I’m a creature of habit. I find things that I love, and I stick to them with an often-absurd loyalty. Until about a year ago, every cat I have ever been tightly bonded with (and there have been a lot) has been short-haired stripey tabbies — including my oldest cat, Pippi.
I’ll be the first to admit that there is no logic to why I’d be more quick to befriend short-haired cats with stripes. After all, cats are cats, and they all have such unique personalities. But, historically, my best feline friends have been so. Last summer, however, Nora changed everything.
Nora was found under a car when she was three months old, covered in fleas and starving. A friend of mine happened to be in the right place at the right time to save her life. When he asked me if I’d take her, I didn’t hesitate to say yes. This tiny kitten needed me. After a flea treatment, physical exam, and disease screening, she was given a clean bill of health, and I brought her home.
When she was tiny, she was the silliest-looking thing I had ever seen in my life. Her ears were enormous and sprouted wild tufts of hair, she had a squirrel-like tail that was always bushy, and when she sat down, her incredibly long whiskers almost touched the ground. I did some research and found that she was a Maine Coon. Most cat lovers could have identified her breed from a mile away, I’m sure — but hey, until then I only had eyes for tabbies.
Nora has now lived with us for nine months. And, wow, have they been a trip. She is unlike any other cat I’ve ever met, and that can be attributed mostly to her breed. Notably, she follows me around the house like a puppy, and is at my feet every moment she’s not sleeping. Even now, she is stretched across my desk as I write this, occasionally propping one eye open to make sure I am still here and chirping when she stretches. The chirping (another Maine Coon characteristic) isn’t reserved for stretching — she chirps when she jumps, plays, and walks, too. She is chirping and chatting through most of her awake time, and sometimes even when she is sleeping.
In a few weeks, Nora will turn one. Most cats would be fully grown and matured by now, but she is still very much a kitten, both in personality and stature. I’ve been reading that Maine Coons can take anywhere from two to five years to fully grow and mature, which is both endearing and daunting. It’s hard to imagine another four years of this level of spastic energy and kitten antics.
Physically, it’s clear that she still has a lot of growing to do. Even though she already weighs 10 pounds (only a pound less than her 15-year-old sister, Pippi), she still wears a distinctly kittenish face and has enormous paws to grow into. Her 10 pounds are made of lanky muscle, and I have no doubt that she will weigh close to 20 when she’s done. When she uses the door frame to stretch, she reaches halfway up it — an impressive length for a half-grown cat!
Being a Maine Coon, Nora has a fluffy coat. The upside is that she feels like a bunny; she’s so silky and soft. The downside is that she sheds like wild. Before Nora came into my life, I rarely found kitty hair tumbleweeds around my home. Pippi’s short hair just doesn’t form into clumps, or it forms wispy and unassuming ones at best.
Nora, on the other hand, leaves kitty tumbleweeds wherever she goes. For the past month or so, I have been using Mieshelle Nagelschneider‘s group-scent technique to ease a bit of tension between Pip and Nora. (It works! Pick up her book The Cat Whisperer and check it out!) An element of the technique involves brushing both of my cats with the same brush a few times per day, just a few strokes per cat per session. After brushing Nora (who squirms through the whole event), the brush is full. I’ve been saving up the fur though, and rolling it between my fingers to create a strand of yarn. By the time winter rolls around again, I anticipate having enough to make a hat.
If my friend hadn’t been in that parking lot that day to rescue her, I don’t know if I would have thought to bring a Maine Coon into my life. But now that she’s here, I can’t imagine life without her. Though often frustrating and often painful (she hasn’t yet mastered restraint of her claws and teeth), she is such a loyal, goofy, and fun addition to my life.
Nora runs her own cat advice column too! It’s called Dear Nora, and I hope you check it out.