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Book Reviews by Chuckie

Chuck takes after his mom (me) and is a total little bookworm (Barry, on the other hand, prefers sports – particularly fetch and laser pointer). Chuckie likes to keep up with the things that I’m reading for class, and has a lot of opinions on the things he’s read. So here’s some book reviews by my little literature cat.

(Beware of spoilers)

As You Like It by William Shakespeare | ★★★✩✩

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Chuck is pretty ambivalent towards Shakespeare – he neither loves nor hates him. As You Like It is Chuck’s favorite Shakespeare play (although, to be fair, he hasn’t read all that many so far in his life). He loves reading about friendships and love. Rosalind and Celia are, in Chuckie’s opinion, one of the cutest friendships in literature and he definitely ships Rosalind and Orlando as a couple. He couldn’t help laughing every time Rosalind was in disguise and Orlando didn’t recognize her. Chuckie gives this play three stars for it’s entertainment value and heart-warming scenes.

Sula by Toni Morrison | ★★★★★

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Whenever Chuckie thinks of Toni Morrison, he turns into that heart-eyes emoji because he LOVES her. Chuckie and I read Sula for my African-American Literature course a year ago, and Chuckie could not put that book down! He found Sula to be a gorgeous glimpse of a friendship, community, family, love…just life in general. There were no heroes of the book, only stunningly real characters that Chuckie couldn’t help but feel sympathetic towards. When Nel’s husband cheated on her with Sula…man did Chuck feel the absolute pain radiating out of those book pages, and he had to put that book down for a while to process that heartbreaking scene. Chuckie thinks that Sula and all of Toni Morrison’s books are must-reads for all humans and cats, so that’s why he gives Sula a full five stars.

Smoke and Mirrors by Neil Gaiman | ★★★✬✩

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Chuck is a fan of horror and obscure stories, which is why he chose to read Smoke and Mirrors by Neil Gaiman. However, he has mixed feelings about it. He actually absolutely loves the short stories in the book. He finds they have fascinating topics, characters, settings. He loves that he can divulge them in bite-sized chunks right before he goes to bed. But half of Smoke and Mirrors is narrative poetry, and for some reason, Chuckie isn’t a fan of it. Chuck actually really likes poetry, but he’s not a fan of the poetry in Smoke and Mirrors, but that might just be because he prefers his obscure fiction to be in prose instead of verse. Maybe that’s just a taste thing, but either way, Chuck gives this book three and a half stars.

“Chevrefoil” and “Lanval” by Marie de France ★★✬✩✩

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Chuckie is partial to minority writers, including women, but he just could not really love  “Chevrefoil” and “Lanval.” He believes that it might be because old British literature is just not his thing, so that might be a subjective dislike of it. He’s heard that Marie de France was one of the best women writers of early British literature, and he’s sure that’s true. To be fair, he wouldn’t rate any of de France’s contemporary writers any higher than he has rated her poems. Although Chuck is a sucker for love stories, he could not really feel any emotions towards the characters in these two poems, so he gives her poems two and a half stars.

Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon ★★★✩✩

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Chuckie is only halfway through Gravity’s Rainbow, but he just had to talk about it right now (if you’ve ever read it, then you get why). Although Chuck doesn’t understand what’s going on half of the time in the book, he does recognize that it might be one of the most impressive books that he’s ever read. It’s been a hard question for him to decide how much easy readability should influence the overall genius of a book. Is Gravity’s Rainbow genius even though it’s going to take multiple read-throughs to understand what is going on? Should it be more accessible? Regardless, after the first few episodes, Chuckie was able to find his groove and has gone on a roller-coaster of emotions throughout this book: pity, sadness, disgust, anger, confusion, fascination, shock, awe. So, although Chuckie understands this book is a literary feat that must have taken a lot of research and intelligence to write, and even though he generally enjoys some of the episodes and some of the characters, he only rates it three stars due to its confusing episodes.

Do you agree or disagree with Chuckie’s reviews? Comment to let us know, and keep an eye out for his next review post!

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A Day in the Life of a Cat Mom

Being a cat mom isn’t easy. Cats are weird little creatures, and Chuck and Barry are definitely no exception.

However, even though it’s hard work, being Chuck and Barry’s mom has made me happier than anything else – it’s what gets me through the day. Here is a day in the life of a cat mom. For simplicity’s sake, let’s look at this past Tuesday as an example:

7:00 am

It’s not yet time for me to wake up for my internship yet, but Chuckie has apparently decided it is. He leaps into my room (he literally leaps over the threshold of my doorway) and goes, “Meow. Meow. Meow meow meow,” which means, “Mom, wake up. Pet me. Wet food.”IMG_4216

My eyes are rolling behind my eyelids, but I open them and make eye contact with one of my little princes. I pat the side of my bed and he meanders his way over for some pats. I scratch his back and his chin with as little effort as possible before I roll over to go back to sleep.

Chuckie circles my head and meows a few more times, but then Barry enters the room and he gets distracted. Barry hops on the bed and walks over me to perch on the windowsill and look at birds. Then he goes and finds a plastic bag that I didn’t even know existed and starts eating it.

Chuckie walks over and instigates a fight. Chuck and Barry wrestle before sprinting out of the room and down the stairs. I fall back asleep.

9:00 am

I’ve finally gotten out of bed, and I head downstairs into the kitchen to get a yogurt for breakfast. Chuck and Barry sense my approach and they both run into the kitchen and start meowing for wet food. Chuck stands in front of the refrigerator, literally VIBRATING in anticipation of wet food. Barry rubs himself against my legs.

But it’s not time for wet food. They don’t get wet food at breakfast time, they get it for dinner. They are about 7 hours early, so I ignore their desperate pleas and tell them that they have dry food sitting right there if they are that hungry.

Before I leave the kitchen, I refill their water bowl because there’s an unidentifiable brown object in it, along with some hairs.

12:15 pm

I eat lunch at my internship and scroll through Chuck and Barry’s Instagram, missing them way too much and excited to go home and pet them.

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3:30 pm

I return home from my internship and as I open my front door, I yell out, “Kitties!!!!!!!!!”

Barry bounds into the room and hops onto the back of the couch, where it is easiest to receive pets. I give him some scratches and ask where his brother is, but I get no response.

I find Chuck in my bedroom, laying in the middle of my floor (they love sleeping on the floor). He meows his “hello” and I pet him.

4:00 pm

Wet food time!!!!!!! I go into the kitchen and start getting it prepared. Barry shows up, and I tell him to go get his brother. Chuckie appears, and they meow and circle me until I lower the plate with the crack wet food on it and they devour it like heathens.

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 5:00 pm

I’m doing some stuff on my laptop, and all I want is some kitty snuggles but they are nowhere to be found.

5:15 pm

I head downstairs for some water, and that’s when I find Chuck and Barry in the second floor hallway, just laying there (they really love sleeping on hallway floors). I pet them and go on my way.

6:00 pm

It’s laundry day, and I walk into the basement to find Barry standing on the ladder, replacing a burnt out lightbulb. No, I’m kidding, he was just trying to catch a bug and I believe that he got stuck. He scrambles off and scampers up the stairs.

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8:06 pm

On Tuesdays during the summer, my favorite television show, The Fosters, comes on. The hour that The Fosters is on is one of the most important hours of my life and it is my Me Time. It is when I get to take a break from everything, including being a Cat Mom. I tell Chuck and Barry this every week – I tell them it’s Mommy’s Alone Time, and to go do something somewhere else.

But do they listen to me? Of course not.

As The Fosters begins, Barry decides that it’s time to be overly affectionate and show me how much he really loves me. He plops down on my lap, gives me The Eyes, and starts making some bread. All I want to do is watch my show, but Barry’s so cute that I end up practically forgetting the show is on and petting him instead.

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9:30 pm 

I’ve just emerged from my shower and I enter my bedroom. Chuckie had previously been sleeping on the floor, but when I enter he wakes up and IMMEDIATELY he starts yelling at me. “Meow! Meow meow! Meow meow meow meow meow! Meow! Meow!! Meow!!! Meow meow meow meow meow meow!” He meows so fast that I don’t know what he’s even trying to tell me.

But I do know that he wants pats, so I sit on my bed, still soaking wet in a towel, and I pet him for a good ten minutes. I finally get up to get into some pajamas. “Meow meow meow!!!” Chuckie says. I sit back down and pet him some more.

11:00 pm

I’m reading right before bed, and Chuck and Barry are both sleeping on the floor in my room. I’m a happy cat mom and I go to sleep.

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An Open Letter to the Roommates Watching my Cats this Weekend

My dear three roommates,

As I prepare for my weekend trip to visit friends in New York City (more than 48 hours that I will be away from our home), I feel one emotion plaguing me: anxiety. And this anxiety exists because I will be leaving you, my dear roommates, with the most important responsibility: making sure that my cats do not die.

For the nine months that I have had Chuck and Barry, I have been the sole caretaker for them. I’m not complaining about this, but just laying it out as fact: I have been the one to feed them wet and dry food every day, give them water, clean their litter box daily, take them to the vet, bring Barry to the emergency room when he was injured, buy them toys and food and scratching posts and collars and litter, brush them, pet them. That is a responsibility that I have taken on for myself, because the cats are mine and will continue to be mine when we move out.

HOWEVER, since I have been the one to do 99.9% of the caretaking (besides for the pets that you all administer and the one or two times you fed the cats when I asked you to), it leaves me a little anxious at your ability to care for the cats. Look, I know you guys are busy with jobs, schoolwork, relationships and friends, so maybe it’ll be easy to walk by an empty water bowl and not let it register that it needs to be filled by you; it will be easy to forget to give the cats their daily wet food, because “that’s Sarah’s job, not mine”; maybe it will be easy to forget that the litter boxes are overflowing, that they need to be done every day.

What I’m saying is: taking care of the cats has always been my job and my responsibility, not yours. You don’t have to think about it every day and remember to do it. So here I am, a little bit worried that you will inevitably forget. Because I love Chuckie and Barry so much, their happiness and health is my number one priority, and I’m afraid to leave it to people who have never taken care of them before.

I know I’m overreacting and that, between the three of you at least, someone will remember to feed and water the cats. However, please excuse me as I incessantly text our group chat to make sure that somebody has, indeed, remembered to do the litter boxes; please excuse me as I ask for pictures and to FaceTime; please excuse me as I ask if they miss me or are getting enough attention.

And please, whatever you do, just feed my cats. They’re too cute to let wither away.

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Love,

Sarah

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36 Times Chuck and Barry Made Me Smile

The short answer is literally all of the time, but Chuck and Barry both have such unique, adorable quirks that leave me happier than a clam. Here’s some of the things Chuck and Barry have done to make me smile:

1. The first time they snuggled with me

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It took awhile for Chuck and Barry to come around to me, and I didn’t want to pressure them. A day after I brought them home, they finally came over for cuddles, and I couldn’t have been happier!

2. Their first vet visit 

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Look how good they’re being in their cage! Not picture is the incessant crying on the drive over, but that was more adorable than annoying if anything.

3. The first time Chuck laid on my chest

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I had no idea the amount of love I was in store for, but I couldn’t have been happier than when he insisted on laying on my chest.

4. When Chuckie stood up

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Look at him!! That belly! Those awkward hands! And a sleeping Barry! Too cute, I couldn’t help but smile.

5. When Barry got stuck in the couch because he was playing too hard

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He’s so silly!

6. Snuggling with Chuck and Barry

Chuck and Barry love to snuggle up in bed with me, and it makes me disgustingly happy every single time.

7. Spooning with Barry

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Even better, whenever I’m laying on my side, Barry comes and nuzzles himself right against my stomach, so that we are essentially spooning. What cat does this?! I’m not smiling in this picture, but I am very, very happy.

8. Halloween

My little bumble bee and hot dog couldn’t have looked any cuter on Halloween! I debated about whether or not to buy them Halloween costumes, and I’m so happy I did! Although I only left the costumes on for a few minutes because they both hated them.

9. When Chuckie grabs my hand 

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Sometimes I am administering belly rubs, Chuckie likes to take a hold of my hand and hold on to it. Why? I don’t know. But it makes me smile every time.

10. Whenever they sit in bizarre ways 

I get that they’re trying to show off their fluffy tummies, but what in the world is Chuck’s pose?! And can Barry possibly be comfortable sitting like that?

11. When Chuck chewed the pen

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This picture of Chuck is literally my Facebook cover photo.

12. Box play time!!!

Chuck and Barry, like all cats, LOVE boxes, and they look so darn cute when they’re sitting in them!

13. The time they disappeared, and I found them snuggling like this on a chair

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They’re too close as brothers, but it’s adorable.

14. When I found Chuck gently resting his paw on Barry’s shoulder

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Again, very close brothers, but so cute. I smile and smile.

15. When they groom each other 

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Thankfully, they are so close that they keep each other from being dirty or smelly. So cute.

16. Whenever Chuck and Barry look for birds out the window

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I can’t help but smile every time I find Chuck or Barry looking out the window. The smile grows wider when they start chirping because they spotted some!

17. When Chuck sat in the dog’s cage

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All the dog wants is to get out of that cage, but Chuck just wants to lay in it! When I first saw this, I laughed and asked him if he wanted to be locked up in there. Unlike other cats, Chuck and Barry are totally cool with cages, including their own cat carrier. If I leave it out, they even play with it!

18. Every time they sleep and look so cute!

How do those two cute little faces not make you break out into a smile?!

19. When Chuckie got in the bag!!!

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One of my FAVORITE Chuck moments and one of the cutest things I ever saw, I was smiling for hours on the night that Chuck climbed into this green Toys R Us bag.

20. Barry’s tongue 

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Barry always has his tongue hanging out when he’s sleeping, and it always makes me smile

21. Barry during his injury

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Don’t get me wrong, when Barry had the build-up of fluid in his knee, I was an emotional wreck. However, I managed to smile as he continued to shower me with affection even through the pain, and the smile on my face got wider every day as I realized he was getting better!

22. When Barry stared at the wall 

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Shortly after recovering from his injury, Barry spent three nights in a row sitting on my pillow and staring at the wall in the dark. Was there a ghostie? A mousie in the wall? Was it the buprenorphine wearing off? Not sure. But it was hilarious and I couldn’t sleep because I was so amused.

23. Tucked-in kitties!

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Enough said!

24. Whenever Chuck plops down and strikes a pose

Chuck is a natural-born model. He knows just how cute he is, and he wants to make sure that everybody knows it, so he’s always striking a pose somewhere!

25. The time their bodies formed the shape of a heart

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Isn’t this just such a beautiful sight?!

26. Loaf cat!!

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Barry is such a good little loaf cat.

27. When they get super excited because I’m about to feed them!

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Not pictures: the bowl of wet food that Chuck is desperately trying to get his greedy little paws on!

28. When Barry climbed into the laundry basket

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What are you doing, you silly kitty?!

29. The one time I walked into my room and found them both waiting for me like this:

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Really, just sitting there, heads cocked, looking at me…waiting to get petted and photographed!

30. When Barry was playing under the doormat

I think he thinks he’s hiding. He really thinks nobody can see him. Sure, Barry.

31. Chuckie waking me up every morning

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A squeaky meow, Chuck’s face in my face, that’s how I’m often woken up early in the morning. It doesn’t even bother me. I smile.

32. When Chuck and Barry wait for me when I’m outside

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I love when they sit at the door and wait for me to come back in (except for when I have to shoo them away so they don’t run outside).

33. Everytime Barry lays on me

Barry is the ultimate snuggler. Whether I’m sitting on the couch or laying in bed, he has to make sure he’s as close to me as possible (and I’m not complaining). Sometimes he even lays on my back when I’m sleeping at night. And it makes me super happy to have my companion around.

34. When Chuck watches over us

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Since he’s a little shyer, Chuck doesn’t like to join big groups of people in the living room and dining room, so he’ll keep watch over us from the staircase. I always break out in a smile when I look over and see his little face peeking at us!

35. Our Valentine’s Day dinner together!

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They’re eating a little bit of sashimi, and a lot of wet food!

36. All day, every day

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My two little babies have me smiling all day every day!

Comment and let me know what your kitty cats do that keeps you smiling!!

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Christmas Break at Grandma’s

The best part about college is the month-long winter breaks where students can travel back home and spend the holidays in peace and relaxation with their family.

Or, in my case, I loaded Chuck and Barry up into their carrier and listened to them cry and meow nonstop for two hours on the drive from the City of Brotherly Love to my mom’s house up in the mountains. Once there, I reacquainted them with their grandmother (my mother), and introduced them to their great-grandmother (my grandmother, also known as Baba) and to their long-lost furry siblings!

The Siblings

IMG_1040.jpgNaruto and May May are the king and queen of my mom’s house. Naruto is about ten years old and we adopted him from the shelter when he was a kitten. He was a small little thing at the time: snow white, bright blue eyes, and a pleading meow to come home with us that just wouldn’t stop! Many years later, Naruto is a huge, fat cat. My mom always claims that she’s putting him on a diet, but he honestly looks bigger every time I come home for a break. It doesn’t help that Baba sneaks him treats anyway.

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May is probably around fifteen. I got her when I was just a little girl, unsure what I was doing with cats. I used to lock her in the bathroom with me and dress her up in my dolls’ clothes. It’s safe to say that for a few years afterwards, she did not like people, especially me. Now she has warmed up a little bit, and she’s a cuddly little love bug when she wants to be.

I was nervous to introduce Chuck and Barry to Naruto and May. Chuck and Barry, at only six months, are rambunctious and playful. Naruto and May (not to be rude, of course) are well past their prime, and they prefer laying on the back of the chair over full contact wrestling.

IMG_1139.jpgThe Introduction

When Chuck, Barry, and I finally made it to my mom’s house, I brought the cat carrier into the living room and opened the door. Immediately, every cat in the house was on alert. Ears back, crouched low to the ground. Naruto watched from a distance and May ran from the room. Chuck and Barry sat in the carrier for a while, terrified. Finally, Chuckie started venturing out and exploring the house while an irritated Naruto watched on. Barry didn’t leave the cage for over an hour.

The cats all casted a lot of wary glances at each other. Occasionally, there was some hissing or running, but nobody attempted to kill each other!

Chuck and Barry Fall in Love

I don’t think that Chuck and Barry have ever been around another female cat, besides their mother and any female cats in the litter they were born with.

I’ve heard of female cats in heat announcing that they are ready to mate, but I had no idea that male cats make the same noises! So when Chuck and Barry started howling, my mom and I were confused — what are these strange noises coming from these two male cats? Why are they doing that?

Well, apparently, when a male cat is around a female cat, usually one in heat, they start howling to announce their presence to the frisky females. May is spayed, but Chuck and Barry aren’t (yet!), so that set off their little kitty hormones and they were going crazy! Therefore, they made noises that sound like a mix between speaking, howling, and meowing (just like the cat in this video).

Fortunately for May, Chuck and Barry were still too shy and scared of her to try and do anything besides gaze across the room. Thankfully, they never made those sounds before, and as soon as we got home to Philadelphia, they stopped.

Brotherly Love

My mom was really hoping that Naruto would warm up to Barry and Chuck and play with them. She said that Naruto needed somebody to play with, and also, that he could stand to burn a few calories.

Unfortunately, it was not to be a vacation full of bonding.

The good news is that Naruto finally stopped hissing and swatting at them whenever they came around! It was progress. Maybe by Easter break they’ll start playing together.

Grandma’s Love

My mom adored Chuck and Barry. Of course, she is the cat lady that raised me!

img_1727IMG_1710.jpgAnd of course, Grandma has to spoil her grandchildren. They got wet food for breakfast every day, a lot of treats, lots of playing time, and more cuddle than they could deal with! For Christmas, they got a lot of toys and a big IMG_1719.jpgfun tent to play in. Of course, they found their own toys to play with (or should I say in), too!

IMG_1863.jpgMy mom also gave Barry and Chuck some nicknames. She nicknamed Barry “Einstein” because of how quickly he learned how to play fetch with a tin foil ball (he really loved fetch). He even helped Grandma do laundry!

My mom nicknamed Chuck “Marilyn” after Marilyn Monroe. Although beautiful and dainty, Chuckie does not possess the same quick wit as Barry and did not pick-up any new tricks.

Christmas break at Grandma’s was a great time for Chuck and Barry! They got lots of love, affection, and treats — I know they’re already missing their grandma and kitty siblings!

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Why it’s Worth it to Have Two Cats Instead of One

When I moved into my new house and I was ready to get a cat, I had it in my mind that I was going to get one female kitten. I thought that would be the best option for me because one cat would be easier and I figured a little girl would be less trouble. However, when I met Chuck and Barry, I couldn’t resist the both of them, so I ended up with something completely different than anticipated: two boys.

Two cats means double of everything. Double the vet bills, double the cat litter and food and collars and Frontline Plus that needs to be bought. However, if you’re in a financial situation where you could afford two cats, I would suggest that you go for it.

I really think humans evolved with two arms so that we could pet two cats at once.

Along with double the price tags, two cats come with double the cuddles, double the love, and double the desperate meows for attention. When you have two cats instead of one, there’s double the chance that there’s a kitty around looking to be petted.

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If you look forward to the attention of your feline friend, just imagine how much more you’ll be getting when there’s two of them!

When I’m not home, my cats have each other – they’re each other’s best friend.

As a college student, sometimes I have to be gone all day between class, work, and extracurricular meetings. I try my best to be home and give as much attention to my kittens that I can, but sometimes I can’t always be there. Fortunately, since I have two of them, I know they’ll never be lonely.

Almost as happy as it makes me to know that my cats love me, it makes me just as happy to know that they love and have each other. They sleep together, play together, wrestle together, go everywhere together.

It’s fun to use the cat toy and play with both of them. It’s hilarious to watch them wrestle each other – and take bets with your roommates on who’s going to win (for what it’s worth, Chuck and Barry are both equally excellent wrestlers).

You get to watch two cats grow up into their own personalities. They’re so similar in some ways, but they’re both so different, too. When I wake up in the morning, I know that Barry is going to be the one laying by my feet and Chuck is going to be the one meowing in my face. It makes me feel proud that I can tell the difference between their meows even when I’m in another room.

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Ultimately, having two cats is double the cuteness.

If I had to do it again, I would do the same exact thing. I’m happy with my situation – and I do think that Chuck and Barry are happy kitties, too. What do you think? Is having two cats beneficial and worth it for you?

 

If you would like to continue reading about what it takes to have multiple cats, check out Catster and Petfinder.

 

 

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How do I Communicate with my Cats?

I recently stumbled upon this post from the Way of Cats Blog, and it got me thinking about the connections that I have with my cats. I love this post because it gives me more insight into the way that my cats are communicating with me.

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I have very verbal kittens, and I am gradually learning what each of their meows mean. I can almost even tell the two of them apart. I know when Chuck is waking me up in the middle of the night to get pet, or when Barry is just absolutely starving for attention. I know Chuck’s little meow of approval when he’s getting petted right.

But there’s so many other meows that I have yet to understand! Why are they in the kitchen, alone, meowing? Why is Chuck crying so loudly when I am in the shower?

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Pamela Merritt highlights body language and actions as a very huge part of the way that cats communicate. For me, body language and actions are even harder for me to figure out. I still don’t know what my cats want when they jump on the table. If there’s food on there, I get that. If there’s a plastic bag, I understand that they’re on the table to play with it. But sometimes there’s nothing up there. Are they up there because they want to be climb up high? Do they want my attention, thus misbehaving so that I have to pay attention to them? Have they simply just not learned yet that I don’t want them up there? Is it just a coincidence?

I want to be a great cat mom, but sometimes it’s so hard! When your children can’t actually communicate with you, it’s up to you to figure things out. When your children are another species, that makes it even more difficult.

I’m definitely going to be using this article to help improve my communication with my cats. As a loving, doting, overbearing mother, I want to give them everything they could ever want.