GP, NW, Highlander Tony Bennett of Wenlock Makes Maine Coon History

Published May 2010

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In the 2009-2010 show season, CFA history was made when for the first time ever CFA's Best Cat in Premiership was a Maine Coon! The breed history maker is GP, NW Highlander Tony Bennett of Wenlock, a glorious brown tabby Maine Coon neuter bred by Teresa Signore and Edwin Sweeney and proudly owned and shown by John and Megan Hiemstra. Tony's win is the first a Maine Coon has ever risen to the top to achieve a BEST in either Premiership, Championship or Kitten categories in CFA.

This is Tony's story ...

The Kitten

On May 31, 2008, Tony was born to GC The Cat Spa Leilani of Highlander AND GC RW Shubacoons Kenworth of Highlander, DM.

This breeding combines some of the best Maine Coon lines available – The Cat Spa, Shubacoons, McKittycreek, Tabbyrd and, of course, Highlander – a village of breeders to create a very special cat.

When the kittens were born, Teresa was immediately impressed by the large brown boy with the vivid pattern, huge puppy feet and large ears. Teresa knew Megan Hiemstra and her father John were looking for a special kitten to show, and having just completed a successful national campaign in premiership herself the season before, she decided to offer the special kitten to John and Megan.

Since Tony was already trying to breed other kittens by the time he was 3 months old, Tony was neutered then delivered into Megan's waiting arms in October. Teresa cried and cried at the parting and Megan didn't quite believe this exquisite treasure was hers and her dad's.

Off to the shows as a baby, Tony began winning quickly and achieved a nice RW in kitten class in the 2008-2009 show season by being the 17th Best Kitten in the Great Lakes Region. Not to be outdone, GC, RW Highlander Mama Mia of Believers, Tony's sister littermate, also earned a regional win as a kitten.

In Premiership

Kittenhood over, the decision was made to campaign Tony as an adult in Premiership, with the aim to try for a national win. Megan had previously shown two Cornish Rex to national wins, but this was her first time campaigning an adult Maine Coon.

Showing such a large cat was a new adventure for John and Megan, so they had to buy all new show “stuff” – a different travel carrier, a new show tent, new grooming table and cart. Why? Well, Tony just didn't fit in the “old stuff.” They couldn't bear to stuff this big gorgeous Maine Coon into a carrier that would then have to be crammed under a plane seat, so Tony never got on a plane his entire campaign. Instead, Tony traveled by car to shows in regions 1, 3, 4, 6 and 7.

Since Tony doesn't have a driver's licence, he was accompanied by John and Megan. Mary, John's wife, hadn't been to a cat show in nearly 25 years, but she was one of Tony's biggest fans, so she often joined the the travel team to the larger shows. It's just a shame you can't earn frequent flyer miles on the PA turnpike!

John and Megan often traveled with old friends Anne Mathis and Tim Schreck and built new friendships with many of the premiership cats and their humans including Robin's Jesse, Susan and Melanie's Pooh, Lynne's Dais, Chris' Phinny, Hope and Ditto, Marilyn and Kit, Zella Jane and Thomas' Harry Potter, Ron and Janel's Weezie, Lorna and Cal.

Tony was a trouper throughout the entire campaign. One of the judges always kept Tony's favorite “dragonfly” toy on the side of her judge's table to tease him. He loved to play, but was often awarded many of his Best Cats laying on the judging table with an “of course” look on his face and a rosette draped over his side. Tony also happily posed for every camera, sat on the laps of elderly folks in wheelchairs, and loved to play with an exhibitor's 5-year-old daughter.

The National Campaign Highlights

On May 1, 2009, Tony shot out of the premiership gate and never looked back, steadily moving up in the national rankings.

He was highest scoring cat at the large, prestigious Garden State and National Capital shows and was Best Longhair Premier at the International show.

At National Capital, Tony reached his top 100 rings and moved into the #1 spot nationally, a placement he then held until the end of the show season.

He ended the show season on a high note in Erie PA, earning 8 Best Cats from some of his favorite judges, and surrounded by his large group of fans and family.

Final statistics:

  • Highest scoring cat in show 27 times out of the 39 shows he competed in.
  • He was awarded Best Cat 143 times
  • He only missed 10 finals out of 281 rings.

Our Tony

You haven't lived until a Maine Coon has shared your house and your heart.

They have soft chirping voices, like to play in their water bowl, play hockey with their Maine Coon kibble, sit on their housemates and wonder where they went, plop on the sofa to watch TV with you.

Tony fit the Maine Coon standard to a “T” – large, rectangular body with a shaggy richly colored and patterned brown tabby coat that was silky to touch and he was always groomed and shown in top condition.

Tony has gorgeous oblique eyes, a nice square muzzle with a gentle scoop in profile, firm chin and huge tufted ears.

A history making gentle giant of a cat, and named for the wonderful singer with a sweet, melodic voice, "our" Tony Bennett took a gamble and won CFA's Best Cat in Premiership, and with his accomplishment breed history has been made ...

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GP, NW, Highlander Tony Bennett of Wenlock
Brown Tabby Maine Coon Neuter
CFA Best Cat In Premiership 2009-2010
27 times Best Cat In Show
143 times Best Cat

Born May 31, 2008
Sire: GC, RW Shubacoon's Kenworth of Highlander DM
Dam: GC The Cat Spa Leilani of Highlander DM
Breeder: Teresa Signore - Edwin Sweeney
Owner: John and Megan Heimstra




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