Jon was in the market for a cat. His 16-year-old tabby, Cairo, had died recently and it was clear he hadn’t quite worked through all the stages of grief yet. He was at the showing-pictures-to-strangers stage, and also the keeping-a-mylar-balloon-tied-to-Cairo’s-favorite-chair stage. But such a committed cat dad deserves a good cat—even, perhaps, the most cutest kitty-witty in the world. And Carol, the head volunteer, was determined not to let him leave empty-handed.
“What about Wanda?” Carol asked. “Wanda, say hi to Jon.”
Jon had specified that he would like to adopt two young male cats, preferably tabbies. Wanda was a middle-aged female tortoiseshell, and there was only one of her. But Jon also said he was looking for a cat with a distinctive personality, which Wanda had in abundance.
Wanda has a heart-shaped face that wrinkles up when she meows, which is a lot. In the right light, she’s an attractive cat, but when Carol nudged her to put on the “adopt me!” routine, she stuck a leg up in the air and began licking her saggy, slightly balding belly.
Wanda is every teenager’s mom. She cheers with football game theatrics at your piano recital. She wears loud, ill-fitting sweaters and brags about what a bargain they were at T.J. Maxx. But if your friends were to snicker at her collection of resin Santa Claus figures, you would have to stop being friends with them. They would never do that, though, because they see their moms as Wanda and yours as a warm, delightful woman who makes really good spaghetti.
“I don’t know,” said Jon. “They sort of have to find you, you know?” Wanda followed him to the other side of the cattery, her spindly legs supporting her thick body. Jon was interested in a couple of the kittens. He said he’d come back on Saturday, when they’d gotten over their colds and he could see how playful they were.
Wanda is not the type to tell you about how she walked eight miles to school in the snow, but she might casually mention her favorite pair of pink-and-purple snow boots. She might seem a little nostalgic, but she’ll move onto another topic quickly, and then lick your nose for a while.