Kurama and Hiei in Kyoto

Jeffrey Wilson, Kyoto, Japan

My wife Kristin and I moved to Kyoto in July of 2017, and we knew we wanted two cats. So we asked one of our friends in town who we knew had volunteered with animal shelters previously, and she pointed us in the direction of someone who had been rescuing cats in town. When we arrived at the shelter, many of the cats scattered, as a large portion of them were still feral. The exception, however, was Kurama. The then lanky, string bean of a boy came right up to us, with zero fear and all the love in the world. We immediately started playing with him, and he even let Kristin pick him up after a few minutes. She then laid her arms down on a nearby shelf, as if to let him scurry off, but he just sat there. “Nope, you’re mine,” he seemed to say. Needless to say, we were smitten.

Then we heard his story. This poor boy was found after he’d fallen into a river, and he would’ve drowned if not for the woman through whom we met him. She pulled him out of the river, and we couldn’t be more grateful.

Hiei, on the other hand, was a tougher case. Found wandering near some demolished building, he was far smaller than Kurama, and terrified of everything. Luckily, he and Kurama got along quite well, so we decided to adopt them together and see how it went. While Hiei often made himself scarce, with enough time and love (code for “We gave him space when he needed it, but slowly rewired his brain with food.”) he came to warm up to us, and will now happily spend time curled up right next to us or even in our laps, provided we have a blanket over them. He even lets us hold him for short periods now, though of course we put him down at the first sign of struggle. He’s made huge strides and we couldn’t be more proud of him.

Though they may be opposites—and not even from the same litter!—our boys are a perfect match for each other, and for us. We wouldn’t trade them for the world, and our only regret is that our lease doesn’t allow us to keep more cats!