We first saw Pumpkin on Instagram in April of 2020, right after she moved to Manhattan, when Bideawee reposted a story from her foster mom. We’d been ready for a cat for a while, and — always having a soft spot for underdogs and only being permitted by our landlords to adopt a single cat — we really wanted to adopt an older cat who might not otherwise be given a chance, who would be ok as a pampered only child, and who was independent enough to be ok with both of us working. When we saw Pumpkin, we fell in love; somehow, we could get a sense of her silly and unique personality just from a couple of photos. We learned that she had somehow been at Bideawee’s Westhampton facility for eight years without being adopted and had recently moved to Manhattan to hopefully get some more visibility.
Through the process of applying for her, interviewing, and meeting her for the first time, we just fell more in love. She was described to us as being “sweet, but demanding and fresh” and “hat(ing) other cats with a passion”, but we knew that would work well with our need for an independent kitty who was okay without being adopted in a pair. The Bideawee staff told us that she had been functioning as their office cat for a while (and had won employee of the month, we might add!) Her foster mom described her as being very sassy, of course, but reaffirmed that with some space and patience, she had already started to come out of her shell a bit.
We knew that adopting a cat was a serious commitment, and that Pumpkin wouldn’t be an “easy” cat, but we were genuinely excited to get to know her little personality and were prepared to give her space and take the time to understand her body language & boundaries. We made an appointment to meet her at Bideawee for the first time on April 10, 2020, knowing that we might take her home that day! We discussed before going in what could possibly happen on that meeting that would be a dealbreaker, and if I recall correctly, we decided that the only thing that would prevent us from taking her home was if she suddenly was able to say, in English, “I do not like the two of you and I don’t want to go home with you.” Unsurprisingly, that did not happen, so we took her home!
When she came home for the first time, she immediately started to explore. We sat and watched her as she sniffed and inspected every corner of the room, climbed up the shelves, and looked behind and under all the furniture. We had been told to introduce a cat to a new space one room at a time, but once she was done with the first room’s once-over, she seemed keen to move on. She covered the whole apartment while we gave her some space, but then she came right back to us, climbed in my husband’s lap, and fell asleep! We knew we’d made the right decision; she had already seemed to relax so much in the hour or, so she’d been home.
Over the next few months, we learned so much about her quirks and boundaries (for example, she actually loves to be pet, as long as she can’t see your hands — so pet from behind only!) and got used to her body language (she often absentmindedly flicks her tail while exploring, but there’s a particular tail swish that means “I am annoyed, leave me alone!”). We witnessed her relax more and more, settle into a routine, and find her favorite hiding spots. As two childless late 20-somethings with nothing better to spend our money on, we got her the biggest cat tree we could find, which barely fit into our Brooklyn apartment. We found out which foods she liked (fish flavors only!) and witnessed her start to eat more and more. She spent countless days on our laps, accompanying us through the early, uncertain days of working from home, and countless evenings in the same position, stretching out on our legs and drooling through her naps while we read or watched TV.
Now she’s been in her forever home with us for about 2 and a half years, and we’re just as obsessed with her as the first day we took her home — maybe more. She sleeps in bed with us every night and greets us with purrs and headbutts when we get home. She outsmarted her treat puzzles too fast, so we had to start designing new ones for her. She went viral on TikTok once, too (our little star!). She’s gained almost two pounds since we brought her home and gone from being underweight to a happy, fluffy, healthy weight (we call her our chicken nugget). We can tell that a lot of her freshness was likely due to the anxiety of being in the shelter — Bideawee, of course, took amazing care of her and she was loved her whole life, but it’s still more stressful than being in a permanent home. She’s still curious as ever — she loves to climb, but does so in an incredibly delicate way where she’s never knocked down any of our photos or plants as she tiptoes around our bookshelves. She spends her summers watching birds out the window and her winters curled up on her favorite blanket by the radiator. We love Pumpkin so much, and we feel incredibly lucky that, in a way, she waited so long for us.