Why Senior Cats Make the Best Roommates
Kitten, please! I adopted a couple of seniors because cats, like wine, only get better with age.
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I adopted Bear and Pumpkin after seeing a photo of them on Petfinder: two scruffy, 14-year-old Nebelungs that, to me, looked like an old gay couple. I loved the idea of a pair of grumpy old queers wandering around my apartment, giving me side-eye and the occasional, conditional snuggle. So when the shelter told me they were friendly and easy to pick up, I knew I had to have them.
It had been 10 years since I last had a cat, and although I loved not cleaning a litter box or being woken up first thing in the morning by unrelenting hunger mews, I missed the companionship. Especially after spending a year alone in my apartment avoiding COVID-19.
I knew I wanted a senior cat because senior cats are chill. Kittens have no chill and, honestly, most of them are not that cute. That’s right, I said it! They’re scrawny and squeaky and they tear your shit up. Adult cats have meat on their bones. They have personality. And they spend most of their time sleeping. They also know they’ve been abandoned and are grateful to have a home.
I started looking for a hairless cat, but those are pretty hard to find in the shelter system. So, being an all-or-nothing kind of guy, I expanded my search to include longhairs. I fell in love with the photos of a few, but upon talking to the shelters, realized they had issues I was not prepared to deal with: chronic health problems, litter box aversions, etc. Every time I decided not to adopt, I felt guilty. It wasn’t the animal’s fault. Their issues were the direct result of bad treatment or neglect. And yet, I also had to do what was right for me.
When I saw Bear and Pumpkin together in the same listing, I knew the shelter would have a hard time placing them. Two cats wasn’t my plan, but it was something I believed I could handle. Also, it made me feel good to know they would have each other when I wasn’t around.
Pumpkin has some health issues, including chronic ear infections, which the shelter did not tell me about, but he is also the sweetest little lovebug I’ve ever met. On day one, he let me hold him like a teddy bear while we napped on my bed, and by day two, he was calmly lying on his back between my legs while I trimmed his claws. Bear lets me do that stuff too, but he made me wait until day three.
Now, they follow me from room to room and take turns on my lap while I write. Bear spends more time on my lap than Pumpkin, because he’s smaller and can rest there more comfortably, but Pumpkin is a jealous and needy boy and never lets him be the center of attention for long. Being 15 pounds and graceless as a rhino, Pumpkin is not much of a jumper and prefers to tap me with his paw when he’s in need of lap time. It’s a little annoying when I’m sitting on the toilet, but there’s no reasoning with him when it comes to cuddles. He wants what he wants when he wants it.
They sleep with me too — Pumpkin under my left arm and Bear under my right. Unless I’m sleeping on my side, in which case Bear is the big spoon and Pumpkin, ironically, is the little spoon. I get the sense sometimes that Bear would like to be the little spoon, but Pumpkin won’t allow it. Every time I roll over, he moves to take up his position against my chest, ousting Bear in the process. In gay parlance, Pumpkin is what is known as a bossy bottom, and there’s just no arguing with them. When they wrestle, Bear always wins, but you get the sense that’s exactly how Pumpkin wants it.
It’s only been a few weeks since I adopted them and already I can’t imagine my life without them. They are funny and easy and odd and just so incredibly sweet. The other day, I was sitting on my bed, crying, and Pumpkin nuzzled my chest while Bear stroked my arm with his paw. I’m pretty sure he just wanted me to pet him instead of Pumpkin, but still, how cute is that? A kitten would never.
Charles Manning is an actor, writer, and fashion/media consultant living in New York City with his two cats, Pumpkin and Bear. Follow him on Instagram @charlesemanning.