Animal Planet photo shoot

Good news – I managed to sell my entire stock of Egyptian Mau calendars! I sold them all over the country for Christmas, and then my fantastic breeder Evelyn bought the rest for her clients. I might print a few more but it was really exciting all in all. I hope next year to photograph more Maus in different colors.

There is a cat show in Parsippanny, NJ every January. I met Evelyn there for the first time last year in my quest to get an Egyptian Mau, and I had recommended one of my readers go there this year to get a new pet. As a result, I knew the show was coming up and was thinking of going. My Wintermuse is not allowed to be a show cat, but I was thinking I could say hi to Evelyn, maybe meet Mafdet, and get some new cat toys. Mafdet is Wintermuse’s mother, a black smoke Mau who will no longer be bred, and we’re thinking of giving her a home with us.

Unfortunately, Evelyn informed me that you can’t bring non-show cats to the show, so no Wintermuse or Mafdet. On the other hand, Evelyn wanted the calendars so I decided I’d go anyway. Then I got an emergency email – Animal Planet needed a silver Egyptian Mau for a photo shoot. Could I come early? My answer?

YES!

They were taking shots to refresh their Cat Breed Selector. Evelyn had only brought her new smoke Mau to the show, but since I live close by, she said I could bring in a beautiful silver Mau. They thought that was a good idea, and poof, it happened, and I had an appointment at the Sheraton to get my cat photographed. Wow!

We met Evelyn in the lobby. She had three Singapuras and the smoke Mau with her.  Singapuras and smokes are her specialty, and I hadn’t seen either up close. The Singapuras are amazing. I thought Wintermuse, full-grown at 7 lbs was a tiny cat. She is petite even by Mau standards. One of these Singapuras was 5 years old and probably could have fit its entire body in a men’s shoe.  Adult females are only 5-6 lbs, and they are the one of the smallest breeds of cats, period. Their eyes are huuuge. They’re like alien kittens. They make my Mau look like a giant.

Singapura cat

Sadly, once Wintermuse saw the other cats in their carriers, her territorial antics began. She hissed and growled through her carrier. We instantly nixed the idea that she could be photographed with the smoke Mau, her own relative. She’d probably fight with it. (She’s aggressively chased other cats in the past, I’m sad to say.)

While we waited in the lobby, Evelyn got her first look at the full-grown Wintermuse and told a passing friend of hers that she had been a fool to give her up with spots like those. 🙂 Other people stopped to look at her as well, and Evelyn showed off the calendar to the official show photographer. That was gratifying. I’ve been taking pictures for many years now and have a few websites dedicated to it, but I usually get feedback from non-photographers. They know what they like but that’s it. Feedback from a photographer is a little more qualified. We had some chitchat over proportions and the best way to photograph my girl, who has a tiny head and a long body.

Soon, we brought everyone into the photography suite, and I let Wintermuse wander around to get her bearings. She hid under one of the tables and just hissed at the carriers with the other cats. I chased her around, fed her every treat I had, crawled under tables, and tried my best to keep her away from the other cats. She was absolutely focused on them. We tried to get her on the photography table but she was crazed and kept running away.

Actual conversation between the staff as they reviewed some photos:

Person 1: “Well, they naturally have a worried expression, right?”

Person 2 (I think it was Evelyn!): “Yeah, but that’s not worried. That’s freaked out.”

I gave my girl some time to cool down. The staff told me not to worry about it. They did dogs last summer, and it was so much worse. Bodily fluids were mentioned. Even some cats so far had been awful. They showed us a recent photo shoot with some Siamese that – I kid you not – was almost hairless, with glowing red eyes, and was clearly pissed. It looked like an evil vampire cat. It was the best pic they got. Bonus: it was in heat at the time!

I asked Evelyn if we could move the other cats into the hallway to let Wintermuse calm down. She moved the three Singapuras who were meowing their heads off, but left the smoke Mau who was very quiet. I didn’t think it matter, frankly – a cat’s scent is a cat scent, quiet or not – but Wintermuse calmed down immensely and immediately (though not completely). Funnily enough, one of the female staff confided in me that the Singapuras were stressing her out, too! They are adorable, but there were three of them meowing to each other non-stop. It was like when they record Jingle Bells done by cats. They just did not stop conversing with each other. You may not know that scientists have noticed cat’s meows sound similar to infant cries. They believe cats evolved to mimic babies for attention. So, these cute little kitties were accidentally sending us a “MY CHILDREN ARE IN DANGER” message. 😉 Who knows what they were telling Wintermuse. 😉

Singapura: “Meow! You’re fat! I’m only 5 lbs!”

Wintermuse: “I will cut you!”

Sadly, by that time, I was out of treats, and Wintermuse was tired, but she got on the table, and we had a beautiful session with her. We got lots of good pictures – her licking her nose, her turning to look at the camera, her crouched down. I picked one for Animal Planet to mail to me that I hope to post here. It was gorgeous. These pictures are going to be used in their Cat Breed Selector. She’ll be the Silver Mau people see when figuring out what cat they should get. 🙂 Sadly, I don’t know if the video camera was even on through this session because it went so badly at first. I only noticed it was there because they turned it on for Evelyn’s shoot with the smoke Mau – which makes me think it was off for mine. 🙁 Oh, well!

We put Wintermuse away so she wouldn’t attack the other Mau. Of course, her carrier picked that moment to break. We had to buy a $100 carrier at the cat show just to take her home. Sigh! I would have loved if we could have stuck around and watched Evelyn’s shoot and video, but our girl was so overheated and worn out and likely to hiss at the other cats that we just took her home.

I wish it had gone a little better, of course! I wish she could chill out when faced with other cats. She grew up in a household filled with cats and was part of a litter, so her territorial and aggressive behavior surprises me. I need to figure out a way to work on this. I also wish that Evelyn could have spent more time with her and that everyone could have seen how she is at home with us – a lovely, sweet little cat that loves people and can jump 5 feet in the air. 🙁 (I also wish I had brought more treats, and that the freaking carrier zipper hadn’t broken, but those regrets are far down the line compared to the rest!)

Still, it was a great experience, and I’m pleased to share my beautiful kitty with the world.

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