I’ve been obsessed with cats since I was really young—I would only allow “kitty” stuffed animals in my toy arsenal. I used to doodle cats all the time and when I was around 6 or 7 my mom finally got me a cat of my own. He was a cute little orange tabby that we named Thomas O’malley (weirdly enough, my boyfriend’s name is also Thomas and he has red hair). In college, my roommates and I took in a pregnant cat from the street, so at one point we had 5 cats. I have this photo of me dressed as a cat posing with the kittens for Halloween. It was on Facebook, and a girl I went to school with reached out to see if the magazine she was interning for could use it. I didn’t ask what it was for (oops). It ended up being in Cosmo mag in an article perpetuating female stereotypes based on their Facebook profile pictures. I was the cat lady boys should stay away from.In 2015, my boyfriend and I moved in together and we wanted to get a cat. We found this adorable little fluffy orange female cat on Petfinder, and we applied to adopt her. She was in Puerto Rico with The Sato Project, who primarily rescues dogs. There wasn’t a lot of information about her, aside from one picture and a story about how she was such a good cat and had been hanging out with all these dogs.
After applying, we hadn’t heard back right away, and the laundry list of anxieties started kicking in. We assumed she had been adopted already and went a couple weeks without giving it much thought. Then, one night I just started crying in bed. I was thinking about that cat and how perfect she seemed for us; I was so sad that we had lost our chance to bring her into our life. We decided that the next morning I would email the organization to see if she was still around. AND SHE WAS! She was flown to NYC from Puerto Rico the following week! She was a little timid around me, but took to my boyfriend right away. I think she likes him more because he has orange hair like her. She will literally groom his beard sometimes like it’s her kitten.
We had a really hard time naming her, and it took us about a month to land on Queso. We wanted to give her a Spanish name to honor her roots, but we wanted it to be perfect and really suit her personality. She’s very sassy and high-energy. One night, we were eating chips and queso and she kept jumping up and trying to get some in her paws. She was so adamant about getting some cheese that she would pull my hand away from my face to lick the queso off my chip! We liked the name, too, because she’s orange, and we wanted the name to have something to do with that. Something like Clementine or Peach was too sweet – she’s very spicy.Queso is 4 years old now. She’s a handful. She really runs our household. She has a BIG attitude and personality. She’s super particular and doesn’t usually let us hold her, but will show us love on her own terms. I think she has abandonment issues from being left on the beach as a kitten, so she often shows us the most love when she thinks we’re about to leave. She’ll bat her paws at me all day when I try to pet her, but as soon as I put my coat on to go outside, she’s at my feet rubbing against my legs and purring. She’s also quite loving when I’m asleep or distracted. As I’m typing or editing at my desk, she’ll jump up and start attacking my fingers on my keyboard until I stop and let her lie down atop my workspace. Sometimes she’ll jump up and give me a cute little nuzzle on my face before plopping down next to me to be close (but not too close) to me while I work. Usually if I’m working at home, she’ll follow me around the apartment from room to room. She likes to know where I am at all times—but from a distance. On weekends, we’ll all cuddle up on the couch together. Sometimes when I have friends over, we’ll all sit around in a circle in the living room and Queso will come in and plop down in the center. Or if someone gets up from their seat, she’ll steal it. She likes to be included.
Bridget Badore is a freelance photographer and educator living in Brooklyn with her partner, Tommy, and Queso. She’s from a small town outside of Syracuse, NY and loves talking about feelings.