I was 12 when my family adopted our first cat. Malt, a calico cat, was also 12. She came into our lives because her owner, the mother of a family friend, had died, and her son already had two cats. He couldn’t take in Malt, even though she was dear to him. His family had raised Malt’s mother, Milkshake, when he was young. Grieving for his own mother, he couldn’t imagine having to surrender Malt to a shelter.
I’d spent most of my life up until that point scrawling the word “CAT” on every possible wish list — on birthdays, or left under a pillow with one of my baby teeth — begging for a pet cat. My mother finally said yes.