Say Hello To ?


Say hello to the new member of the pack. I actually read his name wrong on the card, and it isn’t Beggar, it is Bugger, which is even worse. Oh, and he’s also a polydactyl.

He’s afraid right now so this is the only picture you get.

*** Update ***

I forgot his story. He is six years old and was dumped by yet another sociopath who was moving and left their pet behind. He lived with two dogs, so that is good. He hasn’t been fixed, so that will have to happen this week or next, and I have to get him to a groomer because he has some thinning hair on his spine (I think from nerves maybe) and some matting on his back near his tail, so we are going for a clean shave soon.

159 replies
  1. 1
    LittlePig says:

    A handsome mackerel tabby! Excellent! I’m glad you did it, John.

    Looks like a Sam to me, but I’m pretty pedestrian.

  2. 2

    He looks like a fuzzier version of my boss cat. Congratulations!

  3. 3
    LittlePig says:

    and he’s also a polydactyl.

    Aww, I missed that before. I had a half-feral one named Henry. He was something.

  4. 4
    IowaOldLady says:

    Poor scared baby. He’ll soon realize he’s home.

  5. 5
    Dee Loralei says:

    Awww he’s a big cat for your big heart John.

  6. 6
    jeffreyw says:

    Yo, kitteh, ‘sup?

  7. 7
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    He won’t be scared for long, not after Lily and Rosie put some lovin’ on him.

    Give him a few days, he will tell you the name HE prefers.

    What a sweetheart! Congratulations to you and the new member of the Cole family.

  8. 8
    Comrade mary says:

    Could be worse. He could have been named Ender.

    He’s cute. And obviously plotting against you. You have chosen well, Mr. Cole.

  9. 9
    LittlePig says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: That there is one handsome cat.

    And I believe he is pretty much aware of that fact.

  10. 10
    RenoRick says:

    I applaud the fact that you rescued an adult cat! I think Kevin would be a great name for him…

  11. 11
    Comrade mary says:

    Wait — polydactyl? You are so fucking doomed.

  12. 12
    SiubhanDuinne says:


    Looks like a Sam to me, but I’m pretty pedestrian.

    I think his name is Mister Purr Puff.

  13. 13
    Josie says:

    So, you and Hemingway, huh?

  14. 14
    Arlene says:

    What a handsome boy! And yes, that name Bugger has to go. He’s far too regal for such a common name. Maine Coons are the best cats and the boys are such fun goofballs. My guy is 18 pounds and sheds enough for 6. So the furminator will come in handy. Can’t wait to see more pictures as he gets use to his new home.

  15. 15
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:

    I had a tabby that looked just like Bugger. That was more than fifty years ago. I haven’t owned a cat since. Nothing agin’ ’em, it’s just that the Navy couldn’t see the point of bringing a cat onto a flat top. I finally adopted a sort of a dog and he’s enough pet for me at present.

  16. 16
    Jewish Steel says:

    You could name him after my new favorite deity, Bonus Eventus:

    Bonus Eventus (“Good Outcome”) was a divine personification in ancient Roman religion. The Late Republican scholar Varro lists him as one of the twelve deities who presided over agriculture,[1] paired with Lympha, the goddess who influenced the water supply. The original function of Bonus Eventus may have been agricultural,[2] but during the Imperial era, he represents a more general concept of success and was among the numerous abstractions who appeared as icons on Roman coins.

  17. 17
    gnomedad says:

    Cute little … you know.

  18. 18

    @LittlePig: Oh yes he is well aware. He is too sexy for his fur, so sexy he purrs!

  19. 19
    elisabeth says:


    I named my rescue, “Sam” ’cause I’m pedestrian too.

  20. 20
    Pogonip says:

    A name change is in order.

    What about the other cat, Nibbles? Are you taking him too?

  21. 21
    Anniecat45 says:

    Congratulations on your new boss, John. He’s gorgeous.

    But I still get tears thinking about Tunch. Can’t wait for the T-shirt.

  22. 22
    Keith says:

    A polydactyl? VERY cool, but you, sir, are in for a whole new world of enslavement. Especially when it starts figuring out how to lock and unlock doors.

  23. 23
    scav says:

    I don’t know. Misreadings could be interpreted as prophecies or even destinies bleeding through. I’m rather fond of Begger, all in all.

  24. 24
    Yatsuno says:

    KITTEH!!! He is totes adorbs JC!

  25. 25
    A Ghost To Most says:

    My best cat Polly was so named because she was polydactyl – as were my Maine coon mix brothers. The dogs better watch their steps; those extra claws can be lethal.

  26. 26
    CaseyL says:

    OMG, look at those thumbs! Those enormous, enormous thumbs!!

    When they’re too scared to come out of the box, is when I just want to plop down next to them and tell them how adored they are.

    Hopefully, the scents of all the other critters and humans that have been around the house isn’t freaking him out too badly.

  27. 27
    Gex says:

    Looks just like my Simon, the Maine Coon I had from ’94 to ’09. Greatest cat ever. You are going to LOVE having a Maine Coon. The personality is sized the way you like it.

  28. 28
    Keith G says:

    I have come to think that gray tabbies are among the sweetest critters in cat land. My girls have astonished me over the years with their human-like desire for connection.

  29. 29

    Former Steeler Jerricho Cotchery was born with 6 fingers on his left hand. Wish it were Blount or Lambert, though.

  30. 30
    Peej says:

    We insist on hourly updates at a minimum. Pictures are not necessary.

  31. 31
    Comrade mary says:

    @Keith G: Looks like a brown tabby to me, although I know the colour temperature on my monitor runs hot. All tabbies are wonderful!

  32. 32
    susan says:

    Very, very lucky cat to be adopted by Mr. Cole.

    He does deserve a better name though. If he were a girl, I would suggest Poly in honor of the extra digits.

    But, a boy? Maybe Dexter.

  33. 33
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @ranchandsyrup: Jerricho would actually work.

  34. 34
    p.a. says:

    Another moderately anonymous Steeler? Frenchy? Furness? Or a Maine connection: Kittery? (Good thing I proof read- spell correct changed Kittery to Lottery.)

  35. 35
    MikeJ says:

    A Maine coon? Have you considered Muskie for a name? Or at least Edmund?

  36. 36
    Jennifer says:

    He looks like a Phinneas to me. You could Joyce-ify that to Finnegan.

    Either that or an Odie, if you want to go down-market.

  37. 37

    @Omnes Omnibus: Yeah Jerricho’s a fine name. Wasn’t a steeler great like Tunch Ilkin, though.

  38. 38
    Steeplejack says:


    Oh, and he’s also a polydactyl.

    Damn it, Cole, how do you expect to keep a flying dinosaur as an indoor pet?! You just can’t. It’ll never work.

    Wait . . . what? Never mind.

  39. 39
    Sayne says:

    Yeah… Bugger isn’t exactly the best name… I wonder if the people who named him know what it means…

  40. 40
    Mary G says:

    Mazel tov, John Cole and player-to-be-named-later!

  41. 41
    gbear says:

    How old is he? Is he a senior? Beautiful cat. Congrats.

  42. 42
    ruemara says:

    Fluffy polydactyls are boss, so sayeth the Takkun. Congratulations! I’m stil getting a malware block on balloon juice, however.

  43. 43
    Percysowner says:

    Chiming in with the Maine Coons are wonderful cats. Mine have always been sweet and loving. The become big old lap warmers as they age. My polydactyl cat was an absolute joy. I’m sure you will have a great cat there.

  44. 44
    Violet says:

    Aww…adorable! He’ll be at home soon enough and then ruling the roost.

    I suggested Mean Joe Greene as a name for him in the thread last night. Because of the Steelers, more than one name, and his green eyes. He can probably play defense pretty well, too.

  45. 45
    Ann Marie says:

    He looks wonderful. All of my cats have been tabbies, they are great. He does need a new name, however. Jerricho would work — you could call him Jerry for short.

  46. 46
    scav says:

    @Sayne: Then again, that distinct aura of deviancy and orneriness bodes well for integration into this lot, no?

  47. 47
    SectionH says:

    He’s gorgeous!

  48. 48
    esc says:

    He looks like my Buttercup. So Fezzik would be my choice.

  49. 49
    strandedvandal says:

    I am thinking Wolfley. Yeah, that sounds right.

  50. 50
    cckids says:


    He looks like a Phinneas to me

    I like Phineas. Of course, soon you’ll need a Ferb.

    My first thought was Commodore Fluffypants the Third.

  51. 51
    gbear says:

    He looks a lot like my first cat Rosebud.

  52. 52
    StringOnAStick says:

    Wow, look at those thumbs!

    Our adult rescue kitty is this kind of grey tabby. She’s a big girl so she could have some Maine Coon I suppose; she’s sure into chirping and chatting which I’ve been told is common to this breed. She’s 2 cats in 1 though, short hair over her shoulders and front legs, long everywhere else so she has a very distinctive lion’s mane. No extra digits though.

    Well chosen, Mr.Cole.

  53. 53
    Suffern ACE says:

    @Sayne: I’m voting for “change the name.”

  54. 54
    Stephen Brophy says:

    I’d call him Calvin, because somehow his expression reminded me of the chagrin that occasionally passes over the face of the beloved comics character.

  55. 55
    cintibud says:

    Welcome to the newest member of the Cole family!

  56. 56
    Jebediah says:

    I do believe that like most pets he will tell you what his real name is, when he’s ready.

  57. 57
    raven says:

    Hello Gato.

  58. 58
    JG says:

    Congrats! I have 2 Maine Coon brothers who luckily aren’t as much with the fluff, but chirp, have the ear fluff, and are super people-focused. They have wonderful personalities and are definitely less reserved than many cats. I’m sure he will still happily be your overlord though.

    Name suggestions: Chester, Clyde, Ralph

  59. 59
    Anne Laurie says:


    Thirty years ago, there was a breeder in Ohio trying to ‘stablise’ a line of polydactyl Maine Coons and get them registered as a distinct breed. Much as I love them, a dynasty of MC pirates with opposable thumbs is, frankly, terrifying!

  60. 60
    Comrade mary says:

    @gbear: He looks a lot like my first cat Sled.

    (I can’t tell you what my second cat was called.)

  61. 61
    ET says:

    You are already getting the “die human” death glare…

    oh and I had a polydactyl the are da bomb (extra toes = extra cat = extra love)

  62. 62
    rikyrah says:

    cute, but small, isn’t he?

  63. 63
    Mackenna says:

    John, he’ll have you wrapped around his paw and following orders in no time, and we will be amused to watch it all unfold. HIs paws look adorably large and his face is very cute.

  64. 64
    gbear says:

    When a ship captain gave a white polydactyl cat named Snowball to writer Ernest Hemingway, the captain kicked off a pretty fantastic obsession for one of history’s most prolific cat guys. At Hemingway’s island home off Key West, FL, he collected more than 50 cats, almost half of whom had extra toes. Thanks to his obsession, today polydactyls are frequently called “Hemingway cats.”

  65. 65
    ET says:

    @Comrade mary: love, love, love that Cravendale ad.

  66. 66
    Face says:

    Someone named their cat Bugger? WTF?

    Funnier or sicker if said person is British?

  67. 67
    John O says:


    Yep, give it time. A name always comes after getting to know one another a little bit.

    Congratulations, John!

  68. 68
    Amir Khalid says:

    I think I’ve met more humans with polydactyly than cats. I understand it’s surprisingly common in American house cats, though.

    Name suggestion? Since you’re keen on a two-word name, how about Hang Tuah?

  69. 69
    Yatsuno says:

    @Jennifer: JC will have to get a Ferb in that case.

  70. 70
    Mike in NC says:

    Looks like a real sweetie. Best wishes.

  71. 71
  72. 72
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    Is it true buggery is pretty commonplace around there, John? You might not want to be yelling that out the front door after the sun goes down.

  73. 73
    gbear says:

    @Jebediah: km <—- typed by Edward before I put him back onto the desk.

    My new cat Edward came from the shelter with that name already (not Eddie or Ed; Edward) and I cannot think of a better name for him. It suits him perfectly. I lucked out because I HATE naming cats.

  74. 74
    elisabeth says:


    Simon’s a great name, too.

  75. 75
    Betty Cracker says:

    Awww, he’s a cutie! I want to call him Hagrid.

  76. 76
    Birthmarker says:


  77. 77
    Chat Noir says:

    Yay and congrats. I love tabbies. Sherman is a good name for a boy cat.

    Welcome our new feline overlord.

  78. 78
    LanceThruster says:


  79. 79
    rikyrah says:

    the cat is beautiful…

    name him Egbert

  80. 80
    A Ghost To Most says:

    @Betty Cracker: well, I guess Mrs. Norris is out of contention.

  81. 81
    The Dangerman says:



    Close to my choice, which is Louie (for Extra Clawed/Claude Rains).

  82. 82
    Jebediah says:


    Cool! Now put Edward back on the line – clearly he had something to tell me, something that started with “km”

    My last few pets have come pre-named, and I too feel lucky that they were such suitable names. I might be silly, but I worry about giving a critter an ill-suited name (they probably care a lot less about it than we do)

  83. 83
    Chat Noir says:

    Yay and congrats! He’s a beauty. Sherman is a good name for a boy cat.

    Welcome our new feline overlord.

  84. 84
    SG says:

    Mose, a diminutive of Moses.

    According to Wikipedia: “The name is thus suggested to relate to drawing out in a passive sense, ‘the one who was drawn out.’ Those who depart from this tradition derive the name from the same root but in an active sense, ‘he who draws out,’ in the sense of ‘saviour, deliverer.’

    I think that describes this cat perfectly.

  85. 85
    anonymoose says:

    Looks like our cat Reggie

    Elwood died a couple of years ago, but Reggie is still kicking at 16 yrs old! We adopted Reggie when he was a couple of months old because he was a biter and that wasn’t compatible with the my wife’s coworker’s 3 year old. Reggie is nothing like that anymore and his favorite thing in the world is being beat on with an empty 2-litre bottle.

    Cats are weird.

    As for a cat’s name, I would pick Jake cuz that is what we would have named Reggie if he wasn’t already named (and we would have cats named Elwood and Jake).

  86. 86
    Ellen says:

    Bettis, or Bus. Close enough to Bugger, but much more appropriate.

  87. 87
    Gex says:

    @elisabeth: Thanks! Back when I had Simon, my brother’s girlfriend made an observation about my family that I had never noticed before. The entire family gives their pets human names. Thelma, Sam, Pete, George, Simon, Baily, and Abigail at the time. Thelma was a dog, all the rest cats.

    Animals, pets, help make us more human, if you ask me.

  88. 88
    katie5 says:

    Thinning hair on the spine could be a flea allergy/sensitivity, which expresses itself at the height of flea season. Funny thing is, kitty prozac is a common treatment for the allergy. So, yes, it could be nerves.

  89. 89
    spudgun says:

    Aww, poor scared furry poo…

    I agree, Bugger is a TERRIBLE name for any creature.

    Anyway, HURRAH!! New Cole buddy!

  90. 90
    geg6 says:

    A Hemingway cat! I’ve met a few of those up close. Way back in the late ’80s-early ’90s, my sister lived in Florida and I used to go down and visit for a month or so every year. We always took a trip to Key West and those cats are all over the place there. Funny looking things but very cool.

  91. 91
    Quinerly says:

    Beautiful boy! He looks like a Sid to me. But then again my kittehs are Ivan and John Lennon (and yes the entire name is utilized…he won’t come if you just call him “John.” Someone suggested Hemingway….that would be great, too. Fabulous pick….I always adopt the adult boy kitties, too.

  92. 92
    MikkiChan says:

    He looks like a cat I once knew by the name of Sebastian, called Bass Baby by me!

  93. 93
    Karen in GA says:

    Gorgeous. I see Hemingway was mentioned at least once in the previous thread, so here’s another vote for Mongo. Because we know you’ve already made up your mind.

    Congratulations on your new management position, Mongo!

  94. 94
    catclub says:

    @Steeplejack: So a teradactyl has, like, trillions of digits?

  95. 95
    Karen in GA says:

    @anonymoose: I thought I was the only one with an Elwood! My husband suggested “Jake,” but our friend already had a cat named Jake, so there you go.

  96. 96

    I just don’t understand how people can leave their kittehs when they move. I have moved 3 times in the last 10 years with both the boss kitteh and my sweet ginger girl. Plus I used to move them back and forth between my apartment at school and home during semester breaks. It was not easy or fun and both kittehs hate traveling in the car, but what other choice did I have?

  97. 97
    erlking says:

    I meant to share this story in the INSANE thread because of the Sarah McLaughlin bit.

    A few years back that PSA was on and the Wife and Daughter the Elder (then 7) were watching it. D the E got upset because she’s a good, soft-hearted lass and asked, “Why would somebody abandon their pet?’ The Wife was explaining that sometimes people get animals and then move or realize that it’s more than they thought and instead of doing the right thing, they leave them.

    Wife: “It isn’t right, it’s irresponsible and it’s extremely unkind.”

    Daughter the Younger (then 3.5) passing through the room: “Yeah, and it’s Bullshit.” Delivered in the unmistakeable tones of her father.

    I had to lock myself in the bathroom for 10 minutes, laughing.

    Just thought I’d share.

  98. 98
    Jebediah says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:
    You don’t understand because you are not a careless asshole.

  99. 99
    Tinare says:

    Awwww – adorable. He may be scared now, but he’ll soon discover what a lucky cat he is. Congrats to you both!

  100. 100
    zoej says:


  101. 101
    Sister Rail Gun of Warm Humanitarianism says:

    @Comrade Mary: Looks like a brown tabby to me, too. I was owned by a wonderful, domineering, floofy brown tabby for more than 15 years.

  102. 102
    Elizabelle says:

    I vote for the name Levon.

  103. 103
    vtr says:

    He looks like our 26 lb. (correct) coon cat, Nikko. I’m much older than you, but my favorite Steeler is Franko.

  104. 104
    keestadoll says:

    Given your proclivity to be owned by your pets, I suggest “Da Man.” PS: so happy for you.

  105. 105
    Biscuits says:

    That kitty just hit the mother lode. I am so glad he’s going to be livin large at the Cole house! :)

  106. 106
    Kristine says:

    Yea, kitty!

    Hit the jackpot in the Shelter Kitty Wheel of Life.

  107. 107
    Anne Laurie says:

    I have to get him to a groomer because he has some thinning hair on his spine (I think from nerves maybe) and some matting on his back near his tail, so we are going for a clean shave soon.

    Groomer will probably suggest a ‘lion cut’ — short everywhere but his head & tail, and sometimes paws. It’s a good look for a Maine Coon, usually, but be prepared to discover that all that luxuriant fur may disguise a less-than-impressive physique!

  108. 108
    Ann Marie says:

    At 6 years old, it’s disgraceful that his prior owner never had him neutered. So irresponsible.

    You might not need to shave the hair. A good groomer should be able to just remove the matting. My Louie had a couple of small raw spots on his skin when I got him. They turned out to be allergies which we treated. The problem has pretty much gone away.

  109. 109
    dance around in your bones says:

    I remember when I was in 4th grade, I was in the school office and I called somebody a ‘bugger’. The veddy British secretary looked shocked, and told me to go to the library and look up the word.

    Boy howdy, did I come back with a red face. Funny thing is, I thought I’d just made up the word.

    eta: P.S. That’s another awesome blurry hard to see pic, Meester Cole :)

  110. 110
    Lolis says:

    I like Henry.

  111. 111
    Pogonip says:

    If he was spraying, as he probably was, the prior asshole–Er, owner–was suitably punished.

    How about Pookie?

  112. 112
    Violet says:

    @dance around in your bones: I wonder if whoever named him Bugger called him that because he pestered them. Maybe they didn’t even know the British meaning of the word. He might be a very interactive cat once he gets used to his new home.

  113. 113
    MomSense says:

    You could name him Baxter for a Maine Governor and a beautiful state park here. He is a gorgeous cat and I wish all the best for all of you!

  114. 114
    cckids says:

    @SG: Ok, I love this. Could go with “Big Mose” or “Old Mose” to fit the 2-name category.

  115. 115
    PST says:

    Thinning hair on the spine can come from someone trying too hard to get rid of matted hair by brushing. When I got my cat back from my ex, he was so matted I started calling him Natty Dread. I brushed and brushed, including with a Furminator, but without much effect except to overthin along the back where there’s no meat over the bone. I was thinking of getting him shaved, but I was so slow getting around to it that the problem resolved on its own. My best guess is that a change in diet to a good all-meat-protein formula did the trick, although that’s hard to prove. Now he has the softest coat imaginable.

  116. 116
    La Caterina says:

    Mazel Tov!

  117. 117
    Darkrose says:

    John, for the record, you’ll need to groom him fairly regularly. Maine Coons have matting problems, and it can get out of hand quickly. Also keep an eye on his claws with the extra toe. Joxur fought when I tried to trim his claws, so I wasn’t as good as I should have been, and a couple of times the claw on his “thumb” grew into the pad and got infected.

    They’re such lovey cats. I miss my boy constantly.

  118. 118
    dance around in your bones says:

    @Violet: I wouldn’t be surprised if that was the case (I certainly had no idea of the Brit meaning of the word as a 4th grader in Albuquerque).

    This brings me to revising my request for TattooSydney to write a new version of his sweet story, now titled:

    The Fat Man, The Bugger and Two Bitches.

    Oh my. Sounds kinda kinky, no?

  119. 119
    Jebediah says:

    @dance around in your bones:

    The Fat Man, The Bugger and Two Bitches.

    Oh my. Sounds kinda kinky, no?

    But entertaining!

  120. 120
    MathInPA says:

    Yay, Maine Coon! They are awesome.

    And, uh. I hadn’t mentioned this before out of respect for your grief, but you might want to re-consider the idea that those who leave behind pets when they move are sociopaths, especially those that are left at shelters and other various organizations that house/rescue animals. I hope that you mean that the one who left behind this champ specifically was one for some reason, but as a generic, it’s often rather the opposite. In many ways, it’s an example of one of the myriad ways our society punishes people for being poor, and increasingly, the lower ends of the shrinking middle class. Many apartments and rental units of various types either flat-out forbid pets, limit the number, dramatically increase rent and/or insurance, and similar ways of discouraging or completely preventing people from having pets.

    This isn’t even a matter of being irresponsible and taking in a pet for which you can’t provide. More and more people, especially in the U.S., are living paycheck to paycheck. Get sick? Lose your job? Suddenly, your ability to pay rent is in danger. Even if you can scramble to find a “temporary” job, it’s often lower paying, and you’ll still have to move to keep a roof over your head. You can search and search, and then, you start to break down crying because you realize that your cat would destroy the car and probably escape from it, even if you managed to live in it. Or that he or she would have to live in a cage close on to 24/7, and you’d have to hope that you could find spots with enough shade and remember each and every time to roll down your windows. Got kids? Now you’re having to choose between making sure that they’re not taken away from you because you’re living out of your car, and having to tell them that they can’t keep their pet. And none of this even includes how sick cats, especially, can get from even small moves, and the massive distrust many pets have of cars and trucks, especially unfamiliar ones.

    There are people who are stupid about it, of course. The kind who think that their since-kittenhood indoor cat would “survive better” on the streets than in a shelter. Of course, not all of that is stupidity. Sometimes it’s a desperate inability to find a no-kill that will take your cat in, especially an older cat, who’s less adoptable and as a result, a population pressure for rescues that absolutely need to keep the population circulating. Who’s going to tell that person what the right choice is when they learn to their horror that they can’t keep the cat, no friends or family will take them, and the choice is now between letting them out on the streets, in a nearby park/woods, or putting them into a shelter with a time limit? I’m not sure anyone has the wisdom and moral certainty to make that choice.

    I know that I rant on when I delurk. This, however, is really emotional for me. I’ve never had to make that decision. The closest was leaving our first Maine Coon behind– at my mother-in-law’s house, with people who adored her and took care of her, after coming to a mutual decision with my mother-in-law, her new husband, and my wife that it would be best not to upset her with the move. However, as I said a few months back, the possibility of it has become terribly stark. We even have failsafes in position for our pets, but the gist is that after being foisted off after repeated requests for observations, evaluation, and guidance, I got told my contract would not renew this upcoming year, which can be the kiss of death if not handled right. I get nervous even writing it, given the fact that I’m sometimes open with my feelings and identifying where I am– and hell, I’m probably not the only math teacher forced out for a combination of health reasons and insufficient hours in the budget. I could be spiking someone else’s career as much as mine. I hope not, but I have to talk about this or, especially when I read certain things, it will eat at me again and again.

    … Anyway. the nightmares, and the failsafes. I have nightmares about this, and especially since until getting two calls for interviews this week, I’d only gotten one call-back, let alone interview, in three months after more than 50 applications. I have nightmares about other things, and I honestly, not just for stress on this matter, but for feeling like I’ve failed my wife, my family, the people who trained me, the people who recommendations… There are a lot of reasons, but I obsess about our four-footed children a lot. Actually, typing about it is hard, and there are tears as I do so.

    The nightmare/daymare is this: if we can’t manage to make the house payments, where will we go? Housing’s depressed here– durrr, it is everywhere– and my sister-in-law moved into the apartment at my mother-in-law’s, which is fair game. I remember when we were first considering an apartment before working out a good rent scheme with my mother-in-law, and how many places were ‘no dogs’, ‘no cats,’ extra deposit, higher rent, higher insurance, and/or some combination of the above. We’ve only lived here two years into a long mortgage, and we haven’t been able to overpay the mortage often. We’ve added some value, but how much? We lost a lot of our cushion cash when it turned out the heat pump we were told had a while left in it died within a month.

    I get nightmares. About my animals. About how when the two youngest were kittens, we searched and searched and searched for a place for the one that doesn’t really like people, but even as an adorable kitten, no one would take a semi-feral, even one that didn’t bite or claw except when cornered. They’re both a year old now. How much harder would it be if we couldn’t keep them? That’s WHY we have the semi-feral and the younger queen when we only wanted to have two or three cats max, because we were NOT going to let them be abandoned or put in a kill shelter, while we still had a house– while we still had a house.

    The next youngest, the youngest queen is probably 2-3, and our current is a year or two beyond that. Our oldest cat is not only in his late middle age, but he’s a severe overgroomer that the vet hasn’t been able to find a solution for other than the stopgap of an e-collar. The last time we took his e-collar off for even an hour, he tore a massive amount of fur off his body and strips off his hide that made the left side of him look like a leatherback. He got the e-collar off this morning, and we noticed it within minutes– and he opened oozing, but not, thankfully, seriously bleeding spots on his “armpit” areas– all four. We got him, got the e-collar back on, and treated his wounds, but we still have no solution. It’s not food allergies, it’s not his litter box, and it’s all self-inflicted. Even the young cat that we’re training to not occasionally chase the others away from food dishes and litter boxes is gentle with him and lets him eat without interference. Our dogs were from no-kills with a registered return policy, but we’ve bonded to them, and them to us.

    So my nightmare is, if I lost my job, and we lost the house, who could we save? If we had a choice between a no-cat and a no-dog rental, which one would we take, and what would we do for the ones we couldn’t? What could we do?

    Thankfully, it’s not really that bad, as my wife reminds me. We have failsafes, and help from family, plus there’s a chance we could keep the house, even if I get neither a job nor social security from the disabilities. Which is good, because a lot of those failsafes would hurt, even so. I don’t know what I’d do if we didn’t have those, but I am quite capable of imagining the fear, grief, and raw pain of those who don’t– and I know that deciding who was desperate and who was stupid, who was cruel and who still cries when they remember the ones they couldn’t care for is much harder than I have capacity for.

    I’m probably saying this for no reason, and if you knew all of this and were talking about specific cases, I’m sorry. But it’s worth remembering that welfare helped animal control too. That there are numerous ways in which our current vulture society savages those who are poor, and that far too many people are one bad day away from fitting in that title. For that matter, I think there’s something inherently cruel about a society in which a large portion of the population is de facto barred from having companionship. Much like our animals, we did not evolve to be alone.

  121. 121
    dance around in your bones says:

    @Jebediah: I’d prolly take a quick peek :)

    Just for the article, doncha know.

  122. 122
    carlweese says:

    Before you shave him, try to see if he can accept, and then like, being groomed. Our rescued Maine coon begs for grooming more often than he begs for food. And that’s a lot.

  123. 123
    Uncle Ebeneezer says:

    …my little friend?

  124. 124
    Comrade Nimrod Humperdink says:

    @ranchandsyrup: wonder if he could trace his lineage back to Count Rugen

  125. 125
    Jebediah says:

    Very sorry for your troubles. Thanks for the reminder of how cruel a place this country can be for the economically insecure. It is a giant stain on our national character.

    ETA: Not least because collectively we have the wherewithal to very easily provide a reasonable, decent safety net.

  126. 126
    TaMara (BHF) says:

    @Anne Laurie: That made me laugh out loud and scare one of my cats.

    Friend just said to me that my Birman cat could give Tunch a run for his money when I showed her Tunch’s photo. I laughed and said, no, that really is all fluff, underneath my kitteh is a skinny minnie. Block bully he is not.

  127. 127
    carlweese says:


    I should have said “treats” not “food”. He has constant access to top quality dry food and gets one teaspoon of wet every morning. But SG keeps giving him treats. He still stays at exactly fifteen pounds, and leaps onto a half-wall in the kitchen every now and then just to impress us.

  128. 128
    MikeInSewickely says:

    MY GOD!!! You stole the feral cat I’ve been feeding for the past year!!! It looks just like her!

    She has become really affectionate in the past 4-5 months so I’m trying to coax the better half into making her an indoor but we’ve never done that before. We’d have to take her to get completely checked out and she is a lot bigger than our 10 year female. Also 4 cats is really above our limit so I’m not sure.

    But she is a Maine Coon cat and are they fluff balls or what!!!

    Oh boy! Another animal to coo over here at Balloon Juice.

    It’s better for the soul than reading about the wingnut Senate and House fighting to see who can destroy America’s middle class first. Thanks for the breather.

  129. 129
    Gex says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: I remember seeing someone post how they were looking for a new home for their dog, as they were moving.

    And I recall posting on Facebook a short time later, “I’d rather live in a van by the river than move someplace that won’t allow Casey.”

  130. 130
    Rook says:

    He’s definitely got Maine Coon in him. You can tell even with that partial shot. Nice thing about Maine Coons is their tendency to bond to one person, even in a household of multiple people. Cinnamon showed up at the back door of my work one Saturday morning 10 years ago, and she bonded with me instantly. She’s lived in a house with four other people besides me and never bonded to any of them. You will be happy.

    Oh, and I’d name him Manny!

  131. 131

    I was getting my hair cut Sunday and the guy next to me was wearing sandals. I noticed he had 6 toes. That day I googled it and learned the term “polydactyl” and here it is again.

  132. 132
    phoebes-in-santa fe says:

    @Face: Hell, I adopted a wonderful Tuxedo from our local shelter three years ago, whose name was “Pit”. I changed that name so fast we hadn’t even left the shelter! Call him “Robin Obama” after Robin Hood and you-know-who. He’s a fine young man and a much better “Robin” than “Pit”.

    And, Cole, that’s a fine looking young cat. Enjoy him.

  133. 133
    Gex says:

    @MathInPA: My best to you. In my above post, I say that with the luxury of being single and able to put my dog that high up on my priority list. I thank you for making that point too, as I do not think that being poor should preclude you from the joys of having a pet, and it is a shame that people can lose that freedom simply based on what kind of housing they can afford.

  134. 134
    BettyPageisaBlonde says:

    This makes me very happy. Congratulations!


  135. 135
    Csbella says:

    Hi you beautiful kitteh, welcome. You just found yourself a fabulous place to live. Meow.

  136. 136
    Scott says:

    He looks like one of my boys Zen. I’d probably call him Dexter as he’s a poly and looks to be a real character.

  137. 137
    Jennifer says:

    Ok, I had suggested Phineas, but I have to give the nod to Levon. He looks more like a Levon.

    As others have said, he will reveal his own name in time. If he plays rough enough to draw blood, keep “Vlad” under consideration.

  138. 138
    Francis says:

    @MathInPA: Thanks for your story. Best of luck to you.

  139. 139
    kc says:

    Handsome kitteh. Give him lots of love and patience.

  140. 140
    Anne Laurie says:


    Our oldest cat is not only in his late middle age, but he’s a severe overgroomer that the vet hasn’t been able to find a solution for other than the stopgap of an e-collar. The last time we took his e-collar off for even an hour, he tore a massive amount of fur off his body and strips off his hide that made the left side of him look like a leatherback. He got the e-collar off this morning, and we noticed it within minutes– and he opened oozing, but not, thankfully, seriously bleeding spots on his “armpit” areas– all four. We got him, got the e-collar back on, and treated his wounds, but we still have no solution. It’s not food allergies, it’s not his litter box, and it’s all self-inflicted.

    Thirty years ago, I almost put a cat with this problem to sleep because I couldn’t afford specialist pet care. One of my housemates took the responsibility, and the neutered male cat eventually got put on estrogen, which for some reason solved his problem. If Alaric didn’t get his birth-control pills twice a week, he’d go right back to licking holes in his hide!

    Since then, I’ve heard of other cats doing well on prozac for the same problem.

    Incidentally, you’r right about the tragedy of the newly indigent befing forced to give up their animal companions. One more way “we” punish people for being poor, because poverty is a moral failing…

  141. 141

    If he has been neglected, make sure your vet checks for mange (AKA scabies in people)
    This can be a cause of thinning hair.

    On the name issue, I support Mongo — I had a striped cat like yours and he also had an “M” on his forehead.

  142. 142
    MathInPA says:

    @Jebediah: Thank you. I have an interview on Monday, and on Tuesday, and after I’m done doing some household chores, I’ll get back to work with writing job applications. I’ve been stretching my skillset as far as it will go on some of the applications, but I’ve decided that they taught me how to learn, durnit, and so I’m going to throw out everything I can for any job that my back doesn’t preclude me from working for and I have anything even vaguely relevant for, and see what sticks, while we’re waiting to hear back from SSDI. I still remember the shock from the phone interview when I found out that Medicare doesn’t start for two years after being on disability. I haven’t told my wife, but I’ve been debating reducing the number of times I take certain meds with variable amounts so I can stretch them out in the interim if things don’t work out with the exchanges/etc.

    I’m not one of the worst off by any means. We have family safety nets, and I have been lucky enough to get a broad, technology-friendly skills set. My parents might not be able to give me a loan to start a business and I wasn’t given stock I can cash out, but they’ve helped with a few things, and my in-laws have been great too. There are people out there who have it a lot worse than I do, and I think that’s one of the reasons that in good time or in bad, I’ve stayed liberal, other than the fact that our economic models work better. There’s way too much evidence that luck, starting class/wealth, and networking have huge thumbs on the economic scale. There’s no vast conspiracy of poor people and their dupes that’s keeping me and other smart people down. We have an inherently inequitable system, and I find it highly likely that any system that includes scarcity, inherited wealth, or both, among other things, will ever be a true meritocracy. … Actually, scratch that, I doubt that a post-scarcity society would be likely to produce a true meritocracy, either, it would just be easier to safety net. You’re right, though, that we CAN do much better with the safety net, and we should.

  143. 143
    Annamal says:

    Our polydactyl (Dax) is fully capable of picking up objects with her thumbs…if she wasn’t so scatty I would genuinely fear for our futures.

    Good luck with your guy (and his thumbs)

  144. 144
    satby says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Yep, I like Jerricho too, covers the extra digit and John’s Steelers fetish.
    Congrats John!

  145. 145
    MathInPA says:


    Thank you. It’s a bit of a sensitive issue right now, and I hope none of that came off as whining or angry at anyone here in particular.

    @Anne Laurie:

    I hadn’t known about the estrogen thing, though one of the things my wife and I have been promising each other is that one of our first projects when we have financial security again is to go back to the vet and explore pharmaceutical options. Kitty prozac is the one we knew about, but knowing more options gives us more things to ask the vet. I don’t like to think what would have happened to our last few months with our last dog before the current two, and to us emotionally, if we hadn’t been in a place where we were able to afford various examinations and treatments. I try to look on the bright side of not having a job right now; I can keep an eye on the poor boy– for some reason , he’s taken to stretching himself out with his top clinging to the top of a chairback and his hind legs on the arm, or, when he’s not tired, perching completely on the top of the chair and constantly pushing his paws back into position with a narrow balance. I have no idea what’s up with that, but if it gives him even a moment’s peace until I can get work again and we can go for meds for our baby, I’m all for it, you know?

    Until this happened to me, I was vaguely aware of the problem. And I suppose one of the blessings of being liberal is that, if you’re not a fauxgressive or something, if you look back on your past actions about something you didn’t know about, you can generally say, “Well, at least I was pushing for some of the policies that would help.” I don’t know how many of my students back in LA, many of whom were from migrant families, never even had the chance to have pets.

  146. 146
    gelfling545 says:

    Be sure to rub the pads of his paws with butter when you bring him home so he’ll know it is his home. It’s an old folk superstition that I swear by. I’ve had a couple cats decide to leave & not return over the years but never one whose paws I buttered. Yes, of course it’s coincidence. I do it anyway.

  147. 147
    eclare says:

    @Jennifer: Are you a tax geek? Joyce and Finnegan?

  148. 148
    snetzky says:

    if nothing else, check out contracting through Robert Half or one of the other tech recruiting cos. been doing it for 10 plus years in Iowa, of all places, and haven’t been out of work more than 2 mo ever. you have to get an emergency fund for those times your on the bench, but its worth looking into

  149. 149
    MathInPA says:

    @snetzky: We had one; it got blown through when the heat pump went out years ahead of schedule– when we were about to move in, during the northern winter. That’s survival, I’m afraid, and we didn’t really recover after, especially when I was put on part time. I’ve added the Robert Half one to my bookmark trawl; thank you so much.

  150. 150
    Darkrose says:

    @Annamal: Yeah, we always used to joke that the world was lucky that Joxur had opposable thumbs and was also dumb as a box of rocks.

  151. 151
    Zelma says:

    Great cat. Looks just like my rescue, Simmons (named for the people who took care of him after he was dumped.) John, you have to find a Steeler name!

  152. 152
    WereBear says:

    Oh, he looks so wonderful! I adore Maine Coons.

    Our own Maine Coon Mix: Reverend Jim

    They always reveal their own name. I adore Levon, but if you are looking for an earworm…

  153. 153
    Kelly McGee says:

    this post made my whole day. Congrats to the new member of your family. You are the best :)

  154. 154
    asiangrrlMN says:

    Your new boy is so cute. That’s a sweet pic of him, even as scared as he is. What a heartbreaking story he has, but now, he’s going to live like a king. I’m so happy for both of you!

  155. 155
    gerry says:

    From my experience, thinning hair as you describe can be caused by poor nutrition, as in cheap cat food.

  156. 156
    kideni says:

    Hey there, pretty kitty! I hope he appreciates how much he’s lucked out by coming home with you.

  157. 157
    ADS says:

    Welcome, sweet kitty!

  158. 158
    Paul in KY says:

    You could name him ‘Sydney’.

  159. 159
    Bulworth says:

    Hooray for the new Cole Kitty!!

Comments are closed.