It was snowing one night, and Dave found a cat.
It was a smallish cat, grey, noisy, seemingly homeless. (As I recall, Roger was not happy about his bro’s good-samaritan move.) Dave put up posters advertising its abandoned little face, but no one called him back so, left without a choice, Dave brought it home to the motherland, Mountain Top, PA.
This was the best news I’d heard in a long time.
I remember driving to his family’s house with glee that winter break, and seeing for the first time the cat I had heard so much about. He was as had been described to me on the phone– somewhat skinny, soft and grey, silky, big green eyes, affectionate in a way that is sort of distanced, aloof, gives you your space if you give him his. Dave-like. He was called “the cat”. I decided a better name would be “J. F. Kat”.
We enjoyed our time with J.F. that winter break of 2008, but at its end we were scheduled to go abroad– me, to Leeds, England, and Dave to Maastricht, in the Netherlands. Without a choice, Dave put J.F. upon his kind and understanding parents, and we set sail in our opposite directions, waving to young J.F. from our respective planes.
The following May we returned from our travels and, as friends-fo’-life do, met up immediately at Dave’s parent’s house. (In our absence, they had begun calling him “Milo”. Dave still called him “the cat”. I stuck to what I knew was his true and correct title.) Through my more-worldy eyes, I watched a five-months-older J.F. pace around the kitchen. “You know,” I remarked, “I think he’s gotten bigger.” Indeed, the abandoned baby-cat had grown, and fairly significantly for such a short period. His tail was bushier too, fluffy, “like a raccoon’s tail”, Dave remarked. A dim thought bumped around in my smushy brain, so full of cat facts. Pleased beyond all measure, I shouted the best news I’d heard all day– “IT’S A MAINE COON!”
I proceeded to show Dave photos of the more-cat-for-your-money breed on the interwebz, and his mother noticed that something was up, and peered over our shoulders at what must have been a picture that looked like this one:
Horrified, Mrs. Stalfa reeled at the thought of raising such a giant cat as her own. I rattled off some Maine Coon facts that I had memorized (Maine Coons being, obviously, one of my favorite breeds due to their overwhelming scale and floppiness in photos), the most upsetting to Dave’s mother being that they don’t reach full size until they are about five years old. That means that J.F. probably had about four more years of potential growth at that point.
Here is a picture of J.F. at the approximate age of two (with smallish sad cat girl for scale).
And here is my most recent picture of the great beast, at the approximate age of three.
Like all good Maine Coons, J.F. likes water.
J.F. is great, literally, great. (HUGE.) Even though he’s likely cut with some other kind of normal cat blood, since the Coons are a super expensive show breed and this one was just left in the snow in upstate New York, he’s still beloved by all, and whenever I see him I make that charming sound that means all pretenses of normalcy are beginning to break down. I ruffle this creature each time I am visiting my parents back in my own motherland, White Haven, and I am never disappointed. Over time, his parents have grown to love “Milo” like a replacement son, his dad especially, and I feel like the care they take in raising him acts as a sort of fertilizer, stimulating his abnormal growth further.
Cheers to Dave, for finding such an exceptional creature.
HE IS LITERALLY THE BIGGEST CAT IN THE WORLD.