Molly was living in a junkyard near a bowling alley in Greenpoint in 2008, when my ex and I found her on our way home from a bar. She was dirty and her fur was all dreadlocked, but her cute squeaks and clumsy, friendly ways won us over immediately. She chased after us and almost got run over trying to follow us across the street. I couldn’t stop thinking about how sweet and completely ill-equipped she seemed for outdoor life, so I went back the next day with a can of tuna and a carrier and got her off the streets before winter set in.
The vet was pretty horrified to see how grease-covered she was and ended up having to shave off all of her dreadlocks. She also informed me this cat was a girl (I’d been calling her Melvin) so she was renamed twice in one week. Molly immediately took to indoor life and charmed her way into our hearts. Right away, her favorite places to perch were on top of my record player and underneath the vinyl collection. That’s how she originally got the “hipster cat” nickname and #MollytheHipsterCat hashtag on Instagram.
I originally moved to New York from Ukraine twenty seven years ago, as a teen. When you’re an immigrant, the idea of home becomes a bit intangible. You lose a solid connection to the country you’re from, and never feel quite like you fully belong in your adopted land. New York is a particularly difficult place to build a solid foundation—most people you meet are transients, on the way in or out within a few years. The rising rents are also endlessly driving people to move homes and neighborhoods. Having had Molly as my cuddle buddy for 12 years now—across three boroughs in six apartments—has felt the closest to truly having a home, whatever our physical residence at the time. She has gotten me through break-ups with several boyfriends, work stress, a hurricane and recently a major health scare.
Molly is the perfect ambassador cat for people who think they don’t like cats. She’s won over every cautious visitor with her aggressive affection. Her signature move is to force her way into my guests’ laps and cozy up to them for head rubs. People drop by sometimes just to say hi to her. Some even take allergy medicine just so they can enjoy some lap time with her.
Aside from being the sweetest cuddle buddy, Molly has some pretty unique quirks. She’s always been pretty vocal but has gotten a lot louder and more demanding with age. Visitors are usually surprised by how talkative she is, like she’s trying to join the human conversation. She mostly meows for attention but remains incredibly food-obsessed even now, over a decade into her cushy indoor life, and starts begging whenever anyone walks by her food area. As a spoiled house cat, she does occasionally decide to take her time with the food and eats by daintily dipping her paw into the bowl then licking it off over and over again. She’s also the only cat I know who is addicted to being brushed. She goes nuts whenever I open the drawer where her brushes are kept. I had to buy two and use one to distract her as she rubs her whole head all over it, while I use the other one to brush the rest of her. She complains loudly whenever I stop.
To see her now, all fluffy fur, cuddles, quirks, and ladylike lounging, it’s almost unbelievable to think she used to be a semi-feral junkyard dweller. She’s a wonderful example of why everyone should consider rescuing a stray or adopting one from a shelter. There are so many sweet, loving cats like Molly out there just waiting to snuggle up with their new human best friend.
Elayne Safir is a UX designer and co-founder of Do You, a female-first sexual wellness and discovery app with a mission to help people explore their sexuality and practice the language of consent through fun, safe, interactive choose-your-own-fantasy experiences. She and Molly (#mollythehipstercat) live in Fort Greene, Brooklyn.