Paul J. Thompson is a small-craft marine architect and computer programmer in New Zealand. He spends his summers aboard La Chica, the boat he built himself, and dreams of sailing it around the world someday. Thompson is also deaf. But he's got an assistant to alert him to maritime sounds: Strauss von Skattebol of Rebelpaws, a young polydactyl Maine coon cat who accompanies him on every journey. Skatty alerts Thompson to boats, visitors, and his ringing phone.
“Maine Coons are at home around water and in this case, Skatty is a polydactyl cat, which is what ships’ cats traditionally are,” Thompson said. “The old time sailors believed that the big polydactyl paws gave them a better grip on the deck and also made them better mousers. So for me, as a sailor, it is very satisfying to have a polydactyl cat.”
Skatty and Thompson spend their summers aboard La Chica, and in the winter, they split time between the boat and a nearby apartment. When on board, Skatty can usually be found with Thompson or in one of his favorite spots.
“When at anchor, he likes to sit on the solar panels as it gives him a good view, and since the panels are dark, they keep his bottom warm,” Thompson said. “Does not do too much for the charging rate however.”