IW SGC Dark Angel De Longua Aqua
TICA's Best Cat of the Year 2015

by NATHALIE DECUZZI, Maneki Love Persians & Exotics and LEE HARPER
Published August 2015

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TICA's Cat of the Year 2015 is IW SGC Dark Angel De Longua Aqua/LO.  This stunning black tortie Persian from France was bred by Joel and Catherine Renaudin of Longua Aqua and is owned by Nathalie Decuzzi of Maneki Love cattery.  Not only did Nathalie pilot Dark Angel to the top spot in TICA, she also campaigned IW SGCA Altesse du Nid Douillet, a nine-year-old Blue Tortie & White Persian Spay to TICA's 17the Best Alter of the Year.

This is their story . . .


IW SGC Dark Angel De Longua Aqua/LO, TICA's Best Cat of the Year 2015
Photo by Katkrin Gerz, Kat Photography

My name is Nathalie Decuzzi. I have been breeding and showing Persians & Exotics under the Maneki Love cattery name since 2009.

In early 2009, I attended a cat show in Marcq en Baroeul near my home in northern France.  There were many beautiful cats of all breeds at the show but my heart beat faster when I saw an adorable 5 month old tortie Persian kitten named Dark Angel de Longua Aqua.  I would have loved to have taken the adorable baby home with me however she was not available.  Her breeders, Joel and Catherine Renaudin of Longua Aqua Persians, were keeping her to show themselves.


Dark Angel De Longua Aqua as a 5 month old kitten

Joel and Catherine showed Dark lightly as a kitten in TICA.  I loved her and eagerly continued to follow her show career as she matured into an adult.  In 2010 they campaigned SGC Dark Angel De Longua Aqua to TICA's 15th Best LH Cat.  I was honored to sponsor her annual award.


Photos by Katkrin Gerz, Kat Photography

Then in November 2013, at a show in Orléans, the city on the banks of the Loire River in north-central France where Joan of Arc famously saved the city from an English siege in 1429, I was given an incredible opportunity.  Joel & Catherine offered their beautiful tortie to me.  Dark came home with me on December 5th, 2013.  What a wonderful early Christmas present she was for me!

2014

In March 2014, I crossed the English channel to show Dark in a TICA show in Swanley in the United Kingdom.  We had a fantastic time.  All the judges succumbed to her beauty.  Many exhibitors complimented "Wow, what a tortie!"

It was late in the show season but I believed Dark could still be an International Winner in TICA.  Although it was a short campaign, only 6 shows long, by the end of the season IW SGC Dark Angel De Longua Aqua was TICA's 6th Best Cat 2014 and Best Cat in the Southern Europe Region.  I was so proud.  It was fabulous and magical time!


IW SGC Dark Angel De Longua Aqua/LO, TICA's 6th Best Cat of the Year 2014
Photo by Katkrin Gerz, Kat Photography

TICA Annual Awards Show 2014

TICA's 2014 Annual Awards Show was in Worcester, Massachusetts in the United States.  My parents gave us the gift of the trip to the the US so we could attend the awards ceremony . . . and perhaps just as importantly I wanted to enter Dark in the show.  The Awards show is always very prestigious and filled with the current season's top cats.  I took Dark to see how she stacked up against the best cats in TICA.


Breeders Catherine & Joel Renaudin with Dark Angel, and Nathalie Decuzzi


TICA Annual show in Worcester, MA, USA.
Fred Llanos with Cornish Rex kitten, JolieCœur de Luxe, Catherine Renaudin holding Dark Angel & Nathalie Decuzzi


Dark Angel admires her rosette collection at the show in Worcester USA

She proved she could hold her own.  At the end of the show she was 3rd Best Cat in Championship.  I met a new friend, Fred Llanos, with his black and white Cornish Rex, H Joy Junior de Luxe that was Best Kitten in Show.  With Fred's encouragement and Dark's wins at the show, I decided to chase my dream.  I thought Dark deserved to earn the most coveted title of all—Best Cat in TICA.

On The Campaign Trail

We returned to France and began our campaign.

Dark continued to mature—and seemed to grow more beautiful every day.  She even seemed to know how special she was.


Dark Angel celebrates her win with her favorite treat, "chicken juices". . . a secret of her success.


Whether enjoying time in the hotel room or accepting her rosette on the judging table, Dark Angel was always the perfect show cat

She was doing well at the shows, consistently finaling high and earning many Best Cat rosettes.  She was earning lots of points and zooming up the TICA standings.

Few campaigns are not without their challenges, however.  We hit a big bump in the road when Dark began to shed and quickly blew her magnificent coat.  It meant we would need to stop showing while she took time to grow back her hair.

Enter . . . Altesse du Nid Douillet

I was already committed to attending the next show, so I decided I would take my Persian spay, Altesse du Nid Douillet.  Altesse was 9 years old but didn't look or act her age.  I thought she was still very beautiful . . . and the judges agreed.  She made all the finals and finished third Best Alter in Show.  The judges complimented me on the lovely condition of my "senior" lady.  Altesse was living proof that some Persians only get better with time.


IW SGCA Altesse du Nid Douillet at nine years of age

I continued showing Altesse while waiting for Dark to regain her glorious coat.  When Dark finally returned to the show ring there were smiles on the faces of all the judges.  Dark immediately continued her winning ways, making all the finals including several Best Cats at her debut return show.  She was the top winning cat in Championship.  It was like a dream!

Now I was traveling and showing with both my girls.  Dark and Altesse were great friends and excellent roommates on the road.


Altesse and Dark Angel relax in their benching area surrounded by their rosettes . . .


Dark Angel and Altesse were great friends on the campaign trail -- and enjoyed relaxing together in the hotel room

At a show in Toulouse, France, I met a new friend, American exhibitor David Bernbaum of MTNest Maine Coons.  He was very supportive of Dark and told me he thought we could reach our goal.  Dark was ranked 5th in TICA . . . then she climbed to 3rd . . .

Number One!

We entered our favorite Euro-Cat Club show in Saint-Raphaël, France.  There were 130 cats in Championship including many of the top cats from around the world.  On Saturday, Dark made every final and was twice Best Cat.  On Sunday, ,judge Katarina Kreen chose Dark as her Best Cat—and at that moment I knew that Dark had indeed reached #1 in the TICA rankings.

I still get chills thinking about it.


(left) Judge Katarina Krenn selects Dark Angel as her Best Cat in St Raphaël, France
. . . (right) Nathalie & Dark Angel


We were not done yet.  The final show of the season was in Peterborough in the United Kingdom.

I decided to only enter Dark on Saturday.

This would allow the judges to handle her one more time, but by not showing on Sunday I knew it would allow another cat to earn points needed for their campaign.  Other exhibitors and the judges complimented my on my sportsmanship and fair play.  I thought it was the right thing to do.  Dark did not need the extra points.  She was safely in first place and could not be passed.

I exhibited Altesse both days and she was Best Alter in Show.  With that win she was ranked high enough to add the title of International Winner (IW) to her name.

To celebrate the end of the incredible season, we popped the cork on a bottle of champagne to share with our friends.  I lived many special moments with my two girls—and the entire journey was made even sweeter by the messages of encouragement of Dark's many supporters.  It has been a fabulous dream come true.  It is engraved in my memory and in my heart.  I want to thank the judges, my fellow exhibitors, my friends and family . . . and my beautiful Dark Angel.

I cry tears of joy . . .


Dark Angel celebrated the end of the TICA show season sharing champagne with all her fans

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Below are more photos from the show career of

IW SGC Dark Angel de Longua Aqua
Black Tortie Persian Female

TICA's Best Cat of the Year 2015
TICA's Best Cat (Southern Europe)

Born August 12, 2008
Sire: Chopin des Thérondels 
Dam: Vangéline du Prince de la Nuit
Breeder: Joel and Catherine Renaudin
Owner: Nathalie Decuzzi


Photo by Laurent Alain


Photo by Laurent Alain


Photo by Katkrin Gerz, Kat Photography


Breeder Catherine Renaudin with Dark Angel, and Nathalie Decuzzi


A few of the friends who supported Nathalie & for Dark Angel during their campaigns


Just a few of the judges who honored Dark Angel in their finals . . .


(left) Dark Angel with TICA judge Jean Marc Lagarde . . . (right) TICA judge Francesca Gagern admires Dark Angel's wonderful head and expression


The Nantes Far West show had a western theme.  Judge Jean Marc lAGARDE chose Dark Angel as his most "wanted"

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Below are more photos from the show career of

IW SGCA Altesse du Nid Douillet
Blue Tortie & White Persian Spay

TICA's 17th Best Alter of the Year
Best Alter of Southern Europe

Born August 13th, 2005
Sire : Candirand Sur To Impress
Dam : Pizzacata Sugar Babe
Breeder : Andree Magnier
Owner: Nathalie Decuzzi


Photo by Christophe Hermeline


Veerle Vandenabeele snuggles with AltesseVeerle would often take Altesse to the ring when Nathalie was occupied with Dark Angel.

Dark's new friend, TICA's 14th Best Cat of the Year 2015, IW SGC H Joy Junior de Luxe/LO, Black/White Cornish Rex

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