I’m a reluctant “cat person”.

I grew up with dogs (and one wolf), and always wanted a canine companion as an adult, but I never had the yard space or time to be a good puppy parent. So, cats it is.

Sawyer and his twin brother Desmond came from a curbside adoption and kept me company while I lived alone in New York. When I moved back home to LA, sweet Desmond passed away, so Nikki and I found slim, sketchy, wide-eyed Thomas to keep Sawyer company. To him, Thomas was no Desmond (and no one ever would be), but they learned to love each other nonetheless. Two cats. That was the magic number: twice the amount of shit I’d prefer to be scooping from the litter box, but they liberate one another from lonely boredom every day.

Then came Walter. Fat, stupid, pathologically loving, perfect little Walter. I blame The Bold and the Beautiful for him. The character I play rescues a kitten for his girlfriend, and the producers asked if I’d be willing to adopt, in real life, the shelter kitty who would be playing the part. Three cats is too many cats, I’m telling you. But Walter was my boy the minute I met him, so I took him home to Sawyer and Thomas (who found him so pitifully unthreatening, they welcomed him almost immediately).

I’m going somewhere with this, I promise.

For the next few years, the five of us—Nikki, Sawyer, Thomas, Walter and me—were doing just fine on our own, thankyouverymuch, until Nikki began to notice a certain tiny, skittish, calico stray kitten periodically showing up on our back porch, peering into the french doors. But whenever one of us approached the doors, she’d sprint away like lightening. We set up a spy camera whenever we were gone, and noticed how particularly interested the stray was in, of all things, Walter. They’d sit on opposite sides of the glass like it was prison visiting hours and just gaze. Nikki started leaving food outside, fantasizing out loud about catching her someday—met with a reflexive, “Don’t you dare get attached, Nik!!!” from yours truly.

I mean, two cats is company; three is a crowd; four is a farm.

“I wouldn’t keep her,” she assured me. “We’d find a home for her. But it’s cold and rainy, and she’s so small, and I don’t want her out there alone.” I’m a good debater, but there’s really no counter-argument to that.

Within a few weeks, we’d bought a trap, lured her in, taken her to the vet for blood work and vaccinations, had her spayed, and were now letting her recover in our guest bedroom with her stupid-ass-cone-collar-thing that has to be worn for what I’m pretty sure is a patently unrealistic amount of time.

But she was no house cat; she was feral (and smelly), and paranoid, and pissed-off, and in survival mode. When we first got her inside the house, Nikki made a space for her in the bathroom, where the stray would press her back against the corner and growl if either of us came close.

But we took a huge, dumb, flagrantly irresponsible risk that totally paid off: Walter. Breath held, we let him into the bathroom with her, and the second their eyes met… the girl melted. She purred for the first time, and began rolling onto her back, arms stretched out toward her knight in furry armor. They were in love.

We began letting Walter in to see her more and more, for longer and longer. She’d have her appetite back when he was there with her. They’d clean, play, and cuddle together. She’d even let us pet her. (I assume Wally vouched for us.) Soon we let Walter introduce her to his older brothers. They bopped her on the head a few times to show her who’s boss, and then recruited her to help them chase bugs and toys. Nikki loves her. I do too. (Shit.)

I’m not sure where along the lines our plan to find her a new home was buried in the graveyard of prudent fantasies, but Walter was the Richard Gere to her Julia Roberts—were we really going to separate them at this point?

Her name is Amy, by the way, and now I have four cats. I thought I’d introduce you to the new girl.