Olga Winn, founder of Euro Coons Main Coon Cattery, was four hours away from undergoing surgery when her cell rang.
“We were out-of-state when my mom called with horrible news. Our beloved Lab of 13 years, Raphael, was gravely ill and would have to be euthanized,” she recalled, her voice trailing off. “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 month later, her five-year-old son, Anastas, lightened the mood by bringing home a book about Russian Blue Cats. “He asked if we could get him one… a cat? The idea never entered my mind. I had always been a ‘dog person,’” she said. “My father was a highly regarded dog breeder in Odessa, Southern Ukraine, so I grew up with gorgeous Black Russian Terriers, Moscow Shepherds, beautiful Collies and majestic Great Danes.
Initially we just kept on ignoring his request. Like most parents that are being asked to do something that they just don’t feel like doing. He would get a response like, “We will see” or “Maybe later” or “have you cleaned your room” …”Squirrel!” But he soldiered on. Sometime later, not sure about how many weeks, he brought another cat book home. This one had so many types of cats and wonderful pictures of each breed. So we looked through it. That is when Olga first saw a picture of a Maine Coon. She instantly needed to see more. So off to Google we went. These were like cats she had never seen. Large, bold, with an intense and wild look in their eyes. Can you actually own these? How much do they cost? There was an excitement with each new question and a growing confidence that we will have a giant feline in our family soon.
Eventually my husband, and I agreed with one condition… that the cat be a rescue. Actually he insisted because he wanted to be sure that a cat was a good fit before we spent the money that a “Real” Maine Coon would cost. “We looked for any shelter cat sort of resembling a Maine Coon,” she smiled. “We selected one and I named him Leopold after my favorite childhood Russian cartoon show, “Leopold the Cat.” While Leo was a far cry from a Maine Coon, he was great, and we soon decided to start looking for a pure pedigreed European Maine Coon.
They were like no cats I had ever seen, starting with their wild, lynx-like pointed ears, size and colors – truly fantastic!
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Olga almost purchased a kitten from a local breeder when she remembered Ukrainian friend who bred cats – European Main Coon Cats of course. “She offered to sell me a boy and girl along with the breeding rights,” Olga said. “She also referred me to a Chicago breeder from whom I purchased a kitten from Poland along with the breeding rights.”
Europa, the Polish-bred kitten, would be the first to arrive. “She was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen -- a swirling fluff bowl of colors and sparkling personality. Naturally, she became the queen of the house. “
Next to arrive was Charles and Alysia from Ukraine… and then Steel from Ukraine again and Masha from Russia, and on and on. “I still wasn’t seriously thinking about starting a business, I was simply fascinated by the breed.”
Olga’s husband saw how their European Maine Coon cats impacted his wife. “She is always glowing… always happy around them,” Adriyel said smiling. “However, proper breeding is expensive, so we made the decision to start selling some kittens simply to cover our costs. One thing led to another and before long EuroCoons Maine Coon Cattery was born.”
“The boys and girls each have their own floors where they are free to go anywhere they want. Never any cages!” she added. “Our clients can count on three things: ONE. Our European breeders and bloodlines have been exhaustively vetted. TWO. Our pedigreed kittens are beautiful representatives of the breed. THREE. Every kitten has been loved like a family member, and fed only the best food. That’s why our cats make such affectionate, cuddly companions.
As for cost, Olga says they charge in the $2,000 range and higher. “It’s true, somebody could purchase a Main Coon Cat for maybe $500 to $600 from a ‘kitty mill,’ or amateur breeder… but they’re probably getting a watered down bloodline from someone who skimps on vet care and proper nutrition, or a cat that wasn’t of a European line at all.
She added that, “We’re not looking for just any client, but people who love the breed and will adore our kittens as much as we do. We have rejected more than one application, actually we have rejected several. We don’t want any of our fur babies to just go and be someone’s pet. We want them to join their new forever families. The bottom line, every time somebody purchases one of our kittens, we’ve not only made a new client, but a great friend for life!”
I sometimes wonder what Raphael would think if he saw our house filled with wild-looking cats. Knowing him, he would have loved them, too. He is in an Urn on our mantel...watching us and them all the time.