It's been 11 months since my kittens Pepe and Sally were born and eight months since I adopted them, and my life has been turned upside-down in the happiest possible way.

This is the first time I've had littermates, and the dynamic is different from anything I've ever known before. For the first time in my life, I am not the most important relationship in my cats' lives. Their most important relationship is with each other.

It warms my heart to see how much they love each other. They eat together, they sleep together, they play together and they patrol my home together, sashaying through the room side-by-side as if they own the place, which, of course, they do.

Don't get me wrong: They have plenty of love left over for me. It's just that they're not dependent on me for emotional security, as my other cats were. They're dependent on each other. The love they give me is purely because they feel like it, not because they have to. It's the highest possible compliment.

I see now that I was crazy not to adopt two at a time before. Believe it or not, two cats are less work than one. I don't have to worry about entertaining them; they're happy entertaining each other. I don't have to feel guilty about leaving them at home because they're perfectly content with each other's company.

And I don't have to let them outside for exercise, as I did with my previous cats, because they get plenty of exercise chasing each other around the apartment. They're blissfully happy, and they'll live a lot longer.

So why am I telling you this now, instead of waiting a month until they're a year old? Because I'm so grateful to the rescue group that saved their lives and socialized them before they came to me, Island Cat Resources and Adoption in Alameda, and I want to give them a plug for their fundraising auction on May 4.

ICRA specializes in rescuing homeless cats. If they're young enough to be socialized for adoption, like Pepe and Sally, they're placed in a foster home for intensive TLC before going to their forever home -- which, in this case, turned out to be mine. If they're too old to be tamed, they're vaccinated and spayed or neutered and then returned to their original feral colonies, where they'll live out their lives under the watchful eyes of ICRA volunteers.

It's really the only solution to the massive cat overpopulation problem in this country, which forces animal shelters to euthanize cats by the millions every year. ICRA has no paid staff, no shelter, no overhead of any kind. All its funds come from private donations, and all of it goes to the cats.

Its big fundraising effort of the year is the annual Champagne Silent Auction, which will take place at 7 p.m. May 4 at the Elks' Lodge in Alameda, featuring great food, great wine, one-of-a-kind items (including a football signed by Raider running back Darren McFadden) and the jazz stylings of guitarist Terrence Brewer. It's a lot of fun and for a great cause. For more information, or to donate to ICRA's lifesaving mission, go to icraeastbay.org or call 510-869-2584.

Tell 'em Pepe and Sally sent you.

Reach Martin Snapp at catman@sunset.net.