Since I’m a book editor, I think I should have a very literary-looking cat, don’t you? His name will be Charles Dickens. Make sure he looks the part,” I asked Wendy. The next afternoon, she got a “mommy sitter” and then went to get my cat. I could hardly wait for her to get home. When the garage door opened, Judy, my “sitter,” jumped up to see what Wendy had brought. It was a young, bright-eyed black cat with a white bib, the compulsory white mittens and socks, and a one-sided mustache. I had told Wendy what I wanted, but I never dreamed she would find the exact cat I’d described. “Hello, Charles Dickens,” I said. He said, “Meow.”

Dickens had a history. He had been a very frightened stray who went in a rainstorm to a house where he couldn’t stay because there were already three cats living there. The lady of the house wept as she took him to the pound and told the attendants, “Make sure whoever gets him calls me.” That evening I called her, and she told me, “I’m about to have a baby, and I already have three cats. I prayed God would send him to someone who needed him and would really love him.”

I realised at that moment that Dickens had not come to me by mere chance. “Your prayers have been answered,” I said with conviction. All that first day and the next, Dickens went over my house with a “fine-toothed nose.” He poked into every crevice and cranny. Then my Charles Dickens began to sneeze. He sneezed and sneezed and sneezed. —