I had given up my cat and cockatiel because of allergies. But eventually, when I went to visit my cat at Mom’s house, I noticed I could sit on the floor and pet her without getting itchy eyes. Five years of allergy shots paid off.
October 2014. Mom had died, my daughter stopped talking to me, my son was, as usual, in his own world and his kids had grown up. That left me all alone while I tried to rebuild my life. I’d gotten a job sloshing coffee at a Dunkin Donuts shop, and my friend there had kittens to give away; one was a calico, and I love calicos. So I went to the pet shop and blew $300 on cat things. But when I went to pick up my kitten, I was told the calico was gone, and I had to choose between a female gray tiger or a male gray. Don’t need the stink of a male cat. Desperate to have company at home, I brought Aphrodite to my place.
She turned out to be a small version of a Maine coon cat; beautiful markings. Having footloose parents, she had (and still has) a tendency to wander, so I had to be careful entering and leaving the apartment. I called her a flying cat because she would shoot straight up in the air, not necessarily after any actual target. She loved to play, and since I had to work full time, I festooned her with toys.
When she was about six months old, I brought Aphrodite to the vet to be spayed and get her shots. They discovered a tapeworm and treated her. Now my tiny voracious eater started putting on weight. Still, damage had been done; as a two-year-old adult she only weighed five pounds.
Despite her size, I still say one kitten is equal to two small grandchildren. My cordless phone kept going dead because she liked to burrow behind the couch, disconnecting the power for the phone in the process. She could find countless hiding spots where I could never find her no matter how hard I searched. She would climb anything and knock down decorations as she wandered through. She digs out various objects like wrapped straws or toothbrushes and adopts them as toys.
I had to unlearn the habit of having a glass of water on my desk or by my bed; she constantly knocked the glass over and drenched papers and wires, getting herself a drink. Water is still a bone of contention with her. She wouldn’t drink out of her water bowl. She loves to drink water running in the sink, like her own personal water fountain. Whenever I am near a sink – bathroom or kitchen – she jumps up on the counter and waits for me to turn on the water. I used to leave it running, but water is very expensive here, and my bill skyrocketed, so I can’t give her that option. At the vet’s one day I read that some cats don’t like to have their water where their food is, and setting up a separate water area did help a bit, but I need to clean and refresh the water bowl daily and keep the placemat clean as well. Still she goes for the sink. As for food, she is very happy with her dry food. Canned food is only good while it’s fresh, The only human food I’ve ever gotten her to eat is milk, and then only in small amounts. We had a worry for a while. She was sneezing, coughing, drooling and vomiting phlegm. I finally realized that I was feeding her the same brand of food, but the fish variety. Turns out she’s allergic to fish. A week on her regular diet and all is well again.
Her fluffy underbelly is white, as are her feet. The rest of her markings are beautiful, ending in the fluffiest tail I’ve ever seen. Sometimes it appears as if she has turned herself inside out while sleeping in a chair or basket. Other than her desire to chase chipmunks and rabbits out of our yard, she likes to stay very near me, indoors and out. She has sleeping spots in all the rooms, depending on where I am. If I’m wandering between rooms, she lies in a doorway waiting for me to settle down. Despite this apparent devotion, she will not allow me to carry her around, nor deign to sit in my lap. She will paw at me to get my attention, and rub against me, but if I reach for her she plops down right out of reach. Usually for a few minutes at night she will sleep near my feet, but she seems to prefer her chair in my bedroom. She chatters with me all day long like Lassie, trying to lead me to where her need is (food, water, out). She seems to understand me whether I meow or talk English. And I’m sure she knows a few English words, like her name, “minnirow” (to call her), out and no-out. When we’re on the patio, she lolls in a cool place and watches the birds at the feeder, sometimes actually cooing to them. When we first moved here, she must have had a couple of run-ins with dogs, because now she spits and hisses at them when they are near. When she’s not napping or playing, Aphrodite lolls on the nice deep window sills watching the world go by.
While she will play with the occasional ball or ribbon, she has two favorite toys. One is a unit that displays a laser dot in a random pattern. The problem is that eventually she attacks the unit itself, then gets frustrated about trying to get the dot on the ceiling. So we no longer run that if I’m off to work or the store. Her second favorite is a stick with a string; at the end of the string are bells, feathers and tassels. She will carry that toy to me like a hunting cat might bring a dead mouse. But I mustn’t move it in a predictable pattern; it must tuck in and out of sight, and preferably hop up or fly. And frequently she will want to just romp with me like a puppy would; I push her around and she pushes back as if I was an unruly brother. She and my hand roll around like kittens. It would cost me an occasional scratch, but she tries to be as gentle as she can, and when she gets my hand in her mouth she never bites down.
My daughter had a Maine coon cat once, and surely this breed seems to be a little unique. So I did a little research. This is the oldest natural North American cat breed and has won the nickname “the gentle giant” (since females range 10-12 pounds, and males run 12 – 18 pounds). They are most noted to be grey, brown, black and white, but actually can come in many colors from white to tangerine to calico to black, but always with the striped back, fat tail and mask-like face. Like my daughter’s cat, Muffler, most are ‘double-pawed’ – having extra toes on one or more paws. Having a Maine coon cat is a lot like having a dog. They are loyal, affectionate, vocal, and friendly to everyone, including children and other pets. They actually seem to like water and will play with it. Aphrodite isn’t one to join me in the tub, but she does love to jump in the tub and then play with me through the shower curtain. When she is done drinking from the tap, her paws are usually wet as well as her face and she seems to deem it an act of love for me to wipe them down with my hand. Her thick fur protects her in the rain, but she still loves a towel rubdown when she comes in.
© 2016 Bonnie-Jean Rohner