by Christine Kent
In June 2012, my heart was broken: Buster, my incredible 17-year-old cat, was euthanized because of mounting health problems. When I brought him home to bury him in the backyard he loved, the idea of another cat taking his place wasn’t really on my radar.
A few months went by, and I was starting to miss that kitty energy around the house. Fostering cats for Berkeley Humane did me, and hopefully the cats, a world of good: I got in plenty of cat petting and playing, while prepping cats for their future homes with someone else. They were all terrific cats, although none of them made me think, this is The One.
Then in December came Otis: a small, fluffy, quiet, sort of tabbyish-with-white feet cat, a little more than a year old. He’d been in the Hayward shelter for a few weeks, I was told, and had only just arrived at Berkeley Humane a day or two before. He needed a foster home while he was up for adoption. The vets at Berkeley Humane assessed his personality as “sweet and shy,” which sure seemed to be true. As I gently put him in my cat carrier, I thought, “What a cutie—I bet he’ll get adopted in no time.” (Little did I know.)
Otis maintained his quiet-and-calm demeanor as soon as I got him home. When he perched on a chair in my kitchen to have a peek around (and check me out), I bent down to pet his head and look at him—and that’s when the “falling in love” moment happened. I’m the one you’ve been looking for, Otis said, or so I imagined, using that pet-to-human telepathy. Otis, I told him, thank goodness we found each other.
A couple of hours later, I told my partner Mark that Otis was The One. “Already?” he said. “How can you tell—he just got there!” But I was even more sure the next morning, when I texted Berkeley Humane to sheepishly explain that was I was about to turn into a “foster fail” (I bet it happens a lot). A few days later, I formally adopted him and told everyone, “I got Otis for Christmas, and he got me!”
Two years later, the little cat who was deemed “sweet and shy” is completely at home here, and is probably the boss of us. (We joke that if Berkeley Humane assessed his personality today, they’d call him “bossy and confident.”) Watching Otis careen through the house after his toys, or hide in a box and pounce on imagined threats within, is better than TV. He has bonded deeply with Mark, and they share a special language of chirps, purrs, and special ear and nose rubs. And Otis lords it over the schnauzer upstairs, making sure he knows who’s Number One.
Otis showed up at the right time—he made my house a home again, after too many months without a pet. He is loved.
Christine volunteered as a foster at Berkeley Humane and adopted Otis in 2012.