By Chris Grabenstein
Illustrated by Anuki Lopez
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Oscar is a happy dogg—a rambunctious kid who loves being a Dogg Scout. Thanks to his family, he knows that snobby katts are good for nothing but chasing up trees.
Molly is a clever katt who just knows she’s destined for fame and fortune as an actress. She comes from a family of well-bred katts who despise drooly, disgusting doggs!
For their whole lives, Oscar and Molly have been told that katts and dogs hate each other. One day, they each get hopelessly lost in the woods, but those lifelong prejudices flare up when they cross paths. Slowly, they realize that the only way to survive and find their way home is to…work together?!
For Parker and Phoebe Squeak (katts) and in memory of Buster and Fred (doggs)
Oscar hung his head out the window of his father’s pickup truck, his tongue flapping in the breeze. It was his favorite thing!
Oscar watched the wind sling his stringy slobber sideways. It was his favorite thing!
The truck was going seventy, maybe eighty miles an hour, swerving around all the other cars and trucks and motorcycles. Oscar saw shiny hubcaps spinning everywhere! He wanted to chase them all. Because chasing stuff was his favorite thing!
Oscar knew that this family vacation to the Western Frontier Park was going to be awesome because the ride to the park already was. It was his favorite road trip, ever!
Suddenly, Oscar heard something wet go splat! His father growled behind the wheel.
“Aw, cheese on a biscuit! One of them stupid katts in that stupid SUV just stuck out its stupid head and hocked up a hairball. It splatted all over my windshield here!”
“Duke?” said Oscar’s mom. “Did you forget to take your distemper shot this morning?”
“Because this was supposed to be a fun family vacation and—”
Another wet gob of slimy hair coated with crud hit the windshield.
“Aww, bully stick!” grumbled Oscar’s dad. “Why can’t they just burp for once?” He jammed his paw down on the accelerator. The truck shot up the road even faster. “But nooooo… they always got to hock up two hairballs.” He put on a funny, fancy-pants katt voice. “‘Oooh. Look at me. I’m so special! I’m a katt. Every time I puke, I puke twice…’”
“And they have to do that stupid thing where they heave their shoulders up and down first,” added Fifi, Oscar’s teenage sister. “Then they go ‘gack-gack-gack.’ Like they have to announce that they’re going to puke or whatever. Katts are so totally gross and disgusting.”
“So let’s give them something to really puke about!” growled Dad. He pressed his paw down harder on the accelerator.
The rambling truck roared and rattled and raced up the road.
“Duke?” yelped Oscar’s mom, holding on to an overhead handle for dear life. “You’re scaring me!”
“Then sit on a wee-wee pad, Lola. Because a dogg’s gotta do what a dogg’s gotta do. I’m chasing that katt!”
Oscar gave that a hearty howl! “Aaaa-ooooh!”
The dusty pickup zoomed up the highway, cutting in and out of traffic, until it was parallel with the sleek black SUV.
“Hey, Mister Whiskers?” Dad shouted across the front seat to the katt behind the wheel. “Watch where you’re pukin’!”
Oscar panted in happy anticipation. This was going to be so, so good.
Listening to his father yell at katts was his favorite favorite thing!
Molly Hissleton sat in the backseat of her family’s SUV, pretending to enjoy the classical music her father was listening to on the radio.
Molly was an excellent actress. She was good at pretending things.
The brand-new, fully equipped SUV (it had a litter box behind the backseat) hummed along the highway contentedly, its motor softly purring.
“Isn’t Meowzart marvelous?” said Molly’s father, as he conducted the symphonic music with synchronized flicks of his tail.
Molly’s mother was curled up in the sunny front seat, napping peacefully. Molly’s brother, Blade—who was feeling better after a brief bout of carsickness, which included some hairball hurling—was playing with his handheld game gizmo, chasing a red dot.
The katts were on their way to Western Frontier Park, home of rare, exotic, and frightfully wild creatures. Molly couldn’t wait. It promised to be quite an extraordinary, dramatic vacation.
Suddenly, a rattly old pickup truck filled with slobbering doggs (yuck) pulled alongside the katts’ sports utility vehicle. The curly furred mop in the passenger seat was covering her eyes with both paws while the snarling dogg behind the wheel barked something fierce. Of course, Molly couldn’t hear what he was barking. The SUV had very good soundproofing.
There was a young dogg, a boy about Molly’s age, with his head hanging out of the rear cab window. The boy was slobbering all over himself. So disgusting.
A fuzzy tennis ball bounced off the SUV driver’s side window. Molly rolled her eyes. Doggs were forever tossing tennis balls!
Molly’s father sighed and powered down his tinted window. Molly glanced at the speedometer. They were flying along at eighty miles per hour! Molly sank her claws into the seat so she wouldn’t get blown away.
“Yes?” her father sneered at the doggs through a sly grin. “Might I be of some assistance? Are you doggs looking for yet another place to pee?”
“Pull over!” barked the dogg behind the wheel.
“Oh, my,” said Molly’s father in the snarky way that always made her giggle. “Listen to the dogg using his words. Both of them.”
“I know more words than them two!” shouted the dogg.
“Oh, really? Then speak, sir. Speak! I’m all ears. No, wait. That’s your son. Except where he’s all tongue, of course!”
“You want some of this?” shouted the driver dogg, shaking a balled-up paw at Molly’s father.
“Some of what?” he replied. “Your dogg breath? Kindly chew a Milk-Bone before your next public speaking engagement, sir. Your beef jerky breath is stinking up the highway!”
“I’m going to stink you up, katt!”
“Is everything okay, Boomer, darling?” asked Molly’s mom as she stretched and yawned in the passenger seat.
“Yes, Fluffy, dear. Go back to sleep. Just attempting to teach this old dogg a new trick.”
“Good luck with that.” She re-curled her body and fell fast asleep.
“Are we there yet?” asked Blade, looking up momentarily from his video game.
“No,” said Molly. “Father’s dealing with a dogg.”
“I hate doggs,” said Blade.
“Yes, Blade,” said Molly. “We’re katts. Hating doggs is what we do. Always have, always will.”
Molly’s father hissed at the doggs, showing his sharp teeth.
The doggs barked ferociously.
The katts meowed merrily.
Then Molly’s father pushed the gas pedal to the floor, shot up the road like a rocket, and left the doggmobile behind in a cloud of dust and fumes.
“Doggs,” chuckled Molly’s father. “The more they bark, the less I care.”
“Um, Father?” said Molly, looking out the rear window.
“The doggs. They’re gaining on us!”
The two vehicles screeched through the front gates of the Western Frontier Park in a cloud of smoke and a shower of sparks at exactly the same second!
Oscar’s dad bounded out of the pickup truck, wagging his tail.
“Woof-hoo! In your face, katt! We beat you!”
“Woof-iddy-doo-dah!” yelped Oscar. “My dad’s the best. Oh, yes, he is. Yes, he is!”
The katt driver slowly slinked out of the SUV, daintily licking his right paw as if he didn’t have a care in the whole, wide world.
“In what alternative universe does losing equal winning, flea brain?” he asked.
“Who are you calling flea brain, hairball?”
“If the stupid fits, wear it.”
“Well, at least I don’t smell like a can of tuna that’s been sitting in the sun too long.”
“No, you smell like a wet dogg. What’s the matter? Couldn’t wait till you found a fire hydrant?”
“What about you? Still peeing in a sandbox and trying to cover it up?”
“Enough!” shrieked the commanding voice of a majestic-looking hawkowl who was wearing a park ranger uniform and riding a horse with antlers.
“Wow!” said Oscar. “He’s part hawk, part owl!”
“Yes,” whispered his mother. “This park is filled with many magical and mythical creatures.”
“Bunch of weirdos,” whispered Oscar’s dad out of the side of his muzzle. “He looks like a freak.”
“I’m a she,” said the hawkowl. “And thanks to my owl half, I have a highly developed auditory system.”
“Huh?” said Oscar’s father.
“She said she can hear very, very well, you dumb dogg!” shouted the katt driver as the rest of his family piled out of the SUV to preen in the sunshine. Except the teenage katt boy. He was playing a video game and stayed inside the car.
“Are we there yet?” he yowled.
“Then let’s leave. I’m bored!”
“Can you soar like a hawk, ma’am?” Oscar asked the park ranger eagerly (which is how he asked everything).
The hawkowl nodded. “Best of both species. I’m hawk-eyed and owl-eared.”
“His horse is weird, too,” Oscar’s dad muttered. “Whoever heard of a horse with antlers?”
“Me,” said the hawkowl. “As I said, I have very good hearing.”
My ancestors, you see,” said the wise hawkowl, tucking her wings behind her back, “realized something you katts and doggs have failed to learn: The world is filled with many fierce and wild creatures, especially here on the far edge of civilization.”
The dogg family tilted their heads sideways to listen.
The katts shut their eyes and yawned.
“Bor-r-r-ring,” whined Blade.
The hawkowl kept going. “My ancestors quickly realized that, up against the ferocious beasts who still roam the dark forests of this wilderness, they must, somehow, learn to live together or they would surely die alone.”
“And that,” Oscar’s dad whispered snidely, “is how you end up with a freak show riding a moosehorse.”
The doggs panted out a “heh-heh” chuckle.
“I can still hear you,” said the hawkowl, tapping the side of her owl head with the tip of her hawk wing. “Good ears. Remember?”
“Whatever,” muttered Fifi, who, like many teenagers, grew impatient whenever boring old people spoke wisely.
“Tell us when you’re done, park person,” said the tubby tabby, Blade. “We’re missing our naps.”
“Where, pray tell, is the katt section?” asked the katt mom. “We all need to bathe.”
“You mean lick yourselves!” shouted Oscar’s dad.
Oscar howled with laughter.
The hawkowl sighed. “‘Oh, East is East and West is West, and never the twain shall meet.’”
“Huh?” said Oscar’s dad.
“It’s poetry,” said the snobby katt dad, as his family climbed back into their SUV. “Read a book sometime!”
“Why read ’em when you can chew ’em?” said Oscar’s dad, leading the way back into the pickup truck.
Oscar hopped into the backseat and stuck his head out the window again.
“What a shame,” he heard the hawkowl lament to her moosehorse. “What a waste of our beautiful park. The enmity between your two species has caused this world so much grief. Who can forget the saga of the doggs dumping kattnip into Pawston Harbor? Or the horrible Battle of Pettysburg during Furred War One? All creatures, great and small, have suffered because this enduring katt and dogg feud will never, ever end.”
That made Oscar so happy he wagged his tail.
He was glad doggs and katts would never live together in peace.
He didn’t want to ever use a litter box or chase red laser dots. Katts were dumb and there was no way he would ever feel different about them!
Every morning, for the next five days, Oscar did the exact same thing.
Because doggs like routine.
Bright and early, before the rest of the family had even crawled out of their dogg beds, Oscar would bound out of his tent and give the air a good long sniff.
Dew mixed with clover with a hint of pine, sassafras, and mud.
“This park is paradise!” he exclaimed, checking out the green fields and rolling hills and deep, deep forests and distant mountains. His tail was wagging to the right, which is the way it always wagged when he was happy. If it flapped to the left first that meant he was scared. But there was nothing to be scared about in the Western Frontier Park, no matter what that freaky old park ranger said. “So many sticks to fetch! So many fields to romp through! So many places to poop!”
And the best part about the dogg camp?
No katts. They had their own separate campground, thank you very much. It was way off, somewhere in the east. There wasn’t a scratching post or dangling thing or a bag of kattnip to be seen for miles. Just doggs and tennis balls and squeaky chew toys and bacon for breakfast and an awesome looking obstacle course for all the doggs who liked shepherding stuff. Oscar hadn’t seen a katt for five full days, thank goodness!
Off in the distance, Oscar could see a mountain that looked like a huge hooked nose with a droopy wart on one side. Or maybe it looked like a pile of mashed potatoes with some kibble stuck into its peak. Or maybe it was a mountain made entirely out of chopped meat with a bone-shaped dogg biscuit poking out of the side.
Yes, he was definitely hungry. Time for a dogg’s breakfast.
He pranced across the open field, heading to the mess hall, which, because it was for doggs, was always very messy. As he drew closer, he could smell sausage on top of the bacon. And a fresh bag of beef jerky that the chef had just ripped open with his teeth! He picked up his pace and broke into a trot.
Oscar was quite athletic. He was the star player on his school’s tennis ball team. He was speedy, too. An average dogg can run about twenty miles per hour. Oscar? Coach clocked him doing twenty-seven! He was also pretty agile. He might have to try out that obstacle course after breakfast and then, of course, reward himself with a nap.
He was just about to dash into the mess hall and stick his muzzle in a bowl of meaty mush when he had to dig in his rear paws and skid to a stop—or he would’ve crashed into a sleek, black SUV.
The same SUV that they’d chased into the park the day they arrived!
It was the same supersnooty katt family!
Oscar sat down and tilted his head to the right while the katt dad scampered down out of the SUV.
Their eyes met.
The hair and hackles on Oscar’s back shot up.
The katt dad hissed. “Trust me,” he said to Oscar with disdain. “I don’t want to be here amidst you mangy mutts and mongrels, either!”
Oscar tilted his head an inch more to the right. He didn’t really know what “amidst” meant. Plus, there wasn’t a mist anywhere. No fog, either.
The katt clawed a long gouge into a fence post. When he made a splinter of jagged wood stick out, he used it like a nail to hang a sign.
It was a Missing Katt poster.
Huh, thought Oscar. Why bother looking for a lost katt?
Would anybody in the whole world miss one measly katt?
There seemed to be a billion of them running around scaring birds, tormenting mice, and yowling at the moon. One less wouldn’t matter. Plus, Oscar was on vacation. Doggs didn’t hunt for lost stuff on vacation. Except bacon. If a slab of bacon went missing, then every dogg in the park would form a search party, sniff the ground, and track it down.
The katt dad climbed back into his SUV, muttering, “Waste of a sign. Doggs can’t read. If they could, they’d beware of themselves, just like all the signs say!”
The tires on the big black vehicle shot gravel backward as it sped away.
When it stopped blocking the mess hall entrance, Oscar could, once again, savor the delish aroma of bacon grease mixed with sausage grease. He licked his chops. It was breakfast time.
Uh-oh. His tail wagged to the left.
Because his dad was screaming his name, which was still scary, even though his dad basically screamed all the time.
“Come here, boy!” said his dad. “Grab your backpack. Your mother says we need to go on a nature hike this morning.”
Oh, boy, thought Oscar. We’re heading off into the glorious, magical, marvelous park!
He loped over to where his dad, mom, and sister were waiting.
“What about breakfast?” he asked eagerly (like always).
His mother smiled. “I packed meat loaf sandwiches and bacon smoothies.”
Oh, boy, thought Oscar.
Meat loaf sandwiches and bacon smoothies were his favorites!
Oscar slung his knapsack onto his back.
“Did you hear?” he said to his dad. “One of those katts we met on our first day here is missing!”
“Good,” said his father. “One less for me to chase up a tree.”
“Duke?” said Oscar’s mom. “Honestly. We’re on vacation.”
“Maybe. But a true dogg’s hatred of katts never takes a day off.”
“Totally,” said Fifi. “They’re, like, so prissy. And cheesy. Their butts smell like cheese.”
“Cheese?” said Oscar. “Is there cheese on the meat loaf sandwiches?”
“Yes, dear,” said his mother. “Peanut butter, too.”
“Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy!”
Drool slobbered down the front of his shirt. His mother didn’t mind. She was drooling, too. All the doggs were. It’s what doggs do.
They hiked up a trail lined with pine bark mulch.
“This really is a magical place,” said Oscar’s mom, enjoying the scenery.
Birds chirped. Butterflies fluttered. Bees buzzed. A rainbow appeared in the sky even though it hadn’t rained. Water cascaded over a fall, sending up a very refreshing cloud of cool mist. The air was fragrant with the scent of wildflowers.
- Praise for Katt vs. Dogg:
- "Patterson and Grabenstein really work the notion here that cooperation is better than prejudice founded on ignorance and habit...A waggish tale with a serious (and timely) theme."—Kirkus Reviews
- "This mash-up of farce, fable, and slapstick ultimately delivers a profound and relevant message."—Publishers Weekly
- On Sale
- Apr 1, 2019
- Hachette Audio