I hit “stop” on my Garmin running watch and we walk the last few yards to our cars, the only ones in the entire shopping plaza lot at 5:45 a.m.  We’re idly chatting as we cool down from our morning four miler when Betsy cocks her head and says: “I hear a cat. Do you hear a cat?”

“What?” I say, somewhat confused.

“A cat. I hear a cat,” she says as she walks toward the closed entrance to Kmart. I follow.

A tiny gray kitten bolts from behind the garbage can and runs toward us, mewing louder and faster than I’ve ever heard a cat meow in my life.

We look at each other. Then, the cat.

* blink * blink* Are you seeing this, too?

He’s climbs up my running tights, sinking his sharp kitten claws into my thigh, so I pick him up. He crawls relentlessly around, up, and over my head, shoulders, and chest. He won’t hold still and he won’t shut up.

“Oh my gosh…it’s just a kitten,” I say.

“It’s so cute, but I’ve got two dogs, I can’t take him home,” Betsy says.

“I’ve got two cats and a dog, but we can’t leave him here,” I say. “He’s so tiny. I wish I could keep him, but Dan will kill me. I’ll take him home and find him a home.”

“Hey, take a picture with your phone.”

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In the car, I put the squirming, mewing kitten on my lap and try to hold him and get him to calm down. He’s having none of it and continues constantly crawling around in the car, mewing loudly. I stop for coffee and when I come out, he’s on the dashboard of my car, pacing and mewing.

“OK, buddy, you’re kind of obnoxious,” I say as I reach in and grab him around the belly so he doesn’t jump out of the door when I open it to get in.

I carry him in the dark house and put him in the bathroom while I gather up some cat food, water, and a shoebox full of litter. He’s still freaking out and meowing loudly. There would be no hiding him from the girls when they get up in a few minutes, so I decide to wake them with a furry little surprise.

“Kelly, Kelly,” I say in her darkened room, mewing kitten in hand. “Look what I found on my run this morning,” I say, holding out the still-squirming kitten.

“Oh, my God,” she says sleepily. “It’s so cute. What color is it?”

“It’s gray, like Kayto and I think it’s a boy. But we’re not keeping it,” I warn. “We need to find it a home.”

Both girls beg to keep the kitty, but are somewhat appeased when I tell them my plan is to get their grandma to take it. At least it would still be in the family.

When I get to work, I text Dan: “You’re going to kill me.”

“Why? What happened?”

“This:

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“I’m going to find it a home,” I text back.”We found it on our run this morning and couldn’t just leave it there.”

“Riiiggght. What’s it’s name?”

*smile*

Four days later, after much discussion, we decide his name is Blue — in homage to his lineage (Russian blue maybe), his origin (Kmart Blue Light special) and his gender (definitely a boy).

It’s been over a week and he’s settled in and mellowed out. He’s much quieter now (apparently, he was very, very hungry) and he’s much calmer. He loves to snuggle and will seek out any idle warm body conducive to it. My other two cats haven’t made too much of a fuss. Oliver, the younger cat, likes him and seems to enjoy having a little “brother” to play with.

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The only family member Blue hasn’t taken a liking to yet is the dog. He continually hisses at poor Sam, who doesn’t really know what to make of the angry little furball.

I can’t, for the life of me, figure out how a perfectly healthy little kitten came to be outside of a closed Kmart at 5 a.m. on a 34-degree December morning, but it’s the best Christmas surprise I’ve received since I got my first kitten — a blue-point Siamese — when I was 10.

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About Just Write “What ends up revealing itself when free writing is that everything has meaning. That is a magnificent gift of writing. If we write from a free heart-gut place, our souls start speaking.”<em