I moved to New York from Salt Lake City, UT to pursue a career in the arts with my partner Ian in the spring of 2015. We moved, sight unseen, to a 125-square foot windowless studio in Crown Heights. It was so tiny we couldn’t open the fridge the whole way without it hitting the bed. I missed having a kitty companion and could no longer sustain myself by petsitting for friends. I needed my own cat. After a summer of being broke and homesick, Ian and I decided to stop by the ASPCA on 91st St. to visit some cats. He vehemently told me that we will not be adopting a cat and that we will only be visiting them. I passed rows of friendly adult cats and decided to poke my head in the kitten room. As we walked in, a tiny black kitten let out an excited “Prroaw!” that caught Ian’s attention. The attendant asked if we wanted to take the kitten out. Ian rolled his eyes and agreed. The active kitten wanted to play with him and curled up on his lap. Ian’s heart burst. He was the one. We named him Ansel Cattams, Ansel for short, after the landscape photographer.
Ansel’s character developed into an aggressively affectionate, easy-going boy who loves to play and loves to snuggle. We hated living in that tiny apartment so much that we saved every bit of money we could and left the closet-sized studio the moment our lease ended and moved into a sunny 800-square-foot one bedroom. At seven months old, Ansel got to see birds and squirrels for the first time!
I met someone who was fostering a seven-month-old black male kitten and I knew he needed to be Ansel’s brother. A few weeks after moving into our new apartment, we adopted Hunter (S. Thomcat) and after two weeks he and Ansel became fast friends.
Yes, we do have matchy black cats and yes, we can tell them apart. Ansel is tall and thin with an easy-going personality. Hunter is stockier and more rounded with a sensitive personality. For what it matters, they’re also different breeds; Ansel is a Domestic Shorthair and Hunter is a Bombay.Three years later, Ansel and Hunter spend their days sunning themselves in the window and obsessively watching the tree outside for various Brooklyn woodland fauna. They groom each other and cuddle. On warm summer evenings, we like to take them for walks in a pet stroller. Most cats would think the idea of being pushed in a stroller abhorrent, but Ansel and Hunter genuinely love spending time outside, meeting neighbors, and getting fresh air. We regularly foster other cats with our boys setting excellent examples of how to be good house cats. To date, we’ve fostered/rescued seven cats. It’s our small way of saving these vulnerable creatures from an uncertain life on the streets or from being cooped up at a shelter.
It’s our dream to own a home one day with more space for foster animals.
We’re a little family facing the big city together. They bring our lives so much joy and humor. Knowing that I get to come home to two cuddly, loving cats makes life easier. I was diagnosed with chronic depression and anxiety a few years ago. My cats force me to get out of bed and give me something to care for. In return, I have a soothing, purring cat curled up next to me. Ansel sometimes lays on my chest and it’s like medicine when I’m not feeling like myself. His physical weight, warmth, and energy comfort me. Taking them for walks in the stroller is an admittedly ridiculous thing and it makes me belly laugh the entire time. Both Ansel and Hunter have an intuition and soul in their eyes that makes it seem that they truly have empathy.
Karly Anderson is a Brooklyn based artist who primarily works in linoleum block print. She spends her free time outdoors, visiting galleries and museums, and enjoying vegan food.