I was out of state and four hours away from undergoing surgery when my mother called with horrible news. Our beloved Lab of thirteen years, Raphael, was gravely ill and had to be euthanized. There was no time for final goodbyes, last kisses, or long hugs - only my official approval to end his suffering. I tearfully agreed and went into surgery soul sick.
A few months later, my five-year-old son, Anastas, came home with a book about Russian Blue Cats. He asked if we could get one.
...a cat? The idea never entered my mind. To that moment, I had always been a dog person. My father was even a dog breeder in Southern Ukraine, so I grew up with Russian Terriers, Moscow Shepherds, Collies, and Great Danes.
Initially, we brushed off his request, like most parents that are being asked to do something that they just don’t feel like doing. We'd give a response like, “We'll see”, “Maybe later”, “Have you cleaned your room?” or "Squirrel!” But Anastas soldiered on, and weeks later brought home another cat book.
This one was filled with images of many breeds and looking through it was the first time I saw a picture of a Maine Coon. I instantly opened Google to see more. These were like cats I had never seen: large, bold, with an intense, wild look in their eyes. I began to realize that there would soon be a giant feline in our family.
Eventually, my husband and I agreed that we would get a cat. There was one condition… that the cat be a rescue so we could be sure that a cat was a good fit for us before we spent the money that a “real” Maine Coon would cost. We searched the shelters for any cat that resembled a Maine Coon, and settled on our first cat, Leo, named after my childhood favorite Russian cartoon show, “Leopold the Cat." While Leo was a far cry from a Maine Coon, he was great, and we soon started looking for a pure pedigreed European Maine Coon.
Europa, a Polish-bred kitten, was the first to arrive. She was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen - a swirling fluff ball of colors and a sparkling personality to match. Naturally, she became the queen of the house. Next to arrive were Charles and Alysia from Ukraine.
I was completely fascinated by Maine Coons at this point and we knew we wanted to have a litter, but I wasn't sure I was ready to become a breeder. Naturally, life had other plans and delivered us a nice little surprise.
All of our cats were younger (not quite one year), so we expected to see signs of maturity or at least see our females go into heat before we needed to make arrangements to separate them. But it turned out that our precious Europa has “silent” heats and the only one in the house that knew this was our prince, Charles.
One day, my husband was sitting on the couch watching Europa walk by and said, “I think Europa might be pregnant". Weeks later we had our first litter.
At this point I knew I was completely in love with Maine Coons, but after seeing our first litter be born, litter training them, weaning them onto solid foods, and watching each of their personalities take shape, I knew I'd found my purpose as a breeder of European Maine Coon cats.