We went to the adoption event of our friends who do fostering, with the full intention of adopting two kittens. In fact, other friends who knew we were adopting had suggested that we get three — a suggestion we scoffed at as absurdly impractical on the face of it. And the obvious, logical choice for two kittens was the two silver tabby litter-mates.
But I saw the tortoiseshell, and our eyes met across a crowded room, and the love music from “Star Trek” began playing in the background, and I said to Ingrid, “We have to get the tortoiseshell.”
“Well, we can’t split up the silver tabbies,” she said reasonably.
“Then I guess we’re getting three.”
It’s hard to put into words what it is about Houdini. She has that mysterious, Mona Lisa quality that some cats have: the deep, pensive look that makes her seem as if she has the wisdom of the ages behind her eyes. I realize this is bunk, that what she has behind her eyes is a walnut-sized brain and what’s in it is almost certainly “Bzzzzzzzzzz.” I don’t care.
I think part of it is that she’s more shy and skittish than the two kittens. She’s friendly and playful, but she’s more reserved and remote than Team Tabby, and she’s much more prone to jump at loud sounds and hide under the furniture at terrifying events like the grocery delivery. So when she snuggles or plays, when she settles on your lap or burrows under the covers with you, it feels special. Like she’s taken careful stock of your character, and has decided to trust you.
Which is bunk. Because a sober evaluation reveals her to be rather a tramp. Once she’s past her “jumping at strangers walking in the door” thing, she will snuggle with just about anything with a pulse. And she manages to do this and still seem dignified and mysterious. She totally has us snowed.
She is also unbelievably sweet with the littler kittens. It can’t be easy, being a relatively sedate five-and-a-half-month-old living with two thirteen-week-old boingers. But she loves to snuggle with them, and puts up with them stepping on her face and lying on top of her and following her around everywhere. It’s almost maternal, although the dynamic often seems more like that of a fourteen-year-old teenager with two ten-year-olds: rolling her eyes at their shenanigans, getting annoyed when they get in her face, but basking in their admiration (the tabbies ADORE Houdini, and Comet is particularly smitten), and occasionally forgetting herself and joining in the fun. And while she’s nowhere near as boingy and energetic as Talisker and Comet (hell, the Hoover Dam power plant isn’t as energetic as Comet), she does love a good round of Chase the Dangly Toy.
The explanation of the name: She’s named after Harry Houdini, obviously. Partly because she’s all mysterious and stuff. Also she’s good at escaping, even if it’s just from the grocery delivery. And we love that Houdini (the magician, not the cat) was a skeptic and debunker of fraudulent spiritualists: in fact, he began the fine tradition of stage magicians becoming skeptics and debunkers of fraudulent spiritualists. We had to have at least one cat named after an atheist or skeptical icon, and Houdini was it.
Here are eleventy billion photos. She’s a little hard to photograph, because her coloring is so dark and doesn’t show up well in our poorly-lit San Francisco apartment; but I like how these came out.
Here is Houdini, holding Kanani’s hand. I know, right?
Staring into space. The wisdom of the ages, no?
Here she’s snorgled with Comet and Tallisker (Talisker is the little pair of ears peeping up behind her). I’ve mostly been trying to have these Catroduction photos be solos; but Houdini is such a love bug with the other kittens, it’s hard to get photos of her without them. And her lovey nature is such a central part of who she is, it seems right to have her introduction photos be snuggly ones.
And again. I’m not even sure which cat is which here.
Houdini and Comet, “helping” me empty the dishwasher.
Houdini snuggling with Josie. She also camped on Tim’s lap that evening, but the photos didn’t come out. That girl loves her some lap.
On Ingrid’s dresser, contemplating the nature of existence, or perhaps an imaginary bug.
And again. You see why we had to get three, right? There just wasn’t any choice in the matter.