It all started with a tweet. The tweet happened to be from my friend and former co-worker Marci Robin, who had noticed that a cat up for adoption at a New Jersey shelter bore a striking resemblance to a certain actor of "Girls" and "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" fame.
Tell me this cat at @TheMCSPCA doesn't look like Adam Driver. pic.twitter.com/OmtGnOWxyG — Marci Robin (@MarciRobin) January 16, 2016
This tweet would go on to awaken a viral interest in "Corey," as he had been dubbed by the shelter folks, that showed up everywhere from Uproxx to HuffPo to Mashable to MSN. The bottom line being "GD, this cat looks like Adam Driver."
But before all that, when the tweet first went up, I had gazed into the eyes of this cat and felt two things deep in my soul 1) that I loved him and 2) that he was meant to be with me. Not only was his face amazingly unique and funny, but he was described as being snuggly and "great with kids," and I have a four-year-old son.
But this cat was in Eatontown, NJ, which I looked up and found out was about an hour's drive away from Brooklyn, where I live. Not so bad, except I don't own a car, and my driver's license is expired anyway.
I looked up public transit and it was a three-and-a-half hour trip involving two trains, a bus and a 20-minute walk. I couldn't really imagine bringing a freaked-out kitty back on that journey. Uber or taking a car would be something like $150 each way, not to mention the hour it would take to complete the adoption once we were there. Renting a car would be around $150, if I could find someone to drive. It seemed like an impossible dream. And yet...
I shot an email over to the people at the Monmouth County SPCA anyway and let them know that I had fallen in love with Corey and would they adopt out of New Jersey and was he still available? A few hours later, I received an email that Corey had indeed been adopted. I felt deflated, but I trusted that he had been adopted into a good home, to someone who loved him as much as I did.
AND YET AGAIN. I checked my email again around 6 pm and found out that Corey's family had backed out, and he was once again available for adoption. However, that email had been sent at 3 pm and the adoption coordinator had urged me strongly to come in immediately as he "wouldn't last long." I had no way of knowing if he had been adopted in the remaining hours before they closed, and I would have to leave well before they re-opened the next morning to make it there on time.
I put out an alert on Facebook begging anyone I knew with a car to drive me to New Jersey the next morning so I could be there when the shelter opened. I was embarking on what I knew might be a fool's errand. I didn't even know if if Corey was still available, but I knew I had to try.
My benevolent friend and I drove as fast as we could, hearts pounding the whole way, and still didn't make it there until 30 minutes after opening. Another woman was already there looking at Corey. She, too, had driven from Brooklyn. It was a stand-off, and since she had gotten there first, it was all up to her.
I milled around for about 15 minutes, heart sinking, sure that all was lost. I took my picture with Corey, consoling myself with the fact that at least I had gotten to meet him. I was resigned to the fact that I had been 20 minutes too late to adopt the cat of my dreams.
And then, a miracle happened. Because the other interested adoptee was allergic to some breeds of cats, and knew that she needed several hours to make sure Corey wouldn't cause a reaction, she ceded to me.
"Emily, do you want to adopt Corey?" the shelter employee turned to me.
I nodded mutely, overcome with emotion. (I realize that this sounds like I am being cheesy and exaggerating for dramatic effect. I am not.)
Corey had already started to go a little viral before, but as I was sitting down signing the paperwork to adopt him, I was seeing articles pop up about him in new places every time I checked my phone. I realized that I was currently adopting a cat that was legitimately "hot on the Internet."
The whole way home, as he mewed from his carrier in the backseat (Corey is very vocal), I thought about how weird it was that I was bringing home an Internet famous cat who had no idea about any of it.
Corey aka #kyloren has been adopted! Thanks for all of the shares! #adamdriver #kylorencat @MarciRobin pic.twitter.com/aSPvQGcW0i — Monmouth County SPCA (@TheMCSPCA) January 18, 2016
When the shelter announced the adoption, I immediately received the number of an "Internet cat manager," and friends started telling me how much money I could make off such an amazing-looking cat. The shelter emailed to tell me that people were already asking for my contact information. And sure, my boyfriend immediately registered the Instagram account "catam_driver." (I think he's squatting on "katlo_ren" as well.) But I didn't adopt Corey because he was going viral on the Internet. I adopted him because I loved him.
And he has only proved himself to be more lovable in the 24 or so hours I've had him at home. It took about 10 minutes before he was making himself at home on the couch, and then my lap. Within 20, he was stretched out all the way across my chest, purring and kneading me with his paws. He seems to have more of the personality of a dog than a cat. He never tired of being petted and snuggled and doesn't want to be alone in any room of the house. He likes being rubbed anywhere, even on the infamously touchy cat belly.
I'm pretty sure Corey is just a name he was given at the shelter, so I didn't feel bad about changing it. Originally, I had thought that his name was going to be "Cat Adam Driver from Star Wars," but that was a mouthful. My boyfriend and I tossed around "Catam Driver," but we didn't want him to be permanently linked to Mr. Driver's fortunes. No offense to the actor himself (I'm hoping he reaches out for a photo opp with his doppelganger!) but what if he turns out to commit a heinous crime or something and I have to disassociate my cat from him publicly? We considered other puns, à la Katlo Ren. But in the end, Kylo Ren just felt right. And so that is his name. He seems to like it.
The shelter had suggested we keep Kylo in a small room with all his things for the first week or so while he got used to a new space, but he was not interested in being confined in another small cage, so I let him take the lead.
About 20 minutes after my boyfriend and I went to bed last night, Kylo crawled in with us. We woke up this morning with him curled up literally between our faces, his paw on my boyfriend's face. I think it's safe to say we're all quite happy together.
Please, if you can, donate to the Monmouth County SPCA or consider adopting an animal from them if you're in the area. Everyone there was amazing and lovely and the real win from this whole whirlwind (besides me getting to adopt the cat of my dreams) is that it will hopefully draw attention to a great shelter doing great work and bring more people in to rescue shelter animals.
And if you love Kylo as much as I do, you can see more pictures of him at the catam_driver Instagram account. I love Kylo for so much more than his Internet fame, but give the people what they want, right?