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Listen: Nothing About Cats

Josh knows nothing about cats.

Welcome to Layer Cake!

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Layer Cake presents "Nothing About Cats." I think you'll like this story. You're going to learn some new and useful vocabulary, lots of figures of speech, expressions, and idioms. Don't forget to check out the lesson for this episode on our website. But I'll tell you more about that after the story.

Now we invite you to sit back, relax, and enjoy!


The cat, whom Josh agreed to take off their hands, is in his bathtub, covered in suds, wrestling with Josh to get out. He doesn’t even have a name. Well, he did, but Josh didn’t catch it. Josh could barely catch him, and he scratched Josh deeply when he did. Josh didn’t even notice until he discovered dried blood had fused his sleeve to his arm.

Josh knows nothing about cats, but he doesn’t blame the adoptee one bit for being freaked out. Probably his first car ride and to a new place with a new person and probably his first bath: all in the same day.

While they held the terrified creature down to give him some shots, Josh stroked his fur. It seemed like the right thing to do.

They put him in a plastic carrier with a water dripper affixed inside and a small pouch of “the food that he normally eats” taped to the outside where they’d already written “TOM” with a fat red magic marker. They peeled off a round yellow sticker and affixed it to his shirt pocket. It read, "I'm a hero! I adopted a homeless pet today.”

Then they said, motioning for him to take it, “Here you go. The carrier doubles as a litter box. Feel free to help yourself to a complimentary bag of litter over there."

No background check.

No home visit.

They didn’t even ask Josh how many cats he already had or what he knew about cats, which was nothing. Nothing at all.


The old woman wasn’t there because she refused to watch her “family being separated.” The irony was she had no family, no relatives to intervene. Her fortune was considerable, and she was leaving every bit of it to the local shelter—as long as they renamed it after her.

She used to trap strays and take them there until they said that they were at capacity. They were a no-kill, but they had limits. When they told her they would be taking no more feral cats until the ones they already had were homed, she started quietly adopting them herself. All of them. Every single one.

The crew gave this case the unofficial nickname “Operation Catastrophe.” And everyone was so relieved when it was finally over and done with. None of the speculations had been correct. Though most people had greatly exaggerated what they’d heard and seen, the number turned out to be even higher than anyone had suspected. The crew discovered 96 living, well-fed, spayed and neutered felines. Coincidence? Their mistress was also 96.

All of the cats were put up for adoption and the house was condemned. Neighbors gathered to watch the demolition. A century old, it was deemed unsalvageable, and in a town with too many old houses, this one couldn’t be special to anyone else— except her. She had literally lived nowhere else ever in her entire life, and like Josh’s new cat and many of the others, she was born there.


Though Josh towel-dries Tom’s thick coat, it remains quite soaked, so Josh uses the hair dryer very gently, wondering, “Do cats like this?” Josh knows nothing about cats.

Josh is careful not to blow any air over Tom's delicate eyes or whiskers. To his astonishment, Tom falls asleep! Either Tom does like that, or he is just completely overwhelmed and totally exhausted.

Josh puts some more of the fluffy towels around Tom, switches off the light, and leaves the door open while he makes himself some dinner in the kitchen. He puts out some water and, with a couple of noisy shakes, Tom’s bowl of food on the floor by the doorway.

Then, suddenly, Tom is on the windowsill. Josh notes that Tom is rather adept at balancing in narrow places. He’s gazing out across the front lawn to his old stomping grounds. Strategizing his revenge, perhaps? Or could he be homesick? Will Tom adapt to being an only-cat? Josh knows nothing about cats.