The Dumpster Diver: A True Rescue Kitten Story

This is in memory of Domino who passed away at age, 14.

This story was published by I Love Cats Magazine in their December 2009/2010 issue.

The garage door slammed as my husband stormed into our home one cold October evening.  I could almost see the black smoke spiraling from his ears.  John had been out inspecting a commercially zoned lot for development, when a truck prowled into the lot. Before John knew it, two tiny black and white fluffs of fur flew out of the truck landing in a dumpster. My husband, as a child, had been known for wearing his kittens draped around his neck. He loves cats! John trembled with rage, fists clenched. He couldn’t bear the thought of leaving those kittens in the dumpster, but he knew that our daughter had a terrible cat allergy. So he came home first, to consult with me. Of course, I grabbed my coat and car keys and said, “Let’s go and get those kittens. We haven’t a moment to lose! We’ll find a home for them!”

It was now 7 P.M. and the kittens were approximately 35 miles from our home. Rush hour traffic still lingered on the highway. At a snail’s pace and an hour later, we reached our destination. Would we find the kittens?  The vacant lot was sandwiched between apartment buildings, so prowling cats lurked everywhere under the dumpster, but we didn’t see the kittens, at first. Then we realized that huddled on the ground, under the dumpster, between two larger cats, was a very diminutive black and white kitten. It appeared to be extremely sluggish in the frosty night air. There was no sign of the second kitten. So as my husband and I approached, the larger cats scattered.  The kitten lagged behind and froze, so I scooped up the kitten with a nice warm towel. During our arduous journey home, this teeny handful of fur’s purr sounded as if it came from the V8 engine of a Cougar! He was totally satisfied to snuggle in my arms. By 11 P.M. after being fed and settled, this miniscule bundle of fur and my daughter were bundled in bed – together!

The next day my daughter took the kitten to the Vet, while I was at work. The Vet said he had never seen a more lethargic and sick kitten.  It was likely this black and white handful of fur would never have lasted through the cold October night.

Our daughter had recently graduated from college and was headed off on her own, so true to my word, we had found a home, our home, for the kitten. We named him Domino, for his black and white markings. Since Domino was a baby and used to sleeping with his former cat family, we decided he would join my husband and me in bed at night. Domino scampered and pounced on the sheets thinking the cat profiles were real cats. The kitten bonded with us immediately and decided he liked several spots in our bed, either down under the sheets at the bottom of the bed by our feet or curled next to my tummy. Domino would nudge me to lift the covers so he could trot on down and curl up.  However, Domino decided that his favorite spot to sleep was the top of my head, the back of my neck, or under my chin. John assured me, “he’s a baby, he’ll grow out of it.” As time progressed and Domino grew, he didn’t “grow out” of liking his favorite positions. However, NOW, the tiny kitten was “the Hulk!” Have you ever tried to sleep with pounds of dead weight draped across your neck? Domino was going to have to be satisfied with sleeping under my chin and I could now use him as a pillow! In the meantime, John and I arose at 5 A.M. to get our exercise before heading to work. Consequently, Domino was used to being fed at 5 A.M. Year after year we maintained this schedule, until I decided to quit work. I was SO looking forward to sleeping in.

However, Domino had other ideas for me. Domino became a one of a kind alarm clock. Unlike an alarm clock’s jarring noise, that launched me out of bed to start my hectic day, my clock starts slowly awakening me with a gentle, soft, silky tap on my cheek.  Since I definitely enjoy my slumber and sleep quite soundly, the repeated pats are easy to ignore. So, unlike any standard snooze alarm, my alarm grows impatient when ignored. My next warning is a furry head bump, just enough to pull me out of dreamland. I push at my insistent “snooze alarm,” and enjoy a few more minutes of rest. Do I really have to get up at 5 A.M?  Can’t I sleep longer? I pull the covers over my drowsy head. Domino starts to get frantic as he continues to head bump me. Finally, Domino takes desperate action. He is convinced he is going to starve to death and wants me to get my lazy body up. So this furry equivalent of an alarm clock quietly creeps up on my pillow, walks over my head, and plops on my face! UGH! I can’t breathe! However he does succeed in waking me! This is how I start my morning every day, with my now 23 pound, black and white, tuxedo cat, Domino, sitting on my head, loudly proclaiming “Get Up and Feed Me!”

Now, twelve years after his rescue, Domino, our “Dumpster Diver” rules the house with a loving paw!


About Gwynn Rogers

After 20 years of sales and marketing experience in the fields of real estate, high tech, and corporate travel, Gwynn has moved on to the career of “Grandma.” When not teaching her granddaughters an extensive vocabulary of “alley-oop-boop, ups-a-daisy, cowabunga or bummer”, Gwynn can be found hunting for mentors for the Kitsap Youth Mentoring Consortium, or chasing her fantasies on her treadmill. Gwynn currently freelances for magazines.
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12 Responses to The Dumpster Diver: A True Rescue Kitten Story

  1. Susan Scott says:

    what a lovely story Gwynn written with such a light touch! Thank you for sharing it! It made me smile and was extremely touching. Good on you and John for fetching the kitties even though the 2nd one could not be found. They say one can assess a society by the way it treats its animals and I am sure this is true and of course this would then apply to the individual.

    • Gwynn Rogers says:

      Domino was quite a character. I do miss him and I’m convinced that I see him periodically waiting for me in the hall outside our bedroom… looking for his breakfast still. It amazes me the number of people who abandon their pets or treat their animals poorly. Again, thank you for your kind words.

  2. This is such a nice story, Gwynn — sweet and touching. Domino LOVED you.

    I have a friend with 30 cats, largely brought home when other people maltreated them or dumped them in the marshes; and another friend with 15, also having given a home to strays, half inside cats and half outside. All of these cats are neutered.

    When the guy across the street from me moved out, he left his black & white cat, Roscoe behind. Roscoe had no home for a while and very much wanted to be inside and part of a family. The next-door neighbors took him in, and he now has two female kitties (spade), a little dog, and three little girls for companions.

    • Gwynn says:

      Samantha, I take my hat off to your friend who cares for all of those abandoned kitties. I am sure they are happy to share a beloved home with her. I had a couple of friends with 15 cats and I don’t know how they cared for them all.

      Besides as spoiled as Domino was, I can’t imagine 15 – 30 cats in bed with me! 😉 Thanks for your caring words.

  3. patgarcia says:

    I love this story. It reminds me so much of my first cat, Abbey. I was alone here in Germany, an unmarried woman with an apartment by myself. I saw an ad in the Stars and Stripes about a family moving back to the USA, and they needed a home for their tabby colored cat, Abbey, who they did not want to put into an animal shelter. I called them, and they came over almost immediately with Abbey. She was a beautiful tabby colored cat, and I said yes without thinking of the consequences.

    The first week, she cried every night, because she missed her family, but they flew out on that Tuesday morning. They had been so happy to find a home for her, because it was so close to them leaving, but Abbey thought otherwise, and I had begun to think otherwise too. I asked myself, repeatedly every night, “What have you done?” I mean she cried throughout the night, until I had to go to work the next morning. She hid herself also for a week, and I didn’t know where she was. I only knew that she was alive because the food and water disappeared, and her litterbox was full when I got home.

    I will never forget it was towards the weekend, when I started praying about what to do. I thought, okay, she is not happy so I must look for another home for her or give her up to the animal shelter. The family I got her from had three children, and there was always excitement and someone at home, but I was a career woman. So, on that Sunday evening, I decided to find another family. She had been with me eight days, and every night she had cried throughout the night, and my nerves were worn.

    It was about midnight when I felt someone walking on my bed. At first, I had the shock of my life! I turned the covers back, and there looking into my eyes were the eyes of a cat, Abbey. I lifted up my covers, and she crawled under them and laid her head on my tummy and slept like that until I had to get up for work.

    What a relief I felt, and I can say that was the beginning of a beautiful companionship that I enjoyed tremendously. My Abbey was a great cat, and when she died, I hurt for a long time. She was also my alarm clock, and whenever I went to Wienerwald, which is a grilled chicken place here in Germany, to by a half a chicken, I had to start buying two grilled half chickens. You see Abbey loved grilled chicken from Wienerwald. Each of us had our own plate, and afterward I had a habit of drinking a cognac and Abbey would drink a cognac also. I had a special small bowl for her shot of cognac. Afterwards, she would curl up to me and sleep while I read a book or looked at television. Those were the days.

    So thank you for this inspiring story about Dominic. It brought back memories of my Abbey. Animals are something special.

    This is also great work also with your writing, Gwynn. You are maturing. That always happen when you write consistently, so continue writing my dear friend. I am much impressed.


    • Gwynn says:

      Oh Pat, I loved your story about Abbey. The funny part for me is that I’m a German Shepherd dog lover and owned them nearly all of my life, but I was amazed at how attached to Domino I was. At least Abbey’s family chose a wonderful friend for their kitty rather than dumping her off.

      When my family, when I was a child, moved from Washington to California, my mom had two kids and our German Shepherd. So she gave our cat to a friend. Sadly, our kitty, Jingles, kept running away back to our house. Eventually he disappeared. Just thinking of little Jingles breaks my heart.

      I do so appreciate your kind words about my writing. You are an excellent example for me to work at following! Thanks for your support.

  4. I loved your Domino story, Gwynn! Especially the part about his “alarm clock feature” which grew more insistent, just like a real alarm clock 😉 So much of Domino’s adorable behavior reminded me of my dog’s old behavior, although –thankfully–at 68 or more lbs., my Weimaraner never sat on my face !! But she other ways of getting me up, like nudging me, jumping on the bed if she wasn’t already on it, whining, head butting the door, etc. I like the way you wrote this, too; it shows the special place our pets have in our hearts.
    I’m so glad you were able to rescue Domino:)
    Each and every animal on the planet has something to offer, I truly believe, if they are just given the chance to show it. Like people!

  5. Gwynn says:

    Thanks Catharine. Domino was a pretty special, spoiled kitty. I do miss him. Pets make such excellent friends and companions. I know what it is like to miss a beloved friend. Animals love you no matter what. I wish people were like that.

  6. patgarcia says:

    Hi Gwynn,
    My dear I have nominated your blog for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award. Please go to my site at for instructions.


    • Gwynn Rogers says:

      Pat – You are such a dear. I so appreciate you and at the same time I want to scream as my technical capabilities lack enormously. For the life of my I don’t know how to copy and paste the award onto my blog. It pasted into Word just fine. So you will find me banging my head against the wall! 😉

  7. Must not have had a cell phone back then or he could have just called and asked and saved both of them. At least the one got a loving home.

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