I’m a Muffin Mom…….You’re a Whaaaat???

RagaMuffin kitten

iCandy Tavi

Submitted by: Lucile Gordon Press, Columbia, Maryland                              

 Twenty-two years ago, after the death of my last Pembroke Welsh Corgi, (I was a breeder for 22 years) and time to grieve, I woke up one day and thought to myself … “I want a Maine Coon cat”. I searched high and low for a Maine Coon to no avail. None of the breeders I contacted had a kitten or a retiree they were willing to part with. I was an unknown in the world of purebred cats.

By some miracle I was contacted by a no-kill shelter and asked if I would be interested in adopting a red and white Maine Coon. In my prayerful request, this is exactly what I wanted … a red and white Maine Coon. I drove a long way to get him. When I arrived, I was ushered into the Well Cat room whereupon all the available kitties jumped off their kitty trees, came out of their special kitty hideouts, and put on their best “pick me”, or “take me home” faces. But I only had eyes for one and he wasn’t in the mood to promote himself to me. He was unkempt, underweight, and had no intention of going home with me or anyone else. He was perched on top of a bin of cat food and wouldn’t even look at me. Definitely not an auspicious beginning!

I had brought one of my Corgi crates with me so getting him home safely and comfortably wasn’t a problem. No one knew his history, he had been vetted, neutered, and his age was estimated to be around two years old. And so our adventure began. I named him Lester Chaim (Chaim is the Hebrew word for Life). Since this would be a second and better life for him I thought the name was very appropriate. Slowly, every so slowly he relaxed and learned no one was going to hurt him. I never pressured him to like me. I fed him the best food and made sure he had a variety of toys, he had two cat beds and a lot of window sills to sit on. I spoke to him like he was my best friend. He grudgingly allowed me groom to him and after almost nine months he decided I was his human.

Once his decision was made, I was now under house arrest, lol. He would leap onto the back of my leg (he was now 25 lbs, mind you) and hug my leg making it almost impossible to walk. If you’ve ever had a small child do this you know it’s no easy feat to make any headway. We had to have a “talk” about this new behavior. I decided the best way to teach him was to show him I would always return. I would give him a treat, pat his head, and tell him to take care of the house and them leave for a few minutes. At first it was 2 minutes and I’d come back and give him a treat and ask him how his day had gone. Then it was 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 30 minutes, etc. each time coming in to give him a treat and ask the same question. Eventually I was free to come and go at will.

Lester was highly intelligent. He was very social and greeted any and everyone at the door of our home. He insisted on being acknowledged. If he thought he was being ignored he would politely remind my guest to use their best manners by giving them a clawless ‘Swat”. Lester learned many obedience behaviors; sit, lie down, roll over, sit up, salute, wave, play dead, tell me a secret and many other things. He was a huge hit at the various nursing homes we visited. He seemed to instinctually know who needed company and would decide where he was needed most. For nineteen years he was my constant companion. When he crossed the Rainbow Bridge I was devastated.

So by now you are asking yourself, “how does this relate to being a Muffin Mom”? Hang on, I’m getting there.

Months later I was ready for another Maine Coon companion. History would repeat itself, I was reminded that I was still an unknown in the purebred cat world of Maine Coons. No one had a kitten, no one had a retiree. It seemed like all the Maine Coon breeders had formed a secret society and you needed a special password or key to get into their world.

Being fairly resourceful I found a site online called, “PetFinder.com”. I looked at hundreds of cats searching for “the one”. Levi came softly into my life. He is a Big, and I mean BIG boy. His age was guesstimated to be around three years old. He is a Tuxedo with aqua eyes and a super sweet disposition. He has a long bushy tail, medium length, very soft fur, and a magnificent set of whiskers. He is what you think of when you hear the term, “housecat” used. He’s not food motivated so teaching him tricks is out of the question.

About five years ago I took up a new hobby as a quilter. Levi has become my quilt supervisor. He takes his self-appointed job very seriously and all new fabrics are Levi-approved before, during, and after a quilt is made.

As time went on it became clear to me Levi had become very complacent and seemed to be putting on weight even though I monitor his food, no cheating or unauthorized treats allowed. I took him to the vet and she gave him an all clear. No diabetes, nothing.

Then the whispering began … the Muffin whispers. RagaMuffins!!! Whaaat??? My friends all asked me “what’s a RagaMuffin?” and “why do you want one?”

Well I’d really like a Norwegian Forest Cat but like the Maine Coons they are beyond my reach sooooo … after doing extensive research I’ve decided on a RagaMuffin. They are a relatively new breed in the cat world, a hybrid of sorts, a big cat, moderately long fur, big fluffy tails, adorable faces and sweet, sweet dispositions. I really like a big cat and I want a male. Why a male? It’s been my lifelong experience with my dogs, horses, and previous cats that the males are best for me. By observation it appears the boys have rules and they also seem to remember who feeds them. And the search begins.

I went where everyone goes when they seek something special, the internet! I searched for breeders all over the country. I sent emails to catteries advertising kittens for sale. It appears life keeps folks from updating their websites because by the time I would contact those who were advertising kittens, those kittens were gone or were spoken for and if I was interested I could place a reservation on kittens not even on the ground yet and pay a non-refundable deposit. Wow! This is a whole lot different from the dog world where I was a breeder for over twenty-two years. I never asked for a non-refundable deposit on a litter of puppies not even on the ground. As a matter-of-fact, I never had a non-refundable policy on any of my puppies.

This was a real eye-opener for me. How could I possibly hand over a considerable amount of money over to a stranger for an unknown pet kitten. Then there were the breeders who would only sell to a show home. I had no intention of showing my new furry friend. I knew nothing about showing cats and my experience over the years in the dog breed ring brought up memories of all the politicking that often goes on behind the scenes. So, no cat shows for us!

After months of searching and on the verge of giving up on ever having a RagaMuffin for a new furry friend, I contacted one last breeder. Miracle of miracles she was on the east coast, and less than 4 hours from where I live. She had one 16-week-old male kitten available. He was supposed to go to a breeder, but the deal fell through. Oh my stars, maybe this is my lucky day!? I asked her to send me some photos and it was love at first sight. He is exactly what I wanted, green eyes and a gorgeous sable, mactabby- white coat. I was thrilled because it was like he was custom created just for me. I could hardly contain my excitement.

I busily prepared for our new baby. Thank goodness for Amazon Prime!  I bought a kitty playpen, recommended kitten food, a variety of interesting kitten toys, and a new carrier. A new  carrier wasn’t really necessary as I had one for Levi, but I couldn’t expect this new little prince to ride home in a borrowed chariot. With directions put into my GPS I set off to pick up my little RagaMuffin, meeting the breeder at a cat show. 

The breeder greeted me warmly and introduced me to her friends and then to my new kitten. The RagaMuffin whisperers were singing loudly in my ears and cupid sealed the deal. I named him Tavi which is the Yiddish word for “good”. iCandy Tavi. I stayed at the show for quite some time and learned a lot about showing cats. I still had no desire to show and I thought I was safe from the showing bug because he had been neutered. In the dog world you cannot show a neutered male in the breed ring. 

It just so happened this show had invited a well know cat photographer, Richard Katris of Chanan Photography, to be there. What’s a new baby with no baby photos? Of course, I had to have photos, right? He was born to be photographed; they were all adorable. Oh pinch me, I’m now an official “Muffin” mom!  

P.S. Many thanks to Sara Thornton DVM for trusting me with this darling little boy. Not only is she my Muffin Mentor, she has become my friend.

Next installment of being a Muffin Mom will be;
More Adventures with Levi and Tavi … “When the Show Bug Bit”