On our way home we stopped at a cattery outside of Peoria that specializes in Maine Coons and Norwegian Forest Cats. After playing on the floor with the kittens for over an hour, we chose two that we plan to take home at the end of the month. Or, I suppose, they chose us.
Here's the little boy, a blue tabby:
And this is his sister, a blue patched tabby:
Just look at those sweet faces! They were born 7/27, and will be ready to come live with us in a few more weeks. They are part of a litter of eight (originally there were nine, but the mama cat rolled over on one--something the breeder says can happen when there are more kittens than nipples to feed them). We were a bit overwhelmed when all eight kittens came to meet us at once. They are extremely well socialized, even the most shy among them only waited a minute or so before approaching. The boy kitten we're getting jumped into Ted's lap immediately, and pretty much stayed right there, unwilling to budge to make room for the others, no matter how much they tried to push him aside.
Cats always seem to have a strong affinity for Ted, often ignoring me to get to him. But the little female we selected settled right next to me, and started to doze off. I was completely charmed.
Originally, we only planned on getting one. But the breeder likes to adopt them out in pairs, and offered us a good deal for two. So what could we do?
Eventually, they'll grow up to look something like this:
According to Wikipedia, The Maine Coon is one of the largest breeds of domestic cat, known for its high intelligence and playfulness as well as its distinctive physical appearance. The breed is one of the oldest natural breeds in North America, specifically native to the state of Maine (where it is the official State Cat). This cat is known as "Maine Coon", "coon-cat", "Maine Cat" or (colloquially) "the gentle giant".
Some authorities say that the Maine Coon is descended from Norwegian Forest Cats brought over by the Vikings, who used them as mousers on their ships, and from other seafaring felines. "Natural selection (and climate) has had a significant effect on (longhair/Maine Coon) gene frequency in the 200-300 generations since domestic cats were introduced to America. The Maine Coon developed outdoors into a large, rugged cat with a water-resistant, thick, longhair coat and a hardy constitution."
This is our first time going to a breeder for a cat. Usually, we have adopted rescue animals. But this time we were looking for specific traits in a cat. Because we have a large and rambunctious two-year-old rescue dog, we wanted a cat that was going to be big (Maine Coons can be over 20 pounds, and the largest on record is 48 inches long), laid back, friendly, and with a dog-like constitution. Here are a few pics I found on the 'net that show how big these cats can potentially be:
I don't think ours will reach quite this size--but you never know.
Also, we wanted a kitten this time around. Our reasoning for this is pretty straightforward. Our dog, Maggie, came with a lot of emotional baggage. She's doing very well, but there are obvious signs of past abuse, from the the scars all over her body to her timidness with strangers. We feel that a well-socialized and well-adjusted kitten would only benefit Maggie.
Finally, we wanted a purebred Maine Coon from a reputable breeder because the breed has a few known genetic health problems, including hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, which causes sudden cardiac death, and hip dysplasia. HCM can now be tested for, and most breeders have been able to avoid passing the trait on. This is not always the case with mixed breed and Maine Coons of unknown origin. We didn't want to get a cat only to have it drop unexpectedly on us.
So now we just have to wait a few more weeks until they can leave their mama. And we need to think of names. The names that are on their official papers are Helio Courier and Sqwauk. Yeah, I know. Not the best choices. We're trying to think up names from mythology, gods or heroes or spirits, and preferably for mythological siblings or spouses. Here are a few choices so far, girl's name first:
- Artemis and Apollo (actually, Ted hates the name Apollo, and has already vetoed this choice)
- Bridget and Lugh (Celtic)
- Luna/Selene and Helios (moon goddess and sun god, and if want to keep a variation of Helio, this would work)
- Ishtar and Shamash (Babylonian)
- Isis and Horus (Egyptian)
- Titania and Oberon (fairy queen and king)
- Mielikki and Tapio (Finnish goddess of the forest and mistress of the hunt, lord of the forest. I'm leaning towards these, as I'm half Finnish)
For further reading:
Are We Ready for Another Cat?
Maggie as Little Edie of Grey Gardens
Bark Softly and Carry a Big Stick