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Once-reluctant adopters thankful for cat-turned-companion

Kitty Kat, the companion animal of Freddy and Ann Howard, is sitting on the catbird’s seat right now.

He is the winner of the Humane Society of Pike County’s Pet Photo Contest and is featured on the cover of the HSPC’s 2009 Pet Photo Calendar. But, if he’s impressed by all of the fame that comes with such exposure, he’s not letting it go to his head.

Kitty Kat is content to be with his family and jumping from pillar to post around his home.

“Kitty Kat is so playful and he loves to see how many pieces of furniture he can leap on without his feet hitting the floor,” said Ann Howard. “He travels the length of the house leaping from one piece of furniture to the next.”

The tan tabby cat adopted the Howards more than three years ago when it seemed that they might not adopt him.

“Our elderly cat, Sandra, died and we thought that we would never have another cat,” Howard said. “She was not a young cat when she came to us. She was probably 11 or 12 years old. She just showed up at our house. At first, we didn’t feed her thinking she would go away. Then, we started to give her table scraps and then we bought dry food. Then we bought her canned food. We fell in love with Sandra, and we so hurt when she passed away.”

A neighbor and friend, Lisa Howard, who is a lover of cats, kept urging the Howards to “get another cat.”

“One day, Lisa called and said that she had a kitten for us,” Howard said. “It was a rescued kitten from a feral cat. We said no at first.”

But one day Lisa Howard called her neighbors and asked them to come get the kitten and just keep it for a day.

“We took it out on approval,” Howard said, laughing. “Freddy went up and got the kitten on Saturday and it was so small that it could sit in the palm of his hand. He took him back but went back on Sunday and got him. We thought that we would play with him for one more day before we went back to Birmingham.”

When the couple left for Birmingham, they planned to drop the kitten off at Lisa Howard’s.

“Freddy took him and set him down in the yard with Lisa’s cats and started back to the car but the little kitten, looking like a soup can rolling along, followed him,” Howard said. “I told Freddy to take the kitten and set him down by the door and maybe he would stay.”

But when Freddy Howard came back to the car, the kitten was trailing right behind him.

“It was like the kitten was saying, ‘Hey, Mister, wait up. I’m your cat now!”

Freddy Howard picked up the little fellow, and he was off to Birmingham.

“We didn’t have any cat food or a litter box, but we had a kitten,” Lisa Howard said. From the first time Freddy held Kitty Kat in his hand, they have been connected.

Howard has Parkinson’s Disease and Kitty Kat is his caretaker. “Kitty Kat is the best caretaker that Freddy could have,” Howard said. “He is Freddy’s constant companion and sits right with him. He seems to sense when Freddy’s not feeling well and he won’t leave him for a minute to go outside and play. When Freddy’s feeling good, Kitty Kat will go outside for a while, but he just seems to want to be where Freddy is. He’s a lot of company to Freddy. He’s a good little boy.”

At this time of Thanksgiving, Howard said that she has much to be thankful for and one of those things is a little rescued kitten that wouldn’t take no for an answer.