Ollie came to us as the product of a mating between his mother and his brother. My husband's coworker thought they had "Maine Coons" and were breeding them. This was when I was very new in the world of cats, and I believed what I was told. They were apparently unaware of certain biological facts, and one of Ollie's Mom's previous litters hung around a little too long and became sexually mature. As a result, Ollie and his litter mates. Since they couldn't sell this litter, they offered one to DH. He, always wanting a "coon" said yes. He was born around mother's day 1999. I agreed to a new kitten on the condition that we could return him if Emerald had problems with him. Em had been an only kitty for a while, and because of her reaction to neighborhood kitties, I was certain it was never going to work out.
But Em had lived with rabbits and rodents, and learned to leave anything in a cage alone. So we adapted the rabbit cage we had to house a kitten. We gave him bedding, litter and food and gave him some snuggles before safely ensconcing him in the cage. Em lumbered in, took one look at the little cat thing in the cage thing and let out a very threatening hiss. She was confused, because she knew it was a cat, but it was in a cage. We simply told her no, and when she stopped hissing, we praised her for not hissing. She walked closer, hissed some more, but got another "NO" and then more praise for ignoring the cage - which is how we taught her to leave rodents alone. After a couple more dirty looks she left the room. Over the course of the day, we praised her for ignoring the kitten, and she continued to ignore him. We thought it might be safe to bring him out. Well she started hissing again, but a stern NO let her know that we were expecting her to accept this new thing. Ollie tried his best to win her over, which of course was all the wrong things for him to be doing, including jumping on her back and trying to wrestle with her. We returned him to the cage, and praised her, and the next time he came out, he stayed out for good.
He is quite unique in his coloring. You can't see it in this photo, but he has a little milk dribble from his mouth to the bib on his chest. And if that weren't endearing enough, he's always got one white whisker on the top of his head. Sometimes it is on the left, sometimes on the right. but only ever one. As you may have been able to tell due to the quotes around Maine Coon, that Ol is not a coon. He is simply a "regular old long haired cat". But he is his own uncle :)Ollie was a happy little kitten. He was so happy to interact with anyone who visited and played happily with us or Em or himself. We had him neutered after puberty which was the accepted practice at the vet we were using. But with puberty came his attitude adjustment. Not to say every cat who goes through puberty is going to end up like Ollie, but this is his story. He went from a happy child to a grumpy teen. His play was no longer happy go lucky, but intense and when things didn't go his way he would grumble and sulk. He never comes out to visit company, and for years no one knew we had a second cat.
But we loved his quirks, and he quickly gained the nick name "Mr. Grumpy Pants" He hated being groomed, and would often swear like a sailor when I would try to remove the mats from his mane (he only ever matted under his ears) One time after a particularly trying grooming session, he was beyond inconsolable. I tried to calm him, but the second he got a chance, he lashed out. It was the worst experience of both of our lives. He was able to hit me square on the face, one paw on each of my cheeks. Fortunately he had just had his claws clipped, but even still I had four red tracks on each side of my face. That has been the only time I have ever lost my cool with a cat, and I hate to admit I hit him. I was able to get a hold of him (and myself) and i locked him in the bathroom while my pulse returned to normal. I was unsure of what to do. I wanted him to learn that this was not an appropriate way to get what he wanted, but I wasn't sure how to convey that. I came up with a very unique solution which actually worked. I dug out the rabbit cage again, and put it in the middle of the kitchen. He had all he needed, food, litter etc, but he was isolated from us and the other cats. Cats HATE being ignored, and will modify their behavior to not let it happen again. He stayed in there for one day, and the change in him was very noticeable. After that he came to me and acknowledged that I was alpha, and he never again lashed out at me. However I do need to be very careful that there are no other kitties between me and his escape when I groom him.
When Em was alive, she was the Alpha cat by default. But she was much like the Queen of England, a figurehead only. When she passed, Ollie laid down the gauntlet and proclaimed he was head kitty. He occasionally bats other cats on the head just for being too near him and not deferring to him. He eats alone on the plate first, and he sleeps where he wants. Oddly he likes to sleep between my hubby and myself up by the pillows but not on them.He has had a few medical problems over the years. Once when we were about to go on one of the rare vacations we take, he became severely constipated. He was vomiting all over the place, and needed to be treated by the vet. Fortunately he recovered in time, and I had a pet sitter I very much trusted. I also have had to have two growths removed from the same place near his back left leg. I did not have them biopsied, but I am pretty sure he had Vaccine Associated Sarcoma (aka VAS) due to the location and the regrowth almost one year to the date of the initial removal.
Ollie came to me when I was new to cat care. He was the third cat I have owned, and I was still unaware that not everything preached as gospel in cat care was true. It didn't even occur to me to consider differently. He ate mostly dry food with some canned. Not being one of my foster kittens, he ate pretty much the same thing most of his life, so he does have a little bit of a problem when trying new foods. Fortunately since I have learned of the GI upset cats can face when eating the same foods over and over, I have been able to vary his diet so the impact of food changes are lessened.
now that he's older, I lovingly call him my grumpy old man. He spends his days on top of the fridge watching the other kitties or in the sunroom basking. I hope he's around for years to come, but I am very carefully watching his side for a possible regrowth of the tumor we've removed. I hope I never have to decide to have that removed again, because both surgeries were hard on him, but the second was much more so then the first. He was very slow to recover, and very PISSED OFF that he couldn't continue on with his life as he wanted. He is not one for change, and I fear that he is one of those cats that are going to be better off facing death on his own terms instead of allowing me to fight tooth and nail for him. But I will let that decision be his when the time has come - which hopefully will not be for another 10 years :)