In 2009, I was living in San Francisco with my boyfriend and three other dudes. One day, we were all hanging out at Dolores Park and we saw this girl selling kittens out of a cardboard box for $10 each. They looked to be just a couple months old; I think the girl with the box had a cat with a litter of kittens and couldn’t keep them all. I’d been wanting to get a cat, but Terry (my bf) didn’t want the responsibility. I assured him that I would fully take care of the cat and then it was just up to the roommates to decide. Once they agreed, I chose Margot out of the bunch because I tried to pick the kitten with the cuddliest personality, but as it turns out, she was just having a good day. Margot isn’t much of a lap cat.
I originally thought $10 was a great deal for a kitten, but it turns out that getting her fixed and shots was over $200. I later realized I could’ve just gotten a ready-to-go kitten from the SPCA for $80, but obviously, Margot was worth the extra dough.
She was your average kitten, loved to play and would get underfoot. We had this toy attached to a long elastic string that was hanging in a doorway and one day, she got herself tangled in the string. She wouldn’t let anyone touch her, she was in such a panic, but through the hissing and swatting and growling, I finally got her free. We obviously confiscated the string, but the toy attached was her favorite for years, until it mysteriously disappeared one day. She immediately won over the roommates and everyone loved her. She’s always been very chill and although she’s not the most gregarious cat, she’s friendly for the most part. In fact, she has become more social the older she gets, which is great!
Margs, as I like to call her, is a 9-year-old, large-and-in-charge tuxedo cat with white boots and belly with the pinkest, most delicate lips. She takes after me in my sassy ways–she likes attention, but only on her terms. She has this gift of knowing exactly when I am awake, even if I haven’t moved. She immediately comes over and makes muffins on my blanket while I try not to get clawed through the sheets. When we come home, she has a specific spot on the rug in the kitchen where she meows and rolls around, demanding pets. No matter how many toys I buy her, Margot insists on her one ratty toy she’s had for over five years and although we never see her carrying it around, it’s always sitting on our bed when we get home. She and I both love to sleep a ton and lay around the house all day, but her one passion in life is wet cat food. If I open a can of anything, she howls at me as if she hasn’t eaten in weeks.
My love of cats is inherited from my mother. The first cat I got to know was one she had since she was 14 years old and in fact, her name was my first word–Nyambo (don’t ask). She lived to the ripe old age of 19 and my mother was devastated when she passed. About 5 years later, my dad brings home a kitten as a surprise and my mom got so upset because she thought it was an insult to the late Nyambo. Of course, in a matter of days, my mom was obsessed with him. We named him Ochan (don’t ask) and it turned out he was the spawn of Satan. He hated laughter and children and would attack me every chance he got. I still have a scar on my left calf to this very day. Even though Ochan was a nightmare, I still loved him and he did have his cute moments. After growing up and being around other cats, I realized he was an anomaly.
Luckily, Margot— though she has her moments—is a low-maintenance angel with a belly flap that swings to and fro as she trots down the hall. Sometimes, I think about what I would do without Margot. Her greetings at the door when I come home, her morning cuddles, her ridiculous personality; she brings such joy into my life! I’d be lost without her.
Tatum Mangus is a photographer based in Brooklyn, NY. She loves traveling, experimenting with different cameras and riding her bike around New York in the summer. In the evenings, you can find Tatum taking on challengers at the nearest pool table.