By a veteran children's author, a heartwarming story that not only includes a message but is also probably the first easy reader to use the term ""neuter."" Todd bounces up on his birthday because he's sure he's going to find a longed-for cat. The feline paraphernalia he unwraps confirm his hopes, but for the ultimate gift he and his parents must go to the animal shelter. There, Todd is introduced to a few facts on pet care and the many available kittens, and makes an unlikely choice: a standoffish (but lovable) older kitten with a crooked tail who, Todd says, ""needs me. . .And I need him."" Parish introduces several ideas in the context of this simple story: why animals are given away, what happens to them if they are not adopted (""Often we have to put the animals to sleep""), and the importance of neutering both male and female pets. But though their story is written to a purpose, Todd and Scruffy have enough charm to make the medicine go down smoothly.