Author & Illustrator
Emmaline and the Bunny

The True Story of Julius, King of the World (Another Cat I Knew)

I saw Julius long before I met him. He’d be sitting at the other end of the meadow watching my cat, George, walk home through the tall grass to me. Even from far away, I could tell Julius was a handsome boy, with his white hair glowing in the sun. I thought he was George’s friend. I was sure a big, good-looking guy like that would have a home.

George in the meadow

Then Julius started coming around my house. Long-haired and twice as big as my other cats, he was regal. I named him Julius, King of the World because, like Julius Caesar, he resembled royalty.

Julius in the peonies

But I didn’t want a non-neutered cat-boy stopping by, making trouble with my pets. So I shooed him away.

Julius kept coming back. He had fallen in love, it seemed, with my tiniest cat, Tinken. He followed her around as if she smelled like catnip, tasted like fish, and resembled a giant mouse. He would not leave her alone.

Tinken didn’t like it. At first, she just rolled her eyes. As time went on, though, she tried to hide from him. “You’re smothering me!” she would howl. “Go away!”

Tinken howling

Julius, however, could not resist her. Every time I chased him away, I would find him a few minutes later trying to get close to her. He stared at Tinken with endless longing.

One day I decided to distract Julius for a bit so Tinken could escape. I brought out a bowl of dry cat food. “Julius,” I called, “come and get it.” He bounded over.

Julius didn’t just eat that food. He devoured it. It was gone in less than a minute, and he was staring at me as if he wouldn’t say no to another helping. Or three or four. “All right,” I said, and got it for him.

He gobbled that, too.

No cat eats like Julius did unless it’s very, very hungry. Unless it’s ravenous. So while he was eating his second bowlful, I ran my hands over Julius’s back and sides, trying to find out what was underneath all that fur.

There was nothing but skin and bones under his fur. No flesh. No meat. Just barely-covered skeleton.

Julius wasn’t just skinny. He was emaciated. He was starving.

Could this be true? Could Julius, King of the World, be famished? Could he be homeless, too?

There was other evidence it was so. My neighbors told me that Julius slept on the bench in their garden at night, like a hobo. And I’d seen another neighborhood cat named Scamp picking on Julius, beating him up. Julius always ran into the woods; he never ran to a home.

Scamp, looking innocent

Julius’s handsomeness had fooled me. His long hair had been covering up how skinny he was. He was a stray, and he was starving. He’d been following Tinken because she was the tiniest of my cats, the one who was least capable of hurting him. He’d been hoping she’d lead him to her food.

But Julius had belonged to someone once, because he let me pet him. He let me pick him up, and hold him. Julius had been someone’s pet, and he’d been abandoned. From the feel of him, he’d been on his own and without food for a long, long time.

I took Julius to the vet. Over twice the size of Tinken, he weighed much less than she did. He had never been neutered. And he had some of the problems that come from living outside, on his own: fleas, ear-mites, ear infections, and intestinal parasites. After he was neutered, I took him home.

At first, Julius would eat, but he didn’t want to do much else. He lay on his bed. He let me pet him, and hold him. He took his medicine. But there was something sad about him, as if he’d stopped trusting a long time ago. Julius, unlike any cat I’d ever known, did not purr.

Julius, when he first came to my home

Over time, Julius got better. His hair grew even longer, and he filled out. He liked dry cat food, but he loved, loved, loved wet food. He’d come running as soon as he heard me open up a can. When I sat down, he’d jump onto my lap and lay there, never getting tired of being petted. He cuddled with me in the morning in bed, his back against my belly.

One day, while Julius was in the back yard, Scamp came around looking for trouble. He headed straight for Julius, claws out and hissing. But I jumped between them. I blocked Scamp, and chased him away. I picked Julius up and took him inside. As I carried him, Julius gazed into my eyes, as if he understood that I would take care of him, as if he finally believed he could trust a human again. And then, for the first time, I heard Julius purr. After that, he purred all the time.

Over the years, I’ve taken in thirteen cats who were abandoned by their owners and left as strays. Four live with me permanently. The others I’ve fed and helped get healthy, and then I’ve found good, loving homes for them.

It took six months to get Julius fixed up and fattened up. His hair grew even longer, he got some meat on his bones, he became bigger and handsomer than ever. When he was all better, Waverly Pet Rescue helped me find a forever home for him.

Waverly Pet Rescue is an agency that helps adoptive humans and adoptable pets find each other. They investigate every adoptive home before they let an animal go there. They make sure the adoptive family is responsible and caring. They make sure that none of their adopted pets, including Julius, will ever be hungry or abandoned again.

Julius, that beautiful boy, was adopted almost as soon as his profile went up on the Waverly Pet Rescue web site. He went to a home where he is the only cat-child. He stays inside, which is how he likes it. He has a scratch box with all the catnip he requests. He gets lots of wet food which he loves, loves, loves. At least once a week, he sits on his person’s lap while she brushes all that fur. He is cuddled and spoiled and adored, as he should be. And he purrs all the time.

Finally, Julius has found his forever home. Finally, he is truly King of his World.

Julius, just before he was adopted

If you are thinking about owning a pet, or already own one, please read “How to Be a Great Pet Person” so that you will be the kind of human a pet like Julius can truly trust.