When a cat and a mouse move in together, we start to worry. Rarely these kind of stories end well for the mouse…
Cat and Mouse in Partnership is a Brothers Grimm fairy tale about a cat and a mouse. The cat convinces the mouse to live together and to save a pot of fat for the winter. Secretly the cat eats the whole pot of fat and when the mouse finds out, she gets eaten too.
Cat and mouse prepare for winter
A certain cat had made the acquaintance of a mouse. She said so much to her about the great love and friendship she felt for her, that at length the mouse agreed that they should live and keep house together.
“But we must make a provision for the winter, otherwise we shall suffer from hunger,” said the cat. “and you, little mouse, cannot go anywhere, or you will be caught in a trap some day.”
The good advice was followed, and a pot of fat was bought, but they did not know where to put it. At length, after much consideration, the cat said, “I know no place where it will be better stored up than in the church, for no one dares to take anything away from there. We will set it beneath the altar, and not touch it until we are really in need of it.”
Cat gets a first godchild: Top-off
So the pot was placed in safety, but it was not long before the cat had a great yearning for it, and said to the mouse, “I want to tell you something, little mouse; my cousin has brought a little son into the world, and has asked me to be the godmother; he is white with brown spots, and I am to hold him over the font at the christening. Let me go out today, and you look after the house by yourself.”
“Yes, yes,” answered the mouse, “by all means go, and if you get anything very good, think of me, I should like a drop of sweet red christening wine too.”
All this, however, was untrue; the cat had no cousin, and had not been asked to be godmother. She went straight to the church, to the pot of fat, began to lick at it, and licked the top of the fat off. Then she took a walk upon the roofs of the town. She looked out for opportunities. She stretched herself in the sun. She licked her lips whenever she thought of the pot of fat, and not until it was evening did she return home.
“Well, here you are again,” said the mouse, “no doubt you have had a merry day.”
“All went off well,” answered the cat.
“What name did they give the child?”
“Top-off,” said the cat quite coolly.
“Top-off,” cried the mouse, “that is a very odd and uncommon name, is it a usual one in your family?”
“What do you mean,” said the cat, “it is no worse than Crumb-stealer, as your godchildren are called.”
Cat gets a second godchild: Half-done
Before long the cat was seized by another fit of longing. She said to the mouse, “You must do me a favor, and once more manage the house for a day alone. I am again asked to be godmother, and, as the child has a white ring round its neck, I cannot refuse.”
The good mouse consented, but the cat crept behind the town walls to the church, and devoured half the pot of fat.
“Nothing ever seems so good as what one keeps to oneself,” she said, and was quite satisfied with her day’s work.
When she went home the mouse inquired, “And what was this child christened?”
“Half-done,” answered the cat.
“Half-done! What are you saying? I never heard that name in my life, I’ll wager there is nobody with a name like that!”
Cat gets a third godchild: All-gone
The cat’s mouth soon began to water for some more licking.
“All good things go in threes,” she said, “I am asked to be godmother again. The child is quite black, only it has white paws, but with that exception, it has not a single white hair on its whole body. This only happens once every few years, you will let me go, won’t you?”
“Top-off! Half-done!” answered the mouse, “they are such odd names, they make me very thoughtful.”
“You sit at home,” said the cat, “in your dark grey fur coat and long tail, and are filled with fancies, that’s because you do not go out in the daytime.”
During the cat’s absence the mouse cleaned the house, and put it in order.
The greedy cat entirely emptied the pot of fat. “When everything is eaten up one has some peace,” she said to herself, and well filled and fat she did not return home till night. The mouse at once asked what name had been given to the third child.
“It will not please you more than the others,” said the cat. “He is called All-gone.”
“All-gone,” cried the mouse, “that is the most suspicious name of all! I have never seen it in any book. All-gone; what can that mean?”
She shook her head, curled herself up, and lay down to sleep.
Mouse finds out the truth
From this time forth no one invited the cat to be godmother. When winter came and there was no longer anything to be found outside, the mouse thought of their provision, and said, “Come cat, we will go to our pot of fat which we have stored up for ourselves—we shall enjoy that.”
“Yes,” answered the cat, “you will enjoy it as much as you would enjoy sticking that dainty tongue of yours out of the window.”
They set out on their way, but when they arrived, the pot of fat certainly was still in its place, but it was empty.
“Alas!” said the mouse, “now I see what has happened, now it comes to light! You are a true friend! You have devoured all when you were standing godmother. First Top-off, then Half-Done, then…”
“Will you hold your tongue,” cried the cat, “one word more and I will eat you too.”
“All-gone” was already on the poor mouse’s lips; scarcely had she spoken it before the cat sprang on her, seized her, and swallowed her down.
Truly, that is the way of the world.
Tips for Telling
- The suspicions of mouse rise during the story. Make sure you feel this suspicion stronger each time cat returns from another christening. In that way the listeners will feel it too.
- The cat is bigger than the mouse. You can use this to keep them apart when they are talking to each other. When the mouse talks, look slightly up. When the cat talks, look slightly down.
- In this story ‘a pot of fat’ or ‘being a godmother’ might not be known to all of your listeners. Maybe you need to change this pot of fat to something else (for example a pot of honey). You might also need to explain what a godmother is.
All Questions Answered
The Cat and Mouse in Partnership story was originally written down by the Brothers Grimm. It was told to them by Margarete Marianne Wild. It is the second story in their book ‘Grimm’s Fairy Tales’.
The Brothers Grimm collected this story and wrote it down in 1812 in their book ‘Grimm’s Fairy Tales’. However the roots of this story are in the oral tradition. This story was told long before it was written down.
Trust your instincts. A cat is a cat, no matter how much she flatters you.