In a delightful cosmic drama, the universe took an old-school newspaper editor with decades of shady politicians and bank robbers rattling around in his brain and sent a sidekick kitten scampering into his life through the back yard — a destiny paved with 9-Lives.
They started on shaky footing — Donnie Douglas preferred dogs; the kitten was technically stray — but after a tentative courtship, the furry newcomer took up full-time residence at the newsman’s Lumberton bachelor pad, where he got christened Boots.
Quickly, their partnership turned into a buddy comedy that Douglas chronicled on Facebook, in which Boots became an egotistical and ferociously snarky black-and-white feline who hunted snakes, slept 21 hours a day and referred to his owner as Double D.
Boots on the thermostat being set too high: “We need to talk. You know this is a fur coat?”
Boots on eating rats: “When I was an orphaned kitten, surviving by myself in the jungle, sure, I would eat a rate in half-a-second. But things are better now. I will have some of the wet stuff.”
And this exchange:
Boots: (beaming with pride): Big D, follow me, got something to show you.
Me: Kind of busy, writing Thursday’s editorial.
Boots: No one reads those things.
‘Known for being a cat daddy’
Before long, the longtime editor of The Robesonian was getting button-holed in the grocery store not for the quality of his front page, but instead for updates on life with Boots — who dispensed wisdom from the comfort of Double D’s belly.
“All of a sudden,” said Douglas, “the guy who was editor of a newspaper for 24 years is known for being a cat daddy.”
This all started in 2018, and Douglas soon hit on the idea to use Boots as a spokes-cat in a local United Way campaign, which not only raised $1,500 but became fodder for his next vignette:
Me: Boots, check it out. You got a shout-out from United Way.
Me: You know, you raised a bunch of money for Day of Caring, and you got a mention in a press release from United Way. They call you a “celebrity cat.”
Boots: A bit understated, but I will roll with it. Where you see that?
Me: In the Robesonian.
Boots: That rag, no one reads that.
‘Boots and Me,’ the book
As the vignettes piled up and Boots’ celebrity grew, fans clamored for more. So Douglas took his charity idea bigger, compiling his cat exchanges into a 165-page paperback, “Boots and Me,” sold for $15 each.
To date, “Boots and Me” has sold somewhere in the neighborhood of 600 copies, raising roughly $10,000 for the Robeson County Humane Society.
This led to a second book, and even a T-shirt featuring Boots with dark shades and a cigar — all of which can still be gotten by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
When it’s all tallied, the chronicles of Boots and Double D have generated more than $15,000 for Robeson County beasts — all thanks to a stray kitten and his one-liners.
Boots: It is not often I compliment you, but I got to here.
Me: What do you mean?
Boots: Well, it takes a lot of courage to put out that book. You do not come off well. A bit of a doofus.
Me: It’s for a good cause.
Boots: Kind of a goober.
Me: Just in fun.
Boots: A simpleton. Recluse.
Me: OK. OK.
The cat helps with dog food
Douglas has since retired from The Robesonian, but his Boots musings continue in both Facebook form and in regular newspaper columns. The ex-newsman still campaigns for the Humane Society, and he even enlisted Boots’ reluctant cross-species assistance when the shelter ran low on dog food.
“Damned if we didn’t get 700 pounds,” Douglas said.
Douglas remains amused that his formerly stray cat’s online identity seems to have eclipsed his own as a journalist. But he also takes well-earned pride as a writer, having done so much good doing what he did for a decades-long career:
Just thinking up fun things to write and persistently banging them out.
“I’m almost embarrassed by it,” he confessed, “although we have done some good. A book about a cat. How cliched can you get? The vignettes are really one-note. He basically makes fun of me. He likes to say he’ll never run out of material.”
How you can help
To order books or T-shirts and help the Robeson County Humane Society, email Donnie Douglas at email@example.com.