First, there was Claude. A colleague found this little ball of fur wandering on campus, and had a feeling we'd take him in. She was right. We meant to find him a home, but, well, we already had. He was the first house cat my daughters ever had (longtime residents Lucky and Calliope mostly ignored our decision to add human children to the household). We were heartbroken when only a couple of years later, we lost Claude to feline leukemia.
Then there was Norbert, the subject of Everything I need to know, I learned from an orange cat and Sometimes, the cat is orange Another colleague found him scaling a brick wall outside her home. You couldn't miss him if you tried, and honestly, why would you try? He was larger than life, and for a while, larger than was strictly healthy. He and my second daughter were inseparable- the only thing he never did for her was learn to walk on a leash. Though he lived with cancer longer than anyone could have reasonably expected, he finally succumbed and our hearts broke again.
After that, we had a tacit pact to keep the resident cat population at two, and we held it there for a while. Then we started to see the strays around town and I found myself saying, "ok, God, if you send us another cat, I think we're ready. Just please don't let it be orange."
Not long after, I heard yowling outside. When I went to investigate, out from under the porch came an affectionate, starving, thirsty cat. And... he was orange. I told God I did not think this was very funny and that it might be nice if just once in a while She would let us bargain. The response was a prompting to give the cat some food and water. So I did (in my experience, when it comes to God and cats, you don't mess around). He ate, drank, found a comfy patio chair, and went to sleep.
When I told my daughter, she burst into tears. I told her I had to save him, but was afraid of hurting her heart. If she wanted me to foster him then find another home, I would. Before long, however, she came outside and said, "let's see this orange cat."
His name, she says, is Vesbo.
From left to right, top to bottom: Claude at Christmas, young Norbert, Vesbo (also known as Beau)