Cats have been slinking around since ancient Egyptian times, and they are more popular than ever. Last year, Walker Art Center hosted an Internet cat video festival that drew 10,000 people from all over the world. Japanese companies have found that watching cat videos increases productivity. There are even “cat cafés” where people can hang out with a bunch of friendly felines while they sip coffee. Accordingly, the world of cat fanatics is evolving. We’re not just talking tabbies and calicos anymore: There are cats that weigh 25 pounds, cats with no hair, cats with webbed feet, cats with ears as long as a rabbit’s. We met a few funky cats in Maple Grove and learned that their owners have a fierce loyalty to their breed of choice. We also learned that cats will be cats, no matter what they look like: They all like to lie in the sun, scratch the furniture and ignore you as they please.
Breed: Maine coon
Cat owner- Michelle Tripp
Michelle Tripp gets her pets from rescue organizations where need trumps breed. But the Tripps were in love with Maine coon cats after getting to know a neighbor’s cats, one of which would retrieve empty beer cans. When Tripp’s daughter happened upon a 5-month-old Maine coon kitten at the PetSmart adoption center, they acted quickly. “We’re usually not that spontaneous,” Tripp says, “but we’d talked about having a Maine coon cat for years.”
Maine coons are the only purely native American breed of cat. They are native to the wintry climes of Maine; their most distinctive characteristics—long, weather-resistant fur, tufted ears, large furry feet—are a defense against cold weather. The Guinness Book of World Records identifies Maine coons as the largest breed; a male cat can weigh up to 25 pounds. These “gentle giants” are known for superior hunting skills and mild manner. The Tripp family’s cat, Dr. McCoy (“we were in a Star Trek phase”), is not a purebred and is therefore relatively small for a Maine coon, at a “mere” 13 pounds. Dr. McCoy has some endearing habits. He likes to sleep in a plastic punch bowl that he discovered within days of moving in. When he got too big for the bowl, Tripp got him a larger one. “They are clownish cats,” she says. “If you scold him, he’ll fall over on his side, like you’d shot him.”
The Tripps’ next cat will also be a Maine coon. “We found out that you can get rescue purebreds,” Michelle says. “We’d like to own a really big one!”
Breed: Cornish Rex
Cat owner- Diane Maki
“That’s my breed. I’m never going back,” Diane Maki says. She breeds and shows Cornish Rex cats and is eager to expound on the virtues of the breed. “They’re extremely active, busy and energetic—my 13-year-old girl Deja still loves to play!”
The story of the Cornish Rex is a curious one. The first recorded Cornish Rex was found in a litter of barn cats in Cornwall, England. He had curiously rippled fur, outsized ears and a soft, downy coat that lacked the external layer of guard hair that most cats have. The farm also bred Cornish Rex rabbits that had these same traits. It is biologically impossible for rabbits and cats to mate but it’s hard to resist speculating on the coincidence. “They love to climb,” Maki says, so “they might have a little monkey blood, too!”
Cornish Rex cats are built like greyhounds, with an arched back, long legs and tail, and an egg-shaped head. Their fur, whiskers and eyelashes are curly. “They are like dogs,” Maki says. “When you come home, they’re waiting at the door for you, and they will follow you around the house.”
Maki got her first Cornish Rex in 2001 after she discovered a dead mouse in her garage. She wanted a cat that didn’t shed (another trait of the Cornish Rex), and found an available cat in Ohio. The owner was a Cat Fancier’s Association judge and he served as a mentor. Maki showed her very first Cornish Rex and hasn’t looked back.
Cornish Rex breeds get along well with other cats; Deja shares the Maki home with a sphinx, a hairless breed. The curly-haired and the bald cats sleep together in a huddle—quite the sight to behold.In the KnowMaple Grove has changed its cat and dog licensing laws; effective in 2013, licenses are no longer required. The Humane Society determined that there were 13,000 to 24,000 domestic animals in Maple Grove but only 1,200 were licensed. Microchip implants prove more effective in tracking strays than city licenses, so make sure your cat is chipped with up-to-date information.
For more on Maple Grove pet regulations, visit maplegrovemn.gov/about/communications