Sunday, November 28, 2021

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People & Pets

Rag Doll… Living in the city


Four cats and Ashley Sholes

DSC_0019When Ashley Sholes gets home, she has four furry friends acting as a welcoming committee.

“They greet me at the door,” she says. “They follow me around, and they definitely keep me entertained.”

Sholes is an avid animal lover, but she insists she isn’t necessarily collecting cats.

Each cat in the Sholes clan is different. The domestic long hair named “Fuzz” was living outside without claws when Sholes brought it home 10 years ago.

“She had a hard life,” says Sholes.

Prep Iowa

Sholes favorite is the 3-year old Calico named “Tecca Nina.”

“She has never met a stranger,” Sholes says of the cat that is named in honor of the rapper, Tech N9ne.

Calicos are domestic cats with spotted coats that are often three colors. The word “calico” refers to this tri-colored fur arrangement, not a specific breed. Calicos with an orange spot have lineage that has been traced back to cities along the Mediterranean Sea including Greece, France, Spain and Italy, and it is thought to have originated in Egypt.

“My Rag Doll’s name is ‘Celestrial Otis,’ ” she says.

Otis is her only male and is the cat that has achieved the most critical acclaim in the household.

“At the end of the year, we ended up getting named the second best Rag Doll in premiership from the Rag Doll breeders’ council,” she says.

Cats of the Ragdoll breed are bigger than a usual house cat, and they have a sturdy frame. A full-grown female can weigh up to 15 pounds, and males are even larger. The breed is believed to be smart, kind and gentle.

“Rag Dolls are supposed to flop, or to be relaxed,” she explains. “And they squeak; they make a really soft meow. It’s really cute.”

Sholes has also shown her Maine Coon named “Okeepa Crazy Eyes” (Okeepa is the breeders’ cattery name). The Maine Coon is nicknamed the “gentle giant” because it is one of the largest breeds of domesticated cats, and it is also very sociable. Maine recognizes the Maine Coon as its official state cat.

“Maine Coons love water,” she says. “She watches me wash dishes all the time. And she plays in water, which is not normal for cats.”

The cat also wakes her each day at 6 a.m., and acts like a dog.

“She will beg people for food,” Sholes shakes her head. “She literally steals pizza off my fork.”

DSC_0002While her cats have passed their prime for showing, Sholes still enjoys attending events. She says she was originally attracted to the pretty ribbons, raffles and a having a good reason to travel, but now it’s about the people. She has many friends by way of cat shows.

“It’s a fun sport. I’ve gotten to meet a lot of crazy people from many different states,” she says. “This is like the Super Bowl to me.”

The cats like each other, too.

“They are so close,” she says. “Really they are. The oldest one, she runs my household; she thinks she’s mommy to all of them.

“They keep me on schedule. My Ragdoll loves to have fresh water, so he’ll wake me up with those little squeaks to get fresh water. The Maine Coon has her special food, and the Calico will play fetch for me with just about anything. She’s pretty crazy. She will wake me up at 3 in the morning to play fetch in my bed. She’s really crazy.”

Is there going to be a fifth cat?

“No,” Sholes answers quickly. But she then quickly amends her answer. “Well, maybe.” ♦

Advice from a pro

Sholes has taken in four cats, including three in the last five years, so she knows a thing or two about the furry felines. She says cats can live up to 20 years, so it’s wise to have all the facts before buying one.

“Make sure you’re not allergic,” she says. “Some people think that you can get a hypoallergenic cat, but it’s not true.”

Some breeds put off less allergens than others, but not all allergens are from cat fur, so buying a short hair cat or a cat that sheds less than others won’t necessarily solve the problem.

“If you’re not sure about a breed, just ask questions; you can always learn from people,” she says.

Sholes also advises cat owners to keep their pets indoors, and she says you shouldn’t declaw them.

“America is the only country that allows declawing,” she says. “You’re not really declawing. You’re cutting off a knuckle. In other countries, it’s illegal.”

She also says that every cat must have claws to enter a show.





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