The Cat that Found Me

Mully and Spider Plants

By Johna Till Johnson
Photos by Johna Till Johnson and Vladimir Brezina

“You don’t go out and get a cat, ” Vlad would say. “The cat will find you!”

He’d had three cats that he loved dearly: Sergei, April, and Clara. They were memories of happier times, when he’d lived in the first throes of romance with his then-wife in a New York apartment. I don’t think I ever knew how Sergei found him, but April and Clara were abandoned kittens that his wife discovered crying in the street, and which adopted her on the spot.

That marriage ended, and one by one the cats grew old and died. He buried each of them in Central Park (which of course is highly illegal.)

He told the story hilariously: “There I was, in a black leather jacket and skullcap, carrying a shovel and a dead cat in a duffel bag. Its feet were sticking out, already stiff with rigor mortis. It was the middle of the night–I don’t know why the cops never stopped me!”

But it was laughter tinged with sadness, as the last vestiges of his once-happy existence ended and he remained alone in the apartment that had once been vibrant with life. Not coincidentally, that was when he began to take ever-longer kayak excursions, and ultimately met me.

So it was natural that we discussed getting a cat together. I’d had cats for most of my life (despite being allergic), and we both thought a cat would be the perfect addition to our household.

Just one problem: Vlad’s adamant stance that you don’t get a cat. The cat gets you.

And unsurprisingly, given the amount of time we spent on the water, no cat managed to find us.

After Vlad died, I sometimes thought about getting a cat. But I live in a high floor in an apartment building with a doorman: how was a cat going to find me?

Online, as it turned out, just like so many things in this world.

Despite Vlad’s death, I’ve stayed engaged in the Facebook cancer forums that were so helpful to us while he was alive–in no small part because people dealing with cancer are some of the funniest, most honest, and best people around. Cancer has a way of stripping the superficial and extraneous out of people’s souls. If it doesn’t destroy you, it leaves you with a greater appreciation of the world’s beauty–and a much lower tolerance for daily B.S.

One of my forum friends had been keeping us all entertained with her online saga about a feral black cat that appeared on her deck one day this spring.

She promptly named him “Mully”, after a nearby brewpub, Mully’s Brewery.  Over time, Mully went from showing up to be fed to sleeping in a crate that she put out for him.  He allowed himself to be petted, gingerly at first, then with full enthusiasm (and a throaty purr).

In short, he adopted her.

Mully on Bed

Just one problem: The family already had five dogs and another cat, and my friend’s husband, not unreasonably, put his foot down when it came to a seventh animal.  Mully could  be a “porch cat”, nothing more.

My friend started looking for a permanent home for him, with no luck. For several weeks he continued living on the porch.

Then one day he disappeared.

Mully reappeared days later, sick and bleeding. He had puncture wounds in three of his paws and was running a fever. He’d come back to the only place of safety and care that he’d ever known, begging for help. (The puncture wounds, we found out later, were from some kind of attack. Whatever creature had gone after him, Mully had fought back fiercely.)

My friend took him to the vet, where they treated his wounds and infection, dewormed him, and vaccinated him. When he came home, she put him in the guest room, against her husband’s wishes.

“Porch cat” had become “guest room cat”.

But the situation couldn’t last. Mully had to go. The husband was adamant.

My friend posted again on Facebook, asking for any takers for an “indoor-only cat”. She explained that he’d already exhausted several of his nine lives, and needed to spend the rest of them indoors.

Indoor-only? I could do that, I thought, as I read her post.

The only problem: how to go get him? She lived 200 miles away, in southern Maryland. Moreover, I’d be out of town for several weeks, and not able to pick him up.

We made tentative plans for me to drive down on my first free Saturday. Then I ended up unexpectedly spending that weekend in Los Angeles, and we missed the date.

The husband wouldn’t budge. My friend couldn’t keep Mully any longer. He had to be out of the house that week, no more extensions.

She made plans to send him to a foster  home. “Unless,” she wrote, “You could pick him up Friday?”

I couldn’t, but by this time neither of us were willing to give up. She came up with a plan: She’d bring the cat up to her daughter’s on Friday, and I’d pick him up from there on Saturday.

That’s how I found myself on a sunny summer morning, driving down the familiar stretch of I-95 once more, this time in pursuit of the cat that found me.

I realize I’d fallen in love with him long before that day. “How is our Mully?” I’d written, earlier that spring. And “I think I love this cat,” another time. Not only was he adorable, but his feistiness and spunk were undeniable.

And with everything that he’d survived, his sunny and loving disposition was still intact. When I met him for the first time, he crawled into my lap and began to purr, nestling his face into my arm.

Vlad was right: The cat finds you.

Sergei (RIP) Photo by Vladimir Brezina


44 responses to “The Cat that Found Me

  1. That is a beautiful cat.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. A very happy finding, Johna. Such a handsome cat.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Johna Till Johnson

      Why thank you Tish! He is quite sure he’s the handsomest, smartest, most adorable cat in all of Manhattan.

      And he tells me so in no uncertain terms :-)

      When he’s not busy biting my toes or nibbling on my jewelry. Appropriately enough, he’s fascinated by the Everglades kayaking pendant I wear on my neck….

      Liked by 1 person

  3. All of our cats “found us” growing up. I believe Mully found the right owner. Coincidentally, but unrelated, I used feisty and spunky in the same sentence as well yesterday.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Johna–I love this! Mully sounds like a sweetheart of a cat–albeit, a tough one, too. My two, Parker and Piper, give him a huge “Welcome home.”

    Liked by 1 person

  5. A wonderful story, Johna! I agree with you: cats find us. All of ours have – except for one we had to take into our care when my wife’s son moved to live on a boat in California. He was afraid his cat might fall overboard there and drown. So we took Savannah in with us. All our other cats – three just now since Fritz [] crossed the rainbow bridge lately – adopted us. That was while we were still living somewhat outside of Karnes City. There were times when we had 10 kitties. We used to joke that the cats in that area must have been walking around with sign “If you need a home, wander by the Hickok place. They’ll take you in.!” :D
    Here in Fredericksburg, with us living within the city limits, no cat has come wandering by – so far.
    Have a wonderful weekend,

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Enjoyed your story so much, Johna. Cats have personality :-)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Johna Till Johnson

      Thanks! This one has a crazy amount of personality. As my friend’s daughter said: “He’s so trusting!” For a fierce, stubborn kitty who knows what he wants, he’s remarkably trusting that humans will care for him and not hurt him.

      It’s a lovely combination… that personal ferocity and sweet trustingness…

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Agree with Vlad – they will find you, as two did with me. Now you & Mully have found each other do keep us posted on “our” Mully!
    PS/Watch how he’ll train you to play with him… mine did. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Great story, cute cat and beautifully written :)

    Liked by 1 person

  9. What a wonderful post, Johna – I’m glad Mully found you with the help of modern communication….

    Liked by 1 person

    • Johna Till Johnson

      Thanks Harry!!! He has put a bit of a crimp in my plans to road-trip to Ohio (I’m no longer entirely as footloose and fancy free as I used to be) but I will make it out sometime soon.

      One thing I’ve learned is not to delay.. and I really want to come see Ohio!


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  12. Cats find you. Dogs find you too. I have been found many times by both.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Johna Till Johnson

    Evidently so! I didn’t believe it until now. What’s that line from Hamlet?

    “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
    Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”


  14. Wow Johna, what a tale! You moved mountains while letting the cat come to you. :-) I get what you’re saying about the cancer forum – my mother died from pancreatic CA back in 1999, and the forum was small enough then to be a warm community, and of course, a lifeline. Good for you for keeping up with your community. Mully’s story made me think of Chen, who showed up at my then-boyfriend’s parent’s Greenwich Village doorstep back in the early 70’s. We inherited him, and he was quite the personality. We took an old VW camper one summer up to a piece of land on Campobello Island, where the family was going to build a cabin, and we camped there for an idyllic few days. But Chen refused to come when it was time to leave. He totally loved being in those woods. We did finally find him, and took him back to our little railroad flat in Hoboken (that was before it was yuppified) but he would not speak to us for weeks. Nothing but sulking. Eventually he got his way, when we split up and Chen and his master moved to Maine. :-) Happy ending.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Johna Till Johnson

      Thanks so much for reading and posting, Lynn!

      Love the story about Chen. Also Hoboken (before it was yuppified–I lived in Jersey City back when guys from the Bronx were scared of Jersey City, now the apartments go for $1 million!!)

      And yes, I know what it’s like to lose a cat in the split.. I think Lexx is still alive, though he’s getting quite old. He was middle-aged when my husband and I divorced in 2011, and there was no question but that Lexx would stay with him.

      Sometimes I call Mully “Lexx” (though they are nothing alike, except in the supreme confidence of being loved).

      Mully at the moment is careening around the bedroom, ecstatic that I’m back home from a mini-jaunt to the Connecticut River… details to come…


      • And you were in Jersey City – that’s cool. When i was in Hoboken there were people keeping chickens, back by the RR tracks. And I picked tansy along the tracks…and near us was the most wonderful little Indian restaurant, serving south Indian food for the Stevens Institute guys far from home who had no wife to cook for them. ;-) I learned to love all these south Indian specialties, which spoiled me, since they’re not so easy to come by.
        I can understand calling the current cat by the late cat’s name. :-) How nice that Mully shows the love.

        Liked by 1 person

  15. Love this. I recently moved to an apartment with my cat and dog. The previous tenant had been evicted and left his two boy kitties behind. the neighbor said they were brothers and neutered. I didn’t know their names nor their health history. The were black and rather than go for the obvious, I named one Inky and the other Binky. I’d like to rehome them because I have to pay rent for my two and I can’t afford to keep feeding them. They really are sweet and loving. know anybody waiting for two cats to find them? lol

    Liked by 1 person

    • Johna Till Johnson

      Thanks for reading and posting! Alas I do not… but experience suggests that if you get the word out… magic will happen!


  16. Wonderful story! So glad you two found eachother and Mully chose you. Happy to be the inspiration in the name. As a family-owned and operated business, there’s definitely love and grit in the name.
    Mully’s Brewery

    Liked by 1 person

    • Johna Till Johnson

      Thanks Cindy!! And I’m totally serious about coming to visit, likely when the weather cools down a bit.

      Maybe for one of the Saturday tasting tours!


  17. Johna Till Johnson

    And for anyone who missed the reference in the blog, here’s where Mully’s name comes from:


  18. Oh, lovely! I don’t think it too fanciful to imagine that the cat was ‘meant’ to find you, and that before the two of you had even met some sort of telepathic bond had been formed.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Johna Till Johnson

      Weirdly, that’s what my friend thinks, as well!

      I’m not sure on that one… I think he’s an unusual little black kitty who has a rather strange combination of skittishness and complete, unshakeable trust in the goodness of the universe, and of people in it.

      And so far, his trust has not been misplaced… my friend took him to the vet and spent hundreds of dollars fixing him up (despite his being only a “porch cat”)… and found him a lovely home where he is the most spoiled kitty in Manhattan.

      Regardless of how it came about, though, I am very happy we found each other!!

      Liked by 1 person

  19. What a lovely story and happenstance. So glad you and your furry friend found each other. As for the nose-touching, I think it is a thing that cats do. My adopted Russian Blue cat Monty used to touch noses as a greeting, even with the two dogs. They are all gone now, but they live on in my fondest memories of them hunting together at our remote NM house.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Johna Till Johnson

      Ah, my original cat Zippy was a Russian Blue. What a gorgeous creature!

      I’ve never had a cat that did the nose-touching before. It’s sweet. And he’s sweet. Even if he DOES wake me up in the middle of the night wanting to play….


  20. I am glad he found you.

    Liked by 1 person

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