Usually, Leo didn’t mind bad weather. But this time it was really getting to him.
It had been raining nonstop for days. This meant there were no birds to watch from the windowsill, even though he kept his eye on the birdhouse he had built himself.
It also meant there was no one tending to the garden or sweeping the sidewalks. Overall, there was nothing to watch besides the raindrops that ran monotonously down the window pane, lulling him to sleep.
“What am I supposed to do at night if I sleep all day?” wondered Leo. “It’s even more boring and gloomy at night. I can see quite well in the dark but I can’t make any noise because I’ll wake up my family and they’ll get really unfriendly!”
Leo thought about what he could do with his days as he strolled into the kitchen. His family was sitting at the table talking with a neighbor who was visiting.
Leo stopped in the kitchen doorway, rubbed his back against the doorframe, and followed the conversation of the group that hadn’t noticed him yet.
“This is terrible weather!” said the neighbor, taking a sip of her warm tea.
Leo’s family agreed and listed off all the things they still needed to do in the garden before winter.
“I can’t even think about the garden yet,” said the neighbor. “I’ve resolved to declutter some things in my house. So much has accumulated over the years that I don’t need anymore. When the weather is better, I‘ll put everything in my front yard. Maybe some of it might be useful to others!”
“We definitely need to do that, too,” said Leo’s mom. “But we have to wrap up this other project first because it’s keeping us so busy we’re even falling behind on the regular tidying up. We haven’t vacuumed or ironed in weeks. It’s lucky we remember to feed Leo! Fortunately, he’s so independent.”
The neighbor nodded in understanding before saying, “Well, I’ll be off then. There’s a lot to do. Let’s cross our fingers that the weather gets better soon. Good luck with the project!”
She got up and noticed Leo. She scratched him on the head and said, “Well Leo, if you have any extra time, you are welcome to help me.” Then she winked at the family and left.
Leo’s boredom was gone in an instant. He was going to help clean up!
Leo joined his family, who were now reading on the sofa.
“Oh Leo, I’ve missed your purr so much. It’s so comforting.” Leo felt happy and purred a little louder. He loved cuddling with his parents.
The next morning, his family all hurried to leave the house.
“See you later, Leo!” his dad called as he shut the door behind him.
Leo was in a good mood because he had a plan.
First, he did a tour of all the rooms in the house. He hadn’t noticed that the house had gotten messy. In fact, he even found it a bit more comfortable. But now, he tried to see it through his family’s eyes.
In the living room, the cashmere blanket, which usually was carefully folded on the sofa, was crumpled and half fallen onto the floor. The knitting was under the armchair instead of in the basket, and books and newspapers were piled up on the table.
In the bedroom, there were clothes lying around, and in the kitchen, the breakfast dishes were not cleared away.
Leo felt unbothered by all of it, but he knew his family felt differently.
“Well, that can all be easily cleaned up,” the cat thought. “There is undoubtedly a lot to do. How fortunate that I at least have the time to help out. They’ll be so pleased, meow!”
He wondered where to start. Then, he remembered what his family had said to the neighbor in the kitchen. Something about picking up all the things in their way and sorting out what they didn’t need anymore.
He ran down to the basement and got a big box. He threw everything that was not in its place or was just lying around into the box.
Sweaters, ties, socks, knitting, magazines,… The box was full in no time. Leo fetched another one and it too was quickly filled.
In the bathroom, Leo found a full laundry basket. He knew that the laundry belonged in the washing machine. So he stuffed everything in, unsorted, and closed the door.
“Where is the laundry detergent again? Oh there… and in it goes! Now I just need to press a button and the washing machine will start,” Leo thought.
The cat was pleased with his progress as he ran to the next room.
In the guest room, which also served as an ironing room, the cat had great difficulty setting up the bulky ironing board. He jammed his paws trying to adjust it to its proper height.
Leo scolded the thing loudly and was about to give up when it clicked into place. He had never ironed before, but he figured it couldn’t be that hard. He brought up the full basket of ironing clothes and grabbed the iron.
“This is exhausting!” he thought. He noticed that the iron wasn’t hissing and steaming the way it did for his parents. It wasn’t smoothing out the clothes either. He wondered why anyone bothered so he stuffed everything into the closet to make it look tidy.
Then Leo was off to the kitchen. As he started to empty the dishwasher he noticed that he was quite tired. To make matters worse, one of his dad’s favorite mugs broke when he was putting everything away.
“Oh, dear! Why did this have to happen? Things were going so well,” Leo whined. “Well, I’ll get him a new mug that’s at least as nice.” Where from—he would have to figure out later.
He grabbed the broom and dust pan and put the broken pieces in the trash can.
Leo had checked everything off his to-do list when he noticed a strange foam coming from the bathroom.
He grabbed a mop. “I guess that was a little too much detergent,” he thought. “At least the laundry will be extra clean.”
Leo decided it was time for a break. He ran to his food bowl, emptied it, and jumped onto his windowsill. He was full and satisfied.
He couldn’t believe it! The sun was shining . He relaxed and watched the neighbor pushing things out of her house with a wheelbarrow and unloading them in her front yard.
Leo wanted to take a closer look at the things she was putting out.
“Maybe there is something I could use? Plus, I can add the things I sorted for my family!” he thought.
After a quick nap, Leo went outside and curiously circled the pile of stuff. There were broken chairs, old shelves, rubber boots and much more. Then he saw a box of dishes.
“Oh Leo, there you are! How nice of you to come to help,” the neighbor said with a laugh as she went about her business.
He purred and went back to the box of dishes. He reached in with his paw, felt a handle and pulled out a flowered mug. He thought it was quite nice and sprinted back into the house with it. He was sure his family would like the mug too.
He was already imagining how happy his family would be about all his help when they got home.
It was getting dark by the time Leo’s family walked through the door.
“Just a few more days and we’ll have more spare time again. Isn’t that nice, Leo?” said his mom. “Then we will clean up properly and everything will be in order again!”
Then his dad said, “Oh, did you turn on the washing machine this morning? It smells so fresh in here.”
“I don’t remember doing that!” Leo’s mom replied as she walked into the kitchen. “Do you want some tea in this flowered cup? Where is the one you like? Did you empty the dishwasher? And where did those boxes come from?”
Leo enjoyed the fact that his effort had paid off and everyone seemed to be satisfied.
“I can’t wait for them to realize that everything else is done. They’re going to be so happy!” he thought.
Leo sat down to relax and thought, “Phew, that was an exhausting day. What I won’t do for my family!”