I was born and raised in western Kentucky, where I was always surrounded by animals—we had a dog and at least two cats at all times when I was growing up, and my grandparents had horses and goats on their little farm. I’ve always felt a connection with animals that is much more difficult for me to achieve with humans. Animals are so mystical and majestic—what is going on in their beautiful brains as they walk among us? They are loyal, loving, and offer a special kind of retreat from reality, which is something I’m constantly seeking.
I love to read and write, disappearing into other worlds, whether by imagining my own or absorbing someone else’s creation. After graduating with a degree in journalism, which I had thought of as practical way to make use of my writing skills, I took a year off and solidified the tug toward creative writing I had been feeling since I was a child. I was accepted to Manhattanville College in Westchester, so I did what I had dreamed about doing since I visited in high school: I moved to New York City.
I knew almost no one, so I often went down the street to Social Tees Animal Rescue in the East Village to get some furry love in my life. I went so often that I knew all of the cats coming in and out of the shelter, and one Saturday I walked in to see a white and grey newcomer (then named Isabella) who immediately caught my attention. I went to her cage right away, and we connected immediately—her pink little nose was on my nose and I knew I had to have her. When I asked how much an adoption would cost (my budget was very tight), the owner told me “Oh, I couldn’t let you pay for her. She’s special needs.” She had been given up because she had had a few seizures, but that made me want to care for her all the more. I took her home and renamed her Margot, imagining a possibly illustrious past life in France.
During my first six months in the city, Margot and I developed a deep bond. I worked early hours at a coffee shop in the East Village so I could go to class and do my homework at night. She spent many hours cuddling me as I wrote short stories and read my classmates’ writing, and she made it infinitely harder to leave my bed at 5:30am for work. As I tried to find my place in the city, making friends through work and school, finally getting an office job (at Squarespace, where I still work today!), submitting my fiction to be published, and moving to Brooklyn, Margot was the friend I could always rely on to give me the hope I needed that I would eventually feel at home in NYC, because I felt at home with her. Now, five years and a few apartments and cat roommates later, Margot and I have our own little place in Prospect Heights, and she is the absolute queen of it. I’m working on my first book and she is often curled up next to me on the couch—or trying to walk across my keyboard—as I write and edit.
She loves when my friends come over to hang out, and seeks their attention right away. She’s one of the friendliest cats I’ve ever met, but at first she only ever liked to be near people—not in anyone’s lap. One of my past roommates and I gave her what we called “lap lessons”, where we’d put her on my lap and give her treats and brush her (which she loves). Now, she crawls into my lap constantly and I often wake up to find her sleeping right on top of me.
The first time she had a seizure at home, I was completely distraught. I held her little body as it shook, preventing her from hitting her head. She had used the bathroom on herself, a common side effect, so I gave her a gentle bath and watched her closely the rest of the day. She becomes hyper-aware immediately after her seizures, and she goes around the apartment sniffing everything and getting easily distracted. Then she tends to find a quiet, dark place to rest and recover for a few hours. She’s had around 15 seizures since I got her five years ago, and I certainly haven’t become immune to them, but I know how to handle them much better. We go through the same routine every time—bathe, explore, recover—and she’s back to being my sweet, lazy little bean.
Katie Knecht is a native Kentuckian living in Brooklyn. She works at Squarespace by day and writes fiction by night (usually with Margot on or around her keyboard).