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One day, I went to pick up some furniture I found off craigslist. The poster said they were ditching their rent, getting rid of everything "except the TV and the cat...unless you want the cat". Although I had declined, I'll admit I was interested.

As I entered, I was shyly greeted by Otis, a 20 pound gentle giant. Too shy to stick around, he hid in a corner as I silently dismantled furniture for hours. I had forgotten he was even there until my boyfriend came by. He immediately went to the corner, held Otis' face in his hands, and exclaimed "he's a Maine Coon! My favorite!" with delight. I knew, at that moment, he was ours.

The poster told us they guessed Otis was about 9. They adopted him from a shelter, where he had been for years because he was "unadoptable". The previous owners, they believed, were abusive, which made him fearful all the time. They let me know that if we didn't take him, he would live in a car with them - homeless. The idea of a cat sitting in a hot car all day as they went to work was too much - we ended up taking him.

We renamed him "King Henry VIII" as his impressive girth demanded a more regal title. He is very shy, crying loudly every time we pick him up. We agree that he shows signs of past abuse. Every waking moment is like a life-or-death struggle for him, fearful of any attention he receives. Even a year later, he still hides in our closet, occasionally coming out to lounge about, lording over all of us.

It took him about a year to discover the outdoors. Before, he was too scared to venture outside...now, he refuses to come in! If we call for him, he'll hide in the bushes, juuuuust out of our reach. He loves sitting on towels and sleeping with his stuffed froggy (yes, he sleeps with a stuffed animal). He may be stand-offish and he never cuddles with us, but we still love our King Henry VIII!

Heather J.
Rancho Palos Verdes, CA

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