I’m training our newest addition to the farm’s cat pack. We were down one with the death of a cat so old we’d nicknamed him Nosferatu; the first un-dead to make it to the silver screen. I doubt the venerable vamp ever kept a diary and he was certainly no pin up, but then neither was Slasher.
Ancient and now departed moggie, we worked out, was 27 when he finally shuffled off, or 189 years old in cat years. And let’s just say he hadn’t kept his looks. My husband’s best friend used to call him ‘Scrunge’.
So we felt it was time to replenish the herd. Given I’m married, don’t knit my own pants from cat hair and we live on a farm – where there are – mice, I feel exonerated from accusations of slinking into oldladyhood. Especially as my husband not only sanctioned the addition, he suggested it! So the new arrival, Betty Rose, is settling in well with fellow Maine Coon girl, Dorothy Elizabeth, tolerating rescue moggie Stephen Aloyicious and running our smallest, Kung Fu Panda, absolutely ragged.
Betty, you see, is huge. Only 18 months old she has the feet of Peter Crouch (imagine the length, but furrier) and the head of The Lion King. Her tail is so long she’s about 4.5 ft long. She’s also fiercely intelligent. So, brilliant I thought, I’ll get stuck in with some training.
One shove through the cat flap each way and she got that (is that training?) Then we moved on to door-opening to access the conservatory to get to the cat flap. Shown the stand up and lean in technique twice and got it.
Given the success of the Harry Potter films, and the part of (a male) Maine Coon as school caretaker’s cat Mrs Norris, I’m convinced that Betty Rose just needs a few more tricks up her sleeve to be making it big for the team. She’s got size, film presence and a lovely tabby silvery coat. She’s also great at projecting her voice, especially at mealtimes.
Plans are to train for ‘high five’, ‘sit’, balancing a treat on the nose, fetching particular items, spitting, running, lying down on cue, paws over face, counting etc. All the things dogs do and really impress people.
Maine Coons are a naturally curious and bright breed, they like to eat with their paws; some of them – Dorothy Elizabeth included – like to drink from a paw, so they’re intelligent enough to make entertainment from fairly everyday events.
So any suggestions for tricks and accomplishments very welcome. Dorothy has all of the talent, but unfortunately suffers from a severe diva complex. We have no wish to encourage this, so will continue to simply give her treats for not biting us.