If you know us, you know about Chloe. Many of you know that in June Chloe was diagnosed with lung cancer and passed not long after. We still miss her. She (the box of her ashes) is on top of the bookshelf, because I wasn’t quite ready to bury her in my parents’ backyard per the original plan.
The house felt really empty without her to greet us, so I started looking for new pets. I love Siamese. I started looking; then I stopped. Prices ranged from €150 upwards of €1,000 for a kitten. Ridiculous! There is an animal adoption group in Grenoble, called Cosa Animalia, which posts photos of kittens for adoption. A grew up in a dog family, so he’s never had kittens. He looked at the pictures and picked out an adorable little fluff ball and I found my Siamese.
The fluff ball was gone by the time we visited her foster family. At a different house, the Siamese let me pick him up and started purring immediately. He had a little black and white friend, who was not as friendly toward us, but let himself be pet by the owner. Andy and I talked. I wanted a pair of kittens so that they would have each other to play with and these two were already living together, so we knew for sure that they’d get along.
The first week was tough. The Siamese spent the first night exploring. He took to the house and us just fine. The black and white one – not so much. He spent the first night in the garbage can and most of the first week under the couch. (Our garbage drawer doesn’t seal in the back to make space for the sink pipes.) He ran from us, but very much wanted to be with the Siamese. Going to the vet for vaccinations and de-worming was traumatic for everyone. Then very randomly, Sunday night the kittens were chasing each other around and the black and white one stopped by the table to talk to us.
At that point we decided it was time to give them names. When we were looking for two Siamese, A wanted to name them PV and NRT – a science joke that he loved explaining. We, however, did not get matching cats, so it didn’t work as well. A went through a long suggestion list, but found his choice in the letter Bs. Bert and Ernie. That was it.
Ernie (Ernesto) is the Siamese. He’s a solid cat – full of muscle and he moves like a panther. He loves his people and purrs all the time. He gets into everything at ground level and he begs. He even tried to climb my leg when I opened a can of tuna. When we took the kittens home, the man gave us a piece of raw chicken and a can of tuna. It’s very obvious that this is what they were used to eating. Not in our house.
Bert (Bertrand) is a much smaller cat. The adoption coordinator claims they’re brothers, but Bert is lighter, smaller, and more delicate. Sometimes we feel the need to protect him because Ernie seems like he is bullying Bert. Bert likes to get up. Those shelves in the kitchen, he’s always in them. He loves to have his head scratched, but does better when he’s half asleep. He still spends quite a bit of time under the coffee table, but doesn’t run with the same abject fear as when he arrived. It took a second, but now he likes us, most of the time.
Those are our babies. They love tuna water, crinkle balls, and chasing each other around the house. They eat an astounding amount and sleep with us at night. A has been won over. He’s always going to be a dog person, but the kittens aren’t so bad.
Above is the post that I wrote, but never posted, last September. Some things have changed since then.
The largest is that on her third trip to the vet, we discovered that Bert is a girl. On Ernie, it’s obvious because his balls are black and the fur around them is cream. Bert is all black in that area and we’d never bothered to check. Ernie had already learned his name and we were attached to the pair, so she became Roberta (or Bertramina, depending who you ask.) She’s a cat; it doesn’t actually make a difference. What is very interesting is the way our language has changed just because she’s a girl. Andy calls Ernie partner, but Bert is sweetheart. We’re both a little more protective if we think Ernie is playing too roughly. It’s weird. They’re just cats, but I can see how people inadvertently treat their children differently by gender.
The kittens got fixed in November. I’m pretty sure that Ernie only got a vasectomy; he only had one stitch and still has a ball sac. Bert had more stitches and there was one incision spot on each side of her body. I think they only removed her ovaries. Andy learned, when he stopped to pick them up, that in French after sterilization, they are cats, not kittens. I don’t care what the French say, for now, they’re still babies.
They still get into everything. There’s an open cabinet in the shower and Bert loves to sleep in the towels. Sometimes Ernie is in there too. They have figured out how to open the closet door and love to be up on those shelves. Bert likes to sleep on Andy’s stack of t-shirts. They share bad habits. I’m pretty sure that Ernie taught Bert how fun it is to shred soft paper: toilet paper, paper towels, napkins – nothing is safe.
Both of the kittens have gotten friendlier. Ernie can be quite demanding when he wants attention; he has no problem jumping into our laps or those of visitors. Bert likes to be pet, sometimes, but rarely wants to be picked up. She prefers Andy to me and will snuggle under the covers with him. Andy has taken to them. They bonded especially well the week I was in the States and they had each other. It took a little time, but we’ve settled into a happy little family.