I decided to adopt a cat soon after I moved to New York in 2013. I had always wanted a big, lazy cat to cuddle and watch movies with. I was in for a rude awakening when I brought Huxley home from Animal Care and Control. At almost 19 pounds, he may be considered big but he’s definitely not lazy. He’s part Maine Coon which is why he’s on the larger side. Everyone’s surprised by his size when they see him. I never really thought that Hux was particularly large until the Optimum guy came over to install the internet, who was actually really big himself (at least 6’2″), which is why I laughed when he walked in and literally squealed and said “that’s a big cat!” I felt bad and offered to keep Hux in my room while he worked because he was clearly nervous around him.
When I went to adopt him, my friends had warned that he might be scared and hide under the bed for a while, but that couldn’t have been further from the truth. After opening his carrier, I turned around for a second and had already lost him. Within a minute of bringing him home he was already exploring the top of the fridge. I think that first encounter really set the stage for the rest of our relationship.
He’s definitely more dog than cat. I’ve caught him drinking out of the toilet many a time. And once came home to a trail of chips (I had left out) from the kitchen to his bed… with a container of hummus at the end. He also has a taste for paper, which I discovered the time he ate my illustration work up before I even had a chance to scan it.It’s not only me he likes to challenge. I once got a text from my cat sitter my first time leaving him that said “Your cat just drank out of my glass of water, looked at me, and knocked it onto the floor breaking it” (he’s also knocked my other friend’s glasses into the toilet). I’ve had to totally cat-proof my house since he knocks everything over but I’m actually liking my new minimalist aesthetic. Although he’s not the easiest to live with, what I initially considered to be challenges have now turned into lovable quirks. Hide and seek and tag kind of came naturally to us. Sometimes I catch him spying on me from behind the door. If I hide a little he’ll poke his head out more. We’ll go back and forth for a bit until one of us runs out to chase/catch the other. There aren’t really any rules but we somehow have an understanding that we take turns as the “tagger.” I can’t imagine him without his playful personality and would now rather play hide and seek and tag with him than sit and watch TV.Four years and a heart condition later, he’s finally mellowing out and starting to enjoy some lazy naps and a good movie. I found out about his heart disease about three years ago. It was really devastating, especially since he was so young (about 3yo). At a regular checkup, the vet heard a murmur and recommended I take him to the cardiologist, so I did. He has hypertrophic cardiomyopathy which is apparently pretty common in Maine Coons and the disease in cats was actually discovered in that breed.
He’s on medication now which is good but I still make sure to make the most of our time together and not take any of it for granted. The walls of his heart are enlarged – I like to think of it as him just having extra love to give. He just shows it in interesting ways. Like trying to get in the bath with me, or waking me up at 3am for our nightly snuggles. Even though he can be a menace, he’s pretty affectionate and can intuit my moods. He’s not the cuddliest cat and he’s pretty independent. But whenever I’m feeling kind of down or physically sick he sleeps right next to me or on top of me. Sometimes when I’m feeling fine I try to act kind of sluggish to get him to come over but there’s no fooling him. He only gives me that special attention when he knows I really need it. He really is my best friend.
Sibba Hartunian is an illustrator and educator originally from Los Angeles. She’s been in New York for five years now, where she works from home with her assistant Huxley. (He’s particularly good at weighing paper down with his 18 pounds).