On a rolling green farm nestled between two mountainsides, there lived three cats. One was bold and daring, his sleek black fur revealing much of his inner nature. Another was white and soft, a sweet – if helpless – soul. The third was grey-striped and small. She could be considered skittish, as wise cats often are.
Despite their bucolic home, the three cats found themselves in turmoil, for they were at war. Every day, a kind woman served them three bowls of food in the farm’s stone barn. But as soon as the woman turned to leave, the battle began: a horde of barn cats would leap from the rafters, a thunderstorm of snarls and claws, to snatch up the tasty meal. The barn cats did as so every day. And just so the three cats knew who was boss, they would even mob attack any of the three cats if they found one strolling alone near the barn.
Each of the three cats survived the war in its own way. The black cat tricked customers into letting him into the farm store, where he could snack on bread behind their backs. The white cat purred and prissed, earning adulation – and saucers of milk – from the farmers. The grey cat preferred self sufficiency, and so learned to hunt chipmunks, mice, and the like.
As the three cats grew older, they recognized that life could not continue this way forever. The black cat was becoming ever-clumsier in his tricks; some customers even caught him eyeing the muffins, only to shoo him out of the farm store. The white cat discovered that good lucks can only take a cat so far for so long. Eventually, cute new calves or piglets would distract the farmers from her charms. And the grey cat was losing a step in her advancing age.
The three cats convened to find a common solution. The black cat thought they should fight back against the barn cats in an ultimate battle to the death. The white cat thought they should join forced to beg from the creamery apprentices every day. Those guys made some fantastic cheese, after all. The grey cat, in her wisdom, saw the folly in both of their ideas. Fighting was foolhardy and begging was sure to lead to suffering. Instead, she suggested that they cut the barn cats off from their source of strength – the free meal they stole every day. To do so, the three cats would go on a public hunger strike. That may sound odd to you – a cat on a hunger protest – but remember that cats can’t communicate with humans very well. There are few better ways for a cat to tell a human to stop feeding her than to simply refuse to eat. So refused they did. At first, the woman was just confused when the cats declined to follow her into the barn for their meal, and she continued to leave it there for consecutive days. But after a week or so of failed attempts, she just assumed the cats were finding food elsewhere and gave up.
The barn cats, fat and lazy after years of room service buffets, could not survive even this minor drought. A few weeks after the woman stopped bringing meals, the three cats poked around the barn and found no sign of their barbarous enemies. Either they had gone to find new victims at a neighboring farm or they had fallen prey in their hungered weakness. Regardless, the three cats cheered!
Of course, the solution meant that the three cats could not enjoy free daily meals ever again. Remember how hard it would be for the cats to explain this whole situation to the woman? But the three cats did agree that they could start to take it easy together in their retirement. If the black cat sneaked the occasional cookie, or the white cat was given a nub of cheese, or the grey cat managed to catch a mouse, they could all split the meal. Sharing, they learned to appreciate each other’s talents developed over a life of hard work. And as cats do in times of peace, they lived happily ever after.