I grew up in a house of cast-off pets. Every family member that didn’t want their animal or any stray that appeared on our doorstep would be given a home. My mom has an admirable Dr. Doolittle quality that I hope I inherited. From dogs, cats, fish, rabbits, and even a love bird that flew into her car through an open window are part of the family.
So, when I moved to NY in 2006 it was natural for me to get a cat to really feel like I was home. I adopted Meowzer from a woman carrying her down the street in search of someone to take her because she was an opera singer and didn’t know she had a cat allergy until she adopted Meowzer. I took her home and knew within days she needed a friend because I would come home from work and hear her meowing from the lobby (I lived on the 4th floor). I called the woman from whom I adopted her to see if they had any more kittens from her litter but they had all been adopted, so I found a cat rescue called SaveKitty Foundation to find her a sister. SaveKitty sent me to the family who had been fostering a litter of kittens and they brought down four tabby babies. I picked Moose because she was the most passive and I figured she’d be a good balance to Meowzer’s rambunctious personality. It took them a few days but soon they were BFF.
Fast forward to fall and my roommate wanted to adopt a kitten of her own. I did not want to go with her because I knew I’d walk out of there with another cat and I was right. Simone quickly established herself as the alpha, much to the other’s chagrin. Over the past 13 years and four apartments, we have lived in a house where Simone is segregated from the other two because she has a particularly evil brand of psychological intimidation. There used to be a very strict closed-bedroom-door policy to keep Simone from attacking the other two but she has become much less hostile in her old age. While we keep the door closed most of the time, we let Simone in for family cozy time.
Meowzer has a salty personality. She loves Moose and me but famously hates everyone else. She is notorious amongst my friends and cat sitters for her attitude and makes a point every morning to hiss at my husband to remind him that she still hates him just in case he forgot overnight. Obviously, this makes her my favorite. Simone loves everyone and Moose tolerates everyone but Meowzer’s palpable hostility towards everyone except me feels like an extra special bond that we share.
Moose is my gentle giant and is the most chill of the three. She loves her kibble but that’s about it which is deceiving given her size. She has an uncanny ability to expend the least amount of energy when playing which makes her a deft huntress. One time I removed their food bowls to wash them and I wasn’t gone for more than 3 minutes. When I came back Moose was chewing on something and upon closer inspection I realized it was a fly. In the absence of her food bowl she figured they had to fend for themselves and had to hunt for her next meal. My husband says I anthropomorphize them, but I like to think this was her motivation to eat that fly.
Simone is personality plus. She is so sweet to people and in another example of anthropomorphizing, I like to think she doesn’t want people to think she is capable of being so cruel to the other cats. When we have company, she will jump from lap to lap purring like a motor and present her snow-white belly for rubs (which is a trap).
When my now-husband and I first moved in together (he is not a cat person) he swore he would not live in a home dominated by cats and wanted all the doors open. After a day of Simone attacking anyone trying to use a litter box, he caved and Simone became the living room cat while Moose and Meowzer have the bedroom (complete with an en suite and balcony so everyone is living well). Simone has access to the front balcony which connects to the other apartments in the building and she loves wandering around for snuggles from our neighbors, teasing the neighbor cats who are not allowed to go on such adventures. Moose and Meowzer love their space because it is their own and they prefer each other to most people. My husband has come around and has a special bond with Moose that I never had which makes the marriage between a non-cat person and a cat person work.
Erin Alderette works in Compliance for a well-known financial services institution. She’s also a pro bono immigration attorney and she sits on the Junior Board of the Adams Street Foundation, an affiliate of the Urban Assembly School for Law & Justice in Brooklyn, where they raise funds and implement high-quality, individualized programming and counseling for low-income, underserved high school students.