The Real Piccolo

Last Friday I wrote an extract from the story I want to write next – currently known as Piccolo’s Tale. The Friday Fictioneers are always kind and supportive, but this time I was really overwhelmed by how everyone rallied around the little lost cat, and by how many fellow cat lovers I have connected with through this group.

I’m not a crazy cat lady, but I am a cat lover through and through – I’ve wanted one since I was a little girl (actually, I thought I was one when I was a little girl) and finally fulfilled that dream two years ago when Pepsi and Max arrived in my life. It’s fair to say that I’m completely besotted with these two and very happy to have brought them into my family. However, it was a close call at the time, and the reason, is the real Piccolo. I’m glad I’ve begun to write a fictional story fit for him to live in now – but here is the true story of Piccolo.

When we arrived in Canada, it was always my husband’s and my intention to get a cat. In fact, it was the closest thing I made to a condition on moving out here or, indeed, marrying him in the first place! We lived at first in a small apartment in the centre of Toronto, and the move took a lot of getting used to for me. I’d gone from being a successful, highly paid lawyer, surrounded by friends and colleagues I knew and loved, to being a housewife in a strange country, with nothing to structure or focus my days. I was going stir crazy in that apartment, and we were both savvy enough to recognise it.

We were looking for houses to move to, and I was researching job options as well as starting to find people who would become my new friends, but we decided that it might make me feel better to start looking for our new kitten too. So we began to go around the city, visiting the homes of people who, for whatever reason, had kittens available.

They say you should let the cat choose you. Although we saw many adorable kittens, none of them chose us until one morning we went to see a family who had one tiny grey and white boy looking for a home. He snuggled up to me OK, but when he got on my husband’s lap he was clearly in his element – eventually falling into a purring sleep.

That afternoon, we visited another cat family. These were three siblings who had been rescued, along with their mother, from a drain by the lady who was now taking care of them. One was long-haired, something we’d agreed we didn’t want. But the other two weren’t – they were a boy and a girl, mirror twins in black and white tuxedo. The boy was playful and friendly; the girl was terrified of everyone and spent the whole time hiding, together with their mother.

We came away thinking that the decision – while hard – was made. The grey cat had clearly bonded instantly with us, and since we weren’t looking for two, the twins really weren’t right for us. After a long drawn-out discussion, we called the grey kitten’s family and agreed to take him. We’d call him Piccolo.

Now, I should mention that I am a big fan of decisions. Uncertainty is not something I deal well with, and I generally feel much better when a decision has been made. However, in the interests of full disclosure, I should also say that when faced with an impossible decision, I will toss a coin then see how the decision feels before I act on it. In this case though, we had already acted – we had called the grey kitten and once I’ve acted on a decision, I don’t go back on it. It’s just not in my nature.

But I spent that whole night in tears. I couldn’t sleep, I felt terrible, and in the morning there was really only one thing to do. I called Piccolo’s family and tearfully apologised that I couldn’t take him. I called the lady looking after the twins and we agreed to take both. The boy was already named Max by his foster carer, we named the girl Pepsi.

Piccolo was a beautiful, tiny kitten, and I know that he will have found a wonderful family to love him, but sometimes I still think of him and wonder how he’s doing. I don’t regret our final decision, but I am delighted if I can now finally share some time with Piccolo and give him both love and adventures on the page.


Filed under British Expat in Canada, Friday Fiction, Writing

10 responses to “The Real Piccolo

  1. Pepsi and Max’s foster Mom still takes in kittens and is always looking for good homes. If you know anyone in the Toronto area who needs a cat in their life, send them her way!
    There’s a video of our kittens’ story here: and you can access her latest videos from there.

  2. From a person with the same love of cats-and of their “choosing you” rather than the other way around, I congratulate the twins on their choice! beebee

  3. Ahhh I hope Piccolo found a nice family. I rescued my cat. The family that had her had 4 large dogs and 8 other cats. The little girl I rescued was terrified of everyone and everything. She spent the first 4 or 5 days under my bed. She wouldn’t come out or eat. I kept trying. Eventually she came to my outstretched hand and ate the food I put there. She started coming out at night while I was sleeping so she could use the litter box. She still spent her days and nights under my bed. It took a couple of weeks of trying and me lying on the floor with my hand under the bed to get her to feel comfortable enough to come out. I have had her over a year now, but I am not allowed to hold her. If I pick her up she struggles. She won’t bite me, but she is insistent that I put her down. I know she loves me, but she just isn’t a hold-me type of cat. Affection is on her terms. She lets me know when and for how long I may pet her. She is all black except for one or two small white tufts on her belly.

    • Well done for perservering, Tessa. Sometimes they just aren’t cuddlers – Max hates being held, but when he wants some attention he’ll get up on the bed and sit on us for hours. Pepsi took a lot of coaxing and establishing trust, but now she’s like a little ragdoll and loves nothing more than a good cuddle. So ultimately they choose everything!

  4. Dear Jen,

    I spend most of my evenings up here in the Ops Office. Nothing happens at night (Knock on wood) and the Observing Assistants are busy with their Observers via Polycom back and forth between headquaters in Waimea and the summit control rooms so I know no one will see my tears as I finish your Piccolo post.

    God, I wish I could have a cat.

    Love you (In a strictly catatonic, writerly sort of way)



    • Oh Doug, you’re such a softy! Cats are quite the most wonderful things though; I’m pretty sure our relocation would have failed if I hadn’t had them, and instead we’re now buying a house and having a baby in our new country, so Canada has a lot to thank Max and Pepsi for.
      (And my Mum, who is absolutely not a fan of cats in the first place, will probably be even less of a fan of them when she realises they stopped me moving back. Shh, don’t tell her!)

  5. Max and Pepsi needed you and I think you understood that. When I met you, I was overwhelmed with me giving up my bedroom to Jemma and her children, my 14 year old cat dying of kidney failure(the guilt of thinking it was from me taking in the mom and babies and him being stressed) and having way too many cats needing one on one time and love. I was emotionally drained and was second guessing my decision of rescuing this family.

    I had never done this before but when I saw them down the drain, by my work at Yonge and Sheppard, I had to act. After being turned down by almost every rescue and Toronto animal services(they won’t go down a drain), I went back to my work the whole weekend and a miracle happened. Jackie and her daughter from TCR came(Jackie answers the phones as a volunteer and does not rescue) and 2 guys overheard and happened to have bolt cutters. The staff at a bar next door talked to the owners of the store with the drain and convinced them that saving the family was better then letting them die down there. And the next thing you know, I have a family of 5 plus my 2 babies.

    You came and met them and told me about Piccolo and I thought there was no way you would want 2 kittens that were only attentive to humans when they were tired. Otherwise, all they wanted was to play, with each other. They did not even play with their siblings, just themselves. Mirror twins with a bond that was so special I had to keep them together.

    You and your husband only wanted Max at first because he was such a cool dude but Pepsi was sweet, quiet and nervous at first. But you said you had twins in the family and understood the bond and only wanted 1 kitten. I thought I would never hear from you again.

    To my joy, you called the next day and said you needed them and my heart melted. I knew fate had a hand in you coming to Canada, in seeing my ad and in wanting a rescue kitten.

    Without all those involved, they would have all been dead. These two souls needed a special home and you understood that. I must confess that I was worried that you would move back to your country in a year or two and I knew I would take them back but crossed my fingers something would work out.

    Reading your post knowing you stayed because of them is amazing and thank you. Thank you for being here and loving them:) Here is the video of the rescue to remind you of where they were living before I got them.

    Thank you from the woman who rescued the family and kept their sister FuzzyButt Bella. Please, come to facebook and you can see some of her updates.

    I have done 2 rescues since then. One was 4 feral kittens in a shed with a bunch of drunks who are all rehomed in pairs and the rescue I need help with now. 4 cats living with a homeless young woman and then about to be killed at Toronto animal services. A friend of a friend texted me saying I can get them or else they would be killed that day. So yah, I did it again!

    Over 1000 people have watched my video of the rescue but so far, no one wants them.

    Be safe and well and I can’t wait to continue reading about Piccolo and seeing the twin’s updates. Congrats and I hope you are also happy with your choice of staying in Canada. I know I am:)

    • Thanks Lilly. You’ve saved more lives than most people – that’s a pretty special thing to be able to say. Good luck housing the little ones – you know I’d love to take them all, but P&M might have something to say about an invasion by more kittens … and so might hubby!

      • If the twins are anything like they used to be, then any new fuzzy you brought home would be fair game………..for breakfast. I remember having to seperate them sometimes from the others because they would tag team attack Bella or Mr T. They were brutal but so cute because they were in synch with the attacks. They had a silent language that only they understood:) Be safe and well and enjoy the fall!

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