Hannah Gowans, Willie & Teddy

I’ve been a cat girl since the day I was born—seriously! In the late ‘80s, my parents went to The Humane Society and adopted a pure-white adult cat who happened to be deaf (this is common with white cats). They named him Ludwig, after Beethoven, and he moved with them to Kitchener, Ontario shortly after. My mom became pregnant and Ludwig was by her side the entire time. My parents were nervous when I came along, wondering how he would react. One night, he couldn’t be found in the house, and sure enough he was right in my crib with me. After a quick panic, they realized that he was there to protect. Just like that, he went from being their cat to being mine. 

As an only child, Ludwig was my first and best buddy for the first 12 years of my life. Ludwig lived to be 17 and I was devastated to say goodbye to him as a child. My family had other cats throughout the years but Ludwig was really the OG cat in my life.  

In 2017 I got a director-level job at a big media agency and in January of 2018 I secured my first apartment on my own here in Greenpoint. I couldn’t wait to finally adopt a cat. A few months earlier I had stumbled upon Frankie’s Feline Fund, a one-woman rescue organization focusing on senior and diabetic cat rescue and rehabilitation. They had pulled Willie from a Brooklyn shelter at the end of 2017 after his owners surrendered him. He was around 8 or 9 at the time and looked just like my Ludwig—fluffy and pure white. My heart instantly melted and I was approved to adopt him! 

I was warned that he spent his first few days under the bed when he arrived at his foster’s house so when I brought him home, that’s right where he went. I sat on the couch to watch tv, giving him some space, and had the crap scared out of me when just a few minutes later I looked up and he was staring at me right there in my living room. He spent his first night in his new forever home up on my bed and he’s slept with me every night since. 

In adopting Willie, my goal was to have a sweet senior cat who would be a soft and sleepy companion. I got that and SO much more. His personality is bigger than his chonky belly. He simply CANNOT be left alone and he must be wherever I am at any given time—I said goodbye to private bathroom and shower time when he arrived. If I’m not in the room with him, he lets me know that he’s upset. He’s very chatty, incredibly playful, and so inquisitive. He LOVES commotion and cannot bare to be anything but the center of attention. How is this cat 10 years old?!

2018 was such a great year for me, meeting both professional and personal goals, but it also brought devastating loss with the passing of my dad—my best friend and most trusted confidant. The day after my dad’s passing, my boyfriend drove five hours to Brooklyn and BACK another five hours in the same day just to bring Willie to me and it wasn’t long before he curled right up to provide comfort.  Though I think it’s really his neediness that’s on display most of the time, I can’t help but think that he knows when I need a buddy and is there by my side when I need him.

I’d been following Flatbush Cats for some time, specifically Teddy’s rescue and recovery story. I hadn’t thought about applying to adopt a second cat until one day I saw an IG story with him spending time with the resident cats he was living with. The caption read “Teddy loves other cats!”. I don’t know what it was about that, but something told me I needed to reach out and apply for his adoption. It was a huge decision for me to make—his care includes prescription food and quarterly trips to the Animal Medical Center of New York to get his SUB device flushed, ultimately costing thousands of dollars a year. I knew I had to—and would—find a way to make it work. I knew Willie deserved a companion as well. He waits by the door every day for me to come home. As soon as he hears the keys in my hand he starts crying. I love that he greets me everyday, but I started to feel bad leaving him alone for so long while I was at work. 

I brought Teddy home in April of 2019 and could only keep the two cats separated in the apartment for two or three days. Teddy is a natural explorer and Willie’s demanding curiosity forced me to introduce them sooner than expected. Going with my gut had worked out well so far and this instance was no exception. Soon enough, I was running out of shared space in my bed!

Teddy and Willie have very different personalities and complement each other well. Willie is rambunctious, curious, and chatty while Teddy is quiet, sweet, and cuddly. He’s so cuddly in fact that in my house, if you plan to sit down you have to have everything you need within an arm’s reach because Teddy will come running to jump on your lap. He makes belly biscuits every night and sleeps right on the pillow next to me while Willie has his spot on the couch and sticks to the foot of the bed.  

Willie and Teddy have a great life together now. They show each other new things that they learn (like how drinking out of the bathtub is now the only good place to get water) and occasionally I’ll catch them in a game of tag. Willie shows his dominance by grooming Teddy and comes running to his rescue if Teddy cries from a different room. At this point, it’s my hope that their past is so far behind them that it’s but a distant memory. We’ve got years ahead of us as a little family and I could not be more grateful for the love and happiness that they bring me each moment of each day. 

Left to right: Hannah, Teddy & Willie

Hannah Gowans lives with Willie and Teddy in Greenpoint, Brooklyn and works as a Director of Client Services in advertising. She is passionate about empowering women in business and normalizing grief along with singing, seeing live music, and practicing yoga.  

Author: girlsandtheircats

Photographer based in Brooklyn, NY.

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