The Life of Riley (Part One)

“Can I just look at the cats?” I asked. “Sure” she replied, “Go on in”.

Kocicka ChristmasMy cat Kocicka had died the month before, just three weeks before her 19th birthday. I had finally made the sad trek to the local shelter to donate her food and litter. But I missed having a cat, and wanted to pet some kitties, even though I wasn’t ready yet to adopt.

At that time I lived in Margate, a suburb outside of Fort Lauderdale. The nearest animal shelter was only about a mile away, not far from Walmart. Cats Exclusive is a dedicated feline only facility, so when I entered the door indicated by the staff person, I found a large room full of cats and toys and scratching posts and playhouses. It was a cat lovers’ dream come true!

The volunteer inside told me that there were some cages in the back room, for kitties who needed to be   isolated for medical reasons, but otherwise the kitties were free to roam within the big room.

I sat in a chair and petted cats as they wandered by. One curious grey kitty came up to sniff me and let me pet him for a bit. He was really friendly and cute and was enjoying the attention.

I asked the volunteer how I would adopt a cat when I was ready (thinking that I’d be coming back in a few months). He explained their procedure, while I continued to pet the cute little grey kitty.

“What if I wanted to adopt this one?” I asked, “What can you tell me about him?”

The volunteer got the ID code from the cat’s collar and came back with a 3×5 card. “His name is Riley. He and his sister were found in a church parking lot.”

I’m still petting him. “Aww, you had a sister…” – “No” said the volunteer, “that’s her right there.”



I was only planning to adopt one cat, and not just yet anyway.  But it seemed wrong to separate siblings, especially when the volunteer told me the pair had been hard to catch, but the congregation had persevered and finally brought them in to the shelter, where they’d been for almost a year.

“I’ll have to think about it.”


Another month goes by. I do think about Riley from time to time, but I’d had Kocicka almost 20 years.

Then I went to get a haircut on a Saturday morning. I picked up one of the magazines, a local freebie that had stories about the community. As I flipped through the pages, I came to the ‘Pet of the Month’ – and it was Riley!!


I panicked. “NO!” I thought, “He’s MINE!”

I could barely wait for my haircut to be finished. I raced out to my car and drove to the shelter. “Is he still here?!” I asked. The staff person looked startled. “Who?”

“Riley! The Cat of the Month!”

Thankfully both he and his sister, Greta, were there.

I completed the application and went home to wait. They check references, including your landlord, and there’s a one week waiting period to pick up your cat, so that you have time to be sure.

And on Monday, I found out I was being laid off.

But I’d made the commitment to the twins, and I picked them up from the group home the following Saturday.

adoption day

Riley and Greta on Adoption Day.

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