Little did Schmutzy—a gregarious, dark orange, long-haired feline who lived in the woods north of Vienna, Austria with a family of wood carvers—know when he went for his walk on that fateful July afternoon in 1888 that he would meet up with an exploration party of aliens from outer space.
The aliens were not much taller than Schmutzy and looked more like yellow toadstools with buggy eyes than anything else. Most importantly, though, each alien had eight feet, feet shaped like lumpy potato pancakes!
(Some authorities argue that just four of the aliens' feet were true feet; the other four, they claim, each had two opposable digits--much like our thumb and a forefinger--and could be used like hands, if they chose. This seems to be a technicality, though, and adds nothing to the story of Schmutzy's humanitarian service.)
Hoping to colonize the earth and turn all its inhabitants into shoes for their tender tootsies, the aliens' arrival was the culmination of a long journey across the galaxy. Thanks to Schmutzy, though, their mission was thwarted.
His story, among the most remarkable of all the known stories about cats that helped humankind, is definitely worth remembering. Schmutzy saved us all from a bizarre, indeed, from a most hideous fate.
Schmutzy happened to be the first earthling encountered by the aliens' landing party. Before they could determine the best way to convert him into a shoe, the unsuspecting cat, with characteristic Viennese friendliness, sidled up to them and rubbed himself happily on their eight little legs (or, if you will, their four "arms" and four legs.) The aliens were far from pleased by this gesture, since Schmutzy generated considerable static electricity with each pass.
The alien commander in the mother ship contacted the landing party and asked, “Is this planet suitable for our purposes?”
“No,” the party's leader replied in embarrassed consternation. “A furry earthling with only four legs, primitive feet and a rear-mounted, fuzzy antenna will not stop moving long enough for us to try it on. Worse, it seems to possess some sort of electrical ray-gun. And worst of all, it is getting its fur all over our feet and making them sweat!”
Nothing could have been more unwelcome for the aliens, as they believed that having sweaty feet was a sign of poor breeding and cowardice. The commander therefore ordered the exploration party to leave the earth and return to the mother ship at once.
Schmutzy was greatly disappointed to see his new friends leave. Eventually, he walked back to the woodcarvers’ cottage, hoping that his human hosts would not object to him smelling strongly like an over-ripe Limburger cheese and rotten mushrooms.
As for the aliens, it is thought that they next landed on Neptune, where they were warmly welcomed by its sponge-like inhabitants who especially enjoyed the sensation of being walked upon.