Natural Selections

Pets of Tri-I

Pooja Viswanathan

For this issue, I interview Maggi, the cat who lives with Priyanka Lakhiani (Graduate Student, The Rockefeller University) and her roommates. I caught sight of Maggi during a virtual meeting as she bathed herself gloriously while carefully listening to the ongoing discussion. She paused every once in a while as if she were about to contribute a thought, but decided otherwise. Naturally, I wanted to be friends with Maggi instantly.

Pooja Viswanathan: How old are you? In human years?

Maggi: Not totally sure. My last owners abandoned me and the vet who saw me after I was rescued said I was probably about 2 or 3 years old, or older with impeccable dental hygiene! I like to think I’m older.

PV: Is there a story behind your name?

M: The previous name on my microchip was Mamacita, which my mom thought was a ridiculous name for a cat, so she named me after her favorite brand of Indian instant noodles, which is definitely not as ridiculous.

PV: I have to agree with that. How did you first meet your mom?

M: We met in the bathroom of my foster home in Brooklyn. My foster parents were very nice but their cat kind of hated me so I’m glad to live in my own home now.

PV: What is your first memory?

M: Not a clue, but I like to think I wasn’t truly alive until I ate some salami.

PV: Where do you live?

M: I live in Faculty House with my mom, our human roommates, and their plants (that I nibble on occasionally…)

PV: What are your favorite smells of NYC?

M: I haven’t been outside very much since I was rescued, but I can smell salami from across my apartment!

PV: What are your favorite neighborhoods in NYC?

M: I’ve lived in three boroughs so far, but I like the Upper East Side most because all my toys are here.

PV: If you could live anywhere else in the world, where would you live?

M: Sometimes I Skype my human grandma in Mumbai. She seems like a very nice lady who would give me lots of treats so maybe I would move there.

PV: What are your favorite foods?

M: Unlike most cats, I’m actually an omnivore! I might even eat more cat grass than my mom eats vegetables.

PV: What is your favorite weekend activity in NYC?

M: I like screaming at birds outside the window. I hope they’re terrified of me! I also like practicing tricks with my mom. High-fiving is so easy, and I get so many treats!

PV: Besides your mom, who is your favorite human in the Tri-I community?

M: Charlie, one of the maintenance staff in Faculty House, always gives me pets when he stops by! I don’t like leaks, but I love hanging out with him!

PV: Do you have a funny story to share with us?

M: A few months ago, my mom tried training me to wear a harness so we could go on walks. We would go on short trips outside the apartment. I hated it so much that I gave myself a urinary disease and my mom had to take me to the vet. I hate the vet, but I never had to wear the harness again!

PV: Is there some way we can see more pictures of you on the interwebs?

M: Apparently I’m too young for social media but you can find lots of (consensual) pictures of me on my mom’s Instagram!

PV: If you could have any human ability, what would it be?

M: I wish I could open the fridge door to steal salami.

PV: What do you miss the most about pre-COVID times?

M: Nothing!! All my human roommates have so much more time to spoil me now.

PV: How have you helped your mom get through these times?

M: I’ve been sleeping on my mom’s neck to keep her company. I think she feels very comforted, and not suffocated at all!!