I rescued my cat Zoot after Christmas 1999. At the time, I babysat my nephew every Tuesday night so my brother and his wife could have date night.
My nephew was preschool age, and for some reason, my brother and his wife decided to adopt two kittens, freshly weened from their mother. Their logic was that they had heard “cats were easy.”
“Cats are easy,” I replied. “But you didn’t get a cat. You got kittens, not even one, but two kittens.”
They clawed the tablecloth. Ripped up house plants. Caused a ruckus all night long.
The one was docile and loving. The other wouldn’t take poop from anybody.
That second one was Zoot.
My nephew liked to carry the kittens with their neck in his elbow. In a spirit of self-preservation, Zoot scratched him. This and other incidents led my brother to chase Zoot around the house, fling her down the basement stairs, and swat her with a broom.
But whenever I visited, and put the kids to bed, she would come out from hiding and curl against my neck using my then-shoulder-length hair as a blanket.
And she’d purr. As if saying, “save me.”
Christmas came and went. My sister-in-law pulled me aside and told me if I didn’t take Zoot she would have to take the cat to the shelter to keep my brother from killing her.
I asked my husband. We had married October 30, 1999. We had a tiny ramshackle apartment. He said, “I guess.”
I could tell countless stories about her. But to summarize, I never cried or napped alone. She liked to watch me wash dishes. When my daughter was born, Zoot always there whenever the baby cried. She loved company.
I taught her to sit and give her paw for a treat. So whenever I had anything she wanted, she would sit down and put her paw on my arm.
She also tended to crawl in bed and spread her body between me and my husband. And she would sit on me if it looked like my husband might be interested in hanky-panky.
To my surprise, my daughter went and stayed with Zoot the whole time.