It all started because I got bored.

I do foolish, impulsive things when I am bored, like getting my hair styled into a pixie cut or dying it red. Or baking an entire pan of fudge brownies and eating it myself. This time, though, I decided to get a kitten. I felt it was time, after saying goodbye to my senior cat last November. I wanted Cap, my three year old, to have a feline companion for the times I’m out of the house. I had it in the back of my mind that most cats are happier with friends, and used that to justify my desire for another one.

Turns out, most cats would rather be the center of their human-slave’s life, and not have to share with an obnoxious  sibling, but that’s neither here nor there. In August, I brought home “Freckles,” who became “Callie,” because… we all know cats pick their own names. I felt concerned at first, with this tiny creature running around my guest room, that she might get “hurt” by the much larger Cap.

Turns out, I should have worried the reverse.

When I first brought her home, a friend laughed long and hard when I told her about it, and said, “Watch out. Tortoiseshell cats have attitudes.” I scoffed. Surely you cannot generalize an entire “kind” of cat with that assessment. Right?


Turns out, Callie does indeed have an attitude. It ranges somewhere between “I am hungry all the time, give me food right now” and “That looks like a nice warm spot, Cap. Thanks for getting it ready for me!” She will, in all cuteness and while purring at a loud rhythmic pace, climb over the top of him to plop down right in front of him, in an open invitation to be licked. Cap, being a mild-mannered gentleman of the highest degree, will oblige her, though at times I’ve noticed an aggressive annoyance in both the paw he keeps her pinned down with, and the nature of the roughhouse licking (which she loves, so the purring level increases). Inevitably, however, she reaches her peak of “over-stimulated” and starts biting the paw that holds her. This leads to squabbles, and kicking each other, sometimes at 2am. It will go on for thirty seconds, before Cap, indignant and ruffled at her rudeness and lack of appreciation, will leap up and stalk off, leaving her his warm spot. Sometimes, in a great example of passive-aggression, he will return later to pounce on her.

Fortunately, they know their slave won’t tolerate this for long, and both of them quit if I touch them. But Cap has now perfected the long-suffering look exemplified in some of these photos, which, I think, showcases each cat’s personality well. Her “come at me” vs. his “sigh… why is she here?”

When I took Cap in for his shots before Callie arrived, he was a hearty and plump 15 pounds. Now, after chasing her around the house, tackling her after midnight, smacking the top of her head when she sticks it in his food bowl, playing footsie under and around doors, and attempting to climb trees to emulate her love of doing so, he is 12 pounds. Proof all anyone needs to lose weight is to chase a brat around the house and yard.

She’s also a talker. Every single thing she does has a “sound” that goes with it, from the “oomph” of jumping off a chair to the “eeh?” if you pet her. She will sit at my feet while I fix their lunch in the kitchen and scream her head off, either telling me what I am doing isn’t fast enough, or assuming I might forget her existence and therefore not give her salmon after all. Cap will stare at her with an incredulous look and then, once in awhile, offer a meek little “mrow?” far better suited for a much smaller cat than his long-legged self.

On nice days when I take them outside for a walk (no cats of mine roam around unsupervised in the country), both will wait at the door. Once I open it, they will bolt out, but only she is talking the entire time. I think it’s a mix of happiness and nervous energy. I’ve seen her roam the entire place with her tail fluffed to five times its size while she comments on everything. It’s quite a sight, a long, lean gray cat and a short, rounded kitten. She also likes to copy whatever he is doing, proof little ones learn from their larger counterparts. This includes eating grass so they can puke on my rug.

I wanted not to get bored during the pandemic, and I’m not. I have also not enjoyed as much sleep. But this kitten-toddler phase will pass, and she will mellow out. I hope. For Cap’s sake.

The good news is, Cap likes her. I can tell. Despite his annoyance, my research tells me cats don’t lick each other unless they like each other. It helps me feel like less of a jerk. It warms my heart to see them curled up on a snowy afternoon, purring and licking.

You know.

Until she nips him.

And he nips her.

Then she kicks him.

And he leaves her to enjoy the spot he warmed up for her in the sun. ♦