Tootsie (a rescued “typey” Maine Coon)

This is an update on Tootsie, a rescued, polydactyl Maine Coon who has been described as “typey”. That cat breeders’ word means that she looks the way a Maine Coon should look. In other words, Tootsie is a genuine purebred Maine Coon, the salt of the earth American barn cat mouser turned show cat. She lives with Valley Girl in Atlanta, USA. Valley Girl (an internet name shortened to “VG”) has a blog about cats and other things that is a sub-domain of PoC. “Sub-domain” means it is a part of PoC but a free standing website at the same time.

Tootsie a typey rescued Maine Coon photos by Vallegy Girl

Tootsie a typey rescued Maine Coon. Photos by Valley Girl.

VG is a science lecturer who likes her photography. She is more used to SLR cameras. SLR stands for “single lens reflex”. This comes from the old days of film. The term is still used. You look through the lens via an eyepiece, a pentaprism and a mirror.

Tootsie is quite a well known cat on the internet. If you google “polydactyl maine coon” you’ll probably see a couple of pictures by VG of Tootsie at the top of page one. Great. One of the pictures illustrates an article on a cat’s sense of touch, which I wrote years ago.

Tootsie’s coat is described as “silver patched tabby”. Tabby is the best for Maine Coons as it is the way they looked 400 years ago. It makes them look more like barn cats. We know that Maine Coons have a predisposition towards polydactylism. Some people say this is because the original Maine Coons were long haired ship’s cats from Europe and sailors selected cats with polydactyl feet because they believed they were better seafarers. The extra toes making them better on deck.

I’ll finish with a few quotes by VG on Tootsie from her Flickr webpages and her website. Tootsie is a pretty active cat and she has a good turn of speed:

..I clocked her on one long stretch about a week ago- well it was a “guesstimate”, but she was moving at ~ 25 mph…

VG found Tootsie online:

I found her online, via a local cat rescue charity. Uh, this was the photo they posted….And, the description was not exactly encouraging either- shy, needs patient person, etc. But, she is a purebred Maine coon, and I’ve long been fascinated by tales of the Maine coon. She was put into rescue because her owner became ill, and could no longer care for her.

Here is the picture of Tootsie as advertised by the rescue center.

Tootsie, purebred Maine Coon at rescue facility waiting to be adopted by VG.

Tootsie, purebred Maine Coon at rescue facility waiting to be adopted by VG.

I’ll let VG make a comment to fill in some blanks that I have no doubt left. Associated page: American Polydactyl Cat.

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Tootsie (a rescued “typey” Maine Coon) — 21 Comments

    • Dan, Tootsie thanks you. She’s my “beauty cat” aka “Ms Fluffy pants” etc.

      For you and others below, some background.

      I got fascinated by Maine coons after I started my cat blog. I was “addicted” to watching youtube videos of cats. And, on a whim, I thought “why not share these great vids?”

      I didn’t have a cat, and the cats in the youtubes were my virtual “kitties”. I come from a cat loving family, and at that point, I’d suffered too much “cat grief” to even think about getting another cat. Course, my friends kept telling me (like for years), “VG, you need to get a cat”.

      Never had a purebred cat before, but as said above, the Maine coons I saw on youtube fascinated me. Not sure I can remember why, but in part because of their silly and quirky behavior. If you look at archives of my blog, you’ll see that I was posting more and more vids of Maine coons.

      And, then I kinda said to myself, well, if I ever get another cat, I want a Maine coon. But, I was not committed to getting another cat. Nonetheless, I started checking out, and also trying to identify breeders in my area. Just to get oriented to the idea of “maybe”. I spent a lot more time on petfinder than I did checking out the cat breeders. Just because every cat that was part of my extended cat-loving family was a rescue cat of some sort or other. I checked out petfinder for months, sometimes every day, sometimes occasionally.

      And, then, Kismet! Tootsie appeared. Michael showed the pic posted at petfinder, and she looked pretty miserable. She had been put into rescue because her owner was ill, and could no longer care for her. And, the description was not exactly inviting. Purebred Maine coon, but not so friendly with humans or other cats. Needs very patient person, etc. Aha! “Needs patient person”. That snagged me, along with the fact that she was genuine Maine coon. The “patient” part… well, I figured that I could do that.

      I’ll leave other parts of the story until later in comments.

      But, here is a link to my TKA post describing my first meeting with Tootsie.


  1. She’s beautiful and I like her name 🙂 and 25mph is pretty darn quick. I love her light smokey fur. The photo of her in the shelter is very typical and sad – so many cats who have lived a life in one home that get dropped off at a shelter must become very scared, shy and introverted and this really works against them being adopted. I know I would rather adot such a cat and there are many others too who appreciate and want to help these cats. Nonetheless the photo is a reminder of the sad goings on at shelters all over the place. She looks like a wonderful cat 🙂

    I had no idea POC ran subdomains which were available to anyone for setting up blogs and such. It’s pretty incredible that you have done all this on your own Michael, did you take a course or just self taught?

    • Self-taught. There are about 10 or more sub-domains. If you want your own blog I’d be happy to set it up as a sub-domain. However, you’ll have to be sure you can write for it before starting. Guess that is obvious. It takes time as I am sure you know. The biggest of the PoC subdomains has 1750 pages or their abouts:

      It is mine. I wrote all the pages on it.

      Tootsie is beautiful as you say. Gosh, she was quite a find for VG. And VG is a very sweet lady. Gentle lady. Perfect cat companion. VG has the same birthday as me but one day out. She is like a sister. I have never met her though but we have spoken in the phone (Google online, internet phone).

    • Marc,

      Yes, she was not presented as the ideal adoptive cat. The particular agency that was “advertising” her had a regular place at Petsmart or some other comparable place. The room they had had 8 or so cats in cages who basically lived at Petsmart. These of course were the most friendly and outgoing cats, and Tootsie was not part of this cadre. Also, I think there’s a preference for adopting younger cats, and Tootsie was six years old. As you say, about cats in shelter situations being scared, shy and introverted, yes, absolutely. And, their health suffers.

      I asked some questions when I went to adopt Tootsie. It turned out that for the four months she was at the shelter no one had seen her grooming herself, and no one had heard her purr. Plus, when I took her to the vet immediately after adopting her, it turned out that she was seriously underweight. She only weighed just six pounds, and was very bony. She’s tipping the scales now at over eight pounds, which is about right, considering that she is pretty small for a Maine coon.

      And, yes, she is a wonderful cat.


      • How sad that they let her get so underweight. I say that just because it seems they didn’t mention the fact when you adopted her which is odd – so I guess they weren’t paying all that much attention? I might be wrong – just a thought. Shelters for older cats used to a home must be nothing short of a worst nightmare. Worse probably than going to boarding school in another country as an 8 year old 🙂 – it’s very sad for these cats who don’t make it out, this is the thing which is impossible for us all to come to terms with emotionally – or me at least. The shelter photo of her is a reminder of that. I wonder what that does to a cat who makes it out. I wonder how long it took for Tootsie to come out of her shell after that. I guess being used to a home once meant it was easier than were she a stray. I always think of the movie ‘the matrix’ when I think about cats being taken to the vet or the shelter. A few of my cats were born in my friends garden and never saw anything other than that and my home til their operations. I’m sure plenty of feral/wild cats who are taken to a shelter and put in a cage must feel like something akin to something in the movie – it must be emotionally impossible to handle for some of them. I wonder if Tootsie remembers or dreams about her 6 months in the shelter cage. It’s the sort of traumatic event that would change a human, like being thrown in jail for no apparent reason or something along those lines. Cats are amazing if you consider what some of them go through. I can totally understand why cats who have had a hard time might take years or never even come around to trusting and being open again. Lucky for Tootsie you adopted her and not somebody who would want a purebred cat for the wrong reasons. ‘Tootsie’ – I just love that name 🙂

    • Marc,

      As a p.s. “Tootsie” was her name when I adopted her, and I decided it was just right. I actually got info about which cattery she came from (because I asked for the documents more than once), and her registered name is xxx Thumbs Up. xxx = cattery name, but not sure I should give that away.

      And, in response to Michael’s “typey” (not your comments) her sire was a “champion cat” (cat show terms). I guess he was a pretty spectacular Maine coon. I’ve been told (anonymous sources) that “everyone wanted one of his kittens”. Dam was poly.

      Oh, as another p.s., it was somewhere around a one in a gazillion chance that I found a purebred Maine coon via petfinder. As I said somewhere else in comments “Kismet”.


  2. Babz nor I have much luck with blogs, Michael kindly set up one each for us but no one hardly visited us to comment apart from each other, so it was quite pointless.

    • It is tough. It takes a long time to and lots of pages to get noticed and you have to keep writing. I totally understand why you stopped. It is a full-time job basically. Not many people have the time etc..

    • Ruth, I just happened to have internet friends from other sites, so their views and comments kept me going. Plus, I never had particularly high expectations. I had found a lot of youtubes of cats that I’d bookmarked (youtube addict at the time, also finding youtubes for the courses I was teaching), and on a whim, I thought, well why not share these? So, I didn’t start out from scratch, trying to figure out what to write about. But, blogging continually is a challenge. At some point, my day job became so pressing that I more or less had to let the blog languish. But, with Michael’s help, perhaps it can be resurrected, now that I’ve decided to take early retirement and can the day job!

  3. General comment as to the “typey” thing.

    Tootsie is not an “official” Maine coon according to CFA and TICA standards, because she’s polydactyl. There’s a long history of controversy about the poly issue.

    But, these “agencies” also have very specific guidelines otherwise as to “typey”. Can’t dig out the links right now. But, I’ve been told by two different cat breeders, one I met at a cat show, and another that I met via flickr that Tootsie is very “typey”. In part has to do with the shape of her muzzle (very strong) and the way her ears are set. There are specifics as to the ears, having to do with the space between them, and how tall and erect they are. Toosie apparently has very good ears. As one of the breeders told me after I sent her pics of Tootsie “she has very good ears, considering her age!” To put this in context, most cats shown at cat shows are somewhere around max. 3 years old. Michael can correct me if I’m wrong about that, as he’s been to way more cat shows than I have.


  4. Hi Valley Girl nice to meet you!
    Well she is beautiful no doubt and you can definitely tell she’s a girl; very pretty! Took me ages to read this as I was in and out of all the links but I have to say I have fallen for King Louie he was amazing I love the video of him groomung the dog and the one of him doing the same to his dad! He seems to have lived before that fella! He has such presence! I feel for his family he must’ve left a huge gap in their lives after his passing in 2009 have heard how they are doing a few years on? Did they get another Maine Coon? He reminds me of AJ from Rusti Blu who is the ‘Uncle of everyone’ he is huge and we were overwhelmed when we met him! He is probably a similar size and weight to King Louie. You can meet him here

    This is where our Ozzie came from although previously all our cats have been rescues and strays. We tried to get a rescue however all the cats on the Maine Coon rescue websites were outdoor cats and we have a main road so this didn’t happen.

    I really enjoyed reading all your blogs and now you’ve retired I look forward to more. I only met one Polydactyl cat but I think they look sweet like cats with mittens or thumbs!

    • HI Leah, nice to meet you too. I checked out the link for the cattery. The gallery has some really fun and sweet pictures. And lovely cats. I saw an Ozzie- gorgeous black MC- I assume that is your Ozzie, although owner names are not “Leah”. I’d love to see more pix of Ozzie, although I understand from photographer friends that black cats are really tough to photograph.

      I let Tootsie go outside, but don’t leave her out when I’m not home. I live in a condo complex that is an extraordinarily safe location for many many reasons. And Tootsie “knows” that she can only venture into the area immediately near my condo. She’s really a shy cat still, and runs at the sight or sound of humans or human activity. Plus, contrary to some cats, she comes in when she’s called. And more lately recognizes my “tap tap tap” on the patio door as the “come in” signal. So, I know she’s not straying very far from home.

      In the place I lived previously, just a few miles away, (before I adopted Tootsie) I would have not let her go outside.

      I read in a scientific study that tracked various cats that female cats establish much smaller outside “territories” than do male cats- irrc correctly about 1/4 the area. So that in itself might make it safer to allow females outdoor.

      Apparently Tootsie does go to visit the patio on a nearby condo, where “Garfield” (neutered male tabby) lives. And occasionally I see Garfield on my patio. Garfield’s human and I joke about their budding romance, although we haven’t caught them together, yet.

      About King Louie- yeah, still tears me up to watch those videos. I haven’t talked to snowmom in a while, but at least at the time they weren’t ready to get another MC. Those kitties can be heart breakers. I saw your comments on the blog post, and thanks! Yes, sometimes that special cat appears at the right time.

      As for polydactyls, Tootsie is the only poly I’ve met in person. But, having looked at a lot of poly pix, it seems that there are different variations in the number and shape of the toes. It’s hard to tell which of these are adaptive i.e. advantageous just from pictures. Tootsie’s front paws have an obvious “thumb” (extra digit), but the other part looks pretty much like a regular paw. She definitely uses her thumb and paws to pick up objects in a way that a non-poly couldn’t. I have reason to suspect that her polypaws are also quite useful in capturing prey… but that’s another story. Except I should add that she doesn’t kill her prey, and brings them in as “gifts”, very much alive, and intact.


      • Hello again yes thats our Ozzie however we got him off Tracey and Nick. He’s fully grown now and yes he’s amazing and very spoiled! I’m not good with the photo posting so when I get chance I’ll ask Michael if he will post some photo’s either that or I will email them to you if you’re happy for Michael to send me your email address.

        I think you are correct sometimes its not easy to photograph Black cats because its quite difficult to capture the detail.

        • HI Leah,

          Best send them to Michael, b/c I’m still suffering from the demands of my “day job” and get overwhelmed with that.

          I’ve posted a lot of Tootsie photos on flickr- Michael’s a flickr member too. It doesn’t eclipse POC, of course, and has a different purpose. You might consider joining. As things have transpired, I’ve made friends with various people from all over (well mostly US, Canada, England, Scotland, Wales and France) who have Maine coons. Although flickr is a photo site, it’s also a social site. I certainly don’t know all of the people who post pix of their Maine coons, but among the people I “know” virtually, we are kind of a “Maine coon” family. Nothing exclusive about it, and no need to be an expert photographer. It’s fun share our Maine coon tales.

    • HI Leah, I just tried to leave a response to your comment (below) on my tka post. For some reason, I couldn’t get it to “take”. Not sure what’s up. I’ll have to get Michael’s help.

      ~Hi Leah, thanks for your comment. Yes, I think there is something to what you say about the right cat at the right time. I left you a longer and related comment at POC.~

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