A Very Comforting Cat

She'd decided to get a cat to comfort her as she grieved the loss of her sister, but how would she know which one to choose?


Keenan the cat

We Keenan siblings always stick together. That was never more true than when my sister Mary was dying of cancer. She lived in Austria, thousands of miles away from the rest of us, but we five juggled plane tickets and time off so that Mary would rarely be without one of us.

I was the last sibling scheduled to go. I needed to see Mary, to hold her hand, perhaps for the last time. Fifteen minutes before my flight to Vienna, though, I got the call—Mary had passed away.

How I had wanted to have that moment with my sister, to comfort her in her final hours. Instead, I spent a week in Austria securing her death certificate, making arrangements with the crematorium, and closing out her affairs before bringing her ashes home with me to California.


My first Monday back at work was rough. I was jet-lagged, heartbroken and exhausted. At least I could count on my clients to comfort me—the animals we find loving homes for at Humane Society Silicon Valley, where I work as a fund-raiser.

Around noon, I visited our large community cat room for a little kitty therapy with the dozen or so cats awaiting adoption. I’d been considering adopting one myself—I lived alone and could use a companion. Now the time felt especially right.

I took a seat in a wicker chair. Immediately, a gray-and-cream muted tabby with green eyes sized me up. He jumped gracefully off his perch and hopped up into my lap.

“Hiya, fella!” I said, surprised at his boldness. He put his paws on my shoulder and nuzzled my face. As if he knew what I needed.

All the other cats and kittens went about their business, paying me no mind. But even after I put him down to meet some of them, ol’ Green Eyes kept following me, pawing at my legs whenever I stopped, meowing for attention until I finally cradled him in my arms like a baby.


Twenty minutes later, I surrendered. “Okay, love,” I said. “You got me.”

I left the room to find the card with his information.Eight years old, had all his vaccinations, neutered. Then I read his name, in bold block letters.

We Keenans stick together. My sister Mary knew that. Somehow, the tabby cat named Keenan knew too.

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