LACONIA — Among those taking part in the Veteran Cats show over the weekend at VFW Post 1670 was Carol Pedley of Standish, Maine, who has been breeding Maine Coon cats for 44 years, making her the longest active breeder of Maine Coon cats in the country.
Pedley says that the Maine Coon, large and sociable cats known as ‘’gentle giants,’’ have a long and unique history and are perhaps the only recognized cat of distinctly American origin.
She brought along several cats to the show, including a kitten Le Beau Minu Domino, who carries the name of her cattery in Standish, which she opened in 1972.
Pedley said Maine Coons, which are among the largest domesticated cats in the world, were popular at cat shows in the late 19th century cat shows but their existence became threatened when long-haired breeds were imported from other countries in the early 20th century. They have since made a comeback and are now one of the most popular cat breeds in the world.
‘’A Maine Coon won the very first cat show in North America, which was held at Madison Square Garden in New York City in 1895,’’ said Pedley.
Another enthusiastic Maine Coon owner was Diane Guisti of West Warwick, Rhode Island, who was showing 6-month old Waylon.
‘’I just love this breed. They’re really have personalities like dogs. They want to be with you all the time and follow you wherever you go,’’ she said.
More than 70 cats and household pets were entered in the weekend show, sponsored by the United Maine Coon Cat Association, which featured four show rings each day and a variety of breeds ranging from Himalayan, Rag Doll, Persian, Abyssinian, Scottish Fold, Exotic and Oriental, as well as all-breed household pets.
Among the youngest cats was Booja-Booja, a 6-month-old chocolate exotic longhair owned by Sheila Walter of Newport.
‘’It’s only his second cat show but he’s already won a ribbon as the best long-haired kitten,’’ said Walter, who said Booja-Booja has a good personality and enjoys riding in car. She plans to start showing him in the cats category after the first of the year.
A veteran award-winner, Fendi, a 4-year-old Himalayan owned by Stephanie Paris of Ipswish, Massachusetts, was also at the show. He has won trophies two years in a row as the best long-haired altered cat.
‘’He has blue eyes and long hair and he thinks he’s the king,’’ said Paris, who started entering her pets in shows five years ago buying them from an enthusiastic breeder who showed her how to get involved in cat shows.
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