How We Adopted Tweedledum and Tweedledee

Sissy and Phoebe : Tweedledum and Tweedledee
Sissy and Phoebe : Tweedledum and Tweedledee

In 2002, Noel and I had two cats: Celeste (a Siamese) and her niece Phaedra (Fay for short, a Havana).  One morning, as I was letting our dog Jenah outside, I noticed Fay laying down in the hallway with Celeste standing next to her (normally, the dog going by would make them both move).  Reaching down to try to stir Fay, I found her cold to the touch; she had suddenly passed away.

Celeste was a really complex cat, to say the least.  She acted like she really didn’t mind if Fay was around or not… Until Fay was gone, of course. During the day, Celeste was fine, but as 2002 progressed, every night was filled with her caterwauling louder and louder throughout the night, which, in a small house with wood floors, is rather loud.


Noel and I got back from a New Year’s cruise and decided we should get Celeste a companion cat to cuddle up with at night.  Our theory was, that if she had another cat around, she would be quiet because she’d have company.

So, Noel and I traipsed down to a nearby pet store and found the most beautiful Tonkinese kitten.  She was loving, and affectionate, and slightly cheeky, and we decided to adopt her.  Going with the theme of classical names, we named her Phoebe.

We brought Phoebe home in a carry cage and tried to do the introduction thing with all the other animals.  Jenah (our German Shepherd / Huntaway cross) thought the kitten was cool (despite Phoebe not exactly feeling the same way about Jenah).  Levi and Nyota, our Chihuahuas, also didn’t mind Phoebe.  Celeste, on the other hand, was disgusted (as only she could be).  How dare we bring that into her house!  She put up with one, no two, no three smelly mutts but this was taking it to a whole new level.  Celeste hissed, spat, roared and grumbled as she walked away.

Of course, at night, when we were asleep or not looking, it was totally different.  Celeste really didn’t mind the kitten to snuggle up to at night.  Mostly.  But during the day, there was still the hissing, spitting, roaring, three-ring circus show with lights and all sorts from her.

To be honest, Celeste was 12 years old at the time.  She had had her litter of kittens, had two men adopt her (she had not seen a man up to that point), was forced to live with her batty niece, then faced living with three dogs (if Chihuahuas can be classed as one dog each), and now there was a kitten in the house.  Just when retirement was looking good.

Phoebe as a Kitten and Me
Phoebe as a Kitten and Me

Phoebe (because she has always been and will always be mischievous) decided she would hide behind a door in the hallway, wiggle her butt, and pounce on Celeste every time she walked by.  A hissing tumbleweed of fur and paws and claws and tails would roll down the hallway, past a rather startled Noel or me or Jenah or whoever, to finally split into two distinct cats again: Phoebe with a cheeky smile on her chops, thinking, “That was fun! Again!” and Celeste walking away, scowl on her face, grumbling under her breath.

After about a year of this, Noel and I felt a bit sorry for Celeste and thought we should get a companion for Phoebe to play with.  Back to the pet store we went to find the most loving (although slightly spacey) Tonkinese kitten.  Her fur was nearly white, and she was very affectionate and responsive like Phoebe was.  We adopted her and named her Isis, although she seemed more like a Sissy (Sisi is Isis spelled backwards).  The best thing was that she and Phoebe were half-sisters.

Noel and I were going away in a few days, and since the pet shop would not hold her for us, we put her into the kennels with Celeste and Phoebe for the time we were away.

Sissy as a kitten
Sissy as a kitten

When we introduced the pets to Sissy, the dynamics among the cats changed slightly.  Jenah, Levi and Nyota didn’t care, but the normally happy-go-lucky Phoebe got very anti and hissed, spit, roared, and carried on at her sister, even going so far as to try to beat her up.  Celeste, on the other hand, meowed what can only be described as a meow of resigned acceptance.  If she could talk, she’d say, “I don’t care any more.  Why don’t you bring a horse and pig home next time!?! No… A circus!  Bring the whole freak show to this house!!!”

The change in the dynamics was for the better.  Celeste now had not one but two cats to snuggle up with to keep her warm.  Phoebe and Sissy played all the time, leaving Celeste out of the games unless Celeste wanted to play.  And, when Celeste did want to play, Phoebe and Sissy would chase her at a pace Celeste could handle, as if to say, “We’re coming to get you, Aunt Celeste!  Really, we are!”

Sissy and Celeste formed a special bond.  Sissy would look after Celeste, clean her, make sure she was okay if she heard her calling out in the house somewhere, cuddle with her when she was cold… and, in return, the normally placid Celeste would let Phoebe know who was in charge if Phoebe went too far in beating Sissy up.  It was a good arrangement.

Sissy, Phoebe, and Celeste on the couch
Sissy, Phoebe, and Celeste on the couch

They lived together in peace for many years, settling into our new house very well.  In March 2008, Celeste (at the ripe old age of 17+ years old) grew sick and died at home.  Sissy and Phoebe (with Jenah, Nyota and Levi) stood vigil with us as Celeste passed away.  (Celeste’s passing is still a rather emotional subject for me, but maybe one day I’ll discuss our special bond in another blog.  Please don’t think I treat her or any of our pets’ passings as if they had no impact on me at all.)

So, now we have Phoebe and Sissy, who still fill our lives with love and happiness.  They have had many funny adventures and quirks that I hope to tell you about in later blogs, but for now, I wanted to tell the story of how we adopted Sissy and Phoebe (Tweedledum and Tweedledee).

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