I was climbing up the stairs at home and heard some rustling behind our bedroom door. I already knew what it was. Our cat Felix has an affinity for money. Shiny coins don’t interest him. It is paper money that he is crazy about. Maybe it is the scent that attracts him. Or the interesting design. Whatever the case, whenever I empty pockets of loose change and a few bills after a shopping trip and leave them on the dresser, I can usually find him there later, flipping through the money with his paws. He can keep it up indefinitely. I think of him as a rich fat cat who loves to play with money.
Our family has always had an unusual relationship with money. My father never really trusted banks, so socked away piles of banknotes in odd places around the house. When he passed away, we searched a long time before finding his hidden cash reserves. My mother is just as frugal, having had her family home destroyed during World War II. We call her a pack rat because she lets nothing go to waste. She constantly squirrels away wads of money in different places to make sure that she’s covered in any eventuality.
One spring day my 90-year-old mother decided to splurge and go for a one-day sightseeing bus trip with her friends. Without mentioning anything to us, she hid a quantity of cash and jewelry before heading out. On her return in the evening, she called us in a panic because she couldn’t find her stash.
We drove to her place immediately to calm her down and get the whole story. She related that she didn’t think that she had been burglarized. She was just so excited about her trip that she had absentmindedly hidden her treasure trove and now couldn’t remember where she put it.
We helped my mother search her home for hours, yet came up with nothing. She was just too good at hiding things. We tried to prompt her memory with questions, but she still drew a blank. The stash had to be hidden somewhere, but was going to take some doing to find. We promised to return the next day to continue the search.
My wife has a sharp mind that works differently than mine does, so we often brainstorm ideas for innovative solutions. On our way home, she wondered out loud if we should bring Felix back with us when we continued the search the next day. Because I thought that she was kidding, I laughed out loud at the idea. But once I realized she was serious; it didn’t seem like such a bad idea after all. He was nuts about money and had a nose that was much more sensitive than ours to sniff things out. We really had nothing to lose at that point.
So, the next day we drove back to my mother’s place with Felix in tow. He was curious about where this outing was taking him and quite excited once we arrived. My mother spoils all of our pets, so they love her madly and enjoy spending time at her place.
Once we opened up the cupboards and closets, it wasn’t long before he began sniffing around in this previously forbidden territory. He couldn’t believe his luck, being able to roam and dig at will. My mother has household rules and usually never allows pets in certain areas of her house, so this was an unexpected treat for him. Soon he was scratching at a shoe box in the bottom of the closet. Sure enough, when we opened it, we found a wad of banknotes hidden under the shoes inside.
And so, it went. There was cash hidden in a cereal box in the kitchen cupboard. More banknotes turned up hidden between folded sheets in the bedroom dresser. Before long, Felix unearthed a half dozen mini stashes of cash. It was all money my mother had hidden over time and forgotten about. We knew she liked to hide a little cash, but never suspect she had hidden so much. Thanks to Felix, we were recovering a lot of money. We still hadn’t unearthed the big kahuna, but now became more confident with every new find.
Giving Felix a much-deserved break and taking one ourselves, we made some coffee and slumped onto the couch to enjoy it with some cookies. The seating seemed a little lumpy, so we tried adjusting the pillows. By now, Felix had jumped up to join us and was frantically flailing at the cushions. Finally, we had accidentally discovered the motherlode, zipped into the back of the couch cushions.
Rejuvenated by our successful treasure hunt and the refreshments, we handed over the goods to my grateful mother, who faithfully promised to write down every hiding spot from then on, whenever she hid something of value.
Felix had enjoyed his day, performing admirably, while showing just what a smart cat is capable of. As a reward, house rules at my mother’s place were loosened. From that day forward, Felix was now allowed to nap on the couch and could even sneak onto her bed when she went to sleep. Both mom and Felix were quite happy with their new arrangements.
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