Meet the Maine Coons*:
Moriarty – our lean, mean mousing machine. Smoke-grey & just as elusive, he is famous among the barns for his ratting prowess; so much so, that we have never seen a live rat on the Ffarm (though we’ve been presented with a few dead ones!). Moriarty came to Jo back in 2000, as a young cat from a breeding cattery which was in the process of downsizing. He’s changed a great deal from the wide-eyed innocent who first flattened himself, terrified, against the comforting grass when a gentle breath of wind ruffled his fur; to the casually confident cat who patrols his domain with the easy grace of a poweful feline.
Silli – this delicate, sensitive little puss with a hot temper yet loving, tremulous purr, sports only one eye after sadly losing the other, due to an infection when only a tiny kitten. Jo ‘adopted’ her, after her breeder used to bring her in to work at the Defence Movements School, where Jo headed up a team of instructors, teaching aircraft loading & passenger handling techniques. As a cat lover with a spacious office, she had room (& made time) to help this fluffy, feisty kitten; before long they were inseperable, thus Silli now shares our Welsh home, her favourite sleeping place being the life-sized lion snoozing in the stairwell.
Nevada – last but definitely not least of our feline trio, she’s the most stunning, silky-coated tabby you could ever see; dazzling green eyes, long curling whiskers & feather-duster tail dancing aloft; but sadly, ‘two sandwiches short of a picnic’. She has a brain the size of a planet, it seems, in a skull the size of a pretty little airhead cat. Despite her disturbed behaviour (akin to autism, or Asberger’s Syndrome), in which she repeatedly circles & frets at the slightest change of routine, she has grown immeasurably in confidence & calm since moving to her little feline hunting-cum-playground paradise. Jo ‘acquired’ her after it was decided that, owing to the condition which was scarcely evident when she was a kitten but became increasingly apparent as she grew older, she could not be used for breeding for fear she would pass the affliction to her offspring. Jo could offer her a safe & loving home where her uniquely endearing, quirky personality could be cared for. Incidentally, her Auntie starred in the ‘Harry Potter’ films as the famous Mrs Norris…there’s definitely a family resemblance!
* The Maine Coon cat started life as a working farm breed for vermin control in the harsh winter environment of Maine, Vermont, USA. Dubbed ‘Coon’ owing to the distinctively ringed tail of the original tabby, so similar to that of a raccoon, the breed is notorious for its’ fearless nature; substantial size; furry snow-shoe paws; & thick, double-layered coat, designed to wick away moisture from the top, rougher surface, whilst providing a warm, insulating layer beneath (similar, in fact, to the coat of a native Shetland pony!). The Maine Coon cat’s tail is designed to act as a ‘sleeping bag’, for it can be wrapped almost the entire circumference of the animal’s body; & the ears have a full layer of guard hairs to protect against high, chill winds – supreme, natural design for the rural environment. Incidentally, it is said that the coat of black-&-white cats is a more recent development; a natural adaptation for city living, where flitting in & out of the shadows of buildings is more critical than merging into the background of hills, fields or woodland.
And now for Nanuk, the Greenland Dog –
-watch this space – more to come!-