To Catch a Cat: How Three Stray Kittens Rescued Me is a memoir written by former journalist Heather Green about a time in her life when she was a single – albeit with a boyfriend – career woman living and working in New York City who was ostensibly “rescued” by kittens. How could I resist?
From the start it’s clear Heather knows my hometown (NYC) and has the attitude to prove it. She goes to work despite suffering a concussion bashing her head into a subway pole and views New Jersey – where her boyfriend Matt resides – much like Iowa in proximity and her lack of desire to visit (a situation for which Manhattanite’s have coined the phrase “geographically undesirable”).
While having grown up with an array of animals, the world of feral cats and cat rescue were knew to her. Then one day, she and Matt (her now husband) saw three tiny kittens with their mom in a neighbor’s backyard in New Jersey. Suddenly Heather found herself spending more and more time at Matt’s apartment as she became increasingly invested in these three fragile lives and that of their protective mom.
And so, Heather began her journey into the world of cat rescue. This litter of kittens named Zero, Number Two and Number Three (based on the number of spots they each had) would be the first of many she and Matt would trap and adopt out, or TNR (trap neuter release). The experience of “catching,” and caring for and finding homes for these kittens taught her quite a bit about herself and the man she went through this learning experience with.
When asked about the impact these three kittens had on her life, Heather replied:
They took me outside of a routine that I’d gotten into because of other peoples’ expectations. They showed me that I could figure out what I wanted out of life for myself. I was an influential writer at one of the most important business magazines in the world. That was how I defined myself. But after the kittens, I realized I could be a writer, but also be other things, like a good neighbor and a rescuer and someone who took time to spend with and think about this guy I loved.
Reading this well written, easy to read book, I felt like I was right there with Heather as her feelings towards her then boyfriend Matt solidified. I told her I got the sense she fell more in love with Matt watching his behavior with the cats and seeing the lengths he went for them knowing how important they were to her. She responded:
Well that’s exactly how I would put it. Watching him with the cats, seeing what he would do for me because I was so worried and wanted so much to help the cats made me realize how much he wanted to be there for me, to support me, even if he wasn’t totally convinced at the beginning that rescuing the cats (or rather us novices rescuing the cats) was the best thing for them. Remember, we had no experience with rescue, so we didn’t know that this was the best thing to do.
He accepted that this was something that was important to me, even if he didn’t understand what motivated this drive in me. I learned so much about acceptance from watching him help me. I also learned about just relaxing and being in the moment by watching him with the kittens. I was all about trying to get it right with them, doing the perfect thing for them, and he was just enjoying being in the moment with some crazy cute kittens! I came to love that so much about him and also that he didn’t judge me for not being able, at least initially, to just relax and be in the moment.
And of course I just had to ask the million dollar question. How did these kittens save her?
They taught me that I could handle responsibility for another being’s life. I never really committed to anything for long before rescuing these cats. Growing up an Air Force brat, I moved around all the time so what I was good at was change and moving. They showed me I could sit and be and accept, rather than trying always to control and arrange things. Trying to exert control is exhausting, not to mention illusiory!
So if you’re looking for an uplifting, honest, thoughtful book about cats with a relatable protagonist, check out To Catch A Cat. My only suggestion for improving it would be to include a section with photos – maybe for the second printing!
If you’ve already read the book, we’d love to hear what you thought about it!