Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Toffee Mystery Explained

Toffee shows his fluffy side. 

Last week I wrote about Toffee, wondering how our longhaired kitten became shorthaired over a period of days in January, and suggesting possible theories. On Saturday, I heard from our vet, who had looked at photos but didn't have an explanation. She reassured me that whatever happened to him was most likely normal, since he's in good health, is not a bit neurotic, and eats a nutritious diet. But that still left the question about whether Toffee's fur might ever grow back. It seems that some fluffy kittens turn into shorthaired cats for good. Others' coats wax and wane dramatically, usually in sync with the seasons but not always. And I couldn't help wondering about divine retribution, since I prefer my own cats to be fluffy rather than sleek.

When I have a question, I like to ask Possum. He knows a lot and, if he's stumped, he's creative about making up answers. While I can't trust his accuracy, he often opens new avenues of thought because his mind heads in odd directions. He was no help this time. I'd forgotten that Toffee and Harris are "his" kittens; to him, they are perfect. So I got a lecture on how feline coat colors and lengths are unimportant, how I have an unreasonable bias against shorthaired cats, how I'm a hypocrite because I shave my legs, and how I'm giving a Toffee a complex by worrying about trivialities out of his control. Then he called me a "furist" and suggested it was time I did something with my own hair.... at which point I left the room.

My next step was Google. I searched around, and found Moosecoons, a Maine Coon cattery in Maryland. The owner seemed passionate and knowledgeable about cats.* In addition to showcasing her stunning Maine Coons, her website is a fairly comprehensive guide to cat care that will be helpful to anyone, especially those who are new to cat ownership or in need of a refresher course. (I needed one when I got the kittens — "best practices" have changed a lot in recent years.) If you browse her site, you'll find clear info on subjects ranging from vaccines and clipping claws to poisons and toxins. I agreed with what I read, learned several things, and was most riveted by her page on growth and development of Maine Coon Kittens. She has heaps of experience that only a breeder can have. I read aloud the paragraphs about kitten coats to my husband and we agreed it sounded like Toffee's situation.

I sensed a kindred spirit, so I sent the owner an email, asking her to please look at my post about Toffee and give me her opinion. She sent me the nicest reply, which she allowed me to post here:

He is quite a handsome boy and I love that look of "planning mischief" in his eye.  He is definitley a domestic long-hair, or technically speaking a "semi long-hair" as the only true long hair cat is a Persian. He looks much like a young boy who has recently shed his kitten coat and has not yet begun to grow in his adult coat.  Since he was a stray, you may have misinformation about his true age, or certainly the medications he had to take could have thrown his growth patterns off course a bit.
Either way, I assure you I've had numerous cats that have looked like him at some stage in their older-kitten/young-adult stages.  I have no doubt that his coat will come back in and be long and luxurious and lovely — I just can't tell you when.

I consider this a definitive answer — and notice how she zoomed right in on Toffee's bad-boy personality. I know he's a mixed breed and not a real Maine Coon, but I trust her judgment. And besides, there's his tail. I don't believe he will be a shorthair because his tail is still almost as wide as he is. Cats' tails are always telling you something, and they don't lie.

* She also makes and sells pretty and enticing cat toys.


  1. My Himalayan, Kashmir, actually had some similar issues when she was about 1. I considered it her awkward teenage period and believe me, her fur grew back 10 fold! Do you have issues with static creating matts?

  2. The evidence is piling up! Thank you for writing. Kashmir is a terrific name, by the way. I don't have trouble with static and mats with these cats but when we had Persians, mats were much more of a problem. It would suddenly spin out of control every spring and they'd be covered in a few days. Winter static was a problem, too.

  3. Let me see if this will work...

    Kitten Kashmir: https://sphotos-a.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ash4/262_562733719969_1488_n.jpg

    Teenage Kashmir: https://sphotos-a.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ash4/369_592652801889_5154_n.jpg

    Adult Kashmir (AKA Extreme fluff): hhttps://sphotos-b.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ash3/11445_695929539479_4356055_n.jpg

    She definitely grew into her fluffiness! I lucked out last year with the knotts since it was so mild and humid, this year is a different story! You're right, they come out of nowhere and it's a slow process getting them out since she hates sitting still!

  4. Oh, wow! She's quite amazing even in her "awkward teenager" phase! Thanks for sending those. Toffee is very shorthaired now, especially compared to her, and is looking rather "pinheaded" as my husband says (even though he's besotted with the little guy). I think it will be a while before the fluff fills in and he looks well-proportioned again, but we believe it WILL happen.


Spam goes right into the trash but I appreciate relevant comments from non-spammers (and I can always tell the difference). I do my best to follow up if you have a question. ALL spam, attempts to market other websites, and anything nasty or unintelligible gets deleted instantly. The cats and I thank you for reading — and please feel free to comment on what you read.