“Our cats, Roo and Matilda, are both very good girls, but they’re also two very different types. Roo is a large tabby. People always think she’s a man and I always get a little offended for her. She looks very dependable — she has the face of someone you’d ask to watch your laptop for you if you needed to use the bathroom at a cafe. Her body type often reminds me of the bowling bags Prada used to do; I can almost imagine attaching a shoulder strap to her and tucking her snugly under my arm. She’s six years old, and we adopted her when she was one. Nina, our daughter, was also one at the time, so they’ve been growing up together. In fact, she got her name because “roo” was Nina’s approximation of a cat’s meow when she tried to communicate with her initially. (Her original name at the shelter we got her from was Circus (!)) Probably the best part about having Roo as a cat is that she likes to sleep between me and my husband’s heads, and I often drift off with one palm underneath her, one over: a hand sandwich bursting with fuzzy goodness.
Matilda (aka “Tilda” or “Tildy”) is younger and more of a wildcard. She’s slim and sprightly, mostly white with some black markings, and while she’s not exactly “bad,” she turns scratchy occasionally, which Roo never does. She has the personality of an aloof popular girl in a teen movie who you discover mid-plot actually has some problems — like maybe a dead parent or an eating disorder — that make her secretly sensitive. For instance, she can appear prancingly self-sufficient with no interest in spending time on your lap, but then she immediately goes limp and pliant when you pick her up, as if all she was waiting for was for someone to break through her brittle shell and give her the love she was craving. Matilda is about three; when we adopted her a couple of years ago, Roo was initially traumatized and spent the first couple of weeks up on the kitchen cupboards, terrified. For the next few months, every time they’d come face to face, they would paw and hiss at each other. Over time, however, they’ve gotten used to living together. They don’t like to co-snuggle or touch, but even though they’d probably deny it if they could, I think they’re really curious about one another. They love to try and sniff each other’s butts, and you can often find them hanging out together on the bed or the couch with the air of two retirees who’d rather die than exchange a single word, but who have also chosen to share the same bench at the park for the past fifteen years.”
Naomi Fry is a writer living in Brooklyn, and the copy chief at T: The New York Times Style Magazine.