Cat caper


When I was asked to move Serendipity & Me from a picture book manuscript to a novel-in-verse, the story had to expand. Obviously. “I think you have more to say about this little girl and her father,” the editor said. I just had to figure out what it was.

It shouldn’t have been too surprising that I learned the father was a professor at a small college–one just like the college I went to. Because a cat was deep at the heart of my college experience.

He was found outside my dorm by a suite mate. “What are you going to do with him?” I asked when she pulled the kitten out of her jacket in my dorm room. She didn’t know. She willingly gave him over to me. He was Not Allowed, so my roommate and I hid him in our room.

We thought we were doing well, but after about three weeks, the RA came to us. “I can’t keep pretending I don’t see him when he keeps showing up in my room,” she said. The little stinker would crawl under our door and head straight to hers.

Fortunately, my fiance’s RA was happy to pretend he didn’t see Stinky. So Stinky spent the next several months in Marc’s dorm room until we got married at the end of the semester.

Cat culprits on campus

Cat culprits on campus

Stinky spent a lot of time in Marc’s dorm window, obvious to all passersby that Unallowable Activity was happening in that room. But no one said anything. When I wrote about Sara’s father pretending not to notice the kittens in the dorm window, it was how I imagined the authorities at my college reacted to Stinky in Marc’s window.

Kindly blind.

Stinky, about 3 years old

Stinky, about 3 years later


About Judith L. Roth

When I was about ten, it occurred to me that books are written by people and I was a person. I could create my favorite things–I could write books! I got a B.A. in English. My first poem was accepted for publication before I graduated. I had some success with poetry, but my real dream was to write fiction for children. My first fiction piece was accepted about 25 years after the first submission. Things you might want to know about me: I know how to persevere. I’m a third-generation California native, living in Indiana. I have two remarkable sons who are now young men,and a husband who’s supported my writing for over three decades. I love cats and currently have three of them. I love being near water–oceans, lakes, rivers all work for me. Chocolate is probably my biggest downfall. I’m exceptionally curious. (Or nosy, as my family calls it.)

4 responses »

  1. Such a nice story and picture of Stinky. I really like the picture of you and Marc in 198?. You look so young and gentle. Totally different than Serendipity Kitty.

  2. I related to keeping a cat in your dorm room, because I did the same thing just before I graduated from nursing school! Our housemother knew about it, I’m sure, and I was afraid of the worst, because pets were NOT allowed! But she never said a thing. Cute picture of you and Marc. 🙂

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