here kitty kitty

“Honey?” My husband said the other night, “There’s a cat in the house.”

This probably wouldn’t have come as such a shock if we actually owned a cat. I looked around the corner and sure enough, there sat a pretty little gray and white kitty, perched quietly by the front door.

Holy feline, where did that thing come from?

Before I could blink, our five-year-old (who had been in bed for two solid hours) rushed out of his room, took one look at the kitty and exclaimed, “Rucifer! What are you doing here?”

(In case you haven’t seen Disney’s version of Cinderella lately, “Rucifer” is what the mice call “Lucifer,” the evil cat. Nice, I know.)

The little kitty was so starved it could hardly manage a meow. I cracked open a can of something, fed and watered it, and in no time he was purring and loving on us like one of our own children.

We’ve never owned a cat before. At one point we had a beautiful black half Standard Poodle, half Golden Retriever (affectionately called a Goldendoodle), but when our wonderful dog was barely a year he was hit by a car and killed. It was devastating. We cried like babies and vowed to never, ever love an animal again (until the kids were older and we lived on a different street).

By midnight the cat thought he was a permanent resident. We almost kept him inside, but what if he belonged to someone? Besides, we don’t need a pet right now. We’re moving half way around the world, an animal will only complicate things. We decided if he was still there in the morning, we’d reevaluate.

He wasn’t.

Thanks to my loud little five-year-old, my children sat by the window off and on the next day, talking about Our Cat. They discussed names, fought over his sleeping arrangements, and waited. And waited and waited and waited.

It was a school night and I finally had to put them to bed. I made one more pass by the front window, just in case, and what do you think I saw sitting in the courtyard? Oh yeah, the cat came back.

For two days I fed him at night, and turned him out in the morning. I checked the ads, asked the neighbors, but no one was missing a little gray and white kitty. Finally I did the only thing I could think of: I called the Animal Master of the Universe, my friend, Caroline Clark.

“Caroline,” I said, “this cat keeps coming around and I have no idea what to do with him.” I ran through the details and waited for instructions.

“Oh, the sweet little kitty, take him into the vet for tests, make sure he doesn’t have an owner’s chip, and if he looks okay, bring him out here and I’ll fix up his coat.”

A pet? Now? All I could think of was the plane ride overseas–four kids and a cat. Circus material.

The next morning I drove to the Heartsong clinic in Clearfield (they handle basic vaccinations and “fixings” for a great price). The receptionist took one look at our little kitty and yelled for their cat expert.

“Hey,” she said, “Look at his ears!” The tech took a look and asked, “Where did you get him?”

I told her the story and she smiled. “Looks like you won the cat lottery, this little guy is worth at least $600, you could probably get $800.” She left me, mouth ajar, and took him back for testing.

When they emerged again, she asked, “Are you sure you want him? He’s a sweetheart, if his test come out clean our vet would really like to keep him.”

“I really don’t know,” I said. I took the kitty from her and sat down to wait for his test results. Maybe giving him to someone more stable would be best. I couldn’t bear the thought of our family getting attached and then losing him.

As I sat there thinking about handing him off, the door bell rang and in walked a dog. Not just any dog, my dog. The dog we had loved and lost. A big black goldendoodle.

And my cat sat there happily, relaxed as a blanket and purring like a vacuum.

Holy kitty litter, it was a sign.

In that moment I knew it was time to love a pet again. Yes, sometimes it’s a gamble, and sometimes they leave us too soon, but that kitty on my lap needed us.

My mother always says that the right pet will find you when you need it most. Rucifer, I hope you know what you’re in for because you’ve got us now.



  1. We brought a cat BACK from Ramstein 20+ years ago. It was the right thing to do. And as it turns out, she was the best traveler of the 4 kids. We also took a ginormous custom full-size Chevy van when we went over. Germans HATED us in that car, but we couldn’t afford to sell at a loss (1987). It was sketchy about where it would fit, but you’ll see the huge Mercedes trash trucks go all over little villages. It is a matter of guts, not size. And if the Germans don’t like our big cars, THEY should’ve won the war. Besides, biggest car has the right-of-way, regardless of the traffic law.

  2. I was never a pet person until a few years ago when I saw my boys’ eyes light up with a dog. Now we have a gerbil, a dog, and 2 rabbits. And I find myself a sucker for the little furry things.

  3. Awesome! He sounds lovely. Thanks for the vet recommendation!

  4. Piilani says:

    Hi Annie! I came across your blog doing a search on turbo fire postpartum because I’m just starting Turbo Fire and my baby is 4 1/2 mos. old. It has been years, but I think you and I used to live in DT the same time freshman year. I was one of 2 girls in the ward from Hawaii and I can’t remember clearly, but I think you might have been roomies w/Dena. I know the turbo post was an old one, but I just have to tell you that Beachbody workouts are great!! They shrank me back down after my first 3 babies and now with my 4th one, I’m overdue for working off the postpartum weight. I’ve done a whole variety of them and Turbo Jam was the most fun for me, but Insanity was definitely the most challenging. We’ll see how Turbo Fire goes for me. Did you end up doing Turbo Fire?

    • annie valentine says:

      Yes! I was Dena’s roommate, that’s crazy. And yes, I totally remember both of you.

      I have done nothing but sit on my arse and drink diet coke. That aside, I’ve only got six pounds to go and am seriously considering finally investing (now that #4 is finally weaned). So good hearing from you!

  5. Great story. Is his hame really Rucifier?

  6. Audrey Delaney says:

    I love this post, it totally made my day and I need a pick-me-up. Rucifer is so lucky to have found you guys. 🙂

  7. Oh lucky little kitty….Rucifer, how funny.
    Children can learn a lot from pets, how to love, how to care, how to be responsible…

    I remember one time we had a dog when just my first 2 were young….and they named it “moochay” (phonetic spelling)
    I wondered how in the heck they came up with that name. We were living in Canada at the time and on Sesame Street the word for my dog…is Mon Chien.
    They heard it as moochay.
    How cute is that.

  8. I am not really a cat person, but I gotta say if that one had walked into my life, I’d probably have kept him too.
    And the name? That is FABULOUS!!! I’m almost tempted to go get a cat so I can name it Rucifer.