The Kernes Maine Coon Cattery was established
some 14 years ago. I married David and we set up home with my three children,
his two boys, and various dogs. David and his family were NOT CAT people. Hence
the cattery name Kernes. To this day my husband is allergic to cat fur,
especially on his pillow!! However I had always been a cat (& dog) person, and
it was David who saw that I just missed having cats in my home and it is he who
discovered the Maine Coon cat.
My daughter Bronwyn acquired our first Maine
Coon, Rydell’s Kelli in 1992. Early the same year I bought Rydell’s Jasmine –
and this beautiful silver McTabby became our first breeding queen. Kelli was
a stunning calico. Even today at almost 16 years old, Kelli commands interest.
She demands eye contact, greets all visitors, dislikes children & noisy people,
and is a perfect lady!
I had never intended to become a breeder of
cats. But Georgie (Rydell’s Jasmine who was just sooo not ‘Jasmine’ but rather
a real tom-boy) was a wonderful mother, and the kittens did well at the shows,
and then I acquired Merryl & Tiffany.
It was only after I imported Dolphin de
Portland’s Maine, Emerline de Portland’s Maine and Dominica Spooner’s import of
Fruitloop’s Lincoln that the Maine Coon cat took off in South Africa in a
meotoriate shower that has not too date been quelled. As in all over the world,
the Maine Coon cat is extremely popular. South Africa is no exception.
My cattery is small. I currently have 12 Maine
Coons (eight working cats & 4 neuters) . I work as a Principal of a Combined
School by day i.e. the school has classes from Grade 1 to Grade 12. Having both
little people and very opinionated 17 to 19/20 year olds is a huge challenge.
And yes we have drugs and weapons and bullying…. My job is a challenge but is
also very rewarding when the “brats” return in suits and fancy cars to say
“thank-you” for the grounding that they have received.
My cats are my life and my passion. I have the
full support of my banker husband. His only query is “Can you afford this or
that”. Usually the answer is no. And he is there to rescue me!
I have been lucky and very blessed. Dolphin won
Cat of The Year three times (in both South African organisations/federations) –
no other breed of cat on South Africa has achieved this. Dolphin was also Sire
of The Year 2001. The Kernes Cattery was Breeder of The Year in 2002, Sultan
won Top Entire, Emerline was 2nd Entire, and the list goes on. Now
it is not just my cattery that wins awards but those who have my lines that are
achieving and winning major awards. I am a small breeder. All the kittens live
in my home and in our bed. To date I have never had more than two litters at a
time. I did have a long suffering Staffie “Nimrod” , who had to co-habit with
cats and kittens. Unfortunately at 15 years old he went into renal failure. I
miss the boy daily. He was very special. However I am sad that currently the
kittens are not exposed to dogs. The kittens leave our home confident and well
socialised. They have the run of our home. Mary, our housekeeper, spends her
days retrieving balls and toys and putting them in the “toy cupboard” in the
kitchen, where they are fetched and again left all over the house!
I am proud to me part of the growth of the Maine
Coon cat in South Africa. I am a full breeder member of the Maine Coon
Breeder’s & Fanciers Association in the USA. (One of the only two breeders of
Maine Coons in South Africa at this time.)
This is a very special cat. An evolved cat –
and hence its hardiness and resilience. It is a big cat. Although “medium
haired” the cat needs daily brushing and monthly bathing. It is a natural
hunter which is why it evolved on the ships along the East coast of the States.
Once you have been owned by a Maine Coon cat,
you will never ever want another breed of cat! They ARE truly special.