A Tale of Two Kitties

When the cost of food soars, there’s only one reasonable thing to do: Willingly take on multiple additional mouths to feed! So with that in mind, I’d like to introduce you to the 5th and 6th members of our family, whose mouths we are quite happy to feed.

One is a handsome, slate-grey stray cat our friend took in but wasn’t able to keep. We have made him our own (though it’s been a bumpy road) and dubbed him Caspian.

The other is a gorgeous, also-slate-grey rescue cat we visited at the shelter and quickly fell in love with. We have made her our own too (down a road with notably fewer bumps) and dubbed her Moksha.

Caspian is a go-getter. Moksha is more of a stay-putter.

Why those names? Well, Caspian is the all-time favorite band of every single adult human being in our house, without exception. (And I think we’ve convinced the kids too.) They are a band that has written the heart-expanding soundtrack for my life since I turned 30.

Meanwhile, Moksha is the name of a jaw-dropping, soul-fortifying, 9-minute opus from one Caspian’s first albums.

We love this band so much that we didn’t even consider any cat name options that weren’t Caspian-derived. We also named our previous cat — a kitten we briefly adopted who didn’t work out — Ríoseco, which is the name of another of our favorite Caspian songs.

Naming cats after rock bands. It’s how we roll.

But how do these cats roll?

Well, Caspian is a bit of a handful. He never once met an instruction he liked (or felt remotely compelled to follow). His greatest ambition in life is to ascend to the highest surface in any given room, like he’s trying to level-up in some kind of vertically oriented video game. If he could transcend the ceiling, he’d do it in a heartbeat. His ethos appears to be: “There’s nowhere to go but up.” (It’s probably a good thing we don’t have an attic.)

Caspian wants to nestle inside every nook and creep into every cranny. Every time we open a door to the outside, he turns into Steve McQueen and plots his great escape. He doesn’t walk; he darts. If the cat adages are correct, then curiosity will, um, kill our beautiful boy within a year — despite his very generous allotment of slightly less than 10 lives. But I’m confident that his inquisitiveness won’t prove fatal.

He’s also very sweet when he curls up next to you on the couch while you watch The Haunting of Hill House (though he hasn’t displayed much interest in the show yet). And once he laid right on my chest, which I took as a the highest of compliments. Caspian’s a good guy, just wild at heart. Once a ragamuffin stray, always a ragamuffin stray. Heck, I used to be one of those. Maybe we can bond over our shared vagabond past.

Then there’s Moksha. She’s our sweetly serene, shy but self-possessed girl. We were never planning to have 2 cats, but we adopted her because we wanted our kids — especially Violet, cat lover extraordinaire — to have a cat who gladly accepted affection. And our girl is always happy to be petted. She is especially ravenous for under-the-chin scratches, which instantly activate her bass-heavy purring amplifier. (I think Jani, Caspian’s bass player, would be impressed.)

Moksha is a consummate napper, and Dani has concluded that she’s an emotional eater too. This has resulted in quick weight gain since we adopted her a month ago, due to her nibbling dry food every time there’s a disturbance of any kind. So we lovingly call her our “chunkamunk.”

She is a peaceful soul, and not a big talker. But her occasional meow (really a mew; she’s not really a fan of the letter O) is adorable enough to melt the hardest heart into blood pudding. Her love language is affection, and she often sleeps the entire night at the foot of our bed, nestled on the comforter.

When we brought Moksha into the house for the first time, we followed a rigorous protocol, laid out for us by a warm-hearted and intensely cat-savvy friend, for keeping the two cats separate to help ensure a successful transition. For nearly three weeks, Moksha stayed in our bedroom, Caspian had free rein of the rest of the house, and occasionally we would swap them out. Only at mealtime were they next to each other, on opposite sides of a door.

When we finally let them meet, it was a little dicey as they got to know each other. But they have quickly learned to coexist, play-fighting at times but in a way that (our cat-expert friend tells us) is normal and healthy. Caspian is the provocateur, and Moksha lets him know when she’s had enough.

Personal boundaries are important to establish, and so are boundaries of the felinal variety. Caspian and Moksha establish their red lines with paw swats and gentle bites. Good for them.

Greyson likes the cats. He gets along fine with them, but they don’t usually factor too much into his day. Violet, however? Our girl loooooves those cats. I have never met a 4-year-old more in tune with an animal than Violet is with these two.

She does everything you could possibly hope or expect from a child her age. She sweetly pets them. She gently chides them when they go somewhere they shouldn’t. She helps feed them (and would gladly do it all by herself if we let her).

She watches intently every time we clean a litter box. She talks to the cats, sometimes at a volume we can’t quite hear, because the conversation wasn’t meant for our ears. She’s connected to the cats and she takes responsibility for the cats and she has quickly become something of a cat connoisseur. It’s a beautiful thing to behold.

The road to this point was a bit rocky over the last two months. We weren’t sure if we would keep Caspian after the first few weeks. He just seemed too wild, and too intent on getting out of the house. And when we brought Moksha home, we worries that they would not get along. That Caspian would antagonize Moksha, or be territorial.

But I’m so grateful we stuck it out until things leveled out, and that they have each other to play with.

It feels good to finally venture back into the world of pets, after many years of dog life (until our beloved Taz passed away right after Greyson was born) and one year of cat life (while the kids were very small). Three years later, it’s satisfying to have some furry feline friends for our kids to play with. And it certainly doesn’t hurt that we’ve quickly grown to love ’em too.

So… Greyson and Violet, meet Caspian and Moksha.

May you be the best of buddies as you grow up.

May you forge many happy memories.

And despite what the adage says…

May you all be ever curious.

One thought on “A Tale of Two Kitties

  1. I’ve had cats all my (considerable) life – dozens of them over the (many) years, and I can’t write about them the beautiful way you do. I got stories about incidents with some of them, but surprisingly few now that I think about it; only two cats from my childhood and one story each. Well, ok; since you asked. Growing up in suburban NJ at the world-famed Jersey Shore, we had one (can’t even remember her name) who had six toes on her front feet, and was the only one we didn’t get spayed, and all the kittens in her several litters had six or SEVEN toes, except for one. But all cats in that area were allowed outside; dead-end street and lots of yards and places for them to go. This girl, because she’d had several litters, was VERY protective of our property, and would NOT allow one of the neighborhood dogs anywhere near it. I remember her on the street with two large dogs, a shepherd and a collie or lab, and they were playing a game of monkey-in-the-middle, with the cat chasing the shepherd to rip it’s head off and the good doggie running JUST fast enough to stay in front, with the collie (or lab) chasing behind. Then the cat would whip around after the collie (or lab) and try to tear IT apart, with the shepherd following behind. Both dogs were large enough to kill the cat, but they were just having a GREAT time going back and forth as the cat changed targets, until she finally collapsed in exhaustion on the street, chest heaving and still trying to howl menacingly and spit at the dogs but without the breath to do so. The dogs kept bouncing joyfully around her – “wanna play? Wanna play?” I came up and scooped up the exhausted kitty and took her inside to recover, leaving two very disappointed good doggies behind.


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