Hazel the gentle giant
By Julie Matuszewski; photos courtesy of Jennifer Dunbar
Hazel, an 11-year-old Maine coon cat, has eyes of green with gold that mesmerize those who dare to look her in the eye. Her intense stare is one full of love and affection with unconditional loyalty to her owners – Andrew and Jennifer Dunbar.
The Maine coon is the largest domesticated cat breed and is one of the oldest natural breeds in North America. Originated in the state of Maine, it is the third most popular pedigreed cat breed in the world. The Maine coon is popular with the Dunbar family as well. Over the past 30 years of their marriage, Jennifer and Andrew have welcomed five Maine coon cats into their family as they love this dog-like breed.
Nicknamed “the gentle giant,” the Maine coon is known for its dog like characteristics. This comes as no surprise to the Dunbar family when Hazel pants like a dog after a long chase with a favorite feather on a string or greets them every morning over coffee. Like a family dog, Hazel is affectionate and has formed strong social bonds with her family. She is intelligent and playful with a gentle personality and is good with children.
Maine coon cats have distinctive physical traits and weigh double that of the average cat. Female Maine coons on average weigh anywhere from 8 to 12 pounds. Hazel weighs 17.5 pounds. Don’t let her majestic look of a lion fool you, she is still a kitten at heart. She loves her toy stacked with jingle bells – chasing it endlessly across the floor.
The breed’s love for companionship coupled with their lack of territorial instincts make them a great household pet. In addition to Hazel, the Dunbars have two other cats. Murray, a male Maine coon, a 21-year-old cat name Chloe and their family dog Putt Putt, a 13 ½ year old cavalier King Charles spaniel. All enjoy interacting with the Dunbar family, but according to Jennifer, Hazel is by far the most social. Whether she is outside or in snuggling on their laps, Hazel is always near to her family.