Adopted Cat Helps Pet Mom Find Hope After Loss

After a health crisis and the unexpected losses of her dog and then her husband, a kitten named Pete brought Kristen love, joy, and community.

Kristen + Pete

Kristen was recovering from long-term COVID complications and was grieving the sudden loss of her family. Then she adopted a cat named Pete, whose playful and curious nature helped bring love, laughter, and joy back to her life again.

"Pete has brought love, joy, community and noise into my quiet, lonely home. Pete’s cuddles reassure me when I’m anxious, and his kitten antics keep me laughing."

My kitten Pete has been a brilliant spot during an incredibly dark time in my life. In April 2020, I developed Covid along with many long-term complications. I’m still unable to work today. This June, our sweet dog Ruby passed away suddenly. Ten days later, my beloved husband Erik also passed away unexpectedly.

In ten days, my family was gone, my home was quiet and empty, and I faced a whole new world on my own. I felt lost. I’d poured my love into my family, but now I felt like my love had nowhere to go.

Growing up on a farm, I’d had barn cats but never one indoors. I decided to foster a kitten from Friends of Indianapolis Animal Care Services Foundation since I wasn’t always well enough to walk a dog, and to see if it might be a good fit. Based on my situation, the foster coordinator matched me with an injured kitten who needed a little extra care.

The day after my husband’s funeral, my mom and I picked up my foster kitten. Black with golden eyes, he reminded me of Purdue, where my husband and I met. I named him Pete for Purdue’s mascot.

On the ride home in my lap, Pete stretched his paw through the bars of his carrier to touch my finger. It’s an endearing habit he does anytime he rides in the car. As soon as I opened his carrier, he started purring in my arms. We sat outside and my neighbors came over to meet Pete and check in on me. That night, Pete curled up next to my head and slept there all night.

We took a trip to see my parents and sister, and my nephews played with Pete. The youngest one called him Catty, which became one of his nicknames. Catty has given us a lot to talk about on our phone calls.

There was a waiting list to get into a grief counselor, so in the meantime, I slowly planted a memorial garden while Pete played outside. In true cat lady fashion, I bought a mesh tent for Pete to be able to enjoy being outdoors.

I had no idea that I wouldn’t be the only one to adopt Pete. Erik and I fed two community cats (he accurately predicted I was on my way to being a cat lady). The first was a large black and white cat he named Kiki. Kiki adopted Pete instantly and army crawled under the mesh floor to play for hours.

Pete has brought love, joy, community and noise into my quiet, lonely home. Pete’s cuddles reassure me when I’m anxious, and his kitten antics keep me laughing. He even brought Kiki in as he becomes an indoor cat. Taking care of Pete and Kiki helps me get out of bed when I don’t feel like it, and their noisy play makes my house feel vibrant and full of life once again.

Each year, Petco Love Stories invites adopters to share how their pets have changed their lives to give the organizations that they’ve adopted from the chance to receive grant awards. This story by Kristen won Friends of Indianapolis Animal Care & Control Foundation, Inc. in Indianapolis, Indiana a 2021 Love Stories award.