There was once a common gray squirrel who made the acquaintance of a beautiful Angora cat. They lived in the same area, although the squirrel made his home in a very old elm tree and the cat lived in a ritzy garden apartment.
Come rain or shine the squirrel could be seen scurrying about the neighborhood, looking for acorns or anything else that looked nutritious. The cat had no such concerns as his mistress put out his meals on a regular schedule and provided all that he wanted to eat.
The cat found the squirrel’s constant comings and goings to be not only dizzying but quite inexplicable.
“My friend,” he said. “Why do you go about in such a constant frenzy? Your continuous scurrying is causing me to have a headache. Settle down for a bit and let’s have a nice chat.”
“I would love to,” said the squirrel. “But if I did, I would not have enough rations to make it through the day. So I need to keep foraging to stave off starvation.”
The cat thought this was very peculiar. He had never known a moment when his food was not provided for him and so, naturally, assumed that was the way it was for all creatures. In his heart of hearts he thought that the squirrel was making a joke at his expense. But being a polite sort of creature, he did not mention his suspicions to the squirrel.
The cat sauntered outside one day after his mistress had just finished brushing him. He always enjoyed a good brushing and looked absolutely glamorous. So when he saw the squirrel hastening by, he couldn’t help comparing his appearance to that of his friend’s.
“My goodness,” the cat thought to himself. “My poor friend is looking rather shabby. His coat has got little parts of plants stuck to it. He really should take better care of himself.”
Well the squirrel, pre-occupied with the necessities of gathering food, had little time to try to look chic. In fact, the concept never even crossed his mind. He was totally focused on his mission of surviving.
Things went along in this way for quite some time until something unexpected happened. One morning when the cat went into the kitchen to get his breakfast there was nothing in his dish.
He went into his mistress’ room to find out why there was a delay but when he jumped up on her bed he found only her lifeless body. He began meowing as loudly as he could, hoping this would revive her. But nothing he did could bring her back to this world.
So the cat jumped through the open window of the garden apartment and happened to see his friend the squirrel engaged, as usual, in looking for his own breakfast. The cat couldn’t help but notice that the squirrel, while still sporting the vestiges of plant parts all over his fur, was quite plump and seemed to be doing an excellent job of providing his own food. By contrast, the cat’s stomach began to growl and he was feeling a little faint.
The squirrel greeted the cat as he raced by. He had just spotted what appeared to be a very choice acorn. And the cat began to wonder what he would do for food since his mistress was no longer there to set out his meals.
Suddenly, it occurred to the cat that his pampered life was over and he would need to fend for himself. The thought of that sent a terrible shiver down his spine. And he began to think how fortunate the squirrel was that he had enough to eat.
When the squirrel came back with his acorn and began to munch on it, the cat, in a moment of self pity said to him, “My friend. All the time I’ve known you, I have always thought how fortunate I was that I didn’t have to do anything and yet my food magically appeared. In honesty, I looked down on your abject need to have to provide for yourself. But now things have changed, and I must admit that I envy you. You are, indeed a lucky creature.”
To this, the squirrel made a reply which is the moral of our story:
“There’s something I’ve noticed in going through life. It seems as though the harder I work, the luckier I get.”