Catching Up Once Again!

Eiteag’s kitten is now named Hailey, short for ‘Haillie-a-Jo’. Dàrna made up to Imperial and everyone else continues to do well.

We had a good day at the Supreme show, with Small in competition and Eiteag and Dàrna on Club Row. Both RACCS and the West of Scotland went well, which was a relief, given that I was ASM for the former, and we were both ASMs for the latter.

It’s been three months since my last post – I’m really not very good at this regular-posting malarky, am I?!  Before Christmas, I had a very good excuse – Assistant Show Managing for two shows in December was a lot of work.  However, I started writing this post between Christmas and New Year, and there’s really no excuse for it not to have been finished ages ago.  However, I will finish it today!

Surprise Kittens

You may remember that we sent Sonia away to stud back in June, but after three months of she and the stud cuddling up together but apparently not doing anything, we brought her home again.  Well… on the evening of the 8th of November (Friday), I picked Sonia up for a cuddle, and realised that her nipples were swollen, and that she looked distinctly pregnant!

She had been kept in isolation in the spare room, since returning from stud, because she was having bad diarrhoea, for which we hadn’t yet managed to determine a cause.  However, she had managed to escape from the spare room a couple of times, which wasn’t a problem, because she only escaped into the hallway, and there aren’t any other cats in there anyway.  However, occasionally Donny also escapes from the bathroom, where he and Eiteag live to keep them apart from the girls, and although I couldn’t recall the two ever escaping at the same time, I had the horrible thought that perhaps she and Donny had been out together and he had mated her.

At that point, Ayla and her kittens were still in the kitten room, so that night we shut the other cats out of the front bedroom and gave it a thorough clean, intending to let it stand for a few days before moving Ayla and her kittens into it, and then the kitten room could be cleaned out and allowed to stand for a few days before Sonia was moved into there.  We usually leave a room empty for a few days before moving kittens or pregnant girls in, just to be on the safe side with the delicate immune systems.

On the Sunday evening, however, I picked Sonia up and realised that she was spotting blood.  My first thought was to wonder if something had gone wrong with the pregnancy, but then I realised that she was actually in pre-labour.  We considered leaving Sonia where she was, because we wouldn’t normally move a queen so close to birthing, but the spare room really isn’t suitable for a queen with kittens – there are all sorts of places where the kittens could be hidden away, or could fall or get separated from their mum.  We therefore moved Ayla and her kittens into the front bedroom, gave the kitten room a thorough clean, and then moved Sonia across to there.  On the plus-side, having her kittens when she did left no doubt as to who the father was, because she would have had to have conceived whilst still at stud!

We spent the night in the kitten room, and early the next morning, I thought I heard Ayla’s adopted kitten squealing.  I dreamt that one of the other kittens was standing on her, but somewhere deep in my subconscious, something was obviously awake, and registered that Ayla and her kittens weren’t in the room with us any more.  I got up and checked the kitten pen, and sure enough, there was Sonia, sitting on top of the stack that she had made out of all the bedding, perched on top of the heat mat, and on the opposite side of the pen, lying on the bare floor, was a kitten.

When I touched him, he was very cold, but immediately responded by starting to shout, loudly.  I rearranged the bedding, cleaned him up, and laid him in against his mum.  I waited a couple of hours to see if she was going to have another, because I had thought I could feel two the previous evening, but no matter how hard I palpated her abdomen now, I could feel no sign of another kitten, so I assumed I must have been mistaken.

That evening, Tracey came up to visit, and I took her up to see the newborn.  As we walked into the room, Sonia was lying on her side in the pen and out slid a second kitten.  Her reaction to this second kitten was the same as the first: she didn’t mind the kitten being there, but was totally uninterested in doing anything with her.  I got the kitten cleaned up, whilst she screamed blue murder, and then settled her alongside her brother, against Sonia’s tummy.

By the following day, the girl had lost weight, so I tried to get her to latch on and suckle, but she seemed to struggle to do so.  I made up a bottle of milk formula and offered her that, and she drained it dry within seconds, so there was obviously nothing wrong with her ability to suck.  That continued right up until the kittens were weaned – the boy was drinking from his mum, but the girl didn’t seem to be able to get latched on, so I had to bottle-feed her.  I know that an inability to suckle properly is sometimes a symptom of flat-chested syndrome, so I kept checking her ribcage for abnormalities, but have found none, so there seems to be absolutely no reason for her inability to feed from Sonia.

Anyway, Sonia’s kittens are now approaching three months old, and have moved into the livingroom with some of our adults and neuters.  When they were younger, they were the messiest kittens we have ever seen, and we had to keep them penned when we weren’t in the room, until they were about eight weeks old.  Sonia wanted nothing to do with them from when they were about four weeks, so we were lucky that they were quite early to eat solids.  The girl is still a very messy eater, not in the sense of throwing the food around, but just that she manages to cover her entire head in it, to the point that Tracey has named her ‘Messy Molly’.  She has named the boy ‘Harry Houdini’, due to his ability to get out of wherever you put him, in order to come and find people to cuddle up to.

We are now looking for new homes for both kittens, though the girl’s type has developed so beautifully that I’m sorely tempted!

Supreme Show

At the 2012 Supreme, we only entered Ayla, as a kitten, and she enjoyed it so much that we decided that we would enter Small in the kitten class in 2013.  This time, however, we had also offered to take cats to represent the breed on Club Row, with a joint table for the Asian Group Cat Society and Bombay and Asian Cats Breed Club.  We had a double pen for Donny and Eiteag to share, and a single pen for Dàrna, with the table in between.

We were staying with Anita on both the Friday and Saturday nights, and like last time, the boys were sharing the stud run in her car-port.  This time, however, it was Anita’s husband, Rob, who had cleaned the run out ready for our arrival, and he hadn’t made as good a job of removing the smell of her stud boy, as Anita usually manages.  Donny is definitely not keen on other stud boys, and as a result, was completely freaked by the smell of Anita’s boy, and in absense of any other cats, seemed to decide that Eiteag was the strange boy he could smell.  We had to separate the two boys for the night (the stud run has compartments), and decided just to leave Donny at the house to calm down, rather than taking him to the show.

We therefore ended up having just Tiffs on the club table, which is not something we normally do – if we’re representing the Asian breed group, we normally try and take cats that represent the group as fully as possible.  If we had known that Tia wasn’t going to be pregnant by the time of the Supreme, we would have entered her, but she should have been pregnant by then (she hadn’t come into season from the late summer through to now).  As it happens, it was rather nice having Small in competition, and both her parents on Club Row, because it meant that when I was talking to people in front of Small’s pen, that I could tell them that they could meet her parents on Club Row.

Both Dàrna and Eiteag were beautifully behaved, and made fantastic ambassadors for the breed.  Dàrna spent most of the day lying in her basket on the table, so that passersby could stroke her, marvelling at the gorgeous silky texture of the Tiffanie coat.  Whenever Dàrna wanted to go back into her pen for a few minutes peace, or a bite to eat, Eiteag would come out onto the table and bound around playing with his feather stick.  He wasn’t so practical to have out for any length of time, because he wanted to go off and explore, so we would only keep him out for as long as it took him to get bored of his toys and decide that he wanted to go for a wander.  By that point, Dàrna would be ready to come back out again, so we’d put him back in his pen, and have her back out instead.

In terms of juding, the Supreme takes a different format to all other GCCF shows, with the cats housed in decorated pens in the centre of the hall, with a series of ‘rings’ around the outside of the hall.  The rings have plain pens into which the cats are moved by stewards in preparation for being judged, and the cats are then taken from these pens onto the judges’ tables for judging.  Unlike other GCCF shows, the cats’ owners, and other spectators, can stand right in front of where the judging takes place, and listen to what the judges are saying about the cats.  After a class has been judged, the stewards will often ask if any of the owners  are present, and let them take their own cats back to the pens.

Small was an absolute superstar, taking the whole day in her stride, just like her Auntie Ayla did last year.  Hers was one of the first classes judged by Grace Denny, and I went over to watch her being judged.  As the steward was handing her to Grace, I heard her say “this one’s got a huge purr”, or something similar, and I watched with pride as Small cuddled into Grace.  I love it when our cats win, but I love even more to see them showing off the breed’s fabulous temperament.

In the event, Small was not only adorable, she also won, taking both 1st in her kitten class, and Best of Breed, and then going on to be shortlisted for Best of Variety.  Grace praised her coat, saying it was one of the best she has seen on a kitten of her age, and that she is a lovely big girl.  Given that one of the key reasons we kept Small is her size, I was delighted to hear Grace say that.  Afterwards, Grace asked if I bred her, and I said I had, and told Grace that she had given Small’s mother an Imperial at the North West Show.  Grace made my day by saying “well, hopefully I’ll get the opportunity to give her an Imperial as well, one day”.  I was absolutely delighted!

Once Small’s judging was finished, I put a sign on her pen saying that she had gone to join her parents on Club Row, with the pen numbers, and took her up so that we had the three together for the rest of the day.  Incidentally, by the time we got back to the house, Donny had got over his pique, and was absolutely desperate for Eiteag’s company, and the two spent most of the rest of the evening grooming eachother, much to my relief.  Meanwhile, Richard and I took Rob and Anita out for dinner and then to watch the 3D screening of the 50th Anniversary, ‘Day of the Doctor’, Doctor Who special at the cinema!

RACCS Show

RACCS had their second show on the 7th of December, in Annan, which was the venue that the Committee originally chose, before all the messing about after the Supreme show moved date in 2012.  This was my second time as an Assistant Show Manager (ASM), but the first show that I really had a key role in organising, not least in that I suggested the hall originally, so I was a little nervous beforehand!  The show did receive an entry of 54 cats, which is really good for a breed club, especially on its first stand-alone show, so that allayed my fears slightly.

I needn’t have worried at all, though, because the show came off without a hitch.  The feedback from both judges and exhibitors for the hall was excellent, the atmosphere was friendly and there was a good number of gorgeous cats, who were almost all impeccably behaved.  Also, Elisabeth and Karen were ecstatic, because Zach won Overall Best in Show, which was a lovely end to the day.

West of Scotland Show

A fortnight later, we had the West of Scotland show, which had received a fabulous entry of 313 cats – more than 20 entries above that received for any Scottish show in the past few years.  Considering the fuss that was made at last year’s AGM, about the date being too close to Christmas, with people saying that exhibitors would never come to a show on the 21st, I was delighted to see the entry so high.  It does rather suggest that the exhibitors were pleased with the date, and it meant that we could absolutely go to town on the Christmas theme!  For instance, as joint-ASMs, Richard and I had the pleasure of designing Christmas-themed rosettes, which went down well with exhibitors.

I received a call early on the morning of the show, from exhibitors who were coming up from Wales, to say that their car had broken down 2 1/2 hours south of us.  They said that the AA man said the repair would only take 10 minutes once he had the correct part, and had gone to get said part, but that he didn’t think the parts shop opened until 8am.  The maths wasn’t too difficult there, to realise that meant they wouldn’t be at the show until at least 10:30 – half an hour after the show was meant to start.

I told them that since I was ASM, I would need to check with the show manager, but that I thought we could probably manage to hold those classes back for them.  Shortly after arriving in the show hall, I received a text message from another exhibitor, to say that they were stuck in a very slow diversion around a closure on the M74.  Over the next half our or so, several exhibitors also came up to the front to say that various friends had asked them to let us know that they were stuck in this same diversion.

In the end, we did what I had seen done at another show in the past, and asked the judges just to skip past any empty pens they came across in the first hour.  The exhibitors who had the breakdown were the last to arrive, and they had also been caught in the diversion, of course.  In the event, they were vetted in (we had kept one vet on standby) at 11:17, but it was definitely worth their while, because they went on to win not only an Olympian certificate, but also Best in Show!

Anyone working on a show at any level above Section Manager is not allowed to enter their cats in competition.  Our cats therefore couldn’t compete, but we did take Small and Dàrna on exhibition.  A few Cagarans had been entered in competition by their new owners, however, including Lainni, who won the Reserve Imperial and Best of Breed Tiffanie; Quinn, who had the Reserve Grand withheld on her (presumably for lack of silver undercoat, though she also wasn’t in the best mood); and Bobbie, in her first adult show, winning her 1st CC and Best of Breed Ocicat.  Special mention has to go to Sarndra Devereux’s stunning Bombay boy, Tarby (GR CH Rainsong Jolly-Jack-Tar), who was Overall Best Foreign exhibit.

Christmas and New Year

This year, Richard’s parents went off to Hong Kong and Thailand to visit friends over the Christmas holidays, so we spent the time with my family and various friends.  As I said earlier, we also spent plenty of time with the cats, which has been lovely, because our lives are so busy the rest of the year that it’s sometimes difficult to find time just to… be with them, not doing anything.

Seven plates laid out with the cats' Christmas Dinners on them
The cats’ Christmas Dinners – roast beef trimmings and Applaws Tuna Loin.  One plate per group, divided according to how many cats are in the group

Four of the cats around one of the plates of Christmas Dinner
Tucking in to Christmas Dinner – Jinny top left, Dàrna top right, Annas bottom left and Small bottom right

We went to the family service at the church on Christmas Eve, where my Mum was singing in the choir, and then went back to Mum and Dad’s for a cup of tea.  That turned into several hours of singing on the karaoke with my parents and Calum, and between that at the carol singing earlier in the evening, I was completely hoarse by the time we headed home at about 2am.

Three kittens and Ayla grouped around their plate of Christmas Dinner
Ayla and the kittens enjoying their Christmas Dinner
(Frenchie top left, Hailey top right, Zuko bottom left and Ayla bottom right)

Christmas Day was at my parents this year, and due to my sister going off to her boyfriend’s for Christmas Dinner, my Grandparents going to one of my Aunts, and various other relatives linking up in various ways, there were only five of us for dinner.  When Richard and I had dinner here two years ago, there were sixteen of us, so five was bizarrely few – my Mum hardly knew what to do with herself!

For New Year, Elisabeth and Tracey joined us for a snack-and-pizza tea, over the first half of a DVD.  At 11:30, Tracey left (something to do with a superstition about first-footing herself), and we switched over to Jools Holland.  A few minutes before midnight, we headed outside, and let off a firework on the front lawn at the bells, with a row of little furry faces watching from the house windows (our cats all love watching fireworks).  Back inside, we opened a bottle of champagne, and then settled down to a night of DVD-watching, eventually heading to bed at 8am.

Getting up again at noon, we enjoyed our annual New Year cooked breakfast (including fruit dumpling and fried pancakes and potato scones, mmm!), over another DVD.  Elisabeth and I ended up watching the Sound of Music on TV, and then we ran her home on our way to a family get-together at my Grandparents.  There can surely be few better ways to spend time than with family, friends and a housefull of cats?!

Notts & Derbys Show

We went to the Notts & Derbys show during the middle of last month, because it’s literally only fifteen minutes from Richard’s parents house, and can therefore be combined with a nice family visit.  I wanted to see what some of the judges thought of Zuko and Frenchie, so we entered them in the HP section, and since we were taking them, we decided to take Ayla along for the ride.  As it happens, she was actually awarded the Reserve Grand, beating one other, which was more than I expected, given her size.  Zuko won his kitten class and he and his mum both had good results in their side classes.  Our star of the show, though, was Frenchie, who placed well in all her sides, won her kitten class and beat her brother for ‘Best of Colour’, and then went on to win Best Pedigree Pet and then Best Household Pet.  One of the judges wrote that she is a star in the making, and she certainly adored her day out at the show, so I’m hoping that we can find someone interested in taking her out again in future.

Shropshire Show

We really enjoyed the Shropshire Show last year, because we had a lovely day looking at potteries, and lunch at the Wedgewood museum.  It is also pretty central to the AGCS Committee, so when we were discussing a potential venue for the club’s AGM, I suggested the Shropshire as the venue.  That was agreed, and since I was obviously going to have to be there to take the minutes, we clearly had to enter!

We only took two – Dàrna to try for her final Imperial, and Small in her last time out as a kitten (she is 9 months today).  Both girls were adorable as usual, and we got Small won her first and Best of Breed, getting some really encouraging comments from the judges in the process, which I was delighted about.  However, what absolutely made our day was Dàrna taking that final Imperial, and in the process becoming the first Imperial Grand Champion that we have owned (our other Imperials have been neuters), and only the sixth Imperial-titled Tiffanie (Annas was the first, and there have been four in-between).  She also made Donny the first cat we’ve owned to have two Imperial-titled parents.  She will now be spayed and can retire from the hormone swings of being an entire.

Eiteag’s Kitten

When I last posted, we were trying to decide on an ‘H-name’ for Eiteag’s kitten, and we eventually settled on Haillie-a-Jo, which means ‘Totally a Sweetheart’ in old Scots.  Her pet name comes directly from her pedigree name, and is Hailey.  Her type has continued to develop beautifully, and still has the most amazing nature.  We have also had her hernia operated on successfully, and she now flies round the room with her ‘siblings’, which is lovely to see.  The vet and vet nurse told us that the muscle had been torn from the pelvic bone the whole way up to the rib-cage.  The vet nurse said that when they first opened her up, they all just stood and looked for a few seconds, because they couldn’t believe the extent of the damage that her mum had caused.  On a positive note, at least the fact that they could see that it had been torn means that we can put to bed any residual fears about genetic causes for the hernia!

What’s Next?

Well, Tia, Lhasa and Tilly are finally back in season, so I’m thinking that we’ll give them one full call and then mate them on their next call, sometime next month.  We may be totally mad, but since the three of them live together, and do everything together, we’re going to try mating the three at around the same time, and see if they’ll raise their kittens together.  That would mean that we’d be having three litters in late spring/early summer.  We’re going to try putting both Lhasa and Tia to Eiteag, since he is meant to be neutered after that, and I’d like to see what both girls produce with him, and Tilly to Donny.  The latter mating, and Tia’s have the potential to give us a mixture of Tiffanies and Asian Shorthairs, but Lhasa’s litter would be guaranteed to be all Tiffs, which would be nice.

We’ve got a few shows lined up over the next three months, and are hoping to be able to get Small made up to Champion and Cheeky to Premier.  After that, we’ve got nobody ‘needing’ to be titled, so I think we might take a break from showing and let our depleted cash reserves re-build!  Who knows, though…

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