Meet the Plantpowered Gamers – Niko!


Niko is one of the furry family members of the Plantpowered Gamers and he is a Maine Coon.  Maine Coon is basically code which means he is a cat that thinks he is a dog. He is a bit too big for a house cat but insists on being treated as some sort of luxury cat-dog hybrid. He is amusingly vocal and regularly “coos” to us when he is feeling playful. His majesty can often be found watching the birds and chipmunks play outside “his” window in the front of our house in the morning which has led to some amusing comments from our neighbors who were concerned that we had taken in a pet bobcat or mountain lion.


His Majesty observes his subjects from atop the royal library (bookshelf).

Maine Coons are peculiar and get bored with typical cat and dog games pretty quickly. It is hard to keep Niko amused by any given toy or game for more than two or three minutes. His massive paws also make it kind of hard to play with him when he successfully catches the toy, as you probably aren’t getting that toy back until he is ready for you to get it. That excessively strong frame is really a sight to behold when he is being obstinate and doesn’t want to be “fooled with”. Those big paws can pretty well peel the carpet from the floor if one of us tries to pick him up when he doesn’t want to be bothered. It is amusing how casually he grips the floor, increasing his already substantial 20 lbs (9kg) to really “impossible to pick up without replacing the flooring and sustaining grievous back injury ”.


Oh, you think you would like to pick all of this up?  My paws may beg to differ!


Niko is pretty affectionate with Suzy and loves to catch her when she is lounging so that he can get his belly and armpits rubbed. This probably sounds weird but he will occasionally allow a bit of physical contact if the petting is done just right. He tends to want to simply be near us or beside us, though, and really never does the “lap cat”-thing. I suppose he has decided that if we get an entire cushion on the couch he should have his own and there is no need for sharing. He is a treasure and truly a family member, never wanting to be left out of whatever is going on in another part of the house and usually finding us within a few minutes of us leaving the area that he was recently lounging.


Just hangin’ out at the stairway to see who might pass by to entertain him.

Niko is a huge “fraidy-cat”, which is all the more exaggerated when his size is taken into account. He rarely comes out to see company and if service folks are working in the house one wouldn’t even know we had a cat if it were up to him. He can disappear like a true ninja kitty! Think “Beverly Hills Ninja” or perhaps Kung-Fu Panda for a nice visual of what a hiding 20 lbs cat looks like… Surprisingly cats just have a knack for being hard to detect. I know some of that is their pattern but they can hold so shockingly still sometimes.

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Niko does his “Yin-Yang” pose in the little cat bed that he originally fit in as a kitten and younger cat.  As one can see he tends to “spill” after he gets really good and comfy.

Niko seems to have concluded that our dog, Cricket, is “his” dog and regularly lays upon him, cuddles next to him and sniffs him when he has been out of doors.  Feeding time is the most peculiar as Niko “head-butts” Cricket which provokes Cricket to come let us know that the cat is hungry and should be fed.  This can persist for quite some time and Niko is not easily distracted from his goal once begun.  Poor Cricket!  Often his majesty gets his way purely because we cannot bear to see him pester Cricket so ruthlessly!


Niko has claimed Cricket’s (our dog’s) bed.. as well as his bone, apparently.  


“So yeah.. I stand upright.  You people stand, so why shouldn’t I?  I may just use this toilet if it suits me, but why would I when I have my own that is cleaned for me regularly.  Now, move along my loyal subjects, his majesty needs his privacy.”

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Such a photogenic fellow, enjoy!

Niko was raised and bred at Congocoon in Stevenson, Alabama.  Check out her page for some amazingly beautiful kittens as well as photos of most of the mommy and daddy cats!  Mitzy’s Page:Congocoon Maine Coon Cattery in Stevenson, Alabama

Hike to King’s Chair – Oak Mountain State Park

The Plant Powered Gamers have been hiking at Oak Mountain State Park in Alabama for about a year and a half now, but just last week we finally managed the trek up to “King’s Chair”.  I won’t bother trying to describe it beyond “breathtaking” as the view from there and the nice clear breeze was really welcoming and we took a nice long break before descending.  Cricket rather enjoyed himself too, but then he always does when it comes to hiking.  No one ever warned us that Australian Shepherds were related to mountain goats!  This pup can jump rocks like he was built for platforming.

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Suzy stands atop the lookout spot victoriously, having overcome countless mosquitos and spider webs over her long journey to the summit.  


The path is so abundantly overrun with green!  It really invigorated us as we ascended the challenging trail.

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A quick clip Suzy shot from King’s Chair, showing off the amazing view.  Amusingly, Cricket can be heard “huffin’ and puffin'” in the background alongside the singing songbirds.  He was tuckered out!

Oak Mountain State Park is currently our “go to” hiking destination.  We are fortunate to live fairly close by and there are short hikes for those days that we are just trying to squeeze in a bit of outdoor time.  The hiking trails are color-coded and very well marked so that one really need not worry over becoming badly lost.  With a trailhead at either the north or south entrances the park can really feel like a different experience according to which path we take.  The trails branch and connect in multiple places too, which allows one to craft a path of suitable difficulty and also edit it according to what sites are desired.  There are quite a few interesting areas that we have managed to make our way to.  We will thoroughly enjoy snapping some photos as we pass them and share them but certainly our hope is to encourage others to get out and see these wonders for themselves.  If you are too far from our little paradise then check and see what is around you!  There might be a surprise closer than you think as there are so many beautiful parks scattered all over the U.S.  We are actually considering taking a train trip and making stops to see some of the different ones around the country one of these days.  If you know of a great place near you please leave us a comment!  It would be fantastic to have recommendations from locals.

Grow Strong. Game On.