Nobody really knows how The Legend of the Two Big Cats came to be, but it started percolating up a few years ago when “cat stuff” mysteriously began showing up in an older and well-established Campbell neighborhood’s mailboxes and porches.
At first there were just little notes commenting on how “things were going in the neighborhood”, and “how are things at your house?”. The notes often ended with the comment “perhaps we can get together for dinner sometime soon”. What was surprising was there was no indication of who was leaving the notes or if the reader was supposed to respond to a particular person. But the biggest mystery of all was that each note was “signed” with cat paw marks instead of signatures!
These notes were a little unusual because, life being what it was in Silicon Valley, over the years, neighbors had become too busy with their lives to have much time for one another anymore. But after the notes started appearing, the neighbors soon began nodding “hello” as they saw one another outside. The nods turned into brief “hello’s”, then little exchanges such as “hey, was that you that left that note the other day?” or “I got a note the other day in my mailbox, talking about getting together, but there wasn’t a signature on it, so I didn’t know who left the note – was it you guys? Getting together sounds like a good idea to us, how about coming over for dinner on Saturday so we can visit for awhile?”
Well, before they knew it, the neighbors were finding themselves in pleasant conversations out by their mailboxes, fences and yards, catching up on one another’s lives. As time wore on, these spontaneous gatherings became more common and neighbors began spending time with each other at backyard BBQ’s and parties – kind of like it was in the “old days” they remembered from their childhood.
And this all began quite by chance – or so it seemed, anyway.
In reality, the “new friendliness” of the neighborhood wasn’t by chance at all, but by design. What the neighbors had been too busy to notice was that with a new family that had moved into the neighborhood came two Maine Coon cats – Pandora and Delilah. Seemingly normal, innocent and well-behaved house cats, Pan and Dee were actually adventurous creatures that had discovered a secret exit in their new house that let them slip outside to explore the surrounding neighborhoods without their human guardians ever suspecting they were gone. As they traveled the neighborhood more and more, their trips eventually turned into “cat missions”… and that’s when notes began to appear and things started happening.
Although I’m sworn to secrecy about most of the details, what I can reveal is that Pan and Dee are unlike any cats you’ve ever met; and because of where they live, they have the most unusual lives of any cats you’ll ever know! It’ll take me some time to do it right – there’s an awful lot to tell you – but I’ll do my best to explain their story, as I know it.
I think I mentioned that Pan and Dee are Maine Coon’s, didn’t I? Well, let me tell you a bit about the Maine Coon’s and then I’ll tell you more about Pan and Dee and their House on Walnut Drive.
Originally from the East Coast of the United States, Maine’s have chosen to live closely with humans for over a hundred years now. Years ago the “old wives tale” was that Maine’s were a mixed-breed of Raccoon and Wild Cat, but since Nature won’t let that happen, the truth is they’re just big ol’ warm-hearted cats who have stripes (rings) on their tails. Sometimes Maine’s get to be more than 20 pounds (Pan and Dee’s father was 28 pounds and over 4 feet long!), they’ve got HUGE feet (for walking on snow when they lived in the wild) and with their luxuriously soft and long fur, they’re quite beautiful.
Not only are they gorgeous animals, but Maine’s are also known for their gentle nature and friendliness to all creatures, human, bird or animal. Often called the “Dogs of the Cat World” for their affection and loyalty towards their humans – they play “fetch” and usually know their toys by name – and are able to train their humans to do amazing “tricks”, such as “bring me tuna instead of dry food” or “surprise” gifts, such as toys. Maine’s are very intelligent creatures, often spending their sleep hours each day dreaming of “cat missions” and their awake hours carrying out the things they thought of while they were sleep.
And while they are fully capable of the usual “meow” that most domesticated cats are known for, Maine’s have highly developed communication skills and prefer to “chirp” a greeting to their human friends when approached – in tone and length, a Maine “chirp” is the equivalent of “Hi, how are you?” that humans often use to greet one another. Now that you know a bit more about Maine’s, let me tell you about Pan and Dee.
Pandora is the older sister – she’s in her 7th life – and as such, is The Queen of the House. She’s 39 inches long and weighs 21 pounds, with a beautiful, longhaired “tabby” coat that is softer than the finest cashmere. Pandora has very large and expressive dark brown eyes that give her face such a warm, intelligent and inviting appearance that you know you’re in the presence of a very special creature when she turns to gaze at you. Pan also has a brilliant white patch on her chest that stretches down each of her legs giving her “white socks” on each leg and paw. Pan’s ears remain very much as her ancestors had when they lived in the wild – they’re large (for hearing the tiniest sounds) and have very long, dark brown tufts on the very top that stick up about 1/4”.
By nature, Maine’s are “people cats”, but because Pandora is a late-stage Maine, she’s especially gentle and caring to every living thing she encounters. Unlike most cats, when Pan meets a human for the first time, she’s quite comfortable with them and prefers to be at face level with them so she can look in their eyes to “make contact” with them… unnoticed by most, when she’s really interested in getting to know them, as she’s looking into their eyes, her nose will crinkle a bit as she inhales their breath to determine if they’re a good human.. Once satisfied the new person is a good human, she’ll begin purring as a way of showing her acceptance of them. And what a purr it is: very deep – almost rumbling – and, given her appearance and affectionate personality, it’s very soothing to be around her when she’s in a deep purr mode.
As you probably know, all cats are capable of living nine full and complete lives. Pan is in her 7th and in reaching this point in life, she’s learned to quickly judge the good from bad and the wise from the foolish. In the process, Pan has become very wise & patient creature, able to deal with many different and difficult situations. Given her late stage life, Pandora has developed the unique ability to communicate some of her knowledge to most animals and, from time to time, even humans and, in doing so, has become a good mentor to many creatures. Pan’s favorite toy is “Maroon Mouse” and she often brings it to Grandpa Cat to share with him and to entice him to play with her.
Although Pandora came to live with the family as Scott’s pet, because Grandpa Cat was always an early morning person, Pan would get up with him in the pre-dawn hours to enjoy a few moments of peace, quiet and ear scritching (hers, not his). It was during this time that Pan and Grandpa Cat began “bonding” a bit more than usual because each morning – rain or shine – when Grandpa Cat went outdoors precisely at 5:30AM to get the morning paper he would carry Pan in his arms and, once outside, point to the star-filled sky and say to her “if you ever get lost, this is where you live”. Grandpa Cat did this throughout the year to make sure Pan was able to see how the sky and positions of the planets, stars and constellations would change based on the time of year and seasons. When they moved to the House on Walnut, Grandpa Cat continued the training so, should Pan ever be outside and feel lost, at night she could look up and know where she was and where home should be. (I’m glad to say this knowledge came in handy later in Pan’s life, but I’ll write more details later in the Legend.)
Over the years, Pandora developed a great deal of affection towards Grandpa Cat and now accompanies him pretty much wherever he goes. Pan constantly communicates with him by jumping up on counters and furniture to be at his height to rub noses and foreheads with him, always closing her eyes and purring loudly. Pandora loves to go outside with Grandpa Cat whenever he works in the yard, often spending the entire afternoon sitting under the apple tree in her favorite outside chair, keeping her eye on her domain and, from time to time, taking what appear to be cat naps.
Pandora love cheeses – she craves Bleu, Stilton, Cheddar and Smoked Gouda! – and Honey Ham. Although her vet, Dr Bueno, says it’s bad for her, raw beef is also a special treat she cherishes. Pan’s favorite musical group is Queen (naturally!) and her favorite songs are “Magic” and “The Days of Our Lives”. Pan loves to meet new people and to greet the neighbors whenever she has a chance. When visitors come to the house, Pan’s the first one to greet them, usually by lifting her face toward them so they can pet her on the forehead. Pan loves to be in the kitchen, watching people cook, smelling the ingredients for the meal… “asking” for a close up smell when she’s interested and a taste when it seems especially inviting. Pan loves to watch the “outside animals” such as birds and squirrels, but due to her maturity at this point in live, is uninterested in harming them and, in fact, is really curious about their lives and what it’s like to live outside.
Now Delilah, Pandora’s younger sister, is quite another story. Dee is in her 4th life (a “Tween”, if you will) and has an entirely differently outlook on life than Pandora does.
Weighing just about 19 pounds and 36” long, Dee has a beautiful coat that is a variety of shades of brown with a few streaks of black blended in. Dee is as beautiful as Pan, but in a completely different way: what’s most striking about Dee is that she has many “bobcat” markings, a white nose and muzzle and 1” ear tufts that change color with each season. And while Dee is a Maine Coon (and so “likes” people), because she’s a tween cat, she’s not quite figured out exactly what kind of people she likes and so is a little skittish. Sometimes, she likes being around quiet people and other times, she likes being with people who don’t quite seem to fit in with everybody else – kind of like she feels about herself at times – so one day she’ll be friendly and another she’ll be distant.
Like Pandora, Delilah is a very expressive cat so that, if you’re aware of such things, you can tell how she’s feeling just by looking at her. Probably the easiest way to read her is to watch how she’s walking. Most of the time, Delilah carries her tail in the straight out or straight up position, indicating a great interest in life and a general sense of excitement. Like all cats, though, from time to time her tail will be in the “down”, or, as cats say among themselves, the “my tail’s dragging today” position, with not very much energy or perhaps a little “down” about something.
Always curious and very eager to explore, try new things and play tricks on others, Dee often gets in trouble because she is interested in everything and sometimes doesn’t think things completely through before acting. Dee likes to have her shoulders and feet rubbed. Delilah’s favorite toy is a fuzzy pink fuzzy ball known as “Binky”. Delilah typically carries Binky between her front teeth and makes a shrill chirping sound. Dee makes a “brrrrrp” sound as her chirp, but can make a typical (and loud) MEOW when she wants. Like Pandora, Dee loves the rock group, Queen, her very favorite are The Kinks… for her, their song, “I’m Not Like Everybody Else” is great rock and roll and says a lot about how she feels – She’s Not Like Everybody Else! (and she wants you to know that 🙂
Now that you know more about Pan and Dee, I’ll tell you a bit more about their lives and adventures in the coming months and years.