Monday, March 31, 2014


You are probably thinking that Toto was Dorothy's dog in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, and you're right.  But did you know that there is a real, live cat named Toto?  Well, in case you didn't, I'm going to tell you all about him.

The story of this cat began on June 1, 2011, when a nasty tornado hit Massachusetts.  During rescue operations in the small town of Brimfield, a worker found a tiny kitten way up high in a tree.  This kitten was only 2 or 3 weeks old, at the most, so he could not have climbed the tree by himself.  What evidently happened was that the tornado blew him up into the branches.

The kitten was brought to the fire station where there were a bunch of paramedics, including a man named Jonathan Hall.  "Everything seemed to come to a halt," Jonathan said later.  "Firemen and paramedics are by no means softies and can be pretty jaded by the everyday experiences they encounter.  But suddenly all focus was on this tiny bundle of fur who had clung so tenaciously to life."   Someone said that the kitten ought to be named Toto, because he survived a tornado.  And that is how Toto got his name.

The little kitten only weighed 6 ounces, and he was very cold and hungry when he was rescued.  The paramedics tried to give him milk and keep him warm, but soon they decided that Toto needed veterinary care.  So they turned him over to volunteers from the Boston Animal Rescue League, who were in Brimfield trying to help other animals affected by the tornado.  The ARL found a mother cat who was willing to nurse Toto along with her own kittens, and eventually Toto got all better.

Brimfield Police Chief Dawn Charette said that the kitten, who survived a tornado that killed one person, injured several others, and destroyed 140 homes, was a source of encouragement for the town.  "After what we saw out there, that kitten was like a symbol of hope," Chief Charette said.  "I saw guys -- I mean big, tough cops -- just break down when they saw that kitten.  We started thinking that if that cat would be okay, then maybe we'd all be okay, too."

In August, Jonathan's wife Amy surprised him by adopting Toto from the ARL.  The kitty seems very happy to be living with the Halls and his feline companion.  He likes to go everywhere around town with Jonathan, wearing a harness and leash, of course.

One of the first places they went was to the fire station, and after that, they started getting requests to visit schools, churches, weather forecasters, and special events.  Then Jonathan got the idea to write a children's book about Toto, so that's what he did, with funding from the Country Bank of Brimfield.  The illustrator for the book was Carol Rusicka.

On April 1, 2012, the book was published.  It is called Toto the Tornado Kitten, and 100% of the proceeds from people buying it go to the ARL of Boston.  If you would like a copy of your very own, you can find it on Amazon or else on Toto's Facebook page.

Because Toto is so famous in the community and loves going places with his dad, Jonathan decided to write a second book.  It came out on May 1, 2013 and is called Oh Toto, Where Did You Go?  "It details all the fun places that we go to together," said the author.

Another thing Jonathan said about Toto was this:  "I am not a deeply spiritual person.  I've been a paramedic for 20 years and it can be a very tough profession.  But there is something very healing about being in this cat's presence, and it's just wonderful to see the way he brings people together."

Toto revisiting the place where he was rescued


  1. Not sure my other comment showed. This is great. How appropriate to be Toto when he survived a tornado. Hope to read his book one day. I used to have a cat named Toto when I was a child. I wrote a children's book about him and some people complained that Toto is supposed to be a dog! Not so. Your Toto is beautiful and so blessed!

    1. Dear Michelle,
      Thanks for reading this story on my blog and for writing a comment. It's funny that you used to have a cat named Toto, too. I hope lots of people read the book you wrote about him.
      Sincerely, Dorrie