I moved from San Francisco to Brooklyn in 2010. It was a big move for me. I didn’t have a job or apartment lined up, but a huge priority was to fulfill my longtime desire to adopt a kitten. It seemed like the best way to ensure that outcome was to secure an apartment of my own, which I found tucked away in the Italian corner of East Williamsburg.
In NYC if you want to adopt a kitten you must already have another cat companion at home or you must adopt two so the cats are properly socialized. Two seemed like a handful, and one way around this was to adopt from NYC Animal Care Center. So, over the course of a hot July week I trekked out to East New York, Brooklyn where I was confronted with a heartbreaking scene of domesticated pets facing certain death and abused dogs being brought in as I waited. There I fell in love with a kitten, signed the paperwork, and was advised to return the next day to pick it up. I did as they said only to be told that very early in the morning the kitten had been sent off to a rescue center. This happened to me twice! Heartbroken, I gave up on that route and trolled pet adoption events, eventually connecting with a woman in Bushwick who ran a rescue out of her loft filled with dozens of cats.
There I met two sisters with wildly different personalities, both loving and charming in their own ways. Two still seemed like one too many, but I was determined to adopt a kitten so I could have a hand in shaping their behavior and caved in. Suddenly I had two rambunctious kittens that together fit into a single hat! They integrated their new life into my new life easily, growing up as I furnished my apartment and built my career; keeping me company while in a long-distance relationship with my boyfriend across the country.
Snax, a handsome female tabby with a white tux and a darling pink nose, is a needy lover who splays out on her back in the crook of your armpit and wants to be as close to you as possible at all times (I’ve dubbed her theme song to be “Needy Girl” by Chromeo). She has a sharp tongue which she uses for licking skin, hair, beards, whatever—ouch! Snüz (Pronounced ‘snooze’ because I had an obsession with Berlin at the time and liked the umlaut) is outgoing, large, and kind of a bully when she’s hungry. Which is at 6pm, 9pm, 12am, and 6am exactly. Every day.
After three years of long distance my boyfriend happily decided to move from San Francisco to Brooklyn. However, he had a 50-pound pit bull named Darby and was mildly allergic to cats. I had never considered myself a dog person but Darby is sweet, mellow, and easily endeared herself to me. We had no idea how Darby would be with cats, or how they would react to her, or if they would even be able to cohabitate. We crossed our fingers and the three of us drove cross country, camping along the way. I’ll never forget the moment we arrived in Brooklyn and brought Darby into the apartment for the first time. We had closed the bedroom door to give the dog time to adjust to the new space before introducing the cats but it had come ajar. Snüz immediately bolted towards Darby and started rubbing on her. Darby remained calm, if not confused. Meanwhile Snax peered from behind the door with a look like “What the fucccck is THAT”. It was too funny! Now they all get along pretty well or at least tolerate each other. They prefer each other’s food to their own which can be challenging. A year later my boyfriend and I decided to get married and over the years moved to a couple of different apartments. Luckily his allergies have largely subsided and we regularly cram ourselves into bed with the dog and both cats. I realize it’s disgusting but I also love it.I appreciate the cadence of routines that having pets creates, even though some of the routines are annoying. I typically wake up around 6am when Snüz starts scratching at our door and have to put her and her sister into the bathroom (which we call Cat Jail) until I am ready to get up for real around 7:30 and feed them. As I’m washing my face and putting on makeup Snax is always on the sink with me. She likes it when I turn the spout on low so she can lick the water. She LOVES the shower. She perches in-between the plastic and the cloth curtain while we shower. Snüz can be very sweet and cuddly once she’s been fed, and is also very tolerant of being held up by her arms to reveal her hefty belly which she loves to have rubbed. We’ve given up trying to control her eating.
The hardest part about having pets has been finding people to take care of them when we’re away. Luckily, they are all pretty easy going and love people but it’s always a scramble. We have had good success with trustedhousesitters.com but there is a tiny part of me that would be relieved to not have to be responsible for three animals and to be a little more free. That said I can’t imagine the past decade without them and I’m so grateful for animalhaus (also the name of our WIFI network…) life with these 3 little ladies and my newly cat-loving husband.
Lydia White is Director of Product Design at Condé Nast and founder of Shell House Arts, an organization dedicated to supporting artists, designers, and writers through programs that help facilitate and deepen creative practices. She also teaches part-time at Parsons School of Design.