Dear Joan: I never wanted pets -- cats or dogs -- but when my children, now in their 30s, were 4 and 7, a kitten appeared in our garage.
Much to the surprise of my daughters, I decided we should keep the kitten, which my younger daughter named Dusty. We had Dusty for 15 years.
During that time, my husband and I divorced, but remained cordial. When Dusty was dying, my daughters, who were away at college, told me to call their dad. He came over right away, and helped me through the sad process of saying goodbye to the cat.
His compassion and care ended up in our remarrying one another. We've now been married, again, for 16 years. So that little lost kitten reunited our family unit.
-- Carol Zink
Dear Joan: When we moved to Hayward last May, we noticed that our new neighborhood had several feral cats roaming around. One of them, a black cat, seemed to like our yard a lot. She would drink from our birdbath and use our yard as a launching pad to attack the little dogs next door.
We went up to Tahoe one weekend last July, and the day after we got back my wife, Nicol, was working in the garden and noticed that the black cat had given birth to seven kittens under one of our bushes.
Nicol kept the cat from trying to drag her kittens under another bush that had a lot of thorns, and eventually she took the cat and her kittens into our semi-covered outdoor space.
The cat must have been a house cat at one point because she ended up taking to us fairly easily. We named the cat Roxy because it sounded like a tough-gal name for a then-scrawny cat, and worked with a fostering agency here called Love All Pawz to help raise all the kittens indoors (they took over one of the spare rooms) until they were old enough to get spayed/neutered and adopted out.
We adopted Roxy, and all of the kittens went to good homes except for one, whom no one seemed to want. So we adopted Henrietta Pussycat and they are enjoying us very much -- as much as we're enjoying them.