There once was a cat who spent the good part of every day watching a squirrel run to and fro about his business. He was an industrious little squirrel with many stashes of nuts and seeds, to which he continually added. All day long the little squirrel worked putting his food by because he knew the cold winter was coming. In contrast, the cat sat silently and motionlessly in the shade for most of the day, closely watching the squirrel but always seeming as if she were asleep. The squirrel knew the cat was watching him, and his opinion was that this was a particularly lazy cat, as most cats are, he surmised.
One day the cat surprised the squirrel by bowing deeply and complimenting him on his fine, shiny coat. The squirrel was suspicious but flattered and told the cat it was from eating juicy seeds. And the cat remarked about what a good housekeeper the squirrel was. This, of course, the squirrel knew was true, but again he was flattered and thanked the cat, saying he was a natural at organization. Next, the cat admired how fast the squirrel ran about his business. For a third time, the squirrel was flattered by the cat’s honesty. He told the cat that he was one of the fastest creatures of the woods, and the cat readily nodded her head. He then told the cat he was extremely clever as well and would never fall prey to compliments, to which the cat agreed completely and looked for a good place to nap.
Before sleeping, she groomed herself and remarked absentmindedly to no one in particular how thick and beautiful and soft her fur was, certainly the finest in the land. She mentioned how nice and tidy her home was with everything in its place and just perfect for her beautiful fur coat. Then she smiled as she settled down, mentioning how lightning-quick her reflexes were and that no creature could match them. And finally she said she was surely the smartest creature in the woods. With that, she fell asleep.
The squirrel was completely nonplussed and somehow felt slightly insulted. He decided that all the kind compliments the cat had given earlier were just lies, and this made him angry because he knew he deserved those compliments and more. He jumped down from the tree and pointed out a particularly large cache of nuts and seeds, and the cat sleepily nodded and agreed it was the nicest she had ever seen. He came closer to be in a sunbeam so the cat could see how shiny his coat was, and the cat had to agree it was more beautiful than she had at first supposed. As she closed her eyes to nap, the squirrel came closer still and told the cat he was too clever to play anymore games, and the cat quite agreed that the game was lost.
As the squirrel turned to go, the cat pounced on him quick as lightning! In the blink of an eye she had him, and in the blink of another eye she had eaten him. “Not so quick, after all,” she thought to herself, “but he did have a beautiful coat.”
Moral: Compliments and insults are two sides of the same coin.