Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Our New Baby

We are proud to announce the newest member of our family: Diego.

Diego is a twenty-five pound Maine Coon cat who is six years old and needed a new home due to his former owners and their children developing serious allergies and asthma symptoms (not all related to Diego). Through the magic of Facebook, I found this adorable animal. A few weeks ago, I had put out some feelers hoping to find a Maine Coon for adoption. After having read about these wonderful animals, I realized that this large breed of cat--who is said to act more like a dog than a cat--would be perfect for us. Since we already had a dog who acted like a cat, I figured we'd break even.

All of us—child #2 in particular—have always wanted a cat but have always resisted wondering how our precious Bonnie, the neediest Westie in the world, would respond. But after seeing the beautiful Diego’s pictures on Facebook, courtesy of his former owner, we were sold. His owner described him as ‘mush,’ and we can’t agree more.

Jim and I grew up with cats and are lovers of the feline; we’re both Leos and think that might have something to do with it. I do suffer from allergies, but as I am also allergic to the beautiful Bonnie, I figure that I’ll adopt the same behavior with Diego as I do with her—we will peacefully coexist but there will be no petting from me. This has worked for the last seven years with Bonnie and hopefully it will be the same for my relationship with our new feline friend. The other members of this household are not allergic and shouldn’t have any problem showing Diego the love that he deserves and needs.

I brought him home on Monday after driving over an hour out to Long Island to pick him up from his heartbroken owner. I can only imagine how she felt as we loaded his frame into the giant pet carrier and I set off for the other side of the metropolitan NY area. I assured his owner, R., that I would give him the best home possible and drove away, my own heart breaking as I watch her wave goodbye, tears streaming down her face.

Our first night with Diego was uneventful. We went to bed with him in self-imposed exile under child #2’s bed, where I suspected he would stay for the night. Wrong. Jim was awoken at 11:30 to the feeling of a giant cat on his face and nearly had a heart attack. Seems Diego just needed some late-night loving, which Jim was more than happy to provide. After some stroking from his new owner, and to the sound of hysterical laughter, Diego plopped down on the floor and went to sleep.

Bonnie hasn’t met Diego yet, but we have high hopes for the relationship. They seem like the same animal in different bodies—kind, loving, docile, and compliant.

Photos forthcoming! Welcoming any and all advice from the Stiletto faithful on how to make Diego’s transition to his new home go as smoothly as possible.

Maggie Barbieri


  1. Oh, I wish I lived nearby so I could come play with Diego and hug him! Maine Coons are so laid-back that I'm sure he'll blend right into the family once he gets used to things. Just takes cats awhile to know their surroundings and their people and feel secure. I think Max, Munch, and Blue are going to have to send Diego a care package with some of their favorite kitty things! (If their mom can get out on the snowy streets one of these days to pick them up and mail them!) Good luck with the new fur baby, Mags! Can't wait to see new pictures!

  2. You know this couple of your Chicagoland friends loves the felines, too! Diego is gorgeous no doubt and I think that though they will surely be sad, the family who had to say good-bye to him will take a lot of comfort in knowing that he's going to be with a loving family that will take good care of him in every way. I always used to say that after volunteering at a local humane society I realized that if I had to give up one of my cats it would hurt me much more than them because so many good people are ready and willing to love these creatures and the animals in turn have such a capacity to love the people that love them that they don't miss a step. Adjustments, sure, but problems loving a new family, none.

    Can't wait to see his photos. I know Bonnie is a beauty queen in her own right, too. I'm sure they will get along fine. I haven't mixed dogs with cats much but my understanding is that slow introductions with ample space for retreat for both creatures is a good plan. Eventually, they work it out in their own way at their own pace.

    I love a big cat but I've never really had one. Ours (and we're down to our one old man, Desi, who's nearly 19 years old) have always been on the slender/ordinary side. Once at the vet's office I saw a woman come in with a huge cat in a carrier that would have been way too big for a normal cat and she had the carrier on a set of luggage wheels to handle it! I was staring at him from a distance, peering through the little openings in his carrier while he looked very blase about it all. I'm marveling at his bulk and it just crosses my mind "Hm, I wonder what his or her name is?" when his human says to the receptionist "I'm here with Lunchbox for his check up." You got that right, lady!

    Mags, odds are small you remember this but there was an Ed Asst at Macmillan, briefly, named David Van Bibber--very nice guy who lived in Brooklyn and had found a calico kitten in the rain one day that he kept and named Sneakers. Sneakers grew, rapidly, into a beast that when he laid down his side and stretched his legs out he was about a yard long, not including his tail and he weighed 32 lbs! I remember one time David brought in a photo and showed it around because none of us believed his story about the COUS, or Cat of Unusual Size (like the ROUS from The Princesss Bride). Tony English saw it and made a face and said that it was not a cat, but an ocelot. David and his defacto spouse were very into Xmas and he said that because Sneakers had more than once climbed the ornately decorated tree and tipped it over, shattering precious ornaments, they had put an eye-hook into the wall and anchored the tree to it with a chain! And, Sneakers was apparently plotting some sort of coup because he could climb into kitchen cabinets and shut the door behind himself and then burst out at them with all 32 lbs in motion as a surprise attack.

    It's insane I remember all this, but in my defense, I am clearly a cat-person (really an animal-person--I am training squirrels around the yard with a treasure trove of hazelnuts and walnuts I keep in a pail by my door) and how do your forget either Lunchbox or Sneakers?

    Congrats on Diego. He sounds like a great family addition to me.

  3. You know, after all that talk about how no one could forget Sneakers, it occurs to me that maybe it was Squeakers. It's one of the other and at least I was close!

  4. Susan, I wish you lived close by, too! Diego is starting to feel at home, I think, but still checking us out.

    Vicky, I don't remember Sneakers/Squeakers, but the '80s are a blur to me. I know you're a fellow cat lover, so happy that you approve of our new addition!


  5. Vicky, I love the Sneakers/Squeakers story! I cannot imagine a 32 pound cat. Our biggest cat weighs 15-1/2. When Maggie said Diego was 25 pounds, I was, like, "Whoa!" So 32 pounds seems ginormous (and wonderful)! What a hoot the COUS must have been. I can imagine him jumping out of cupboards! Oy!

  6. I admit I'm a dog person and don't have much experience with cats of any size, but I'm curious about how you take care of a cat that big. It's the size of a small dog so do you use a huge litter box or do you take the cat outside to do his business? I apologize for the indelicate question, but I might want to use the info in a book.:)


  7. Rhonda, Diego's an indoor cat who has never really been outside so we have a giant litter box. Seriously. It's almost as big as Jim's Mini Cooper. Maggie

  8. Wow! That's going to be a big maintenance job. But, hey, you have kids for stuff like that.

    If you get some photos, send them on and I'll add them to your slideshow - oh and also send one of poor Bonnie.


  9. At the moment we have 3 inside cats--two that are in the 20+ pound range, brothers, Butch (black and white), Sundance (marked like a dark Siamese), and smaller, fuzzy, multi colored female we call Squeaky. Squeaky and Butch do not like one another.

    The outside cats come and go. I think there are four now, they are feral and hubby is the only one who can get close to them.

    We've always had cats and they are all different.

    Enjoy your new guy.


  10. Hi Maggie, We adopted a stray cat about 7 years ago (much to my hesitation), but I'm so glad we did. Our Lucky sounds a lot like your Diego. He's more a lap dog than cat and so so so sweet. Best of luck!