I have several milestones to celebrate this month, the first one being the third adoptiversary of my two senior housemates Lolita and Cherry. It’s not even an official word, but it means the world to me and has made such a huge difference in my life. Three years ago these two little lost, confused and traumatised senior cats entered my home and found a permanent spot in my heart, and we embarked on the most transformative journey together.
Flashback: here they are on their first day in their forever home, adopted two weeks apart because Lolita was still recovering from her second tumour removal:
Many of you have followed the lives of these two adorable senior Persians that came to me as palliative adoptions, Cherry with her PTSD and depression, and Lolita as a cancer survivor and feline dementia. They had to be adopted together but the shelter couldn’t tell me much about their past, only that they were severely neglected and traumatised. Cherry was anti-social, distant and suspicious of everything, unable to accept displays of affection or understand acts of kindness. Lolita hid under the bed for two weeks, emerging only under the cover of darkness for food and potty.
Three years later, Cherry is the house nanny, the Commander-in-Chief who shadows everyone, keeps us all company, and is perfectly capable of dishing out as much affection as she receives. She demands her cuddle time, can be a bossy grumpy sassy pants with a bitchy streak, but also a very elegant and serene beauty who will patiently pose for the camera like an old pro. I am convinced that she was a ballerina in her past life, since she always stands with her paws in one of the five ballet feet positions. A stickler for routine and order, she doesn’t like too much digression, but is also extremely curious about anything and everything, especially if it involves food. She is my most faithful writing companion.
Lolita, or Oma Loli as we call her, has found her voice and courage to demand her cuddles and treats, sits patiently for her meals on the dot, and purrs louder than a car engine when happy. She had good days and bad days when it comes to her dementia, but she hasn’t reached the stage of incontinence yet, so I think we are still in a good place. As her character develops and emerges, I firmly believe she was a former movie star from the golden age of Babelsberg cinema in a past life, living in a world of fantasy and drama, cinematography, glamour and pizzaz. It follows, therefore, that Oma Loli is the perfect muse and my photography companion, even though she constantly struggles to stay awake.
Sometimes the two will switch roles, especially if I choose to write deep into the night, Oma Loli will be the one snoozing next to the laptop as I hack away. Cherry has taken an interest in my recent still life photography, particularly with the food ikebana, sniffing away at the props and sometimes tasting them.
The most significant development in the past year, however, is that these two have transcended barriers and finally figured out that they can team up and actually do things together. They are far from being best friends, but they are curiously attached to one another through some mysterious golden thread. They share the same routine, but most importantly they look out for one another. Cherry has figured out that Oma Loli can be a bit spaced out (that’s putting it mildly) and be every so clumsy or confused. Cherry watches her like a hawk until the venerable senior citizen settles down and is snoring contentedly.
Whereas I used to chase after them for a shot individually, these days I can easily catch them in a single adorable frame, which is huge progress. They are each other’s soulmate, even though they may not be overtly affectionate.
I couldn’t possibly ask for more adorable companions, housemates, and emotional support animals. They are not pets, we are family.