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.