Ahhh, my sweet lil Momo. As of this winter, she’s been in my life for six magical years. I grew up in Brooklyn and after I graduated college, immediately moved back here and into an apartment with my older sister. After living together for a year or two and realizing that we were pretty decent as adult roommates, we decided we were ready to take the plunge into cat parenting. Even though we had grown up with cats our whole lives, I was a bit hesitant at first—it just seemed like a big deal to commit to being responsible for a real, sentient little thing. I remember thinking that I could be over 40 by the time this cat dies. Of course, now I’m constantly praying that the world will do us all a solid and let Momo live forever.
So my sister convinced me, we went to one adoption event organized by Brooklyn Animal Action, a single cat reached her paw through her crate, and shortly after, Momo was ours. Or rather “Gal Pal Val,” which was her listed name. I know adoption agencies have to identify a million animals, so they often get funny little names, but we just thought it was particularly goofy. So sometimes when Momo does something kinda silly, I still affectionately refer to her as Gal Pal Val, as if to embarrass her about a past that she obviously has zero recollection of. I may or may not have some delusional fantasies about Momo’s inner life.
Another case in point: her origin story. Apparently she was found giving birth on the sidewalk in a snowstorm (I say it was Christmas, which I’m about 90% sure I made up at some point for dramatic effect) and was taken to a shelter, but soon after all of her kittens died of pneumonia. Which I still find incredibly sad. So every now and then I’ll turn to her and say, “Hey Mo, I’m sorry you had to go through that.” And my roommate Marisa will look at me and just be like… “Um, I think she’s doing okay Lucy.” I try not to project too much onto her, but I mean, we are all cat ladies here after all.
If she does have any residual trauma from her former street life, she definitely doesn’t show it. (Unless something bad happened with a plastic bag, which is for sure her greatest fear.) But other than that, she’s the most laidback cat I’ve ever known. And is very tolerant of being held, carried in embarrassing novelty backpacks, and generally smooshed all over.
I’ve never encountered another cat who lies belly-up as much as Momo. And since people always say that that’s the most vulnerable position for a cat, I assume it means that she’s just super relaxed all the time. Which is definitely my kinda cat. I think she and I both err on the chiller side of things (with, ya know, occasional bouts of anxiety and total weirdness), so our energies meld together well. Although to be honest, I think her energy melds well with most people. She likes practically everyone and if she’s suspicious of someone, I can’t help but take that as a sign that that person must be at least a bit of an asshole. Momo has definitely been a kind of litmus test for people my roommates and I have dated over the years. If she’s not climbing onto your lap within minutes, we’re gonna wonder why. What secrets are you hiding? She’s very trusting, is immediately a huge flirt, and tends to lay it on pretty thick: butt straight up in the air, sensual head grazes, coquettish glances. Even friends who claim not to like cats eventually fall prey to her come-ons.
A year or so after we adopted her, my sister moved in with her boyfriend and I immediately made it clear to her that I would be keeping Momo in the separation. I was just like, sorry sis, you’ve got your cool, committed partner, I’m keeping the cat. She probably saw the desperation in my eyes, and eventually relented.
I’m a freelancer and work from home a lot of the time, so Momo and I definitely spend a good chunk of the day together. I often make the dumb joke that she’s my favorite coworker, and I’ll occasionally talk to her out loud when I’m alone and say, “Hey man, how’s your day goin’? Productive?” And she’ll just blankly stare at me. But hey, for water cooler convo, it’s pretty decent.
Momo has a few nicknames: Mo, Moo, Shmoo, Shmoops. The list goes on. Anything that conjures up that fuzzy dumpling vibe. Sometimes I wonder what I would even look at in my apartment if it weren’t for her. Every hour, there she is again, doing something cute or stupid or downright weird and all I can think about is how goddamn adorable she is no matter what she’s getting up to.
Earlier this year I fully cemented my love of cats by getting a cat tat from Katya Krasnova, which I’m fairly obsessed with. It’s not exactly a Momo portrait (I say it represents all the cats I’ll ever love), but it’s a pretty close representation. And either way, now I’ve got this sweet lil meow with me wherever I go, which I’m stoked about. Because honestly, cats are just so rad. They require so little but give so much in return. As any cat owner can attest to, they provide endless, if occasionally aloof, emotional support. They’re full of contradictions in ways I’ll never stop finding amusing. Self-sufficient but extremely needy. Whiney but always stoic. Running around possessed by the devil, or angelically sleeping the day away. Somehow both totally stupid and incredibly smart. Cats: they’re just like us! Right?
Lucy Andersen is a freelance graphic designer living in Crown Heights. She is also the founder of Wild & Rare, an accessories company dedicated to increasing awareness and raising money for endangered wildlife. Most days, she can be found aimlessly wandering around the city, bopping between her favorite coffee shops and bars.