If you follow me on social media, then you know there are few things I love in this world more than my cat, Willow. I talk about him like he is my actual child, sometimes referring to him as my “son.”
Willow is actually short for Willoughby, which is in turn short for Willow Oh-No-It’s-A-Boy Willoughby, and I’ve had him since he was a kitten.
This weekend marks our second Foundling Day, which others might call Gotcha Day, celebrating the anniversary of the day we came into each other’s lives, so it feels like the perfect occasion to share our story.
Pennies From Heaven
One of my top non-writing pastimes is playing Bingo at one of the local casinos. I go pretty regularly with my mother and like to treat my friends to the experience if they visit from out of state.
The evening session runs pretty late into the night, and it’s not uncommon for us to hit the slots on the way out. By the time we leave, it’s often close to midnight.
While were driving home on one occasion, we stopped by the gas station. As we were leaving, we started hearing a little squeak.
Lo and behold, there is a kitten at the end of the strip.
The poor little thing is sitting there all by his lonesome in front of the bank, which is in the same building as a liquor store and a few other inconsequential things.
So, naturally, I start approaching it while my mom grabbed a can of cat food from the trunk of the car; we also had Maude at the time, who was well into her senior years.
I move at a gradual pace, but the kitten seems a little freaked out by my steps, so I end up stopping to take off my boots and just kind of leave them in front of the liquor store.
The kitten runs off at this point, through the bank’s drive-thru lane, and I follow in just my socks.
By the time I’ve reached the back of the building, the kitten is already halfway across the parking lot.
And of course, because this is a kitten, it’s too small to get over the curb and scamper off.
My mother comes around with a can of cat food, and we proceed to put it down a short distance away while I sit on the pavement and wait for the kitten to approach.
It eventually does, warily, but starts devouring the contents. After a bit, I’m able to scoop it up, and we head back to the car.
Our assumption is some absolute idiot just dumped him there, perhaps dispersing the whole litter in such a fashion rather than doing the responsible thing of finding good homes for them.
This all happened less than a week after I returned home from college, with the graduation ceremony having taken place during the previous weekend.
I should mention here that my father died during my first semester. There’s a phrase Pennies from Heaven, but Willow is kind of like a kitten from Heaven and we like to say that Daddy got me a kitten as a graduation present.
It’s A Boy!
There really wasn’t a question about whether or not we would be keeping our foundling.
As luck would have it, one of the pet stores in the area had a walk-in vet clinic set up that weekend so we were able to set up a visit and make sure everything was okay.
I had been playing around with names, flipping back and forth with ideas like Cosette and Diana (which I was favoring since this was the same weekend as Prince Harry and Megan’s wedding). Willow became another contender soon after and became my top choice.
However, all of these ideas went out the window after the vet informed us that our kitten was indeed male.
Since I was reading Sense and Sensibility at the time, changing Willow to Willoughby seemed to be the perfect fit, even though we still call him Willow.
They Grow Up So Fast
Willow and I have become inseparable since that night, and he is the absolute light of my life.
He is an absolute delight and such a precious bean. I couldn’t have asked for a better kitten.
Even after two years, he’s still finding ways to surprise me and keep me on my toes. On the whole, he is an inquisitive lad and has his moments of being an absolute dork, but that just makes him all the more charming.
Life is never dull with a Willow, and I wouldn’t have mine any other way.
For more of Willoughby (and more of me), be sure to follow me on social media because if I’m not posting about writing, I’m posting about him.