LEslie, Keats and Byron

About Our Founders

Byron and Keats Sharing a Moment
Keats loved neck scritches
Byron and me on the couch

As an English major and lover of British Romantic poetry, I decided Keats and Byron were the perfect distinguished names for my rescued pair. I adopted Keats first, the summer after graduating college in 2004. I moved back home and lived with my parents in Nashville, Tennessee for a year. My first objective as a college graduate was to adopt a cat of my own. I started visiting the Nashville Humane Association regularly.

When my dad and I first met Keats in one of the shelter meet-and-greet rooms, the fluffy black kitty briefly sniffed the premises and then promptly climbed into my dad’s lap. I immediately knew he was my cat.

The next day I convinced my mom to visit the shelter with me. I pleaded with her to allow me to adopt Keats. She met him and was similarly charmed. She acquiesced with a smile and was secretly convinced she was adopting Keats herself. She suspected when I moved away, I would leave him at home. This thought amuses me to this day.

The following spring I moved to Portland, Oregon and by then our whole family had fallen head over heels for Keats. He had an incredible disposition, one we haven’t seen in a cat since. He was confident, friendly, and outgoing. Before I moved away, my parents offered me hundreds of dollars to leave Keats with them. They were only half joking.

Keats was priceless, and I knew his place was always by my side. My mom and I used to joke “nothing bad has ever happened to this cat” because he rarely feared new people or surroundings. The world was his to explore.

On our regular leashed walks around Laurelhurst Park in Portland, Keats approached strangers without hesitation. He assumed everyone was a cat person. “Who wouldn’t want to meet me?” he mused. “I’m simply fabulous.”

Because of his extroverted disposition, Keats and I trained and become certified as a Pet Partners therapy animal team. For the last three years of his life, we regularly visited a memory care facility in Portland. Residents there were not allowed to have pets, so many of them treasured our visits. Keats would sit contentedly in their laps, and they would pet him while telling me stories about the wonderful cats they had owned over the years.

Keats brought comfort to so many patients. I will always treasure the memories of us volunteering.

* * *

Byron arrived in my life a little later than Keats, but he was no less special. In 2007 I adopted him from the Oregon Humane Association to help heal a broken heart left by an ex. I also felt like Keats could use a feline friend!

If any cat could mend a heartache, it was Byron. He was the sweetest animal I’ve ever known. He had a seemingly infinite amount of love to give. Though he was scared of new people at first, they could easily earn his trust by maintaining a calm presence. Byron would then earnestly seek their love and attention.

Above all, Byron valued snuggles, a warm lap, lots of wet food, and unattended glasses of water.

One morning, I was meditating serenely at my kitchen table. When I opened my eyes, I was astonished to see Byron quietly lapping the glass of water in front of me. I laughed at my cat’s stealth. When he was done, I moved the glass to the lower and more accessible coffee table. I refreshed it every day from then on, and it was Byron’s favorite water source. I assured surprised guests to not be alarmed when my cat “stole someone’s water” on the coffee table. It was Byron’s water glass.

I’ll always remember and treasure the look of love and adoration in Byron’s eyes when he saw me. Byron was a true sweetheart.

When I adopted him, I envisioned Byron becoming fast friends with Keats. I pictured the two of them taking cuddly naps together on the couch. This did not happen, but they did get along and appreciated each other’s company. Keats sometimes chased Byron playfully around my condo. In their fun, they occasionally knocked over a table lamp. They surprisingly never broke one, so I didn’t mind.

* * *

It was an honor and privilege to be Keats and Byron’s mom. I created this site in special memory of them and for the love all kitties. All cats are exceptional in their own ways, and they all deserve a cozy and supportive place to call home.

I hope my designs bring some joy to your life, and through our charitable contributions, to the lives of homeless cats.

Keats and I contemplating civil disobedience
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