MAPLEWOOD, MO—Ongoing turmoil in the troubled kitchen-floor region of the Branson household reached a boiling point Tuesday, as relations between rival house cats Boswell and Johnson erupted into fresh violence. Observers said the arrival of a new brown paper-bag in the area ignited long-standing tensions and set off another round of territorial conflict between the two factions in the most serious aggression since the devastating stove-side siege of 2005.
The afternoon was marred by sporadic fighting, according to reports, with opposing forces darting and then retreating in surprise attacks. Boswell held his position despite relentless onslaughts from Johnson, who repeatedly batted the controversial bag along the ancient linoleum surface. By the end of the day, neither side displayed any intention to halt reprisals without the other first relinquishing claims and pulling out permanently—an outcome those close to the fighting called "unlikely at best."
"What people unfamilar with the history here must understand is that this seemingly empty and barren paper bag has rapidly become the third most important site in the area after the scratching post in the living room and the breakfast-nook windowsill," former CIA analyst Brian Haddox said. "Not only is it seen by both Boswellist and Johnsonian interests as a crucial location for establishing territorial control in the kitchen-floor region, but it also makes a crumpling sound that both sides find irresistible."
Added Haddox, "Unfortunately, hostilities have destabilized this already tenuous peace at least until nap time."
The bag, a brown paper grocery bag from Stop & Shop with no prior claims of cat ownership attached to it, became the center of a wide-scale power play when Boswell seized control of its highly contested interior, and occupied the disputed area for approximately 30 seconds. Following immediate Johnsonian reprisals, Boswell unleashed a barrage of swats, but failed to secure a position in the bag.
Reports from the ground indicated that Johnson, once in possession of the perimeter region up to the cat dish, was forced in the early afternoon to retreat to the green rug zone, where he licked his paws with apparent disinterest for an estimated 10 minutes. Without warning, Johnson then launched a full-frontal assault on Boswell's forces, pouncing from behind and eventually chasing his rival all the way to the bathroom sink. The heavy leaping and grappling was broken only by periods of intense mutual licking. At one point, the conflict escalated into full-fledged upside-down kicking of each other in the face before Boswell was distracted by an errant ball rolling across the floor, bringing the factions to an uneasy standstill.
Despite the intensity of the fighting, no serious injuries were reported.
"People in the middle of this have tried everything they can to quell the violence, including bringing in a second bag, but nothing has worked," said U.N. investigator Caroline Olivera, adding that many residents were furious at the combatants for knocking over and destroying a prized vase in November. "It is beginning to appear that any long-term solution may have to involve deployment of the disciplinary squirt bottle."
According to International Red Cross worker Etienne Zervudacki, there was a temporary lull in the violence when both factions shifted their attention to a nearby can of tuna, craning their necks and licking their lips in apparent unity before eventually returning to the battle. While the short-lived truce was hopeful, Zervudacki said, it was a fragile pact that ignored the true causes of dilemma.
"The biggest shame here is that these two sides are so entrenched in their differences that they don't realize they are brothers," said Zervudacki, noting that even though both parties were reportedly curled up together on the sofa at press time, violence would likely break out again tomorrow. "If it's not the paper bag, it will be something else, like aluminum foil, toy mice, or plastic rings from two-gallon milk jugs."