“I’m praying we get to keep Stevie…” For a parent who dislikes animals, these are dangerous words to hear.
We didn’t want a cat.
We didn’t want any pet, for that matter. My husband and I were absolutely determined (especially since I am allergic to cats) that our family household would remain pet-free forever. And I think it would have, had it not been for the arrival of six cuddly kittens at my parents’ homestead last spring.
Our kids were ecstatic when they heard that Grandpa’s and Grandma’s cat had had babies. “When can we go play with them?” they begged.
In the weeks that followed, we often popped in to visit the kittens. The kids would hover like mother hens over their new fur-ball friends. They named each one. There was Shadow, Fuzzball, Puss-in-Boots, Griffin, Midnight, and Acorn. I could see the delight in my children’s faces as “their” kittens romped through the grass, pounced on grasshoppers, and chased tails. I knew the kids were absorbing as much kitty-love as they could before the kittens had to leave for new homes.
The Warming of our Hearts
I began to wonder if maybe it was time to get our own pet. Not sure how to convince my husband, or myself for that matter, I prayed:
God, do my kids need a cat? And if they do, could you suggest that idea to my husband? Because I think he wants the responsibility of a pet even less than I do.
Two months passed. Then, one day, after a long day of working at his shop in the city, my husband arrived home with an intriguing story.
“It’s the strangest thing,” he said, shaking his head. “I was sitting on the couch by the door and thought I saw something move.”
“At the shop?” I asked.
“Yeah. I turned and saw the reflection of a cat on the side of the race car. But then it was gone. Couldn’t find it. It’s probably hiding in the shelves or something. Better not pee on the floor.”
I shrugged it off, but my husband couldn’t. For the entire weekend, whenever he tinkered at the shop, he kept an eye out for the illusive cat. He suspected it was still lurking. That, and I think, maybe, he wanted to prove that he hadn’t been seeing things. The weekend passed uneventfully, however.
A Shop Visitor
Monday arrived and with it, miserable weather. All morning and afternoon, it had been cold, windy, and raining. Just before dinnertime, while the kids and I made supper and waited for Dad to get home from work, the phone rang. It was my husband.
“Did you get my text?” he asked.
I checked my cell phone. Sure enough, he had sent me a text earlier that afternoon with a picture of a cat.
Or a kitten.
Or a teenage-itten.
It was hard to tell; it was terribly scrawny and had wet, matted fur.
“Is that a cat in your shop?” I said.
My husband then proceeded to explain how this malnourished kitty had shown up at noon that day. He’d seen it trying to lick grease off the barbecue by the back door. So, he had let the cat in and offered it the chicken he’d packed for his own lunch. The cat scarfed down the food, crawled straight onto his lap, and settled in for a snuggle. Since he had to get back to work, my husband created a make-shift litter box and put the cat in the shop bathroom for the afternoon. Now, he had stopped in at the shop on his way home to check on the cat and was calling me for advice.
“See? I did see a cat the other day,” my husband said. “What do I do with her? Stevie’s so cute…”
I groaned. “You named it?”
“Well, it was Steve. But then I realized it was a girl, so now it’s Stevie.”
I Don’t Want to Adopt a Stray Cat
“Can’t it stay in the shop for tonight?”
“There’s toxic chemicals everywhere. I’d have to lock her in the bathroom again. She can’t stay here.”
I was quiet for a moment. I stood in the kitchen with the phone to my ear, looking across the room at our three unsuspecting children. I sighed. “I’m allergic.”
“I already asked the guys at the shop next to me. They’re not missing a cat. I tried to get someone from work to bring it home. No one will take her.”
Even though adopting a stray cat was never, ever, EVER on our list of things we’d like to do one day, I think we both knew Stevie had to come home. Finally, we agreed to shelter the cat for the night and decide what to do with her in the morning.
Rubbermaid Cat House
While the kids and I waited for Stevie and my husband to arrive, we made a cat house.
We cut a little square door out of the side of a Rubbermaid bin and hot-glued an overhang to keep out the rain. My children selflessly sacrificed a plush green froggy-print blanket to pad the bottom of the bin for warmth and comfort. We checked online to find out what kind of leftovers we could feed the cat from the fridge and got her supper ready.
When my husband drove up, Stevie was greeted like royalty. She was petted, carried, fed, protected from wandering too far, and fed some more. She responded well and seemed to like us – especially Dad. We all went back inside to wash our hands and have supper.
Later, my husband and I did our best to explain to the kids that Stevie would probably only stay for one night.
“Well, I’m praying we get to keep Stevie,” my oldest child said.
“Ooo, yes! Let’s everyone pray everyday to keep Stevie!” my youngest agreed.
My middle child drew a picture with a message. It read, “I love Stevie. Meow.”
At bedtime, the kids stepped outside into the cold, wet darkness to say goodnight to the cat. She was curled up inside her warm Rubbermaid house, snug as a cub in a cave.
In the morning, the kids brought Stevie fresh water and played with her while I scrambled eggs for her breakfast. I checked my schedule for the day and added two tasks to my list: buy cat food and book a vet appointment.
And that was that. Stevie never left. How could she? We’d already fallen in love with her.
One evening, after a few weeks of being pet owners, my husband came home from another long day of work. I saw him come up the driveway, but he didn’t come into the house right away like he usually did. Finally, I heard the backdoor creak open and the shuffling sounds of work boots falling to the floor. When he walked into the living room, I sneezed.
“What were you doing outside?” I asked with a smirk. “I saw you drive up a while ago.”
He shrugged. “Was just in the garage saying hi to Stevie,” he said, trying not to smile.
Turns out, Stevie’s good for the soul. And I’m so glad we adopted a stray cat.
How Did You End up With a Pet?
Do you have a pet? If yes, are you a natural animal lover, or an initially reluctant pet owner – like I was?
I would love to hear the story of how you ended up with a pet. Please share in the comments below. 🙂
Looking for More?
- For another true story about how God answers prayers in unexpected ways, click here to read about my mid-meltdown angel. (Really. I don’t mind if you laugh at my expense. Go for it.)
- Love cats? There’s a hashtag for that! Check out #CatsOfTwitter.
- Check out this informative article on http://www.petfinder.com about the issue of stray cats in your community: https://www.petfinder.com/helping-pets/feral-cats/helping-stray-abandoned-kittens/