Nancy Roman

Stranger Than Fiction

The tricky thing about writing fiction is that it can’t be too fictional. You’re supposed to create a real world that the reader can believe. Real Life. Believable Real Life.

The funny part is that Real Life is not like that. Everyone has experiences that are completely Unbelievable.

The following crazy little event actually happened. Just like this. I swear.

Years ago we had a black cat named Casper, who was as enigmatic as his name.

Casper ate his food in a straight line from right to left. He preferred his water out of stemware, making it imperative that we watch our glasses at all times. He would not lie down on a bed or blanket that had a wrinkle. He would often jump up out of a nap and run over to the piano and play a few notes. As if he had a song stuck in his head. Then go back to his nap. He had Feline OCD.

Casper liked to sit outside and watch the world. He wouldn’t exactly come when called, but he would show himself, and let us know he was okay. He came and went as he pleased. He was a cat.

When he was about seven, Casper had a temporary but serious medical condition, Between the weakness caused by his illness and the side-effects of the medication, he had to be kept indoors. He was miserable. He’d stand at the door and cry and reach up and turn the doorknob. (When he was healthier, he had sometimes managed to open the door. Truly.)

At his follow-up visit with the vet, I mentioned how unhappy Casper was to be cooped up inside, and the vet suggested we take him out for a little walk. On a leash.

We were dubious (to put it mildly) but we stopped at the pet store on the way home and bought one of those little harness-type leashes for cats. We figured out how to put it on by trying it out on our dumber cat. Then we put it on Casper and took him outside.

My husband stood in the yard with a cat on a leash. The first time for both of them. They were both very quiet and still as they tried to figure out whether this would work and what to do next.

And a little bird flew over and landed on my husband’s knee.

That’s what I said.


And the cat – who had not moved – moved. He jumped up and caught the bird and ran off. Until of course the leash yanked him short and the bird flew out of his mouth.

Casper was incensed. He crouched down for a second or two, and contemplated his situation.

Then in one graceful motion, he slid back his head and his front legs – out of the leash – and walked away.

This story has a happy ending though.

Casper recovered.

And we got our money back for the leash.



  1. That is hilarious! One of those situations that you seriously wish you had on video!

    • You are never prepared for something that crazy.

  2. Casper was quite the cat. Glad you had a dumb one to try things on. Of course, that didn’t work much, did it?

    • It certainly didn’t prepare us for that stupid bird. Or how quickly Casper could figure out how to get out of that harness.

  3. Great story. And you know what? The craziest part is that you put the cat on the leash!

  4. Love your story, Cats, they come in all qualities
    For roaming the garden we trained the Belgian Hare with a cat leash, they need to run fast and free once in a while to live longer.

    • Where we live now, the cats only go out when we are out with them. They stick pretty close to the house, so they seem to know there are predators out there.

  5. You can’t make this stuff up. If you put it in a novel no one would believe it..

    • Exactly! I just know the reader would say, “That would NEVER happen!”

  6. I believed it. Cats are very smart. I have 3 right now, and have had others in the past. Never trained one to a harness, though. I kept mine in the house all the time and still do. They stay safer and healthier that way, and live longer. They are used to being indoors. I have seen cats in harnesses. I was at an outdoor street fair for arts and crafts, and there were several owners walking their cats on harnesses and they were perfectly happy. The trick is to get them used to it (actually, everything) when they are kittens. When they mature, it’s difficult if not impossible to get them used to something new. But, thanks for the laugh caused by your post. Loved it!

    • My husband’s cousin walks her cat on a leash. But her cat is named “Baby.” That says it all.

  7. Cats rule. They are WAY smarter than humans. We just think they are our ‘pets’; in truth, they tolerate us because we amuse them. Great story.

    • There’s a German animated film – “Felidae” – told from the cat’s point of view. He calls humans “can openers.” Casper had that kind of disdain.

  8. I have never really understood cats. I would have been completely flummoxed by Casper! You might say I am one of those dumber humans who would succumb to a leash. Funny post as usual – and each one funnier than the last.

    • Everyone I have told that story to thinks I am lying. Or exaggerating – at least. But I am doing neither. I had never seen a bird land on a human, and the first time it happens – it is a human with a cat on a leash. It has occurred to me that perhaps the bird intended to taunt the cat.

  9. That would have been a million-hit video on youtube if you’d been able to get it on video! My sister-in-law puts their cat outdoors on a leash. My guess is that she would be in the same league as your “dumber cat”.

    • Casper was certainly not dumb. I caught him more than once opening the door.

  10. That casper is a hoot! See how he does on this IQ test for cats. :) Toni

    • He scored way up the top. It’s funny that one of the questions was whether the cat likes to play hide-and-seek. That was his favorite game.

  11. I had a magical cat too. Her name was Jennie and I gave her to a character in my first book. Cats are just smarter. Period.

    • Not sure they are all smart. I’ve seen some dumb ones. Not mine of course. Like any mother, mine have all been above average.

  12. Brilliant.

  13. That was an absorbing tale with a delightful twist. I liked the thoughtful preface to the tale too.

  14. Cats are very unique and I have no doubt that Casper was in a class all of his own. I had to laugh about trying the harness out on your “dumber” cat. We have one of those, too. She has a very small head and we think she got shorted on brains. Totally enjoyed the Casper story. Glad I stopped by. Have a great day!

    • Our “dumber” cat wasn’t all that dumb – only by comparison. Like me – with my brilliant older sister.

  15. Casper seems to be a pretty smart cat. It seems that bird thought he had it made and taunted Casper. Silly bird. I would have loved to see the expression on your husbands face when this happened.

    • We were both dumbstruck. Never ever had either of us seen a bird land on human. And a human with a CAT?

  16. Cats are so s.m.a.r.t. We had one that opened doors.
    As far as the bird, I think it probably had some fermented fruit and realizing it’s effects. Ha ha.

  17. that cat saw the leash and thought, i’ll show them how this leash works. that is a hilarious story.

  18. I nominated you for a Sunshine Award!

    You can find the details here:

    On-topic: Cats are magical creatures who can do any damn thing they please. My friends’s cats (two of the eight, anyway) have a *wonderful* habit of stealing my hats and scarves…

  19. That is just hilarious!! Thanks for sharing it.

    • Thanks. This happened at least 15 years ago, and my husband and I still talk about it.

  20. But did Casper catch the bird?

    Truth really IS stranger than fiction.

    • Yes, he did. But when he was yanked by the leash when he started to run off with it, he lost his grip and the bird escaped. To this day, I cannot think of any weirder event than that bird picking that moment to land on my husband’s knee.

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