I’d like you guys to meet the newest member of our household:

This is the kitty formerly known as Taiga, although we have yet to rename him. The top contender, almost unwittingly, is the name Bola, which means “ball” in Portuguese. Gabe and his nieces still talk about the Chow puppy named Bola that they met in Cascais, and how it was the perfect name because he was a ball of fur. After we first met this kitty on Wednesday night, I was trying to think of his name, Taiga, and out came “Bola” instead (must be the “ah” ending.) So far that has stuck, despite our original intentions to name our future kitty Sushi. Some things are really not up to us.

In fact the entire decision of getting this particular cat was not really up to us. As my friend pointed out the other day, it never really feels like we own cats, but rather the inverse. This relationship is no exception.

We started our search for a cat about a month ago, fully intending to get a mature cat, as we (read: I) didn’t feel like dealing with the kitten crazies. As you can see from the picture, that plan worked out really well.

We thought we’d found a cat through Craig’s List a few weeks ago, but as can happen with a system based on trust, the owner backed out at the last minute, saying they’d decided not to give up their cat after all. Much disappointed, we resumed the search this week, and went to an adoption fair to see a kitten I’d spotted online. By this point, we’d decided that unless we knew the home they were coming from, older shelter cats would bring too much baggage with them. So we’d widened our search to include older kittens.

So. Adoption fair. We weren’t well impressed with the kitten we’d come to see, who was so freaked out he was almost comatose, and didn’t engage with either of us. Gabe of course fell in love with a very dog-like fluffy black kitten, but I was less excited about his habit of biting fingers. Just as we were getting ready to go, the lady said, “Oh let me pull out one more for you,” and went to a cage on the side that we hadn’t seen.

As soon as she did so, I had a suspicion that I was sunk. The cat she pulled out was beautiful, a ball of silvery gray fluff, with huge paws and a long feathery tail drifting behind. She put him on my lap, and I was immediately impressed by how alert he was: not afraid or hyperactive like the other two kittens were, just watchful, keeping a big yellow eye on everything from kids to gerbils to huge German Shepherds. I was still holding out some last defenses, however, until he decided it was OK to fully relax. He wrapped himself all the way around my waist, tucked his head into my elbow, and said, quite firmly, “You’re mine.” Indeed, I was doomed.

Yesterday afternoon, Gabe IMed me to say, “What do you think about the cat? I think we should get him. I think we should pick him up tonight.” Whoa, I said. Whoa! Really?! Are we ready for this?! I mean, it takes me two weeks just to decide if I want to keep a pair of jeans that I’ve bought. This is a cat, which we will have for his whole life. I don’t want to rush into anything, you know? (Never mind the fact that we’d been looking for nearly a month, and talking about this particular cat for 24 hours. This is about as impulsive as Gabe and I get.)

So off we went to pick up our kitty, who is still temporarily nameless. He’s only been here for twelve hours, but already he owns the place. By the time we got home, he was purring away in the car, and by the time we went to bed two hours later, he’d already checked out the whole house and was ready to pass out next to me on the bed. Our last cat, a foster for some friends of friends, took a week to even come out from under the bed, and two more to explore the whole house. This cat is fearless in comparison, and hugely friendly, purring at the slightest touch from either one of us. I get the feeling he’s been starved of human affection, having spent most of his young life in a shelter.

During that same twelve hours, I have already asked myself (and Gabe) “Why did we get a kitten again?” For one thing, it does make it a little difficult to sleep when someone’s jumping on your head every other hour or so. But I only half mean it, because I know exactly why: