We had a good day at the North West Show, with Dàrna picking up the Imperial, Tia the Grand, and Eiteag a Reserve. Milly, Keela, Breckin and Grace have all found new homes that seem ideally suited to their needs. Ayla’s kittens continue to do well, and the other half of our outcross has also produced a kitten, but just one and it is not yet certain whether it will survive.
Okay, so the attempt to post early last week was a bit of a fail, but at least I’m only ten days after the show this time! There is a bit of news to fill you in on besides the show, though…
North West Show
We’ve done the North West for the past four years, and had some pretty good results there, beginning with making Annas up to Grand in time to enter her in the UK class at the Supreme. This year, we took Dàrna to try for her fourth Imperial, and Eiteag and Tia both trying for the Grand.
We have never seen Dàrna’s Imperial judge put an Asian ahead of a nice Russian or Abyssinian, so we entered Dàrna hoping that there wouldn’t be any entered. When we got our catalogue and I realised that there were lovely examples of both breeds entered, I felt sure she wasn’t going to place. Imagine my surprise when we got back to the pen after lunch, and discovered an Imperial rosette! Of course, that only leaves her with one to go, so next time she’s out I’ll be rather nervous.
Eiteag won the Reserve Grand to a nice Bengal, and didn’t get the Best of Breed, because that went to Dàrna, but he did place well in his side-classes. I was disappointed that he didn’t get the certificate, because he only needs one to make him up, and since he’s due to be neutered once he’s mated Tia or Lhasa (still haven’t decided which), I really want to get that final certificate.
Tia was a star as usual, posing beautifully in her pen, and winning her second Grand, and Best of Breed against good competition. If only Dàrna and Eiteag would pose so perfectly, it would make getting decent photos a whole lot easier! Of course, even Tia isn’t always perfectly behaved…
Unusually, I wasn’t stewarding at this show, so Richard and I went down to Tatton Park for a wander around the gardens there. We had lunch in the National Trust’s café in the former stables (we are both members of the Trust), and then headed back to the show hall. Long-term readers of our blog may remember that gorgeous B-B (Fiona’s litter brother) was originally booked to live with a vet student, before he contracted an infection that eventually took him from us. His intended owner has been exchanging emails with me periodically, ever since, but we hadn’t actually met, so when she said that she was going to come over to the show to meet us, I was delighted. Her circumstances changed shortly after B-B’s death, to mean that bringing a new kitten into the house wouldn’t be practical, but she is now back in a situation where she has the time and stability of routine to enable her to take a kitten, and is therefore hoping for one from our Eiteag/Donny litters.
There has been an a bit of an exodus around here, since my last post. I still had an advert up to try and find a new home for Milly, and a couple of weeks ago, I added an advert for Keela, who was only waiting to see Anita again when she was up in August, and then was meant to look for a new home. She is such an adorable cat that Richard and I kept putting it off, but she deserved to be more the centre of attention than she can be here, so I finally made myself put the advert up just over a fortnight ago. On the Thursday, I was contacted by possible homes for both girls, and Keela’s possible owner asked if he could come and visit us after work on the Friday. On Friday afternoon, Milly’s possible owners phoned and asked if they could come and see her later on the Friday evening, so we ended up with one set of visitors at 17:30 and another set at 19:30! Since we hadn’t known about Milly’s visitors in advance, we hoovered her room as soon as we got in from work.
Keela’s prospective owner, Hugh, arrived with a friend who wasn’t used to cats, and they were both amazed by how cuddly and people-oriented she was. Hugh’s friend said she had no idea a cat could be so loving, and that if she’d known that she would have considered a cat instead of her dog! Keela was all over them with purrs, and Hugh was besotted. Even after we had been around the rest of the house to meet all of her assorted relatives (Dàrna is her mum, Fi her litter-sister, Donny her half-brother, Eiteag and Ayla her nephew and niece, and therefore Small and Ayla’s kittens her great-nieces and nephew), he walked back into the kitchen and declared that she was undoubtedly the most beautiful of the lot. I offered to drop her off on the Sunday, which turned out to be his 18th birthday, and his mum told me that he has been campaigning for a pet since he was three years old, but that she had always said no. Now that he is 18, he finally has the pet that he has wanted for the past fifteen years, so I have no doubt that she will be utterly doted on. She’s already got him well wound around her little paws!
When Milly’s visitors arrived here, Pam said that the purpose of the visit was to see whether Milly was going to interact well with her husband, Stuart. Milly was totally hyper after the hoovering, however, and was much too busy doing her own thing to bother herself with new people, so I felt sure that she was going to be staying with us a bit longer. Pam got down on the floor with her, however, and started jangling her bracelet to attract Milly’s attention, and they were soon playing together with an assortment of toys. When I said to them that they could take some time to think about whether or not she would suit them, still fully expecting that they would decide not to take her, Pam turned to Stuart and asked if he felt he needed time to think about it. He looked thoughtful for a moment and then said “I think she would fit in my pocket”, and that was the decision made. From Pam’s emails, it seems that Milly settled in almost straight away, but even her British Shorthair housemates are starting to come around to the idea now.
Early last week, I had a call from a woman who had seen the advert about Keela, and was wondering if she was still available. I told her that Keela had gone to her new home already, but we got talking, and it turned out that she was actually looking for a cat to help with mousing on her farm. I mentioned about Breckin, who you may remember is very uncomfortable in the company of humans, and whom we have always felt would be best suited to a farm or similar environment, where she can come and go as she pleases, and doesn’t have to interact with people if she doesn’t want to. Breckin has always loved the company of other cats, though, and before I knew what was going on, we had arranged that I would take both her and Grace up to the farm on Saturday. The girls have a bed and their food and water in one of the out-buildings, but can choose to come into the house if they wish. I suspect that Breckin won’t, but Grace will probably make the most of the human attention. She had already said hello to her new owners before I even left the farm, whereas Breckin had disappeared under a truck in one of the other outbuildings.
The farm is in Aberdeenshire, so dropping them off also gave me an excuse to go visiting. I saw Cannach again, for the first time since we dropped him off as a kitten, and he is a lovely handsome boy. One of the kids carried him out to me, lying on his back with his paws in the air like a big baby, and then he just sat against her shoulder whilst I said hello. I showed his owners the photos of Fileànta and Ayla’s kittens, because these are his nieces and nephew. It is always lovely to catch up with kittens in their new homes, and see how much they are loved.
Now we come to the bit that most of you are probably waiting for – the kitten update. Ayla’s kittens are four weeks old today, and are continuing to grow really well, both now being well over 400g. With Eiteag’s outcross kittens also due, we had started Ayla off in the back bedroom, leaving the more nervy Cheeky to have the kitten room. The way that we normally get the kittens used to the sights and sounds of the household, however, is to let them out onto the landing area outside the kitten room (we have Perspex panels to stop them going through the banisters, and a baby gate to prevent them falling down the stairs). Since they aren’t in the kitten room, we have moved them into the kitchen instead, so that have noises like the washing machine and the compressor on the fridge. Ayla is delighted, because it means she gets a lot more ‘lap time’.
The girl is the noisier of the two, and starts shouting as soon as she hears our voices, or we open the kitchen door, whichever comes first. She is very much her mother’s daughter, liking to ride around on a shoulder. Her brother is quieter and less boisterous, but very sweet. He has the shorter, broader head, better ear set, and slightly better eyes, but the girl has the better coat and tail, and slimmer limbs, so I’m reserving judgement as to which is the better overall. Since the plan is to mate one of these to one of the other outcross litter by Eiteag, which one ends up being kept will come down to what gender we have there.
Both kittens are spotted tabbies, and I am currently leaning towards the boy being a chocolate, and the girl a lilac. It is possible that the girl is a chocolate silver, rather than lilac, because her coat is paler and slightly silkier than the boy’s, but the colour is still pretty faint, and there’s no rush to register them, since these can’t be shown anyway: being 1st-generation outcross, they will be registered as ‘Cat of Asian Type’, and can only be shown in the Household Pet section.
Eiteag’s outcross kitten was born at 02:20 this morning, but it was quite a difficult birth, and the mum wants nothing to do with the kitten. She delivered the kitten in the middle of the floor, then jumped up onto her scratching post. I checked the kitten over, and tried to get her to settle and clean it, but she then shot off the scratching post, and ran around the room jumping on and off bits of furniture with the kitten dragging behind it, attached by its umbilical cord to the placenta that was still inside. Eventually, the umbilical cord broke, and the kitten dropped to the middle of the floor, after which its mum hid under the wardrobe to deliver and eat the placenta. Unfortunately, the excessive tugging on the umbilical cord seems to have caused a hernia, so I’m absolutely kicking myself that I didn’t just break the cord when the mum was on the scratching post, because the kitten was perfect at that point.
When I picked it up from the middle of the floor, it wasn’t breathing, so I tried to stimulate it (I haven’t checked gender) by drying it off using a facecloth. That did result in a couple of little gasps, but these were probably the best part of 20-30 seconds apart, so it wasn’t looking good. I tried showing the kitten to Fiona, but she wasn’t interested, so I took it down to Ayla, to see if she could do anything. I had already dried it off, but she gave it a good clean, and elicited another couple of gasps in the process. Things still weren’t looking promising, though. Ayla then settled down beside the kitten, with it held between her front paws, against her chest, and started purring. Within seconds, the kitten had started to breath more regularly, and a few minutes later I helped to clear some fluid from its lungs. By the time she had been cuddling it for twenty minutes or so, its breathing seemed pretty normal. I have read that a cat’s purr has fantastic healing powers, and having seen the way this kitten responded, I have no doubt that is correct.
At that point, I tried taking the kitten back up to its mum, to see if she would at least give it a feed, so that it could take in the colostrum (anti-body rich milk) from her, but she curled up tightly into a ball, and refused to let the kitten anywhere near her teats. I tried leaving them together for a while, but when I came back into the room, she was still curled in a ball, and the kitten was lying limply against her. When I tried to encourage her to pay attention to the kitten, she responded by giving it a couple of licks, and I thought we might be getting somewhere. She then found the umbilical chord, and started chewing on it, giving such a tug that the kitten cried out, and I was worried that she would make the hernia worse. She then tried to bite the kitten’s leg, and I decided just to take the kitten away again.
When I went back into the kitchen, Ayla immediately came over to me, obviously looking for the kitten that I had given her and then taken away, and when I gave it back, she started purring. Her own two kittens seem to have accepted it as a slightly strange and tiny toy, and will either cuddle up with it or pounce on it, depending on what mood they are in. When I came down for breakfast this morning, Ayla’s female kitten was jumping on the kitten, rolling off, giving it a couple of licks and then repeating the procedure. The kitten doesn’t seem at all bothered by their attentions, though, and I am much happier with Ayla looking after it than I was with its real mum.
The kitten was only 70g at birth, and was so exhausted that it was more interested in sleeping than feeding. It still doesn’t seem to be feeding, so I have been bottle-feeding it every couple of hours, in the hope that once it builds up a bit of energy, and gets a taste for milk, it will start feeding with its adoptive siblings. Keep your fingers crossed for it.
We had a good day at the Eastern Counties/Bombay & Asian show, with Tilly winning two CCs, Grace two MCs and the tawny Ocicat kitten her 1st and Best of Breed. We then borrowed Call back from my brother to take to the Edinburgh, winning his Premier title in the process. Caomh and Roo have both gone to their new homes, leaving just the two spotty Ocis to find homes, and Dàrna’s kitten is now called Cagaran Fileánta, and has had her first vaccinations.
I really must stop writing the text for posts and then getting sidetracked before I get a chance to add the photos. When I started this post, it began “It’s a much shorter time between this post than my last”, which is now certainly not true, given that it’s over two months since the last one again! That’s what I get for getting involved in show management – I knew that it was a time-consuming process, but I had no idea just how much time it actually takes.
I think perhaps the best strategy for future updates might be just to upload the text once it’s written and then add photos later.
We went down to the Eastern Counties the second weekend in July, primarily because the Bombay & Asian Breed Club was held ‘back-to-back’ (sharing the show hall) with that show this year. That meant that any Asians had the opportunity to try for two certificates, and since Tilly turned adult at the start of the month, we took her to try for her first two CCs. She not only won these, but also one Best of Breed (against a multiple-Olympian-winner!) and four first prizes in side classes, including some really big ones.
We took Grace down as a Pedigree Pet, and since HPs can also be entered in both shows, she was able to win two Mastercat certificates on the day. That means that both Tilly and Grace only need one more certificate to win their titles!
We also took the tawny Ocicat girl, who obviously doesn’t compete for certificates yet, but was up against another young girl who has been sold as a breeding queen. The other girl had absolutely crystal clear and perfect markings, but our girl definitely had the better type, so I was interested to see what the judges did with them. The two girls were up against eachother twice – once in their Open class, and then again in one of their miscellaneous classes under a different judge, and on both occasions, our girl was placed above the other, which I was delighted with.
We were meant to be picking Sonia up on the way home from the show, but she had come back into call on the Thursday before the show, and since she’s well settled with Di at the moment, it seemed more sensible to leave her there and see if she can take this call. Maiden queens often fail to get pregnant from their first matings, so it’s nothing we hadn’t expected. Ayla also started calling that weekend, so we were crossing our fingers that the two girls might both get pregant and be able to have their kittens around the same time.
The following weekend was the Edinburgh & East of Scotland, but we obviously couldn’t show our own cats because of having done the show the previous weekend. I do like to support the Scottish shows if I can, though, so I asked Calum if he would let us borrow Call back for one last show. Calum is going to be letting Call outside once he has fully settled in his new home, which means that we would be unlikely to get another chance to get him into show preparation.
Thankfully, Calum said we could take him, and he finally won his qualifying PC, making him up to Premier. He is therefore now officially ‘Premier Elmcoon Basil’, and is no longer the only cat that we’ve owned since finding out about showing, to not have won a title. He also won two 1sts and a 2nd in his side classes, and was even awarded the cup for Best Maine Coon Neuter. What a star!
I had an excellent day stewarding for John Trotter across the Foreign and Burmese sections, with a few Brits and a Siamese thrown in for good measure. My pick of the day was a beautiful Asian Ticked Tabby kitten, owned and bred by Sarah Davidson (Karakoram Burmese & Asians), who was also John’s nomination for Best of Variety Foreign, and then went on to win the Overall Best of Variety. I think she’s a granddaughter of Shogun, and therefore a niece of both Eiteag and Ayla, and a cousin of Tilly, so it’s not surprising that I liked her look! We also got to handle Quinn, whose type John absolute adored, and he was gutted when he discovered that her smoke wasn’t good enough for him to award the Grand.
Excellent Day at Chester
You may remember that we did the Chester show for the first time, last year, and thoroughly enjoyed having a day out in Chester, so we decided to do it again this year. Unfortunately, Elisabeth was judging, so I ended up being persuaded to steward, which was a bit of a disappointment. I did enjoy my day stewarding, as I always do, but I must confess that I would rather have spent the day browsing Chester with Richard, who had a lovely day wandering in the old city. We also took Pamela White, who owns two of Elisabeth’s Russians, and Elisabeth, so at least we got to share the transport. Apologies for the rubbish photos – the hall-lighting was rather yellow, and we’re using the little point-and-shoot camera at the moment, because our proper camera is broken, which makes getting decent photos of our lot nigh on impossible!
Even if we didn’t have the full ‘Chester experience’, our show results made it worthwhile having entered, with all the cats winning something. Donny didn’t win his Imperial, but did beat two lovely Burmillas for Best of Breed – excellent to win against some competition for a change! The Tiffs were obviously against eachother for Best of Breed, which Dàrna won, along with her third Imperial. Eiteag and Tilly both had their own successes, though, Eiteag winning the Grand, and Tilly taking the CC to make up to Champion. They all had good results in side classes as well. To top off an already great set of results, Donny and Dàrna were shortlisted with Pamela’s Lina as the last three for Best Foreign Adult, so regardless of which one actually won it, they had come down in our car! In the end, it was Dàrna who took the award – her second BOV Adult win.
After the show, Elisabeth and Pamela headed home with the Thomsons (Saladin Abyssinians), and we carried on down to Rob and Anita’s, because we had an AGCS Committee meeting the following day. This was another possible opportunity to pick up Sonia, but she still wasn’t showing any signs of being pregnant, and remained very settled, so we decided just to leave her where she is for the moment. The Committee meeting was an enjoyable day, as the AGCS meetings always are, and I was elected as Secretary, which made sense given that I have taken the minutes at the meetings for the past two years, due to the previous Secretary having other commitments.
If you’ve been following our blog for a while, you’ll know that the Teesside is one of the consistencies in our annual calendar. Since they were the club who sponsored our prefix application, we always like to try and support the show. This year, we took Eiteag and Tia to try for Grands, because Steve Crow was the judge, and I thought he would like them both. We also took Dàrna’s kitten, who is nicknamed ‘Small’ for the time-being, in absence of any better name for her. Making up the ‘set’, was Grace, trying for her final Mastecat certificate. Having learnt our lesson at Chester, we just took the Teesside photos on Richard’s phone, and I think you’ll agree that the results are much better.
We had something of a spectacular day – Grace making up to Mastercat, both Eiteag and Tia winning the Grands, and both being nominated for Best of Variety.
This was Small’s first show, but like her Dad, Grand and Great-Gran before her, she behaved like an absolute sweetheart, charming the judges and winning her Best of Breed. She started the morning in her Dad’s pen, so that she had company whilst she got the feel of the show, and then moved back to her own pen, where she behaved as if she’d been to countless shows before.
I had an excellent day stewarding for Pamela Beard-Smith in the British section, and having finished my stewarding, was told that Tia was being taken up to the Best in Show Pens – she had gone Overall Best Foreign!
Scotia – My First Time as Assistant Show Management
This year’s Scotia was my first time as Assistant Show Manager, and although it certainly wasn’t the easiest task, I did survive! We started off with seventeen judges, of which seven cancelled in the run-up to the show, for reasons ranging from operations and an emergency hospitalisation, to a cat needing emergency vet treatment. We managed to replace a couple, but only had twelve judges by the end, yet all the judges took the resultant extra cats without complaint, and worked really hard for us. I can’t thank them all enough, and also Sarah Davidson, one of the actual Show Managers, for giving me the opportunity to learn from her.
Today was the Wyvern, and since Elisabeth was judging this year, she asked if I would steward for her. If I was going to go all that way to steward, it seemed daft not to show, especially when the Wyvern is such a lovely show to do. I brought Dàrna to try for the Imperial, and since Dorothy Stone was going to be judging both the Ocicat and Tiffanie kitten classes, and generally loves our cats, I decided to bring Bobbie and Small as well.
As always, I had a thoroughly enjoyable day, and although Dàrna didn’t win the Imperial (there were four cats in the class, and the Imperial and Reserve winners were were worth the award), she did win her Best of Breed, and had good side-class results. The kittens also had a good day, especially Small, who was shortlisted into the last four for Best Foreign Kitten. As before, she behaved beautifully, and was an absolute poppet – I had more than one judge tell me they wanted to put her in their pockets to take her home. I am so proud of her!
Unfortunately, without Richard there to keep me in order, I completely forgot to take any photos, which I’m rather gutted about.
The week running up to the Edinburgh, we had a visit from a lovely couple who had recently lost their elderly Oriental, and wanted a companion for their Siamese. They wanted to get a kitten to improve the likelihood of their Siamese accepting her, and they also wanted a breed that was likely to be similarly interactive and people-oriented. Having done a bit of research, they thought Ocicats sounded ideal, and came to meet our babies. They were immediately taken by our little ticked tabby girl, and she gave them lots of cuddles and kisses to ensure they were thoroughly convinced!
Her new owners phoned me the day after she moved in with them, to say that they had never seen a more confident little cat, and that she had just moved in as if she’d never been anywhere else. When she met the dog for the first time, she just marched up, said “hello” and then carried on exploring, without hardly breaking step. Likewise, she just went straight up to the Siamese, touched noses with her and then moved on without a hiss, growl or any apparent cautiousness. That is one thing I definitely do like about (nice-tempered) Ocicats – they are so easy to integrate because they don’t seem to comprehend that another cat might not like them.
Roo went back to Di’s a couple of weeks later, and Bobby is now reserved for a breeder, so that just leaves Milly to find a new home. I have had a couple of enquiries for her, but nothing definite yet, so I would still love to hear from anyone who knows of someone who might suit her.
Dàrna’s kitten is now 18 weeks, and as you might have gathered by the fact that we are currently calling her ‘Small’, we don’t have a proper ‘pet name’ for her yet – nothing has jumped out at us as suiting her. Small isn’t particularly appropriate, because she is a really good-sized girl (like her Mum), but she is the smallest household member at present, so it works at the moment. Elisabeth calls her ‘Sparkle-sparkle’, because apparently she has the ‘Sparkle Factor’, but we refuse to have a cat called ‘Sparkle’! She has the cutest little ‘mohawk’ in the middle of her head (a little tuft of fur that always sticks up there), so we have wondered about something to do with ‘Mo’ or ‘Hawk’, but we haven’t got there yet. I’m sure something will come to us at some point, and in the meantime she can remain as ‘Small’.
We had to give her an ‘official’ name back in July, in order to be able to make up her vaccination card, so I narrowed the list of possibilities down to a shortlist of about half-a-dozen, but hadn’t managed to get any further than that – again, none of the names leapt out as being hers. In the end, Richard made the decision from the shortlist, so her pedigree name is Cagaran Fileánta, which is pronounced ‘Feelawnta’, and means ‘Poetic’.
Ayla was originally expected to have her kittens next week, but she must have been mated earlier than the stud owner realised, and actually had them late on Wednesday. She is proving to be a fabulous mummy, with the kittens starting out being good weights, and gaining between 8g and 13g in the first 12 hours alone! Since the kittens are Burmese Restriction, it will be quite a while before we can be even remotely sure on colour, but that is hardly anything new!
I had the Asian BAC meeting on the Sunday following the Edinburgh, and was unanimously elected as the BAC’s representative to Council, which I see as a huge honour and responsibility, since it makes me the official spokesperson for the breed. I had hoped to apply to the judging scheme this year, because I had originally been told that the minimum requirement is 3 years of breeding experience, which we had last month, but the rule is now 4 years. I was initially disappointed not to be able to apply, but being made the official spokesperson for the breed (something that I wouldn’t be allowed to do if I was working through the judging scheme) goes a long way to making-up for that disappointment!
While we were on our way to collect Ayla, Anita and Rob arrived at our house for the weekend (great planning, that!), because they were up for the first FIFé show in Scotland, which was held in Perth. Lona was also attending the show, with Lainni and Tabh, among others, and had some good results, with Tabh taking Best New Breed Neuter on the Saturday (losing out to Sarah’s beautiful Chloe, whom I mentioned earlier), and Lainni taking Overall Best New Breed on the Sunday! Cailin didn’t do a great deal at the show, but for once she was actually in call at the right time, so she spent the Saturday night through to Monday morning in with Donny, and there was plenty of rolling around and trilling going on, so fingers crossed they managed something. If she is pregnant, those will be the first kittens to have two Cagaran parents, which will be quite exciting!
I really will try not to take so long before my next post, so watch this space…
It’s been quite a while since my last post, so there is plenty to catch up on, including several shows (London Pet Show, Nor’East, Suffolk & Norfolk, Durham/Northern Counties and Lakeland), the World Cat Congress and Gala Dinner and Australian Mist Seminar. Both Dàrna’s kitten and the Ocis continue to do well, and the Ocis are now starting to leave home. In addition, Keela and Grace have now been spayed, and are ready to look for new homes.
I can’t believe it’s been two months since my last post – how time flies! I had a draft post saved here that started “the past couple of weekends have been really enjoyable, but also really tiring”, but I hadn’t got around to completing it and posting it up. Thinking back over the time since my last post, that opening comment could pretty-much just be extended to cover the entire period! I have very busy at work, and in my ‘spare’ time, have been doing judge’s class allocations for my first time as an Assistant Show Manager, which is an amazingly time-consuming process. So… what has happened since my last post?
London Pet Show
As in previous years, the London Pet Show proved to be a great success, and remains a fabulous opportunity for the GCCF and the breed clubs, to show off our wonderful breeds. Due to the number of people wanting to enter the World Cat Congress show the following weekend, many of the cats who would normally have been at LPS were unable to attend (in the GCCF, we are not allowed to show more than once in every two weekends). It was therefore more of a struggle than usual to get the required 24 breeds on each day, and so we offered to take more cats than usual.
The first three were borrowed from other people, on behalf of the Russian and Abyssinian Cat Club of Scotland, of which I am the Secretary, and Richard is the Vice-Chairman:
Kenga (our Grace’s litter-sister, Cagaran Adhairc), who represented the Abyssinians as a Pedigree Pet. Her sire was a gorgeous usual Abyssinian, but her dam was a tawny Ocicat Classic. For the purposes of allowing the public to meet a breed, however (which is the point of the LPS), she looks and behaves like an Abyssinian.
For the Russians, we borrowed three of Elisabeth’s kittens, Iggy (commonly known as Ig-the-pig, because he’s a greedy wee rascal), Jerry (her new import boy from Holland), and her youngest, Jingle (usually called Small-Small, but as only Elisabeth could come up with, also sometimes called Jinny-Jingle-Beagle-Bingle!). Elisabeth was judging in Dundee the same day, so the Russian table was manned by Caroline Moore, who owns a Russian Blue neuter, and who absolutely fell in love with Jingle during the day.
Bru and Cheeky shared a double pen, representing the Ocicats and Ocicat Classics. They weren’t too sure about all the hustle and bustle of the show, and were only happy to be out of their pen, if they were being cuddled. Anita and Rob came with us to man the Ocicat table, and Anita spent most of the day cuddling Cheeky whilst people stroked her over the table.
The rest of ours were representing the Asian Group, and we tried to cover as much of it as we could in the four cats we took – Donny represented the Asian Smoke, Tia the Burmilla, Ayla the Tiffanie, and Eiteag, as a spotted tabby Tiffanie, was the closest we come to an Asian Tabby, so he came along as well.
Donny and Eiteag shared a pen, and when they weren’t out on the table, they were cuddled up together on their bed, sleeping or grooming eachother. Last year, Donny was happy to spend the entire day out on the table, and being passed from person to person, but he and Eiteag are both adolescent males now, and inclined to get a bit frisky if they can smell female cats! As a result, we had to spell the two of them, having them out for maybe fifteen minutes at a time, and then swapping over. Since we didn’t have anyone to man the Abyssinian table, Richard was taking it in turns between the boys and Kenga.
I was looking after our second table (one was technically for the Asian Shorthairs, and the other for the Tiffanies, but we had one of each on each table because of the gender split), with Tia and Ayla. Tia was happy to be out of her pen, but equally happy in it, whereas Ayla was ecstatic when she was out of her pen, and wanted out within minutes of being back inside the pen, so I had Ayla out most of the day. Whenever I put her back into her pen for a few minutes to encourage her to have something to eat and drink, I would then get Tia out until Ayla had decided that she wanted out again. The rest of the day, Tia sat in her pen looking beautiful, and people ooh-ing and ah-ing over her.
Ayla was my little star, though, and like her uncle Donny last year, was absolutely in her element, being passed from person to person, giving cuddles and kisses and just lapping up all the attention. She was a fabulous ambassador for the breed, and I think lots of people went home wanting an Asian of some description, as a result!
At the end of the show, I had a slightly tearful goodbye with her, as she left with the Australian Mist stud owner. I have been getting regular updates ever since, however, and it sounds like Ayla is missing me less than I’m missing her – she is spending the nights in the stud owner’s bedroom, and riding around the house on the stud owner’s shoulder. She had a couple of introductory meetings with the stud owner’s youngest boy, but he doesn’t seem to be interested yet, so Ayla’s been in with one of her proven studs instead, and although he definitely mated her back in May, she spent the next few weeks neither calling nor pinking up. However, she has finally decided to start calling again in the past week, and has now been mated again, so it’s just a waiting game to see whether she has taken this time. The stud owner will let me know if/when Ayla pinks up, and we can then try and work out the logistics of getting her home – I can’t wait!
Nor’East of Scotland Show
The show Elisabeth was judging at was the Nor’East of Scotland show. I mention it again for two reasons – firstly, because major congratulations are due to both Karen Hettman, and Elisabeth, and secondly, because there were four Cagaran cats at the show, in spite of us being in London.
The congratulations due to Karen and Elisabeth are because Karen’s two boys (whom Elisabeth bred) both ended up in Overall Best-in-Show pens, Zach (Dushenka Zerachiel) as Best Pedigree, and Stan (Dushenka Stanislav) as Best Household Pet – he has been shown as a Pedigree Pet since making up to Imperial in the Pedigree section. Unfortunately, Elisabeth missed the excitement because she had been given a lift by Ian Thomson, and he was given an early pass to head home!
Lona and Lesley were both there with two Cagarans each – Lona’s Lainni didn’t win her Imperial, but had strong competition, and Lesley’s Derk had the PC withheld on him, much to Elisabeth’s outrage (she thought he was the best of the four!). The other two had an excellent day, however, with Lesley’s Ella winning her third PC, making her up to Premier, and becoming our 9th titled cat, and Lona’s Tabh picking up his third Grand, giving him the Grand title (the third for our prefix). I am delighted for both owners, and can’t thank them enough for showing their cats so beautifully.
World Cat Congress Weekend
The following weekend saw us back down south, for the World Cat Congress. The WCC is a body made up of representatives from all the major cat registration bodies, including the major bodies in Europe, the US, Australia and South Africa. Each year the WCC has a meeting, hosted by one of the member organisations, where the various delegates get together to discuss issues that are of universal concern to all cat registration bodies, or at least of concern to several of the bodies. For instance, if the EU was going to introduce a new law relating to the ownership of cats, they might discuss a response to that, or if a new vaccination had been developed, they could look at how best to utilise it. Aside from the meeting itself, the WCC weekend also includes a show, dinner event and a seminar programme.
This year was the GCCF’s turn to host the congress, and the weekend started with a drinks reception and buffet on Friday evening, followed by plenty of gossiping in the bar afterwards. We stayed with Anita that night, but didn’t leave the hotel until midnight, so it was after 2am before we got to bed.
On Saturday morning we were up at 7am to head to Wood Green for the show. The WCC show was to be held back-to-back with the Suffolk & Norfolk show, giving exhibitors the chance to win two certificates on the same day. The S&N show is always a fairly large show, and the Wood Green venue is perfect for this type of event, having plenty of space for pens, trade stands, exhibitors and judges alike, not to mention excellent catering facilities and plenty of other things for visitors to do, aside from visiting the show (Wood Green is a large animal shelter).
I was originally booked to steward for Wayne Trevathan, who is a former director of CFA’s (Cat Fancier’s Association) Southern Region, and the CFA’s current WCC delegate. However, the show manager came to me at the reception, and asked if I would consider swapping with another steward, because there had been a mix-up, and that steward had been assigned to a judge who was judging one of her cat’s open classes (it is permitted to handle your own cats in miscellaneous classes, but not opens). As a result, I actually stewarded for Cheryle U’ren, who is the current International Liaison Office for the CCCA (Co-ordinating Cat Council of Australia), their delegate to the WCC, and also the WCC’s Vice-President. She was great fun to steward for, and I sincerely hope I get a chance to work with her again in future.
After the show, we had the Gala Dinner, which was a fabulous night, as always. Anita and Rob came along this year, for the first time, as did David and Louise Miskelly. Both couples sat on the same nine-seater table as Richard, Elisabeth and I, and our table was completed by Sandra Woodley (Honpuss Burmese and Asians), and one of her friends. The food was delicious, if a slightly strange choice, and we had some great conversations going. After the meal, the lights were turned down and people took to the dance floor, this being the first time the Gala Dinner has been followed by a disco. The best bit of the evening, however, as in previous years, was the gossiping in the bar after the main event was finished.
We stood for a while chatting to Kate Ekanger (Cloudborn Devons), and Jen and Laura Pinches (Velvarex Devons), who bred the Devons that we owned. When they headed off to bed, we spent a while with Emma Watts (Emanan Somalis), Saffi Rabey, whom I have stewarded for in the past, and is now a member of RACCS, having been a recent convert to the ownership of a Nebelung (her other cats are Maine Coons), and a few others. After a while we joined a group of the foreign judges, including Andreas Mobius, whom Elisabeth had stewarded for at the show, and had some fascinating insights into some of the other cat registries, not to mention a whole array of other topics! When they all headed off to bed, we moved again, and this time joined the hilarious John and Janet Wilshaw (Rossikhan Burmese), Dorothy Stone and others, and had an absolute whale of a time, chatting about everything from Burmese breed politics to the Wilshaw’s imminent 33-year anniversary, and Scottish Independence! We eventually all headed off to bed at about 3am, and it was after 3:30am by the time we actually got into bed!
We were back up at 7:30am on Sunday, to enjoy a cooked breakfast and plenty of chat with Rob, Anita, Elisabeth and John Hansson, before heading across for the seminar starting at 9:15am. The core topic of the seminar programme was ‘Responsible Breeding for Health and Welfare’, and it started with a fascinating insight into the way each of the registries promotes ethical breeding practices and feline welfare, including the various laws relating to the subject in each country. This was followed by talks from a representative of Royal Canin; Professor Sir Patrick Bateson, who conducted the well-known inquiry into dog breeding in 2010; Professor Tim Gruffydd-Jones, who must be one of the UK’s foremost feline geneticists, based out of Bristol Langford’s; and surely one of the world’s foremost feline geneticists, Lesley Lyons. I have heard both the latter speak on several occasions, yet they remain fabulously interesting, and I always come away having learnt lots of new information. Lesley’s was probably my favourite talk of the day, but it was also particularly interesting to hear Patrick Bateson’s opinions on the ethics of cat breeding, given his role in the dog-breeding inquiry. As both he and his daughter, Melissa (also a Professor) are themselves cat breeders, he has a personal understanding of our hobby, as well as his professional understanding of animal breeding more generally.
The seminar was followed by an open meeting, which gives ordinary members of the Cat Fancy the chance to put forward topics for the delegates to discuss at the main WCC closed meeting on the Monday. Most of the attendees showed typically British reticence, however, and the meeting was finished fairly quickly. We dropped both Anita and Elisabeth off on the way home, and finally got back to the house about 2am, so it was a long and tiring weekend, but very, very worthwhile. I wonder if I can save up enough money to go to next year’s congress in Miami, Florida?!
Durham and Northern Counties Show
The week after the WCC we were back down the motorway, though this time only as far as South Shields, for the Durham and Northern Counties double show. We had Bru entered only in the Durham, to try for his 3rd PC, which he won, making him the tenth Cagaran to win a title (and the first of our Ocis to do so).
We also had Donny and Eiteag entered in both shows, Donny for his first Imperials, and Eiteag for Grands. Both boys had strong competition, but Donny won both his Imperials (the first won by an entire of our prefix), and Eiteag was awarded the reserve Grand in one of the shows, in spite of being out of coat and having acne on his chin!
As if those results weren’t good enough, I came back to Donny’s pen near the end of the day, to find that he had also gone Best Foreign Adult again.
I had another enjoyable day stewarding for Chris Bamford, though the enjoyment was slightly marred in the early afternoon, when one of the Birmans became upset and attacked Pat Perkins, one of the other judges. She was badly scratched and bitten, and Richard ended up having to take her to the hospital for stitches and antibiotics. When we collected her again at the end of the day, she was feeling a lot more cheerful, however, and by the time we saw her at the Lakeland show a couple of weeks ago, she had already recovered to the point of just having some minor scarring on her hands and arm.
The weekend after that I was supposed to have a BAC meeting on the Sunday, but it was called off at the last minute, so we went with Mum and Dad to the boat, staying over on the Friday evening, and coming back to get the gardening done on the Sunday. The weather was fabulous, and we sailed down to the Kyles of Bute in glorious sunshine, and then sat at anchor, watching a red deer pick its way across the beach. We came back via the buoy where the dolphin has lived for the past couple of years, and were delighted to find her still in residence, and as playful as ever. I think we must have spent about half-an-hour just going round and round in circles beside her buoy, enjoying the experience of having her ride the pressure wave under the bow.
The next weekend was the Lakeland show, with a West of Scotland Committee meeting to be held in the morning, my birthday the same day, and then an Australian Mist seminar in Leicestershire on the Sunday. We therefore arranged to meet friends for a casual birthday lunch near the show hall, travelling on to drop Sonia off at stud south of Birmingham, staying the night with Rob and Anita, and then heading across for the seminar before heading home again. As it happens, the judge who would have been doing Sonia’s Grand class would be very unlikely to award her the certificate, so there didn’t seem much point entering her. We decided instead just to put her on exhibition, and thought that since we were staying with Anita that night, we would take Tilly to keep Sonia company in the exhibition pen, and then to let Anita see her again. I swithered for a while, and eventually decided to also have a punt with Annas in the Olympian class, since she picked up a Reserve there last year.
The Committee meeting was much quicker than these meetings usually are, and we headed outside to enjoy the sun. After a while, we took a leisurely stroll up to the farm shop for lunch, where some of our friends sang me a thankfully very quiet and fast rendition of Happy Birthday. Annas had really tough competition in the Olympian class, so there was no shame in not placing, but I was rather disappointed that the Best of Breed judge awarded the BOB to the boy, who is nowhere near as good an example of the breed as Annas. Sonia and Tilly seemed to enjoy their day, and were delighted with the concept of being able to come out for cuddles regularly without needing to be pulled about for judging!
After the show, we drove straight down to Di Taylor’s (Brizlincoat Somalis), and set Sonia up in her pen in Di’s gorgeous cattery facility. We have been promised a proper tour when we return to collect Sonia. We then headed across to Rob and Anita’s, where we were taken out for a lovely Indian meal, as a birthday treat. As usual, Anita and I stayed up far too late chatting, and I think it must have been well into the following morning before I crawled into bed.
The Australian Mist seminar was held in a tiny hall, in a village near Market Harborough. The reason for the seminar was that Dr Truda Straede, who created the breed, is spending a few weeks holidaying in Italy, and had agreed to make a detour across to the UK in order to do a breed seminar. The seminar was not supported by the GCCF, because the discussion would be based on the standard as applied in FiFé, but for people not involved in the breed, like us, that didn’t really matter. Dr Straede presented some of her research on the microscopic differences in hair structure between hairs of different colours and patterns, which was fascinating and very enlightening, and there was much entertaining discussion over coffee as well!
Last weekend was another ‘free’ weekend (i.e. one that isn’t taken up with ‘cat stuff’), and we had Elisabeth’s birthday barbecue on the Saturday afternoon/evening, and then a 10CC and Status Quo concert on the Sunday evening. We also squeezed in a trip to the cinema broadcast of one of the last performances of Helen Mirren’s ‘The Audience’, which proved to be laugh-out-loud funny, and well worth attending. Elisabeth’s barbecue was, as always, a great event, and a lovely opportunity to catch up on the lives of some of her friends, whom we only see periodically at her various get-togethers. The concert on the Sunday evening was excellent, and well worth the £45.
I knew every song that 10CC sang, but only knew one of them as a 10CC song (that being “I’m Not In Love”), and was very impressed at the breadth of styles their music covers, and also the multi-instrument talent of the group’s members. Status Quo’s much is more samey, but the band are great showmen, and I thoroughly enjoyed singing along at the top of my voice. Admittedly, some of the best entertainment of the evening was watching two girls who were probably in their late teens or early twenties, and had obviously had a bit much to drink, attempting to dance in front of the stands!
Tracey looked after all the cats, but especially Dàrna’s little one, during the weekends that we have been away, and made her usual fabulous job of it. She was round at least twice every day that we were away, not just throwing some food down, but actually spending hours at the house each time, going from room to room to make sure that all the cats receive plenty of attention – they probably get more when we are away than when we are here! She also checked and weighed the wee one each day, and nicknamed her ‘Scootcher’ because apparently she ‘Scootched’ around her box when she was small – she was certainly the most active Asian/Tiffanie we’ve had as a tiny kitten, walking around her box from the moment we got her back from the vets. Elisabeth, on the other hand, christened the kitten ‘Sparkle-Sparkle’, because apparently she has the sparkle-factor!
She continued her precocious behaviour, purring when feeding at only a day or two old, trying to climb out of the scales at weigh-in time from about a week old, and purring in response to being stroked at only eight days. She’s also growing really well, having doubled his birth weight by the time she was six days old (that is the target for a week old), and now being well over 800g at 7 weeks. Although I spent the first three or four weeks trying to persuade both myself and the kitten, that she was a boy, because I then wouldn’t be tempted to keep her, she declined to participate in my charade, and is quite obviously a girl. I am still trying valiantly to resist the temptation (she is Dàrna’s last kitten, etc. etc.), but whether I succeed will remain to be seen. Richard is keeping out of any discussion over whether or not she stays, which is probably wise, given that I will probably just make my own mind up anyway, almost regardless of what he says!
The lack of a decision over whether or not she is staying, does make decisions over naming rather more complicated. This is our ‘F-litter’, and she is either cream or apricot, so Fiona (from the gaelic for fair-haired) would be a good name for her, but that only works if she’s not staying here, because we already have a Fiona, and having two of them would be too complicated! She therefore remains nameless at present, being known only as Dàrna’s kitten, or the wee one, until we decide what we are doing. She will be due for her first vaccination next week, though, and we’ll need to have a name to put on the vaccination card, so we don’t have that long to decide.
The Ocicat kittens also continue to do well, having had their second vaccinations the first Saturday in June, and then the five who are registered on the Non-Active were neutered a couple of weeks ago, and have been living with us of late. It is rather nice not having to travel to Edinburgh every time I want to see my kittens, particularly since each vet visit has meant being up early enough to collect the kittens at 07:30, in order to be back at our vets with enough time to drop the kittens off and still get into work, then rushing off at 17:30 to collect them again, and take them back to Edinburgh. We have had all six kittens living with us, but Di’s family have decided that they would like to keep the tawny boy, and we feel that is the least we can do, given the favour that Di did for us in taking the kittens when she did, and then keeping them so that they didn’t have to have any upheaval in their early lives.
The first two (literally the first two – Cainnt and Crannag) went to their new homes last Saturday, and are now Hamish and Harry, respectively. Their owner has recently lost an Ocicat neuter boy, Oscar, who has been keeping her company since her husband died, and she has really been missing Oscar’s presence. She wanted an Ocicat to fill the hole left by Oscar’s death, but didn’t want one who looked so like him that she was constantly reminded of his loss. The ticked tabbies were therefore of particular interest, and although she initially liked the idea of having one of each colour, which wasn’t possible anyway, with Di’s family keeping the tawny, she actually found that she preferred the cinnamons. I think they will be a better match anyway, because they often spent time together, whereas the tawny boy is more independent.
The tawny girl continues to shine out as the pick of the litter, and I am still hoping that we can find someone interested in breeding from her, but the search is so far proving fruitless. I will continue looking for another couple of weeks, and if we haven’t found anyone by then, will have her neutered, and find her a pet home. That seems a real waste of a lovely example of the breed, with an amazing temperament and a fabulous pedigree, though, so I’m hoping we won’t have to do that. If you know of anyone who might be interested in breeding Ocis, do let me know!
The other two girls are still looking for their homes, so do also get in touch if you think you might know of someone who would be interested in one or both of them.
As a slight aside, I’ve also had some photos through from the owners of Carrie and Becca (the two cinnamon Variants from the last litter), who you may remember also went to live together. They look very happy and still just as good friends as they were when they left us.
Other Cat News
We also had Grace and Anita’s Keela spayed at the same time as the kittens, so will be looking for new homes for them in due course. Again, if you know of anyone who might be interested in a young adult (Keela will be three in September, and Grace has just turned two), then we would love to hear from you. We are hoping to get Grace made up to Master Cat before she leaves us, since now that she is spayed, she can be shown in the Pedigree Pet section again, something that hasn’t been possible since she was under six months old. We have therefore got her entered in a couple of shows later in the summer, and will start to look for a new home for her after that.
Keela is absolutely adorable with people, and will take however much attention you are prepared to lavish on her, giving lots of love in return. As an entire, she hated other cats, though, so we will wait a few weeks to see whether having her spayed will have softened her attitude towards her fellow felines. If not, she will have to go to a strictly single-cat household, her ideal probably being as a companion to someone who is retired and wants a cat to keep them company around the house.
My brother, Calum, has recently purchased his first house, and is now the proud owner of an idiotic Maine Coon, in the shape of our first pedigree cat, Call. For the past few years, we have had to keep Call and the other neuters separated from our entire girls, because Call is fine living with neuters, but starts spraying if he lives with one or more entire females. This has resulted in none of our cats getting what we feel to be enough of our time, because there just aren’t enough hours in the day for us to spend a decent amount of time with each group. When the cats were all in together, they all got to spend time with us, which was far preferable. Calum taking Call has meant that we can start making re-introductions (and in many cases first introductions) between our neutered and entire cats, and although we will need to take this slowly, it is a huge relief to be able to start the process.
A Totally Unrelated Garden Visitor
This last is absolutely nothing to do with the cats, but I couldn’t resist sharing the video of a cute hedgehog that was in our garden last week. He was sitting on our driveway when we got back, and because it was still daylight, I thought maybe he was ill, so I offered him some cat food. Judging by the way that he tucked into the food, he certainly doesn’t seem to have been ill!
I’ve been holding off doing an update until we had the results of Bru’s tests – I didn’t expect that to take a month! In the meantime, there has been plenty to update you with…
Preston & Blackpool Show
The Preston & Blackpool show was the last weekend in March, and saw the ‘creation’ of two new Cagaran Champions! Ayla and Eiteag both won their third CC, making them up to Champion at the age of just 10 1/2 months, in ‘straight shows’. For the first time, Eiteag actually beat his sister for Best of Breed, but I think we’ll give him a bit of a break now, because he was very interested in the female Devon in the pen next door, and was a little ‘frisky’ as a result. Ayla was, as always, utterly adorable, and a real pleasure to show.
When we were originally asked if we would take Bru back, we didn’t know whether he had something infectious or not, so I was concerned about bringing him back into the house when we had such young kittens. A friend of ours very kindly offered to take the kittens until we could find out what was wrong with Bru, and since Grace seems perfectly settled at Diane’s, they are going to stay there for the time-being. That puts us in the unusual position of having to go and ‘visit’ our own kittens!
Thankfully, Diane and her kids are taking great care of them, and they seem very happy, healthy babies – they are actually a lot sweeter than our last litter of Ocicats were at the same age.
Being one step removed like this does make it more challenging for us to choose names, because I have to rely on Diane’s family, particularly her daughter, Maude, to help us get a feel for their temperaments. I suggested various possibilities, and Maude has helped me narrow them down:
Kitten 1 (cinnamon Variant male): Cainnt, which is gaelic for ‘Speech’, because he’s the most talkative. It is pronounced ‘Kaynch’.
Kitten 2 (cinnamon Variant male): Crannag, which is gaelic for ‘Hedgehog’, because he likes to curl up in a little ball. It is pronounced ‘Kranak’.
Kitten 3 (tawny Ocicat female): Ceann-Ciatach, which is gaelic for ‘Beautiful Leader’, because she has always been the first into everything, and the others all follow her, but she is also the most typey in the litter. If any of the kittens go for breeding or show, it will be her, and I liked the idea of using her gran’s pet name in her name – Kia was short for Ciatach. Ceann-Ciatach is pronounced ‘Kyawn-Kee-atach’.
She is also an absolute sweetheart, and the quickest to purr. If we weren’t planning to focus on the Asians and Tiffanies, and therefore giving up with the Ocicats, I would be keeping her without a moment’s hesitation.
Kitten 4 (cinnamon Variant female) is narrowed down to a few possibilities, but we haven’t actually chosen one yet. She is the quietest and gentlest, but also the most shy, so the names are all a variation on that theme: Ciùin, which means ‘Quiet’ or ‘Gentle’, and is pronounced ‘Kyewn’; Caomh, which means ‘Fond’, ‘Soft’, ‘Gentle’ or ‘Tender’, and is pronounced ‘Koov’; Cionált, which means ‘Sweet’, and is pronounced ‘Kinalit’; and Corrach, which means ‘Unsure’, and is pronounced ‘Kawrach’.
Kitten 5 (tawny Variant male): Ceafán, which is gaelic for ‘Rascal’, which is pretty self-explanatory! It is pronounced ‘Kyawfan’.
Kitten 6 (cinnamon Ocicat female): Ciaran, which is gaelic for ‘Glimmer’, because of the delicate colouring of her spots. It is pronounced ‘Kee-aran’.
As it happens, having the kittens living with someone else proved very useful, because we had to go down to Devon for Richard’s Gran’s memorial service and the interment of her ashes. If we’d had young kittens at home, we couldn’t have been away from home for more than one night, which would have meant a couple of very long days. As it was, we were able to head straight down to Devon from the Preston & Blackpool show, with major thanks due to Ian Thomson (Saladin Abyssinians) and Elisabeth for taking Eiteag and Ayla home for us, and feeding all the others. Richard’s parents had rented a cottage down there for the week, so we stayed with them for a couple of days, attended the service and interment on the Monday, and then I had a business meeting on the way home. Tracey very kindly came in at least once each day, to feed and cuddle the cats, and sort their trays for the remaining couple of days until we returned.
When I last posted, we were going to be taking Bru for a scan the following week, which my Mum actually ended up taking him to, because it was the same day as the interment in Devon. The vets did an echocardiogram, as planned, and also took some x-rays and ran a tube into his lung to take a sample of the fluid. The heart scan showed no defect, which was a relief, but it did appear to show something abnormal about his lung. On the x-ray, it looked like the left lung was collapsed, and the fluid from the infection could be seen in the right lung. The fluid sample was sent for analysis, and came back as a mycoplasma infection, which we then treated with Baytril and another antibiotic for the next fortnight.
After that, we took him back in for another x-ray, which showed that the infection was cleared up in the right lung, but there was still something odd about the left lung, so he then had a CT scan. The CT scan showed a nice healthy right lung, but the result for the other side was rather less expected – when the Cardiologist looked at the slides, he said to our vet: “Well, I’ve never seen that before”. He knew what he thought he was seeing, but sent the slides down to the experts at Liverpool for analysis, and they came back to confirm his diagnosis: Bru has no left lung! The vet called me last week with the confirmation from Liverpool, and told me that there has only been one other case of a cat with Bru’s condition, and that was in the US in 1990! Yet another case of us having a virtually unique problem.
Scottish Shorthair Show
The weekend before last was the Scottish Shorthair show, and although we hadn’t entered this time, because we were showing at the weekend just gone (you are only allowed to show once in every two weeks), I went along to steward for Elisabeth. We had some stunning cats, including a lot of very beautiful Abys, and a chocolate silver spotted British with proper British coat texture – very unusual on a silver, let alone one of the newer colours!
Lona was there with Tabh, who was the only cat in his Grand class, because the only other entrant was absent. Unfortunately, the judge didn’t like him enough to award the certificate, so poor Tabh is still waiting for his final Grand. Lesley and Fraser were also there, with Derk and Ella (Eiteag and Ayla’s littermates), both of whom picked up their 2nd CCs, and Ella took the Best of Breed this time. She was looking particularly stunning, with a fabulous Burmese scowl, while Etak drove all the judges crazy in the morning, shouting for cuddles whenever anyone came into view! Unfortunately, I forgot about taking photos until the very end of the show, by which point the cats were ready to go home, and I only had time to get some really rubbish phone shots:
Joint Beds-Camcat Show
Last weekend was the double show for the Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire Cat Clubs. As with other joint shows, the two clubs share the show venue and judges, which enables the clubs to split the costs, but also gives the exhibitors the advantage of being able to try for two certificates on the same day.
We had taken three cats – Ayla, Tilly and Bru. Ayla was only there because she is a delight to show (she is far too immature and small to win a Grand at the moment), and Tilly was only there so that Anita could see her again (we stayed with Anita on Friday night), so it was only Bru who we were actually hoping for a win from. Sure enough, he picked up the Premier certificate (and Best of Breed) in both shows, leaving him only needing one more to win his Premier title.
These PCs were the first certificates won by a Cagaran Ocicat, which is quite exciting. I was also touched to realise that the three cats we were showing are the grandson and daughters of our three foundation queens – Ayla being Dàrna’s granddaughter, Tilly is Katie’s granddaughter, and Bru is Kia’s grandson! As a final little benefit, Lhasa’s mum was there with her owner/breeders, and won her third and qualifying CC, making her up to Champion!
Tracy and Gary came up to visit us at the show, bringing Emily, who has grown since we last saw her, and was fascinated with the cats. We let Ayla sit on her lap for a cuddle, and when we tried to put Ayla back in her pen, Emily started crying, bless her! We also had the AGCS AGM in during the morning, and a RACCS Committee meeting during the afternoon, so it was rather a busy day.
After the show, we headed up to Wakefield where there was a party being held ‘in honour’ of two of our friends, who emigrated to Australia 18 months ago and are back for their first home visit since leaving. We spent a couple of hours with them on Sunday morning before heading back up the road, and it was great to catch up, and also see their two sons, who were just three and one when they left. We’ve been invited out to see them in Australia, too…
London Pet Show
Long-term readers of our blog will know that we have had at least one representative at the London Pet Show (LPS), both the last two years. This year the 3rd LPS is on the 11th and 12th of May, putting it the week before the World Cat Congress (WCC) weekend, which includes a double show – the special WCC show and the Suffolk & Norfolk club going back-to-back. As a result, it has been more of a struggle than usual, to find enough cats and people to represent the different breeds, many of those who would normally have done LPS preferring to enter the WCC double.
We are going to be attending the WCC show (the Gala Dinner is on the Saturday night, and a Seminar on the Sunday, so there’s no way we’d be missing it!), but the LPS is too great an opportunity to miss, so we’re not going to actually take cats to the WCC. Since the LPS was struggling to find enough cats, we are taking ten cats to represent a whole selection of breeds: Tia for the Burmillas, Donny for Asian Smokes, Ayla and Eiteag for the Tiffanies (though Eiteag, being a tabby, is also the closest we have to an Asian Tabby), Cheeky and Bru for the Ocicats, Kenga (Grace’s sister) for the Abyssinians, and three of Elisabeth’s Russian Blue kittens to represent the Russians.
Dàrna is due this week, but she’s not particularly big, so we’ve been assuming just a couple of kittens. In the past couple of days, however, she has expanded a bit, so it could be that she’s carrying four. If she does have just two, I think we might just have her spayed. Having had six kittens in her first litter, we had hoped that her subsequent two-kitten-litter was due to the after-effects of the Ronidazole treatment that she had for the Tritrich, and that the effect would wear off after a while.
Following my recent post regarding my disappointment that the Tibetan breeders had decided not to use Tiffanies in their programme, I have been contacted by Angela McCallum (Chaka Balinese, Tibetan and Oriental Longhairs), to say that she would definitely be interested in using a Tiffanie for her Tibetans. Since the ideal Tiffanie for the Tibetan programme is a self with burmese restriction, the mating that we were originally going to do was Lhasa to Donny. I don’t really mind whether we mate her to Donny and Tia to Eiteag, or the other way around, so I am quite happy to do the former, if the result can be of assistance to the Tibetan programme. So… that makes that decision, finally!
After the LPS, Ayla will be going home with an Australian Mist breeder, instead of us (sob!), and will be going to one of her stud cats to begin our cinnamon outcross programme. You may remember that we also bought in our Somali, Sonia, to form the other half of the initial outcross, so we will be mating her at the same time. I haven’t yet decided who to mate her to, though! These matings are a big step for the cinnamon programme, but they do represent the start of something like four or five years of work to get to the point where we have a showable cinnamon Asian or Tiffanie! Wish us luck…
Grace’s second litter, of six kittens, has arrived, and they are all doing well. Eiteag and Ayla had another good show, at the Lancs, winning ther second CCs. Bru has had to come back to us, due to some sort of illness, that his owner doesn’t want to test him for.
We have a fair bit of news from the past couple of weeks, including the birth of our first 2013 kittens!
Grace had six kittens overnight from Sunday into Monday, the weekend before last. She was much better this time around, knowing exactly what to do with the placentas and cord-cutting, and also settling nicely to feed them.
There are three of each gender, the three boys all being Variants: a tawny, a cinnamon and one that is either a chocolate or a dark cinnamon; and the girls being one Variant and two Ocicats (spotty): the Variant is another cinnamon, and the spottys are a tawny with a stunning head, and probably a cinnamon, though again could be a chocolate.
Last weekend was the Lancs show, and we had taken the ‘babies’, Eiteag and Ayla, to try for their second CCs. As last time, we put them in the same pen to begin with, to help them settle in, though I don’t think either actually needed it. Obviously, we have to keep a close watch on them, to make sure that Eiteag doesn’t try anything with his sister, but so far he’s shown no interest in her, though he knew exactly what he was meant to be doing with Dàrna when he was in with her. We’re taking no chances – if he even so much as looked like he might be interested in Ayla, she’d have to come straight out!
Both were beautifully behaved, as usual, purring and climbing up the judges and stewards to give them kisses, which is just lovely to see. A couple of the judges said that they wanted to take one, or both, home, and one even came past for an extra cuddle later in the day! Both were given their CCs, so they now only need one more each.
Tracey was also there, with Xaria and Quinn, though this time Quinn’s award wouldn’t count for anything, because the closing date for this show was before the Scottish, and she won her qualifying certificate at the Scottish. In addition to the cats’ activities, I had an excellent day stewarding for Kaye Wilson, who is a long-term Burmese breeder and judge, but who has recently started juding Asians. It was great to see so many of the Burmese, and also to have a judge that I can so easily talk over the cats with.
Bru Back Home
About 10 days after he had gone to his new home, I received a call from Bru’s owner, Julie, to say that he had been wheezing, and that she was going to take him to her vet. Over a couple of visits, her vet took some tests, but none of these showed anything, so he then suggested having a scan done, but Julie felt that she had already been through too much stress and hassle, so she asked if we would take him back instead.
We agreed to do this (giving a full refund, in case you’re wondering), and got him booked straight in at own vet. When I went to collect him on Thursday, he was hiding down the back of Julie’s bath, and when he came out, he was all wide-eyes and spiky fur, and seemed absolutely terrified. I asked what was up with him, and she said he was always like that with her, and had never let her stroke him, which had me really worried in case it could be a symptom of some sort of illness.
When we got him home, however, he came straight out of his basket and ran up to Richard to ask for a stroke, even though he was in a room that he has never been in before. We didn’t want to put him in with the girls in case Dàrna is pregnant and he had some sort of infection, so he is in the back bedroom with Ali and Breckin, who are both neuters. When Tracey came round yesterday, Bru climbed into one of his baskets, and lay there purring and ‘paddle-pawing’ whilst Tracey and I both stroked him.
On Friday, I took him for his vet appointment, and our vet gave him a thorough checkup which didn’t find any problems. Bru looks absolutely great, is a good weight (and has grown in the time he’s been away), and is eating and drinking well. We’ve got him booked in to have a scan, and that will tell us for sure whether there is anything wrong, and if so, what it is. The most likely explanation at the moment seems to be a slight lung infection, but we will know more once we’ve got the scan results.
Another excellent day at the Scottish show, with six Cagarans winning certificates, and Sonia making up to Champion. Dàrna is in with Eiteag, Fi is in with Donny and Grace looks about ready to pop, so we should have our first 2013 kittens soon.
I wrote the wording for this post on the 19th of last month, but it has taken me until today to find the time to pull some pictures together! On the 16th, we had the delight of a local show, for a change: the Scottish Cat Club show in Larkhall, south of Glasgow. We didn’t have to get out of our beds until 06:30!
There were a total of seven Cagarans entered, the highest number in one show to date, and six of them won certificates! We had Donny in to try for his first Imperial, and Etak and Ayla for their first CCs, then Lona had Tabh entered for another Grand, Lesley had Etak and Ayla’s littermates, Derk and Ella, in for their first PCs, and Tracey had Quinn entered in the Pedigree Pet section, to try for her third Mastercat certificate. We had also taken Dàrna, to try for her third Imperial, and Sonia for her third CC.
Much to our delight, all of the Cagarans owned by other people won the certificates they had gone for, so Quinn made up to Mastercat (PR Cagaran Dorlach & MC Quinn!), Tabh is now sitting on two Grands, and the youngsters won their first PCs.
Etak and Ayla also won their CCs, so that was the whole of that litter winning their first certificates on the same day – a clean sweep of the Tiffanie breed certificate classes! Sonia also won her CC, so she is now a Champion, which is particularly good news, since she’s due for mating soon.
Neither Dàrna nor Donny placed in the Imperial class, but they were both up against some really lovely cats, so there’s no great shame in that.
To top off an excellent day, Karen Hettman’s Zach, who was bred by our best friend, Elisabeth (Dushenka Russian Blues), not only won his second Silver Olympian certificate, but also went Overall Best in Show!
2013 Matings – Again!
Since we’re not needing to keep anything from Tia this year, I’m now thinking that I might try mating her to Apollo – the kittens from that mating should be spectacular, but they won’t carry longhair, so they’re not much use to us as Tiffanie breeders. We should, however, get some cracking show-quality Burmillas, and if we could find some nice show homes for them, it would be great to see some more Burmillas on the show bench. Having decided that, and since we also don’t need to keep anything from Dàrna this year, I’ve put her in with Etak, which gives us guaranteed Tiffs.
I was considering putting Lhasa to Donny, to see if we could produce a brown self Tiffanie to help the Tibetan programme, but I’ve now found out that for various reasons, there is now only one Tibetan breeder left, and she doesn’t use Tiffanies in her breeding. That means that I can send Lhasa down to Quin (Helen’s Burmese boy), which leaves Donny available to be mated with Fi, which is what I’ve done, because she’s another one we don’t need to keep anything from this year. That mating should hopefully give us 50% Tiffs, though the two previous matings we’ve done to longhair carriers have given us entirely Tiffs, which means we’re probably due for a whole litter of shorthairs! Assuming we do sent Lhasa down to use the mating to Quin, we’ll put Tilly to a boy who is from the only surviving line that I can find that is related to Annas’ (our original Tiffanie) mother’s mother!
Last week, I hadn’t decided any of this, but Dàrna and Fi were the first to come into season, so that kind of made my mind up on order, which helped with the decision about which matings to do.
On the Oci side, Grace is almost ready to burst, and looks hugely pregnant. Apologies for the photo quality – whenever I get a proper camera out, she behaves like an idiot, so the only photos I’ve got are phone ones. Still, you get the idea…
We have finally found a home for Bru, who went with his new owner last week, and is now settling in. He is living with a vet student in Glasgow, and although he spent the first night hiding, he is now coming out to play, and will hopefully be fully settled soon. It almost always takes longer to settle a 7-month-old, than it would at 14 weeks, but it still shouldn’t take more than a few days. When I have some photo updates, I will post them for you.
We had an excellent day at the Shropshire, with Tilly enjoying her first show, Lhasa winning her Champion title and Etak winning Best Foreign Kitten.
Last weekend we attended the Shropshire show for the first time, and it proved to be an excellent day!
We had only decided to do the show after the Shorthair/AGCS, where Lhasa won one of the possible two CCs, leaving her in need of a final certificate. Since Ayla is now an adult (scary thought!), we wanted to be able to start bringing her out, but had hoped to get Lhasa made up to Champion before that happens. Thankfully, Steve Crow loved her, so she won her 3rd and qualifying CC, giving her the title. She also won two firsts and a second in her side classes, a great result given the calibre of some of the other cats entered in those classes.
Since Tilly was too young to be entered in the Shorthair/AGCS, we decided to enter her in the Shropshire, as her first experience on the bench. She took the whole thing totally in her stride, though we did pop her into Etak’s pen first thing in the morning, to help her settle in. They had travelled part of the way down together, but we eventually separated them after getting bored of Etak making ‘sexy noises’ at her. He is such a cradle-snatcher – just like his uncle Donny, who wanted to mate Ayla when she was about the same age! Tilly won her breed class, and then took a first and two seconds in her side classes, again a good result considering the competition and how young she is.
Etak was our star of the show, however, not only winning his kitten class and beating Tilly for the Best of Breed, and then taking firsts in his side classes, but going on to win Best Foreign Kitten! This was his last show as a kitten, because he turned adult five days later, so it was an amazing way for him to end his ‘kitten career’. It also means that all four of the kittens whom we have kept from our own breeding have taken a Best of Variety as a kitten – Fi, Donny and Ayla all having taken Best Kitten at the AGCS in their respective years, and Fi also having taken Overall Best Foreign at the Preston & Blackpool. Fi is still the only one to have taken an Overall Best of Variety at an all-breed show, and only Donny has taken a top award as an adult, going Best Foreign Adult twice last summer, but we’ll be hoping for more of those in the future!
I have been mulling-over our various options for matings, but keep changing my mind about which girls to put with which boy. I know that I am definitely going to put Ayla to an Australian Mist boy for the first part of my cinnamon outcross, but beyond that it gets a bit fuzzy. I was going to send Fi out to stud, but the boy I was going to use is no longer available, so now I’m thinking of putting her to Apollo – since he doesn’t carry the longhair gene, the kittens would all be shorthair, and all be cream or apricot, but the type should be lovely. Dàrna was going to go to Apollo, but if I put Fi in with him then I might try putting Dàrna to Etak instead. If I don’t put her to Etak then I might put Lhasa with him, but otherwise she would either go in with Donny, or go out to Helen Marriott-Power’s cream Burmese boy, Quin. Then there’s Tia, whom I might put with Donny, but possibly Apollo, or maybe even send her out to Sandra Woodley’s classic tabby boy, Caspian! Oh, decisions.
The weekend between the cancelled Notts & Derbys and the Shropshire, we were back down in Loughborough for a family funeral, and collected Gracie from stud in the process. She is definitely pregnant, and growing well – the speed at which she’s expanding is making me slightly terrified as to how many kittens we may end up with. Watch this space!
Starting over after a long gap between posts. All of our current cats are introduced, with photos, and an update is given on the kittens available.
It has been three months since I last posted, due to a mixture of illness (mine and Richard’s), and having too much to do, as usual. Since it’s been such a long time, I figured I might as well start afresh, with a re-introduction to us, and our cats.
For those who have followed this blog in the past, a quick update first. The Cumberland show, last month, was pretty special for the Cagaran cats, because we had our first TWO Grands on the same day! Lona Johnson’s Lainni made up to Grand Premier, and our Donny made Grand Champion. We were absolutely delighted, as you might imagine!
On a more sombre note, you will remember that we had to have our beautiful Katie put to sleep back in June, and also lost two kittens to chest infections which we believed were the result of them breathing in milk. A couple of months ago, we finally got all of the necropsy results back, and found out that the problem was actually a bacterial infection from the same family as e-coli.
Those of you who have visited us here, will know how careful we are about hygiene in the kitten room, but because the mothers were carrying the infection, our precautions were useless in this case. Thankfully, however, the lab was able to identify an antibiotic that kills that particular strain of infection, and we have now treated every cat in the house, to ensure that we don’t have a repeat of this year’s problems.
Now, back to the introductions…
Cagaran is a jointly-owned prefix, but I (Heather) do the blogging. The other half of the Cagaran ‘partnership’ is my partner/boyfriend, Richard. We’ve been together since 2001, were adopted by our first cat in 2002, and bought our first pedigree in 2005. We showed for the first time in 2008, and had our first litters in 2010. We have owned a number of different breeds, but our passion is Tiffanies, which are the semi-longhaired member of the Asian Group. We also work with Asian Shorthairs, who have the same fabulous temperament as the Tiffanies, but without the flowing coat, and have had a couple of litters of Ocicats.
At present we have fifteen cats for whom this is their permanent home.
Jinny is the oldest, and is also the cat whom we’ve had the longest, having adopted her from a rescue in January 2005. She is a longhaired moggy, and will be a teenager next year. She is the matriarch, and the other cats tend to do her bidding.
Next oldest are our two neuter boys: Call and Ali, who will both be eight next year. Call is a Maine Coon, and was our first pedigree cat. Ali is a shorthaired moggy, and came from the same rescue shelter as Jinny, where he was taken at just a couple of days old, with his feral mum.
Annas was our first Tiffanie, and the cat who made us fall in love with the breed. We didn’t buy her as a show cat, but it turned out that she made a rather good one, and was the first Tiffanie to become an Imperial Grand, and also the first (and still only) Tiffanie to win the UK title. She will be five at the start of next month.
Next is Dàrna, who was one of our foundation Tiffanie queens, and will be four in February. She is a Grand Champion, but her biggest asset is her purry, cuddly temperament. She had her first litter in 2010, from which Fiona is a Champion and Tabh is a Premier with two Grand certificates. Dàrna’s second litter was born in 2011, and in that we had Donny, who is a Grand, and Quinn, who made Premier at the Supreme, last weekend!
After Dàrna are Tia and Lhasa, who we are very lucky to have been entrusted with in the past few months, after their owners decided to give up breeding. Both girls are two, and have the most spectacular temperaments imaginable. Their breeders and previous owners must have given them a lot of love and care to have them become such adorable girls, and we are privileged to have the chance to continue that. Tia is a Burmilla, and Lhasa is another Tiffanie. Both girls are so ridiculously cuddly that it is almost impossible to get a photo of them, because virtually every photo has them either upside down, wriggling around wanting their bellies rubbed, or with their heads so close to the camera that it hasn’t a hope of focusing. The photo of Tia below is actually surprisingly decent, but we the one of Lhasa is just the best of a bad bunch – at least she has her eyes open, and isn’t upside down in this one!
Actually, between Tia and Lhasa comes Fiona, or just Fi, who was from Dàrna’s first litter. She was Best Kitten at her first show, the AGCS (Asian Group Cat Society), and Best Foreign at her third, but unfortunately decided that she didn’t like being shown when she was a bit older, so we withdrew her from the bench when she made Champion. She had her first litter this summer, which were particularly special because they were our first out of a Cagaran parent. It helps that they are all beautiful! We still have two available, due to a change in the personal circumstances of a would-be owner, but more on them later.
Apollo is our beautiful stud boy, who came to us from Steve Crow and Tommy Goss. He is another Burmilla, and will be two next month. He has to live in an outside run, because he sprays, but is so soppy that he stands on his head in an attempt to squirm closer to us when we go out to spend time with him. He is also a Champion, and has one (surprise) Grand certificate, but is very immature-looking, so we will need to give him time to develop before showing him further.
Grace is next after Apollo. She is an Ocicat Variant, from an outcross mating between an Ocicat Classic and an Abyssinian. These matings are done to reduce the inbreeding levels within the breed, producing healthier kittens, and we were very fortunate to be allowed access to the beautiful Stanley to do the outcross. Grace had her first litter earlier this year, giving us two Variants like herself, one Ocicat and two Ocicat Classics. We still have the two Variants and the Ocicat available, but again, more on them later.
Donny comes next, at 15 months old. He was from Dàrna’s second litter, to a gorgeous old Burmese boy, who has since unfortunately passed away. As a result, Donny’s pedigree is very special, and we have therefore kept him to continue his Dad’s line. Like his half-sister (Fi), the year before him, Donny was Best Kitten at the AGCS, and has been Best Foreign Adult twice. He is an Asian Smoke, and we are incredibly lucky that he still doesn’t spray at present. How long that will continue for, we have no idea, but we’re enjoying having him living in our kitchen in the meantime. He has the most amazing temperament, and everyone who comes into our kitchen somehow winds up with him in their arms, though they usually have no idea how he got there!
After Donny is Sonia, who is a gorgeous Somali from George Gow. She was born in January of this year, and we bought her as an outcross to bring a new cinnamon line into our Tiffanies. Cinnamon is an allowed colour in Tiffs, but there are virtually none of them around, so Sonia is hopefully going to help us to both strengthen the gene pool for this colour, whilst also giving us an injection of new blood to benefit the breed more generally. She has two CCs (Challenge certificates), so only needs one more to become a Champion.
The babies of the bunch are Eiteag, Ayla and Cheeky, who are all from this year’s litters. Eiteag wasn’t originally going to be staying with us, but as he got older, he kept improving in type, and we decided to keep him to do a single mating for the Cinnamon programme. He can then be neutered and live as a companion to Donny, whom he shares the kitchen with, and the two cuddle around each other in the most adorable way.
Ayla is Eiteag’s sister, and is the kitten from that litter, who was always intended to be staying. She is an absolute poppet, and she chose us, rather than the other way around, cuddling up to me from a very early age. She loves shows, and is totally bomb-proof, as she proved at the Supreme last weekend, when she was being passed around from person to person, purring continuously and kissing people’s noses!
Cheeky is Grace’s daughter, and one of our first Ocicat Classics. Since Ocis are just a sideline for us, we let the best in the litter go to our friends Anita and Rob, because they breed Ocis more ‘seriously’ than we do. Cheeky was my favourite for temperament, though she is an absolute rascal, as the name suggests. We are planning to have a bit of fun showing her, to help the breed towards Championship recognition (they are Intermediates at present), but we will need to wait and see how she develops before we decide whether to have some Oci kittens from her.
Looking for New Homes:
We have five kittens and one adult looking for new homes at present, so if you know of someone who might be interested, do let us know!
Breckin was bought to be our foundation Ocicat queen, but we didn’t feel that her temperament was suitable for breeding, so had her spayed. Unfortunately, she still isn’t happy as part of a big group of cats, and feel that she would be better with just one or two other cats. After discussions with her breeder, Rita, we are therefore looking for a new home for her. She is very shy, and would need a patient owner who can take the time to settle her, but she is very loving when she relaxes.
Previous readers of this blog will remember Ying, who came to visit Fi’s kittens when they were just a few weeks old. She has since had the exciting news that she has been offered a six month placement in Australia. She didn’t want to uproot a kitten such a long distance for just six months, so both Derk and Ellie are still looking for their forever homes. They both love cuddles, and we often wake up to find them snuggled down into the bed. If we watch TV in the livingroom, we usually end up with one each, cuddled up on our laps, purring away. Both have developed beautifully, and would make lovely show neuters, or super, cuddly family pets. We were visited by a lovely family over the weekend, and Annas absolutely adored the wee boy, so I am hopeful that we might have found the right home for at least one of them.
The Oci kittens are now ready to go to find their families, and indeed Breagha has already gone off to live with Anita and Rob. They had her along to the Supreme last weekend, where she won her first and Best of Breed, and looked wonderfully relaxed, in spite of all the hustle of such a large show. Since we are keeping Cheeky, that leaves Bru, Carrie and Becca.
Bru has grown into a lovely young lad, with beautiful clear spots, and a sweet face. He likes his cuddles, and likes to curl up on top of us when we go to bed. Carrie is the boldest of the three, and is always the first to come and say hello. She is very talkative, but prefers to be stroked whilst sitting on the bed or a chair, rather than being picked up and cuddled. Becca used to be quite shy, but has really come into her own in the past couple of weeks. She now jumps up on the bed end and trills at us to ask to be picked up for a stroke.
Well… I will no doubt see some of you at the West of Scotland show, where I will be having my first shot as a judge, in the Household Pet section. When this was first suggested, I was just excited to participate in shows in a new way, but as the date approaches, I must confess to a bit of an attack of nerves. I’m sure that I’ll be fine once I’m actually there and judging, but at the moment it’s a daunting prospect. I’m also doing my first bit of show management preparation, for next year’s Scotia show, with judge invitations being my first role.
I think that’s it for tonight, but I will try and post more regularly, even if it’s just a quick photo update. All the best,
Introducing Sonia, our first Somali, and saying farewell to Katie, Xaria and Quinn. We have had some good show results, and another two litters, and Fi’s kittens continue to do well.
It is over two months since I last posted an update, and there has been lots of news in that time, both good and bad.
I am delighted to introduce Sonia, Gowlaren Sonia Cagaran, our first Somali! She is a usual, but carries sorrel (cinnamon), making her a potential outcross to bring a new cinnamon line into our Asians. She was bred by George Gow (a senior GCCF judge), who was going to keep her to show. However, we happened to be visiting, and when I fell in love with her, he asked if I was interested in her. The only proviso is that we have to show her – hardly an issue!
She is a beautiful girl, with a great temperament and a lovely pedigree incorporating some fabulous old lines. She is one of the sweetest cats we’ve ever had, and has to be stroked before she can eat her food. She is rather prone to virtually tripping us up, though, because she’s so determined to glue herself to our ankles!
She is currently living with Fi and her kittens, and since Sonia is still a kitten herself (although she’s the same size as Fi now!), she is loving playing with Fi’s kittens. The two boys, in particular, are quite often found racing her around the room.
The Lakeland Show has always been a good one for us, with Call winning one of his PCs and Xaria and Tármus making up to Premier there in 2009, Xaria finally winning her first Imperial there, along with Breckin and Ali both winning Grands in 2010 and then Dàrna making up to Grand there last year. This year it lived up to past performance, with Sonia, out for the first time, winning first and Best of Breed in her kitten class, Donny winning his second CC and Best of Breed, and Annas taking the Reserve Olympian in a very strong class (even beating the newly Gold Olympian Mylward Sassafras), as well as taking the Best of Breed.
Donny was an absolute poppet all day, even taking part in the second demonstration presentation for the YES! scheme (young exhibitors). This is a new initiative, getting the YES! Mentors, of which you may remember I am one, to demonstrate how to present a cat to young people on the scheme and those thinking of starting. Donny was the ideal cat to use for this, because he just stood beautifully on the table, and was interested in everything that was going on. He even stood up on his hind legs, with his paws on my chest, to give my nose a kiss, bless him!
To top off a good day, Donny went on to take Best Foreign Adult, our first time winning that accolade, let alone with a cat of our breeding. Unfortunately, we forgot to take any photos on the day, so we had to take some of him with his rosettes, when we got home.
When I last posted, Katie had given birth to two still-born kittens, and was now helping Fi to look after her kittens. Unfortunately, after a few days doing that, Katie lost interest in Fi’s kittens, and became depressed. We moved her down the stairs to live with Donny, and for a few days she seemed to be happier, without the constant reminder of kittens around. After that, however, she again became depressed, and for the next three weeks we had her in and out to the vet, running tests and trying to find out what was causing her depression.
For about a week, we were having to force-feed her, but she was getting so distressed by this, that we had to stop doing it. We even discussed the possibility of having her on a drip at the vets, but they felt that there was no point doing that unless we could find a reason for the depression, because she couldn’t spend the rest of her life on a drip!
She spent most of her time lying in her basket looking miserable, and it was absolutely heart-breaking to watch, as she got thinner and thinner. After a couple of weeks, she had lost so much muscle that she could hardly walk, yet we still had no medical explanation. I came down one morning, and found her lying limp, barely moving, and with obvious swelling around her kidneys. I took her straight to the vet, who ran some more tests, and reported that most of her organs were failing, and that the kindest thing to do would be to put her to sleep.
I asked them to wait until I could get back along, to be there at the end. She was brought through in the arms of one of the vet nurses, with her drip attached, and laid on a blanket on the vet’s table. The vet was able to inject the anaesthetic into the drip, rather than having to inject her directly, so we were able just to stroke her the whole time. I am sure that most animals know when the end has come, and Katie was no different. I hadn’t heard her purr since she had the still-births, yet as the vet pushed the plunger, she started purring.
The vets took some more tests, but we haven’t found anything to explain what happened. The only thing we can think of is that Katie was always so precise, and liked everything to be perfect, and that she couldn’t cope with the idea of the still-births. A friend of mine has had two still-born babies, and she said this: “It’s entirely possible that Fi’s kittens were a nice replacement at first… but then she realized they were just a replacement and hers were gone. Then, if she’s anything like me, Fi’s kittens probably pissed her off and put her further into depression. It’s hard coming out on the other side and finding something to live for. It’s hard finding something to be happy about again. It’s hard to have any desire for ANYTHING anymore. You have no idea how hard I prayed and begged to be put to sleep, have a heart attack, a wreck, anything. I even tried to take matters into my own hands more than once. I know you loved her, and you did her the biggest favor you could have ever done for her.”
When we were taking the photos of Donny with his rosettes after the Lakeland, we started off with a white background, and later switched to a black one. At that point, Katie came over to see what we were doing, and we took a few photos of her as well. I wasn’t for a moment expecting those to be the last ones we would ever take of her. It is some of those last photos that you see here.
RIP little Katie. Sweet dreams.
Xaria and Quinn’s New Home
You may remember that we had a potential owner here to meet the kittens just before my last post. That was Tracey, who was actually looking for two kittens, but having met (and fallen in love with) Quinn, she decided that she would take Quinn and one kitten. Obviously, the kittens weren’t ready to leave yet, so she came back to visit again a few days later.
Twenty years ago, Tracey had Russian Blues, and even had a litter of kittens from her girl, before a change of circumstances stopped her breeding plans. When she visited us again a few days after her first visit, she asked to meet the other cats. When she met Xaria, she literally started crying, because she missed her Russians so much. When Xaria sat nicely in her arms, you could have knocked me over with a feather – Xaria had never sat like that for anyone. Suddenly, I found myself asking if she wanted Xaria instead of a kitten, and she said yes.
As it happens, Xazzle has never got on very well with our other cats, so we’ve always had a problem deciding who to keep her with. As a result, she has been moved around our house, trying every possible permutation, and the only cats that she would live nicely with were Apollo and Quinn. I didn’t want to leave her out with Apollo, because it seems a shame for her to have to live in the garden, so she had been living with Quinn.
I took both girls down to Tracey’s a few days later, and they now seem to have settled in beautifully. I couldn’t be more delighted, because we’ve found somewhere that Xazzle can be happy, and a home for Quinn, in one go, and they are only ten minutes away! I’ve been down to see them several times, since, though Xaria is highly suspicious of me, in case I take her away again. That’s exactly the same as she was with Elisabeth after coming to us initially – it took at least half-a-dozen visits before she trusted Elisabeth not to take her away again.
Dàrna and Grace’s Kittens
Both Dàrna and Grace had their kittens right on schedule – Dàrna on the 11th of July and Grace two days later, on the 13th. I refer to the two litters together, because they have been together from the start – Dàrna acted as ‘midwife’ for Gracie’s labour, helping to deliver the kittens, cleaning them and Gracie, and showing Gracie what to do. When Gracie seemed unsure about what to do with the placenta, Dàrna licked at one, and then pushed it under Gracie’s nose, as if to say “here, you’re supposed to eat it”.
Dàrna had just two kittens again, and they benefited hugely from the arrival of Gracie’s five kittens two days later. Before Gracie’s kittens were here, Dàrna’s two hadn’t been feeding particularly well, and as a result were not gaining as much as we would have liked. After Gracie’s kittens arrived, Dàrna’s two began competing with them, and started making much better gains.
In Dàrna’s litter, the kittens were guaranteed to be Asians, rather than Tiffanies, because Apollo unfortunately does not carry longhair (we DNA-tested him). The first out was a boy, who looked to be a brown silver shaded, followed by a girl, who was probably a brown tortie shaded (not silver). Unfortunately, both kittens aspirated (breathed) some milk, and in spite of being given antibiotics, died due to the resultant pneumonia. This is apparently a relatively common problem, which almost inevitably results in death, and neither Grace nor Dàrna seemed particularly concerned by the losses, just carrying on with the remaining five kittens, as if there had never been another two.
I found it a lot harder than they seemed to, particularly since I’d spent the week leading up to their deaths, desperately trying to help them clear the fluid from their lungs. Since it happened, I’ve had at least four or five breeder friends tell me that they’ve lost kittens the same way, but we were really unlucky to have two in one litter. Mind you, when it comes to losing kittens, when are we not really unlucky?! The kittens are buried with Katie and her two kittens, so they will hopefully be playing together as a little family somewhere.
Gracie started her labour by giving us a cinnamon classic girl, then two cinnamon variant girls, another cinnamon classic girl, and finally a tawny spotted boy. The two classics and the spotty are our first Ocicats, our previous Ocicat litter being all Variants. Two cinnamon Classics is a fabulous result, because cinnamon is my favourite colour of Ocicat, and I prefer the Classics to the standard Ocis. Even better that the cinnamons are both girls!
My hope had been to get a cinnamon girl for myself, plus another girl for Anita (Bryce – Anizz Ocicats & Tiffanies), and possibly a girl to offer to Stacie (Shorten – Ameeka Ocicats & Abyssinians, who bred Grace’s dam). Assuming that the two Classic girls develop as well as it currently looks like they will, Anita and I have our girls. If the boy develops well, I may be able to offer him to Stacie, and otherwise she could have the better of the variants, if she wishes.
Humberside & Lincs Show
I was really looking forward to the Humberside & Lincs show this year, for two reasons, the main one being that I was finally getting to steward for Lynda Ashmore, an engagement I had had to book almost two years in advance! The second reason was that Donny had two chances to get his third, and final, Challenge Certificate, which would make him the first male Cagaran to win a title.
Elisabeth had been going to come down with us, but her Ziva had to have a C-section on the Thursday before. Since we would be needing to stay away overnight due to the show having moved further south (to Newark, fairly close to Richard’s parents), it wasn’t possible for her to come. Instead, we did a swap, where she looked after our kittens, and we took her cats down to the show.
We had also borrowed Quinn back from Tracey for the show, having entered her before Tracey had approached us. I had, however, warned Tracey that I thought Quinn might have one of the certificates withheld by Grace Denny, due to her coat being too long. As it happens, the outcome was correct, but not from the judge that I would have expected – Grace Denny awarded the PC in the Humberside show, but Sarndra Devereux withheld in the Lincs. Quinn therefore needs one more certificate to become a Premier, but given that Tracey had the girls in the Rexfest as Ped-Pets at the start of this month, and absolutely loved it, I don’t think that will be an issue! Incidentally, both girls got their Mastercat and Best of Colour awards at the Rexfest – Xaria now only needs one more to become a Mastercat, having won the certificate there last year.
Annas didn’t place in either show at the Humber-Lincs, but I wasn’t expecting her to, given the competition. Donny and I, on the other hand, both had excellent days. Stewarding for Lynda was well worth the wait, and Donny won the CC and Best of Breed in both shows, so I was well pleased, and glad we made the effort to go the extra distance.
As we were packing up, at the end of the day, one of the judges informed me that he had chosen Donny for Best Foreign Adult. I had no idea that he had gone up for Best of Variety, because only the Overall Best Foreign results were announced. That’s his second BOV Adult in a row, and I couldn’t be more delighted with him. He beat some fantastic cats for the award, so I can only assume that he’s such a big, soppy lump that the judges are forgiving him his worse bits!
Edinburgh and Chester Shows
The Edinburgh show was just the week after the Humberside & Lincs, and since we can only show every second week, we couldn’t actually show at both. I was booked to steward for John Hansson, however, so knew I would definitely be attending. As it happens, there were two Cagarans there, because Lona brought both Lainni and Tabh. Lainni didn’t win her Grand, but Tabh was given his third, and final, PC, making him up to Premier. He is the fourth titled Cagaran, the others being Fi, Lainni and Donny.
Having made Champion at the Humberside & Lincs, Donny was then eligible for the Grand class at the Chester show, four weeks later. We had been planning to go to the Chester just to enjoy a day out in Chester, so we figured we might as well enter him in the Grand as a punt. The judge was Di Harper, who isn’t keen on Donny, so we didn’t expect him to do anything, and sure enough, he wasn’t placed in the Grand. He did, however, do very well in his side classes, winning a 1st, a 2nd and a 3rd against strong competition and in classes of at least six.
Update on Fi’s Kittens
Fi’s kittens are now 15 weeks, have had their vaccinations and can go to their new homes. They have developed beautifully, and it is still a very close call between ‘Kitten 1’ and ‘Kitten 3’ as to who is the most typey. The other two have also come on a lot, however, and although not showing as much show potential as their siblings, are still rather nice. ‘Kitten 4’ reminds me of his gran (Dàrna) at the same age, and since she’s a Grand with two Imperial certificates, that can’t be so bad! Likewise, ‘Kitten 2’ reminds me a lot of Cailin (another Shogun baby), who has two CCs and two Best in Show awards as a kitten, so I don’t think we can really complain about her, either!
We decided fairly early-on that Kitten 1 was going to be Eala-something, Eala being Gaelic for ‘Swan’. We have since settled on Eala-Bianach, which literally translates as ‘Furry Swan’, but it was picked because it has a nice sound, rather that due to the translation. Her pet name is Ayla, which is how Eala is pronounced. Her spots have pretty well completely disappeared, so we’ve registered her as a chocolate tortie silver shaded BCR, like Dàrna, though Ayla currently has a softer tone to her chocolate. She is a very pretty girl, and we are keeping her to continue our breeding line.
Kitten 2 is Ealasáid, which is pronounced Elaset, and is gaelic for Elisabeth. We decided on that name when she was about six weeks old, and the fiestiest kitten in the litter – she was named after Elisabeth (Stark), who is also fiesty!! Her pet name is Elly, and she is definitely a chocolate tortie silver spotted (full expression), though a darker chocolate than her sister. She is going to be living in St Andrews, with a lovely lady called Ying.
Kitten 3’s pedigree name is Éiteag-Bàrr (pronounced Ehtak-Bawr), which is gaelic for ‘Cream Quartzite’, and his pet name is Etak. He’s called that because his colouring reminds me of the stone, with a pale base overlaid with cream. He still has spots, but they are very faint, because his whole colouration is very pale and delicate. He’s a gorgeous boy, and will make a cracking show neuter. He’s also a real softy – undoubtedly the gentlest in the litter, and will climb up onto the bed wanting cuddles. I wish we were needing another boy, because I would have had no hesitation keeping him as a stud.
The final kitten is known as Derk, that being the pronunciation of the second part of his pedigree name, Èibhill-Dearg, which means ‘Red Ember’. I think he is either a burmese-restriction red smoke or a red silver spotted, though he could be apricot, and isn’t necessarily a silver or burmese-restriction!! We have registered him as a red silver spotted BCR, because the older he gets, the more he looks like that.
Those of you who’ve been following this blog for a while, will know that we don’t generally have people in to see the kittens until they’ve had their first vaccinations. On this occasion, we made an exception for Ying, because she was going abroad to visit family for the whole of this month, and part of next month. That obviously meant that she needed to meet the kittens before she went, if she was to have a choice of which one to take. She came to visit twice last month, and decided to book Elly, whose fiesty temperament she fell in love with when Elly started swinging from her cardigan!
After the kittens had their first vaccinations, Elly and the two boys unfortunately came down with some sort of eye infection, and we therefore didn’t invite anyone else in to meet the kittens, until that could be cleared up. Thankfully, they have been fine for over three weeks now, with no further sign of any issue. The photos above were taken on the 19th of this month, so you can see that they are all completely better. Having not had anyone in to meet them, though, we are obviously needing to look for homes for the two boys now, so if you know of anyone who might be interested, do let me know!
Fi’s kittens are continuing to do well, and are now starting to wean and use the litter trays. Dàrna and Grace are both pregnant, and due around the second week in July, whereas Katie was pregnant but unfortunately lost the kittens. Donny and Quinn both won their first certificates at the Durham show, and we had an excellent weekend with Anita and Rob and our 30th birthday party.
Fi’s kittens are now five weeks old, and doing really well.
Kittens 1 and 3 are the most typey, with very little to choose between them. At the moment, I would say that Kitten 1 is fractionally the better of the two, which is very exciting, since she’s the one who seems to have chosen us and will therefore be staying here. She has a beautiful rounded head, stunning nose break and muzzle and big, expressive eyes. She’s also an absolute sweetheart, who purrs as soon as we stroke her, and who will come running across the room to say hello when they’re playing outside the pen. She is definitely a chocolate tortie BCR silver, and I still think she’s probably a spotty, but the colour is still just coming in on the body. Unfortunately, like her mother and grandmother before her, she is an absolute devil to photograph, pulling all sorts of hideous faces when the camera is on her. She consistently looks worse than her siblings, which is exactly what Fi used to do to me when she was a kitten!
Kitten 3 also has a fabulous rounded head, excellent nose break and muzzle and lovely big eyes. He still might turn out to be better than his sister, but at the moment his eyes are just marginally straighter in set. The colour is developing on his body, and his spots are getting stronger by the day, so it definitely looks like he’s going to be a spotty. I still think he’s a cream BCR silver, but there is so little colour there that it’s difficult to be sure. We had various friends, family and colleagues round for a birthday barbecue on Saturday, and when one of my friends’ daughters came up to see the kittens, this lad sat on her knee as if he’d met kids every day of his life. He’s the most gentle of all the kittens, and is going to be a big softie who just wants to be loved, bless him!
Kitten 2 has a good dome, muzzle and eye shape. Her head is a little longer, and her eyes are a bit smaller, than the two above, but she’s still extremely nice. If she wasn’t in a litter with the two above, we’d be absolute delighted with her, and quite happy to keep her to show! Her markings are still looking lovely, though the ‘kitten fuzzies’ mean that they look crispest when viewed from the back. She is a real character – very vocal and opinionated, but also a bigger purrer. In both looks and temperament, she reminds me of our Katie-Shogun girl from last year, Cailin. Since Cailin has two CCs in GCCF and two Best-in-Shows in Fifé, that can’t be bad!
Kitten 4 is the least typey, but is still a gorgeous kitten, and his type is perfectly acceptable. If we weren’t looking at him in comparison to his extremely typey siblings, we’d probably be saying that he’s quite nice – everything is relative, and this is just an extremely nice litter. Shogun and Fi have done us proud! He has the longest head and the smallest eyes, but still has an excellent nose break, lovely chin, well-placed ears with a nicely rounded head between, and nice eye shape. I’m now wondering if he might in fact be an apricot rather than a red, but we’ll just need to wait and see how the colour develops as he gets older. He is the most variable in behaviour, being all soft and sleepy one minute and then jumping on his siblings the next. I’ll be very interested to see how his temperament develops.
All four kittens are now using litter trays and are therefore out-and-about in the kitten room. They have just discovered the bottom step of the stairs onto the windowledge, and play cute games of peek-a-boo on it, but they haven’t yet noticed that there are other steps above that one. Their favourite place is on a furry cushion in the alcove below the window, and the look absolute adorable piled up on it.
They are also starting to eat solid food, though this lot are much more into biscuits than wet. Kitten 4 is the only one who seems to prefer wet to biscuits, and the only thing he’s interested in so far, is what I call ‘kitten mush’ – babycat mousse mixed with kitten milk. Mind you, put down a plate of kitten mush and he virtually hoovers it up in seconds, so at least he’s got the idea of using a dish! His siblings are all tucking into biscuits like little piglets.
We had a lovely prospective owner here yesterday, to meet the babies, and she had all four clambering on her. When she first arrived, Kitten 3 spat at her, which is just about the funniest thing imaginable when it’s coming from a teeny kitten. By the time she had been here for a few minutes he had forgotten his initial dislike and was joining his siblings climbing around on her legs. She was particularly taken with the character of Kitten 2, but loved the appearance of Kitten 4. We did have a few people who had expressed an interest in these kittens, though, so whether she gets one of these or one of the next litter will depend on whether this lot are already booked.
Yes, Katie was indeed pregnant. Unfortunately, she had two kittens still-born, one delivered herself, and one by C-section. The kittens were both black silver shaded boys, and looked perfectly formed, so there is nothing to suggest why they died. When the vets had Katie opened up for her Caesarean, I asked them to check her reproductive system for cysts etc. but they couldn’t see anything to suggest a problem, so we are none the wiser.
Breeder friends had told me that it is a lot less distressing to have still-born kittens than it is to lose a kitten that is born alive, but I wasn’t convinced. I was surprised to discover that, whereas I was gutted when we lost little Aithreachas and absolutely devastated when we lost B-B, all I felt with the still-borns was sorry for Katie.
She wasn’t at all happy when she could see the first still-born kitten, but seemed much happier once I had taken him away. She and Fi were living together, and since she lost her babies, Katie has adopted Fi’s instead. Helping to look after them has given her something to take her mind off her loss. The kittens think it is great having two mums to feed from! Generally, the boys seem to prefer their mum’s milk, whereas the girls seem to prefer milk from their ‘Aunty’ Katie.
I now have a real dilemma over what to do with Katie next time around, though. You may remember that we ‘won’ a mating with a Burmese stud boy, in the auction at the Gala Dinner, and my intention was to send Katie down there. If she’s not going to carry successfully, however, I don’t want to ‘waste’ such a valuable mating. I could try putting her to Donny again, to test whether she’s going to carry successfully, but then who do I put to the Burmese?
At least I’ve got a few months to make up my mind, and in the meantime, thankfully we’ve got the other kittens to focus on instead.
Dàrna and Grace
Katie’s litter may have been still-born, but it still looks like we are going to be over-run with kittens in the next couple of months. Grace and Dipsy are both pregnant and already starting to show, which could well mean that they are having larger litters. Grace is only 4 1/2 weeks pregnant, and Dàrna 5 weeks yesterday, so they’re just a bit over half-way. Dàrna is still living with Apollo to keep him company, but I will bring her in later this week, and she and Grace can move into the kitten room. I’m not sure who we’ll put out to keep Apollo company then – perhaps Ali, bless him!
Both girls should be due the second week in July, and we’re just keeping our fingers firmly crossed for smooth deliveries and healthy kittens.
We took Donny and Quinn to the Durham show, the last weekend in May, where both picked up their first certificates: Donny the CC and Quinn the PC. Both were also awarded the Best of Breed. Their certificates were the 14th and 15th for our prefix, and they are the fifth and sixth cats of our prefix to win certificates. We are obviously delighted, and I am looking forward to the next couple of shows, where we will see if we can get them made up to Champion and Premier, respectively. Unfortunately, Donny appears to have inherited his mum and sister’s ability to look rubbish in photos, so I don’t have a single decent one of him!
I had an excellent day stewarding for Chris Bamford in the Persian and Semi-Longhair sections, while Richard, Elisabeth and Karen (who had also travelled with us this time) enjoyed a barbecue with the Johnsons (Koreshka Russian Blues). It was a gloriously sunny day, and the venue is surrounded by plenty of grass, so they had a fabulous time, though Richard ended up with slightly sore feet due to switching to sandals but forgetting to put sun-cream on his feet! Thankfully there was decent air-conditioning inside, so we were nice and cool whilst judging the cats.
Richard was 30 back in April, and I am 30 later this month, so we were going to have a joint 30th party around the middle of May. As it happened, the dates in the middle of May didn’t work for various reasons, so we decided to go for the first weekend in June, which turned out to be the Jubilee bank holiday weekend. Anita and Rob (Anizz Ocicats and Tiffanies) were able to come and stay with us for the weekend, and we had a lovely time talking cat with them. Anita and I also spent a considerable amount of time in the kitten room having ‘kitten cuddles’!
Our party was on the Saturday, which thankfully stayed dry, though we didn’t see a great deal of sun. We had several of our ‘cat friends’, a couple of my friends from choir and then various family members, and had a barbecue in the garden, which was a lovely, informal way to celebrate. The Thomsons (Saladin Abyssinians) and Elisabeth stayed on afterwards, and we had a late tea of baked potatoes with some of the leftovers from the barbecue. I think they ended up leaving about midnight, though Richard and I stayed up talking to Anita until well into the ‘small hours’.
We spent the Sunday at the Gardening Scotland show through at Ingleston, for which we had got low cost tickets courtesy of Groupon! As usual, that was a good day, and we only had rain for about a minute, just as we were arriving. On the Monday we went round Calendar House, which is only about 10 minutes from us, in Falkirk, and then took a drive across to the Falkirk Wheel. It was just starting a lift when we got there, so we watched the boats going around – the first time I’ve actually seen it in motion. After that, Anita and Rob had to head back south, but I’m so pleased they finally made it up here. Hopefully they’ll be back soon!