NAIDEN KEEPS CLEAN
Naiden soon noticed that there wasn't much time between being a new cat, and being a dirty cat. It seemed to happen without him doing much at all. And all the other little cats were dirty, too, even the ones that never rolled around on the ground like he did, or poked in puddles.
"If this goes on, we will be more dirt than cat," Naiden thought.
Naiden noticed the mother cat was clean. He watched her, so he could learn what to do. She used her forepaws to clean the rest, but only after observing that they were clean to begin with.
Naiden looked at his own forepaws. They were not cleaner than the rest. He had seen the mother cat lick her paws to begin. So Naiden did likewise. The taste of dirt was not as bad as he supposed. And once the paws were clean, they seemed to know what to do, to clean the rest.
After he had learned to clean himself, Naiden watched the mother cat again, and he saw her kicking away behind at her business, to make sure all was clean there. So he did the same, with or without business, just for the joy of making the dirt fly, and then inspecting hole and pile. It was good to be a cat.
Once he'd got the hang of it, Naiden learned many things by watching. In the morning, he learned to work a stretch with forepaws extended, and in the afternoon, to sharpen his claws by wood. He learned to wreathe his body around a post seven times, and how to ensure the fleas did not interrupt him on the beat. And he learned many other things too, about the work of a cat, and what a cat does when work is over.
But it all began with cleanliness, and when he was older, and the mother cat was gone, Naiden would always remember her, and mostly remember to keep himself clean.
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