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Velma and Stan are rolling around on the floor, a cartoony flurry of teeth and nails. They bound over sofas and chairs chasing each other, eat voraciously from the same bowl, and finally fall into a heap fast asleep.
They have been doing this partner act ever since they debuted in our living room as 7-week-old kittens.
If you've ever adopted a kitten, you know the drill. You bring the tiny cat home, set her gently on the floor — and then spend the next three hours frantically hunting for her, fearing you're so incompetent a cat owner that you have already lost your charge. Eventually, the kitten emerges from the deepest, darkest recess of your house — a spot so small and remote that you didn't think a spider could fit in there — and begins to explore, belly to the floor in fear.
Because they arrived with their best friend in tow, Velma and Stan skipped the cringing, quaking part and started playing immediately. They were at home the minute their paws hit the rug.
My husband and I have had cats for decades — in ones, twos and even threes — which has us teetering on the brink of crazy cat people. But Velma and Stan are our first matched set. They played together the entire time I visited the litter, and I knew that we couldn't separate them, even though taking both brought our grand total to four cats — clearly the tipping point to feline insanity.
Then again, we had doubled our reasons to want them. We'd lost our beloved long-haired tuxedo cat to renal failure in August, just days before our first grandchild was born — 3,000 miles away in San Francisco. We were mourning Stink (yes, Stink; when he arrived on our doorstep as a full-grown unneutered stray, it was the perfect name), and yearning for baby Zeke. We had a hole in our life that would take two kittens to fill.
Velma and Stan to the rescue, arriving just in time for Christmas.
Now we're cursed. We'll never be able to go back to adopting kittens one at a time.
Velma and Stan are the light of each other's lives. Stan may outweigh her by a goodly amount, but Velma's the alpha, fearlessly pushing her tiny head into the food bowl ahead of our oldest feline, Homer, who did not become a 17-pound cat by letting other animals eat his food. Stan's the sweetie, a purring machine who cuddles on my lap.
We may be buying double the food — I know we're paying double the vet bills — but we've also doubled up on the love.
So the next time that you're in the market, visit a litter and see who's playing with whom. Pick yourself not a solo act but a duet. Your shins will thank you — since Velma and Stan do their roughhousing together, for the first time ever, our arms and legs aren't shredded by tiny kitten nails.
The only drawback: Since they are hopelessly in love with each other, they aren't quite as infatuated with us. Other kittens have slept on our bed every night. Stan and Velma usually sleep together on the sofa. I miss the extra cuddling time, but I am well repaid by the pleasure of watching them tussle together and then fall asleep, their legs entwined in an embrace.
I hope V and S don't grow too fast. I can't wait for little Zeke to come play with them.
When she isn't playing with her cats, Susan Crandell works as an editor and writer. A former editor-in-chief of More magazine, she is the author of Thinking About Tomorrow: Reinventing Yourself at Midlife.
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