on the 2nd of january, i adopted a cat.
if you want the full story, then i guess it started with running away. back in the slightly summery depths of october.
but maybe we should start from the beginning. here’s the backstory: since the first of january of 2023 i’ve been best friends with every single cat-instead-of-human living within a 2 mile radius of my house (well except like two. because they’re both mean and spend 5 hrs every night screaming their throats hoarse. plus they fight with the smol cute cats that live on my front porch. it’s mean. the kittens get scared. which makes them hide underneath cars) (we’ve once chased each other, the bad grey cat and i, around a white car at 3 in the morning. i got scolded the next day and the bad cat still tortures the rest of his species. it was an epic fail and i’m officially giving up chasing) we know each other by name (or like, i do. i doubt they know my name or their own either) (although, if we’re basing this off the entire truth, i don’t think i’ve ever told them mine) and follow each other down compound lanes, in their case, or wave a slightly-ridiculous-sounding “how ARE you, jo?”, in mine, whenever we happen to be walking down the same road. i love them and by the way they all fight each other to be the one being petted at any given moment, i like to think that they like me too.
but the first cat i ever fell hopelessly in love with, his name was biscotti (it’s a funny story. in the beginning, everybody (by which i mean me. the rest of my human family is sick of me hypothesizing about cats all day) assumed that he was a girl. hence the name) and the first time i met him he was a smol cute kitten hardly half a year old who liked chasing after people’s feet and tearing out our couch. i gave him milk and let him play on the living room floor and made him a winter home disguised as a blanket-covered cardboard box because it was january and january was cold.
he slept in my lap and drank muddy water from when the neighbors washed their cars instead of the filtered one i filled a bowl with for him everyday. he was scared of big cats and tried to slip his way into our house every time someone opened the door to go out. he captured our backyard and ate copious amounts of cat food and climbed trees and fell off of them.
but then there was another cat. she was small and she was scared. she jumped every time she licked the milk bowl because of the sound the drops made when they splattered against the plastic edge. she ran everywhere and thrived off chaos and ate food like she’d never get to eat again.
in the beginning, she ran away every time i tried to pet her. but i wanted her to stay. so we talked instead. and i guess i kind of grew on her. or maybe she grew on me. she walked all the way into the house one day, over to where i was playing with biscotti on the floor near the shoeracks. she sniffed my foot and then she looked into my eyes and she ran away.
but the next day she came back in and braved the tiles until the plastic tree. the rest of my memories are foggy (i have so many) but eventually we exchanged names. she was nijo, the timid cat who let me pet her. and i was anoushka, the girl who let nijo lick her hand and got scolded for it after. she was terrified of other people and bolted everytime someone living in the same lane as us started car engines. she still looked at food like the earth was about to collapse and this was the last meal she’d ever get to eat. she befriended biscotti and they teamed up every night to torture this big cat called queen (who’s an absolute angel, by the way. so maybe they should have chosen someone different) but it was hilarious because queen was bigger than the both of them combined. i think she enjoyed it.
they climbed up trees and nijo surveyed the big blue world from on top of green dustbin lids while biscotti slept on doormats and went wild everytime someone decided to bring out the milk box. nijo got jealous of him getting to sleep on my lap all the time and decided she was going to push him off even though it scared her to do something she’d never done before. she climed on my lap and jumped every time either of us blinked. but she loved it.
i loved it more.
they both grew up. nijo haunted our front door. biscotti got his fur all muddied. so we bathed him in a blue tub that i dragged into the backyard. he decided baths were torture and never got dirty again. he became a wild cat who ran where he pleased and bit people who annoyed him and demanded to be chased for a whole half hour before finally relenting and running back out the house every time he came in (this kind of earned him a bad reputation and my entire family now hates him for being so naughty)
in may, my sister very unkindly screeched about how “NIJO IS SO OBVIOUSLY PREGNANT, YOU KNOWLEDGE-LESS DUMMY”, while the cat in question slept on the black sofa with her arms all spread out and her belly exposed. a little like she owned the world. i spent the next one month worrying about her. in june, she had kittens and hid them in our backyard and meowed at us until we found them.
she tried to conquer the bottom of our sofa so she could call it home instead of the insulating cardboard box-shaped mess of a house i’d copied for her off the internet. every time someone picked up a kitten to take back out, she’d carry in another.
in june, i was the luckiest person in the whole wide world. there were smol baby cats living outside my house. i’d known them since they were a couple hours old. they followed me everywhere even though they couldn’t yet walk straight. they liked to sleep in my hands and they were so completely unafraid.
in september, nijo ran away. in october, i took in a day-old kitten who was too small to open her eyes and was the most delicate little thing i’d ever seen. a gardner brought her to me because there was no mum cat nearby. i searched the entire compound thrice. i spent whole nights awake feeding her milk out of kitten bottles, and three days worrying about her. on the fourth day, she died.
in november, the first of nijo’s two kittens ran away. her name was roo (like the baby kangaroo in winnie-the-pooh) and she was a beast. she jumped instead of walking and her meows sounded like nijo’s. she played with cherries made of plastic and caps of water bottles and emptied bowls of yogurt. she sat on the window sill and looked in through the nets and meowed until someone went out to play in the backyard with her.
in december, biscotti disappeared for a week. it was sad and i decided i’d had enough loss. i wanted a cat now. and i wanted her to never run away. i wanted to watch movies with her and tell everybody i ever met everything about her and feed her treats and make her fall as in love with alexa and katie as i had. i wanted to show her all my favorite television and i wanted her to jump on the dining table during lunch and on top of my laptop when i was supposed to be studying.
so i got a cat. nijo’s second kid. the one named winnie (like winnie-the-pooh in winnie-the-pooh). winnie who stayed. winnie who loves food and people and the outdoors and living inside a house she gets to call her own. winnie who walks so close to your feet, you’re convinced that at any given moment someone’s going to trip and break a bone. winnie who loves parks and hates leashes and dramatically topples over every time we put one on her. winnie who’s the best cat in the world.
she’s a little bit biscotti. she runs wild like he does and hides under the sofa and tries to tear it. she’s untethered and free and listens to no one. but she’s also a little nijo. she sleeps like nijo did. with her hands spread wide and her belly facing the air and her little teeth pulling her top lip up. she blinks at me the way nijo used to and gets mad every time i’m typing on computers instead of petting her while she purrs.
but she’s also a lot winnie. the cat who ran out ten days after we took her in and came back to use the litter and went back out after. the cat who came back in 2 days later and refused to leave. the cat who plays with everything she can find and puts her paws on the keyboards because she wants to type too. who meows outside my door until i open it and let her in.
HI I HAVE A CAT NOW AND I’M THE HAPPIEST HUMAN IN THE WORLD.