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Happy Tail: Riker (formerly Ponzu)

Finding the right cat for your home is tough, and so is finding the right home for a cat. It needs to be a perfect fit, so the cat can be safe and happy and thrive, and the humans can get all the joy a new family member can bring. For Riker, that perfect fit was with Kimberly and Andrew.

The couple had two cats, Rosie and Kittenstern, that they adopted from the ACR in 2011. After Rosie suddenly passed, the house felt emptier.

Panko (left) and Ponzu (right)

“We both never had pets as kids, so we both felt the loss of losing a pet for the first time,” Kimberly says. “We knew that we eventually wanted Kittenstern to have a companion but needed some time to grieve.”

Eventually, they began to look at the ACR’s website for available cats and discovered Riker (formerly known as Ponzu).

Riker had been rescued with his brother Panko outside a BBQ restaurant, where workers may have been feeding them meat. His foster Stephanie says Ponzu was a food-motivated kitten, always yelling for food and wolfing down premium wet food. “These kittens definitely had a taste for fine cuisine!”

The two kittens grew and played together, slowly adjusting to life indoors before Panko was adopted. Now Riker was about to find a home of his own, too.

“I was immediately drawn in by his silly face and also thought that his personality, based on the description, would match Kittenstern’s,” Kimberly says. She and Andrew made the trek to visit Riker, who hid for most of their visit. “We knew that one visit wouldn’t really let us get to know him but we knew that we wanted to adopt him, so we did.”

After a year together, Riker has completely come out of his shell. He spends his time flopping around and chasing Kitternstern or snuggling up to Kimberly. 

Despite the shy start, Stephanie knew right away that Kimberly and Andrew would be the right people for home for Riker. 


“They were so patient and understanding. I think that’s really the key. In my time fostering, I now look back on some interactions I’ve had with families that were pushy or demanding and thought I should make the kittens interact with them — as those kittens exist on human timelines. Those are the kinds of people I would assess differently now.

“Cats have hopes, thoughts, and dreams just like we have. And you need to give them time and safety before they trust you. Kimberly and her partner understood that. The adoption wasn’t a light matter for them, and they thought about it deeply, because they knew it was a lifelong commitment. And when I see how happy Ponzu is with them now, I know it was the right fit.”

-Jenn Reid