Aoife and Ruadhan update – 03/08

We took the kitties to the vet last week for their yearly vaccinations and check-up.   Our lovely vet, who saw us through the long bout of cat flu last year [and who was so supportive and sweet to me when Abigail had to be put to sleep] was thrilled to see us – but especially thrilled to see the fluffballs.

He was especially impressed with Aoife.  As I lifted her out of her crate I was coo-ing “come on, little girl …” and Dr A’s eyes widened and he said “oh my goodness!  That’s not little!  Are you sure it’s a cat?”  She is rather magnificent, it’s true.  She weighed in at over 6 kg, a big difference from August last year, when Dr A. wasn’t optimistic about her chances of making it.  He gave her a big cuddle and stroke and she played up to him, like the big tart she is.

Ruadhàn weighed in at just under 6 kg, but then he’s 6 months younger than Aoife.  His eye has been a bit goopy again lately, so we were a bit concerned about that.  It’s just a slight recurrence of the flu virus working it’s way out of his system.  It doesn’t look like it will be a chronic thing, as he is responding well to the ointment Dr A. gave us.  The ointment is dribbled into the eye three x daily, and he can be a right contrary little bugger about sitting still for it.  He has amazingly strong eyelid muscles.

Both of them were big sooks whilst getting their injections with a few drops of painkiller chaser.  They never make a fuss, and are very biddable, practically opening their mouths and lifting their paws on request, but they both scooted over to the edge of the table and snuggled into my armpit.  Very cute.  Most cats I’ve known just hunker down in the middle of the table and go totally rigid.

There was a young vet student there who was amazed at our two babies and wanted to hear all about the breed, their characteristics and personality.  He probably wished he hadn’t asked, after I’d babbled for fifteen minutes.

. . . . . . . . . .

Aoife and Ruadhàn really are in fantastic condition, their coats are long and silky smooth, gleaming with health; their eyes are big and bright, they are both very fit and energetic, bursting with life.   They both still have a lot of growing to do, as Maine Coons reach full growth when they’re about five years old.  So they will be pretty enormous, especially Ruadhàn as boys are a lot bigger than the girls.   They aren’t the least bit fat – they do eat a lot but then they are bigger than the average domestic cat, and it all goes into building muscle, health and fitness.  They are constantly on the move, snuggling with us, playing and chasing each other, fighting and wrestling.  None of this sleeping-22-hours-a-day for our cats; how we wish!   It’d be nice to be allowed to sleep through the night for once.

Both are very sociable and demanding, and very chatty, which are also Maine Coon characteristics, and like all MCs their vocalisations tend to the trill and squeak rather than loud miaows; quite incongruous noises for such big pusscats.  Ruadhàn talks to himself a lot, walking around the house commenting in his high-pitched, tiny “meep!”, although he is capable of a piercing full throated yowl.  Aoife is more of an interactive conversationalist, she demands attention and one can get a good discussion going as she replies to questions and comments from her humans with variations on “mrrrah!” and “mrrreh?”.    They both have an extensive vocabulary of “feed me”, “cuddle / stroke me”, leave me the fuck alone”,  “pay attention”, “look what I found”, etc.

Aoife is given to clowning around, being deliberately funny and checking to see if I am laughing at her.  She is very sweet with both her humans but especially with me, whether I’m ill or not, she’ll follow me around the house and cuddle up wherever I am.  If I’m sitting at the laptop on the table, she’ll curl up next to the keyboard, with one paw resting on my wrist and giving me the occasional pat.  She does the same if I’m in bed, “holding hands” with her paw tucked into my hand, and her head pushed under my chin.  She’s also a very lick-y cat – as well as washing Ruadhàn [and vice versa], she’ll wrap her paws around my hand and give it a good wash, and do the same to my face.  When Tux comes home after a tough bike ride, slumps on the sofa and takes his helmet off, Aoife is there to give his hair a good lick.  Mmm salty.

She’s very dextrous, able to open cupboards and drawers, and has even opened the bedroom door a couple of times, leaping up about four feet to pull down on the handle to swing the door open before dropping back to the ground.  She hasn’t done it for a while but only because we know better than to shut doors around here; the kitties get exceedingly offended by a shut door and will yell and pound on the door to be let in / out.

Ruadhàn, I’m afraid, is a big clumsy doofus compared to Aoife – this is typical of Maine Coons.  She is most definitely the boss, and really pounds on him when they wrestle [yay! Female superiority!].  He doesn’t have her grace or dexterity, and is a bit thick.  It takes him longer to figure out problems and toys, and sometimes even though he’s meep-ing his throat out for his dinner, he’ll have to be placed in front of the bowl.  His typical expression is one of “Wha’?  Er, duh?  Like … wow….?“.  When we “speak” for them in imaginary conversations, Ruadhàn’s accent is a Southern Californian surfer dude;  Aoife is a stuck-up South Dublin yuppie.

They are both incredibly loving and cuddly, such good value and great company;  excellent child substitutes.

. . . . . . . . . .

Part of their dog-like behaviour is territoriality and defence / protection of that territory.  Yes, all cats are territorial but these two are efficient watch-cats too, and will run to the nearest window or door emitting deep growls if a stranger [human, feline, canine, vehicle] goes past.  One night I was lying awake unable to sleep when suddenly both cats, who were snuggled up to me, leapt off the bed and began growling, growling, growling.  One ran out into the living room and took up position at the front door while the other jumped on to the bedroom window-sill.  I couldn’t figure out what the heck was going on … Then I heard human [male?] footsteps outside, and first the side, then the front fly-wire security doors were rattled and handles tested.  The cats’ growling increased, I switched lights on in the bedroom and the person ran off down the front path, jumped into an idling car which squealed off down the street.  Cool, huh?  We think we’ll get a BEWARE OF THE CATS sign for our new house.

Speaking of the new place, the fluffies are going to love it.  Three times the space inside with two levels and a flight of stairs to galumph up and down, not to mention a courtyard outside!  We’re trying to work out how to enclose or cat-proof the courtyard. 

We don’t want a “cat aviary” or enclosure, so are thinking of a fence of bird-netting stretched between metal posts stapled to the fence that incline sharply inwards for a foot at the top so the cats can’t climb over; the bird-netting feels insecure too which discourages climbing.  Or maybe an “invisible” fence with electronic collars that give them a slight “zap” if they go too close to the fence.  Any suggestions / plans / pictures of designs would be most welcome.

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  • Katie  On Sunday 16 March 2008 at 5:00 pm

    Photos photos photos! Please. 🙂

    As for the zapping thing – no, please don’t do that! There are many other options. The one I would recommend is a leash and harness. That way, you can take them for walks and supervise and make sure they don’t get lost or hurt themselves or any other animals – and you get to go outside for a little bit!

    And it’s easy to train them to walk.

  • jules  On Monday 17 March 2008 at 12:57 pm

    Hiya Katie! I’ve trained the fluffies to leash & harness; it was great fun training them [I was very methodical about it] & they’re v well behaved – for cats anyway! They get v excited if they think they’re going out for walkies, & will jump up at the door to get out then run alongside me once out. Again with the dogginess – they will walk / run WITH me rather than having me follow them around at the end of the leash [tho’ I prefer to let them go where they like].

    I really, really want to be able to let Aoife & Ruadhan have “free play” outside, to be able to run around & play or just hang out in the garden as they want. I want them to be 100% safe, of course, so no possibility of escape & must be inside at night. It’s a tricky one …

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