I acquired my cats at a time in my life when many seem to: singledom. I got Tito and Lolita from New York Animal Care and Control two years apart, each after a relationship I should probably never have been in. I've always had a mighty love of animals so in my case it didn't feel impulsive; in fact, adopting cats felt like a fine way to get over misguided relationships. (Good thing I only had two.) Tito was named for Tito Puente, the Latin jazz sensation, who, like my Tito, also hailed from Spanish Harlem. Lolita was named for my favorite book.
Can I take a moment here to say how great their names are? Tito and Lolita. They could be a band or a fancy baby boutique; an Etsy business that sells homemade bonbons. Even their celebrity name is fantastic: Ti-Lo. With names like theirs they were destined to go down in history alongside Fred and Ginger, Han and Leia, Bonnie and Clyde.
I'd only had two cats before Tito: Pearl and Joon. Pearl was given to me for my fourth birthday by my best friend. The poor cat was six months old and had clearly already been traumatized, which was not helped by my trying to put doll clothes on her. Pearl didn't like me much. My parents got Joon the summer after my freshman year of college. While she was intended for me, Joon was their cat; for practical reasons, all ten years of her life, she lived with them. Along with Bad Boy Bland, my Texas grandmother's Texas cat, who cornered our family behind furniture on numerous occasions, the cats in my life were skittish and unpredictable, so I was pleasantly surprised to find Tito a gregarious and sweet little guy (though I would learn from several houseguests that he wasn't so with everyone). He had a tendency to follow me around like a dog - as much as he could, anyway, in our tiny apartment. For two years we had a great life going. He did everything you want your cat to do. He cuddled up with me at night, warmed my lap when I wrote, and even caught a few Brooklyn mice for me. But I started feeling guilty when I'd leave for work. Tito would watch me from the window just like I used to watch my dad leave for work when I was the only child. I decided that Tito needed a friend.