How the Fife came to recognize the Maine Coon
A timewitness report from Gideon and Erika Gautschi
The first Maine Coon in Switzerland
in the beginning there was the foundling cat
Since we raised foundling cats for years and competed successful on shows with the most beautiful specimen, we had the desire to own a purebred cat too.
Kittens from Picasso and Lynda:
Through an advertisement we found out where a litter of Birman cats was offered for sale. We contacted the breeder and had the luck to get the last free kitten. On our request why the little male had no white on his paws the breeder explained us this was no longer requested by standard. When we wanted to see the pedigree, we were told that it would be drawn up in Sweden and it would take at least half a year until it would arrive here. Well.... as a layperson we just had to believe that and we were persuaded to show the little boy as Siamese (!!!!). We were so proud back then, in 1979, when he received a "very good". Because he had neither the Birman-markings nor a Siamese-head we were advised to show him as Colour-Point. Since he was shorthaired he was put back immediately to the HHP class. The breeder (if one can call her that) said sneering; well didn't you know that there would never be a pedigree for this cat?
Bang - that was it..... Then, finally, we consulted the literature for the well-known and unknown breeds that exist. In an old booklet we saw a painted picture of a beautiful cat described as a Turkish cat. Because this breed was unknown in our region we started a difficult search for this wonderful animal. The Fife- and FFH-president (Editor's note: FFH = Federation Feline Helvetique, a Swiss association) at that time, Mrs. Pia Hollenstein, mediated addresses for us in England. After several visits in England we got an address of a breeder in The Netherlands. After a lively correspondence we became proud owners of a male Turkish cat, the name VAN was not yet common used. Actually we only wanted a beautiful cat that we could neuter and show but some people-who-know-everything-better told us it would be a pity for that beautiful cat. We were talked into getting another female.
That was the beginning from an innocent exhibitor to a breeder.............
During this time we also had a subscription to the American magazine "Cat-World" and we were playing with the idea of owning a Maine Coon. We found the address of the president of a Maine Coon club (which club this was can't be traced anymore) and he recommended us the breeder Mrs. Phyllis Voth in Pardeeville, Wisconsin. After a short correspondence with her, friends of us visited the breeder in America who happened to have kittens at that time and this is how Sundar Lynda received her Swiss nationality on February 7th 1978 at the age of four and a half months.
In April 1978 Lynda had her first show in La Chaux-de-Fonds. In those years neither the Maine Coon nor the semi-longhair-class were recognized. So Lynda was judged irregular as a Persian 13a. The judge, Mrs. Heuser, wrote the following judging report:
Type: Very slender, does not correspond to the body shape of a Persian
The judge said afterwards that it was a pity for that beautiful young cat, but she didn't know that this was a Maine Coon, but she knew a nice Norwegian male, who would be a nice match with this female (!!!!) We were very happy we already had an address for a stud!
In August of 1981 Lynda was judged in Wiesbaden by Mr. Swanson in the category "other longhairs" 13 a. The result of this show was Exc.1 and Best of Breed. Lynda had won from Somalis on this occasion.
Picasso of Clowder
The future stud for Lynda was called Picasso of Clowder and his breeder was Larry Page in Appelton, Wisconsin. Picasso came to us August 17th 1978 at the age of six and a half months.
Picasso had his first show in October 1978 in Luzern. His first judge was Mrs. Sattler who wrote the following report:
Type: Very good type, strong
And thus Picasso ended with the 1st place!
In March 1979 he got Exc.1 from Mrs. Radius in Mannheim. When we asked her why she gave him that result, she said she purposely gave him Exc.1 because it really was about time to recognize the breed.
That gave us the *KICK* to look for like-minded people to bring this breed to recognition.
Jupiter v. Anatolien
On a show in Germany we met the families Simon, Reimann and family Jung who were also breeding Maine Coons. After lively conversations we agreed that we had to do something for the Maine Coon. Now that the comrades-in-arms were found and the first IG-Maine-Coon (Editor's note: IG-Maine-Coon = a community of interests for Maine Coon cats) was started, their first action was to take another hurdle. To get an own *Best in Show* for the semi-longhairs, because we always pitiable lost with our *Turks* among the Persians and Colour-Points.
After relevant discussions with Mr. Jimmieson (who was Fife president and chairman of the 1.DEKZV (Editor's note: 1.DEKZV = a German Fife club) at that time) and Mr. Wassilieff (president of the FFH) we made an proposal for an own Best in Show for Halblanghaar-Katzen (semi-longhair cats). The English name "semi-long" was not used until much later, when the "cat-language" became more modern. During those days it wasn't so complicated to make a proposal for the Fife. Thanks to our good relationship to both these gentlemen our proposal passed without a lot of difficulties. In the same mail we added a proposal for the recognition of the Maine Coon together with the Simons.
On January 1st 1982 the category for "Halblanghaar" (semi-longhair) was introduced, to everybody's great delight.
Omar v. Anatolien
In order to present enough Maine Coons we traveled to Berlin with 4 cats. Also we had to be able to show 30 judge reports altogether. The Simons collected all reports and filed a first petition through the 1.DEKZV club. But something went wrong and the petition was missed by oversleeping.
One year later we tried for the second time, together with the Simons, and from Switzerland we filed a new petition. Of course we were present at the Fife meeting in November 1982 in Wiesbaden. Mr. Jimmieson gave us a warm welcome and we were received excellent food and drinks the whole day. During coffee and cakes we used the opportunity to talk with the delegates from all countries and we used all our charm trying to persuade them to approve to our proposal......
The first Maine Coon litter born in Switzerland in 1979 consisted of 5 males: Hannibal, Harlekin, Herkules, Hermes and Habin. The first three went away to live in Berlin. Since there were only a few breeders in those days, the relationships among them were warm and free of envy...........
Jasmin v. Anatolien
Unfortunately these days there is a less nice side: there is a lot of envy among breeders today, who invest a lot of money in order to win at shows. It is very easy to buy beautiful cats from anywhere for loads of money just to be able to brag on shows. Praiseworthy are those breeders who can bring cats on the stage who they have bred themselves.......
I hope this report has given you a bit of insight in the beginnings of our Maine Coons and we hope that the love and cooperation in behalf of the breed will be on the first place, instead of envy.
The Maine Coon deserves it..........