Eileen is a force to be reckoned with. I knew it from the first moment I saw her, which was through an Instagram post on Brooklyn Cat Cafe’s profile. It was a photo of her in her signature pose, with her one front leg sprawled across her favorite cushion at the cafe. The caption read as follows: “Eileen only has one front leg, so she always tries to put her best foot forward. She came to us from the city shelter where she was on the at-risk list due to needing an expensive amputation — she was found on the streets in Brooklyn with a horribly mangled leg”. That was more than enough to convince me to journey all the way to Brooklyn with my roommate and meet her in person (at the time I was living in Harlem). When we did meet in person, Eileen was not very amused. I think she was still adjusting to her amputation and was not very fond of people touching her or interacting with her. As a first-time cat mom, I wasn’t really sure if I was the best person to take care of her for the rest of her life. While I was beginning to second-guess whether I should commit to this relationship or not, the most trivial but amazing thing happened. She came right up to the counter where I was talking to one of the rescuers in the cafe, and went to sleep. That very night, I filled out the adoption application and in a month’s time Eileen was home.
My daily schedule has been rearranged by Eileen. Every morning at 7:00am sharp, she gets up, sits out in the living room and screams until I feed her. I don’t really get to sleep in anymore. It’s nice since I have the entire day, even in the weekends, to get things done. In the first few months of adopting her, I would come home as soon as possible so that I could spend more time with her. Now I go about my life without feeling like I HAVE TO go home right away—but I did install a cat cam to keep an eye on her.
I would say we’re very similar in the sense that we both know what we want and don’t stop until we get it. Eileen is very intense about everything in life and I like to say that she gets that from me. She’s recently picked up a habit of sitting in front of her treats jar and meowing incessantly until we give her some. She’s so incredibly sassy and stubborn… and I love it.
Eileen’s not a very cuddly cat, but she does have her moments of love. She has this move called the ‘affectionate butt’: where she would place her butt right on/by your foot when you’re sitting on a chair or standing at the sink doing the dishes. She’d bite you if you tried to pet her but purr if you just let her be. It’s the most amount of physical contact she tolerates. I sometimes pick her up and kiss her on her nose, but not for long: I think she just feels uncomfortable being held with her missing leg and all.Since I speak to her in both English and Korean I like to think that she’s bilingual, but in all honesty, I have no idea if she understands me in either language. In general I talk to her a lot: when I come home after work, I ask her how her day was and tell her about my day as if she’s a real person. Sometimes my roommate can’t really tell if I’m talking to her or Eileen. If Eileen could speak, I imagine her to be pretty foul-mouthed and full of attitude. It’s funny because her name is the best pun in the world (‘I lean’ because she’s always leaning with her three legs — get it?) but she takes herself way too seriously.
When she gets super excited during playtime I can see the muscles on her left side (where she had her amputation) contracting like crazy, like she’s trying to move a leg that’s not there. It kind of scared me the first few times, but now I know that she’s just really hyped up. She also never jumps down from higher places and rather slides off the sides gently. I think she sometimes forgets that she’s missing a leg and just does something adorably stupid—and that’s all the more reason to love her. Eileen has brought a constant stream of happiness and change into my life from the very beginning. It’s been less than a year since I met her and yet, so much has happened in that short amount of time. She doesn’t literally ‘take care’ of me, but she kind of does in her own way. Though she’s temperamental and unpredictable, she’s a steady root that grounds me in reality. I can’t imagine life without her. After all, you can’t spell Eileen without Ein.
Born at the Eastern Sea shore and raised in the Himalayan mountains, Ein Jung is a graphic designer living in Brooklyn. In her free time, she throws pots on the wheel, shoots photos with film cameras and watches the Great British Baking show with a glass of wine.