The Instagram account Girls and Their Cats with 56.1K followers is a way to highlight cat women in a positive light. These are a few of the most touching tales in the series.
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“Before people started living there, my husband Brian and I used to reside in this old loft building in Toronto called The Coffin Factory. It was directly close to the abattoir, and there was a feral cat colony all around it. They most likely flourished on the feces from the butchered pigs. They all appeared to be tough as nails. They were so far away that our dog wouldn't even approach them.
My buddy Agi and her partner had a new cat mom and her kittens show up on their doorstep one day. A mutual buddy had tracked her down and dropped her off. She was a lovely pale grey calico with unique light green eyes and orange ringlets on her tail, and she was undoubtedly from the colony. They gave her the name Nala.
We decided to go have a look when the kittens were ready to find new homes. I recall making my way down The Coffin Factory's maze-like passageways to her unit. There were six kittens, and they were all crazy. One was climbing on something, another was asleep on the couch, and another was chasing a toy across the floor. Because we travel and move around a lot, I wasn't sure if we should acquire a cat, but Brian responded, "Of course, we'll take one of the kittens, we'll make it work!" Okay, we're going to get a kitten.
His boss-like swagger or his name, Captain, I'm not sure which came first. It's most likely his name, but he's so well-suited to it that I can't see him any other way. He's always preferred to ride on our shoulders, which I believe stems from his desire to be up high and possibly escape our overly friendly dog when he was too tiny to defend himself.
He's a cat, so he can't help but do cat things like wake us up when he needs food and chew on expensive computer wires, but underneath all of that there's something of a higher creature capable of great love and affection. Anyone who spends enough time with him falls in love with him fully. He has a way of making an impression on people and sharing unique experiences with them. I consider myself extremely fortunate to be his cat mama.”
Anna Agneta is a musician and model. Dusted is a Canadian indie rock band in which she plays guitar.
“In Greenpoint, I met ‘the one' at the home of Eva, a woman who saved animals from the death list. We knew we wanted to help animals in need and thought a grey cat would be ideal. As a result, I went to meet Eva's cats and fell in love with a small, energetic Russian Blue. He was barely 2 months old when he was rescued from the streets of Bushwick. Spencer (my then-boyfriend, who is now my husband) came to meet him, and we both agreed. This was the final straw. Eva brought him to our flat on North 7th and Bedford a few days later, and we fell in love. It's a tough love. However, we noticed something unusual about this animal. Were his eyes a little more luminous? Was he a little rounder in the face? We contacted Eva, who informed us that this was "our" cat. Okay, he's here, and he's the prettiest thing we've ever seen, we reasoned. We adore him, whatever he is! Elsa Schiaparelli, the designer, inspired us to name him Schiaparelli. Spencer was given the option of naming our future child Schiap or our cat Schiap. He went with the cat.
After a few days, Schiap had established himself as a resident. As we passed past him, he slept on our laundry bags and pawed at our feet. At 9 a.m., three days after we received Schiap, I received a phone call from Eva, who hastily confirmed our suspicions. The cat she gave us was the wrong one!!! The numbers of the cat we chose and the cat she handed us were simply flipped around. She profusely apologized and promised to come over later that afternoon to swap the kitties. We had already fallen in love with Schiap at that point and thought it would be cruel to send him back. We decided to keep him, and we are very glad we did. We've never met a cat as mischievous, vain, and sweet as him.
Here are a few interesting facts about Schiap: He goes to the bathroom and pees/poos there (even covers his poop and pee with toilet paper). He's a world-class hunter (birds, mice, rats, cockroaches, and worms, to mention a few). At least three times a week, he wakes me up and asks to be spooned back to sleep. He usually bites my cheek or chirps at me until I open my eyes, then crawls beside me and lays down on his side. I had to throw my arm over him at that point or the bites will begin! He likes beans and avocado, so we joke that he's Mexican like me.”
Paulina works at Coach as a fabric research and development manager.
“I got Oscar from a craigslist listing when he was a kitten. They put him on Craigslist without realizing there was a purpose. He was a colossus. He's already fully grown, weighing in at a trim 30 pounds. (Every vet who has seen him claims he is the world's largest cat.) However, as most people are aware, Giants are prone to bone problems. Oscar began limping when he was about 3 or 4 years old. We realized he had a luxating patella, which is common in canine breeds, when his bones were all out of whack. After much deliberation concerning surgery and success statistics, my cousin, an orthopedic veterinarian, persuaded me to go ahead with it. She claimed that it was a regular surgery that she had performed hundreds of times before, and that with his exact grade of luxation, there should be no problem. It's that simple.
It wasn't the case. 5 years ago, he underwent four procedures. There's a lot to cover with each single procedure that occurred. Just thinking about it takes me to tears. It was the most challenging experience I've had caring for another animal or being in my life. Without the help of family and friends, it would have been impossible (most definitely my cousin and her hospital staff at Cornell Vet Specialist in Stamford). He quickly rose to the top of their list of patients. With all of the issues, he ended up spending one month in the hospital on two separate occasions, receiving round-the-clock care. He even went to acupuncture three times every week. I've never had acupuncture before.
At times, it was nearly impossible to see the light at the end of the tunnel. It was the nicest feeling in the world when he had a successful x-ray following his fourth surgery. For that day, I prepared him a hat, a kitten cake, a ton of cat nip, and a bottle of champagne. He recently turned eleven years old. He has left an indelible mark on many people's life. It's mostly mine.”
Jess is a Greenpoint-based jewelry designer and painter.
“I went to the animal shelter in search of a kitten. Because I normally take in older animals, I'd never had a kitten before, so it was time to spoil myself. However, when I arrived at the shelter, I discovered Bandit, a 6-month-old blind cat who had been there for months, according to the shelter staff. No one was interested in him. Even though I was seeking for a kitten, it shattered my heart, so I took him. Without him, I couldn't picture my life. Every day, he melts my heart, and I cry because I'm so delighted we discovered each other despite the fact that he's blind. He is the most unique young man in the planet. He can't see, but he recognizes his mother. He collapses in my arms purring as soon as I pick him up, and he always finds his way to nestle in my arms at night.
Daisy was about 4 years old when I adopted her. She was a friend's mother's cat, and I was living in an agricultural hamlet in Massachusetts. The mother had divorced and was no longer able to retain Daisy and her friend Scuter. As a result, I took them both to keep them from having to go to a shelter. It had only been a few months since my 16-year-old cat Lou had died. Daisy had a wonderful existence in Massachusetts, where she hunted squirrels and birds. They would be swallowed whole by her! (It was both sad and impressive) She eventually went to the vet, where she was diagnosed with FIV. I was heartbroken. This was new to me, and I had no idea what it meant. Daisy will live a reasonably normal life, but she must be an inside cat to avoid harm and transmission, so I talked with specialists at the vet and joined community boards. We had to make a long and difficult adjustment. Every day, she cried and scratched at the window screens, attempting to flee. She eventually grew accustomed to her modest existence of playing with fake mice and laser pointers after returning to NYC. She's been living with FIV for seven years and all of her testing have come back positive. She is my best friend and the best kitty. She has accompanied me through every step of the process. There have been ten moves, multiple relationships, breakups, and deaths. Without her, I couldn't picture my life. I'm starting to think about it more now that she's approximately 15, and I know the moment will come sooner rather than later.”
Maggie Freleng is a home-based journalist and audio producer who is infatuated with her kitties.
“I've always wanted a cat, but I've moved a lot in the last three years, and there was always something getting in the way. I was never satisfied with my living situation, whether it was because the apartment was too small or because my roommates were not supportive. I have three bodega cats that I visit as often as can, but it's not the same as having a pet of my own.
When my mother Donna died unexpectedly 4 years ago, I was left with the task of rehoming her cats in the midst of everything else. She had a total of five! We acquired two ladies when I was in high school, and one of them had three siblings. They were her joy and companions, and finding them secure and stable homes was extremely important to me. She'd always email me images of them cuddled up in her lap or hamming it up, and she'd tell me about their shenanigans. We joked that she'd have to send one to New York City. Adopting one of them after she died seemed like the right thing to do.
Frikki was not our first choice. Her sibling is far more outgoing, upbeat, and almost ridiculously attractive. But I recognized she'd need a lot of care and affection because of her jittery disposition. My boyfriend Max, who is not a cat person, took to her right away (it was her enormous cartoon eyes), so Frik flew with us from Oregon to New York. It's just been a month, but she's already warmed up a lot, as has the rest of the family. Max didn't want her on the bed at first, but after realizing the power of a cat cuddle, he gave up after three days. I regularly catch them hugging in bed, and if I'm working from home, he'll email me, 'How are my girls?' — sometimes with her in my lap. They've already formed a bond, which makes me happy.
This isn't how I expected to receive my first cat, but having her around has been a huge help during my loss. Sometimes I just sit and pet her, remembering how my mother did the same thing only a month before. I'm thrilled to have her in my home since she's a live piece of my mother's life.”
Athena Wisotsky is a Brooklyn-based writer, editor, and artist.
“I was walking with some friends in Brooklyn one evening about 5 years ago, heading to some get-together, when this little peanut appeared out of nowhere, meowing purrrfusly and peering into my soul. I was given the gift of having an aura that attracts kitty kitties wherever I go. This tiny creature appeared to be starving. With no adjacent homes in sight and no doors to knock on to check if he belonged to anyone, I decided to just care for him until we sorted things out. He was outgoing and cheerful, although he appeared to have been on the streets for some time because he was filthy and had a small ear wound. I asked the others if it was okay if he came along, and they were delighted to have him. On the way, we stopped at an open market and fed him a couple of cans. We continued on our way to our destination, holding a new guest in our arms as if he had been a long-time friend.
Isabella, my tiny furball, had just arrived. (Not pictured since she is frightened of everyone except me and thus missed out on having great shots in her new little hat made by her mother.) Also, I wasn't allowed to have any pets in this flat, and my roommate wouldn't have been happy with another cat at the time. So my caring buddy, with whom I had formed an instant bond that evening, took him in for a week while we figured it out. My friend maintained him until he had to depart for a tour with his band the Mystery Lights, at which point his girlfriend took him home until she, too, couldn't keep him, despite falling in love with him along the way. So I took him, and the rest, as they say, is history.
I was afraid to fall in love with another kitty cat after falling in love with my previous roommate's cat in my prior apt, but it wasn't much of a life without a furbaby around. Every day, Oliver manages to make me chuckle. You'll never meet a bigger ham than him. He's what I call a small space cat. He has these huge concentrated eyes that never seem to blink, and he's either sitting on the couch like a person on his buttocks with his legs out or leaning against a wall on all fours. He also enjoys dressing up. Hats, on the other hand, are a different story. Everyone who gets into contact with him becomes a fan. Oliver and his elder, but much smaller sister like chasing each other around the forest like hyenas and kissing and bathing each other like little holy angels. It's the most uplifting, serene, and precious thing to see them be mushy together. They are also diametrically opposed to one another. In terms of both size and personality. They are polar opposites who make for a hilarious partnership. Isabella is the cutest, cuddliest little peanut, yet she is frightened of being held, which drives me insane, but Oliver makes up for it. I enjoy scooping up his large, plump body and carrying him around as if he were a baby. They bring me such joy. A home without a mushball isn't really a sweet home.”
Ashley Meyers is a New Jersey native who now works as a freelance makeup artist in Brooklyn.
“On the eve of my 21st birthday, I met baby October. He was the most wonderful birthday present! October was discovered in a cardboard box behind a Long Island building. I fell in love with him the moment I held him. October is my first pet, so this is a new experience for me. I definitely treat him as if he were a newborn.
I've been learning more about October and cats in general, and I've discovered that their behavior is fascinating. When he surrounds my leg, I know he's leaving his scent on me so other cats will recognize me. He's quite playful and enjoys cuddling. We also have a lot in common, such as napping habits and a dislike for vacuum cleaners. I'm very fortunate to come home to such a wonderful little boy!”
Alvina Bokhari is a fashion business merchandising student at FIT. She presently lives in Midtown Manhattan.
“Lois and Maxine are sisters who are eleven years old. They were adopted from a no-kill shelter in Chicago nine years ago, and my husband named them after local diner girls. Despite the fact that they were the only kittens in the shelter that day, my husband claims that everyone kept stopping to stare at them before going right past their cage because they were clearly not 'regular' cats.
That is not the case. Cerebellar hypoplasia (also known as 'wobbly cat syndrome') is a disorder that affects both of them. It's a neurological disorder in which some kittens are born with a cerebellum that is underdeveloped, the region of the brain that controls movement skills. As a result, cats with CH have poor balance and coordination; they walk like little drunks and lack the capacity to jump normally found in cats.
Though it may sound frightening, it is a non-progressive, non-contagious syndrome that produces THE CUTEST KITTIES IN THE WORLD. They don't perform any of the naughty things that cats are known for, such as scratching, biting, or leaping onto counters. They aren't particularly clever, but they are obsessed with humans. As well as one another. Cuddling is all they want to do. They are medically ideal, save from not being the shiniest crayons in the pack. They don't require any treatments, medications, or expensive appointments to the veterinarian. They have a typical life expectancy. All you have to do now is baby proof your home (sharp corners might be dangerous) and prepare to be appreciated.
I wake up every morning in a cat bikini, one dozing across my chest and the other across my hips. Unfortunately, many kittens with indications of CH when they are born are often euthanized because their owners believe they will not be adopted. They are, however, the finest kitties on the planet! On the internet, there are a number of rescue organizations that specialize in CH cat rescue. Bringing one of these little weirdos home is something I can't suggest highly enough.”
Alex King is a blogger, writer, and journalist. With her husband Isaac, she runs an art gallery in Chinatown. She presently works for CNN, but she also freelances for publications such as The Guardian and Refinery 29.
“It was the terrible winter of 2015, and my fiancée surprised me with a tiny, scrappy little black cat named Nigel as I sat in my badly heated Flatbush apartment. Nigel was small enough to fit in the palm of my hand, but he was street smart enough to be undeniably wild. He was a rescue from East New York and had a spastic quality. He has a persistent head tilt as a result of a past head injury, giving him the impression of a cat who is continually questioning authority. He enjoyed scratching, biting, and smashing everything in his path. The adjustment period was, without a doubt, difficult. I had a hard time warming up to him as a self-proclaimed cat lady. He was rarely calm, and he used every opportunity to enrage me. My partner and I started fighting after she accused me of not 'loving our child.' But after a few months, everything changed. We relocated to Bedstuy, and the change in landscape resulted in a new, less hysterical Nigel. His wretched kitten time had come to an end. He still bites me, although he does offer me cuddles now and again. He watches TV with me almost every day, and I spend a lot of time asking him critical life issues that he never answers. He's proven to be our challenging but wonderful child, whom my spouse and I adore.”
“Six years ago, on New Year's Day, I was wrapping up my annual ritual of bringing my previous year's notebook to a special area and reviewing all of the highlights and successes of the previous year. This time, I stayed at the Mondrian hotel. And as I sat there recounting the events of the year, I began to feel depressed, thinking about another year without a child. Not that I hadn't tried before—I had, and I'd failed a couple more times. Despite all of the good things that were blooming in my life, that one enduring defeat lingered, casting a shadow over every small joy. But it stung the most on this day for the prior four years that we'd been trying.
I drove past an animal hospital in my area on my way home from my ritual. I stepped inside after seeing a fluffy white cat named Chalky ready for adoption in the window. I requested to meet Chalky without first consulting my spouse about the possibility of fostering him. The attendant seemed genuinely interested in my curiosity, but kept recommending that I see another cat instead. Cora's name was Cora, and she was labeled 'special needs' after losing her leg in a vehicle accident the previous year. I was certain it would be Chalky who would accompany us home that day, but it was my husband who demanded we meet Cora, who had been bouncing around in foster care for months. My husband arrived about a half-hour later. I was dazed and unsure of what I was doing, but I felt strangely compelled to do it nonetheless.
They led us into a small visitor's room where they do meet-and-greets with potential pet parents. The door broke open a few moments later, and in came this small, tiger-striped head—her large eyes were wide and curious. She was petite, but she radiated elegance. I watched her glance up at both of us, pensively, and then curl around Kevin's ankle as he hopped in. 'Let's get out of here,' he said as he grabbed her up in one hand and glanced at me. And that was the end of it. We returned her to her home. She hid in her fluffy small cat house, which she had lived in at the shelter, until she became accustomed to roaming the flat and claiming new territory as her own. She's clearly dedicated to Kevin, as evidenced by her proclivity for hiding around corners and pounce on his feet and ankles. But she's more soulful and solid when she's with me. She sleeps between my legs and then sneaks up across my chest at some time during the night and purrs until we both fall asleep again.
I still don't have my own child. Phoebe, on the other hand, reminded me of how amazing it feels to love anything, to care for it deeply, and to be in need of that simple love in return. It was as if fate had intervened and she, too, had found her true home. Phoebe taught me that it wasn't entirely my fault that I couldn't have a kid, and she encouraged me to write about my feelings in an essay for @Refinery29, the website I co-founded. Life goes on, thanks to the ongoing love and presence of a soul like Phoebe. That with heartbreak, failure, and so much regret, you can find other forms of love and care that you didn't expect, but that nonetheless feeds you. Phoebe, simply put, reopened my heart. She also inspired me to believe in myself, perhaps in a way I had never done before."
Refinery29 was co-founded by Christene.
“I went into the shelter intending to take home a large Russian Blue kitten I had seen on their website. Before I could meet said kitty, the proprietor approached me and asked if I was interested in seeing another cat. I was expecting her to show me another Russian Blue, but she instead showed me my Wolfie, a stray black cat. He didn't even look at me; in fact, he ignored me the entire time. When I reached out to pet him, he snarled and moved to the back of the cage. I shifted my gaze to her, perplexed. She went on to say that he was afraid of people since he had been treated unfairly in the past."
“Both of our cats, Roo and Matilda, are excellent girls, but they are very different personalities. Roo is a big tabby cat. People always mistake her for a man, and I'm always offended for her. She has the visage of someone you'd ask to babysit your laptop if you wanted to use the restroom in a cafe. I can easily see attaching a shoulder strap to her and nestling her snugly under my arm, as she has a body shape that reminds me of the bowling bags Prada used to make. We adopted her when she was one year old, and she is now six years old. Our daughter, Nina, was also a baby at the time, so they grew up together.
Matilda (also known as 'Tilda' or 'Tildy') is a younger and more unpredictable character. She's thin and sprightly, predominantly white with some black markings, and while she's not quite as awful as Roo, she does get scratchy now and then. She has the demeanor of an aloof popular girl in a teen film who, midway through the plot, is shown to have some issues — perhaps a deceased parent or an eating disorder — that make her secretly sensitive. For example, she may appear prancingly self-sufficient and uninterested in sitting on your lap, but when you take her up, she immediately becomes limp and pliant, as if all she wanted was for someone to break through her fragile shell and give her the affection she craved. Matilda is about three years old; when we adopted her a few years back, Roo was afraid and spent the first several weeks up on the kitchen cabinets. They would paw and hiss at each other for the next few months whenever they came face to face. They've become accustomed to living together over time. They don't like to cuddle or contact, but I think they're genuinely interested about each other, despite the fact that they'd definitely deny it if they could. They enjoy sniffing one other's buttocks, and you will often find them hanging out on the bed or couch with the air of two seniors who would rather die than utter a single word, but who have decided to share the same park bench for the previous fifteen years.”
Naomi Fry is the copy chief at T: The New York Times Style Magazine and a writer based in Brooklyn.
“I started fostering with the NYCACC in January of 2014.” I was in my junior year of college, and I felt compelled to volunteer again while also suffering from acute separation anxiety as a result of owning a pet. Fostering kittens was a rather quick transition for me. I began fostering 1-2 kittens every few months, swiftly increasing to 2-3 kittens on a rotating basis — as soon as one group of kittens left, I'd ask to foster another.
After six years and roughly 30 kittens, I was living with my lover in our first apartment with him. It took some convincing to get him to agree with my passion. I accepted a request to foster two 'singletons' almost a year into our lease (the name they used for any young kittens that were without a litter). Reed, for example, was a cute little fluffball who was just about 5 weeks old. Alipha, the other, was a little older, about 9 weeks old, and needed a little more socialization to overcome her shyness, according to reports. I saw Alipha as a personal challenge because I took pride in taking in foster kittens and returning them to the shelter as incredibly social and well-behaved.
Alipha's disposition did not improve much in the first few weeks of our stay with Reed and Alipha (this would become a trend in our time with her). Reed, on the other hand, was as cheerful and inquisitive as ever. I started to realize that he seemed to love being in my company. If I was in the kitchen cooking or washing the dishes, I would find him splayed out and casually flipping his tail around. When I went to the bathroom, he'd saunter in and plunk himself down in front of me, calmly waiting. There was something unique about our bond that set us apart from all of my previous fosters. I couldn't quite place it, but I knew it was there.
I gradually found myself making excuses to the shelter for why it was too soon to return them to the shelter for adoption events. I'd tell the foster coordinators, 'I don't think Alipha has had enough time to totally overcome her timidity.' Meanwhile, Alipha proved to be a cat who would not grow out of her behaviors anytime soon. But I couldn't let go of Reed, whom we'd started calling Mushu. I don't recall when I made the decision, but I awoke one day knowing I wouldn't be sending Mushu to any adoption events.
The adoption was officially finalized on July 31, 2016. Mushu is still the best friend and company I've ever had. Even though he's not the biggest cuddler, he always wants to be within view, so he's napping on his small scratch pad immediately in front of me as I type this. He's really talkative, and he even responds to your queries! He's infatuated with water and will sit perched on the kitchen sink, waiting for it to turn on. He greets visitors at the door and has such a unique personality that friends have frequently commented that he's 'not like other cats' they've met. He's very curious and won't hesitate to come in your face for a sniff. Though I've only known Mushu for a year, it feels like I've known him for a lifetime.”
Chelsea Trout was born and raised in New York City and has lived in Brooklyn for the past four years. She developed the Nasty Women's Retreat, a women's discussion group that constantly stimulates and inspires her.