Her name is Smudge and she is the newest member of our family.

About six weeks ago, we had to have our first family pet put down. Misty was seventeen years old and was suffering from kidney failure. The last few days of his life were hard as we watched this once vibrant cat reduced to a shell of his former self. The decision to put him down was tough, but necessary.

At the time, the idea of getting another cat for the family was nearly impossible to conceive. We were so hurting at the empty space this cat left in our lives that we couldn't fathom what would make us want to bring another pet into our home.

But after a couple of weeks, our other cat began the process of convincing us that getting a second cat was a good idea. Gabby is a thirteen year old Siamese with a pair of lungs that rival the horn of her namesake Gabriel. The first couple of weeks Gabby was quiet, but after about two weeks, she began to call around the house. My wife and I both work and the poor cat was lonely after spending all day alone and was very demanding of our attention when we got home. Over the past three weeks, I have spent a number of nearly sleepless nights for Gabby climbing on the bed looking for attention.

So two weeks ago, we headed to a cat show in Augusta, GA to look at what was available in breeds. We had two in mind: the Abyssinian and the Maine Coon. There were no Abyssinians at the show but a number of people were showing the Maine Coons.

We struck up a conversation with one of the breeders and she was knowledgable, open, and honest about the pluses and minuses of owning one of the largest of the domesticated cat breeds. But her passion for the breed along with the impressive cat she was showing, a two year old male named Thor, convinced us to take a trip to Atlanta the following weekend to see the cattery.

The breeder happened to have a litter of kittens that were spoken for wit the exception of a female whose litter name is Smudge. The kittens were being picked up on the day that we went to visit and during our time there we were introduced to all of the cats in the house. The Maine Coon breed is large with males running up to 24 or 25 pounds. We left still wondering if this was the breed for us, but by the end of the weekend, we decided to contact them back and purchase Smudge.

We collected her on Saturday and she spent the first night in our bedroon with my wife and I slept on the couch with Gabby, so that no one felt left out. We introduced them yesterday and it could have gone better. There was a good deal of hissing and low gutteral noises coming from Gabby and just hissing from Smudge. We all slept in the bedroom last night, but it had the feel of a Mexican stand-off.

Smudge is here to stay, but I will be glad when the arched backs and fluffed up tails ends.