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Introducing… Tootie

On April 8 2018, Rumi was jazzed to meet his new sibling, Tootie! Sorry that I waited so long to introduce this baby to you. I wanted to wait until this little one had a name and finding the right name was a big challenge this time. (More on that below.)

Tootie the Goofball!

Tootie the Goofball!

Rumi was bestest friends with Emma, who died last spring. He had been longing for another best friend with whom he could cuddle, groom, chase, and wrestle. Although Rumi was ready for another cat, I was not. I first had to get through selling my first home, preparing my “new” home for move-in day, moving to Lacey, getting through the busy winter holidays, and a few other intense challenges going on in my life. I also knew that Rumi would prefer a kitten, but kittens exhaust me. (Don’t get me wrong, I adore kittens. I love visiting kittens. They’re just so much work that I had to feel ready to handle having kitten energy in my house 24/7.) Two people at Feline Friends knew Rumi and Emma really well and they kept an eye out for Rumi’s next sibling. And it finally happened! In fact, the same family who fostered our Emma 8 years ago, was fostering this wee one! Both of Rumi’s BFFs had this fantastic family caring for them before bringing them to me. How cool is that?!

Tootie got to Feline Friends through Concern for Animals shortly after being born in January. (It’s a long story.) I was hoping to adopt somebody with special needs and we initially thought Tootie had a neurological condition. But it turns out to not be the case. I feel a bit guilty adopting a healthy kitten. Tootie does have a medical condition, but it shouldn’t cause any special problems. This little one is intersex. (Aka “hermaphrodite”.) In Tootie’s case, there are no external genitals at all and there are both male and female internal organs. She also has the most adorable cat butt ever because her tail developed in a way that looks like a pig tail! (See the video below.)

Pronouns are an issue. I tend to use she/her mostly because I figure Rumi wanted a sister. But I sometimes say he/him/his or I talk about “you boys” when addressing both cats. I tried adjusting to using gender neutral pronouns ze/zim/zir, but it was a huge adjustment so I gave up. Of course if Tootie told me she wanted me to use those pronouns, I would. But he hasn’t voiced an opinion yet, so I’m just mixing it up for now. (Confused yet?)

Tootie’s foster family knew that Rumi and Tootie would be a good match. By day 2 together, they were playing and cuddling. I didn’t capture their cuddles until Tootie’s second day with us in this (grainy) video of them cuddling.

Tootie is magic. Rumi used to cower under the covers in the bedroom when he heard new people enter the house. Since Tootie arrived, he actually greets visitors! He doesn’t act like he’s jealous or protective of her. Just suddenly confident. Just like Emma, Tootie is very friendly and non-threatening. So far, she greets every kitty as a friend.

The baby's namesake

The baby’s namesake

Naming this kitten was quite an ordeal.

  • My ideal was to use a name that is a traditional “boy” name and use female pronouns or to use a traditional “girl” name and use male pronouns. Ex: “This is Rumi’s sister, Tyrone. She’s very playful.” Or “This is Rumi’s brother, LaToya. He’s quite a stinker.” My thinking was that I wanted to embrace the fact that this little being has both boy parts and girl parts. Many people suggested choosing a gender neutral name. But this baby is not gender neutral, this baby is ALL genders.
  • I like naming black cats after strong black people such as Denzel, Maya, Nelson, Malcolm, Martin, Kalief, Odell, etc. But none of the names I came up with suited this particular kitty. Before the perfect name popped into my head, I was leaning heavily toward either ShaquemShaquiLatifah or Rihanna RashaadRasha“.
  • I also tried using names of important people in intersex communities or intersex characters from books or movies. For example, I think Quigley or Calliope would be pretty cute cat names.
  • After weeks of creating an enormous list of possible names, I felt like I was getting nowhere. But I woke one morning and the character of  Tootie (full name Dorothy Ramsey) from Facts of Life popped into my head as the perfect namesake. Petite, bubbly, peppy, happy, talkative, zipping through a room at top speed (the character on her skates, the kitten on adrenaline), and sporting cute pigtails.
  • Do you have ideas for two-T names? I’d still love to give Tootie a proud black kitty name and have Tootie be the nickname. Perhaps using two names that start with T as first and middle names? Something like Tanisha Tyrone “Tootie” Kells? Or perhaps Tequan Tameera “2T” Kells?
  • The name Tootie also hints at this one of this kitty’s distinctions: the stinkiest farts I’ve ever smelled from a cat. Frankly, they’re smellier than any I’ve smelled from dogs or humans either!
  • Our vet said she heard “Tootie” and immediately thought of the Tutti character in Eat, Pray, Love. So fitting! Also fitting for this precious intersex kitten is this quote from Eat, Pray, Love: “When I was in Italy, I learned a word – It’s ‘tutti’ with double T, which in ltalian means ‘everybody.’ So that’s the lesson, isn’t it? When you set out in the world to help yourself, sometimes you end up helping Tutti.”
  • For some bizarre reason, the “full” name I use most often is Princess Desmond Tootie. Hahahahaaa hahaaaaaaha haahahaaa!!! She doesn’t remind me of Desmond Tutu, but mashing “Princess” and “Tootie” with Desmond has me in stitches every time I hear it!
Tootie (Day 1)

Tootie (Day 1)

(More photos of Tootie)

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