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Tater Tot: The Gift That Keeps Giving

Updated: Feb 3, 2022

By Jillian McWhirter:

Have you ever had a gift that keeps giving? Those are the gifts that mean the most to us. And guess what? Most of the time, they don’t cost a dime. (Hey, look at me, I’m a poet. LOL!)

On a summer evening in California, I was getting ready for bed. You know the routine: wash your face, brush your teeth, and for those of us who want to keep that young look as long as we can, we use the latest all-encompassing face cream on the market and spend a few more minutes getting ready for bed. And why shouldn’t we? The face cream companies swear it will shave years off our face in minutes.

So, while I was standing there applying my fifty-dollar face miracle, I heard the strangest sound. I stopped to see if I could hear it again. Nothing. So, I went back to my life-changing miracle . . . but then I heard the sound again. I put the face cream down and walked over to where I heard the sound. It sounded like a cat.

Great, I thought to myself. A cat is living under my house! Now what do I do? I’m too busy to worry about a strange cat under my house.

"Go away!” I yelled out.

But instead I heard more meows; this time, quiet ones, like a baby.

“No! Not babies!”

And then my cat mother instincts kicked in. I closed my face cream to protect my investment, grabbed a flashlight, and walked outside.

“Where are you going?” called my husband.

“Nowhere, dear.”

It’s the last thing I wanted him to know! He had enough with our 160-pound dog, Princess, and our son’s dog, River.

So, shinning my flashlight in the darkness, I turned the corner of our home and stopped. Oh, help me Lord, I saw five little kittens right next to the house. Momma was gone, but those little babies where still there. I walked closer and looked at them. So cute! How could you not want to keep them all?

I went back into the house and to my computer and studied what to do when a wild cat has kittens by your house. Goggle is amazing. Whether what you read is true or not, it gives you comfort. Then I saw it: the momma cat will move her kittens when they are a certain age. I didn’t want her to move those babies because I couldn’t bear them living in the wild with the coyotes breathing down their necks—literally. So, I watched!! And one morning, one kitten was gone.

I told my husband, “I’m bringing those kittens inside.”

“Fine,” he said (my husband is really a softy on the inside).

I brought the rest of the kittens into our home and put them in the guest bathroom. They were so cute!! But, I missed the one that was gone (he or she was yellow and white, and so fuzzy).

The kittens got a little older, and our dogs loved them as much as I did, but my husband told me over and over that we couldn’t keep them. We couldn’t be a zoo. I understood, so I found good homes for them all. I was so happy!

And then it happened, the one that was moved showed up in our backyard. Our son found him and told us he was too wild to keep. I was not going to accept that. I was not going to let this fur baby live in the wild. I went outside and there he was, sitting in a tree. He was so cute and the biggest of them all! And although he hissed at me, I grabbed him and held him. I was in love. I brought him inside and showed my husband. I told him that I already had a home for him. Someone who adopted his brother wanted him too.

“Good,” my husband said.

But the day the new parents were to pick up our fur baby, my husband saw me holding him and loving him for the last time. He walked over and ran his hands over the kitten, and then he looked at me.

“Let’s keep him.”

“Really?” I asked. “He looks like a potato, and you know I like potatoes.” I was so happy!

This is our fur baby, our son, our Tater Tot, the gift that keeps giving. He’s now 19 pounds, runs the house, and is the largest tater tot I’ve ever seen!


Raised in Mississippi, Jillian McWhirter moved to Paris and New York to pursue modeling before moving to Los Angeles to start her film and television career. She has written numerous feature film scripts and has published over thirty educational books that are used by health and safety organizations all over the United States.

Read Elizabeth Gracen's interview with Jillian McWhirter here.

127 views3 comments


Unknown member
Dec 22, 2020

I love our fur babies, too! My Jeep runs our household. Johnny hides in the closet. Different personalities, different cat jobs. All are adored and appreciated in our home!


Unknown member
Dec 22, 2020

Oh, thank you Resa McConaghy! Cat's are amazing! : ) Love our fur babies!


Unknown member
Dec 20, 2020

Love this story! I'm a huge cat person, almost as huge as Tater Tot!

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