mitchell and cat

Informationist Best Friend: A Data Scientist and His Feline Overlords

We at Knowledgent know that it’s just as important to be able to balance our focus on helping improve lives and business through data with time to rest and recharge. With this new series, we’re putting a spotlight on the important best friends who are always there for us and help us relax after a hard day’s work: our pets.

Following our last post with Kariba Solution Partner Ray Diwakar and his seven-year-old German Shepherd Dog (GSD) Ruby, this week’s post features Data Scientist Mitchell Shuster and his cats Kahlan and Artemis!

  1. How did you meet?

My fiancée (now wife!) and I had moved across the country to Oregon for my first job out of grad school. With starting a new job and being in a new part of the country under our belts, we decided our new apartment needed new cats.

We went to a feline-only shelter called CAT (Cat Adoption Team) to start our search. We wanted two cats because I believe it’s good for pets to have a companion who’ll always be there with them, even when we’re out. I wanted black cats because they’re harder to find families for. Well, my wife immediately fell in love with a little black kitten with a white belly who mewed insistently every time she tried to stop petting her. She had been found with her littermates in a barn and rescued, and she was the last of her litter still there. She was so precious, we could not understand how she hadn’t been adopted yet. Her name is now Kahlan (named after a character in the Sword of Truth series by Terry Goodkind), and she continues to be a very demanding boss.

Meanwhile, in the next crate over, there was a tiny, somewhat gawky little boy who did not seem like a happy camper at all. He was solid black, and he looked like he needed a lot of love. When we brought him into a room to get to know him, he spent a lot of time exploring, but not being very social. After a few minutes, though, he flopped into my wife’s lap and batted at her hair. His name is Artemis (named after Artemis Fowl from the children’s books by Eoin Colfer), and he has turned out to be the most loving cat you could ask for. He grew out of his gawkiness and into a very handsome young boy, and he is now happy all the time.

These little ones were 13 and 14 weeks old when we got them, respectively, and they’ll be turning 4 years old this summer! They’re both domestic shorthairs, and I can’t imagine life without them!

mitchell black cat
Artemis showing his belly
  1. What weird or funny things do Kahlan and Artemis do?

Artemis likes to roll over on his back and just lie there, belly up and paws out. He’s also learning to fetch a small, floppy rubber frisbee I had lying around. Who knew it was a cat toy? Oh, and in the mornings, he likes to crawl on top of me, lie down, and purr. Adorable.

Kahlan’s most noteworthy quirk is that she loves to nurse while being petted on the belly. In the beginning, she would nurse on anything, but we very easily trained her to stick to a hand towel that was assigned to her. She will go to her towel and mew until she gets the necessary attention. She’ll often fall asleep in the middle, and then you’re stuck because she’s so cute you don’t want to wake her! She doesn’t seem to know that cats don’t like having their bellies rubbed.

  1. What do you and Kahlan and Artemis like to do together?

Mostly, we all just hang out together. Artemis likes to sit on top of our office chairs, while Kahlan has a space in my wife’s desk that she has claimed when she’s not stealing our seats. We play with them or watch them play with each other, keep them fed and watered, and generally just enjoy living with each other.

Mitchell's cat Kahlan
Kahlan in the desk
  1. How have Kahlan and Artemis been your best friends?

Cats are not your friends; they are your roommates or your overlords. But we wouldn’t ever want to be without them. When we go on vacation or have to take a trip, or even when we’re out for a long time, we start to miss them and can’t wait to get home. They come to greet us at the door, and Artemis always tries to stop us from leaving by walking in circles around our feet and mewing in a way that clearly says, “Don’t go out there! There’s no roof, anything could happen!”

mitchel shuster's cat
Artemis on the desk
  1. What advice do you have for first-time pet owners or people looking to adopt?

Animals are wonderful to have around, but you have to choose the right ones for you. That’s true both for type and personality. Cats, in particular, have very distinct personalities, so you should spend time getting to know them and pick one (or more) is are right for you. Cats are nice because they take care of themselves for long stretches of time, so you don’t have to worry about being home by a certain hour.

For cats, keep them indoors and don’t de-claw. Make sure not to lock them in anywhere unintentionally (they are little ninjas). Give them their space; they’ll decide when to come to you. Get two, it’s a ton of fun to watch them interact. And remember, they’re basically wild animals that you can keep in your house and who love you; they’re the best ever!

  1. Would Kahlan and Artemis be good at data science?

Kahlan likes to sit on paperwork, and Artemis enjoys jumping on desks and standing in front of the monitors, so they’re both clearly very data-oriented. I think technology passed them by when we moved away from computer punch cards, though. They keep trying to make more by biting holes in paper and cardboard, and I just don’t have the heart to tell them that integrated circuits are the big thing now.

mitchell and cat
Cat selfie!

Knowledgent Cares for Animals

As part of Knowledgent Cares for Animals, we are donating to local animal rescue groups in Boston and New York/New Jersey through GoFundMe Campaign pages.

The Boston animal rescue group we are supporting is the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (MSPCA-Angell).

MSPCA-Angell is a “safe haven” for homeless pets, providing hands-on care of thousands of abandoned, neglected, and abused animals in New England. They offer adoption, advocacy, humane education and animal protection services at their three locations in Massachusetts.

Learn more about the MSPCA-Angell and donate through our Knowledgent Cares campaign.

Our New Jersey/New York animal rescue group is Home Free Animal Rescue.

Home Free saves dogs and cats from high-kill shelters in NC, SC, GA, and AL and brings them to New Jersey for placement in loving homes in the tri-state area.

Learn more about HFAR and donate through our Knowledgent Cares campaign.

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