by Kimberly Solís -
She found it in the alley behind a dumpster, trying to stay dry as it huddled in a cardboard box. Rain slashed down from the sky, pounding on Sara’s blue rain hat.
“Here, kitty,” Sara said, but it would not come. The cat only yawned a lazy yawn and blinked its golden eyes at her.
She took the half-eaten tuna fish sandwich out of her purple lunchbox and squatted down to get a better look at it.
“Come get the sandwich,” she said. “It’s good.”
The kitty crept out of the box toward her, switching its brown tail. The cat’s whiskers trembled, and its hair was plastered to its skinny body.
With one graceful leap, the kitten flew into her arms, and she fed it the treat. Then she clutched it to her chest beneath the raincoat. Sara felt its warm purr next to her pounding heart.
“Can I keep it?” she begged Mama when she got home. “Please?”
“It’s an animal!” Mama said, her eyes as huge as quarters. “Look, Herbert,” she told Daddy. “She’s brought home an animal!”
“I believe it’s called a cat, my dear,” said Daddy.
“Can I keep it?” Sara asked. “Can I?”
“If you promise to take care of it,” Mama said.
“If you feed it,” Daddy said.
“If you make sure it has water,” Mama said.
“If you teach it to behave,” Daddy said.
“I’ll call him Snuggles,” said Sara.
And that’s how Snuggles came to stay.
“Remove the kitten from the couch,” Daddy often said when Snuggles sprawled across his favorite chair.
“Kittens must not eat cookies,” Mama said when Snuggles pounced upon the freshly baked sugar cookies.
And so Snuggles grew and grew and grew until he was big—a very, very, very big cat!
Whenever Sara took Snuggles for walks, people stared at the two of them. Most people ran away. Some screamed. The neighborhood cats hissed at Snuggles and scrambled up the nearest tree. Dogs slinked away with their tails between their legs.
That’s when Sara knew Snuggles was different.
At home, Mama was not pleased.
“Snuggles just knocked over my favorite vase,” Mama said, or “Snuggles is eating us out of house and home.”
“Move over, Snuggles,” Daddy said, frowning. “I have no room to sit on the couch.”
Snuggles liked to jump about the room and leap over the kitchen table. Pots fell off shelves. Plates clattered from the cupboards. Sugar spilled out of the sugar bowl. The whole house shook!
“Something must be done,” said Mama.
“Something must be done,” said Daddy.
“You said I could keep him,” said Sara, and she flung her arms around Snuggles’ neck. His long pink tongue reached out and licked Sara’s cheek.
“Why does Snuggles have all that hair around his head?” Mama asked one day.
“It looks like a mane,” said Daddy.
“And why does he roar at all hours of the day?” Mama asked. “The neighbors are beginning to complain.”
“There’s nothing wrong with Snuggles,” said Sara. “He’s a perfectly normal cat.”
But Sara knew Snuggles was not a normal cat. No! Snuggles was a...