More new cats – Welcome Aoife

We finally have our Maine Coon kitten, safe and sound, all the way from Sydney, New South Wales.   She arrived in Perth on 23 December.  This cute widdle bebbeh kitteh has been cause for much anticipation for months, and now that she has at last joined our little family much excitement and mushiness has ensued.  (OMG !!!1!   PON1ES !!!!1!)

She truly is a very precious little cat.  She’s a silver patched torbie with white, a coat colour description that translates as patches of silver and black tabby, with light ginger patches and stripes bordering on apricot, while her legs, tummy, chest and some of her face is white.  She has huge ears with the tufted tips, a pretty little face, big greeny-yellow eyes lined in black (think, wearing kohl eye liner) and at around 14 weeks already has the typical Maine Coon tail-with-a-cat-attached look.  That tail is absurd on a wee thing like her … but impossibly cute.  We both wanted a Gaelic name, given Tuxedo is Irish, I’m part-Irish and Irish by marriage, we both love the country and wanted to celebrate all that in our own little way.  There were several names on our short-list, but we eventually both loved and decided on Aoife, pronounced Ee-fah.  (No, I don’t know how Gaelic works either, seems to be a very high vowel to consonant ratio and the spelling is definitely not phonetic.  I mean, how do you get a pronunciation such as Kwee-vah out of a name spelled C-A-O-I-M-H-E?)

Our little Aoife (who won’t be little for long, if that tail is anything to go by) is a non-stop, full-on three-ring circus.  Anything and everything is a potential toy*, she is extremely inventive, and doesn’t just bat jingly pom-poms around, she leaps and bounds and rolls and flips, just about ties herself in knots.  Her favourite toys are definitely small toy mice, she loves playing in water, plays “fetch” and has invented a number of games, one that can only be described as Reverse Cat Soccer.  The rules of RCS are to leap into a laundry basket and flail around until said basket falls onto it’s side; the kitten (“the player”) then bounds out of the upturned basket (“the goal”), grabs a soft mini-tennis ball in either the mouth or between two paws, flings it into the goal, and leaps after it.  After much flipping, somersaulting, diving, huge vertical bounds and frequent progressive motion of the goal itself, the player finally succeeds in getting the ball out of goal.  Hurrah!  Round two is then commenced with no intermission for massage, coach instruction and encouragement, sucking of orange quarters, etc.  Meanwhile the human audience has all fallen over and are retching from laughing too hard.  

*including a certain male human’s dangly bits that roll about in an exceedingly tempting manner from the point of view of a wicked li’l pusscat.

She is very good natured with a huge purr that only stops when she is in deep sleep; she is also incredibly affectionate and cuddly, and somewhat vocal in her demands for attention.  This is cause for much amusement as her voice is tiny, mostly squeaks and soft trills, a kind of mrrrah!, but she makes up for it by squeaking and mrrrah!-ing incessantly until demands are met.  “Chatty”, one might say.  Whatever, it’s very, very cute and loving; and even a “Hello kitty!” in response results in big purrs and flirty behaviour.

She is definitely worth the research I put into finding a reputable and excellent breeder; the wait for a litter to be born and for me to be placed onto the waiting list (and much begging, I’m not ashamed to admit); and finally for her to be deemed old enough and ready to come to us at around 14 weeks.

I did suffer twinges of guilt at the beginning when looking into breeders, that we were going to buy a registered pedigree cat rather than adopt a dumped orphan from the Cat Shelter – as I have always done in the past.  All my kitties have been abused or dumped rescues or strays.  So why go for a pedigree when so many kitties need homes and, tragically, will eventually be euthanized because they cannot find homes?

Back when my beloved Abigail died (pause for snivels – I still miss her, she was the best feline companion a person could have, she was constant support through all my wretched pain-filled days) I didn’t want another kitty straight away, I was in mourning for crying out loud, but all the same I knew it wouldn’t be long before I would begin to want a cat in my life again.  The main problem was this:  how to replace Abigail?  Given her particular personality and attributes, not to mention physical appearance, I realised another cat like her could not be found at the Cat Shelter.

So … I went looking for Maine Coons.  I’m pretty certain now, after a bit of detective work, reading cat forums and so forth, that Abigail was a reject from a Maine Coon backyard breeder (commonly referred to as BYBs), who either was surplus to requirements or was known to have Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM) which occasionally shows up in Maine Coons and which responsible breeders do their best to breed out – by screening (via ECG) their studs and queens and not breeding from them if they have HCM. I wanted a Maine Coon because they are affectionate, companionable, loving, simpatico even, have a wicked sense of humour and above-average intelligence, and are as loyal as dogs.  Their physical appearance is something else to love; they are a big, hardy cat – the biggest domestic cat, with big strong bones, deep chest, lovely rounded head and muzzle (no squished faces in this house!), big tufty ears, fluffy snowshoe paws, an almost leonine ruff, and an enormous plume of a tail.  Check out the Wiki entry on the Maine Coon; you’ll see what I mean.

My next step was finding a reputable, registered breeder.  Not as easy as you’d think … there’s some nasty unprincipled money-grubbing people out there and you have to know what to look for – and what to avoid.  Since I started my search for Aoife I’ve found out a LOT about cat breeding and breeders, not all of it nice.

So I found my breeder … who unfortunately happened to be in NSW so I couldn’t exactly go for a look.  After many emails and phone calls to suss each other out – because a responsible breeder will want to know that her kitten/cat is going to the best “forever” home possible – I got myself on a waiting list.  Lucky for Tux and I, it was the breeder’s “breeding season”, the time of year when she plans for those special few litters, so we only had a few months to wait, and to hope we would get the kitten of our dreams.

Our breeder, who I will refer to here, unoriginally, as Elsa, is an incredibly special person.  She is unbelievably ethical and responsible in her breeding and the way she raises her cats.  She even takes flak from other breeders for not breeding more – and the demand is certainly there but Elsa will not over-breed her cats or flood the market.  Each of her kittens is a prize.  There were several kittens in Aoife’s litter, and a number of them went to other reputable registered breeders, even overseas, to people who had been waiting for much longer than I.  Elsa, I believe, took pity on me because I was so obviously in need and would make a wonderful cat mama!  She and I have become good friends, which is always a lovely thing.

So at last we have our Aoife, and she is a delight.  She is already showing signs of becoming the loyal, loving companion I need … the bad times I’ve had since she arrived she has spent snuggled up next to my pillow, or bringing me toy mice to play with, and keeping me amused with her antics.  And the three of us (Tuxedo, Aoife and I) made a sizeable donation to the Cat Shelter to help all those kitties who are the product of unprincipled, money-grubbing breeders, pet shops and fucking idiots who DON’T GET THEIR CATS SPAYED (Prepare for a full-on rant on this topic, some day).

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  • Madisen Palmer  On Saturday 27 January 2007 at 5:43 am

    Hi OtterKat,
    I’ve been incredibly ill for a long time and have been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia/Chronic Fatigue. I’ve been poked and prodded and MRIed. I would love to talk to you, I have all the same symptoms as you and I’m having a hard time getting diagnosed. Im 17 and my social life suffers, and i’d love someone to commiserate with.
    Please e-mail me if you are feeling up to it.
    Madisen Palmer.

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