Katie the Kitten by
(355 Stories)

Prompted By Children's Books

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“Katie the kitten, a small tiger cat,
Is asleep in the hall, all curled in a hat.”

Thus began the little Golden Book seen in the Featured photo that David already owned when our neighbor’s cat had a litter of five kittens and we were gifted a cute little female. David was nearly two and named his new pet “Kate”. She was feisty and fun, very involved with the household and a wonderful companion for the children.

Dan reads to little David, holding his kitten

It was Jeffrey who absolutely adored her. His body stiffened in his high chair when she’d pass by. His first word was “kitty-cat”. He hounded her all day. He never let her out of his sight.

Patti visits when Jeffrey is a toddler; Kate is never far

Bedtime for Jeffrey

Kate lounges outside

We let her play outside. She was a good hunter and brought us the fruits of her hunt; birds, chipmunks. I found them, dead or alive, on my porch. She came when called by the shake of her treats box.

Napping together

She grew old and sick. Though we got her the best care we could, she died the night David came home for Spring Break, his freshman year at Stanford. She seemed to wait for his return. Jeffrey could not be consoled.

He wailed to me, “She was the only one in the family who never yelled at me. If I was unhappy, I would bury my face in her fur. What will I do now?” He felt a bit guilty that he was more grief-stricken by Kate’s death than by that of his beloved grandfather’s. I explained that he saw Kate more often and shouldn’t feel guilty about that.

I put together an album of photos of him with his cat, taken through the years, as a keepsake to remember her. At the very front was the Golden Book, “Katie the Kitten”, that had given his wondrous pet her name.


Profile photo of Betsy Pfau Betsy Pfau
Retired from software sales long ago, two grown children. Theater major in college. Singer still, arts lover, involved in art museums locally (Greater Boston area). Originally from Detroit area.

Characterizations: moving


  1. Marian says:

    Aww, Betsy, this is so touching that a book, and then a cat, had such an impact on your children. Wonderful recounting. Having lost my dear Latte, who lived until age 19, I can identify with Jeffrey.

    • Betsy Pfau says:

      Thank you, Mare. We looked to replace Kate (who truly was irreplaceable) right away. We went to shelters, but Jeffrey wanted to raise his own kitten. Eventually we found him a very pretty, white kitten, who turned out to be neurotic (and probably had an autoimmune disease that we only diagnosed in her final year of life). She was always skittish, and never provided the love and comfort that Kate did. They all have their own personalities.

      Vicki has her own cat now. She is about to move from San Jose to the Seattle area!

  2. John Shutkin says:

    A Golden Book I’d never heard of? Amazing. But it sounds adorable — as Golden Books were wont to do — and, as Marian has noted, it’s just so lovely (and perfect for this prompt) that the titular kitten morphed into a beloved family pet. And typically thoughtful of you to put together a Katie/Kate photo album to save all those warm memories.

  3. Suzy says:

    Lovely story, Betsy. I thought I remembered a book about a kitten called Kate, not Katie, but when I searched for it, I just got your Katie book. So I’m not sure whether I read this one as a child or not (published in 1949, so I certainly could have). Anyway, how sweet that your children named their kitten after the book, and that you made a photo album of your cat and included the book.

    • Betsy Pfau says:

      I made the album to help Jeffrey with his grief when Kate died so that he could see all the photos in one place (there are many more than ones I included in the story). David asked for the book when he and Anna were here in June. Of course I refused, even if he was the one who originally owned the book and named the cat. She was too dear to Vicki (excuse the transposition of names, but that’s who she is now). The book stays with the album and now belongs to Vicki whenever she wants to claim it. I just found it in her room today.

  4. I understand Betsy!

    Losing pets is hard for all us animal lovers, after all we get unconditional love and devotion but never a harsh word from our cats and dogs, which is not always true of our partners and kids!

    I know Vicki is still a cat-lover!

  5. Laurie Levy says:

    What a lovely tribute to a children’s book and a cat who brought so much joy to your family. I loved the photos.

  6. Khati Hendry says:

    What wonderful pictures, and how wonderful to have put them together for Jeffrey. Our furry friends are so important. You gave kind advice about his guilt.

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