Shadow, One Year Later

Kaitlyn Dunnett/Kathy Lynn Emerson here, writing about an anniversary that will always be tinged with sadness. As regular readers of Maine Crime Writers know, my husband and I offered to adopt Shadow when our good friend Lea Wait was first diagnosed with terminal cancer. She died on August 9, 2019. The following day, we brought Shadow home. Less that a week earlier, the last of our elderly cats had passed away. It was probably just as well that we didn’t have to introduce a much younger, rather hyper cat into a house already occupied by an ailing feline, but it was still a a traumatic time for everyone involved.

A year later, I’m happy to report that Shadow has settled in fairly well. She may never be the kind of cat who will cuddle, and she goes ballistic if we try to clip her claws, but we no longer risk being scratched or bitten every time we pick her up. Little by little, she’s grown accustomed to the traffic just outside our windows on busy U.S. Rt. 2. Instead of having a panic attack and hiding under the bed every time a pulp truck goes by, she calmly goes about her business. These days, only thunderstorms seem to rattle her.

Twice in the last year, she’s voluntarily hopped up on a lap (once mine and once my husband’s) and stayed to be stroked and praised. She even purred. Although she got onto our bed at night a few times when she was first here, she didn’t fall into that habit. We’ll see what colder weather brings. What she will occasionally do is perch on the arm of the sofa and stare at me . . . especially when I have a bowl of ice cream in my hands.

She’s caught two mice and indulges in almost daily staring matches with the chipmunk who lives in the woodpile on our back deck. She has yet to meet a dog, but birds, butterflies, and bugs fascinate her. Her favorite perches are the corner of the screen porch and on top of the loveseat in my office, which has a view of the yard through a window, but for sleeping she prefers the back room, aka junk room/laundry room/auxiliary library, she hid in when she first arrived.

We’ve discovered that she has a few strange quirks. She rarely drinks water, although she must get enough liquid from her canned food because she’s not dehydrated. She does odd things with one back foot, including using it to attack toys before she goes at them with all four paws and her teeth. And she still hasn’t figured out what the refrigerator and stove are for. At Lea’s house she lived upstairs, so she gets office chairs and loves to watch the printer in action, but before she came here, she had no experience with cooking or even much with people food (see exception for ice cream above). Since all our previous cats were expert moochers, this has made quite a change for us.

All in all, she’s come a long way in a year. One or two more, and she may even consent to cuddle on a regular basis.

With the publication of A Fatal Fiction, Kathy Lynn Emerson/Kaitlyn Dunnett has had sixty-two books traditionally published. She won the Agatha Award and was an Anthony and Macavity finalist for best mystery nonfiction of 2008 for How to Write Killer Historical Mysteries and was an Agatha Award finalist in 2015 in the best mystery short story category. She was the Malice Domestic Guest of Honor in 2014. Currently she writes the contemporary Liss MacCrimmon Mysteries and the “Deadly Edits” series as Kaitlyn. As Kathy, her most recent book is a collection of short stories, Different Times, Different Crimes, but there is a new, standalone historical mystery, The Finder of Lost Things, in the pipeline for October. She maintains websites at and A third, at A Who’s Who of Tudor Women, contains over 2000 mini-biographies of sixteenth-century Englishwomen.

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10 Responses to Shadow, One Year Later

  1. Reine says:

    Very moving, Kaitlyn. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. bereksennebec says:

    And a great reminder of a wonderful woman whenever you watch her and think of Lea.


  3. Julianne Spreng says:

    Thank you for being there for Shadow. Thank you for your patience with her adjustments. She couldn’t have a better family to help her build a new life. Your efforts on her behalf are appreciated. It meant a world to Lea knowing that Shadow was provided for after she left. Thank you for accepting this responsibility.


    • kaitlynkathy says:

      Believe me, it’s our pleasure. She may be a tad testy, but there’s nothing like having a cat in the house to make everything better.


  4. itslorrie says:

    Hi Kaitlyn, What a great comfort to Lea to know that Shadow would have a good home after she died. So bittersweet this one year anniversary. I’m sorry that you lost your friend. How comforting that Shadow is helping to fill the void left by the passing of your dear cats. It was nice to read the details of Shadow’s personality and how she fills her days. They all have their quirks for sure. Our Daisy was never a water drinker and I became concerned about it now that she is older. I got her a small fountain and she likes it so much that I have to refill it daily. Maybe Shadow would enjoy it too?


    • kaitlynkathy says:

      We tried one of those water feeders and she ignored it. She did, however, like drinking out of the five gallon bucket we had in the bathtub last winter for flushing during power outages. Go figure!


  5. Nancy says:

    Thanks for your patience with my sister’s cat!


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