I grew up with various cats and dogs (and hamsters, fish, turtles…), so for me, a home is a place where many species coexist. I love animals of all kinds, and when I finally got my cats at age 33, one of my co-workers said, “Wait, I assumed you already had like 10.” So apparently I’ve been giving off cat-enthusiast vibes for a while. I used to hiss for emphasis in meetings—maybe that’s why.
There’s a pet-supply store in my neighborhood, NYC Pet, that partners with For Animals Inc., and they always have adoptable cats in the store window. I spent about two years casually passing by and squealing at the new arrivals before I actually considered making the commitment to adopt. Finally, I was like, “What am I waiting for?”
I decided to start out with a foster-to-adopt arrangement, and I ended up bringing home two young cats, Cressida and Whip, on the one-year anniversary of my dad’s death. I didn’t plan the timing that way, but it seemed like a fitting conclusion to what had been a hard year. I loved having two furry bodies in my apartment, and it only took me a few days to adopt them permanently. But it wasn’t all smooth sailing after that. It turned out Whip had a rare disease called FIP, and I had to put him to sleep after just two months. I was devastated. My friend Yan painted a really sweet portrait of Whip that’s now on my bookshelf. For a while, Cressida was an only child, but eventually, I decided she needed a brother. Enter, Dash. He was just four months when I brought him home and the cutest thing I’d ever seen. Cress bullied him for a few days, but then one day, I found her spooning him. It’s been fun watching him grow from the little spoon into the big spoon. In general, they get along well. They alternate between ignoring each other, snuggling, and having epic wrestling matches.Initially I adopted cats rather than a dog because I thought, “Cats are easier.” But when I got Dash, I might as well have adopted a rhinoceros. He is chaos embodied, in the most wonderful way. He is voracious and will eat almost anything. His favorites are avocados, tortellini, parmesan, and ice cream, although he’s been known to run off with doughnuts and entire loaves of bread. When it’s hot out, he sneaks into the fridge. I let him sit there for a few seconds before I scoop him out. He knocks things off counters, destroys plants, and scatters my jewelry all over the apartment. He loves Q-tips. He’ll go into the bathroom and daintily pull one out of the cup where I keep them, and then he’ll fling it onto the floor and go to town. I’m constantly finding chewed-up Q-tips in the most random places.
One not-so-great thing about Dash is that he sometimes communicates through scratches—like if he’s excited or just trying to get my attention. We’re working on that. We do an exercise called “Social Toes” where if he swats, I gently grab his foot and rub his toes. I invented this and have no idea if it’s an effective treatment, but he seems to like it.
Cressida, on the other hand, is more self-possessed and worldly (Before I adopted her, she lived behind a barber shop in Queens and had a litter of kittens, so she’s seen a thing or two.) But she has her goofy moments, too. A few times a day, she’ll do her “sprints”—racing full speed up and down the long hallway of my apartment. I’m a writer, and I think of her as my little editorial assistant. She loves paper, or at least, she loves to chew it. I regularly find my to-do list in shreds. When she needs me-time, she hides in the back of the coat closet. She has a high EQ, and she can read the room. When I’m sad, she looks me deeply in the eyes and sits near me in solidarity. Dash, on the other hand, has an extremely low EQ, but we love him anyway.
Cress is short and squat, like a little bowling ball. She has the most beautiful green eyes. Sometimes I sing to her, “Hey Cressy Baby, can’t you see? Sometimes your eyes just hypnotize me.” She hates when I sing, but I can’t stop.
Dash is long and lean through the shoulders, but he has a big butt. Basically, he’s pear-shaped, and he has really big ears. He’s more receptive to my songs. A recent one about him is: “Hey Dashy Baby, you’re my little dippin’ dot. You are so crazy, and you look like butterscotch.”
They’re always dying to go out into my yard. Dash loves his harness, and the second we get out there, he starts twitching with excitement. Birds, squirrels, flies—it’s almost too much for him to take. Cress hates her harness, but she loves being outside. They’ve figured out how to open my back door and have escaped a few times, but they come back when I shake a bag of Greenies. Greenies are irresistible.
My friend Yan (who painted the portrait of Whip) also gave me these cat beds as a gift. They’re actually just Ikea doll beds, but I think they’re pretty chic. When I come across the cats actually sleeping in them, my heart melts.I love that my cats provide both a sense of consistency and unpredictability in my life. Our routine is fairly normal—eat, sleep, play—and they always greet me at the door when I come home. But they still throw me for the occasional loop. The other day, Dash stuck his head in a paper bag and then used it as a plow to knock a full cup of coffee off the table onto the floor. Never a dull moment.
When I encounter people who are cat-skeptical, I like to suggest, “What if I you just think of them as mini tigers?” I think I’ve swayed some opinions with that argument. Who doesn’t like a mini tiger?
Tory Hoen is a Brooklyn-based writer and brand consultant. She’s working on her first novel with the moral support of her two cats, Cressida and Dash.