I read an article about Maine Coons in 1971 and realized that I owned a Maine Coon wannabe affectionately called Nuisance. He was a wonderful cat so I contacted the Maine Coon Breeders and Fanciers Association (MCBFA) to find out more about Maine Coons. I visited Connie Condit of Heidi Ho Cattery and was hooked! My first Maine Coon, Heidi Ho Josie of Tanstaafl was born in October 1972. By then I had already registered Tanstaafl as my cattery name. This name came from Robert Heinlein’s book “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress”. TANSTAAFL is the first letter of every word from the saying – “There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch”! It is pronounced Tan-Staff-Full.
I joined MCBFA as a fancier and received my first newsletter, The Scratch Sheet, in October 1972. Then the entire breeders’ list would fit on just one page! Josie had her first litter in September of 1974 and I became a breeder member of MCBFA. By the Winter 1975 issue of The Scratch Sheet, I was the editor of the newsletter. Through the years, I also served MCBFA as the president, vice-president, and scorer. Currently I am the MCBFA archivist.
I was the first Maine Coon breeder to become a licensed cat show judge. I judged my first show for a small regional association in August of 1975. When The International Cat Association (TICA) was formed in 1979, I became a TICA judge. In 2007, I resigned as a judge and member of TICA.
When I first started breeding, I decided to work with the Heidi Ho and Tati Tan lines. My goal was to get the size and coat of Heidi Ho combined with the boning and refined head type of Tati Tan. The kitten I wanted was born in November 1977. Tanstaafl Polly Adeline had everything except the size! It was time to go back to a pure Heidi Ho male so Polly went to Connie with the agreement that I receive a top show quality brown classic tabby female in return. Polly Adeline was always bred to Heidi Ho Sonky Bill. Since Polly was a brown classic tabby and Sonky Bill was a silver mackerel tabby, the breeding produced both brown and silver mackerel and classic tabbies. The girl I wanted, Molly Brown, was born in October 1979. The wonderful thing about this breeding was the consistent look of all the kittens. Despite their different colors and patterns, you could spot the cats from the Sonky Bill x Polly Adeline breeding. At a TICA show in 1982, we called Connie to let her know that Molly Brown and Heidi Ho Lady Arwin of MaryB had just become the first female Supreme Grand Champion Maine Coons in TICA. It was then that we told Connie we knew she was just cloning these cats and painting them different colors. That is how all the cats from the Sonky Bill x Polly Adeline breeding became known as “The Clones”.
I still work with cats that have a lot of clone in their pedigrees. I have healthy cats with very good type. I love being contacted by people who bought a Tanstaafl Maine Coon 15 to 20 years ago and now want another one! I do not cage my girls or their kittens. They go to new homes already spoiled but usually know what “No” and “Get Down” mean! I do sell some kittens to breeders but the majority are sold as pets. Even if one of my kittens becomes part of a breeding program, I still want to sell pets to friends!
Since I started judging so early, I haven’t done a lot of showing over the years. I never had many professional photos taken so do not have many cats on our old timers page. But thanks to Polly Adeline, even today, Maine Coon owners can find Tanstaafl Maine Coons in their pedigrees!
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