Originally uploaded by thomwatson
After talking about it for a couple of months, and several trips to the Peninsula Humane Society, we came home Saturday afternoon from our most recent visit with two additions to our household, a 3-1/2-year-old male Maine Coon mix (right, top) and a 2-year-old female tortie (right, bottom; there are more photos of them on Flickr). We disliked the names they had been given by their previous owner–“Fuzz” and “Poof,” respectively–and since they don’t seem to respond to them anyway (maybe they don’t like them either) we’re planning to rename them. I’m pretty sure that we’ll call the energetic, rambunctious female “Tiki,” but we’re still searching for the right name for the male.
The two of them had come from the same home, and were offered by the shelter only as a pair; we had been planning to get two cats this time around, and Jeff had seen them on the shelter’s web site Friday and IM’ed me with the URL. The Maine Coon had a strong resemblance to Alex, and we both fell in love with them a little bit even before we’d seen them in person, I think.
At the shelter, we got to spend some time with them in one of the “get-acquainted” rooms, where the male seemed to warm up to us, while still remaining cautious, fairly quickly, but the more skittish female just kept making rounds of the room’s perimeter, not letting us get within a couple of feet before running away. Within a half-hour, though, she eventually would come over and head butt an outstretched hand before skittering away again. Knowing that we couldn’t really judge them from their behavior in such a stressful environment and such a very short time, we decided to just go for it, and we left the shelter a short while later, each of us with an occupied cardboard cat carrier.
It’s so interesting to see how their personalities differ so much from Alex’s and from one another’s, and how they’re changing before our eyes. On Saturday when we got home and let them out of their carriers, the male–who had been the friendlier, more curious at the shelter–slinking immediately over to and then inside and to the back of the fireplace, where he stayed for a while, emerging to make his way to the bedroom and under the bed, where he didn’t emerge again until just before bedtime. The female immediately started exploring the entire house, running and sliding on the wood floors. She’s still a little skittish, and we have to be very deliberate and slow when moving toward her, lest she bolt, but she is permitting some petting and head scratching. The male still likes to hide a fair amount (under furniture, on top of dining room chairs, under the bed, behind the futon), but he’s getting out and about more and more. Neither of them like to be picked up, at least not yet, nor have they shown much inclination at being lap cats (though he has jumped onto my lap at the computer desk a couple of times, though never staying for more than a few seconds). However, both already have begun sleeping on the bed, at our feet.
So neither of them is the extraordinarily social cat that Alex was–then again, Alex was perhaps the most social cat I’ve ever known, so it’s not completely a fair comparison–but they’re showing signs of warming up, at least to us, even after just two days. I’m betting that they’ll probably never be as extroverted as Alex was, and probably always remain somewhat skittish around strangers–hopefully they’ll outgrow that with us, in time–but they could surprise me.
They’re really gorgeous creatures; I don’t think these pictures really do them justice, especially of her. I’ve always been more partial to long-haired cats, and especially to Maine Coons or Maine Coon mixes, but I really find her extraordinarily beautiful, especially when the sun hits her fur and brings out the other tortoiseshell colors among the predominant black. Her most striking feature, though, is her round, amazingly golden eyes. Though casually the male is a ringer for Alex, there are clear differences; where Alex shaded to cream, for example, this cat shades to a fairly brilliant white. His paws and head are bigger in proportion to his body, common among the breed, but to a greater degree even than Alex’s. As did Alex, the new kitty has noticeable tufts of fur from the ears and between the toes, and the same fluffy feather-duster (as we’ve discovered as he trailed enormous dust bunnies when he emerged from beneath the bed) raccoon tail. Alex, however, had a slightly more traditional meow, while the new cat has the unusual warbling trill often heard with Maine Coons; Jeff said the sound reminds him of a tribble.
One thing I really miss, though, is Alex’s loud and frequent (nearly continual) purr, which I found very soothing and reassuring. I don’t think I’ve heard the new male purr yet, and the female only briefly and very quietly. Perhaps as they become more accustomed to us and to the house, and understand that this is their home and that they’re safe here, we’ll be treated to more frequent rumbling purrs.
In any case, Jeff and I are both really happy to have the cats here with us; the whole process has been really moving. And this is Jeff’s first time to choose a pet; Alex and I already had been living together six years before Jeff joined our family, so this is a completely different experience for him, and even more so since he’s home with the new cats all day. I think he’s enjoying going through the process.