The World’s Best Cat

In late August of 2020, several months into the COVID pandemic, Tom read on Nextdoor about a 23-year-old cat that needed a home. I pointed out we already had five elderly cats, and thought that was the last of it.

We’d been invited to have dinner with friends in our neighborhood, and arrived 15 minutes early. Not wanting to be rude, we waited in our car. Out of curiosity, I called the number Tom had for the shelter that was trying to place the 23-year-old cat.

I explained that I was a cat writer for, that we had five senior cats, and I’d handled a wide variety of cat issues ranging from diabetes and thyroid problems to cancer and kidney disease. The woman said they were looking for a home with no other cats, and that made sense.

I was rather surprised the next morning when she called and said they were bringing the cat over. We had no idea what the cat looked like, but were expected a frail old thing, perhaps a tabby. We were astonished when she opened the carrier in our downstairs “cat room” and a big, beefy black cat with a thick, velvety pelt emerged. I sat on the floor, picked him up, and he snuggled into my arms. His name was Toby.

The woman who delivered him worked for a shelter. She bent some rules and connected us with the woman who had rescued Toby from the street. It was a tricky situation. The rescuer, who I’ll call “Dara,” had taken Toby to the shelter after his actual owners had first gotten other pets who attacked him and put him out of the house to survive on the street. An elderly cat, he spent two years sleeping in boxes on neighbors’ porches (and inside their cars), and depending on neighbors for food. Dara didn’t think he’d survive another winter outdoors.

I wrote to Dara: <to be added>

February 25, 2023—Toby and Tink sleep in K&H Thermo-Kitty Fashion Splash heated cat beds on the desk in my office. I came home from a trip to find their brown beds looking pretty scruffy. We have a second set of K&Hs, so I brought the clean (blue) beds upstairs—only to find that Toby had already finished breakfast and gotten back in his heated bed. Not wanting to disturb him, I put down Tink’s new bed and plugged it in.

To my astonishment, Toby, who’d been watching me solemnly, slowly stood up, stepped into the cold new bed. That enabled me to switch his bed for a clean one—under his supervision. Once again, Toby is in charge.