When we went on lock down at the start of the pandemic, a longing emerged. Maya and I wanted to grow a family. For starters, we decided a cat would do. We started out by browsing sites offering rescue cats. Typically, it was me, C3, who would ask Maya, “What do you think of this one?” showing her my phone screen. She’d shrug, “Maybe. We’ll see.”
A few days later, I discovered a kitten named April. April was a born without eyes, only showing slits as though he were sleeping 24/7. We adored him, or rather I did. You see, I’m the impulsive feeler. Maya is the cautious thinker. After a few discouraging conversations, we did not adopt April. We decided we weren’t the best match for him due to the possibility that we’d be moving out of our current rental row house within the year. From what we researched, we felt that it would be best if April were to be with someone who can provide a more permanent space from the moment he is adopted. We learned that it is best for a blind kitten to maneuver in a home where the environment doesn’t change so that he can adjust quickly to his surroundings. Since we couldn’t guarantee that for him, we weren’t the right match. A bit disheartened, we discontinued our search. Admittedly, we were a bit busy as we shifted gears and focused on getting married, which we did last June. July came and went. In August, I received a group text that got us back on track.
My aunt sent a picture of a litter piled up with patches of black, strips of brown & gold, and a spot of white. A surprise litter had been born on her farm! I swooned over the picture and responded saying how adorable the bunch was. At the time, Maya was away on a trip with some close friends. A few hours after receiving the picture, I found myself still thinking about them. Again, as the impulsive feeler, I forwarded the photo to Maya, implying my interest in these newborns. This time, Maya showed an interest too. Pretty quickly, we decided we’d ask my aunt if any were available for adoption. She replied, “Most of them!”
Due to our lifestyle, Maya and I asked which kitten seemed to be the most laid back and calm. My aunt immediately identified one of the golden striped tabbies, the one who would be found buried beneath the balls of fur, fast asleep and purring away. We took her word for it and decided this would be our boy. We arranged for them to stay on the farm until they weaned off their mother’s breast milk and were strong enough to travel. We would wait six weeks.
But wait, something changed. A couple weeks before we traveled to the farm, my mom called. She said, “I’ve been thinking about you adopting a cat. Why not consider adopting a second?” This had me elated because knowing my mother, she’s like Maya, a cautious thinker. Coming from her, I grew giddy about the idea and texted Maya again. This time, I was away visiting family. I asked Maya, “Hey, this may sound crazy, but how about adopting a sibling too?” As expected, Maya said, “Let’s wait until you come home then we can discuss this.”
Upon my return one night, Maya and I retired to bed. She handed me a journal that we use to write an entry to one another on occasion. I read a page-long entry she wrote while I was away. She looked at me with a slight grin on her face. Halfway through reading, I noticed that she underlined an “s” in “kittens”! She said, “I am looking forward to growing our family with kittens!” I jumped on top of the bed covers, on top of her, wrapping my arms around her head and peckered her forehead with kisses.
Funny, we got excited before I even asked my aunt if any kittens were still available for adoption from that litter. Fortunately, she said yes and shared that the golden striped one seemed to bond closely with one of two black kittens still available. So one became two. The Ariel family doubled!
Before meeting the boys, we shuffled through a number of name ideas, hoping to come up with a neat duo combination. Here’s what we came up with:
Taco & Bell
Batman & Robin
Bonnie & Clyde
Dunkin & Donut
Blackey & Stripey
While we had a good laugh over those, we weren’t feeling them. We wanted something more sentimental. That’s when we decided to name them after our respective home states, Pennsylvania and New Jersey by naming them Penn & Jersey.
Penn is lean, independent, and athletic. He loves to give you forehead-to-forehead rubs and hop up onto the table just for attention. Jersey is chubby, silly, and clumsy. He loves to lay on your face while in bed or on your lap and lift his paws up, beckoning for belly rubs.
They’re perfect companions for one another. As brothers, they play tug-a-war with homemade rope, chase after one another’s tails when they have the zoomies, and create a ying and yang shape when they nap together in their favorite cat hammock by the sunroom window. And I kid you not, they jump up and down (does your cat jump?) when they hear their wet food dishes clink against one another for a Sunday night treat.
We’ve had these boys for a little over a month now and couldn’t be happier forming a little family with them.