Miso’s early life is kinda like the beginning of a Disney movie. I was in Houma, Louisiana two summers ago and it was about to storm. The owner of our BnB said it was going to flood and he knew there were kittens in the backyard. He found four kittens but no mother. It rained the whole night and Miso’s mom never returned.
Since I’ve had cats all of my life, I knew I had to take one home with me to Brooklyn. When I saw the four kittens, they were all brown and black. Miso was snow white and since I had never had a white cat, I knew Miso was the one I wanted to take home.
She spent the entire plane ride in a tiny handbag. The woman sitting next to me on the plane had a cat allergy and spent the entire flight working herself up about a potential allergic reaction. Three hours later, we landed in Brooklyn. My husband picked me up from the airport and had no idea that I had Miso in tow. My husband and I had talked a lot about getting a cat but he was always nervous about how our dog would react. So I hadn’t told him that I was bringing a kitten home and in the car on the drive home, we stopped at a red light and I said “I have a surprise!” I opened a bag and there was tiny Miso. He thought she was a rat and freaked out.
It took Jason one night to fall in love with Miso. After getting home, we brought her straight to the bathroom. He was surely a little annoyed that I hadn’t consulted him but he just held her and watched her for an hour. I still have a picture of Jason holding Miso on his chest from her first night at our apartment. Luckily, our dog Judah fell in love with her as well.The following day at the vet I found out she was only two weeks old and weighed eight ounces. Miso couldn’t do anything on her own and I had to wake up every three hours to feed her at night. It was a true labor of love raising her at such a young age. I even called out sick from work my first day back from Louisiana. She was so small and our dog is very playful. Accidents happen so as a precaution, we thought it would be best for her to be quarantined. She exclusively lived in a Tiffany’s shopping bag in the bathroom for a month.
My vet also told me she had fleas. So for 6 weeks, I picked at her fur, bathed her, furiously vacuumed and mopped my whole apartment. I thought if I let her out fleas would infest my entire house. Honestly, I’ve had one too many lice infestations all thanks to going to NYC public schools and the thought of tiny biting, evil bugs drove me insane. Finally, I made the vet check her again and low and behold no fleas to be found. After that, she ran free into the rest of the apartment.Due to her tiny size, I started to take pictures of her next to regular things — a banana, a roll of toilet paper — for scale. Naturally, as any crazy pet parent does, I started an Instagram account of her aptly named @stuffnexttomycat. My sister came to visit me and she posted a story about Miso, which happened to be watched by Emily Weiss the CEO of Glossier. Within a day, I was contacted by someone on the Glossier team asking if I would take pictures of Miso with their products. One brief photoshoot later and with posts on a few well followed Instagram accounts — in came thousands of followers and sponsored content offers.Beyond Miso’s Instagram success, she’s really just an amazing cat. She has a lot of sass, is super feisty and has a penchant for biting. I honestly feel like she’s the ideal 2018 woman — strong, assertive, curious and rebellious. We share a truly special bond and every day when I get home, I pick Miso up and she licks my nose for a few minutes. It’s often the best part of my day. She bites my toes when I’m sleeping and tries to get in the shower with me but immediately regrets it. I can’t make the bed without her jumping in between the sheets. She is also a master at killing flies.Since starting my current job as a Community Health Organizer in the Bronx, I have found solace in the time I get to spend with Miso when I get home from work. The burnout struggle is real and my job requires a lot of emotional and physical energy. I am so thankful to see her after a long day and we just go about our evening together. I do feel like a stereotypical cat mom because I genuinely believe Miso is the most beautiful, wonderful, and funny cat. She’s also complex, neurotic and interested in the world around her. She’s a truly modern woman.
Maris Gelman lives in Brooklyn with her husband, cat Miso and dog Judah. She is a native New Yorker and works as a Community Health Organizer in the North Bronx.