Finnian Burnett

Author, Educator, Cat Person

I’m doing FlashMo this month – a month of writing a flash story every day. The purpose is just to write every day. I’ll post the ones I don’t intend to submit anywhere here.

The prompt today was “Write about a man who has three cats.” As you can see, I was inspired by the prompt, but decided to take it my own way. This is a first draft, written at 7 AM November 2, 2021.

The Temporary Cat

“No cats,” Toby muttered, as he pulled a shaking, muck-covered mess from the storm drain. He hated cats, despised them, and had lived quite happily without them since Linda left, taking Baxter with her. Baxter was her cat, they both knew, and there was no question he would go with Linda even though Toby cleaned his litter and fed him little spoonfuls of foul-smelling cat food on a dainty plate every morning and sometimes slipped him extra kitty treats when Linda wasn’t home.

“I hate cats,” Toby told the shivering thing and it neither responded nor shrank away but huddled in a bundle in Toby’s big hand and somehow, after lying in the street to pull the thing from the drain, Toby felt a certain obligation to clean it up and give it some food. “Tomorrow, I’ll take you to the shelter,” he said aloud, but the thing looked up at him and blinked the way Baxter used to blink at him when Toby spoke, even though Linda insisted the cat couldn’t understand what Toby was saying.

At home, he dug out an old can of Baxter’s food and spooned a tiny bit onto a plate. “Don’t feed the cat on my fine China,” Linda’s voice screamed in his memory. The little cat sniffed for a moment before ravenously scarfing down the food. “Not too much,” Toby said. “You might get sick.”

He gave the cat a little water and while it drank, he rubbed it down with a wet dishcloth. “I’m cleaning you up so you have a better chance of getting adopted.” When the cat finished drinking, Toby wrapped it in a clean towel and picked it up. “I’m not keeping you,” Toby said. “I don’t like cats.” The cat looked up at him from his towel-cocoon. One tiny paw escaped the bundle and rested on Toby’s cheek. “Not keeping you,” Toby whispered again as he bent his head to kiss the cat’s face.

5 thoughts on “Flash Fiction – The Temporary Cat

  1. Scott Harris says:

    I love this short story and have to assume that the prompt- being more of a proclamation than a catalyst- implies that Toby will repeat this experience twice more. I hope that eventually a prompt suggests/demands that you write about a man who co-habitates with eight felines. Again, I love this story and look forward to hearing how their relationship blossoms.

    1. Finnian Burnett says:

      I feel a story about a man with eight cats is a great idea and I will definitely name at least one of the cats “Scott Harris” when I write it.

      1. polecat23 says:


  2. Cheri says:

    Okay, my eyes leaked a little bit.

    1. Finnian Burnett says:

      (Spoilers) He keeps the kitten.

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