Last Friday evening, as the kids were getting ready for bed and I was addictively glued to CNN while the police were finally closing in on a stowaway in a boat in someone’s backyard in Boston, Chris went down to our garage for a minute.

In the process, he inadvertently created a stowaway situation of our very own.


To help translate, the cute, white, and fluffy parts were sarcasm. The no-kitten-is-cute-enough parts were not.

For the past two years, Chris and I have harbored an extreme aversion to the idea of pets, as our last cat’s illness was difficult and long both for her and us, and managed to nearly ruin all of our carpet, and did take out both of our couches in the process. And, neither of our kids are animal people, so we decided that we would just be a pet-free family for at least the next decade or five.

But it was a cool night, and I felt bad. As did Chris, since before he came upstairs, he fixed up a cozy box with old baby pajamas he found rooting around in the basement, then put the cat and the box outside.

But I suppose my maternal instinct is stronger than his gift of mercy, so I went down to check on said kitten. The minute I opened the door, he ran in, purring loudly.

He was fluffier than I had imagined. And smaller. And devastatingly cuter.


In a moment of weakness, I scooped him up and took him upstairs to let the kids see.

He was fairly clean (except for some eye gunk,) had no noticeable fleas or ticks, and was seemingly fed, but didn’t have any signs of being owned.

And he was extraordinarily and puzzlingly friendly to the children,


(Or at least to Ali – Noah, although he liked the novelty of a “titty tat” in the house, wanted nothing to do with him.)

I assumed he was a stray, put a photo up on Facebook, and tried to woo the general public into wanting him.

And the general public responded by telling me that our daughter had already claimed him.

So I texted our cat-owning neighbor, borrowed their cat box and some food, and Chris set him up a home for the night, complete with a litter pan made out of an extra wet wipe box.

We put him to bed in the warm basement, and said something like, “We’ll figure out what to do with you in the morning.”

Chris and I retired to the couch, both of us with running noses and inflamed eyes. Cat allergy is strong with us.

But the next morning, Ali’s first words were, “Can I play with the kitty again?”

So we brought him upstairs, somewhat surprised that our kid, who had zero interest in any animals, seemed so attached to this cat.


And he was cute.


Noah, however, still preferred to be left alone.


And tried to communicate this in any way possible.


But usually lost the war for solitude.



Ali was in heaven. She played with the cat with no complaints, difficulties, or sounds, for hours on Saturday.

The cat’s friendliness continued to be puzzling – it didn’t seem to have been born in the wild. But I couldn’t find any neighbors who were missing a kitten, and there were no posters out.

Saturday night was also supposed to be cold, so we locked the cat up, again promising, “We’ll most likely figure out what to do with you in the morning.”

I was starting to feel very Dread Pirate Roberts about my nightly promises.

On Sunday, we decided to experiment. It was going to be a warm day, we were to be gone for a while, and he came from outside, so why not let him back out for a while? He might find his owner if he had one, if we were lucky. We left him some food and watched him as he sadly watched us drive away.

When we returned at 3pm, he was excitedly waiting for us, jumping at the kids legs and purring loudly.


So I let Ali play inside with him again during quiet time, and Chris and I came to terms with the fact that:

a. No one was begging us for this cat,
b. He didn’t go back home, and
c. Perhaps he could stay on as an outside cat.

Also, my text messages with Chris were starting to subtly expose the turning tide of my anti-cat resolve…

Sam 4-21

So on Monday morning (after testing Sam’s outside-abilities by letting him sleep out the night before,) I asked Ali:

“What do you want to name him?”

“Can he STAY???”

“If he doesn’t claw at the window and meow outdoors all night, he can be a mostly-OUTDOORS cat.”

“I think his name should be Sam.”

“Sam? Why Sam?”

“Well, because I have 2,000 Party Friends and they all have different names and it’s hard to find a name that one of them doesn’t have and none of them are named Sam.”

“But I thought your first Party Friend ever was named Samuel?”

“Yes…but that’s not Sam.”

“Oh, I see your point.”

Ali was elated at the turn of events.

Noah was…eh.


A minute later, Chris texted me, the worry in his tone betraying his own change in emotional attachment.

Sam 4-22

We headed out to visit my parent’s that morning, so we let Sam out to play again, confident that he would be waiting excitedly when we returned.

But he wasn’t.

Surely he’s just on an adventure…

But we didn’t see him for the rest of the day. Or the night.

Ali missed him greatly, and even Noah asked a couple of times, “Where’s Sam??”

Chris and I felt guilty. Sad for the kids. And maybe a little sad for us…because we’d gotten more attached than we had intended.

That evening after the kids were in bed, we turned on a random episode of The Big Bang Theory.

The episode was The Ornithophobia Diffusion, in which Sheldon spends half the episode desperately trying to shoo a bird off of his windowsill, and then the other half overcoming his fear of the bird who managed to fly into his house.

Of course, right as Sheldon has fallen madly in love with the bird and vows to take care of her and all of her progeny until the end of time, she flies back out the window.

He stands, leaning out the window, screaming at the long-gone bird, “COME BACK AND LET ME LOVE YOU!!!!”

The irony was not lost on us. But we dared not discuss it with each other for fear of showing our deep emotional vulnerability over the loss of a tiny kitten.

The next morning, our catversations continued.

Sam 4-23

A couple of hours later, Chris’ deep cat ponderings had taken a shocking turn.

Sam 4-23 2

Although I wasn’t to the level of remorse that Chris had apparently delved into, I did feel a measure of sadness all day, as if I’d let my child down. Should I have never let the cat out? Should I have coddled him and allowed him to stay indoors until he was full-grown?

We prayed for Sam at breakfast and lunch. Ali prayed that he would come back. I just prayed that we could know he was okay.

That afternoon, we were in the yard when a neighbor that we don’t know was driving home. He had a new car, so I was half-interestedly watching as he pulled up in his driveway.

His tween daughter met him at the back fence, and from a distance, I saw her hand him something small and fluffy. He held the fluffball up excitedly, then handed him back to his daughter.

I ran across our yard while carrying Noah, and with Ali curiously trailing behind me.

And I yelled.

“Hey!! Random question – was that a kitten you were holding?”

“Yes! He went missing and we didn’t know where he was. Just showed back up!”

I quickly told him the whole story, thereby confessing to inadvertently stealing his daughter’s cat for 72 hours.

After spilling the story, I ended with “Over here his name is Sam. Who is he over there?”

“He’s Sorn over here. I’m sure he’ll come visit you again sometime! …But we’ll be sure to lock him up better at night.”

Ali took the news very well, oddly okay with the fact that SamSorn belonged elsewhere, and later, simply asked if we could visit him sometime.

“Absolutely we can. As long as the neighbors agree to visitation rights.”



So. What did I learn from this?

1. Never try to give away a kitten on Facebook. Because no matter how cute he is, no one will want him. Also, he might belong to your neighbor.

2. I can no longer use the excuse of “my kids don’t like animals anyway” as to why we don’t have a pet. Must inject them with allergy shots. And by that, I mean shots full of allergies.

3. Even though Chris and I were both tempted, naming a cat based on the events happening when you found him is not always the best decision – Both Dzokhar and Tsarnaev make awkward pet names. Let him be Sam.

4. Sometimes, God chooses to answer my prayer over my daughter’s. And then I feel guilty. So I should just pray her prayer instead.

5. Stealing your neighbor’s beloved pets is a great excuse to meet them.

22 thoughts on “The Complete Saga of Sam the Cat.

  1. What a great story! It did look like an absolutely adorable kitten. I’m so glad you were able to find out the story had a happy ending, and the Sam is okay.

    Also, I didn’t realize Oreo had died. I’m sorry – especially about the mess. Our pregnant dog had morning sickness and our den will never be the same.

    Speaking of which, doesn’t Ali want a cute little puppy?

    1. I had no idea dogs could get morning sickness! Fascinating? Do they get hot flashes, weird cravings and stretch marks, too? ;)

  2. I’m glad the story had a happy ending! I went for years without a pet after having two bad ones but then broke down and got a cat for my son. Then I got another one. Now we have three since I married someone who had cats. They are expensive!

  3. So since you’ve been watching “Big Bang” here and there, have you heard: “Soft kitty, warm kitty, little ball of fur, happy kitty, sleepy kitty, purr, purr, purr.”? Also, did you see the episode where Sheldon gets a ton of cats? Anyway, I’m glad y’all found out what happened to the kitty.

    1. Just once so far! That’s the Big Bang reference I’ve heard more people use than anything else. And no, I haven’t seen the ton of cats episode – but now I can’t wait!

  4. I want a cat even more now. My sister’s cat just had kittens yesterday. I have allergies to almost all animals (I am fine with reptiles) but it goes way farther than just a running nose and itchy eyes. I also have asthma so I would slowly suffocate and when I touch a cat or even something a cat has touched I break out in a rash on that spot. All this makes it much easier to say no, but i still want one:(

    Also, with regard to allergy shots; I had those for 7 years and my allergies got worse. I think it’s impossible to say if the shots helped by making them less worse than they would have been, but I’m not really impressed by my results.

    1. Aw, poor thing! And no, I have no interest in allergy shots. I wouldn’t even take a pill to own a cat – I’m certainly not taking shots!

  5. I am deathly allergic to cats, so I never really had the opportunity to bond with them, but Sam was reeeeallly cute. At least to look at on my screen, so that my eyes and throat weren’t swelling up.

    We have three dogs, and lemme tell ya, pets can totally trash your house. Our house was pristine, just two months old, when we got the dogs, and they immediately proceeded to wreck the carpet and furniture. But I love them anyway, as long as I’m not mopping up pee from my kitchen floor because someone didn’t want to go out in the cold.

  6. That sounds like the perfect ending to the story. You didn’t have to break her heart and she can still ‘visit’ Sam since he’s close by. We had a similar situation recently where I agreed to foster a puppy someone was going to take to the shelter. Thankfully within 24 hours we had found her a home, and as a bonus the new owners are friends of my son so he gets photo updates and can visit too. He cried when we dropped her off, even though he knew from the beginning we couldn’t keep her since we already have two dogs.

    1. The problem is that puppies and kittens are just so ridiculously cute. Then they turn into DOGS and CATS…

      (And all the pet lovers out there just unfollowed me.)

  7. “catversations” was my favorite part. Also, Andrew & I are adamantly anti-cat people BUT Anderson LOOOOVES my parents old cat & chases him around saying “cat” “cat” “cat” without ever getting too close. So we’ve already decided that one day we will have a car because it makes him do happy. Children get us everytime!

    1. Stupid autocorrect! “cat” & “so” in that 2nd to last sentence. Also, love the pics of Noah trying to shoo Sam away ;-)

  8. Neighbour’s cats are pretty good. If you’ve noticed on Facebook, I’ve been sharing a few shots of our neighbour’s cat.

    We are seriously cat-deprived as we had to leave our beloved cat with the mother-in-law in New Zealand. So we’re doing our darndest to encourage our neighbour’s fluffy tabby. He visits at least a couple of times a week and is very cuddly. Such a sweetie!

    Also, growing up on a farm, I view owning animals as an essential part of growing up. I would definitely have animals about so that any children I had learned how in interact with them, to take responsibility for them and not to be afraid. Also, I absolutely love most animals so given my druthers there would be quite a few about!

  9. Weird question … how did Chris let a cat into the basement? I am deathly afraid of cats and I would probably have to move!

    I didn’t realize Oreo passed away either. I’m sorry about that.

  10. You’ll enjoy my story about inadvertently stealing neighbor’s beloved pets. We seem to have a knack for finding escaped or loose dogs. It might have something to do with the park across the street. One day on our way out the door for the pool, we see two dogs running across the lawn two doors down. One clearly had tags on so I called them over while my husband started to load the kids into the van. The dogs enthusiastically came over to say hi and while we were looking to read the tag on the one, the other jumped into the van to greet the kiddos. The other followed suit pretty quickly (they were pretty clearly friendly and the kids and dogs were thrilled to make acquaintances). We get the info off the tag and realize the address is only about three blocks away so off we go to deliver some dogs before our trip to the pool. Alas, it was one of those invisible house numbers. You know, the kind where the houses jump over the address you’re looking for? 4243, 4245, 4249 and you’re looking for 4247? So we call. No answer. We leave a message and head back to our house in order to lock the dogs up and deal with the whole thing after we get home. While I’m getting water for the dogs and locking up the yard, our neighbor (two doors down) drives up and asks if we’ve seen his two dogs. Yep, that’s right. We dognapped his dogs right outta his yard and tried to deliver them to someone else completely! And, the cherry on top? They brought us a giant apple pie to thank us for rescuing their runaway dogs. Totally made my day! (Wait, you want to know why they had someone else’s number & address on the tags? They did that while they were out of town so if the dogs got out the dogsitter would be the one contacted. It kind of back-fired on them).

    1. This is SO fabulous.

      But…where did the dogsitter live? In a magical Harry-Potter-type house that can’t be seen by muggles?

  11. Sounds like Sam had quite the adventure! Glad for the happy ending, was getting a little antsy when you started talking about cars in the driveway and such.

  12. aw bummer! i was hoping sam would come back to stay. no wonder he was so friendly. we have a hypoallergenic dog. i would love a cat though. snap would eat him however…

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