Jackie Wills & Stinker



I was a senior in high school when a friend of mine told me she had found a kitten covered in paint, wandering alone in a nearby orchard. She said they weren’t going to keep him and that they were going to take him to the humane society later that day. My heart broke thinking of all this little kitten had gone through already. He probably thought he found his home, but was about to be moved again. So, without thinking, I told her I would take him, and that afternoon, before my mom got home from work, my friend dropped him off at my house. He was a little orange ball of fur and he fit perfectly in the palm of my hand. His tiny meep melted me and I instantly fell in love.

The next step was to persuade my mom to let me keep him. So, I wrote her a letter telling her how much I appreciated her and I signed off with a little drawing of a kitten. I heard her come home a few hours later and as she was putting groceries away I grabbed the kitten and hid him behind my back. I handed her the letter and watched her read. She looked so pleased until she saw the drawing. Then she looked confused and maybe a little suspicious of my sweet letter. So, I showed her the kitten.

She was shocked, but her expression softened as she saw how stinking cute he was. I’m not sure if it was the letter or the level of kitten cuteness that won her over, but she let me keep him.

I decided to call him stinker for two reasons. First because he was so stinkin’ cute and second because he had a horrible habit of not covering his business in the litter box.

I’ve always believed that if you adopt an animal, you are committed to that animal for its life; you make sacrifices and do whatever you can to make it work. They’re family. Over the next several years, Stinker went with me to two different universities, multiple cities and apartments with roommates who had cats of their own. He adapted every time because I was always there. I was his constant. He’s been with me for almost 14 years and now he gets to help me raise my kids! He was recently diagnosed with renal failure and he had most of his teeth removed due to periodontal disease, but he still acts like the kitten I met when I was 17.

Jackie Wills is a stay-at-home mom. She lives in Oregon with her fiancé and their two kids.



Photographer based in Brooklyn, NY.

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