I learned about Hunter from a message posted on the Maine Coon Alliance Rescue List by someone who saw him at a cat show where many cats were up for adoption. He was staying at the South Ocean County Animal Shelter in Manahawkin, New Jersey. Kim, a volunteer who works at the shelter noticed he wasn't doing too well. He was very scared and cowered in his litter box. She realized that he wasn't getting a fair chance of being adopted because he was so shy. Naturally she worried about his future at the shelter. She must have seen the potential in this big, beautiful boy, so she took him out of the shelter to her home. Not to put too fine a point on it, I'm sure she saved his life.


We met outside Tower Records near the Cherry Hill Mall on Presidents Day (February 18, 2002) to pick up Hunter. When we arrived home, our cat Sidney took almost no notice of Hunter in his carrier, which was surprising. We started Hunter in our bedroom. He had no trouble leaving the carrier, but he promptly went into the darkest corner of the closet and tried climbing the wall. It was very sad to see him so frightened. Shortly thereafter he went under the bed and didn't want to come out. By 6:00 that evening, however, we managed to coax him out and found he was very friendly indeed! He just lacked self confidence, that's all. For example, he would tend to slink around rather than walking normally.

The next day, Anne transferred him to our spare bedroom which doubles as her office, and he found his way into her closet this time. We managed to get him out eventually. Again he was fine. Our boy Sidney knew something was up, but when he finally got a glimpse of Hunter through a crack in the door, he went berserk. We knew it was going to be tough getting these two together.


On Thursday night, we decided to try and get the two boys together. We thought we would try putting Hunter in the carrier where he would be safe so Sidney could inspect him, but we weren't able to get him in. He's so big it was almost impossible to do it. With Hunter on the bed, we let Sidney in. He was growling the whole time as he inspected the room. Previously Hunter had run under the bed when Sidney became aggressive, but this time, he just lay on the bed purring calmly! I think his self-confidence had really improved over the last four days. Sidney finally walked around the bed to the side where Hunter was and made a lunge. Hunter took off and jumped on the dresser. At this point, I shooed Sidney out of the room and tried calming him down. I get the feeling he doesn't really feel threatened that we would abandon him, but he doesn't like sharing his home with any other cats, that's for sure!


After a few more attempts to get Sidney to accept Hunter, we stopped trying. Sidney is just too aggressive, and Hunter is understandably afraid of Sidney (even though Hunter is twice the size of Sidney and half his age). Even though Hunter is submitting to Sidney, Sidney seems determined to pick a fight with Hunter, and we won't let that happen. After about a month of this stalemate, we began to suspect that Sidney might be beginning to adjust to Hunter's presence in "his" house. At night, we would say good-night to Hunter and leave him in my office, but one morning we noticed that the bifold door to the office was open! No surprise here, because Hunter is both smart and strong, but we were surprised that Sidney didn't start World War III in the middle of the night.

A couple of times, Sidney has entered the room where Hunter is, but instead of attacking, Sidney merely inspected the room slowly and carefully (pointedly refusing to make eye contact with Hunter thereby acknowledging his presence) and just before exiting, threw a parting hiss in Hunter's direction. Hunter was unperturbed by this and watched Sidney from the comfort of his perch on the couch. The situation was definitely improving. Since then, Hunter has begun to enjoy the run of the house. He simply has learned to give Sidney a very wide berth!


Hunter has been with us for over a month now, and in that time his self-confidence has blossomed so much that we feel we have a much better idea of his true purrsonality. When he came to us, he was excruciatingly shy and scared. In fact his shyness was what got him noticed by his original rescuers, Adrienne and Kim. But not even his shyness could mask the fact that he is a very affectionate and loving cat. Even on the first day, we were able to coax him to come to us, and he obviously relished the attention. But it took weeks for him to feel confident enough so that he doesn't startle or run and hide when we enter the room or move toward him. In fact now, unless he was just waking up from a nap, he always jumps off the couch to greet us when we visit him. It's nice that he is now sleeping ON the couch instead of behind it!

As affectionate as he is, I wouldn't consider him a real lap cat (and at around fifteen pounds, he would require a substantial lap!). He doesn't much like being picked up or held closely. On the other hand, he will climb all over you if you are under the covers in bed, and then he likes to be very close. He even likes to bestow an occasional sandpaper kiss.

Now that Hunter feels confident to express himself, we have discovered how energetic and playful he is. He moves very fast for a big guy and is smart and strong. He enjoys chasing toys and likes to roll over and, with a beautiful twisting motion, give his back a scratch. He speaks to us now as well with the charming trilling meow so characteristic of the Maine Coon.

His coat is very soft but not ultrafine; his fur has some body to it. His tail is longhaired like the rest of him, but it does not have the fluffy bottle-brush shape typical of the Maine Coon. He tolerates being combed just fine.

Hunter has a good appetite but never seems to be hungry or looking for his dinner. He is quite large, weighing around 15 pounds, although he could stand to lose a little of that weight. He is eating Science Diet Feline Maintenance Light (canned), 365 Natural Cat Food, and Science Diet Hairball Control Formula Light (dry). He seems to have no interest in "people" food and has never even attempted to jump on tables and kitchen counters. Now that he has adjusted to our home, he shows almost no trace of his original shyness and is feline purrfection itself.

Hunter was adopted on April 2, 2002, and we delivered him to his forever home on April 14. His new family includes a mischievous two-year-old Maine Coon and a sweet-tempered and gentle German Shepherd. We can't wait to hear how he is doing in his forever home!


A supermodel's life is soooo boring!

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