A Dreams Continues..

In the 2009-2010 show season, CFA history was made - CFA’s Best Cat in Premiership is GRP NW Highlander’s 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 CFA history as he is the first Maine Coon ever to achieve a BEST in any category.  A history making achievement does not happen on its own – it takes a village - so here is the story of the “village” that created Tony’s POTY.

On May 31, 2008 Tony was born to GC The Cat Spa Leilani of Highlander, DM and GC,  RW Shubacoon’s 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 taken by the large brown boy with the vivid pattern, huge puppy feet and large ears.  Teresa had just completed a NW premiership run and knew John and Megan Hiemstra wanted a special kitten to show.  When Teresa delivered the already neutered (he was trying to breed other kittens at 3 months old!) Tony into Megan’s arms in October, Teresa cried and cried and Megan didn’t quite believe this special treasure was theirs.  Tony and his sister GRC RW Highlander Mama Mia of Believers both achieved nice RWs in kitten class in the 2008-2009 show season.


On May 1, Tony shot out of the premiership gate and never looked back.  He steadily rose up the national rankings, being highest scoring cat 27 times out of the 39 shows he competed in.  He was awarded Best Cat 143 times, and only missed 10 finals out of 281 rings.  He was highest scoring cat at the large, prestigious Garden State and National Capital shows and was Best Longhair Premier at the International and in the top 6 cats for best of the best – Megan said it was fun to clerk at the International and not have a cat that liked to go on walk-abouts as her 2 previous Cornish Rex NWs did. 

 At National Capital Tony got to his top 100 rings and regained the #1 spot nationally, a placement he held till the end of the show season.  Tony never went to a 6x6 show and only one 10 ring show, in Canonsburg towards the end of March.  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.


No story is complete without some of the behind the scenes adventures.  Showing a large cat was a new adventure for John and Megan, so they had to buy all new show “stuff” – a different travel carrier, new show tent, grooming table and cart – Tony just didn’t fit in the “old stuff.”  He happily posed for every camera, sat on the laps of elderly folks in wheelchairs, played happily with one of the exhibitor’s 5 year old daughters.  The people involved – well, part of Tony’s village involved John’s wife Mary, who hadn’t been to a cat show in nearly 25 years.  Mary became one of Tony’s biggest fans, often accompanying John and Tony to some of the larger shows.  This team of travelers showed in regions 1, 3, 4, 6 and 7.  Tony never got on a plane – they just couldn’t bear to stuff this big gorgeous animal into a carrier that would have to be crammed under a plane seat.  It’s just a shame you can’t earn frequent flyer miles on the PA turnpike!

 Part of Tony’s village is the new friends and old, the circle of people and their cats that made

 Tony’s win so special.  What support!  There were so many judges who were loyal to Tony from May 1 to April 30, including one of his favorites who always kept Tony’s favorite “dragonfly” toy on the side of her judge’s table to tease him.  We would like to thank all of the judges for your support and for making this dream come true.   John and Megan traveled with old friends Anne and Tim, built new friendships with many of the premiership cats and their humans - 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.

 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, always groomed and shown in top condition.  Tony has gorgeous oblique eyes, a nice square muzzle with a gentle scoop in profile, firm chin, huge tufted ears.  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 Bennett – a history making gentle giant of a cat, named for a wonderful singer with a sweet, melodic voice – Tony Bennett took a gamble and won CFA’s Best Cat in Premiership!   


Highlander Maine Coon Cats

Teresa & Edwin Sweeney
(with the help of Joann & Tina Patrone)

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