A feline threat made last winter against Senate President Arnold Christensen, R-Salt Lake, may have led to the death of his neighbor's rat.

Early in the 1988 Legislature, an unhappy lobbyist threatened to drop cats off on Christensen's lawn because Christensen wouldn't support his bill.Christensen believed the lobbyist made the threat in jest and playfully fired back that he would welcome the cats. He had a problem with mice in his barn and the cats could offer a happy solution, he told the lobbyist.

The advent of the cats became a joke in the Christensen family. Occasionally someone would ask if they had arrived yet.

Until last week.

Christensen and his wife paid a visit to his elderly next-door neighbor, a widow who was recovering from surgery. As they approached the house, the couple saw several small platters full of milk in front of the home.

Christensen asked the woman about them and she told him she was feeding several cats. Since Christensen had never known the woman to have a pet, he asked her where she had gotten the cats and why she got them now.

"Someone keeps putting pregnant cats on my lawn," she told Christensen.

An optimistic woman, she said the blight of the cats wasn't all bad. "I'm pretty sure I had a rat out back there for awhile, but I think the cats have killed it," she told Christensen.

"When we walked out of there," Christensen said, "my wife looked at me; I looked at her and I said, `Do you really think they got the wrong house?' "

-Marnie Funk