Prosper does Barrett’s

A story of a very special cat
Posted:  Sunday, August 13, 2017 - 3:45pm
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Barrett's Park in Boothbay Harbor is a popular place for people and their dogs to spend a warm summer day. On any given day from June through September, you'll usually see kids and dogs swimming and grownups lounging in the sun, reading, having lunch at one of the picnic tables and walking – often with a dog.

But on Aug. 11, aside from all that, there was what at first glance appeared to be a miniature, cream-colored lion strolling around a picnic table – an unusual sight to see at Barrett's Park, or any other public place.

The little lion walked up to an older golden retriever, and they touched noses.

The little lion is a domestic house cat, albeit a very large one. Prosper is a Maine coon. He hails from Siberia, Maine, so his mom and dad, Susan Fridy and Nate Cushman, call him a Siberian Maine coon cat. He had recently been groomed with a lion cut.

Online research shows Maine coons and Siberians have many similarities, and there may even be a few crossbreeds out there. According to thenest.com, the two breeds developed in very similar climates and both have entertaining, affectionate natures. They crave human contact and have “playful, goofy personalities, and get along well with other cats, dogs and kids.”

Siberians are commonly compared to dogs: They’ll come when called, and they like to snuggle.

Prosper’s owners said he’s most of the above, except for coming when called. Prosper is spoiled and does pretty much as he pleases. On Aug. 11, he was enjoying a leisurely day at the park. He had been driven over by Fridy, while Cushman walked over with Maggie, from their boat that is tied up at Brown's Wharf for a few weeks each summer.

There was no leash or harness attached to Prosper. He doesn't need one. Fridy let him out of the car in the parking lot across the road from the park, and he followed her, closely, to the picnic table where they parked their gear for a few hours. Prosper hung around the picnic table with his family and stuck close to Maggie. He had no fear of strange humans or dogs.

Cushman recalled Fridy had been wanting a cat for some time, but he had been opposed to the idea. He thought cats were lacking in personality. “I grew up on a dairy farm, and people were always dropping cats off,” he said. “There were always 18 or 20 cats around, always underfoot.” Around eight years ago, Susan need a hip replacement, and there were complications. In an attempt to cheer her up, Cushman agreed to get a cat. A local breeder they knew recommended the breeder in Siberia. Susan went online and found Prosper.

Prosper’s name is Nate's father's middle name. The cat has very big paws, with seven digits on each front paw, and six on each of the back. He isn’t lacking in the human contact he craves. “I had almost given up by the time Nate gave in,” Susan said. “And he fell in love with him.”

“He has a personality more like a dog,” Nate said. “He's a lot of fun.”

When it came time to leave, the four walked back to the car together. Prosper hopped in, probably looking forward to greeting all his admirers on the docks at Brown’s as he made his way to the boat.