by Kai Choyce
HOW I MET MY PEPPER
I’d always considered myself a dog person -- until the first apartment I rented on my own came with a “no pets” policy. I somehow convinced my landlord that, unlike a puppy, a kitten was BASICALLY a plant, and adopted my very first cat from the Humane Society. Ani was a tiny medium-haired Tortie kitten who the shelter had named Cookie. Cookie promptly grew into her new name and, eventually, her ears.
Right now you’re probably saying, “But wait, I thought this was about Pepper! Who’s Ani?”
To know Pepper you must first understand Ani. Not to bring this heartwarming tale to a grinding halt, but VERY long story short, we had 16 incredible years together. The last 10 of those we also shared with Chocolate Tortie and mini-cat extraordinaire King Ninja Monkey Bear (who answers to Ninja, Monkey, and Monkey Bear). At 16 years old, Ani succumbed to the kidney disease that had set in around year 14. I was devastatingly heartbroken and swore that Ninja and I were on our own -- I’d NEVER get another cat. By the second week, I found myself wistfully scrolling through Google image searches of medium to longhaired Tortoiseshell cats, comforted by their fluffy familiarity.
And then I saw this:
THE SANTA CLAUSE
THAT HAT! THAT FACE! But no way was I ACTUALLY gonna inquire. It was way too soon. I clicked through to Petfinder just to see where she was located. Ya know, just out of curiosity. It turned out she was available and in Fresno, 3 hours outside of Los Angeles. Her name was Cupcake, which I took to be a sign from the cosmos. The universe was ready for me to give another baked goods-themed kitten a chance. I filled out the application to adopt her, it was approved the next day, and two days after that I found myself on the road to a Petco in beautiful (not really) Fresno, CA.
The second I picked Cupcake up she started suckling on my sweatshirt, which would have been gross if it weren’t so adorable. She fell asleep in my arms, slept all the way home, and upon arrival was officially dubbed Pepper Druscilla (but she also answers to Pepperino, Pepperoni, and Pepperidge Farms).
Soon after getting Pepper, my roommate got a puppy (Mickey) who happened to be the exact same age as Pepper. They quickly became sisters from other misters (have you ever seen a dog climb a cat tree?), which I’m sure Ninja was really relieved by as she currently sits at 8 pounds, and roughhouse-loving Pepper outweighed her within the first six months.
THAT’S SO TORTIE
Pepper is fearless, independent, and loves other animals. As a kitten, she slept exclusively on my neck and face but a few months in graduated to the end of the bed and insists on personal space. Her favorite toys are cardboard boxes and her favorite chairs are all brown, which obviously means she’s a genius who knows how to color-coordinate.
Pepper rounds out the household perfectly. Mickey and her play like they’re from the same litter. Ninja acts like she only tolerates Pepper but then I’ll catch them sleeping next to each other or happily bunking in their window tunnel where Pepper has a….let’s call it unique....way of sunbathing
Pepperoni is vocal, given to theatrics, and even though I adopted her with no unreasonable expectations of being an Ani clone, she has a very similar personality (I’ve been told it’s called “tortietude”). The main difference is she hates to cuddle. Though she’s a stereotypical teen when it comes to parental affection she loves being brushed and will chase me around the house screaming if i’m holding it until I brush her for a minute or ten.
Pretty At Ease
After losing a cat to kidney disease, having an everyday tool like PrettyLitter that can help me monitor changes in their urinary health is a godsend. Pepper and Ninja might not be aware of the advantages to using a litter that changes colors, but they definitely like using it, and it doesn't smell like I have two cats. Some kidney disease — like blood in the urine and abnormal acidity — can be detected by PrettyLitter. So, if I ever notice red or orange spots in the box, I’ll know to monitor the situation and call my vet. PrettyLitter lets me spend less time worrying about potential health issues, and more time catering to my cats’ very particular (and also adorable) daily demands.
THE TRUTH ABOUT CATS AND DOGS
I’d definitely call Pepper a cat’s cat. Whereas Ninja is often called a “cat-dog” because of how she follows me from room to room, demands to be held and petted, and sleeps in my arms or right above my head like a tiny guardian gargoyle, Pepper will get up and walk away if I pet her for longer than 3 seconds. I don’t judge or begrudge her for it. The thing I respect most about cats is how each has such a matchless personality. Cats aren’t afraid to set their own boundaries and hold you to them. When she wraps herself around my legs or headbutts me I feel like I’ve done something right (or she’s hungry). Cats are the spice of life and Pepper’s definitely got a little kick.