We recently received the sad news that the world's longest cat, 48.5in long Stewie, had passed on. Today his owner, Robin Hendrickson, tells of her fascination with the Maine Coon breed, and Stewie's incredible life:
I attended my first TICA cat show in late 2000, and one breed in particular caught my eye - the Maine Coon. It was long haired and BIG. The gorgeous coat, heavy boning and personality reeled me right in! I had always wanted a BIG cat - so I knew I MUST have one of these gentle giants some day. It was also here I met Gloria Mahan, Geri Herrick and Robin Pratt, whom I am ever grateful to, for leading me down the path that would one day lead to owning Stewie.
For the next few years I entered my standard house cat in the local Household Pet Cat Shows sponsored by the Silver Cats Club. He did well, and was even a TICA regional winner in 2006.
But, I still longed for that big cat. I still wanted a Maine Coon.
In 2005, my partner Erik and I decided that this would be the year to get one. After some research we found a breeder, Val Horton, who had two kittens, silver in color, both boys. It was love at first sight: Dallas with his fluffy full coat, and Dylan with almost no fur, and no whiskers either! He had shed out his "baby" fur early and his Mom had bitten off all of his whiskers - But he was still so cute! We KNEW we had to have them both.
The boys, Dylan and Dallas as they were then known, arrived home to Reno on May 1st. They fit right in - Dylan was always under my feet and being fans of Family Guy, we named him Stewie. Dallas was always stomping his little kitten feet, so he became Odin (after the Norse god).
Val told us the boys came from lines that carried big cats which was exactly what we wanted. But we never knew just how big they would get!
I started taking them both to cat shows: Odin didn't really like it, but Stewie was in his element! He loved all the people that came "just to see him", he was a real personality.
As we attended more shows, I kept hearing from other owners how much bigger Stewie had gotten. Then when Val taught me how to carry them to the ring to show off their size, I really noticed how long Stewie was getting to be - even though he was just a year old.
In 2007, when Stewie was just 2 and a half years old, I was curious. I searched online, and saw the longest cat at the time was a red Maine Coon named Leo, who was 48 inches long. When I got out the tape measure and checked Stewie, he was very close to that world record 48 inch mark.
I read up on what was required to submit a claim to Guinness World Records for Stewie, and once we received our guidelines, we were on our way. Unfortunately, he came up just short the first time he was measured - but that day we discovered Stewie had something of a special gift:
A little boy with autism came to the show with his parents to meet Stewie, and cheer him on in his attempt. I introduced him to Stewie, who nuzzled the boys face and licked his cheek, and was ever so friendly. The boy looked up to thank me, and his parents were overjoyed. This was hugely rewarding for us, and I knew then that even if he never got the record, Stewie was destined for greater things.
Two years later, we were successful in securing the longest cat record. On August 28, 2010, Stewie was measured at the Nevada Humane Society. With the help of Michele Lani, Savannah Hann and Susi Woosley, Stewie was measured at 48.5 inches from the tip of his nose to the tip of his tail. We sent off our evidence packet, and received confirmation from Guinness World Records on October 12th that Stewie was indeed the longest cat in the world!
We were immediately thrust into the limelight, it took all of 7 hours for Stewie and I to be known around the world! I knew I wanted to use Stewie's new-found fame for good, and remembering his amazing temperament with the boy from the cat show, I knew he would make a wonderful therapy cat.
Stewie breezed through the certification process and training, and began work in July 2011. Patients that never spoke, talked to him. Others that were bed-bound were just thrilled to see him. One patient recited to a volunteer about his visits every week for six months until she passed away. Stewie helped me too, bringing me out of my shell as we did so much good work together.
The first patients that he visited led us to try for Stewie's second record. On February 13, 2011, Stewie's tail measured in at 16.34 inches, the longest of any domestic cat. He was only the second cat in history to hold two Guinness World Records titles simultaneously.
Whether visiting classrooms, hospital wards, or Senior Centers, Stewie was a star! We helped with Humane Society adoption events, and posed for so many pictures. Life to us was a dream.
Then at Christmas 2011, our world came crashing down. We had been treating Stewie for what we thought was a viral infection, then woke up Christmas morning to find his eye distended nearly out of his head. I rushed him to the emergency vet, and we were told there was a growth behind his eye. The days that followed were a blur.
Stewie underwent a CT scan, only to get inconclusive results. We didn't know where to turn, or what exactly this growth was, just that we were going to lose our beloved boy soon.
After posting the news on Stewie's Facebook page, I was contacted by the local media. I was hoping for a miracle, and one came in the form of the founder of Eye Care for Animals, who helped us get a definitive diagnosis free of charge when he heard of Stewie's plight. When we learned it was cancer, it was almost too much to bear.
There wasn't a suitable specialist vet in Reno, but I was fortunate to find Veterinary Centers of America in Sacramento, who had everything we needed to fight this: Radiation, chemotherapy and Dr. Crowe. On January 23, 2012, Stewie made the trek to Sacramento for evaluation, and treatment began immediately.
Over the next year, Stewie underwent 11 doses of radiation and countless doses of chemotherapy, and was declared cancer-free on July 26, 2012.
However, this remission was short lived: At his 3 month re-check, we found that the cancer had returned. We proceeded with more chemo, but the cancer was much more aggressive this time and wasn't responding to the drugs. The last option available to us, "rescue protocol" failed too. We were devastated, but our wonderful boy didn't let it get him down, he was still our Stewie, proud and regal as ever.
To help Stewie enjoy his remaining time with us, I chose to take him to the TNCC show in Portland in January 2013. Stewie had always loved people and the attention they gave him so much, and trips out of the house delighted him, he loved to travel. This trip was my gift to him, as I knew his time was short.
It turned out to be a wonderful last outing for him. He walked the show hall with his tail and head held high, his fans following, greeting everyone he could and thoroughly enjoying the whole experience. All the while we knew that once we returned home, we would celebrate his birthday and then celebrate his wonderful life when the time came.
On February 4th, 2013 at 7:37 pm, SGCA Mymains Stewart Gilligan crossed over the Rainbow Bridge, and passed away.
I will always love and miss my "Big Bubba"...
- Robin Hendrickson
As a tribute, here, once again is Stewie's Record Holder Profile video which we filmed back in 2011.
My Story is a regular feature on guinnessworldrecords.com, where record holders reveal their experiences.
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