hi There Mommy With A Plan and welcome, That is a way cool, thank you and it pleases me to no end that it helped the way it did. :-)

  • Lorraine Marie Reguly

    Susan, I have a few kitty stories, but they are long enough for a podcast of their own! Speaking of which, how do you get the graphics for your podcasts? Maybe you can email me, and share? My email is

    I’d also like to personally invite you to read

    • Susan P. Cooper

      Hi Lorrine, Thanks so much. You may be surprised. I bet you have a few that would be greatly entertaining. I create my drawing using iDraw on my Mac and iPad. The software I use is Camtasia 2 :-)

  • StephB

    Awesome podcast. Funny, I shared this around the office and got four different interpretations of what it meant to my colleagues. Multiple lessons and a great story.

    • Susan P. Cooper

      Hi Steph and welcome. I love that you did that. I do find it so interesting what other see and how they perceive the lesson. In the end if a lesson was taught it is a good thing. BTW: what where some of their takeaways. It would be fun to hear. :-)

  • Lubna

    Cute story. I love how you remember all these things about your childhood and put them together so fabulously. We don’t have skunks in our country – thank god for that. But it’s sad the critter had to be killed, guess there was no other way out.

    • Susan P. Cooper

      Hi Lubna, I was always a very observation child. Something my mother always pointed out to me. It was so sad the it ended that way. My dad hated it but the buckshot had other plans and it couldn’t be helped. :-)

  • Jon Jefferson

    We never had a skunk but growing up we used wood burning stoves to heat our house. It seems weird to me now that my parents have a normal furnace.

    • Susan P. Cooper

      Hi Jon, You didn’t miss a thing, trust me… LOL. I can understand that. It must have been fun for you. :-)

  • Dr. Johnny Velazquez

    Hi Susan, what a beautiful story. Sorry about the skunk, but hey, who wants go through life, smelling like that! We didn’t have a furnace, but we had lots of moths. I thought they were butterflies, and I did let them in the house. Boy, was I shocked when my mom started swatting them. After explaining her behavior, it took some fast talking, before I was convinced of their destructive power. Blessings.

    • Susan P. Cooper

      Hi Johnny, Thanks so much for your kind words. That is a great story. I’ll bet you were pretty surprise to find out that the butterflies were butterflies after all. :-D

  • Susan Oakes

    Love the story and the life lesson about jumping to conclusions Susan. Luckily we do not have skunks in Australia and from what I have heard the smell is pretty rotten.

    • Susan P. Cooper

      Thanks a bunch Susan, I can honestly say you aren’t missing anything. Once you’ve smelled a skunk you never forget it. :D

  • Debra Yearwood

    Wonderful story Susan. Our minds are pretty amazing things, we can create something from nothing and unsee what’s right in front of us.

    One night not long after my husband and I moved into our current home my then three year old daughter pointed up and said, “Birdie”. It wasn’t a birdie, it was a bat. Being a city girl, I scooped up my daughter and son and ran for the basement, leaving my husband to deal with “The Bat”. While he planned his attack I found my son’s book of bats and together, my son and I looked at the images and in our imagination the bat grew to gigantic proportions. By the time my husband called us upstairs we were expecting to find a vampire bat. My husband being a reasonable person and knowing my imagination, insisted we come and face the monster bat. Suffice it to say that the first thing out of my mouth when I finally saw the bat who was alive but trapped in a net was, “Awwwwww, poor little thing.”

    Talk about jumping to conclusions. :)

    • Susan P. Cooper

      Thanks so much Debra, They really are, aren’t they? That is a great story. Bats do have a way of evoking irrational emotions. As it was with you, when you actually see them that perception just disappears. :-)

  • Krystyna Lagowski

    Oh my god, I went from being horrified to being relieved. A couple of my cats and my dog had encounters with skunks, way back in my childhood. It’s next to impossible to get rid of that smell. Your dad did the right thing, as hard as it might have seemed at the time. I can just imagine how upset you must have been! Your stories are the best : ))

    • Susan P. Cooper

      How right your are Krystyna. That is cool. That was what I hoped would happen and when the realization starts to sink in, it all becomes so clear. My poor dad had not intended to kill it but only to scare it, but it wasn’t to be. The smell was the main factor when it came to helping me see the light. :-D

  • Pat Ruppel

    I can imagine, Susan, how heartbroken you were to think your Dad had killed a kitten. Isn’t it funny how those things stick with us to this day and seem as alive and real as when it happened. Even then, when your Dad told you what it was, you still remembered it that vividly. Great story, Susan. Loved it.

    • Susan P. Cooper

      Thanks Pat. Things do have a way of staying with us don’t they? My poor dad had a very hard time with it all because he knew how it would affect me. In the end I understood. :-)

      • Pat Ruppel

        He sounded like a very compassionate man and hated to see you hurt and crying. It must have been very hard for him.
        In my house, growing up, we had an old coal stove (converted into an oil burner) like you talked about in the basement. Through our window, instead of delivering coal, they would snake in a big, long hose they would hook up to fill up the tank with some type of oil for the oil burner.
        I can remember the old dusty smells — old memories. I don’t think they have them in basements anymore. Boy, how times have changed.

        • Susan P. Cooper

          He was and I do miss him. That is cool, I do remember those too. Boy haven’t they thou? :-)

          • Pat Ruppel

            Mmm – so good to have memories! Thanks for the memories, Susan. :-)

          • Susan P. Cooper

            That it is. :-)

  • Dan Meyers

    Great job on telling the story, I really felt like I was in the coal-filled basement with you! Great lesson also, I was really wondering about your dad because you’ve told so many good stories about him… was relieved when I learned it was just a skunk :)

    • Susan P. Cooper

      Hi Dan, That’s cool that I could pull you into the story that way. My poor dad was really upset that he wasn’t able to scare the poor skunk out of the basement. It also took him weeks to start to smell more normal. :-)

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