I grew up in a household without pets—three younger brothers were beastly enough. I was one of those awkward people who, when forced to interact with animals, mechanically patted their heads and recoiled at any sudden movement. So when my husband suggested we spend a Saturday afternoon visiting BARC shelter’s cat loft, I said, “Ok, but we’re not taking anyone home.” At BARC, we were encouraged to walk around and meet all the different kitties, and when a volunteer opened the door to Audrey’s cage—this tiny, scrawny six-pound animal jumped into my lap, curled up into a little cat donut, and fell asleep purring. I froze and said, “What do I do with it?” I had to be taught how to pet a cat. My husband declared, “She chose you. I guess we’re taking her home.” I’m 5’ small on a great day, so I suppose Audrey felt a kinship with another runt of the litter.
Seven years later, Audrey Cake Cat Hamburger, III is my familiar. And I am her [cat] lady. She recognizes my footsteps in the building from a floor down and runs to the front door to greet me when I come home. She sleeps next to me every night in the same position. When I’m home sick, Dr. Cat is always on call. She’s fascinated by my beauty routine, and sits at my vanity observing (and sniffing) the entire hair and makeup process. We love to travel and I used to spend the last two to three days of an amazing vacation completely blue in anticipation of its end (mindfulness be damned). Audrey changed all of that. She’s family, and I can’t wait to come home to her. I’m stirred and delighted to walk through the door to see and touch this incredibly sweet and loving small creature who truly seems to intuit our emotions, and is a source of joy and comfort. The first year of her life was spent in a bodega, and we adopted her at about a year old. I know that vets’ assignment of birthdays is a bit arbitrary, but I love that out of all the days, they assigned hers to share the same day as my father’s, who passed away on my 24th birthday.
I was born in the Philippines, and in Tagalog, there’s a concept called “gigil” which is when someone is so cute that you’re overcome with the irresistible urge to squeeze or pinch or mush or devour them. This rears its head whether she’s melted into a little cuddle pile in my lap on the couch, or performing one of her adorable tricks (sit! up! spin! paw! pow!), or just, you know, sitting and staring and being CAT. With Audrey, I constantly have to be reminded to bite my cheeks and keep my gigil in line.
Camille Moroz is a Filipina born, Vancouver-raised, Brooklyn-based entrepreneur who has called NYC home for the last eleven years. She’s the co-founder of STATURE, an online boutique that curates independent designer fashion for creative and expressive petite women.