CFA’s 22nd Best Cat

GC BW NW Emau’s Drop-Of-Golden Sun

 We all show cats that make us proud, but it is a rare cat that can wrap our heart in knots and bring us to tears with their beauty and grace. I had the honor and pleasure of showing one such precious treasure in 2000. Her name was Pounce (GC BW RW Emau’s Mau Pounce For The Ounce, DM). Pounce produced and gave me many gifts, but in August 2005, she gave me a gift I had forgotten I needed… She gave me a cat so special that she brought back the goosebumps and joy that I had not even realized that I had lost. That gift was Sunny, GC BW NW Emau’s Drop-Of-Golden Sun and SHE gave me the gift of wonder. 

Showing her was both a pleasure and a nightmare as for those in the know, her nickname quickly evolved to Calamity Jane… The beginning of the season started out well with Sunny showing as a Champion under three lovely grands.  It became clear early on when as a Champion, she took the breed in many rings and finalled, that the judges saw too that this one was something special.  It was then that I started to dream and a little bit to hope… Her first show as a Grand in June however, found me humiliating myself in hysterical tears as I watched my hopes and dreams fall away while my lovely new GC scratched herself bloody in the first ring.   Six weeks for that to heal fully and the dream seemed a little unlikely…

Finally though, things were looking up. Her Sunny disposition which had earned her her name and her uncanny resemblance to her exquisite mother stood her in good stead and she began to charm her way into judges and spectators hearts. Then disaster number two struck.  She injured her leg and more time was lost. I am forever grateful to Karl Bowman DVM and John Todd DVM, without whose timely help we could not have continued.  On paper though, the dream looked pretty much shot… Still, when you looked into her gigantic green eyes, or caught her long legged graceful body in motion, it was hard to give up the hope. This was one special cat and better yet, she loved to show.  So, we persevered and she started to shine…

Life was looking REALLY promising in September, but one needs to always remember to never ever count those chickens…. She was on a roll with a string of shows with Best Cats and well on her way to blacklining for the second weekend in a row when disaster number THREE set in.  The original zero-to-sixty cat at home, she was playing at the top of the sisal in the judging ring when she decided to reverse-levitate to the floor. Noone’s fault – Miss Overprotective herself (Me), never even saw it coming, but the walkabout commenced.  As people gave chase, her initial wonder at the new game turned to terror and by the time I picked her up from a helpful exhibitor who had grabbed her off a grooming table beautifully accessorized by an oblivious Persian, my fearless and joyous Sun-child was a new cat.  That day, before my horrified eyes, I watched her confidence crumble as she realized that the world was large and she was very very small.  From that point on, she was terrified of the spectators, so when they moved, she froze.

I had no idea if the damage was permanent or if she was done for good.  Only time could tell.  What followed was excrutiating in its delicate and heartbreakingly slow evolution as we began the long road to building back her confidence.  In the beginning it was touch and go. Show after show I pulled her from more rings than she went in. Hardly a good strategy to garner a national win, but at that point, the only goal was to build confidence, so if things were not going well, she stayed benched. 

The interesting by product of all this was that I got to experience up close and personal how incredibly sensitive and gentle our CFA judges can be.  The patience and skill and care that was given to her was nothing short of miraculous and I am forever grateful to each and every one of the wonderful people who found it in their hearts to treat her with such careful skill and gentle kindness during that difficult period. Had she not continued to purr to and from every ring and had she not shown some little improvement each week, I would no doubt have given up. Actually, I very nearly did, almost every weekend.  If not for the constant support of Jill and Karen and so many others like Lyn and Cheryl and Linda and I probably would have. They believed when I only dreamed and truly for a time, that dream felt like a nightmare. 

In February, however, one of her special judges turned to me after breed judging and said, “She’s back”… The Best Cat Sunny received that day was the first since her fall and it meant more to me than I can ever express… The next weekend, another very special judge of hers gave Sunny another Best cat and I started to hope again as the improvement started to become less subtle and more noticeable with every ring… What followed showed me a side of the Cat Fancy I have heretofore seen glimpses of, but never experienced up close and personal:  I was overwhelmed by the support, kindness and generosity my fellow competitors and breeders gave to Sunny. It is true that you cannot do something like this alone and Sunny shares her title with so many incredible people.  Her biggest supporters all along were Buster’s parents, Jill Archibald and Karen Bishop.  Without the daily support calls, we would never have stuck to it!  Thank goodness Lyn Knight and I were both on Verizon… without her expert advice and unfaltering confidence we would never have made it… Cheryl and Perry Coleman, Linda Peterson, Rico Honey, Bob & Linda Walton... so many people were there for us it is hard to name them all, not to mention the judges who treated her with such love and compassion.  She had support in breed as well. It was incredibly special that so many Mau breeders pulled together routing for her; Linda Buzonas (Bacamamdit), Eve & Dennis George (Marzac), Susan Melia (Dotz), Sharon and Jim Folts (Kairokats), Katheryn Dunham (Karmau), Whitney Nickel (Alotaspotz), Laurie Coughlan (Mautrix), Judith Mendelsohn (J’s Iris). Her success is a tribute to all of them. 

At the end of the season when I went up to thank another of her special judges, he struck a chord with me when he said “don’t thank me, thank her.”  Well, I am very grateful to him for his support of her, but I am indeed very honored to have had the opportunity to have shown such a very special creature…

Despite the many miles we logged together (nearly 50K), Sunny traveled like a dream week in and week out. Then again, how could she not? At the beginning of the season she started in a regular size carrier which quickly graduated to a larger one with bed and a litterpan.  By the end of the season I had upgraded the car to the SUV so that my 6.5 pound cat could ride in style swinging in her hammock in her cage complete with blanket box size litterbox, full-size bed, scratching post and toys. She loved hotel rooms as long as they were up to her standards. If they were not, she would perch uncomfortably on top of her carrier and give me woeful glares out of her huge green eyes.  She was also quite a flirt with visitors and we discovered in March that she was quite partial to red wine. Not so much, however to dogs. 

We truly were gifted with so many many memories to treasure from each and every weekend.  So in the end she did make me believe and wrapped around those moments of severe anxiety, were flashes of sheer unadulterated joy and wonder.  I leave this year filled once again with hope for the Cat Fancy and pride for a very special green-eyed monster who, like her mother, wrapped my heart in knots and made me believe.

 

 

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