For this issue, Natural Selections interviews House and Kima, the forever kittens who live with me (Freiwald lab, the Rockefeller University), and sometimes, with my partner, Scott Rennie.
Pooja Viswanathan: How old are you? In human years?
Kima: We don’t know exactly, but the humans guess about 1 in human years. In cat years, we are teenagers.
PV: What are the names we gave you?
House: My name is Gregory Mouser House, MD. I was named after a very important and smart doctor that I remind my humans of.
K: My name is Kima Lima Greggs. I was named after a fictional character in the Wire, a TV show my humans like.
PV: What is your first memory?
H: I wasn’t feeling well, I was very sick. The humans who found me looked very concerned, but they were talking about youth in Asia.
K: I remember a shop window and humans brought me inside that shop. You told me it was the Petco at Lexington and 86th.
PV: Do you remember when we first met?
H: We met on a Saturday afternoon. I was sleepy, but I was also hungry, so I was falling asleep with my head buried in the food bowl. Scott decided right away that I was going to be your kitten.
K: I was meowing with my older cat friends in my foster home when you and Scott came to visit. You had already decided to adopt me, so I knew you wouldn’t mind me pooping in front of you.
PV: What did you think of each other when you first met?
H: I thought she was a great playmate to have in my apartment. We wanted to play together instantly.
K: Hated him. Maybe you don’t remember, but he used to be smelly, and acted like he owned the place.
PV: Where do you live?
K: We live with you! In Scholar’s residence. Sometimes we live in Philadelphia with Scott. Scott is a postdoc at UPenn.
PV: If you could live anywhere else in the world, where would you live?
K: Anywhere that both of our humans could live together. With any other animals we might grow to tolerate.
H: Where there are lots of things to hunt.
PV: What are your favorite foods?
K: House will try anything once, even things that never moved like carrots or avocadoes.
H: Kima’s favorite food is whatever’s on my dish. She hates tuna though. Don’t try to give her tuna.
PV: What is your favorite weekend activity?
H: I like to chase Kima around.
K: I like quiet time to myself.
PV: Besides us, who is your favorite human in the Tri-I community?
K: Natalie is very sweet. She lives with us and feeds us when you’re gone.
H: Natalie, Sofia, Tara, Margie, Liz, Vero, Madi, and Ceren are a few I can think of right away.
PV: Do you have a funny story to share with us?
H: One time we went somewhere and came back with cones around our heads. It was fun to try to get them off. Kima looked so funny.
K: That wasn’t funny at all. You know what’s funny? Every time the humans flush the toilet, House thinks it’s a great big monster. He runs to the farthest corner of the apartment.
PV: Is there some way others can see more pictures of you online?
K: Yes, you have an Instagram account @majorpooper where you upload pictures and videos of us.
PV: If you could have any human ability, what would it be?
H: I have all human abilities.
K: I wish I could close the door on House whenever I wanted.