I want to tell the rest of Maggie’s story, because I think it is important, because she is important. Maggie comes from a Maine Coon Cattery, who shows both the straight-footed and polydactyls.
A little background on the Maine Coon…it is the oldest “true” American cat breed, and polydactyly is integral to its history. It is believed the gene developed through its usage as rodent control in early shipping to New England. The extra digits were quite useful in catching mice. The feet were like snow-shoes in the harsh winters. The shaggy coats are heavy, as well.
Polydactyls are also called “Hemingway Cats”. Along with his love for the sea, Hemingway had a great love for Maine Coons, polydactyls in particular. His museum and estate in Florida is still home to many descendants from his original lineage, though all are altered now.
So what does this have to do with Maggie? I had recently lost my beautiful white polydactyl cat, Purrl. Purrl was about ten weeks old when I rescued her. She was found wandering alone on a street. The people who found her thought she was “club-footed”, they said. I went and rescued her, and immediately realized that she was actually polydactyl.
I named her Purrl because she was unique, special because of her “flaws”, like a pearl. We became inseparable. It was shortly after her 17th birthday that she developed congestive heart failure. I was devastated. I couldn’t imagine not having my Purrl. There was a void.
In my sorrow, I was web surfing polydactyl cats. Suddenly,there was Maggie.
Maggie was a one year old show cat, with a different name at that time. She was finishing her points as a Champion in the CFA Household Cat arena. As a polydactyl Maine Coon, she could not be shown in the traditional show ring. Being polydactyl and now a finished champion, she was up for placement in a “forever home”. Catteries cannot keep all of their cats, especially altered ones.
Well, that was it. I showed Bill and he said, “Call them. Make arrangements. She is yours.” The rest is history. We went to her last show, where she was already declared the 2008 Champion. In her final show, she proceeded to tell the judge that in no uncertain terms, she had enough. Her parents were here and she was ready to go Home.
This is why I am telling this story: There are many ways of rescuing an animal. Shelters are full. The streets and neighbourhoods are full. But few think of a little known fact: Often, once a show animal is “finished” it is usually in need of a forever home. Many show animals have never even been loved. It is all about a look or a breed. It is often cage to ring to car to the next show…without even having the chance to just be loved, just “because”.
It was definitely meant to be. Maggie needed a home and I needed Maggie. We are a pair. I have no doubt that Purrl sent Maggie to me. In fact, when I renamed her Maggie (Magnolia; she’s from Kentucky), I gave her the middle name Pearl. She has the traditional polydactyl initial P, and she is named in honour of Purrl.
Animal rescue is extremely important to me, and most of mine (but certainly not all) have been cat rescue. Every one of them deserves a forever home. A real home where it is loved for no reason other than it is who it is, just as it is, no matter what.
Maggie has that now, just as Purrl did.