The MAINE COON CATlogo CLUB 


Affiliated to the GCCF

Established 1985

 The History of the Maine Coon - by Daphne Butters

Sometimes I am asked what it was like in ’the early days’ and I start to reminisce about those times, some of the things I say surprise people, and few who were around at that time really know much about it, so I decided to put pen to paper to give all you Maine Coon lovers a bit more of an insight into those long gone days. To do that, I need to go way back into the realms of Maine Coon history, not the myth, just the facts, things that happened long before any of us were alive.

 

The Maine Coon is no stranger to the show bench, in fact Maine Coons were being shown at local agricultural fairs in New England, USA, in the 1860’s, some thirty years before the first official American cat shows were held. In those days, there was no Standard of Points and it is unclear how judges decided which cat was the best exhibit. The first documented Maine Coon was a black and white with the imposing name of Captain Jenks of the Horse Marines (which was a famous music hall song from the mid-1800’s), belonging to Mrs. F.R. Pierce and her younger brother, dating around 1861. The first comprehensive book on pedigree cats was “Francis Simpson’s The Book of the Cat”, published in 1903. In a chapter written by Mrs. Pierce, she quotes that from her earliest recollection her family had “one to several of the long-haired cats of that variety often called Maine cats.” According to Mrs. Pierce, large shows were held at many of the major cities, as far west as Chicago, in the 1870’s, a number of years before the Madison Square Garden Show of 1895, often written as the first American cat show. The Maine Coon was accepted as a definite breed in the 1870’s, which implies that they were judged to some sort of standard. The National Cat Show of 1878 was a six-day show held at the Boston Music Hall. Twelve Maine Coons were in the programme, and a copy of this early catalogue is preserved in the Boston Public Library for all to see today. The 1895 Madison Square Garden Show had an entry of one hundred and seventy-six cats, including two ocelots. Classification was by hair length and sex, and judging categories included “heaviest” and “homeliest”. The overall winner was a brown tabby female Maine called Cosie. Show fever hit America and soon shows were being held from east to west coast. The Maine Coon figured highly during those early years, with a number winning Best in Show. Success was short-lived. Within a few years, the fortunes of the Maine Coon would take a turn for the worse, with the introduction of the Persian cat.

 

Meanwhile in Britain, several ‘International’ dog shows had already been held at the Crystal Palace, London, when Harrison Weir proposed a ‘Grand Exhibition of Cats’. Within a few days he had devised the Standards of Excellence, against which all cats must be judged. The first British cat show was held on Thursday 13th June 1871, attracting one hundred and seventy-one cats, from the ‘new’ Persian cats, to the forefathers of the British Shorthair and even a few wild cats! The popularity of the Persian grew and by 1900, many had been exported to the USA, a number by Lady Marcus Beresford, an influential figure in the British Cat Fancy and founder member of America’s first cat club, The Beresford Club. The Persian arrived in America from England, and with its flamboyancy, the breed’s popularity grew rapidly, leaving the Maine Coon behind in the showing stakes. Soon the Maine Coon disappeared from the show bench, and while the American cat fancy grew in leaps and bounds, America’s oldest show cat disappeared, destined to spend the next sixty years in seclusion. In 1959, the Cat Fanciers Association (CFA) declared the Maine Coon to be extinct!

However, this was not the case. Several breeders, one being Mrs. Ethelyn Whittlemore, had continued working with the breed, keeping records of cats and their offspring.

 

Whittemore Cattery - Mrs Robert (Ethelyn) Whittemore

Maine CoonFollowing its demise from the American show circuit at the turn of the twentieth century there is little documented about the Maine Coon for the next forty years. In fact, in 1959, the Cat Fanciers Association declared that the Maine Coon was extinct! In the 1959 CFA Yearbook, under the section 'Cats of Yesteryear' the Maine Cat appears. It mentions Mrs Pierce and the breed's early show success, but ends with "The fact that the Maine cat failed to thrive in warmer climates also contributed to its extinction as a breed." However, this was not quite true. Maine Coon lovers had continued to breed these cats in a haphazard way, keeping them as pets around the home and farm. One such person was Mrs Ethelyn Whittemore, of Augusta, Maine, often referred to as "the godmother of the Maine Coon cat". Just as Mrs Pierce all those years before her, Mrs Whittemore's family had had Maine Coon cats for as long as she could remember.

Most unusual for that time, Mrs Whittemore kept hand-written records of her cats, both parentage and progeny. When few outside Maine had any interest in the breed, this lady's devotion helped to prevent the Maine Coon from sliding into obscurity, particularly since few others kept written records. The Whittemore cattery was founded sometime during the 1940s to 1950s, an exact time is not known. Even after the breed was accepted by the various registering bodies, she didn't start registering her cats until being persuaded by Dr Eugene Eminhizer, who wished to show the cats he had bought from her. Whittemore cats seen in pedigrees include Smokie Joe of Whittemore, a black male, registered in July 1969 and Princess Sue of Whittemore, a white female, also registered in 1969. Other included Penny of Whittemore (red tabby female), Tortilla of Whittemore (tortoiseshell female) and Ringo of Whittemore (red tabby male).

A number of catteries used pure Whittemore cats. These included All-Saints, Belwitch, Emin-Dale, JoStad, Lyh-E, Mieaou, Norwynde, Pa-Gar, Scotia, War-Tell and Zig-Krn. Whittemore cats were gently rugged, of moderate size, shaggy but fluffy and very affectionate. The 1964 book, Persian Cats and Other Longhairs, by Jeanne Ramsdale, included a section about the Maine Coon. It stated that Mrs Whittemore was the only cattery raising Maine Coon kittens. It quoted Mrs Whittemore as saying "The Coon comes in every colour, but black and white are the most common. I choose trying to specialise in solid colour Coons." Mrs Whittemore went on to say "At maturity, either sex normally have gold or green eyes, and will weigh from ten to fourteen pounds." Mrs Whittemore described the Coon Cat as long-haired but not as long as the Persian, with fur inclined to be thick and a little shaggy, like that of a Collie dog. She described the face as "rather long and pointed, although there are some whose heads are more rounded" and the tail "long and bushy, often striped". She ended her description by saying "The Coon Cat stands taller than the Persian and is longer, more like the old-time Angora".

 

Most Maine Coons will probably have some Whittemore in their pedigree if we research far enough back down the generations.

 

The Central Maine Coon Cat Club

In 1953, the Central Maine Coon Cat Club was founded by Alta Smith and Ruby Dyer, two young ladies from Skowhegan, Maine. A purely amateur organisation, its intention was to provide attention for the breed, holding shows for Maine Coons and other unregistered cats. It also had a pioneering kitten registering system, something unheard of outside the CFA, and records from these registrations allowed later generations to trace their ancestry.

 

The first show was held on 21st June 1953, in a small barn outside Skowhegan, with an entry of forty cats and over two hundred visitors. In 1956, Dr Rachael Salisbury drew up the 'Standard for Judging Maine Cats':

 

Point System of Judging:

No. of  Points

10 Head (shape of skull, face, cheeks, chin)
   5 Ears (shape, size)
10 Eyes (colour, shape)
  5 Tail (length, shape)
15 Body (bone structure, shape, proportions)
10 Legs and Feet (length, shape)
20 Coat (colour, markings, luster)
15 Health (body balance, coat texture and condition, facial expression, general resilience)
10 Condition (grooming, evidence of care)

___

100       To win a first ribbon, a cat should have 85 points.

 

This standard was used for the first time at the fourth show in 1956. Dr Salisbury was present and served as Chairman of the Judging Staff, training people to judge the Maine Coon. Although not as precise as the modern day standards, echos of this standard can still be seen in every Maine Coon standard around the world.

 

Between 1953 and 1963 the Central Maine Coon Cat Club held eleven shows, the overall winning Maine Coon gaining the title of Maine State Champion Coon Cat. Mrs Whittemore's cats were prominent winners. In 1956 her solid white neuter, became Maine State Ch. Major Sno Sheen. In 1958 Mrs Whittemore's 'solid tiger' (tabby) neuter became State Maine Ch. Tiger Boy and in 1961 her solid grey (blue) neuter, Maine State Ch. Blu Boy was awarded this prestigious title.

 

Popularity began to grow and the fifth show had an entry of over a hundred cats, with members from thirty-eight American states and fifteen foreign countries. By 1963, the club had outgrown its amateur beginning and a decision had to be made - should the club become a large organisation or should it fold? Alta Smith, who had now married and become Mrs Berry, had been the mainstay of the club. She opted to retire and with no one to take her place, the Central Maine Coon Club disbanded. However, the Central Maine Coon Cat Club had left a huge legacy to the breed in the form of records and publicity that had led to cat lovers in other parts of America to start taking an interest in this fascinating breed. People were now showing them in other organisations, in the Any Other Variety class.

Maine CoonIn August 1968 six Maine Coon breeders and owners held a meeting in Salisbury, Connecticut, and from this meeting was to come the formation of the Maine Coon Breeders and Fanciers Association (M.C.B.F.A.). The group’s aim was to work towards re-recognition for the Maine Coon in all associations. A quarterly magazine, The Scratch Sheet, was issued to all members. Gradually the various associations began to recognise the Maine Coon. Early American Grand Champions began to appear in 1971. These included Sir Driftwood of Pupuli, Mieous Danariscotta, Mor-Ace’s Satan, Dauphin de France of Tati-Tan and Andy Katt of Heidi-Ho. These cats are the forefathers of today’s Maine Coons. Of these, probably the Heidi-Ho Cattery is the most famous.

 

Above: Dauphin de France of Tati-Tan

Heidi Ho Cattery - Mary (Connie) M. Condit

 

 

Andy KattConnie (as she was nicknamed) Condit was a Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Army, in her profession as a nurse. It was during her time at the Walter Reed Hospital, Washington, D.C. in 1969 that a heavily pregnant cat wandered into the room she shared with several other nurses. Having her own home, with a spare room, Connie took the queen, "Susan", home. On 16th April 1969 she produced four kittens, all males, three short hairs and one brown mackerel tabby & white long hair. Connie found homes for three of the kittens. She had Susan neutered (with financial help from the other nurses). She spent the next eleven years with Connie's mother, and her last four back with Connie. Connie kept the long hair, which she named "Andy Katt" (left).

 

Connie and Andy moved to Maryland where someone told her that Andy looked like a Maine Coon, which stimulated Connie's interest in the breed. About six months after Andy's birth, Connie met Bonnie Rich of the de Richelieu cattery (owner of Panda Ring-Tip of Miston). Bonnie believed that Andy would be a good foundation Maine Coon and after some persuasion, he was registered with ACA (American Cat Association), although Connie insisted that she was not in any position to breed cats. Undeterred by this comment, Bonnie returned from a holiday in Florida with a mate for Andy - she had found a tortie smoke & white female whose mother had been black & white, father unknown. This cat was called Bridget Katt. These two cats were to form the beginning of the now famous Heidi Ho line.

 

Connie joined MCBFA to learn more about the breed, and through this made contact with Betty Ljostad who suggested that she should take Andy to an ACFA show in New Jersey to let the judges decide whether he was a Maine Coon. He returned home a Champion and three shows later was a Grand Champion! Connie decided to name her cattery 'Heidi Ho' after her long suffering German Shepherd dog, who was totally involved with the breeding programme and made an excellent kitten sitter.

 

Sonkey BillOnly one kitten from Bridget's first two litters to Andy was sold for breeding, the rest went to pet homes. Connie kept three girls from the third litter, Heather, Molly Stark and Fanny Abigail, and two boys, Seth Parker and Henry Sayward, to interbreed them in order to weed out any hereditary problems. When Connie was transferred to Germany, her cats travelled with her. Although she had a few litters, just to keep the cats healthy, she didn't really get back into breeding until she returned to the USA, and retired to Colorado. Polly AdelineOn her return from Europe, Connie mated Henry Sayward to his daughter, Henrietta, producing Heidi Ho Sonkey Bill. She bought Tanstaafl's Polly Adeline and Ktaadn Oquossoc as outcrosses, which would enable her to do some line breeding. It was the matings between Sonkey Bill and Polly Adeline that were most famous – the offspring all looked like clones, and they were known as ‘The Clones’. There is a very good chance that if you delve far enough back in your pedigree you will most likely find Sonkey Bill & Polly Adeline offspring (clones) in there somewhere.

The Maine Coon was soon to be accepted by all the American associations except the biggest, CFA, but in 1976, it too finally accepted the Maine Coon as a pedigree breed. The Maine Coon was back on the map. Today, and since 1992, the Maine Coon is the second most popular breed in America behind the Persian.

First Paws onto British Soil

Maine Coons began to feature in cat magazines and newspapers worldwide, and soon they were being exported to mainland Europe. However, Britain had to wait until the mid-1980’s before the first Maine Coon set foot on British shores. Many American breeders were reluctant to send cats into quarantine, fearing that they would be kept in small cages with little attention. The first Maine Coons arrived on our shores in 1984, brought in from the USA and Germany by Mrs Pat Brownsell, of Norfolk, who had been a breeder of other breeds for some years under the cattery name of Patriarca. Her first breeding group consisted of five cats - two males and three females - and the offspring of these cats were to provide the essential foundation of the first Maine Coon lines in Britain. It was not long, of course, before others spotted the breed and new imports began to appear. Almost all of the Maines born in the early years in Britain will be found to have either the Patriarca or the Pusiluv (later Koonluv) cattery name somewhere in their background.

 

The first group of five was, fortunately, varied in colour possibilities and the Maine Coon in Britain has always therefore been a multi-coloured breed. The first five cats were: Kalicoon Bashta Khan, a black smoke male; Nephrani Dexter, a brown tabby with white male; Glenncourt Tara Lou, a tortoiseshell tabby female; Nephrani Ashley, a blue tabby female and Charmingcat Chalifa Begum, a silver tabby female. The only colour which could not arise from this combination was the pure white, which arrived in the country shortly afterward in the shape of a male called lllya Galanthus.

The original group was also well-chosen for health and temperament. Cat fanciers in Britain quickly realised that these cats, although looking like a domestic longhair, had something consistently different about them. Much as it is a cliched phrase, the Maine Coon truly is the Gentle Giant of the domestic cat world. As with anything new, there were a few publicists who chose to exaggerate certain points - in particular the large size of this breed as a whole - and there were some people who sought a huge cat at all costs - but, in general, it was for the temperament that potential cat-owners sought the breed, quickly lifting its popularity until it now stands near the top of the breed poll in Britain.

 

La PalomaAfter the arrival of Mrs Brownsell's cats, another, larger group was brought into the country into the Koonluv cattery including Solkatz Luciano P (the P was short for Pavarotti and not an indication that he was polydactyl) and a pregnant female, Ch Kayenta La Paloma of Roselu (left). The reason I mention these two cats, is that I ended up owning them both. Charlie (Luciano P) was one of my stud cats for a while and they both ended their days with me, living their last eight or nine years here. La Paloma (affectionately known as Raine Ratbag) was born the month that Prince Charles & Diana married and she was put to sleep on the day of Diana’s funeral, aged sixteen years. There were nine generations of offspring and over twelve hundred British bred Maine Coons with her name in their pedigree when she died in 1997!

Luciano P Solkatz Luciano P

The Maine Coon Cat Club Begins

In 1985, a small band of British breeders started the Maine Coon Cat Club with the aim of gaining recognition with the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy. The inaugural meeting was held in the car park of a cat show in the South East of England. A Standard of Points was drawn up and the breed was granted Preliminary Recognition in 1988. The first Maine Coons were entered in competition at the Maidstone & Medway Show on 16th July 1988, and their Breed Class (Open) was judged by Helen Light, a long-standing and well respected judge, who actually passed away very recently. Initially, entries were small, and success when competing with the well established breeds was limited, but as popularity grew, and judges began to recognise the finer features of the breed, the Maine Coon started to become a force to be reckoned with. The Maine Coon didn’t have an easy ride. Some judges wouldn’t accept them, referring to them as “the moggie in the pedigree section” and stories of exaggerated prices for kittens didn’t help the situation, but the owners kept going, determined to win people over.

HunkyLeft - Bealtainn Hunkydory

In those early days, the Maine Coon was in the ‘Foreign Section’, chosen because the breed is of “foreign” type. Competing against the well established Abyssinians, Rexes, Russians and Korats, as well as British and Burmese at some shows, was not easy. Maine Coon owners were happy if their cat was awarded the Merit Certificate and didn’t expect to do anything in side classes, but as judges’ confidence grew and the cats developed, other rosettes began to appear alongside the Merit. Early Southern exhibitors included Tex & Sue Morgan (Purpus), Brenda Tracey (Purrserrene), Mr. & Mrs. Froud (Charlemma), Mrs. Neale (Kayakahn), Di Everett (Kaiulani) and Toni Cornwall (Caprix), many of whom attended that very first show on 16th July. In the North West, Bill Griffiths (Shookatoo) attended the Chester and North Wales Show a month later, with Doris Lendon (Majanco), Heather Horton (Namrib) and Cora Evans showing in the Midlands. Early Scottish exhibitors included Mrs. Thain, Veronica Davis (Kilmaine) and Beryl Middleton (Firthkatz). The first Maine Coons in North East England didn’t appear until August 1989 when Tony & Yvonne Wilcox (Wilful), Lesley Rich (Matagot) and myself (known at that time as Daphne Dyke) (Keverstone) exhibited at the Teesside Cat Club Show. These people, along with others, were pioneers for the breed in Britain, taking cats from show to show just to get people interested in the breed. We lived in County Durham at the time and would travel the length and breadth of the country, just to get judges to look at the breed, Scotland one month, London the next. We were all a very committed group and took many knock-backs from some judges and other exhibitors in those early days, but we held our heads high and didn’t give up.

Progression towards Championship Status within G.C.C.F. can be slow. The first stage is Preliminary Status, where cats are judged against the Standard, and provided the judge feels that the cat fulfils the requirements laid down, it is awarded a Merit Certificate. When fifteen cats have at least four Merit Certificates (under different judges) and can satisfy various other criteria, the breed can apply for Provisional Status. The first fifteen Maine Coons to gain four Merits were Majanco Moshatel, Kaleetay Cracklin Rosie, Purrserene Sebastian, Adixilo Okanagan Coonlouis, Adixilo Mambreno, Purrserene Dancing Brave, Caprix Marvellous Marvin, Bealltainn Hunkdory, Caprix Kisme Quick, Kaiulani Frederik, Belujondra Fenella, Shookatoo Robert Dazzler, Henrietta Capapie, Adkrilo Gayellacoon and Purpus Mainechance. During their four years at the Preliminary Stage, over two hundred and eighty Maine Coon were shown, and at least two hundred and twenty gained a minimum of one Merit Certificate. Many good cats retired from the show bench after gaining four certificates, having ‘done their bit’ for the breed, but others continued successfully and several have Merit Certificates into the teens!

Next Step – Provisional RecognitionKahuna

Left - Keverstones American Dream

Four years after being granted Preliminary Status the breed moved up to the next rung on the ladder of success, Provisional Status, on 1st June 1992. The cats were now judged against each other in Maine Coon Open Classes, with the potential of an Intermediate Certificate to the winner. The breed came out on mass, determined to show the cat world that they were a real force to be reckoned with. The first Maine Coons to be awarded three Intermediate Certificates were Purpus Mainechance and Adkrilo Rosamunde Rosetta, followed closely by Majanco Moshatel. G.C.C.F. required twenty cats with three Intermediate Certificates before application for Championship Status could be made. No one, not even the founder members of the Maine Coon Cat Club could believe what was about to happen. Within eleven months, there were twenty-one cats with the requirement. These included Addeilo Jeffracoon, Adixilo Mambreno, Adraylo Treblis Smugboots, Belujondra Fenella, Karolou Balas Bucaneer, Keverstones American Dream, Kuddli Krystalle, Mabalakat Maisie May, Mabalakat Majika, Majanco Moshatel, Matagot Charlie Brown, Shookatoo Bruno, Smugkatz Demelza Poldark, Smugkatz George Warleggan, Sunregal Rocky, Sunregal Sweet Peach and Ursella Brown Billy. During the 1992 - 93 show season, over two hundred Maine Coons were shown in G.C.C.F shows around Britain. At that time, I was secretary of the Maine Coon Cat Club and had responsibility for collating evidence and submitting the application for Championship Status to GCCF. No fancy PCs then, just a trusty old Amstrad with a ribbon printer to get everything done, but with the help of everyone, we did it. Maine Coons were also very successful at the Supreme Show both in 1992 and 1993. In 1992, Adraylo Treblis Smugboots was Best Provisional Adult, Staroyale Desperate Dan was Best Provisional Kitten with Adixilo Mambreno winning Best Provisional Neuter. In 1993, Keverstones American Dream was Best Provisional Adult and Smugkatz George Warleggan, Best Provisional Neuter.

Championship Status

Kahuna Yankkee Girl

The breed’s application for promotion to Championship Status was approved in the autumn of 1993, though we had to wait patiently until June 1994 for the classes to start. It was just seven weeks later that we had our first titled cats. At the Gwynedd Show, Keverstones American Dream and his daughter, Keverstone Yankee Girl (pictured above), both owned by Steve & Daphne Butters, became the first champions.

Claude AnthonyA week later, at Kensington Kitten & Neuter, we celebrated our first Premiers – Smugkatz Claude Anthony (photo left) owned by Sue Deane and Noracoon Ernestina Mallory owned by Phillipa Holmes. Finally, ten years after the breed first arrived in Britain, we had our first titled cats. There are now over 500 Champions and more than 400 Premier Maine Coons.

For the previous two years, the Birmans, Turkish Vans & Somalis had been competing for the SLH Grand certificates. Now the Maine Coons joined these classes. Back in April 1994, before we had Championship Status, Yankee Girl won the Kitten Open Class under probationer Maine Coon judge, Joe Bury (a senior Foreign Section Judge). After judging, he came over to speak to us, saying “This kitten is going to be GCCF’s First Grand Champion Maine Coon”. I remember laughing at the time, thinking “Not a chance”, but Joe proved me wrong. In October 1994, less than five months after gaining Championship Status, Yankee became the first Grand Maine Coon when she won her third Grand Challenge Certificate. Three weeks later, at the Supreme, Lawmaine Stripes Again, owned by Steve & Daphne Butters, became the first Grand Premier. Back in those days the Grand classes tended to be on the large side – entries often in the teens, so competition was really stiff. In January 1995, Noracoon Ernestina Mallory became the first female Grand Premier and in March, Adraylo Treblis Smugboots, owned by Rob & Sue Grace, became the first male Grand Champion. We now have many Grand Champions and Grand Premier

The 1994-95 show season was so important for the breed, a real milestone. Not only did we have our first Championship Classes, but it was also the year when the first Maine Coon Cat Club Show was held. The idea of the club holding a show started one Sunday morning in early 1993, at our kitchen table, after a rather heavy night’s drinking. Phillipa Holmes, David Howe, Steve & I, still hung over, thought it would be a good idea to hold a show. Phillipa offered to be show manager, Steve reluctantly said that he would be assistant until someone more suitable could be found (he had no real interest in show management) and Dave said that he would organize the catering. But first we needed some funds as GCCF would not issue a show licence if the club did not have money put aside to run the show. So, we decided to hold a photographic show, large raffle and garden party and a few months later we held the event at our house. This raised several hundred pounds, enough for us to make the application to GCCF. We held our first show in early August 1994, taking quite a chance considering that the breed had just gained championship status. In those days, all clubs had to go through a ‘training period’, holding three Exemption Shows and then three Sanction Shows before being considered to be given a license to hold a Championship Show. Our question – would people support the club even though there were no certificates available to them, or would they go elsewhere to try to gain CCs and PCs. What a great set of members we had – they came out and supported us in their droves and the first show was a huge success. The Maine Coon Cat Club’s First Overall Best in Show was the wonderful large solid black boy from Bodmin Moor – Adraylo Trebils Smugboots.

 Phillipa continued to be the club’s show manager, taking it right through to its first Championship Show in 2000, before standing down, having done her bit for the show. I then took over as show manager, and ran the show for the next eleven years before David Howe took the helm in 2012. We always aimed to hold the show in a central location, knowing that we have members from Scotland to Cornwall. Whilst many of the Maine Coons are not in full coat during the summer, the decision to hold the show at this time of year was made to enable those people who have travelled long distances to have more daylight for travelling and the chance of better weather than during the winter months. Over the years, there have been lots of different Overall Winners, including two girls who both won three times!

 

MAINE COON CAT CLUB SHOW OVERALL BIS WINNERS

1994       ADRAYLO TREBLIS SMUGBOOTS                   

1995       GRPR LAWMAINE STRIPES AGAIN                  

1996       GRCH KEVERSTONE YOUNG AMERICOON     

1997       CH KITITAS SWEETGEORGIA BROWN 

1998       JAKATTA DESDEMONA                                   

1999       GRCH JAKATTA DESDEMONA                        

2000       GRCH JAKATTA DESDEMONA                        

2001       CH CLASSICOON ZIGGI STARDUST                

2002       CH HARTSCOON TABITHA RUGRAT                 

2003       GRCH & GRPR BEARDWOOD ROBBY WILLYAMS

2004     PR DAIRYMAINE CHESTERTON

2005     GRPR DAIRYMAINE CHESTERTON

2006     IGRPR KEOKA TOPEAK

2007     IGRPR DAIRYMAINE SARNIA CHERIE

2008     PR DOTCOM MONZA

2009     SUP UKIGRPR DAIRYMAINE SARNIA CHERIE

2010     IGRCH MCKITTYCREEK AURORA

 2011     SUPUKIGRPR DAIRYMAIE SARNIA CHERIE

2012     UKOSIGRPR COONTASTIC NIJINSKY

2013     OBIGRPR KASSARO CISCO KID

2014     ISADORYOU PHOENIX

Many of the above cats went on to gain further titles, but these were the titles that they held at the time of their Best in Show win.

 DesdemonaThe mid 1990s era was a very exciting time for the breed. Not only did we have Championship Status and our own breed show, but lots of people started to import new breed lines. I remember the first time we ever showed Keverstones American Dream (bred by Steve & Carol Lawson in Florida, USA), he was so different to what people were used to seeing, and people loved his size, power and rich warm brown tabby coat. Perhaps he was, in some small way, a reason to encourage more people to consider importing, despite the huge expense and six months compulsory quarantine period. There are so many imports who helped the breed, though special mention should go to Verismo Britannicus, a Red Silver Tabby & White, owned by Phillipa Holmes, Brit had a hugely successful show career as well as producing some wonderful offspring, including the famous Jakatta Desdemona (right), a stunning silver tortie-tabby & white female, owned by Rocco & Angie Barletta, who won so much over her show career.

Yankee GirlBack to show history. Having had lots of Supreme Show success at Provisional Status, with several gaining Best Provisional titles, Grand Champion/Grand Premier titled Maine Coons now competed in the same classes as Somalis and Turkish Vans for the top GCCF Certificate – the UK Grand. A cat must gain two of these to become a UK Grand and that means, for most cats, winning the certificate at two different annual Supreme Shows. In 1997, we had our first UK Grands – in the adults, UK Gr Ch Smugkatz Morwena Chynoweth, owned by Rob & Sue Grace and Gr Ch & UK Gr Pr Keverstone Yankee Girl (left) in the neuter section. We will return to the Supreme Show later.

It wasn’t long before Maine Coons were competing strongly against the Birmans, Turkish Vans and Somalis in Grand Classes at shows around the country, and in 1997, Norwegian Forest Cats joined the Grand Classes. Competition was now really tough. By 1998 there were huge Maine Coon classes, and our application to split off the Brown Tabby Series into a separate Open Class was accepted by GCCF, starting on 1st June 1999. Prior to that, all colours competed in the same Open Class. And bear in mind, every cat could enter its Open and also the Grand Class (if it was a titled cat), so you can imagine how hard it was to win certificates with such stiff competition. In 2005, we had enough Silver Tabby Series & AOC coloured cats being shown to enable the AOC Class to be split into Silver Tabby & AOC. In 2003, the Birmans gained their own Grand Class, but the competition within the AOV Grand Class remained as competitive as ever with the Ragdolls having gained Championship Status in 2001.

In 2005 GCCF gained a new higher class – the Imperial Grand. To become an Imperial, cats had to gain not three, but five certificates under five different judges. There would be one Imperial Class Group within the Semi-Longhair Section, so Maine Coons would compete against all other Grand titled semi-longhairs. It gave the breed and the club an immense amount of pride when the very first Imperial titled cat was a Maine Coon –

FerrgusImperial Grand Champion Kassaro Ferrguss (photo above), made up at Wyvern Show in September, a gorgeous red tabby owned by Mr & Mrs Snodgrass (left).

 

 

 

 

 

Whilst we had three more male adults gaining the title in-between, it was another two years before we saw our first female Imperial Adult -  Imp Gr Ch Moonraker’s Hacoona Matata owned by Steve & Laura Whitmarsh (right). Hacoona Matata

 

It wasn’t such a long wait for the neuters. Brown Tabby, Imp Gr Pr Dairymaine Emily, owned by Jane Haynes, became the first Imperial Grand Premier, (yet another female beating the boys to get that first title by becoming the first Imp Gr Pr Maine Coon), less than a month after Ferrguss and just one week later, it was another Dairymaine, this time Imp Gr Pr Dairymaine Chilli Pepper (below), owned by Saffi Rabey, took the honour of becoming the first Male Imperial Grand Premier. Today we have a number of Imperial Grand Champions and Imperial Grand Premiers.

Chilli

 

For the next few years, showing continued without much change, but a major alteration was on the cards, and the Maine Coon Cat Club took a big part in this. Some exhibitors within the cat world felt that the system was unfair, where an Imperial Grand titled cat could compete alongside young untitled cats for the CC or PC. A proposal put forward at GCCF Delegates’ Meeting by other clubs had been knocked back on wording. The Maine Coon Cat Club put forward a proposal that the cat could only enter the class for which it is eligible, hence untitled cats would compete for a CC/PC, champions & premiers would compete for Grands, etc. But something new was needed to keep those really top cats in competition. So, whilst the MCCC proposal was accepted, along came another class at the same time – The Olympian. Imperial titled cats across all sections would compete for the Olympian certificates, needing five to become an Olympian Bronze, another five for Silver and a further five for Gold. At the time, everyone believed that the Gold title would take years to attain. This new system started on 1st June 2011. Once again, it was a Maine Coon that was to prove everyone wrong.

Nijinsky In September 2011, UK Imp Gr Pr Coontastic Nijinsky (right), owned by Stephen & Jill Bunce, jointly became the first Olympian Bronze, on the same day as a Birman did it. Eight months later, Saffi Rabey’s Sup UK Imp Gr Pr Dairymaine Sarnia Cherie became the first female Maine Coon to gain this title. But the story didn’t end there – Nijinsky went on to become the first Olympian Silver in February 2012 and the first Olympian Gold four months later in June. What an amazing accomplishment for the cat, his owners & breeders and the entire Maine Coon breed. Sarnia Cherie continued her winning ways, becoming the first Olympian Gold Female Neuter in April 2014. Congratulations to her owner, Saffy Rabey and breeder Jane Haynes on this amazing feat. At this point we still don’t have any Olympian adults, but it’s just a matter of time before we will be celebrating the breeds success once more.

And now, returning to the Supreme Show, and how much success then breed has enjoyed since we gained Championship Status in June 1994. It was just seventeen months later, November 1995, that the first Maine Coon hit the dizzy heights of a “Supreme” title when Alexis Craig’s Rockoon Tigerlily was made Supreme Kitten (below). Tigerlily

Since then, we have had several Maine Coons gaining a Best of Variety win and eight more cats have gained a ‘Supreme’ title. These are listed below.

SUPREME TITLED MAINE COONS

         Supreme Adult

2000 Gr Ch Ohyo Murphy Of Noah’s Ark, owned by Mrs D Brettell, bred by A Kneifel
2010 Ch Julescoon Dexter, owned and bred by Mr & Mrs Gregson

 Supreme Kitten

1995 Rockoon Tygerlily, owned by Mrs A Craig, bred by Mrs J Lambeth
2002 Lionmaine Kennya, owned and bred by Mrs J Chadwick
2003 Dairymaine Chesterton, owned and bred by Mrs J Haynes
2005 Coontastic Xavier, owned by Mrs S Wilkinson, bred by Mr & Mrs Barletta
2011 Isadoryou Mr Bojangles,  owned by Mrs T Cole, bred by Miss T Murray

 Supreme Neuter

2005 UK IGrPr Dairymaine Chesterton, owned and bred by Mrs J Haynes
2008 UK IGrPr Dairymaine Sarnia Cherie, owned by Miss S Rabey, bred by Mrs J Haynes

 Supreme Exhibits

2005    SupUK IGrPr Dairymaine Chesterton, owned and bred by Mrs J Haynes

Dairymaine Chesterton warrants a very special mention – the only Maine Coon to win a Supreme title twice, Supreme Kitten in 2003, Supreme Neuter & Supreme Exhibit in 2005.

Dairymaine Chesterton

2008   Supreme UK IGrPr Dairymaine Sarnia Cherie Owned by Miss S Rabey, bred by Mrs J Haynes

Dairymaine Sarnia Cherie

2010     Supreme Ch Julescoon Dexter                       Owned and bred by Mr & Mrs Gregson

Julescoon Dexter

History continues to be made by our special breed, week in and week out, and we look forward to the next thirty years!