Stardust, my cat, changed me. The sudden urge to adopt a cat came about when I first saw how special my sister’s cat Fitzgerald (or Bizqui, alluding to his adorable cross-eyes) is with her and everybody he meets.
My soon-to-be husband Rolando and I scheduled an appointment at the Liberty Humane Society animal shelter in Jersey City to see a black cat that turned out to be exactly just like my grandmother used to warn me: “un antipático” and a “majadero” (referring in Spanish to the qualities she assigned to the neighborhood cats that tormented her garden: “unfriendly” and a sort of a “brat”).
“This is not working,” I said to myself when Mr. Whiskers tried to bite my fiancé.
We were about to leave the shelter when Rolando said, “Why don’t we check this hallway one more time?”
A couple of seconds passed when a tiny paw started coming out of her cage. “Meow!” I couldn’t have imagined that that day life was marking a small but significant transition. “Meow!” she insisted.
“Can we please see this one?” Rolando asked. That three- or four-month old kitten named Mango Tango begged to be held.
The shelter didn’t know much about her because she had only been there for a week. Someone had left her along with her brothers in a box by the Liberty Humane Society’s front door. It was January 9, 2018 when we met her, and remnants of a recent snowfall still dusted the sidewalk. Our hearts broke and after hearing her story we promised she would never be left in the cold again.
That day we were in a hurry to pick up my sister, Clara, at the airport but we promised we would be returning for Mango Tango before closing time. We picked her up less than an hour later and named her Stardust in honor of David Bowie, one of my eternal heroes.
Like Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust, our Stardust is an out-of-this-world cat.
She is not a lap cat but she’s always by our side. She has slept with us almost every night since we took her in. Sometimes she is in a corner but most of the time she sleeps on my belly or my thighs. Having her so close is one of the most beautiful feelings. Recently, she has started to come to my lap while I’m watching TV, but only when it’s her choice to be there.
My sister says Stardust is the perfect combination of us: sassy like me and reserved like Rolando. She is the queen of the house. We playfully call her an aristocat (like the movie), considering her indoor reign and how she owns us and everything that surrounds her. She is the sweetest with us and my sister, but with others she is certainly shy and a bit distant. But don’t let her fool you: she loves the camera. I joke she loves to read like me, considering how she lies down on my books as I work or chill for a bit.
She may not be the most affectionate cat, but she kisses us constantly and she always climbs on the table and lies by our side or just sits like a petite sculpture expecting to be admired.
We cannot help melting over her love towards us—she never leaves our side. If we’re in the bedroom, there she is. If we’re in the living room, there she comes. If we’re at the kitchen, she’ll be there, too. I love this tale of ours!
For all my life I was a dog person and could not understand why many of my favorite writers and artists were always surrounded by cats. But Bizqui and Stardust introduced me to the invincible power of cat love. I couldn’t be happier with this sweet, transforming love. I now understand all those creative souls that always had cats by their side. I bet they felt the peace and inspiration Stardust makes me feel every day.
We always feel that when she stares at us in her loving way she knows we rescued her. But I think she “rescued” us.
Carmen Graciela Díaz is a Puerto Rican journalist, author, communications manager and professor with 15 years of experience in writing and publishing. She works in New York City and lives in Jersey City with her husband, musician and actor Rolando Lugo, and their cat Stardust.