My husband adopted Uni and Chloe from Brooklyn Bridge Animal Welfare Coalition about six years before we met, when they were just tiny tiger kittens. Like any good single parent he made it abundantly clear, even before our first date, that the cats were part of the package. His Tinder profile announced that he was looking for someone who was smart, beautiful, and not allergic to cats. I swiped right, figuring that on a good day I was at least two out of three.
I’m your basic stepmom—I can’t take any credit for the girls’ sweet temperaments, but I brag about them all the time. They’re truly the gentlest cats I’ve ever met, enthusiastic snugglers without an ounce of skittishness or aggression.
Like most sisters they share a strong family resemblance, but their personalities, well, they’re different. They both have striped tails and white marks across their noses (we call them their Biore pore strips), but Chloe, whose giant eyes take up three quarters of her head, is the more independent and watchful of the two; she enjoys a vigorous head scratch, but in general is content to sit companionably nearby and enjoy your company from a distance. She’s a classic beauty and her big eyes give the impression that she’s in a constant state of surprise. Chloe is easy to love, but difficult to impress — a typical cat.
Uni, on the other hand, is my beloved weirdo runt. Her goofy acrobatics and constant need for attention make her seem less like a cat and more like an unholy hybrid of toddler and small dog. My husband and I co-run a gallery space called Teen Party in our apartment and whenever anyone drops in to see a show, Uni weaves around my ankles, crying, until I pick her up to carry her on my hip like a pet monkey. I sometimes struggle with anxiety, but Uni’s presence is so soothing. Our nighttime routine is pretty consistent: I lie in bed with a book while Uni sits on my chest, making little cooing sounds, purring, and drooling ecstatically all over my shirt.
Without a doubt Uni and Chloe are an integral part of our household. Their cute faces, weird antics, and occasional brawls make working from home or spending a night in so much more fun. I find them endlessly fascinating to watch, even if all they’re doing is sleeping side-by-side or stalking a beam of light along the floor. Hanging out with them is quite Zen, actually. I imagine if they could speak it would be in little koans or haikus.
Ariela Gittlen is a graphic designer, writer, and Editor-at Large at Elephant Magazine. She is the co-proprietor of the apartment-based gallery Teen Party in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn.
Uni and Chloe are cats and authors of the literary interview series Shit My Cats Read.