In a recent post, I talked about how Snowy is an only child and we intend for her to stay that way.

But this isn’t exactly true, because Snowy does have a very beloved “big sister,” our cat, Allie.

I grew up always having pets. I got my beloved dog, Wishbone, for my 5th birthday, and he lived until my junior year of college. We always had barn cats, along with horses and, for a little while, rabbits. So I’ve wanted a pet for a very long time.

But my life became a far cry from the farm I grew up on, and for the first two years of Snowy’s life we lived in an apartment that did not allow pets, putting our pet-ownership dreams on hold. Besides, pet ownership is a lot of work, and we were busy balancing a young child, graduate school, and my yet-to-be-diagnosed chronic illnesses.

In late October of 2016, Mr. S and I had graduated from grad school, Snowy was 2.5, and we lived in a pet-friendly apartment. We had already decided we only wanted one human child, but it seemed the right time to add a furry “kid.” The timing was fortuitous: someone from our church who rescued large dogs needed to rehome a cat she rescued because it was not safe with the dogs.

Allie was between 6 and 7 when we got her, so she’s between 8 and 9 now. She’s a great old girl. She’s not playful much, prefers to just curl up somewhere, but she’s been a great first pet for Snowy. She is so tolerant and calm, and has helped Snowy learn how to be kind to animals and take care of them (though I obviously still do most of the work; Snowy helps).

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Now that we’ve had Allie for two years and are living in a house, getting another pet has been on my mind for a while. We were living with my husband’s sister, who had a dog and a cat, and when they moved, Allie spent days mewing around the house, looking for them.

We talked about getting a dog, but dogs are a lot more work than cats, and my illnesses can be volatile. Walking a large dog, for instance, could be hard on my joints. As experienced cat owners, we know we can handle taking care of them as two working adults with a 5-year-old. And since we are on different schedules, there is often someone home with them.

Last weekend was $5 cat adoption weekend at the shelter. We discussed it with each other and with my mother-in-law, whom we are living with, and decided we would get Snowy a cat for Christmas. Even though the cat was to be Snowy’s Christmas present–mainly to avoid getting more clutter right before her birthday!, we understand that cats are lifetime commitments, and we would never get a pet if we weren’t fully committed to taking care of it their whole life. The cats are definitely just as much for me as for Snowy, and I know I will be doing most of the care.

Mr. S and I went to the shelter while Snowy was at her grandparents’. We didn’t want to let her down if we couldn’t find a good match, so we decided to surprise her with it.

We got to the shelter and told them what we were looking for: an adult cat who was younger than 3 or so (so it will hopefully outlive Allie as she gets on in years), who was very good with other cats and kids. They took us to the free-roaming cat room, where the cats that get along best with other cats and kids were, and pointed a few out. The first cat they introduced me to didn’t really warm up to me and didn’t seem like a match. But then they told me about Plymouth, a 9-month-old who loved to play. He was all curled up in a chair with one of the cats he came in with, 1-year-old Cranberry, a lazy little grey kitty who came in with half her back shaved. We were told either would be a good match for us, but they were cuddling! I couldn’t just get one!

And that’s how these two little lovebugs came into our lives. Mr. S and I have wanted to have pets named Barnes and Noble since we were dating 8+ years ago, but Snowy had some name opinions too. Snowy wanted to name this sweet little grey girl Whiskers, so she is now Noble Whiskers. And this is her “brother,” Muffins Barnes on the right.

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Snowy loved her early “Christmas presents,” and I told her Santa was at the shelter and helped us pick them out. I am helping her be responsible for them and having her help with their care, helping give them food and water (with my reminders) and helping me with the litter box.

They settled into our family extremely nicely. Allie took to them right away. My husband isn’t a huge cat person, but he secretly loves them, and he is definitely Noble’s person. She spends most of the day curled up in the recliner in his home office. Barnes is much more of the explorer, and he is definitely still kitten-like: he loves to play! But they’re both super cuddly.

I’m so happy about these new additions to our family, and that two wonderful shelter cats could have their forever home in time for Christmas.