This article is Copyright 2011 and may not, in part or in whole, be reproduced in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from the author and James Morrissey. The images in this article are the property of Helmi Flick and have been licensed to James Morrissey and the NWP Photo Forum for the purpose of this interview.
I have a love affair with the Maine Coon. When Ken and I began cat photography, we first shot our British Shorthairs and our Chausie at home; at first for fun and later for my portfolio. But after being on the show circuit a few months, we realized we want to share our lives with this breed. The Maine Coon was photogenic, laid back, one of the largest of the purebred cats, and one of the natural breeds descended from Maine barn cats. This breed makes wonderful chirruping sounds when “talking” and looks you in the eye. Intelligent. But also big goofs! That is a general description as coming from a Cat Photographer, not a breeder. Maine Coons come in all colors and patterns except for pointed, I believe. The first Maine Coon I photographed belonged to Christie Montgomery of Mkoonary Maine Coons. And it was Christie who introduced me to the world of cat shows. My first feline subject at my first cat show was a White Maine Coon (and his brother). You can see this picture of the White Maine Coon in the interview James Morrissey did with me for NWP (Link to Interview with Helmi Flick)
Below are Maine Coon kittens:
I am reluctant to publically name a favorite breed as a cat photographer because I shoot all the breeds but since we have two of them at home, I have to say they are wonderful photographic subjects and enrich our lives immensely. Here are our two: Zak, a Blue and White Maine Coon and his brother, Quin, a Black Smoke Maine Coon.
Maine Coons are referred to as “Gentle Giants.” They are large, rangy cats and get along well with all members of the family, two and four legged. Even babies.
Maine Coons have a marvelous tail, and when you speak to them or call their name, they will raise it up above their backs. Some breeders call this a “Happy Tail!”
This photo of Miss Kate, a Black and White Maine Coon female, shows her “happy tail.” You can also see how wide she is by her whiskers. A cat’s whiskers let them know if a space is too small for their body to fit through. There is a sweetness about the expression of a Maine Coon. They look like “thinkers” to me, assessing the situation. Part of that is because they give you eye contact, I think. Here is one of my favorite Maine Coon head shots … of Miss Kate:
The hairs at the tip of the ears are called “lynx tips” and the hair coming out and in front of the ears are called “ear furnishings.” Miss Kate has wonderful ears!
This breed also has a good sense of balance. I can always get a “prairie dog” pose from a Maine Coon. Here are some:
But one of the things I like most about the Maine Coons is their cooperative nature. They are accepting of the wrangler’s direction and at ease with each other in group shots.
And finally, a head shot of a Brown Tabby Maine Coon from Japan. The Brown Classic Tabby is what most people think of when they visualize a Maine Coon. This image appeared on the cover of a calendar for which I was commissioned by Cat Fancy magazine a couple of years ago:
The Maine Coon cat. Gentle, loving, a giant among cats, intelligent, playful and a big goof that will bring you smiles and out-and-out belly laughs when you watch them.