By Victoria Cumings
Meet Frida Kahlo and Tuppence, two sweet girls enjoying a snuggly life on the Upper West Side. Both from the “Last Chance” animal shelter on Long Island, lovely Frida was brought to the Big Apple as a 2-3 year old in 2018, with Tuppence following as a darling kitten in 2020.
Frida, originally adopted with a different spelling of her name, was christened such because of her handsome mustache, reminiscent of the other slightly more famous Frida Kahlo’s bold unibrow. Elegant, angelic, and suave, tuxedo cat Frida is a model big sister for Tuppence, a goofy furball whose sole purpose in life seems to be being cute and getting up to mischief. Spunky Tuppence was named for a song in the classic show Mary Poppins (“Tuppence a Bag”). A beautiful chimney-sweep dusty gray, Tuppence is growing up quickly, guided by her well-behaved and refined older sister, but still a touch rebellious.
Frida, though cool and confident now, was slightly nervous upon greeting her pet mom, who had travelled by train to Long Island to pick her up. She was fostered by a vet and accustomed to her suburban environs, so the city was a little daunting initially, but Frida soon warmed up on meeting her mom’s boyfriend, for whom it was cat love at first sight. With her magnificent black-and-white furry dinner suit and charming personality, Frida melted her parents’ hearts and was soon nicely settled as a single cat in her new home.
A couple of years later, therefore, Frida was more than a little shocked when baby Tuppence moved in, this causing quite the stir and a dramatic shake-up of Frida’s otherwise calm and autonomous existence. Funny Tuppence latched on to her new big sister right away, following Frida around the apartment and hilariously mimicking her moves and actions.
Indeed, there’s no shortage of fun in the Frida and Tuppence household. Evenings from 9-10 are officially designated “Go-Time” when the pair will play tag, do some light wrestling, and expend their excess energy on round-the-apartment “zoomies”. Frida, the bigger of the two, usually fares better in a scuffle, but little tyke Tuppence holds her own, being quite adept at a good tussle. Good thing is, it’s just for play, with claws always in, not out.
Comfortable as they are in their surrounds, there are things that do leave the girls somewhat perplexed. Bubble baths are most intriguing, with frothy, lathery foam coming from a large porcelain tub providing equal amounts of amusement and bewilderment. Water, more generally, offers some fun for Tuppence, who is mesmerized by the drip, drip, drip from a showerhead, and likes to bat at the droplets with her paw. Toys are a hit too, Frida’s favorite is hand-made; her pet mom’s boyfriend took a child’s fishing rod, tied cat toys to the end of it, and casts away! Frida delights in this, chasing after the “bait” like a hungry little catfish.
Felines, as is well known, are quite adept at ruining a good sofa. Friday and Tuppence are no exception, lacking any qualms about getting their claws stuck into an exposed piece of fabric. This is a topic of mild contention in the household, with efforts made to lure Frida and Tuppence away from the couch with scratching posts and paraphernalia. But the draw is too strong, so the furniture it is! Their parents have thus resorted to pushing the sofa against a wall to at least protect one side, and buying some cute blankets to drape over the most vulnerable sections.
At dinner time the pair stand at the ready, optimistic T never hesitating to take her seat at the table, as if expecting a home-cooked casserole. Chicken and salmon are faves, with the girls getting both wet and dry options, though having a clear preference for the former. The two also have access to sparkly fresh water from a bubbly pet fountain. Staying hydrated helps with some light kidney trouble Frida has faced.
When it comes to food, cunning Tuppence is always sniffing out the good stuff, including trying to weasel her way into her parents’ treat cupboard, a.k.a. the ‘fridge’. As might be expected from a pint-size rascal, Tuppence will also do everything she can to have a grab at her sister’s fare. Frida, ever the polite lady, delicately licks at her own portion, but has to stay focused as one distraction can mean cheeky Tuppence will have snuck a bite.
Television is also a draw for the cats. Not only watching, but participating. Having figured out their parents seem to enjoy spending hours staring at this mysterious gadget, the clever kitties will stand right in front of the screen, basking in the spotlight of “being the show”. Tuppence also enjoys a more traditional burrowing into her mom’s lap for some blissful evening cuddle time in front of the box. TV for cats has been tried, featuring birds, squirrels, cheeps, and chirps. Tuppence gets a kick out of it, though Frida, one smart cookie, is not so interested as she’s fully figured out the creatures are not real.
Both kitties are extremely sociable and “aggressively affectionate.” (Who wouldn’t mind this form of aggression?) Lovable, loved, and loving all at the same time, the pair are big fans of their parents, waiting patiently by the door for mom and dad so they can grab at their hands for pats, relishing the attention. Frida in particular isn’t shy to ask for what she wants, and has a funny habit of emitting a very demanding meow when she’s keen to play. This all makes for a joyful existence for the two, who are very glad to be city cats, with a home-life as wonderful as they have.
Two little buddies, paw-deep together in their adventures on the Upper West Side . . .