Published by: Ingrid King. Last Updated on: February 1, 2023 by Crystal Uys

Ruby_Ingrid_King_The Conscious Cat

A recent study by the ASPCA looked at how people pick a shelter pet. The Wall Street Journal reports that the research, conducted by the animal-advocacy organization from January  through May of 2011, involved five shelters across the country. About 1,500 adopters filled out questionnaires explaining how they knew the cat or dog was “the one.”

According to the study, “physical appearance” is the top reason given for picking a dog. With cats, “behavior with people” was what convinced most adopters to choose a particular adult cat.

You can read more about the study in the Wall Street Journal.

The study made me think about how I fell in love with all of my cats.


With Feebee, it was love at first sight. He was a grey tabby cat who was born in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia to a cat named Blue, who belonged to a childhood friend of my former husband. Walt and I were living in Germany at the time, but we would be moving back to the Washington, DC area shortly, so Walt’s friend saved one of the kittens in Blue’s litter for us. I was smitten the first time I met him. We couldn’t take him home right away, as we were living in a hotel while we were looking for a house. Two months later, he came home with me, and for the next fifteen and a half years, he was the love of my life.

Amber The Conscious Cat

Falling in love took a little longer with Amber. Amber and her five kittens were brought to the animal hospital I managed. Her kittens found new homes in fairly rapid succession. However, nobody was interested in the beautiful mommy cat.  She spent her days in the big adoption cage in the hospital’s waiting area, but with the constant inflow of homeless kittens that is typical for spring and summer, nobody wanted to adopt an adult cat.  I had recently lost my almost sixteen-year-old soul mate cat Feebee, and the grief over his loss was still very fresh.  I did not think I was ready for another cat, but coming home to an empty house was becoming increasingly difficult.

One weekend in July, I decided to take Amber home, “just for the weekend”.  I liked having her gentle and peaceful energy around the house, and I decided that she could stay a little longer.  Not quite ready to acknowledge that she was home with me to stay, I told everyone that I was “just fostering her”. Somehow, the flyers advertising that she was available for adoption never got distributed, and she only returned to the animal hospital for regular check ups.

Buckley in front of the maple tree

With Buckley, it was love at first sight again. As I wrote in Buckley’s Story:

“Have you seen the cute little tortie in the back?” Liz asked. Everybody at the animal hospital knew I was patial to tortoiseshell cats. There was something about the beautiful coloring and the distinct personality that is typical for these cats that appealed to me.

“No, I haven’t,” I responded. “Where is she?”

Liz pointed to the bank of cages at the very back of the kennel, and I went to see Buckley for the first time. And I fell in love. Hard. And fast.

Allegra 014

I first saw Allegra’s photo on Facebook and met her in person a few days later. I felt drawn to her, but it wasn’t love then. It was, however, enough for me to adopt her. She came with a whole set of behavior issues, and learning to love her took a little longer than it did with all of my other cats, but I couldn’t love her more now.

Ingrid with Ruby

Ruby didn’t pay much attention to me the first time I met her. I visited her at her foster home right after her foster mom got home from work, and Ruby was more interested in playing than in visiting with me. However, every once in a while she interrupted her play to jump up on my lap, and that’s all it took. I just knew that she would come home with me.

How did you fall in love with your cat?

Photos top to bottom: Ruby on her first day at home, Feebee, Amber, Buckley, Allegra the first day I met her, Ruby on the day I took her home.

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