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III. A celebrity cat

Saralee’s figure is filling in nicely, thank you.


Walter was the first to leave — a kitten from my brood of 11 with a pencil-thin mustache that gave him an uncanny resemblance to the late newsman Walter Cronkite. Defying warnings that naming the kittens would get them too attached, the friends who took me in named every one of them anyway — and they called that one Walter, never mind that Walter was a girl, as any mother could plainly tell.

While I’m not one of those parents always bragging about their kids, I must say that mine turned out to be so adorable that every one of them quickly found a loving home with a neighborhood connection.

I do miss the little ones sometimes. After all, I’ve been a mother most of my life, with three litters in two years — 28 kittens in all. But just between us, it’s nice to be away from that constant demand to provide breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks in between. I’ve been eating a lot on my own now — and my figure is filling in nicely, thank you, and my coat has taken on a nice sheen, if I do say so myself.

The two other cats who live here — kids from my first litter — seem to be softening on the idea of having me around. They’ve stopped hissing and swatting at me. And just yesterday, they finally let me get near their favorite toy: a mouse on a spring. I took a few swipes, but frankly, I don’t see the attraction. I’d prefer the real thing.

Anyway, I’ve been too busy for toys, because it turns out I’ve become something of a celebrity — complete with fan mail. And several of my kids have written to tell me about their new homes.

My fashionably black-furred boy and girl were adopted by a local fashionista who chose them because they matched her all-black wardrobe. They write most often — or at least email, the way kids do these days. They’ve seemed happy from the day they moved away.

dear mom

sorry we didn’t write you sooner but we’ve been getting used to our new digs and our new mom who just let us into the big room where the computer is so we will try to tell you all that has happened you should see our new bed and we learned to scratch on a special scratching place and we have a private litter box and we’re learning to jump really far and we listen to african music and our new mom spent all day with us playing and grooming us with a soft brush but not licking us nicely like you did and she’s naming us yohji after a japanese fashion designer and coco for a parisian designer who invented the little black dress and wore lots of pearls and our new mom kisses us all the time so we hope you do not worry about us

— coco and yoyo

My story caused some raised tails when locals learned that Pets Unlimited wouldn’t take in my kids and me. But the folks there did write and make a generous offer:

Dear Saralee,

We are so very happy that all your children found such loving homes! We’re sure all your children have made their new homes much happier places. We wanted to let you know that Pets Unlimited would love to offer all of your kittens and their new families our adoption gift bags filled with kitten food samples, helpful hints on welcoming your kids into new their families and other fun things. 

Wishing you, your kittens and their new families all the best,

— Pets Unlimited Shelter and Adoption Center

The princess

One of my little ones — a delicate girl so pretty they called her the princess — went to live in a home just a couple of blocks away with three bouncy red-haired kids. I hear she’s now called Princess Tinsel. But you know what they say: If you love something, you have to let it go free. No matter its name.

I just have to trust my kittens will make their own ways in the world, as my girl Walter seems to be doing, according to this recent message:

Dear Mom, 

I love my new home. My family, a 13-year-old girl and her mom, are very nice to me. They also have a cat that is six years old. At first the cat, Peanut, didn’t like me and hissed at me. I think he got jealous of how cute I was. But now we are friends and we play together a lot.

Love, your daughter, 

— Walter

Walter and her new friend


Another missive came by post — not from my kids, Brady and Jack, but from their adoptive fathers, who wrote:

Brady and Jack have brought more joy to our lives than you might know. Thank you for giving them a great beginning and for giving us the pleasure of their company. We love those two little guys so much.

And they enclosed a generous check with a curious P.S. that read: Here’s a little something from us to help with Saralee’s operation.

The dads recommended that I see that charming Dr. Mike Moran at Presidio Way Veterinarian, near Laurel Village. He told me I had a very expressive tail during my first visit. Now he promises he’s going to “fix” me.

I’m not sure what that means. But I have an appointment to see him again this Thursday — and I’m hoping I run into that handsome tabby in the waiting room again.