Relationships

An Unexpected Story of Love at First Sight

An Unexpected Story of Love at First Sight

Last year, on an ordinary Tuesday morning, something magical happened…

It started with a text message. My husband, Ross, is a civil engineer. Specifically, he works on bridges, which he sometimes has to climb over, under, and even into. (Sometimes he even sees scorpions.) The work is often in rural places with poor reception, so I don’t usually hear much from Ross when he’s traveling. This was especially true last December. I had finished my Ph.D. in English six months before, but I couldn’t find a job, and we didn’t love our living situation. It was a tough time. Neither of us was reaching out much.

So, I was surprised when one evening my phone started blowing up with texts from Ross, who was on a work trip in north Texas. When I opened my messages, I found a dozen photos of a big-eared, calico kitten. By itself, this wouldn’t normally surprise me. I’ve never met anyone more obsessed with cats than my husband. But these photos seemed to be telling a more involved story. There was one of the kitten on the bridge, another of the kitten in Ross’ arms. The kitten rolling on the ground. The kitten in the work truck. I called back as quickly as I could.

“Hello?” Ross answered, sounding happier than he had in months.

“Oh, my gosh,” I said. “Tell. Me. Everything.”

It happened like this: Ross and his coworker were working on a bridge in the middle of nowhere, miles away from anything. Ross was down on the riverbank looking up at the bridge when he heard a soft squeak. Then he heard it again, a little louder — could it be? Sure enough, across the bank, there it was. A kitten, barreling towards him.

As Ross described the next few moments, I pictured time slowing to a crawl, Chariots of Fire-style: I pictured Ross, scrambling up the bank. Ross, running across the bridge, shouting “It’s a caaaaaat” at his startled coworker. Ross, throwing his engineering notes into the air as he ran (this last part may not have happened).

Once the kitten realized Ross was coming, it ran up the bank to meet him, and they fell into each other’s arms like characters at the end of a romantic comedy.

“And then what happened?” I asked, waiting for the part where Ross tells me we’re keeping it.

Ross said that the kitten stayed with them the whole day. They got him some food and, while they drove from one bridge to the next, the kitten fell asleep in the car. And at each bridge they inspected, they let the kitten out so he could follow them around while they worked.

But then Ross reminded me: he still had a full week on the road. He couldn’t possibly keep the kitten with him all that time. Instead, he and his coworker had dropped him off at an animal shelter in Paris, Texas, a tiny town 300 miles away from our home in Austin. Ross said the goodbye was horrible, but at least the shelter staff seemed excited. They didn’t have any other kittens, they told him, and they were sure they’d find him a family right away.

“That’s great,” I said, but really I was thinking back off, Paris. This kitten already has a family.

I knew what I had to do.

I eased Ross off the phone, trying not to show how nervous-excited I was. “Oh my gosh, would you look at the time? LoveyoumissyouBYE.” I found the shelter’s number and called.

And that is how I found myself in the car the next morning at 5 a.m., on a mission. Five hours, multiple podcasts, and more than one missed turn later, I burst through the shelter’s doors. “Hi-hello-I-left-a-bunch-of-messages; I-think-you-have-my-kitten?” We walked past a seemingly endless line of barking dogs and into the cat room.

Then, just like that: 3.1 pounds of hope was purring against my chest.

After we visited the vet, Unnamed Baby Boy Kitten and I headed home. And every night when we talked on the phone, Ross reminisced about the kitten. I was so afraid of giving the secret away, I made faces in the mirror to distract myself.

Miraculously, I didn’t let the cat out of the bag. On the contrary: one week later, when I finally heard Ross’s keys in the door, I plopped the kitten into a box that I had wrapped. Ross opened the box, and when the kitten hopped out it was love at second sight. They’ve been inseparable ever since.

We named the kitten Grendel, after the lonely monster who haunts the forest in Beowulf, an Old English poem I used to love teaching. Sometimes we wonder how he came to be under a bridge in the forest. The most plausible story — that he was abandoned — is too sad to dwell on, so we like to say he was raised by a family of squirrels.

After six more months of false starts and disappointments, I finally found a job that allowed us to move back to D.C., a city we both love. Things eventually got better, as things always eventually do.

Grendel is one now, and still at least once a week Ross will talk about how he found him in the forest, and I’ll talk about how I drove 600 miles to bring him the rest of the way home. More than that, though, our sweet, dopey, grown-up kitten — plucked from a riverbank just because Ross was in that particular place at that particular time — reminds me that beautiful and surprising things can happen even when you feel lost in the woods. Maybe especially then. That’s how most fairytales start, after all.

And we all lived happily ever after.

The kitten on the bridge.

The kitten in Ross’s work truck.

The kitten driving home with Haylie.

Happy at home!

Do you have any pets? How did you come together?

P.S. An open letter to dogs, and 12 reader comments on love.

(Illustration by Alessandra Olanow for Cup of Jo.)

  1. Joyce says...

    When I saw the illustration I thought: Please be about a cat! So happy the story did not disappoint.

    My (unsolicited) advice to people wanting to adopt cats in a more traditional way (through shelters, rescues, etc.) — don’t get one, get two from the start! Litter mates get along the best. :) That being said, if you have one and want to introduce a second (like we did after 3 yrs with an only cat), then BE PATIENT. It was a cat civil war for weeks but now they’re BFF’s.

    My cats are more work than I ever thought they’d be and bring me more joy than I ever imagined!

    • A says...

      I agree!! We rescued our first two together and then rescued two more together! Took awhile for the two older ones to get along with the two younger ones but they are all friends now. They bring us so much joy everyday!

  2. Jill D says...

    I have 3 dogs and they are all delightful but our most recent addition is the most romantic adoption story. It is also echos the theme of love at first sight.

    Last October I was driving from Iowa to Arkansas to visit my in-laws. I was driving solo because my husband and his brother left earlier in the week and I had to work. It is about an 8 hour drive and I was enjoying the time alone, listening to podcasts and audio books.

    About an hour south of Kansas City I stopped at a convenience store right off the highway for gas. As I was filling up I noticed a smaller border colliesque pup running between the gas pumps / garbage cans. I could see it had on a collar and assumed it belonged to a patron.

    In addition to our two dogs my husband and I also foster dogs through a local rescue organization. We had recently taken a hiatus from fostering so we did not have any extra pups at home. Because of my love of dogs and our fostering my attention is always drawn to canines. Also this dog looked a little like my old dog Cowboy that had died several years ago at 14. I continued to watch the dog and realized she did not belong to anyone getting gas or in the parking lot. She was running between garbage cans looking for food.

    I bought a hamburger and was able to get her to come to me. I was hoping for a tag on the collar. She was a little shy but hunger won out and I was able to grab her collar. No tag. She was definitely in rough shape with sores on her muzzle, underweight, and sparse fur on half of her body and most likely covered in fleas….

    At this point I was due at my in-laws in a couple of hours and it was Friday afternoon. My in-laws are lovely people and have a pristine home. They do not have pets and while they enjoy the antics of our pets in our home … we do not take our dogs with us when we visit. Out of respect and familial harmony I could not take an unknown flea infested dog to their home.

    With the help of another traveler I got the dog in my car after covering the back seat in a blanket and yoga towels. The dog was so incredibly docile and sweet. She sat in the backseat and did not move.

    I called a local shelter and they were completely full. I asked the shelter about a local vet and there was one a few minutes away right on the highway. I took her to the vet and they checked for a microchip but there was not one.

    At this point it is late Friday afternoon and a decision had to be made.. I asked them to board her and give her all necessary vaccinations and a flea bath etc. I told them I would pick her up next week and I handed over my credit card.

    I was back on the road within 45 minutes of finding her and was not late to my in-laws. I did not say a word about my adventure until my husband and I were driving back the next week. I told him we had to stop and pick up a dog in Missouri. He was not fazed and assumed we were transporting for a foster organization.

    After we picked her up I told my husband the story. We made a plan to get her back to health and list her with our local foster/rescue organization. She laid in the backseat and slept for the majority of the drive.

    After we got home we took her to our vet where she was treated for heart worm , a skin/fur infestation, and abscessed teeth(the sores on her muzzle). The vet said she would have died within a few months without treatment.

    Several weeks later she was much improved and doing well in our home. My husband broached the topic of listing her with our local foster organization to find her a permanent home. My reply, “she is home.”
    He smiled (okay this is a bit of an exaggeration, he did take a little convincing but not much).

    We were both smitten with her. We had fostered many dogs and while we loved them we were always able to surrender them to their forever homes. She was different. I could not let her go.

    She is sweet beyond words and gets along well with our other 2 dogs. She loves to chase squirrels, her favorite toy is small stuffed Aflac duck that she throws in the air on repeat and pounces on when it says AFLAAAAC , and she will not get on the bed unless invited (she is always invited).

    I am not sure what happened with her… she was loved by someone other than us … a family on vacation who lost her and had to return home..the death of an owner… I do not know but we belong to each other now and she is micro chipped :). We just had our one year anniversary on October 22nd.

    Her name is Highway.

    • Em says...

      Ohh! This made me cry. I’m glad she found her forever home with you.

    • Jill D says...

      Thank you Em! So are we.

  3. freya says...

    sweetest story!
    please post more photos with the kitten’s face!!

  4. Jenny says...

    My heart! What a beautifully written story by Haylie. I love this so much.

  5. Amanda says...

    I LOVE this story! Probably because it is so similar to one of my own :)

    My husband and I adopted our dog Hairy Potter from a wonderful animal rescue that works mostly on the Navajo reservation in Northern New Mexico and Arizona. I had liked the group on Facebook, and I was always cooing over the sweet, sweet animals they were rescuing, fostering, and adopting out. One day, a little Siamese kitten popped up in my feed. The rescue had found him with a badly broken hind leg, and had to amputate it, but other than that he was on the mend and looking for a home.

    Somehow, deep in my gut I KNEW that this kitten needed to be a part of our family. Unfortunately, there was a ton of interest in him already, but I threw my hat into the ring anyways with a simple Facebook comment. Lo and behold, Hairy Potter’s foster mom vouched for me as a good previous adopter, and a few days later I broke it to my husband that we would be driving 766 miles roundtrip (in a February snowstorm, no less) to bring the kitten home. My husband, never a cat guy, was hesitant, but we made the drive and 2.5 years later, Alastor Moody is the littlest love of our life. To my surprise, my husband fell head over heels and absolutely adores our little 3-legged, 8-pound ball of purrs. Here’s to happy endings!!

    P.S. If you are looking for an amazing addition to your family, Blackhat Humane Society (https://www.blackhathumanesociety.org/) is an incredible org that does great work, and I found out after the fact that they will work with their network of volunteers to help get pets to you – no 766 mile trip required!!

  6. Lauren E. says...

    I freaking hate cats and I’m crying at my desk at work after reading this. What a wonderful story.

  7. Mariah says...

    We have two dogs and have adopted both. Our first, we adopted at a shelter run by a local police station in CT (where we lived). Technically, my boyfriend (now husband) adopted our dog while I was traveling for work in PA (we had been actively looking to adopt a dog) and he saw the picture of our pup on Petfinder and “happened” to be in the area and stopped by to visit. They played and he eventually left devastated when they told him the dog already had an application from another home. The dog (who was a little under a year) had been at the shelter for 7 months and his time was running out, so we were both happy to hear that he actually found a forever home.

    The next day, Officer Little, called my husband and told him that the adoption fell through and told him that “Otto”, now “Otter”, would really love a family of his own for Christmas. Lo and behold, Otter came home Dec 21 and I came home Dec 22. I was pretty upset that my then live-in-boyfriend would get a dog without me having a chance to meet him, but I am an animal lover so I tried to be understanding about the “love at first sight” impulse decision. I arrived home after a 6-hour drive, so excited to meet our “bundle of joy” only to be growled at when I (stupidly) bear-hugged this large pit bull that I had never met before. Needless to say, I was NOT thrilled and told both Otter and my BF that he would in fact not be getting a family for Christmas because of the aggression. The next day, I had to work from home alone with Otter (the shelter was closed for the holidays). He was so skinny and was literally shaking with fear. Eventually, he came over to me and I put down a blanket and invited him up on the couch. He literally, nudged the laptop off my lap and curled his entire 65lb body (now 80 lbs) into my lap and fell into a deep sleep. I was pretty apprehensive but saw how scared he was. From that moment on, he has never shown any aggression towards anyone and is the sweetest, most lovable mamas boy you could ever imagine. He brings us so much love and happiness and I cannot fathom my life without him.

    Lessons learned, a) don’t bear-hug a strange dog without giving them the chance to even sniff you (DUH!), b) sometimes we all need a little time to adjust before our true selves come out. Pitbulls get a bad rap. They are very strong, powerful dogs and in the wrong hands can do serious damage. Proper knowledge and training is needed with any animal, especially one that is strong and has a damaged past. I also learned, nothing is inherently bad and the stigma surrounding this breed makes me sad.

    Otter and Peaches have their own Instagram if you’d like to see: https://www.instagram.com/ottersrednose/?hl=en

    • Alyce says...

      Love their IG! Your babes are adorable, and Otter really does look like the sweetest dog. Thanks for sharing.

    • Mariah says...

      @alyce – thank you so much!!

  8. Vava says...

    Very cool! There is a similar story by a Scot who is traveling the world on his bike. A kitty found him in Albania and he adopted her. Her name is Nala and she rides on the front of the bike. 1bike1world. He’s on Facebook and Insta.

  9. ANDREA says...

    We’ve rescued 3 cats from bad situations. I would also argue for the slow burn. For cat #2, I spent 5 weeks looking at her through the window of a shuttered deli (marshalls had closed the deli and the owners left her behind for the landlord who threw food into the deli). By the time we got access to her, she had been there for 3 months all by herself. Even then, we thought we would give her to another friend. It was only 4 months later that I realized how much I loved her. We love the things we care for and care for the things we love. Get that dog or cat and you will learn to love them!

  10. amy says...

    I LOVE THIS!!!!!

  11. Kim says...

    I found my Milly on Craigslist of all places. There were 5 puppies in the picture, three short-haired that looked like labs, and then two fluffy ones. (The mom had been rescued without them knowing she was pregnant with 10 puppies!) I sent a message saying “are either of the fluffy ones left?” and the brown one was, and I went to see her and looked into her sweet little light brown eyes and the rest is history. :)

  12. Leah says...

    Our dog is adopted from Puerto Rico, from a litter of 9 pups born on “Dead Dog Beach”. She is our sweet little thing <3 My husband had never had a dog before – and she's the light of his life. Her name is Mugs – short for "Cotton Headed Ninny Muggins" .

  13. Priscilla says...

    Our cat is Grendel, too! My husband named him after John Gardner’s Grendel – in Gardner’s retelling of part of Beowulf, Grendel is essentially a monster with a heart of gold (just as our cat is such a sweet furry buddy…but also compelled to kill baby chipmunks).

  14. Caitlin says...

    This is the best post that I have ever read on this blog.

  15. Julie says...

    Our first kitten was born in our compost bin…which is how we found out we had an unspayed/neutered feral colony of 12 cats. Last summer we ended up getting them all spayed and neutered, but not before we had six litters and took 16 kittens to the humane society.

    But that first litter, there was a very tiny gal, half the size of the others, and not knowing her gender, we named her Oscar the Tiniest Grouch. We put her on hold at the humane society because we brought her in at 3 weeks and she had to be bottle fed. She couldn’t be adopted till she was 2 lbs and it took four months. I didn’t think I was a cat person, but I love her. She’s been with us over a year now, and she has a little sister (who is 3 lbs bigger than her). But we love to tell her the story of her birth, how she was born in our compost bin. We’re still friends with her foster parents too. I don’t even remember what the house was like before we had the two little gals living with us.

  16. This was the sweetest story and warmed my heart when I was feeling exceptionally cranky.

    Thank you for this story!

  17. Lora says...

    Well now I’m crying at work

  18. Kelli says...

    AAAAAAAAAAHHHHH I LOVE THIS STORY!!!!!

  19. MK says...

    Oh. My. Gawd. This is the sweetest story I’ve ever read.

  20. Cynthia says...

    Such a sweet story! It’s quite possible Grendel could have been raised by squirrels. He has such handsome stripes. We adopted our chihuahua mix from the local SPCA. It was love at first sight. All around us dogs were barking and cats were meowing, and I held him in my arms like a baby and he didn’t make a noise. We’d been looking for a small dog and he was the only one there. Chester was the name he came with, and we kept it because he was already 5, and we felt it might be hard for him if we changed it. He will be 12 next month, so he has spent over half of his life with us. I am all for adopting pets.

  21. TG says...

    Just what I needed to read after a long arduous day !! So dreamy !!

  22. Sara says...

    <3 <3 <3 <3 <3

  23. Lulu says...

    Oh this made me cry. Happy, happy tears ( the best kind!). Thank you for sharing this story with us.
    X Lulu

  24. Lisa says...

    I waited 18 years (yep – 18) for my husband to agree to a puppy. When we looked at his details – he was born on my birthday and strangely was an only child too (no litter mates). It was a love connection immediately. We never had children and my getting this tiny baby puppy has changed me for the better. I am a different person now. Completely and utterly in love like I have never felt before. (thanks husband! sorry you have been replaced as my #1!)

  25. Laura C. says...

    Awwwww THANK YOU for sharing this!!

  26. Rachel says...

    Tears are streaming down my face as I read this one. I have a husband and a human son, but the only time I really experienced love at first sight was with my beloved orange tabby, Patrick. I saw his picture online at a time that I was living alone far from home. When I saw him at the shelter, time stopped and he was literally glowing. He hopped right into my arms as if to say ‘hi mom! I’m happy you’re finally here’. We were inseparable for 9 years and 6 months ago I had to put him down. I can still feel him at the end of my bed every single morning and for a brief second I forget he’s not here.

  27. Claudia says...

    Thank you so much for this lovely story. And although I don’t know you I’m so glad that “Things eventually got better, as things always eventually do.” :)
    I consider myself as a dog person, but I had had cats for a long time.
    I lived in Istanbul for 2 and a half years, I relocated there from Lisbon with my cats. At the time, I did not know that Istanbul and Turkey in general have this wonderful love story with cats: there were literally cats everywhere.
    One day my friend and I found an orange kitten near to a very busy road and eventually we caught him (well, after 30 minutes and with the help of 6 people – this was almost a feral cat). The plan was to keep him safe, get him used to people, take him to the vet, etc., and put him for adoption.
    At the time I only had 1 cat, Lynx – a tabby that thinks I’m his mother 😊 and that is the sweetest pet ever – and the 2 of them clicked and become siblings, Lynx adopted the little guy. So I decided to keep the kitten and named him Kedi, which is cat in Turkish and it turns out that he is a mix of Norwegian Woods/Maine Con cat. Just gorgeous!
    The 3 of us have moved from Turkey and lived in Ireland and came back to Portugal, because of my work and I like to think that we are the 3 Musketeers, always together to wherever the wonderful places my work requires me to move.

  28. Kristin says...

    Wow! I can’t compete with this beautiful story, but here’s mine. We already had two cats (my husband’s limit) and I was at a daylong retreat at a cathedral that had a feral cat living outside. During a break, we went outside and saw 8 kittens. It had rained several inches the night before, and all of the kittens but the tiniest were dry and fluffy. The wet one looked at me, rolled over, and looked at me again upside down. I brought her inside (not that I knew she was a her, she was still too young to tell) and called my husband and told him I was bringing a cat home and that I had to do it. I held her the rest of the retreat and then took her home in a big Panera bagel box. Well, I TRIED to, but she climbed out so I held a kitten and shifted my car and steered very awkwardly. The people at the cathedral found homes for the other kittens, hopefully had the mom spayed because I haven’t seen more kittens there, and Loki is now 15, and you’d never guess she came to us looking like an underfed, wet mouse. For years my daughter called her our free cat, until I finally made her understand how much cheaper a shelter cat is than a feral cat!

  29. Hilary says...

    This story made my heart burst and I smiled like a goof the entire time I was reading it.

  30. Babs says...

    This was the story I needed today. So sweet.
    And I second (third? fourth?) the request for more pet content. I call my dog the love of my life, and it doesn’t bother my husband at all.

  31. Jessica says...

    Sometimes a story just hits you in the gut and you’re crying over your coffee at breakfast. Thank you.

  32. Cate says...

    I follow an Instagram account of a Scotsman, Dean, who is cycling around the world – 1bike1world. Dean found a abandoned kitten on his journeys, Nala, she now travels with him in her own little carrier. He had also helped other abandoned animals he comes across on his travels to be rehomed.

  33. VVeronika says...

    Oh, I totally teared up..and almost the same thing happened to us 3 weeks ago. We found a very similar kitten – probably 8 weeks old – I saw a car almost running over him. We knew we had to rescue him. We tried all the tricks as he was very very scared, but eventutally we managed to get him into our cat’s carrier. The plan was to find a home for him, but it never happened – he stayes with us, he is the sweetest kitten, so loving, so gentle…and just like in this essay we keep talking about how we found him, how lucky we happened to be there to rescue him – he had serious eye problems and would had died without us for sure. Thats how Harry (Houdini) arrived to our life.

  34. Kay says...

    Thank you for sharing this story. I am not a cat person in any way but I needed a bit of happiness and magic and knowing that happily ever after is still a possibility. x

  35. Klara says...

    Yes, I have 2 guinea pigs, twin sisters. (One of them passed away right before their 6th birthday last January though.) They’re my family and have been with me through a very rough time: even then I felt loved, because of them.

    How they got to live with me also seems predestined. I grew up with guinea pigs and when I went to live on my own, I waited for an appartement that was suitable for keeping pets. After 3 years the situation was perfect and I started looking online. All the while I had been imagining taking in a black guinea pig. When I started looking, I lived alone, so I decided on 2 guinea pigs so that they would not be lonely when I wasn’t at home. I looked out for brothers (since we only ever had male piggies at home). Within a few days I found an online ad for 2 black guinea pig brothers -part of a litter with 2 extra girls- and they lived only a few streets away from me!!

    Called the owners, went to meet them the next day. Big disappointment though: hours before, they found out that one of the ‘brothers’ was actually a girl (it’s hard to tell when they’re little), and they wanted to keep the girls. I loved the whole litter instantly, it felt like we had been waiting to meet eachother all along. But I couldn’t get it over my heart to take the 1 boy home, because I knew he would be lonely. I decided to look on and went to visit a few other guinea pigs. As much as I wanted (and still want) to take ALL the guinea pigs home and save them all and give them the best life, I didn’t feel the same as with the litter I met before and I was still sad about having to leave them.

    2 months later, on Easter Sunday, I decided to text the owners to let them know I still didn’t find guinea pigs quite like theirs and hoped they were doing okay. The next day I got a sweet reply, saying they had a surprise for me. Upon reading my message, they had decided to give 2 of the girls to me (amongst them the one they thought was a boy) and I could come and pick them up the next day!! To this day, this is one of the two best days of my life and I still find it magical how it all came together. It was meant to be, my little Easter eggs!

  36. MB says...

    What a lovely story! I have a very similar looking cat, also found as a kitten on the street. I was driving back from college for Thanksgiving and stopped to use an ATM in a small town, and heard a tiny meow. The kitten was scraped up from having licked the pavement trying to get nourishment :( and then drove home in my arms for the 5 hour journey. When I brought him in for Thanksgiving dinner, my grandmother, whose eyesight wasn’t great, was convinced I’d picked up some sort of bobcat kitten as his ears were so big (like your Grendel). I live abroad so he’s lived with my parents for 14 years now but still whenever I visit he snuggles up to me like the day I found him

  37. Allison says...

    Such a sweet story! Who says love at first sight can’t happen?

  38. Sama says...

    I never believed in love at first sight, until I met my dog! I was at dinner at a friends’ place in undergrad and their neighbours had a litter of puppies. I had no plans for a puppy, but when I saw her I knew it. I don’t even remember how many other puppies were there – or even all the friends that were around. I just told them I wanted the puppy, drove to an ATM, withdrew way more money than I could afford and picked her up. I called my veterinarian dad on the way home and he told me to turn around and give her back, “we don’t buy dogs, we adopt them! she’s not the right kind of dog for you anyway! You’re a student!” but I was so in love. She’s 16 now and was just diagnosed with cancer. We have lived on three continents together and lived a big life. I love taking care of her at this stage, the slow walks, late night bathroom breaks, her long naps and spurts of puppy playfulness. She is still so special, I can’t imagine my life without her.

  39. Adeliana says...

    Oh my god, I did not expect to fall so in love with this story – my heart is full of joy for you all.

  40. Nina says...

    WHAT A BEAUTIFUL CAT

  41. Alice says...

    This made my heart melt.
    I have a dog which i can say in absolute conviction that i love her more than anything (with the exception of my husband)
    She came into my life 2 years after painstakingly researching the kind of dog that made sense given i live in an apartment and going to every shelter in the city. Lo and behold i saw her when i was in a breeder looking to cuddle a dog because i was so deprived of dog’s love and when i pick her up, she put her arm around me LIKE A TODDLER would do and from then on we are inseparable.

  42. Ancy says...

    I died from love for this couple. Ahhh, the feels.

  43. Julia says...

    OMG, I’m crying. This is the sweetest story ever! You both are wonderful people! Thank you for rescuing sweet Grendel! We have 4 rescued cats and we currently foster two kittens which were brought to us in a plastic bag some weeks ago. If we hadn’t taken them, they would have been abandoned and they would certainly have died since they were too young to take care of themselves. One is just climbing up my leg right now, lol.

  44. Lana says...

    Puuuurfect.

  45. Brooke says...

    Oh my gosh, Haylie, this made me cry joy-tears!! What a super scrappy, joyful, tender story of you both being so open hearted to your dear kitten and each other and life. So beautifully written too… The suspense (and humor) was fantastic.

  46. Shauna says...

    My cats were orphaned at a week old outside my apartment when I was a peace corps volunteer in the Philippines. I told my landlady that there were kittens alone outside and she said, “Oh, don’t worry. We will throw them in the river.” So I adopted them. They could both fit in the palm of my hand and I fed them baby formula out of an eye drop bottle and carried them around in a cardboard box until they were old enough to be on their own. I named them Richard and Parker after the tiger in The Life of Pi (which I was in the middle of reading when I found them). I ended up bringing them home when my service ended. That was 10 years ago. Now they are besties with my husband and kids. We’ve been through everything together.

  47. anne says...

    This is such a lovely story. I often describe my rescue dog as my “one successful online date” after seeing her on a rescue site and going to meet her. I took her home, slept together the first night and have been madly in love ever since.

  48. Yes, yes, yes. My gutteral reaction to those precious pictures is just “CAAAAAAAT.” It makes me miss my own little fur-baby who I got as a tiny kitten.

    His mom was a stray that a friend had taken in before he realized she was pregnant. I came over a few weeks later and couldn’t take my eyes off the smallest tabby. I remember being was so convinced that he needed me, but, of course, it was I who needed him. He taught me so much love and patience. Say what you will about dogs, but there’s nothing like a cat’s quiet, companionable love and gently kneading paws.

  49. That is maybe the sweetest thing, ever. I LOVE this real-life fairytale!!

  50. leah says...

    This is, hands down, by far, 100% the greatest story of all time.

  51. Kate says...

    MADE MY WHOLE DAY!!!!🐱

  52. neha says...

    I picked the shyest smallest dog in the litter because the people taking care of the pups told me that he listened and took everything in but didn’t just jump in!! He’s growing into the most thoughtful and playful and big dog – an old old soul!!! To think that I nearly missed him 😱😰 and I am so so grateful for him!!
    To those who are saying that they can’t get a dog, check with a vet and ask them if there were any ideas – they might confirm your suspicions or you might be pleasantly surprised… I was told by the dog rescue places that would not give me a dog due to my circumstances but the vet helped me decide to get home a brand new pup from a very responsible breeder!! We are SO thrilled to be together!!
    PS: my most favourite post on COJ!!

  53. Sara W says...

    In 2017, my life felt like it was in shambles. My husband and partner of 10+ years was checked out. Our son was looking at colleges. I was at a stressful job and had fallen into a deeply mired depression. I went to a Farmer’s Market and met a lady carrying around the cutest animal I’d ever laid eyes upon. He was a mini dachshund, and I fell hard. As I loved on that little creature in the middle of a Jacksonville, FL busy marketplace, I felt more alive and present than I had in years. So I got the breeder info and called her the very next day despite protests from my husband about raising a puppy. She sent me photos, and the first picture I opened was of my Oliver. His little face just overwhelmed me, and I thought “That’s my baby!” The day I picked him up, he and I became inseparable. In the last 2.5 years, we’ve done a cross country move to TX as a family…my husband stopped coming home and filed for divorce…I’ve started a new job…reminded myself that I’m a person who can take care of herself and make new friends. I’d like to say I did it alone, but that would be so very far from the truth. Ollie was my constant companion through this terrible period. Everyone always comments on how well I’m doing, but no one witnessed my savage sadness except a tiny dappled dachshund who reminds me that true love sometimes isn’t in a husband…..sometimes it has fur, and barks too much, and loves fiercely. I’m so glad you and your husband were there for that kitten!!

  54. Blair says...

    Our dog Widget found us!

    We were in my husbands college apartment, and it was raining that day. We opened the door to go outside, and there she was curled up on the porch taking shelter from the rain. (Widget dislikes all forms of precipitation). She looked at us, and we looked at her, and then she ran inside! We looked at each other and said “Well I guess we have a dog now.”

    Widget has been with us 5 years now, and she is just the best. She has a huge personality, is super smiley, and wags her tail with her whole body. Some of our family was initially skeptical of Widget (she is a pit bull), but she has won every single one of them over! She is just a great dog, and we love her to bits.

  55. how have i only discovered your blog today!? i absolutely loved this post!! (you’re a star wife, you are!) but more than that, i love the way you write. you’ve definitely got yourself a brand new follower. keep on keeping on!

  56. Maddy says...

    I am from Paris, TX and now live in Austin. I have spent many an hour volunteering at that animal shelter, and I’m so excited we got to play a role in this lovely story.

    • Haylie Swenson says...

      Oh my gosh, Maddy! Thank you so much for your work. The shelter was so lovely, and everyone was so nice and excited for us. I’m forever grateful for shelter volunteers <3

  57. A says...

    Beautiful!!! My kitties get extra cuddles tonight.

  58. CRYING AND MY EYES ARE BLURRY CANT SEE WHAT IM TYPING

    This might be my favorite story I’ve read on this blog to date.

    I lost my beloved cat, Mr. Handsome, December and this cat looks just like him. It reminds me that nothing is ever lost.

    I love this and I love Grendel ❤️

  59. ViVi says...

    My neighbor’s boyfriend was in his work truck on a job & found a tiny black kitten lying in the middle of the street. He took her to the vet- she had a concussion & a front paw that was severely damaged. Weeks later when she was strong enough the vet amputated her front leg. She is now healthy & doesn’t even know she only has 3 legs. She can do anything a normal cat can do. They named her Luna & she is loved by all of us. I have had cats my whole life & each one has come to me in an unexpected way.

  60. Claire says...

    UM this is exactly the kind of story I needed to read today. Thank you!! Makes me want to get a cat even more. What a little sweetheart!

    C

  61. B says...

    I am not a cat person…in fact, they make me very sneezy. However, this was such a LOVELY story! I found myself just grinning away as I read on. What a wonderful and loving gesture. ❤

    I am ending my night here. No more looking at the news or score of the Nats game. Off to bed on a happy note. Thanks and enjoy that cat!

    • Haylie Swenson says...

      Thanks so much, B! More importantly: go Nats!!!!

  62. “Beautiful and surprising things can happen even when you feel lost in the woods.” Thank you for this reminder. I’m writing this from my studio in Austin, where I’m currently finding myself a bit lost in the darkness before the dawn. We adopted five chicks recently and these fluffy bundles of warmth are such a balm in the midst of disappointment and frustration

  63. Virginia says...

    This is my favorite story of all time.

  64. Hanna says...

    One day I went to a pet expo on a whim, while I was looking at kittens I felt a tap on my shoulder. I turned to see a big white cat reaching through the bars of his crate to demand my attention. He tilted his head, chirped at me and I fell in love. But he was an older, half blind cat with obvious health issues so I left the expo alone. That night was like something out of a perfume commercial – I couldn’t get his goofy face out of my mind. The next morning I drove to the shelter and brought him home. He was the most amazing cat, the happiest, most loving dude. He only lived a little more than a year after I brought him home (see obvious health issue above) but I figure I gave him an awesome year and he knew he was loved beyond measure. Even though his passing left me heartbroken I would do it all again in a hot minute. So my message is don’t overlook the older, not so perfect critters.

  65. Rachel C says...

    What an absolutely lovely story, all the way around.

  66. Gina says...

    I LOVE this! I did something similar. As a birthday surprise, I enlisted a friend to drive with me from Denton, TX to Crownpoint, NM (12 hours one way!) on a secret mission to find a stray dog that my husband fell in love with on a work trip. We found her tick-covered, malnourished self at dawn when she literally came bursting into view, excited that someone was actually talking to her, petting her, and giving her food. Three and a half years later, it’s an epic love story that wins me brownie points every time!

    P.S. We’re actually cat people, but when he told me about her over the phone, I instantly knew I was her momma.

    • Hali says...

      EPIC!! Staunch cat person too, but when you know, you know!!

    • Sara says...

      Awwwwww
      :)

    • Allison says...

      I can just imagine this dog’s joy at being found!

  67. Brittany says...

    A couple of years ago I was living in a house near some wooded land. One day I started talking about finding a cat. I already had 1 cat and knew that the only way I could ever get another cat is if I just happened to find one. I talked about finding a cat for a week. That maybe I would be come home and one would just be by the house. By the end of that week I was sitting on my couch in my robe and heard my cat making noises at the window. When I looked over to investigate I saw him staring out the window at 2 kittens! I couldn’t believe it. I jumped right up and ran out the door, in my robe, in November, in Michigan. The cats had taken off and I ran to the side of the house to see if I could find them. I didn’t see them anywhere until I walked over to a bed of ivy against the house. I looked down and saw this tiny little eye looking up at me. When the cat saw me she tried to get out of the ivy but she was caught. I was able to get her and wrap her in a blanket. She was so sick and that night we got a foot of snow. The other cat took off- assuming it was the mom. I named her Stevie Nicks and she has been my spirit animal ever since. She is one of the prettiest cats I have ever seen and even has a spot on her back that is shaped like a heart. I was able to trap the mom and give her meds before taking her to a sanctuary- she was far to feral to keep. Stevie Nicks and I are coming up on our 5th year together and I couldn’t get more blessed to have her. I am convinced that had I not taken her in she would have died outside. I also am convinced her mom knew this and left her on my porch for me. It was fate and the best love story I have ever experienced ♥️

    • VVeronika says...

      oh my..thatsvery similar to what happened to me 3 weeks ago. We have a 7 years old cat, female and not friendly w other cats…but I kept talking about finding a kitten so maybe her mother instincts will change her behaviour. And 3 weeks ago we found a small kitten!!! His name is Harry and they are slowly becoming friends.

  68. Ari says...

    Oh my goodness, how I needed this: “beautiful and surprising things can happen even when you feel lost in the woods. Maybe especially then. That’s how most fairytales start, after all.” Thank you, Hailey, for the beautiful words and beautiful story, just when I need them most. Enjoy happily ever after, lovely lady.

  69. Sarah says...

    What a great story! I’ve recently been thinking the one area I wished CoJ would cover more is pets. I’m a cat person and I want to encourage anyone who wants-but-can’t-have-right now to seriously consider volunteering for an animal rescue organization in your community. Volunteers are desperately needed for a variety of tasks: cleaning, laundry, socializing(read: loving on, cuddling, playing), the list is endless. Reach out! I have been fostering kittens in my 1 bedroom apt for the past year and it has been a wonderfully fulfilling venture. Not everyone can foster, but everyone can contribute. In addition, please educate others on the importance of SPAY & NEUTER. Thank you for the post on National Cat Day!

  70. Michaela says...

    OH MY GOD MY HEART.

    • Brooke says...

      Oh my gosh, you said it, Michaela 🥰😭🥰!!

  71. A few weeks ago, and in the middle of waiting through escrow on our first house, my husband called me while I was shopping at IKEA. He was on his bike ride in Griffith Park in LA and saw a small shaggy dog running down the road. The pup was skittish and wouldn’t let him come near. I ran out of IKEA and ordered 2 plain hamburger patties at The Habit down the road.

    About 20 minutes later, I walk into a thick dry brush to find this shaking and terrified little pup in a corner, covered in prickers. It took a good 10 minutes and the full 2 hamburger patties to get her close enough to put a leash on her.

    When I was trying to get her to trust me, there was a moment where we were both shaking uncontrollably with nerves. But we got through it. We got her groomed, put up flyers, posted online, and signed her up for the shelter-at-home program.

    Just like the story above, we have a feeling she was abandoned (Griffith Park is a notorious place to abandon animals). We are now just 5 days away from hitting the 30 day mark which means we can officially adopt her!

    So just a few short weeks after our hamburger date, we’ve all moved (including our other dog) to our new house and she has easily wiggled her way into all of our hearts.

    • hali says...

      I cannot with these stories! Pets rule forever!!

  72. alison says...

    gahhhh – i don’t even like cats and i love this.

    I have a similarly serendipitous story of meeting my dog 12 years ago — I made a wrong turn! I was driving to a bookstore to pick up a baby shower gift and made a wrong turn — right past a shelter employee waiting at a street corner while walking a tiny apricot poodle. You never see poodles at shelters so I was immediately smitten. I went to pick up the present and immediately turned around to go back to the shelter. While he is a total pain the butt and almost certainly a metaphorical wrong turn for many reasons – Sonny is now possibly 17 years old now (or 16? or 18?) and has been by my side for so many of my life’s right and wrong turns.

  73. Julia says...

    There was a sweet grey kitten that lived on our block, I never saw her but my husband had, as well as my neighbors. They called her “bean” and my husband would always tell me how sweet she was and how she was always trying to get into our house. Cut to a few weeks later, the day after Christmas, we arrived back in the city. When we got out of the car we kept hearing this squeaking, we finally figured it out, Bean had ended up on the roof of a house! I yelled for my husband to get a ladder, He put it against the side of the house and was able to snatch her up. When he put her in my arms she was purring SO heavily. Long story short, we didn’t want her back on the street so she has been our sweet kitty for three years. We named her Maeve, after the Westworld character, because of her beauty and street smarts :)

  74. Emily says...

    We adopted our cats, Abraham and Frieda, as 10 week old kittens about a year ago. They are always a handful, knocking over our houseplants and jumping on top of doors, but have so much love to give and I love them more than anything in the world. I can’t go one night without one or both cats snuggling with me in bed, and they greet me at the door every. day. after work and literally put their face in mine to ask for kisses. The sweetest. When we got them I had been having a hard time adjusting to life in New York after a cross country move, had just switched to a new boss from one who routinely made me cry, and had chronic stomach troubles because of how stressed and anxious I was. A completely unintended effect of my cats is that the stress essentially evaporated and they anchored me to New York like nothing else had. I also feel like they teach me how to give unconditional love and pull me out of my grumpy post-commute mood. Just love them oh so much!

  75. Colleen says...

    Love this! It’s so true. Bitter mixed with sweet.

  76. LS says...

    The fact that I’m more of a dog person did not stop me from tearing up. What a sweet story!! Pets are one of life’s greatest blessings. More per content please!

  77. Margaret says...

    CRYING right now. What a beautiful story and a beautiful effort you made to bring Grendel home with you for your loved one. Thank you for writing this uplifting and lovely post.

  78. L says...

    This story is beautiful and perfect except that that is not a calico cat! (Sorry to be a buzzkill, I just can’t turn off Editor Brain 😬)

    • RS says...

      That was my first thought too, hahaha! I looked at the picture and was like, TABBY CAT. Wonderful story though.

    • Haylie Swenson says...

      That’s so funny, you’re right! I meant to write tabby!! #facepalmemoji

    • Julie Wheeler says...

      hahahaha. yes when she said the kitten was a boy, I was like, wait a second….
      this story could not be any cuter.

    • Awads says...

      haha! same! calicos are female, fyi. i believe that’s a grey tiger cat. still an awesome story.

  79. Kristen says...

    I joke with my husband that the only name I’d ever feel 100% confident tattooing on myself is our cat’s.

    Wishing you three a long, happy, cuddly life together, Haylie!

    • MB says...

      LOL. So same, Kristen.

  80. Maybe someone already mentioned this, but do you follow @1bike1world on instgram? A kitten adopted him by the side of the road as he was bicycling around the world, and she has been traveling with him ever since.

    We had 2 twenty year old cats that both died last year. It was heart breaking to lose them. Around the same time, we moved into a new apartment building where the super was keeping a cockatiel in the windowless trash room in the basement. He asked us if we wanted her, so of course we said yes! She fell in love my husband immediately, and now she sits on his shoulder all day long, watches TV with us at night, eats her seeds when we sit down to dinner, and even showers with us. We miss our cats, but little Wallis is the sweetest, and we are so lucky to have her in our lives.

    • Hali says...

      Um ok first, @1bike1world is maybe the best! His latest adventures with Ghost keep me going some days!

      But second, WALLIS!? She sounds fabulous. What color she must add to your lives!!

    • Hali! Right? i love that cycling kitty!…and now the dog…what a life!

      And yes….Wallis is the greatest. And I am aware of the absurdity of saying this, but if you want to meet her, she is @thewallisdaily on instagram

  81. This is the best.
    Pets are the best <3 We adopted my dog and I'm so happy he has a loving family now.

  82. Kim says...

    Omg, thank you for featuring this. I literally cried with joy and showed my kids the pictures.

  83. Savannah says...

    My husband and I got married and moved in together and agreed to wait six months before any other major life changes. THE WEEK after we got home from our honeymoon there were kittens at the farmers market weaned and with no fleas (turns out no and nope)… Rooster Cogburn is six now and as feisty as her namesake. It makes me tear up thinking about how we live longer with better quality of life with pets because that has been very true to my experience!

  84. Just me over here WEEPING for two reasons…
    1) I’ve been “in the forest” the past few months and this was a beautiful (true!) story to remind me that my fairy tale will come
    2) I love cats. I moved away from family more than 2 years ago and they still ask why I haven’t gotten a cat yet. My fiancée and I just don’t feel like pet ownership is for us … but now I see that our Grendel might come along someday! It probably won’t be planned and we probably won’t be expecting it, but I’m sure we’ll somehow find the perfect fluffy family addition for us 😌

  85. Mary says...

    My mom my sister and I took a road trip to Kitty Hawk one year. When we finally got there my younger sister who was 4 balled her eyes out. Once we got her to calm down and tell us what was wrong she said she was so sad there was no kitties there. I had just gotten my license and was 16. when we arrived back home i was allowed to drive without a parent For the first time and my mom told me to drive my sister to go to the pet store and there was a surprise waiting for us under our name. When we arrived we discovered the surprise was an orange and white kitten she had picked out earlier. When i had first walked through the door i had noticed a whole litter of kittens. I went back over to the other kittens before leaving and decided I didn’t want the kitten my mom had told me to bring home and instead brought another kitten that was brown and white. My mom was a little shocked when we came home with a different kitten but said we could keep that one. A few hrs later that day my mom couldn’t help herself and went back and got the other cat and that’s the story of how we ended up with two kittens. We named one Kitty Hawk,the one I brought home, and the other George Banks after our road trip. These kittens were the best duo ever and couldn’t imagine one without the other

  86. Kristn says...

    Best content of the day and, after a slow day, I believe I’ve read the entirety of the internet. Hooray for pet stories on CoJ! :)

  87. Meagan says...

    This is the absolute cutest and on National Cat Day, nonetheless!

    We wanted to get a kitten for our other cat because she was lonely. We put out some feelers at our vet and not even 24 hours later, someone called me saying they had a litter being born the next week. After they were born, we went to go see them and were told that one specific kitten was for us and the other was for another woman. We bonded with the one for us and left him with his mom until he was old enough to leave her. The day we were supposed to pick him up, we got a text saying that the other woman who had first dibs changed her mind and took OUR kitten! Harrumph! We still went ahead with adopting the other cat and 7 years in, I thank my lucky stars every single day for Lloyd Petunia Christmas. We are attached at the SOUL. He is my husband’s mirror image in cat form. We are the best of friends and I cannot even begin to imagine him belonging with anyone else. Fate is a real thing!

  88. Grace says...

    I met my love Dexter Morgan (he’s actually a sweet goof, but every once in awhile that dark passenger comes out) after he was found as a stray in another part of the state and transferred to our local shelter. While he was still a pup and pulled hard on the leash, he would look back at me every minute or so wagging his tail like he was saying “Hey, you still there friend?” After he climbed on a table and licked my husband’s face there was no doubt he was coming home with us.

    He was a big, strong puppy with so much energy that he did make me a little nervous those first few weeks. Those days feel like the distant future now that he’s 5 and has become, BY FAR, the most affectionate dog I’ve ever had. He’s the master snuggler and always knows when you’re sad and need a kiss.

  89. In 2006, on the heels of a very sad divorce, my 6 year old son needed a reminder that there is power in unconditional and enduring love. So one fall day when he woke up I announced that it was kitten day. We got in the car and drove to a local animal shelter and we adopted two litter mate kittens – a boy and a girl. My son named the boy (Tiger) and I named the girl (Lucy) and we’ve been a family ever since. In that hard first year of single parenting, those kittens made our house a home. They played with us, cuddled on our laps, and spent their nights sleeping next to a little boy who needed them as much as they needed us.

    • Kristie says...

      I’ve been tearing up the whole time, but your story made the tears roll! I’m so glad you and your son got through it with your kittens help xx

  90. Erin in AZ says...

    Thank god there were pictures at the end…you could have had a riot on your hands.

  91. Erin says...

    That is a very cute cat, and an awesome story, but, Haylie, your kitty is a tabby, not a calico. Calico cats have black, orange and white patches, not stripes, and they are nearly always girls. (Genetics!) Congrats on your lovely kitty.

  92. Annie says...

    This is the purrrrfect love story.

  93. Melanie says...

    I went to a shelter looking to bring home a male orange tabby (yes, I know, very specific). While one cat was standing on my lap, another – a small female gray tabby – slid under his belly and curled up on my legs. She even batted another cat away when he came close to investigate. I had been chosen.

    It’s now two years later and that sweet but opinionated gray tabby girl is one of the best things that’s ever happened to me!

  94. Tenley says...

    Grendel!! This has been my top pet name ever since reading Beowulf—so fun to see someone else using it!

  95. Adrienne says...

    Omg I love it!!! Can you share more about his reaction when he came home and say the kitten there?! :)

    • Charlotte says...

      Yes please! That would be so lovely :) Have a nice day CoJ-Community

    • Haylie Swenson says...

      There’s a video in my instagram! (@hayliebswenson). The whole thing is in the highlights under “Kitten Kaper.”

  96. Denise says...

    I love a man who loves cats. And what a great story!

    • Gray says...

      I so agree! I was always a dog person then I met my husband who is unabashedly a crazy cat man. He’s a big, tough, rough around the edges construction worker but seeing a cat just melts him. And he loves our cat so much. It’s one of my favorite things about him haha.

  97. Hali says...

    COJ low key celebrated national cat day? My Tuesday just shone so bright!

    When we were long distance in college, my husband and I emailed chapters of our fake novel back and fourth to each other: The Adventures of Moose the Cat. Moose was a brave crime-fighting detective cat with a weakness for pickles and an underground network of seagull comrades. As 19 year olds, we talked about Moose the way we now talk about our future children, excitedly in whispers with pure love and excitement.

    We moved in together after graduating and immediately went to our local no-kill animal shelter to look for our Moose. Tragically, we were turned away from adopting because I filled out a form admitting I would let our cat go outside sometimes. I was furious, devastated, and so mortified. *Sometimes* and only under supervision, I wrote!

    On the teary ride home from the shelter we stopped at Trader Joe’s for cheer-up ice cream pints only to spot a tiny little kitten hopping in the grass divider between the parking rows. It was slow-motion-love-at-first-sight for us, too! I legitimately couldn’t speak, I just jumped out of that car and flung myself onto the grass so fast. The kitten belonged to Brenda, an eccentric 1980’s b-list actress turned realtor who lived in a RV in the back of the parking lot with 9 animals. After talking to us for what seemed like forever, Brenda agreed to let us keep “Princess,” the kitten she found under the hood of a car. It was fate, Brenda said! (Also, my husband was familiar with one of her movies, that helped.)

    Princess Cholula Moose (Moose for short) is a TOTAL wimp. She is afraid of everything, hisses and lunges at anyone who approaches her, is clumsy, still a tiny 4.7 lbs at 6 years old, and while she never learned to meow, she can squeak like a champion. She loves us so deeply and somehow hates the entire rest of the world. She is the little light of our lives!

    • Adeliana says...

      Please self publish those chapters – it sounds so fun to read.
      I love your kitten story, these things are meant to be.

  98. Kat says...

    This. STORY! *tear*

  99. Bridget says...

    Love love love this. I got a rescued dog off of craigslist 6 years ago. The posted photo was tiny and the breed claimed to be jack russell (what I was looking for). We lived in an apartment in SF that didn’t allow pets, but I often heard dogs yapping through the walls and knew neighbors had at least 2 little dogs. So I responded to the add and drove to the next town during rush hour traffic. When I got to the house, this sad dog was sitting on a dog bed and so afraid. The rescuer was a cat person and didn’t like the dog. Her cat was on the sofa and the dog wasn’t allowed on it. The poor dog was so ugly, but I could not say no. I snuck him into our flat and surprised our kids. I think he was a bit older than 18 months, but he is the best dog. He’s still ugly, but so funny and smart and a great companion. I loose him when we go out and he’s off leash, but always find him at my heels. He bonded with me and I couldn’t get rid of him if I tried.

  100. Mac says...

    I eagerly await the post about Anton getting his dog… I’m rooting for him.

  101. Michelle says...

    This is such a wonderful story!

    My husband, M, and I lived in Turkey for several years and adopted two street cats while there. M found Raj in the forest near the military base where he worked. He brought Raj home intending to fatten him up and set him loose again, but of course that never happened. Two years later, Raj brought Hamur home himself after finding him wandering in our neighborhood, having been thrown out by his previous owners. When we moved to Texas a few years ago, we of course brought the cats with us! We love our little four creature family and wouldn’t have it any other way.

  102. Ceridwen says...

    Awww…I read this aloud to my family this mornings ng. It’s a beautiful love story!

  103. Justine says...

    I love this story so much and needed to read something this sweet and wonderful today.

  104. EA says...

    Thanks for sharing this. Totally unrelated but I’ve been having a rough few months (well really a rough few years but the last few months have been particularly bad) and the lines about how things eventually always get better somehow made me feel a lot better (even though people have been telling me this for years and it hasn’t, and in fact has gotten worse haha). So thanks for sharing

    • Priscilla says...

      I hope things get better for you soon.

    • gm says...

      Sending you big hugs, EA.

    • AB says...

      Same. Just … same. <3

    • anjie says...

      I can relate. I am going through a rough few years myself. Hang in there. This too shall pass.

    • Amber says...

      Sending you a hug <3

    • Anonygirl says...

      Same here. I feel like I’ve been living in a vicious cycle of good, bad, good, worse, a little better, good, really bad for the last ten years. It sucks.

    • Tina, nyc. says...

      EA, Sending a big hug your way.
      I’ve been there too.
      And it does always get better.

    • Mariana says...

      I hope things will get better for you soon!

    • I hope things get better soon, EA.

    • Eva says...

      EA,
      Sorry to hear you’re having a difficult time. I hope things turn around for you very soon! BTW, I’m an EA too, which prompted me to reach out. Hang in there!

    • Haylie Swenson says...

      Oh, boy, I feel this. Things were hard for a long time, and everyone told me they would get better, and I just though… *when, though?* or *but how do you KNOW? What if they don’t? What if I’m the exception?* But they will, I promise, and once they do you’ll barely remember how hard it felt. Pinky swear.

  105. Nicola says...

    I love this story so much!

  106. Michelle says...

    My husband and I had been looking for a dog to bring home into our family and we saw one posted online at an animal shelter that looked promising. We met him and wiggled our fingers through the cage to give him a pet, and he immediately flung himself on his back so we could get better access to his belly. Needless to say, we were in love! The shelter allowed dogs to be reserved for a few days prior to taking them home, and we decided to go that route since we didn’t have any supplies for him (a collar, leash, bed, bowls…). Then, the attendant at the shelter asked us when we wanted to take him home and my husband, apparently forgetting our conversation and overwhelmed with love, said, “RIGHT NOW!”

    That was 9 years ago, and our 11-year old Oliver is currently snoring on my lap as I type this. Love at first sight, and every day after.

    • Grace says...

      “Right now!” Ahhhhhh that’s love!

  107. Lori says...

    OMG! ♥

  108. Kerry says...

    My 10yo, 23 lb Maine Coon cat is a love. My two boys and I adore him. He is easily the most chill person in our family. His name is Iba, short for Raul Ibanez, a baseball player.

    When we were going through a divorce, Iba was the biggest (literally) comfort. He seemed to know we needed love. And he would bring me gifts, which he’d never done before — cat gifts, such as birds, mice and rats. It’s the thought that counts, right?

    • Hattie says...

      Maybe he was taking care of you, making sure you were well fed. Maine Coons have the biggest hearts!

    • Stephanie says...

      Maine Coons are wonderful. My Geoffrey is also a total love. He knows the phrase, “Geoffrey, do you want to cuddle?” Everytime anyone in my family says that, he trots over with his little belly swinging back and forth and his fluffy tail sticking straight up. He loves to kiss our eyelids, and he gives the most gentle head bumps.
      I can’t understand where cats get their bad reputation from, they are so sweet and perceptive.

  109. Helen says...

    My college roommates and I were hanging out in the living room when we heard a cat meow, we opened the door and one very thin kitten ran inside. We heard a quiet cry outside, and we found another kitten in the bushes. We gave these two a dinner of tuna and began brainstorming names and came up with – Loco (the kitty who ran inside) and Lady. When we took them to the vet we learned, they were sisters, had flees, ear mites, and worms.. oh and Loco was a girl. We changed her name to Loca. Now 5 years later they still live up to their names.

  110. L says...

    OK, this was a super sweet story. But i have to know:

    What cat sleeps so sweetly like that while they’re riding in a car?!? No cat of mine has ever done anything in a vehicle except completely lose their shit.

    That is a special cat.

    • Grace says...

      I know right?! My last cat would try to rip my skin off when I put her in the car carrier case and then proceeded to scream the entire car ride. Drama queen.

    • Haylie Swenson says...

      Such a good question! Our other cat would have freaked out. When we stopped for lunch and I let him out of the carrier I thought he’d tear all over the car, but he fell right asleep in my lap. I think he was pretty stressed out from everything he’d been through.

  111. Meg says...

    Good on you for seizing the moment! I try to watch for those little moments so I don’t let opportunities to pursue joy pass me by. That was the loveliest of stories – thank you.

  112. Talia says...

    Absolutely adorable! What a great story!

  113. Roxana says...

    This is so sweet!

    When we were kids a close family friend called-up my dad to tell him that he needed to get rid of the golden retriever puppy he’d recently gotten for his wife. She was just starting her career as an attorney and they felt they couldn’t take care of a dog. We had been BEGGING my dad for a dog, but he kept saying “no.” I think my dad felt sorry for the pup who needed a home. He told my mom that they should go “look at the puppy.” My mom very wisely said “You don’t go ‘look at a puppy,’ you go pick him up!” Oscar was an enormous golden retriever who lived to the ripe old age of 15. We were all heartbroken when he died, but my dad cried the hardest. Through tears he declared “This is why I never wanted him in the first place!” It had indeed been love at first sight.

    • Stephanie H. says...

      Omg, we have 3 Golden’s and this story made me cry and cry. So lovely, thank you for sharing!

  114. KK says...

    Love this so much. My husband and I are squarely cat people and my sweet kitty Pancho is working on 18 after I adopted him when he was 6 weeks old. He is slowing down a lot but starts meowing every night at bedtime, basically telling me to get myself into bed so he can curl up next to me. Our oldest son is allergic to cats so we probably won’t be able to adopt another one when Pancho goes to kitty heaven. Maybe when our kids are older and out of the house, we can get another kitty or two. So glad Grendel found his way to you!

  115. Oh, just crying in my cubicle. (Also an alternate title to my memoir.)

    Our little Paul Simon the Cat found us at a friend’s birthday party. My friend’s husband worked in a veterinary office and brought home a kitten who had been hit by a car and surrendered with a broken leg to supervise his injuries over the weekend. They had him all set up in the bathroom, and in the tipsiest of states I popped in to say hello.

    After about a half-hour of waiting for me and then searching the house, my soon-to-be fiance found me curled up on the bathroom floor, promising the kitten forever.

    • bonnie says...

      OK, Kristy, now I want to read more of YOUR writing… ahhh promising the kitten forever. :) and your alternate title is a gem as well haha

    • Meagan says...

      Your alternate memoir title 😂😂😂

  116. Brenna says...

    I’m not crying. You’re crying. I love this story.

    • Sarah says...

      Literally just added KLEENEX to my grocery list.

    • Milou says...

      Same, same.

    • Paula says...

      oh I’m definitely crying

    • Adeliana says...

      This was exactly my thought after reading it.

  117. Kate says...

    Love this so much and love Hailey’s writing style!

  118. Kristin says...

    I’ve been having an emotional week, am 100% a dog person, and just cried at how sweet this is.

  119. Nigerian Girl says...

    How heartwarming. I want a pet so bad. A dog and/or a cat. I can’t have any with my current lifestyle so I’m hoping things turn around for me soon.

  120. Anna says...

    Well, as I sit at my desk in Austin, TX waiting to find my fairy tale dog (small dog, long little deer legs) to complete our new happy little family of two people and one black cat, this story makes me smile.

    Hell, it makes me tear up a little. Sending this to my Other Half because I think he needs to read a happy pet-related story amidst a day of frustrations. I know I did :-)

  121. SassyinClifton (formerely of DC) says...

    Haylie, you totally need to submit a picture of Grendel to PoPville (DC blog) for pet of the day!

  122. I am so happy that you made this happen!

  123. Kate says...

    The absolute best story ever. How magical.

  124. Marie says...

    This is such a sweet story! Unexpected happiness!! I love this! I have been wanting to adopt a cat for years and my daughters would love to care for a cat too… However, my husband is not a cat person and does not want to adopt a kitty… How do you deal with that, when someone wants a litle companion and another person living in the same house refuses? I always had cats until my early 30s and my last cat Mister Belly died 7 years ago of old age… I miss her so much…

    • Amanda says...

      I’ll tell you how you deal with that – you overrule him! Because…democracy rules! Three years ago my husband and two kids all wanted a dog while I adamantly refused to have one. I have never been a dog person and knew full well that I would have to do the majority of the caregiving, despite all protestations to the contrary! Somehow George, a 50lb hound/mutt mix, became a part of the family. Fortunately for them he is the gentlest, sweetest dog, has completely won me over and is currently being trained to be a therapy dog so we can share the love. And yes, it’s mostly me who takes care of him!

    • Kristin says...

      Same situation here, Marie. I think I am just going to get one. My husband didn’t grow up with any pets so he has no idea how wonderful it can be. I guess we’ll have to show him! :)

    • T says...

      There’s no greater love than that between a Dad and the pet he said he didn’t want.

  125. Joanne says...

    Today’s National Cat Day too! What a lovely story.

  126. Sarah says...

    This was a the bright light I needed today.

    My little baby girl kitty came one day to our yard for a snooze and she never left.

    She has taught me that love looks unexpected, that everyone deserves love, that love has no conditions. Her love makes me heart leap and softens my sharpest corners. I am eternally grateful to learn to love in this unexpected way.

  127. S says...

    This story is so heartfelt. Animals have such a strong power to comfort and connect. I credit my boyfriend’s little rescue dog, Bee, for bringing us together. We were too shy to reach out sometimes but as I formed an attachment to both dog and owner, we were able to use running Bee as a less intimidating way of spending time together. Now Bee wakes us up in the morning.

  128. Sarah Liszka says...

    LOVE this story with the perfect “happily ever after” ending. Thank you for sharing!

  129. celeste says...

    I, like Christa, have a “Copper” but he is a beagle-mix, rehomed twice. We found him at the shelter, introduced as the only dog who would love kids. He needs to be walked every morning and will stomp on you to wake you! My husband and two kids know that he’s “my” dog – he’ll find me anywhere in the house and worries when I go to the grocery store. He sleeps with me every night.

  130. Monica says...

    This made my day. Thank you.

  131. MacleanNash says...

    Oh my goodness! This is exactly what I needed today!
    What a heartwarming story, thank you for sharing!

    • Becca says...

      Aw what a lovely kitten story =)

      We got our big cat (Pandacat) from the SPCA years ago, he’s extra special coz he has no tail. Earlier this year we were talking about getting him a kitten friend, and were joking about finding a grey kitten with no tail (my partner wanted a grey cat for some reason).

      Lo and behold, that very afternoon, a colleague engaged to say a grey kitten with no tail had been found abandoned and were we interested. And that’s how we ended up with a 5 week old ball of fluff we named Piper.

      Unfortunately Pandacat is way too cool for Piper, but she thinks her big brother is the bees knees =D

  132. Chris says...

    Well, gosh thank you so much for this day-brightener – such a sweet tale.

  133. I.C says...

    Love this so much.

  134. Clare says...

    Best story ever posted here.

  135. Sara says...

    Thank you for this lovely story today! I love my kittens (over a year old at this point). We adopted them six months after I was diagnosed with a chronic illness, and although we jokingly called them my therapy animals, most days they really do help me cope, relax, and give love freely.

    • CC says...

      One of my cats is not a cuddler but he always knows when I’m not feeling well and sleeps with me. I once was crying in the bathroom and he showed up and bonked his head against my leg and wouldn’t leave me. They are the best.

  136. Amanda says...

    We came upon our cat 2.5 Christmas’s ago. I invited my mom and sisters to do some cooking baking at my house. My neice came to the door first with a christmas box and I figured it would be a box of cutters or baking supplies and to my surprise
    , a baby kitty was in there. We hadn’t asked for one and in fact, my sister tried talking us into getting a cat earlier in the fall and we found all the excuses in the book to not get one. Anyways, my husband scooped her up and they hung out all day snuggled together on the couch while we baked. SugarPlumSilverBell is her name but goes by Kitty officially 😊.

  137. EJ says...

    My heart just exploded.

    What an uplifting story for this dreary Tuesday. Thank you CoJ!

  138. ginger m. says...

    We got our first kitten, Stella at the shelter. We all loved her but I worried about her being home alone too much, so I asked my then 10 year old daughter if we should think about getting another kitty to keep her company. No, she said, it will change the way she interacts with us. So, I went to the shelter anyway and saw this gorgeous little all gray kitten with the pinkest tongue. I knew she needed to be ours but she was already adopted. I gave them my name and said if the adoption falls through, let me know. Time passed. A few weeks later I went back to the shelter still hoping to get another kitty for our beloved Stella and who should be in one of the cages???!!! The gorgeous gray kitten that I first fell in love with. Ran to the front counter to ask about her. Yup, she was up for adoption. Never mind that I was a little peeved that they never called me. Oh well. Went home and asked daughter what she thought. No. Asked her to please come look at the kitten, still no. I decided I was the parent and we were GETTING that kitty. Ten years later my daughter and that gray kitty are the best of friends and spend any time they can together. Her name is Mouse ( the kitty not the daughter).

  139. Bonnie Fortune says...

    Gaaah! This was the best story. Ever.

  140. Ann-Marie says...

    What a wonderful story! Good on you for reuniting them. Kittens are the best. :)

  141. Tess says...

    This one should’ve come with a trigger warning for WATER WORKS! Crying at my desk right now. What a beautiful, heartwarming story- complete with gorgeous kitten and uplifting message at the end! Thank you!!

  142. Christa says...

    This hits me DEEP! My fur-ever love story starts with a break-up and ends with the best thing to ever happen to me! My boyfriend of 3.5 years and I called it quits, and I realized I could FINALLY now get a dog (had the house, the yard, the job to afford one), and all my life I had desperately wanted a golden retriever.
    My boss had been telling me off and on for two years I needed one for protection and also for my emotional wellbeing, and he randomly happened to mention it again in my office one day. 20 minutes later searching on Craigslist, Copper’s picture popped up on the search.
    A 2-time re-home, this family was looking to re-home him again due to his “untrained” manners and his rather large size. As soon as I saw his picture, I knew he was mine, and I drove to get him immediately.

    This dog has been a lifeline in hard times, the best adventure companion I could ever have, and the sweetest, most well-behaved dog ever (he comes to work with me and is our rec center dog!). Timing is everything, and I am SO GRATEFUL for my boss saying something that day, for Copper pulling a long-con on two families so he could end up on mine.

    • Rin says...

      I’m so happy for both of you! It sounds like Copper has found the perfect home!

  143. Denise A. says...

    I. love. this.

  144. riye says...

    We had a similar experience when we got our youngest cat, Mo. My bf came by to pick me up from yoga and saw Mo sleeping on a patch of dirt in the parking lot. When I went to look at the kitten he woke up, came running over, climbed (fairly carefully) up my yoga pants, and sat on my shoulder. When I went over to the car to tell my bf “oh no what are we going to do we don’t need another cat” Mo hopped into the car and nested himself into the bf’s lap. We were doomed. The bf fell in love hard–even when Mo is pestering our old cat any talk of re-homing Mo falls on deaf ears. Whomever dumped Mo (three months old!) is missing out on a lot of good times and love.

  145. Mel says...

    This is my favorite, most lovely, warming thing I’ve read in a very long time.

    And now i’m going to snuggle my pup who hasn’t left my feet all day (we’re at my inlaws as we sold our house yesterday and move into our new one Friday and she’s a weenie about new places, but I like it because I love her)

  146. emily says...

    i love this so much for so many reasons! (and i don’t even like cats!)

  147. Silver says...

    I am crying – this is the most beautiful love story of them all. I think you are all absolutely fabulous and I wish you a very long and very happy life together. xoxoxo.
    PS Any chance you would consider turning this into a picture book? My son would have loved this book so much, and I would have loved reading it to him.

    • Tess says...

      oh my gosh this would make an amazing picture book!!

    • Charlotte says...

      Yes, and just imagine the first setence: “So we like to say he was raised by a family of squirrels.” I love happily ever after stories, thank you :)

      And now I also want a cat. I’ll look out next time I cross a bridge :) Wish me luck.

  148. Elle says...

    Omg, this is so sweet! I might just go get another dog now.

    On another note – Joanna, did you guys ever get a dog?!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      we are waiting a couple years, til the boys are a little older (and less needy:) — thank you for asking!

    • Sarah says...

      Have been wondering this myself!! Fingers crossed for Anton’s dog!!

      Loved this story!

  149. Kat says...

    This was the best thing ever.