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A decade ago, my brother rescued a litter of kittens from an apartment complex for which he supplied corporate rental furnishings. I agreed to take one of the kittens, a little calico tabby no more than four weeks old. Tess was a mess from the beginning and worried the stew out of my older cat, Harry. Nevertheless, they slowly bonded.

Harry, a free spirit who had literally adopted me a couple of years earlier, met an untimely end just about 18 months after Tess came to live with us. Several months later, I decided Tess needed another companion to keep her company, especially during frequent trips I took for business travel.

I visited the local shelter and there was no shortage of kittens. One – an oddly colored black-and-gray male about six weeks old, was clinging to the door of his cage and calling to me as I walked by. He made no bones about it – he wanted out of the cage and to go home with someone that instant. The shelter staff told me he'd been brought in a week earlier with his litter mates, all of whom had by then been adopted. It was the typical story and fate of black cats.

I went home that day to give myself some time before making any commitment, thinking surely that little kitten would be adopted soon. I decided the next day to go on back to the shelter and see if he was still there. He was. And still very anxious to go home with me.

He soon grew out of that "gray cowl" that covered his head and into a 20-pound, very handsome cat. A little portly, but quite handsome.

Eight years later, Oscar and Tess are bonded pair who are the best companions. Their personalities could not be more different – Oscar is good-natured, goofy and a bit of scaredy cat – but they get along like siblings. And they rule the house, as it should be.

Layne
Madison, MS

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