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Linh Anh Cat

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Call Me a Cat Person (Really!)

This is an honest piece on how my cat, Sesame, brings happiness to three aspects of my life. I’ve removed the filter on expressing my love for my cat, the filter that I only remove in front of trusted cat friends.

For the record, I grew up not knowing that pets could be considered family members. Now, I spent the recent holiday weekend celebrating the first anniversary of my cat’s adoption. Three days of more love than she wanted to receive and as many treats as she wanted to eat. By the way, most cats don’t have last names, but our Sesame does, and it’s Cat, just like me!

Sesame has been there for various aspects of my life:

Courtesy of Linh Anh Cat

Coping with a new job

I started a new job, then the pandemic hit. Even for those that are still in their same jobs from before the pandemic know that adapting to working from home has been a challenge. I’ve found it challenging working with others who I didn’t get a chance to develop a working relationship with before the pandemic began. It took longer to figure out people’s styles, personalities, and how they prefer to interact.

I work at a national park unit and have been going in almost half the time now. The other half of the time, I get to spend next to Sesame. She’s a reminder that the simple things in life are what’s important, especially if I have a tough day of work.

Courtesy of Linh Anh Cat

Family issues

Some readers might know that I lost my dad a couple of years ago. My mom and I have a difficult relationship that we are working on improving and Sesame has brought us closer together.

My mom has fully embraced Sesame as her grandkitty, and we often spend time talking about her. She lectures Sesame and then will lecture me about how I spoil her too much. But when my mom spends time with Sesame in person, she spoils her even more than I do.

Bonding with my partner

Another scientist and friend recently asked me if Stephen and I talk about science a lot together. We both said “no” at the same time, and afterwards I asked Stephen what he thought we talked about the most. “Sesame.”

We’ve decided to be child-free for many reasons: the uncertainty of the world under climate change, being able to retire early, and having more free time. Sesame fills that role in the relationship. I love seeing Stephen care for Sesame. And I try to explain my obsession with her as a combination of baby fever and being recently infected by Toxoplasma gondii (for those who don’t know, there are theories that a T. gondii infection encourages cat ownership).

For those of you thinking about adopting a furry friend, look to your local animal shelter or groups that focus on getting certain breeds or species adopted. There are millions of animals out there looking for their forever home.

Linh Anh Cat



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Linh Anh Cat

From Orlando, Fla., Linh Anh obtained her two Bachelor's Degrees in Biology and Interdisciplinary Studies (Environmental Policy, Planning, and Values) from the University of Central Florida. She then moved west and obtained her Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the University of California, Irvine, studying the ecology of airborne fungal disease dispersal in the environment. After serving at Capitol Hill as a Public Policy Fellow for the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research and a stint as a postdoc at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Linh Anh is now Chief of Resources Management and Science at the National Park Service's Cabrillo National Monument.

Linh Anh has been a science writer with bylines at Forbes and acts as the co-creator and the Science Policy Coordinator of Reclaiming STEM, an inclusive workshop on science communication and science policy that reaches diverse and under-represented graduate and undergraduate students; outside of science, she has won 1st Princess at a pageant —Miss Vietnam of Southern California and enjoys buying edible souvenirs like snacks or tea in pretty containers when she is traveling.

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