Catroductions: Houdini

And completing the introduction of each of our kittens individually, I’d like to introduce you all to Houdini.

Houdini is the reason we have three kittens instead of two.

We went to the adoption event of our friends who do fostering, with the full intention of adopting two kittens. In fact, other friends who knew we were adopting had suggested that we get three — a suggestion we scoffed at as absurdly impractical on the face of it. And the obvious, logical choice for two kittens was the two silver tabby litter-mates.

But I saw the tortoiseshell, and our eyes met across a crowded room, and the love music from “Star Trek” began playing in the background, and I said to Ingrid, “We have to get the tortoiseshell.”

“Well, we can’t split up the silver tabbies,” she said reasonably.

“Then I guess we’re getting three.”

It’s hard to put into words what it is about Houdini. She has that mysterious, Mona Lisa quality that some cats have: the deep, pensive look that makes her seem as if she has the wisdom of the ages behind her eyes. I realize this is bunk, that what she has behind her eyes is a walnut-sized brain and what’s in it is almost certainly “Bzzzzzzzzzz.” I don’t care.

I think part of it is that she’s more shy and skittish than the two kittens. She’s friendly and playful, but she’s more reserved and remote than Team Tabby, and she’s much more prone to jump at loud sounds and hide under the furniture at terrifying events like the grocery delivery. So when she snuggles or plays, when she settles on your lap or burrows under the covers with you, it feels special. Like she’s taken careful stock of your character, and has decided to trust you.

Which is bunk. Because a sober evaluation reveals her to be rather a tramp. Once she’s past her “jumping at strangers walking in the door” thing, she will snuggle with just about anything with a pulse. And she manages to do this and still seem dignified and mysterious. She totally has us snowed.

She is also unbelievably sweet with the littler kittens. It can’t be easy, being a relatively sedate five-and-a-half-month-old living with two thirteen-week-old boingers. But she loves to snuggle with them, and puts up with them stepping on her face and lying on top of her and following her around everywhere. It’s almost maternal, although the dynamic often seems more like that of a fourteen-year-old teenager with two ten-year-olds: rolling her eyes at their shenanigans, getting annoyed when they get in her face, but basking in their admiration (the tabbies ADORE Houdini, and Comet is particularly smitten), and occasionally forgetting herself and joining in the fun. And while she’s nowhere near as boingy and energetic as Talisker and Comet (hell, the Hoover Dam power plant isn’t as energetic as Comet), she does love a good round of Chase the Dangly Toy.

The explanation of the name: She’s named after Harry Houdini, obviously. Partly because she’s all mysterious and stuff. Also she’s good at escaping, even if it’s just from the grocery delivery. And we love that Houdini (the magician, not the cat) was a skeptic and debunker of fraudulent spiritualists: in fact, he began the fine tradition of stage magicians becoming skeptics and debunkers of fraudulent spiritualists. We had to have at least one cat named after an atheist or skeptical icon, and Houdini was it.

Here are eleventy billion photos. She’s a little hard to photograph, because her coloring is so dark and doesn’t show up well in our poorly-lit San Francisco apartment; but I like how these came out.

Here is Houdini, holding Kanani’s hand. I know, right?

Staring into space. The wisdom of the ages, no?

Here she’s snorgled with Comet and Tallisker (Talisker is the little pair of ears peeping up behind her). I’ve mostly been trying to have these Catroduction photos be solos; but Houdini is such a love bug with the other kittens, it’s hard to get photos of her without them. And her lovey nature is such a central part of who she is, it seems right to have her introduction photos be snuggly ones.

And again. I’m not even sure which cat is which here.

Houdini and Comet, “helping” me empty the dishwasher.

Houdini snuggling with Josie. She also camped on Tim’s lap that evening, but the photos didn’t come out. That girl loves her some lap.

On Ingrid’s dresser, contemplating the nature of existence, or perhaps an imaginary bug.

And again. You see why we had to get three, right? There just wasn’t any choice in the matter.

Catroductions: Houdini

19 thoughts on “Catroductions: Houdini

  1. 1

    That gorgeous straight line down the middle of her face is just fascinating. She looks like the most fabulous lap-kitty. The one of her holding hands reminds me of my ex’s dog (a mutt who simply loves to hold hands), though I suppose a cat would rebel at the comparison to a lowly canine.

    (I’ve just begun doing a little cat-blogging, too, though I’ve long since parted ways with my Iggy. He was a sweet baby while I had him.)

  2. 2

    My tortie has that same sort of straight-down-the-face-bifurcation of colour, but on the opposite side as Houdini. It’s so awesome. Is the roof of her mouth different colours too? That cracks me up.

  3. 7

    So, after seeing your first posts about the kitties, I started fantasizing about getting the kids (because it’d be fore them, RIGHT?) a cat. Or two. Or three. Then I saw the allergy doctor, and it seems that getting even one cat would be a very. bad. idea.


    I’m adoring yours, especially this one. What is it about those tortoise kitties?

  4. 8


    You’ve seen the Star Trek TOS episode, right? About the planet where they have a race war between the people whose faces are black on one side and white on the other? Because the people whose black side is on the right just HATE the ones whose black side is on the left, and vice versa.

    So obviously Houdini and your cat should never meet.

  5. 11

    Life without cats is no life at all.
    I have a 17 lb. flame point Siamese named Casper who spends his time cuddled up against me while I type.
    My hubby has a bossy 15 lb. Maine Coon with extra toes named Dax who is his lapcat while he types on his laptop.
    Dax is a bully and lords it over my cat. He also bullies my huge German Shepherd service dog, Conner. It is hilarious to watch the little cat keep the big dog trapped in the hall.

  6. 13

    Just gorgeous! I love the fact that they all snuggle together. When we got Tamerind, she used to pretend that she didn’t like Brinjal, our ginger tom, and then would be found sleeping pretty much on top of him. He was just such a gentleman, she’d bash him around and he’d let her push in and take the choicest morsels from his dish.

    You seem to have a full family for Christmas!

    I’m off work now, so I am going to try and pop in to read your blogs, but probably won’t be commenting, so I want to take this opportunity to wish everyone here good times for the rest of the year, and to hope that 2012 will be even better (in defiance of the papers this morning!).

  7. 15

    I have a cute little tortie, too. They seem to be bossy, skittish by turns, and clingy. She will probably wind up adopting you into her circle of special hoomins, along with a few other privileged folk.

    My tortie Gypsy (I didn’t name her that) is the world’s biggest cuddlebug, and seems to prefer to cuddle with me, my housemate, and my other cat George about equally. (George is a handsome big black-on-top-white-on-bottom fellow, and they’re awfully cute together.)

  8. 16

    Just forwarded the link to Maureen so she can read the further adventures of her former fosterlings. 🙂 Love love love your catroductions!

  9. Jay

    Hah, excellent. My mother also has a cat named (Madam) Houdini. One day someone deposited a bag of very young kittens in her backyard and Houdini was the only one to escape the bag and attract my mother with her cries. So she earned her name. The cats (5 of them) are all still there at her house now.

  10. 19

    I have a 14 year old tortie who is the best cat ever. She has a mix of pink and gray gums. Paw pads are mixed too except on her front left paw which is solid black.

    Male torties and calicoes are genetically intersexed with XXY chromosomes, similar to humans with Kleinfelter’s Syndrome. They suffer some health problems because of this.

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