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”

Fun With Fanny Farmer

RagaMuffin kitten

iCandy Fanny Farmer at 4 months

 

author Sara Thornton DVM            iCandy RagaMuffins

 

RagaMuffin kitten iCandy Fanny Farmer is six months old now. As a small kitten she had “the look”. As she grew, I became more convinced that she would have what it takes to be a show cat. At her first show, she was relaxed in the atmosphere, did not mind the handling by judges, and had a good photo session with cat photographer Chanan

 

Her second show was the Cat Fanciers’ Association International show in Cleveland, Ohio. It is a huge venue with tons of spectators and noise. For Fanny, it was no big deal. She even managed to do some winning at her young age.

 

These days, Fanny is a full fledged show kitten. Honestly, it is such a joy to take her to a show. She handles the bathing and blow dry like a pro (which most are pretty good about). The venues don’t phase her with all the noise and people. She even spends much of her time in her show tent kneading the bed.

 

And when it comes to judging, she is amazing! I put her in the show cage behind the judge’s table. Fanny sits alert in the front, sometimes playing paws with the kitten next to her. She tries to knock her number down on top of the cage, rolls around and generally has a good time. When the judge takes her out to put on the table, she is a party girl, climbing the pole, standing up on her hind feet to catch the toy, or leaning on the judge’s chest. It just doesn’t get any better.

 

Most of my show cats have been lazy, not nearly as interactive with the judges. It really is fun to see Fanny Farmer put on a show.

Canned Food Warmer For Pets

author Sara Thornton DVM               iCandy RagaMuffins

I was sitting around chatting at a cat show with friends recently when one mentioned having a canned food heater that she used to make the food more attractive for her cats. I had never heard of such a thing!

A quick Google search revealed that, yes, there existed an Animal’s Instinct Pet Food Warmer. I read through the web site, learning that putting pet food cans inside what looked like a small incubator, warmed the food to 102 degrees, which is approximate body temperature for cats and dogs.

My friend that has been using one for years told me how happy she was with it. It has a small footprint on the kitchen counter, it is easy to clean,  and the cats seem to really enjoy their  food more.

That did it. It was closing in on Christmas and I decided my cats NEEDED one for their holiday gift. They didn’t ask for one. After all, how could they ask if they didn’t know the product existed?

It was delivered promptly and put in use immediately. It is easier when using multiple cans than microwaving and there are no hot spots that can happen in the microwave.  Do the cats prefer their canned food more? Honestly, I’m not sure. But, I feel like it is certainly possible.

Dissecting Show Etiquette

 

 

author Terri Cassiday         Xpressions RagaMuffins

Often times when people discover that I show my cats, I’m met with that “look”. Their faces are a mixture of “why and how”. At that point, I realize that I have ten minutes or less to explain my passion without sounding defensive. That is where the show etiquette begins.

In the show hall, exhibitors have many opportunities to be good ambassadors for their breed. Spectators come by the hundreds to ask questions about our breed. It is up to us to answer their questions and be courteous in doing so. They don’t realize that you may have answered the same question endless times. Often times pictures of their beloved cats emerge and they deserve our time to look at them. After all, cats are our common bond. I honestly enjoy spending time with most spectators. It is time to promote our breed not just our cattery.

Our cats should be good examples of the breed standard and presented well. Being respectful to the judges and being kind to other exhibitors bodes well for our breed. Learning to accept losing is paramount because the odds are that we will lose more often than we will win. Congratulate the winners. A congratulations from your fellow exhibitors, especially from your own breed’s exhibitors, is customary of proper behavior.

How people perceive our breed often correlates as to our behavior as breeders, exhibitors and owners. Let’s put on our smiles.

Remarkable Weekend at the Cat Show

author Sara Thornton DVM       iCandy RagaMuffins

Last weekend was the annual Santa Paws CFA cat show in the Baltimore, Maryland area. I go to this show every year, not because I expect to win a lot as it is a tough show, but because it is a fun time.

I enjoy hanging out with friends, cheering each other along. The show hall is festive with Christmas decorations. There is always an awesome raffle to buy tickets for. Simply put, it is an enjoyable weekend with cats.

I took both my young adult Solo and my kitten Fanny Farmer to compete. Both girls are a pleasure to show. They have fun between rings waiting to compete. They play or nap or even, in this case get dressed in holiday outfits.

When it is time for judging, I carried the kitty whose turn it is up to one of four judging rings. I placed her in a cage behind the judging tables where she waited until it was her turn. Both Solo and Fanny were relaxed, looking out of the cage or playing with the number over the top of the cage.

The judge evaluated the cat in each cage behind him/her in order. Both Solo and Fanny are happy campers when they get on the table. Both are party girls. They play with any toy the judge offers, they climb the sisal covered pole and in general, strut their stuff.

Solo went into the two day show with 99 points. She needed 101 more to earn her grand championship. I knew it was possible, but unlikely due to the high quality of the cats that would attend. Saturday started off with her getting called to finals in the first couple of rings where she earned points. In four rings on Saturday, she finaled three times.  I added up her points (yes, there’s an app for that) and realized it was still possible for her to get to 200.

Sunday started out well. In true dramatic turn, it was down the wire at the last ring for the weekend. Solo needed to final and earn 12 points. I used the app to figure out she needed to win either 1st place long hair cat or top three of all breeds. She was called to the final. Whew. Next step….find out how the judge placed her. And…..she gave her best long hair and 3rd best all breed! Gentlepurrs Solo Purrsuit of iCandy was a Grand Champion! My friends were cheering for her and even other exhibitors that I do not know were enthusiastic in their congratulations.

To top it off, Fanny had a great weekend in kitten class. She finaled in seven of eight rings, even under judges that are not traditionally keen on the RagaMuffin breed. The published results were out this morning. She was third overall out of a large entry of 56 kittens! To say I was happy with the results would be understating it.

The best part? Bringing those joyful kitties home and having them snuggle up with me last night.

Solo

 

Fanny

 

The Heated Bed

author Sara Thornton DVM      iCandy RagaMuffins

 

Petals

After Thanksgiving sales were too tempting to ignore. I went Internet shopping for my pets. My oldest cat, a rescue named Petals, has arthritis. While she is getting medical treatment, I thought a heated pet bed might helpful as well.

Nougat

I looked at several that were available. One seemed to be just perfect for a kitty. And it was on sale for a very good price. So, I bought it and in a couple of days it arrived. I initially put it on a chair to test it out. It was immediately occupied by RagaMuffin Nougat. I let him enjoy it for a bit , but then moved it to Petals favorite resting spot, on top of one of the cat trees in my den. I had to move Petals to put the bed there, plugged it in and replaced Petals. She immediately left.

The next I looked, Puzzles (another rescue) was sitting on the tree enjoying the heat. I was hoping that eventually, she would get down and Petals would return to her spot.

Puzzles

The following morning Ganache was lounging in the new bed. He didn’t look anxious to move. Finally, later in the morning, I found Petals enjoying her new found warmth. She was still there when I got home from work in the evening and only got up for her dinner.

I’d say the bed is a success. And I’m thinking I will have to get more!

Ganache

Parenting Styles of Queens

author Sara Thornton DVM              iCandy RagaMuffins   

 

I have been a pedigree cat breeder for a while now. After breeding horses and dogs as well as being a veterinarian for well over thirty years, I doubted I could be in for many surprises. Well, the difference in the queen attitudes toward their families has been startling.

I started with Squidgy, my UK import. Squidgy was a fierce protector of her newborns. She was determined to keep them from harm …that included me. She would leave her birthing box once a day to use her litter box. I put her food in the box so she would eat. I needed to put it near her face as she would never disturb her kittens to reach for it. As her kittens matured, she was horrified that they would leave the box. It’s like the first grade child that is happy to get on the bus and leave mom. As much as she would try to keep them home, they were determined to leave. As they started their adventures in the house, Squidgy’s role became that of the playground monitor, carefully observing the kittens and looking out for predators.

My next girl to have kittens was the total opposite. Only a couple of hours after birth, Beignet would be asking to leave the room for an outing, I swear, she wanted to hire a nanny right away. While she seemed to like her kittens and do the necessities, she was demanding of frequent coffee breaks, nail appointments, and dates with her friends. She would leave their room to go sun in my outdoor cat yard for hours. I would need to call her in when leaving for work to put her back with her babies. She had a very casual attitude toward parenting for sure.

The third mother was CC. She was a bit anxious, never satisfied that she had picked the right spot in the room for her litter. She was fine giving birth in the birthing box, but soon after moved the kittens to a new spot, on the bare floor under an end table. When I attempted to put a blanket there, she moved them again. This repeated itself several times, until I caved. Mother knows best, I guess.

When Buttons queened two weeks after CC had her litter. CC decided she was an expert on parenting. She stole Buttons first baby immediately after birth. I retrieved it and held vigil for the remainder of the process. After that, CC would walk up to Buttons and stare as if telling her she wasn’t doing it right. I’m not sure what made her believe she was an expert, but she did. As it turned out, Buttons did just fine. She turned out to be a caring, relaxed mother. That, however, did not keep CC from once again stealing the same baby she had absconded with previously when he was about a week old. This time I let her keep him. Both moms seemed happy with the situation, so who was I to change it?

One thing I have learned through this process is that you just never know what to expect!

Static Electricity

author Sara Thornton DVM         iCandy RagaMuffins

At the last cat show I went to, the show hall was dry, very dry. And the cats were full of static.  My cats, especially Solo, were getting shocked by me and the judges. I carry products just for this but nothing seemed to do the job. I wasn’t the only person with this issue. A friend that has been showing for years said she had never had static on her cats previously.

I borrowed products from other exhibitors. Some worked better than others. One of the issues with using any product is that you don’t want residue on your cat’s coat when they are judged. Water helped….a spray mist of Evian from my neighbor before each ring. It was very temporary.

I came home from the show and purchased more products to carry with me. I may have gone overboard just a bit. My grooming bag now has 5 small travel sized spray bottles of products to use just for static. By the way, my suitcase has one hair product for me…….”
I’d be interested to know what others have found to be helpful for this.

Holiday Safety for Kitties

author Sara Thornton DVM                      iCandy RagaMuffins

 

Holidays are exciting times in the household. This is stressful for your pet. Keep  your cat’s play time a priority to help reduce the stress. Don’t put off cleaning the litter box! Keeping an eye on your cat’s toilet habits is important. Catching diarrhea or a urinary tract problem early can make the difference in life or death for your precious muffin.

Keep safety in mind with any toys or treats you buy for your pet. Some toys need supervision when your kitty plays with them. They can get tangled up dangerously in toys with long dangling string or ingest smaller toys, which can lead to an intestinal obstruction.

And then there are the decorations…..kitties love to climb Christmas trees. Be sure yours is well secured. Kitties also love to eat tinsel and ribbon. It’s best not to use these items in areas where cats have access. Ingestion of linear items can cause serious, life threatening obstructions.

Liquid potpourri is particularly dangerous for a cat; a small amount can result in severe chemical burns in the mouth, fever, difficulty breathing, and tremors. Lit candles are an obvious hazard. Always supervise!

Toxic plants are also on the holiday agenda. Lilies are particularly deadly. Other plants, like mistletoe, and holly berries can make a kitty’s tummy sick and can even cause heart arrythmias.

This list can be scary, but knowledge is power. In this case, it is the power to keep your feline family members safe during a busy time of year.

 

Traveling Litter Box

author Sara Thornton DVM                          iCandy RagaMuffins

I found it at last. The perfect traveling litter box is in my grasp. I’ve been traveling and staying in motels with my cats for years.  But, every litter box seems to have a drawback. Cardboard ones can leak,  plastc ones can be awkward to pack and difficult to cleanly empty at the end of a motel stay. The foldable ones are a challenge to clean.

And then I discovered Tubtrugs. They are flexible tubs that come in different sizes and colors.  Now known as gorilla tubs, they are easy to clean, handy to pack, a piece of cake to empty into a trash bag and the sides are high enough to prevent the cats from spreading litter everywhere.

I, of course, bought pink. The 4 gallon, 15 inch diameter seems to be ideal for travel. I also bought a spare, which the cats are currently using as a cozy bed with a towel in it.

While I can’t report on its long term sturdiness yet,  I can certainly say it fits the bill.