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Did Your Special Cat Choose You? How Did It Happen?

Some cats convey "You're the one!" in shelters, others in the wild, still others on the street. Here are stories of how mutual adoption happens.

Catherine Holm  |  Mar 25th 2016

Years ago, I volunteered in an animal shelter in northern Minnesota. I had my eye on a buff tabby named Chester. He was sweet and sociable. He started out in a cage, but as his gregarious nature became apparent, the staff moved him into a cat room that he easily shared with several other cats. I hesitated for a few months (we already had several other cats), and then I gave in and adopted him. When I opened the interior door to his cat room, he walked right up to me, and then he walked right to the door as if he was saying, “Well, come on. Let’s get on with life!” He knew he was going home with me.


My Chester — a sweet buff boy.

I think about that often, and I wondered if others have experienced the sensation of their cat choosing them. Turns out that plenty of people have experienced this. Here are some of their stories and the circumstances under which cats made the choice.

1. Cats up for adoption

Cat blogger Sierra Koester was drawn to an orange kitten in a bottom cage during an adoption event. She knew that “when Carmine curled up and purred in my lap that he had chosen me to go home with.” Carmine has been with Sierra for nearly 11 years, and he is not a lap cat.

Sierra says, “It’s a real treat when he chooses to sit in your lap. This confirms that he wanted to make sure I got the message the day I met him.”

Carmine 3-14-16

Carmine photo via Sierra Koester

Artist, writer, and filmmaker Bradleigh Stockwell had lost his companion animal of 16 years. Sooner than planned, he and his wife Diana visited the San Francisco SPCA adoption center. One young kitten reached out for Bradleigh and squeaked.

“When he was set in my arms that first time, he crawled up to my face and began chewing on my glasses,” he said. “I was happy, in tears, and told Diana, ‘I want this one — he’s eating my glasses.'”


Jules Joubert photo via Bradleigh Stockwell


Cat mystery author Clea Simon didn’t believe she was ready for another cat after her beloved Cyrus died. But a friend who worked at a shelter called and said, “There’s a kitten you have to meet.” As Clea talked to her friend at the shelter, Clea’s husband approached the cages.

A little black-and-white kitten — the same one my friend had told me about — reached out and grabbed his finger,” she said. “She chose us, and it was love at first sight.”

Elizabeth Robert reports that many cats have chosen her. She and her husband had just moved, and “Heaven forbid, I only had one cat, so off we went to a shelter. She was NOT the cutest, nicest, youngest, funniest; she was NOT what I wanted … but she followed hubby and I for more than an hour.”

Every time they stopped to play or pet a “possible” cat or kitten, a cat named Gaia would smack them with her paw.

“Hubby said she was mean,” Beth said. “But I realized she just wanted us to notice her.”

Beth said that they adopted her from a shelter in El Paso, Texas, and “to this day, she loves anything with hamburger and chilies.”


Gaia photo via Elizabeth Robert

Free roaming strays

Michelle Wolff (who I interviewed about “compassion fatigue” in rescue work) has long rescued animals. A black outdoor cat named Juniper Hoot began following her adopted stray Tonka inside our house.

“We’d come home, and he would bolt out so fast I actually didn’t know which of the alley cats had decided to explore indoors,” she said. “Over time he would run to the yard and stop, then to the back door and stop, into the kitchen and stop, until eventually he stayed.”

The first time Juniper saw the TV he panicked and ran — “I didn’t see him again for several days,” she said, “but then one morning I heard his chirruping hoot noises playing with the cloth mice under the dining room table.”

He stayed in longer and longer.

“It took eight long months before he would let me touch him and another six months or so before my husband could,” Michelle said. “A year later he would get on the bed. He is the sweetest cat and has sold me on the personality of black cats. He even forgave me for getting him neutered.”


Tonka and Juniper Hoot. Photo via Michelle Wolff

Cats who choose us in less obvious ways

Sometimes cats choose us every day, with their intentional actions. Mary Hunt’s cat “chooses me every night when she walks over my boyfriend’s face to sleep on my chest, so close that her whiskers tickle my face. My old girl is now about 15; I love her to pieces.”

Jennifer Slater, author and writer for Catster and Dogster, reveals that her cat, Norma Jean, chose her dog. Ruby. The two were inseparable friends. From the time she could walk, little Norma Jean (who arrived with a litter of kittens) followed Ruby around like the dog’s shadow — eating with Ruby from her bowl, playing together, and sleeping snuggled up together.

“When Ruby passed away a few months ago,” Jennifer said, “I was honored when, after some time, Norma Jean finally decided to sleep with me instead of waiting for her friend to return.”


Ruby and Norma Jean — inseparable friends. Photo via Jennifer Slater

Rescued cats who choose us

Elizablest Catmom Moonrose and her boyfriend were coming home at night from a shopping trip and saw a car ahead of them speed up a bit and suddenly stop. She saw a kitten being tossed out the window onto the road. The kitten stood there, stunned, then headed toward the berry fields, crying as only a confused kitten could cry.

“I answered him in reassuring mama cat tones as best I could and scooped him up into my arms and into the car to take home,” Elizablest said. “He was skin and bones, filthy dirty, and covered in fleas.”

Elizablest had five cats and was bottle feeding three ferals. She named the kitten Boy George for his eyeliner look.

boy george

Boy George has natural eyeliner. Photo via Elizablest Catmom Moonrose

I have immense gratitude for anyone who rescues or adopts cats and gives them a good home, but I love the added element of a cat making it clear the pairing is a good fit. Cats know how to choose us when they decide what they want. Do you have a compelling story of how your cat chose you? Tell me in the comments.