08 February 2009

Fur Daughters: Athena and Gaia

I've always had an obsession with cats, and late into my senior year of high school I happened to discover a new breed that fascinated me: bengal cats! What could be better than an outgoing cat that looks wild but acts domestic? I was totally sold.

But then I moved to Manhattan to attend NYU, survived 9/11, and decided (for many reasons that I won't get into) that I needed to get FAR away from home. My first thought was to go abroad, and to this day I'm really not sure why I didn't. Ultimately, I ended up in the middle of Minnesota, as one of only 7 transfer students at Carleton College, having never before visited the college or the state. What an adventure!

At this point I'm going to skip over a lot of history. Ultimately what you should know is in May of 2003 I drove over 1000 miles and returned with a 7 week old, furry little being I named Athena.

Chad conveniently failed to mention to his parents until I was, oh, about 20 minutes from this house, that not only was I coming to live with them for the summer, but I was bringing along a furry little intruder. After a couple of bumps, Athena settled in fine and became the best cat anyone could ever ask for. She took easily to walking on a leash, learned how to sit, stay, and beg (for food), and is just generally a sweetheart of a cat...with just enough naughtiness to keep us on our toes. She's been everywhere with us, and is quite simply awesome.

Athena is a brown spotted F5 bengal cat. She was purchased as a show alter but decided after her first cat show that she wasn't cut out for the show hall. At nearly 6 years old she weighs about 12 pounds and will eat *almost* anything. Her favourite pastimes are playing in the bathtub (she loves water), playing with strings, and taking walks outside. I know it sounds odd, but she even smells good. Athena was supposed to be MY cat, but decided she usually prefers Chad. Really, she likes everyone though, so that's fine with me. My Athena-teena-beena even joins me under the covers after her morning meal to snuggle. She is probably the most well adjusted cat I've ever met, and I truly don't know what we'd ever do without her.

Then along came Gaia the F3 savannah cat. Gaia was supposed to be Chad's cat, but decided she'd prefer to me my cat. For the longest time she wouldn't go near anyone else. She bonded to me and to Athena, and that was the way life was supposed to be. Though she is actually 2 weeks older than Athena, Gaia came to us at 5 months old, and it took many years and thousands of hours to get her to come out of her shell. Over the years we also discovered that she had several food allergies. Within days of changing her food, she became a totally different cat, and has only continued to improve with years.

Gaia has a very sensitive soul and loves to be scratched on her nose and chin. Also 6 years old, she weighs 10 pounds and is very tall and lean. In the last few years she's decided that taking long walks outside on a leash is great fun, but riding on the back of mom's shoulders is even MORE fun. I really should get a picture of that. In the meantime, here she is being sweet.

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