King Krishnadeva Raya had become tired of receiving repeated complaints from his people that the kingdom was plagued by the rat menace. So he decided to distribute a large number of cats to the people. He also distributed cows to the people to feed milk to the cats. The people were very happy to get such gifts from their king. Among the people to be given a cat and a cow each was Tenalirama.
Some months later, the king called the people to ask them on how well the cats had been fed. All the cats looked well fed except for Tenalirama'scat. The king asked him the reason for it being so. Tenalirama replied that his cat did not drink milk as once he had given hot milk to drink and the cat'stongue had got badly singed.
King Krishnadea Raya asked him, ?In that case what did you do with the cow that was given to you??
Tenalirama replied that he was feeding his family on the cow'smilk. The king was angry at this and asked, ?What did you offer to the cat to eat, then? I did not give you the cow to feed your family.?
Tenalirama replied, ?I deliberately deprived the cat of food so that it would hunt around for the rats. It searched and preyed on rats as much as it could and now there are no rats left in my area.?
King Krishnadeva Raya was pleased at Tenalirama'spresence of mind and asked him what award he wanted. Tenalirama replied, ?You gave me the cow which is supplying us with milk and that is a big enough award for me. You wanted the rats to be exterminated and that job my cat is doing well enough. Out of hunger, it studiously searches out the rats wherever it can and swallows them. Gradually, all the rats can be wiped out of the kingdom if all the people were to follow in my footsteps.?
The king was pleased to hear Tenalirama'sreply.