Hero and Leander

Two towns there were, that with one sea were wall’d.
Built near, and opposite; this Sestus call’d,
Abydus that ; the Love his bow bent high,
And at both Cities let one arrow fly,
That two (a Virgin and a Youth) inflam’d:
The youth was sweetly-grac’d Leander nam’d,
The virgin Hero ; Sestus she renowns,
Abydus he, in birth; of both which towns
Both were the beauty-circled stars ; and both
Grac’d with like looks, as with one love and troth.
– Musaeus Grammaticus

First meeting
First meeting

The last twelve months has seen us bid farewell to our feline companions of the last decade, renowned Tiberius of doughty strength, ineffable charm and unquenchable mischief and lovely Data, the sweetest cat ever to be worn as a scarf. Thus ended our second generation of cats – the first being Justice and Magic. But for us, a house without cats is only a house. It is the tread of paws which transforms it into a home. We gave Data a due period of mourning. We completed our adventures and camping – brainstorming cat names as we drove the sylvan road from Frankfurt to Strasbourg.

We had many pairs of names for boys: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, Gilgamesh and Enkidu. Two girls were much harder, perhaps Tigris and Euphrates? Boy/girl we were spoiled for options: Tristan and Isolde? Abelard and Heloise?

Driving back from camping for Labor Day, Adam spent the entire trip filling out online profiles for adopting cats. When we adopted Data and Tiberius, there were probably 40+ adoptable cats in the shelter. But we were finding that there was no “stock” of cats, and they were getting adopted wildly quickly. We got a call on a way to the adoption appointment on Sunday night not to bother – there were no adoptable animals. But there were, she gave us insight, a bunch of them going through the process of being checked, neutered, etc. And we should watch the listings. On Monday late night, 10 adoptable cats were added. I fretted – Tuesday we had soccer and bass lessons and I didn’t know how we could go. But then the rains came and the field was flooded and the bass instructor got food poisoning and all of a sudden signs pointed to cat. By the time we got to the shelter at 6:15, there were only five of those ten cats remaining, and only three within the criteria we were looking for.

Sterling, now known as Leander
Sterling, now known as Leander

The first cat we met was a handsome long-haired tuxedo called Sterling. He fearlessly permitted himself to be picked up and handled, and purred under adoring fingers giving him pets and scritches. He was five months old, and just a wee little kitten. Data was a tiny light cat at the end, and this little critter was half his weight. Sterling had extremely long and dramatic whiskers, ridiculously hirsute (or firsute?) and hairy ears and the most adorable socks – the ones on his back legs being extremely decorative. We learned that he was out of Virginia – and just a baby with no history. We pretended not to have decided that we were adopting him when we put him back, but it was all pretense.

Violet, aka Hero
Violet, aka Hero

The second cat was a tortie – mostly black with orange highlights except for the very tip of her five-month-old tail which is vibrant orange. Violet, as she was called, was lithe and powerful like a tigress, and ardent in her affections to the hands which stroked chin and shoulders. She’d been returned along with another cat after a week, with no reason given, so we don’t even know where she hailed from. She is DEFINITELY trouble, but that is the nature of a cat. She’s also sweet and affectionate and snuggly and has cat ADHD (in my very professional diagnosis).

Feline mischief, right here
Feline mischief, right here

They were not bonded, nor did they come from the same place. (Massachusetts usually imports stray animals from parts of the country with lower spay/neuter rates.) But they were both charming, friendly, affectionate and definitely coming home with us.

Very Dignified Cat
Very Dignified Cat

We’ve had them for a few days (each in a different attic room, slowly getting used to each other and each other’s smells). And so far they are very much kittens with so much kitten energy. They’re affectionate and funny and noisy and all over the place. They do have some epic zoomies. We’re totally in love, and can’t wait until we can unleash them on the house, and looking forward to many fine years of their soft and silly company.

Floof tail
Floof tail

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Brenda currently lives in Stoneham MA, but grew up in Mineral WA. She is surrounded by men, with two sons, one husband and two boy cats. She plays trumpet at church, cans farmshare produce and works in software.

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