Summer 2015 Update

Wow; I have to be the worst blogger on the planet! My last update was in August last year – 10 1/2 months without an update surely has to be some kind of record?

Kitten Update:

I’ll start with the bit that most of you are probably interested in… when I last posted we had three litters in the house: Tilly’s, Tia’s and Lhasa’s, making sixteen kittens in total:

Tilly's four kittens in a row on the edge of the bed
Tilly’s four – Isla, Mischka, Horatio and Imp

Tilly’s Kitten 1 (Cagaran Impich / Imp) was an early favourite online because of his distinctive ‘cap’ of dark brown against the silver of the rest of his head. In spite of that, the right home took until between Christmas and New Year to come along, when he was over 7 months old. He went to live with the owner of Mia, one of the girls from our third Ocicat litter.

Imp - Tilly's chocolate silver shaded son
Imp on the windowledge

Tilly’s Kitten 2 (Cagaran Ìla / Isla) went over to live with Maura Lenihan (Coomakista) in Ireland, where they were desperately in need of new Asian bloodlines. She had her first litter last month: seven kittens in a range of colours and coat lengths!

Isla - Tilly's black smoke Tiffanie daughter
Isla on Richard’s legs

Tilly’s Kitten 3 (Cagaran Ifrinnach / Mischka) went to her new home in Paisley, as planned, and is still the little devil she was when she was here. At least her owners can’t say they weren’t warned.

Tilly’s Kitten 4 (Cagaran Iùmh-rud / Mini-Doop now Horatio) won the hearts of our vet and vet nurse and went up to live on their small-holding near Bathgate. He’s even more of a lump than he was back then, now being at least as big as his Dad but still oh so very like him in temperament (and facially).

Tia’s Kitten 1 (Cagaran Jonick / Nicki) now lives with the Lucky Owl cattery in northern Italy. We had a bit of a mammoth journey to get her down there, but spent a lovely couple of days sightseeing in southern Switzerland and northern Italy with her owners before visiting friends in Holland on the way home. We actually drove to Brussels via the Dover-Calais ferry, left the car in Brussels and flew down to Milan; our first experience of having a cat in the cabin!

Tia’s Kitten 2 (Cagaran Julie-Jo / Julie) stayed here with us and made Champion at the end of May. She is really cuddly but also a comedienne and often behaves like a cartoon. In fact, one of her nicknames is Simon’s Cat, because she’s so like the little cartoon.

Tia’s Kitten 3 (Cagaran Jimmy / Jimmy now Oleg) went to live with Sarah Davidson (Karakoram) as a stud boy, as planned. She’s going to do a few matings this year taking advantage of his spots to hopefully get some spotted kittens, and then he will probably be neutered.

Tia’s Kitten 4 (Cagaran Jinking-Jillet / Jill now Duchess) turned out to be a ticked tabby rather than a shaded and went to live with a lovely couple in Daventry who will hopefully be having a litter from her this year. They have bred British Shorthairs and have a Tiffanie neuter, so her kittens will be their first Asians, though not their first kittens.

Tia’s Kitten 7 (Cagaran Jimp-n-Joco / Jock) went to live with Mischka and her owners. Unfortunately, he contracted an infection a couple of months ago, and after fighting it for a few weeks, eventually had to be put to sleep. His owners are absolutely devastated and Mischka spent the first couple of weeks pining for him. This is particularly rough given that Jock fought so hard for life in the first place, being the only one of Tia’s three ‘tinies’ to survive. Perhaps his system never had developed fully, leaving him susceptible to infection; we’ll never know.

Lhasa’s Kitten 1 (Cagaran Kittling-o-Hinnie / Honey) accompanied Isla to Ireland, though she lives with a different breeder (Geralyn Bowles). We also took Eiteag over to live with Ger for the time-being, again to help boost the Irish blood-lines.

Lhasa’s Kitten 2 (Cagaran Kelpie / Kelpie) and
Lhasa’s Kitten 6 (Cagaran Killiemahou / Killie) live together with a lovely family just outside Bristol. These two were close as kittens and are still very close now that they’re adults. We dropped them off on our way to Dover to take Nicki to Switzerland.

Lhasa’s Kitten 3 (Cagaran Karriwhitchit / Widget now Oliver) now lives in Leamington Spa with a lovely couple whose grandkids dote on him. We went back to visit in February and it was obvious that he has his ‘parents’ very firmly wrapped around his little paw.

Lhasa’s Kitten 4 (Cagaran Keekers) stayed here with us and will hopefully undertake his first ‘stud duties’ later this year. We decided to re-register him as a shaded because his pattern is so light that it’s barely visible. He made Champion at the end of May and then picked up a Grand last month, in his first attempt in the class.

Lhasa’s Kitten 5 (Cagaran Kievie) was booked to go and live with the people who eventually had Nicki from us but when she was weaning she ate something (perhaps some litter) that clogged her gut and took her from us. I have photos of her taken late one evening, where she’s flying around, playing happily, but she was very lethargic when we got up the next morning so we rushed her to the vet who operated but lost her while she was under anaesthetic. Of course it was sod’s law that she was the only kitten in the litter who was booked at that point, so not only did we have to deal with our own sadness at losing her, but also the sadness of the people who were meant to have been her owners.

Kievie on the bed
One of the photos of Kievie taken on the evening before she died

Lhasa’s Kitten 7 (Cagaran Kenspeckle / Finley) lives with the lovely young vet who was originally going to have B-B from us, right back in 2010. She’d had various changes of circumstances in the meantime, but was finally settled down and ready to have her kitten so she and her boyfriend came up to stay with us for a weekend (sleeping in the kitten room with 12 kittens!) and chose Finley, who now lives with a teenage Tiffanie neuter, a British shorthair, two moggies and two house-rabbits.

At the end of the summer we took Small down to Helen Marriott-Power, for a visit with her cream Burmese boy, Quin (I GR CH Mainman Quintessence). Small delivered us five cream shaded kittens in October; our first litter of all-the-same-colour Asians, which was a slightly weird experience! We’ve kept back Lura (Cagaran Lurach) to bring the Burmese outcross genes into our lines and the other kittens have gone to pet homes: two to different homes in the Glasgow area, one to Edinburgh and the last to live with Finley’s owner’s mum in Wales (she’d fallen in love with Finley but wanted a shorthair so Elysé put her in touch with us).

We held off putting anyone else in kitten until all of Tilly, Tia and Lhasa’s kittens had found homes, but once Imp left us in December, we mated Ayla to Donny.  Since she’s petite and only had two kittens last time, we were expecting the same again, but she actually gave us a litter of five.  Unfortunately the smallest of these was far too small and never breathed, even with half an hour of resuscitation attempts.

The others were two brown tortie silver shaded Tiffanie girls (one a harlequin-style tortie like Donny’s litter-sister, Quinn, and the other a more subtle tortie typical of our Dàrna-descendants), a brown silver ticked tabby Asian girl and an apricot silver shaded Burmilla boy.  Three of the kittens started out very small but soon caught up to, and surpassed, their larger sibling, and, like the two in her last litter, all four are a normal size for their age, in spite of their mother’s diminutive proportions.

Having had Horatio from us last year, our vet and vet nurse had decided that they wanted a second Asian and since these kittens were Horatio’s half-siblings (he was also out of Donny), they got first pick of this litter and chose one of the Tiffanie girls, who they’ve called Aurora.  The two shorthairs have gone to live together near Berwick; we dropped them off on Saturday and they were already racing around, completely uninterested in us, by the time we left.  The other Tiffanie girl is going to join Duchess in Daventry and will hopefully have kittens of her own in a year or so.

Kitten News

We put Tilly and Tia in with boys at the end of April and they are busily nesting at present.  Tilly is due kittens imminently: she’s at 65 days today and like last year, the father of the kittens is Donny.  We’re hoping for a female version of Horatio – a female, Tiffanie version of their father, in other words.

The father of Tia’s kittens is Zuko, our Australian-Mist outcross boy, so their kittens will be F2s and we’ll be hoping for a cinnamon-carrier with reasonable type to continue that line into the next generation.

Other News

Dàrna made Premier at the Teesside back in August, then followed that by making Grand Premier at the Nor’East of Scotland in May.  Meanwhile, Tia made up to Grand Champion at the Lancashire in March.  To our amazement, Lhasa’s daughter, Honey (who lives in Ireland) went Overall Best Foreign at the Cumberland show in October, and then Keeker and Julie did us proud at the Supreme, taking 2nd and 3rd place in the Special kitten classes, which had somewhere over 50 competitors.

Ali’s favourite person in the whole world has always been our friend, Carrie, who lived with us for a time back in 2006-8 and we’d promised years ago that when she finally got a house of her own, she could take Ali to live with her.  That happened last autumn, so he went to live with her in Falkirk, along with a rescue kitten from Rhodes.  Shortly after that, however, she was offered a post in Jersey, so with human and pet passports in order, the three moved to sunnier climes in March.

Since Bru seemed to have outgrown any issues caused by his single-lung status, we began looking out for a home for him last summer.  The right people came along in November: a local family with three boys, who had recently lost one of their two cats.  Since Bru was so close to his sister, Cheeky, we decided to let her go with him and the two have settled in extremely well down in Bo’ness.

The final, and surprise, re-home of the year was Small, who seemed to fall in love with a couple who came to see her kittens, and ended up asking for her instead.  However much we might love the cats, we try to leave decisions about their homing up to them, so we had her spayed at the same time as her kittens and, once she was recovered, drove her across to meet their other cats.  She now takes daily walks with them to look after their horses and seems at least as happy there as she was here.

Richard and I had agreed to be show managers for the West of Scotland show that was meant to be held in December of last year.  By the summer of last year, it was becoming obvious that we weren’t going to be able to get enough judges due to a clash with a big show down south, so the show was moved to the end of January, in a new venue up in Scotstoun.

However, we’d no sooner got that arranged than the Scottish Cat Club came to me saying that their show manager had resigned and asking if I’d manage their show in February.  I told them I couldn’t possibly manage the two largest shows in Scotland, only three weeks apart, in my first ‘outing’ as a show manager, so I suggested that they consider joining the West in a ‘back-to-back’ or double show, where the two clubs share the hall, judges, etc. so the management would only have to be done once.

After a few days consideration, they came back to say that they would like to do that, for this one year.  The Scotstoun venue had only just been big enough for the West by itself, so having the two clubs together required a renewed venue hunt, including going back to some of the venues who had previously turned us down and begging them to consider at least trying a cat show.  Luckily, the manager of the Ravenscraig sports centre in Motherwell took pity on me (after I agreed to personally mop the floor if it wasn’t left sufficiently clean) and agreed to host the show.  They didn’t have availability on our date so we had to move a week earlier to the 17th of January.

By that point it was November, leaving us with only two months to plan the first double show in Scotland; not necessarily the way that I had intended to undertake my first time as a show manager (all my previous shows I’d only been an assistant).  However, we managed; the judges rallied round to help us and we had some fabulous helpers on the day, and the show seemed to go down well.

It was successful enough that the Scottish decided to abandon their one-year-only policy and opted to do the same thing next year.  This time we’ll be back in December, but on a date where there isn’t another show, and I’ve got a full complement of judges booked already, thankfully.  We’re in the same venue again, since it proved very popular with exhibitors and judges alike, and we should be able to iron out the few niggles that didn’t quite work last time around.  Of course, we’ll no doubt do something else wrong instead…

Our friend Elisabeth Stark (Dushenka Russians) is now a full judge of Russians and a probationer of Asians (as well as Korats, of which she’s getting close to being ready to progress to full judge) and I was elected to the GCCF Board of Directors last month.

Our final, and arguably most important, piece of news is that Richard and I got engaged in November of last year and are planning our wedding for the 18th of April next year – the 15th anniversary of the day we started dating!  We’ve been living together 14 years this summer so it doesn’t change much beyond our official marital status, but at least it solves the question of what to refer to him as – he can now be my fiancé instead of my ‘partner’!

Good News Catch-Up

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

Looking down on the World of Cats area
Looking down on the World of Cats area

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.

Our cats took up five double pens, so we had the whole of one side of an aisle, and two-thirds of the other
Our cats took up five double pens, so we had the whole of one side of an aisle, and two-thirds of the other

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.

Kenga sitting in her pen, pretending to be an Abyssinian
Kenga pretending to be 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.

The three Russians in their pen
The three Russians in their pen

Jingle Belle out on the table
Jingle Belle out on the table

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 aisle in front of the Ocicat table
Busy aisle in front of the Ocicat table

Bru and Cheeky in their basket
Bru and Cheeky in their basket

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.

Beautiful Tia playing with a toy
Beautiful Tia playing with a toy

The boys enjoying their lunch
The boys enjoying their lunch

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.

Anita and I manning one of the Asian stands, with Tia and Ayla both out on the table
Anita and I manning one of the Asian stands, with Tia and Ayla both out on the table – it is Tia’s tail you can see; Ayla is in the fleecy basket

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).

Bru looking sleepy in the early afternoon
Bru looking sleepy

Bru examining his PC
Examining his Premier Certificate

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!

Eiteag with his Reserve Grand certificate
Eiteag sitting at the front of his pen, with his Reserve Grand certificate

Donny looking ridiculous
Donny rolling around, looking ridiculous, in front of his rosettes

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.

Donny posing beautifully with his rosettes, certificates and Best of Variety card
Donny posing beautifully with his rosettes, two Imperial certificates and the card for Best of Variety Adult

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 deer picking her way across the shore
The deer picking her way across the shore

Looking back towards Arran on the sail home
Looking back towards Arran on the sail home

Lakeland Show

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.

A sleepy Annas showing off her perfect coat
A sleepy Annas showing off her perfect coat

The exhibition pen
The exhibition pen with display boards on the top

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!

Tilly and Sonia in their pen
Tilly (left) and Sonia in their pen

Two peering faces
Two peering faces

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!

Dàrna’s Kitten

The kitten at 13 days
In her bed, at 13 days old

The kitten with her mum at 13 days
With her mum, at 13 days old

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!

The kitten with her mum and granny at 22 days
With mum and granny Fiona, at 22 days

With mum and gran at day 35
Cuddled up on the bed with mum and granny Fiona, at 35 days

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 kitten and her mum at day 25
Cuddled with mum, at 25 days old

The kitten curled up almost asleep aged 54 days
Curled up, at 54 days

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.

With mum at 41 days
Looking alert beside her sleepy mum, at 41 days

Ocicat Kittens

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 tawny boy
The tawny boy – they call him ‘Roo’

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.

Harry and Hamish the day after leaving
Harry and Hamish the day after leaving

Harry and Hamish a few days later
The same location a few days later

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 tawny girl at 15 weeks
The tawny girl at 15 weeks

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.

The other two girls the day they were spayed
The other two girls the day they were spayed

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.

Becca (left) and Carrie, at just under a year old
Becca (left) and Carrie, at just under a year old

And cuddled up together
Cuddled up together – Becca is facing the camera

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.

Keela sitting in a ridiculous position in her bed
Keela sitting in a ridiculous position in her bed

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!

Kitten Update

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

Katie with Fi's kittens
Katie with Fi's kittens at just over 3 weeks

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 1 showing off her chocolate paw pad
Kitten 1 showing off her chocolate paw pads

Kitten 1's beautiful profile
Beautiful profile

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 3 stunning profile
Kitten 3's gorgeous profile

Cute little face
Cute, surprised little face

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!

Side shot of Kitten 2's head
Profile shot of Kitten 2

A bad attempt at showing kitten 2's spots
A bad attempt at showing her spots

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.

Kitten 4 yawning
Kitten 4 yawning

Kitten 4's cute little face
Kitten 4's cute little face

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.

Kitten 3 eating his first biscuits whilst his siblings play

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.

Katie’s Kittens

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.

Katie cuddled up with Fi's kittens

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.

Katie looking after Fi's boys
Katie looking after Fi's boys

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.

Durham Show

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!

Donny with his prizes
Donny with his awards

Quinn looking beautiful in her pen
Quinn looking beautiful in her pen

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.

Quinn looking ridiculously grumpy
I couldn't resist putting in this one of Quinn, because she looks so hilariously moody, but was in fact purring at the time!

Other Bits

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’!

Katie and Fi with the kittens
Fi, Katie and the kittens cuddled up together while Anita and I talked!

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!

Catching Up

The first update for several months – lots of shows, GCCF centenary dinner and discussion forums, London Pet Show, the Ocicat seminar and several AGMs. Also an update on our breeding plans – Katie and Kia are both pregnant, and Dàrna will be going to stud soon.

Finally, a new update! Apologies to those who have emailed to ask if everything is okay. Whenever I came on to write an update, I found myself just looking at the photos of B-B, and never getting any further. However, I think it’s time to try and move on, so I’ll try to bring this up to date with our news. I’ll break it down into sections, though, so that you can read as little or as much as you want!

Ghost

You may remember Ghost – he was the third of Dàrna’s kittens, and the biggest in the litter. He found a home with a lovely family down in Barrow-in-Furness, who collected him between Christmas and New Year. They breed Chihuahuas, but wanted a cat for their youngest child, Jack. Unfortunately, Jack turned out to have a severe cat allergy (so severe that he was stopping breathing during the night!), and we have therefore taken him back. The improvement in Jack’s symptoms has been almost instantaneous, so there is certainly no chance of him going back home.

Ghost looking forlorn
Ghost looking forlorn on his first night back here

We are therefore looking for a new home for him. He is currently eight months old, and sometimes behaves very much like a kitten, but is generally just that bit quieter and less boisterous. His family obviously took great care of him, because he is very loving – his favourite place is wrapped around your neck like a scarf! Obviously, he is used to dogs (all-be-it small ones), but has lived as an only cat for several months, so is a bit unsure of other cats. We are currently in the process of re-introducing him to ours, though, so hopefully he’ll get over that soon enough.

Ghost looking cute in his basket
Ghost in the basket on the scratching post

We will be looking after him until a new home is found, but he is still owned by Jane and her family. Prospective owners are more than welcome to visit him here, but any money would be going to Jane, who is hoping for £250 for him. He is fully vaccinated through to next Christmas and is up-to-date with flea and worming treatments.

Ghost showing off his beautiful plumey tail
Ghost showing his beautiful tail

You can see Jane’s comments on what he is like to live with, on the new ‘re-homing’ page on our website. This page was created purely to help find this beautiful big kitten his perfect new home, so please feel free to send the link to anyone whom you think might be interested in him.

Ghost curled up asleep
Cute Ghost looking very kittenish whilst asleep

The First ‘Cagaran Certificate’ – Lainni’s First PC

Our first litter are now officially adult, having turned 9 months in late March. The Nor’East of Scotland show was held on the 14th of this month, and Lona brought Lainni down to that. She looked lovely on the day, and won her BOB and also the Premier Certificate – the first certificate for the Cagaran prefix (hopefully the first of many)!

Lainni in her pen at Dundee
Lainni in her pen at the Nor'East

I was working on the table at the show, so didn’t get a chance to handle Lainni, but I stopped to say hello whenever I passed her pen, and every time she fell over sideways trying to rub herself against my hand through the bars – what a sweetie. Lona is obviously making a great job of raising her!

London Pet Show

The first London Pet Show was held at Olympia on the 7th and 8th of May. It was the first event of its kind in London, and I hope that it becomes an annual event. The show was split into five ‘zones’ for different types of animal – dogs, cats, exotics, small furries and aquatics. As part of the cat section, the GCCF had been offered a space in which to showcase our many breeds and what the GCCF does.

London Pet Show World of Cats Area
The World of Cats area near the end of the day

Richard and I attended on the Saturday, taking Fiona to represent the Asians, and Kia to represent the Ocicats. We were lucky enough to be joined by a second representative in each case – a Bombay alongside Fiona, and a lovely Ocicat (spotted) with Kia. As well as the owners of those cats, Anita came with us to help man both stands.

The Ocicat and Asian stands from above
'Our' stands from above - the Ocicat is facing the camera, and the Asian is facing away from the camera, behind and to the right of the Ocicat stand. Fi is the little creamy patch in the right-hand pen!

The day was a huge success, with thousands of people coming around and asking all sorts of questions about our breeds. Fiona looked adorable playing with a feather stick in her pen, and talking to people walking past, but it was Kia who was really in her element, thoroughly enjoying performing for the public. We had her out on her harness, dancing around after a feather stick, and drawing a huge crowd watching and taking photos.

She was so relaxed out that she ended up going over to have a shot at the agility, which she definitely enjoyed, though she was more keen on running through the tunnels than tackling the other obstacles – she kept running around the jumps and stairs on one side to go through the tunnel at one end, and then running around the other side to go through the tunnel at the other end!

Kia going through a hoop on the agility course
Kia being shown how to 'do the hoop' on the agility course

I would highly recommend this show if they do it again in the future, and would undoubtedly attend again, even if it does mean a crazy drive to London with cats in tow! I was really disappointed to see that the Abyssinians were not represented at all – the breeders missed a real opportunity to introduce the breed to the public. I would have hated our Tiffanies or Ocicats to be in the same position – the show was just the most fantastic chance to show off our beautiful breeds, and answer the public’s questions on them, and I couldn’t be more pleased that we did it.

Ocicat Seminar

The Ocicat Seminar was held near Banbury on the 15th of May. This was a fantastic opportunity for breeders and judges alike, to gain an understanding of what the Ocicat breed should look like. There were lots of beautiful examples of the breed on show, from a tiny kitten right up to an Imperial-titled adult. The theme/focus of the seminar was the ‘wild look’ that the Ocicat should have, with the day aiming to give an understanding of the Ocicat in general, but in particular how the proper wild look is achieved.

The presentations started with an Ocicat Ivory, which is a pointed Ocicat – these occur occasionally in Ocicat litters, as a result of the recessive pointed gene coming through from their Siamese ancestors. These beautiful cats have most of their pigment restricted to their heads, tails and legs, like the Siamese, but they also usually show tabby ‘ghost markings’ on their sides. In this case, the Ivory was being used to demonstrate how it is not only the spots of the Ocicat that give it the wild look, but also the ‘type’ (the body structure).

Rosemary with the Ocicat Ivory
Rosemary with the Ocicat Ivory

Rosemary Caunter (Thickthorn Ocicats) was the presenter, and she started by joking that this was one she had washed the spots off to allow us to see the type without the distraction of the pattern. Using an Ivory was a great way to show that an Ocicat has a specific body type, and should therefore still look like an Ocicat, even if it doesn’t have the Ocicat pattern.  Rosemary then brought out her Imperial-titled girl, Thickthorn Lotus Blossom. Lotus is a beautiful chocolate (spotted) Ocicat, and showed perfectly what an Ocicat should look like once you put the spots back on!

Lotus demonstrating the proper Ocicat 'look'
Lotus demonstrating the proper Ocicat 'look' and beautiful pattern

Rosemary demonstrating the correct Ocicat head type with Lotus
Lotus being used as a model to demonstrate correct Ocicat head type

Rosemary was followed by Stacie Shorten (Ameeka Abyssinians & Ocicats), who is Kia’s breeder. She was talking about the Ocicat Classic, and how its pattern differs from the Ocicat, but the type remains the same. She used two of her Ocicat Classics as demonstrators – Kia’s mum, Jazzy (Thickthorn Calypso), and Kia’s ¾ brother, Dragon (Ameeka Dragonfire).

Ameeka Dragonfire modelling the Ocicat Classic pattern
Dragon modelling not only the Ocicat Classic pattern, but also that nosey temperament

Stacie Shorten and Ameeka Dragonfire
Stacie demonstrating one of the other major purposes of attending a breed seminar - having a laugh with friends!

Aside from the presentations, we also had a delicious lunch and a good chance to catch up with or meet lots of the other people involved with the Ocicat breed. Breed seminars really are a great place for both gaining a greater understanding of a breed, catching up with existing cat fancy friends and making new ones.

Other ‘Cat Activities’

We have attended quite a number of shows since the Scottish, all the way back in February, with varying success as always.

The Scottish was followed a fortnight later, by the Coventry and Leicester, which is down in Warwickshire. We had taken Dàrna and Xaria, the latter having been entered in this show before she won her fifth and final Imperial at the Scottish. Dàrna won her second Reserve Grand, and Xaria didn’t pick up anything at all, but she’s already an Imperial, so that really didn’t matter. I had an enjoyable morning stewarding for Marlene Buckeridge, though I had to leave her in the afternoon to attend the AGM for the AGCS. Thankfully we had finished most of our classes by then, and I’m grateful that she allowed me to go.

The week after the Coventry and Leicester, we were back down in the Midlands for the Ocicat Club’s AGM, which is always an enjoyable event. It starts with a delicious meal and lots of chat and hilarity, before moving on to the official business. The next week we were south again, though not quite as far, for the Lancashire, which is in Wigan, where Dàrna won yet another Reserve Grand and Best of Breed.

We had also taken Breckin – her first time out as a neuter, and she won the Premier Certificate and Best of Breed. Anita was also there with Keela in what was her first show, since we didn’t manage to get her into the AGCS. Keela looked utterly adorable, and was cuddling up to the judges. She also won her 1st Open and Best of Breed.

At the Lancs show, I was chatting to our friend, Olive Holt (Nemorez Asians and Burmese), and found out that her partner, Ian, was ill.  Olive was supposed to be getting two new stud boys from Sarah Davidson (Karakoram Burmese and Asians) in Fife, but since Ian normally does the driving for Olive, and Sarah doesn’t drive, transport for the boys was proving an issue. Sarah only lives about 40 minutes from us, and I was due to be down in Liverpool for a meeting on Tuesday morning.

Since I have had an open invitation to stay at Olive’s virtually since we first met a couple of years ago, I suggested that if I could stay with Olive on the Monday evening, I could bring the boys down then, and drive on from her in the morning. This idea was gratefully received, so we collected the boys on Sunday evening, had them stay overnight in our back bedroom (which isn’t accessible to our own cats), and then I dropped them off with Olive on the Monday.

Ziggy looking pensive
One of the boys, Ziggy, looking pensively at the camera

A fortnight later we had a further reduction in show travelling distance, with a trip to Preston for the Preston and Blackpool. Dàrna didn’t win anything that day, because the awards went to the lovely Freya (GR CH Inyanga Instant Karma), owned by our friend Sue Dykes (Kashi Tibetan Terriers and Kashican Cats).

Fiona, on the other hand, had another exceptional day, winning her 1st Open and Best of Breed, but then going on to take Best Foreign Kitten and then Overall Best Foreign. Joyce Green then shortlisted her down to the last three for Overall Best in Show, finally giving it to the most beautiful and enormous British Black, but in the meantime the stewards had to stand there holding little Fi in the middle, with the British Black on one side and a stunning Seal Point Siamese on the other!

We then had a three week gap before the marathon journey to Devon for the Asian Cat Association show. Once again, Dàrna didn’t come away with anything, but we had rather expected that due to the quality of the other cats and the fact that she was in full season and therefore out of condition.

Unfortunately, Fi was also coming into season for the first time, and decided to shout very loudly whenever she was taken out of her pen. We decided to withdraw her from judging in case her shouting upset the other cats. This was obviously incredibly disappointing in light of the distances travelled, but that’s part of the risk of showing – the cats don’t always do what we want them to! We finished the day with a mad dash back up the road, in order to be home in time to attend the West of Scotland AGM on the Sunday.

Another one-week gap, and we were down to help Shirley show Monty for the first time, at the joint show of the Bedford and District and Cambridgeshire Cat Clubs. This is one of the shows held at the Woodgreen Animal Shelter near Huntingdon, which has to be one of the best show venues, always a pleasure to attend. Monty took his Best of Breed and also another Reserve Grand, which was great, but even better was seeing Shirley and Kili experiencing showing for the first time. Kili was absolutely ecstatic with Monty’s wins, and stood by his pen telling anyone who would listen that he was her cat, with the sort of obvious pride that only a child can display.

The show also turned out to be the venue for one of the GCCF’s ‘consultation forums’ on the proposed changes to the show structure and judging scheme. This was a good opportunity to hear more about the executive committee’s plans for the structure of the show sections (Semi-Longhair, Foreign etc.) and also the alterations that will hopefully be made to the way in which judges are trained.

It was good to see a decent number of people getting involved, and lots of valid questions were asked and answered. These events are being held in various locations around the country, to give the exhibitors from each area a chance to comment – we attended another at the Durham show a week past on Saturday, and a third at the Merseyside on the weekend just gone. If you are involved in the GCCF at all, I recommend attending one – I know that the Scottish one is to be at the Edinburgh show in July, if that’s relevant to you.

The weekend after the Beds and Camcat we didn’t have much travelling to do, and no shows – just the Scottish AGM on the Sunday (1st May). The week after that, however, was the London Pet show, and the one after that the Nor’East and the Ocicat seminar, all of which I have talked about above. That brings us up to two weekends ago (the weekend of the GCCF Centenary Dinner), and the weekend before last (the Durham show), both of which I have talked about below!

GCCF Centenary Dinner

This fantastic event was held at the Belfry hotel near Birmingham on the evening of the 21st May, which was the night of the Suffolk and Norfolk (and Bombay and Asian Self) show at Wood Green. We took Elisabeth down, and had arranged to meet Valerie Sheldrake at Wood Green to collect some more old catalogues, but decided to visit Shirley, Kili and Monty on the way there.

Monty has been living with Shirley since the weekend of the AGCS show in January, because she wanted Kili to experience owning a pet. She and Kili have become really attached to him, and have asked to keep him, which we weren’t sure about until we saw him there. This was the first time we had visited Shirley since we dropped Monty off in January, and it was lovely to see him looking so settled. The bond between him and Kili is obvious – he watches her every move, and even when he went through to the kitchen for some food, he kept dashing back to the livingroom door to check on her!

It is only having seen him so relaxed there, that I realised just how unsuited he actually was to living with us, where he was always slightly twitchy and wide-eyed because he’s not keen on other cats or men, both of which he had to live with here! Shirley’s is actually his dream-home – no men or other cats, so he can be centre of attention, and a little girl who is evidently his world. He was perfectly happy to see us, but his heart is now very obviously with Shirley and Kili, so it doesn’t seem fair to bring him back. At least he’s happy, which is the most important thing!

Durham County Show

Last Saturday’s Durham show was a spectacular success, when I had worried that it would be a complete flop! We took Fiona and Dàrna, as usual, but also Xaria, to ensure that she ‘keeps her paws in’ at shows ready to try for her second UK Grand certificate at the Supreme in November. We gave a lift to Elisabeth, who was taking two neutered boys bred by her, but owned by Karen Hettman – they are Xaria’s great-uncle Stan, and great-nephew Zach.

I was worried that Fi would shout again, which she did, but not nearly as badly as last time, and by the end of the day she had almost stopped completely, so it looks like it has been a hormonal adolescent ‘thing’. She won her 1st Open, BOB and also two 2nds and a 3rd in her side classes.

We didn’t expect Dàrna to win anything, because she is still looking a bit thin and lacking condition due to calling (we’ll need to take her to stud soon), but she gave us a pleasant surprise by winning the Grand and also her Best of Breed, as well as a 1st, 2nd and 3rd in her side classes.

Dàrna admiring her rosettes
Dàrna admiring her Best of Breed rosette - or giving it a good sniff, anyway!

Dàrna kissing up to the camera
Dàrna being adorable and trying to kiss the camera

Zach won his third and qualifying Premier certificate, making him the 15th titled cat Elisabeth has bred, and took two 1sts and a 3rd in his sides. Stan had an excellent day, winning the Imperial (his 2nd) and Grand Premier certificates, and 1st in all of his side classes – a ‘red card day’.

The star of the show for us, though, was Xaria, who won another Imperial certificate and Best of Breed, plus two 1sts in her side classes, then going on to take Best Foreign Neuter, and finally Overall Best Foreign. That’s the third time she’s been Best Foreign, and the 5th time she’s won the level below that. If that’s ‘keeping her paws in’ for the Supreme, she must be planning something big!

BIS judge admiring Xaria's coat
BIS judge, Val Kilby, admiring Xaria's coat

Xaria being judged for BIS
Checking Xaria's profile - doesn't she look adorable?!

Breeding Plans

I can hardly believe we’re back round to that time of year again – it seems no time at all since I was posting that Katie and Dàrna were with their first boyfriends. Looking back, I wrote that blog entry on the 11th of April last year – how time flies!

This year we took Katie across to Sarah Davidson’s, which wasn’t nearly as much of a wrench as last year, since it’s only about 40 minutes away. When we had collected Olive’s boys from Sarah in March, we met Sarah’s other cats, including her lovely spotted tabby Asian boy, Kagura Shogun (the cat in the middle image on the bottom row of photos on her Asian Page). He is a chocolate spotted tabby burmese pattern, with beautiful big eyes and really good size and weight, and carries non-agouti, dilute and the longhair gene.

Since Katie is a black silver shaded carrying non-silver and non-agouti, but probably not burmese pattern, chocolate, or dilute, we should have the same possible colour outcomes as last year – black silver shaded, black silver ticked, black smoke, black (golden/standard) shaded, black ticked and black. This year, the difference is that we should get a mixture of both shorthairs (Asians) and longhairs (Tiffanies), which will be a first for us, since last year’s matings were both Tiffanie to Tiffanie and could therefore only produce Tiffanies. Katie could of course turn out to be carrying other genes and then the kitten colours would be a complete surprise!

She has been very purry and cuddly for the past couple of weeks, and is now expanding by the day, so she is definitely pregnant.  Her kittens will be due around the end of the first week in July – how exciting!

It is now almost 9 months since Kia had her miscarriage, and she has been in season almost continuously for several months, so was really needing to visit a boy. She therefore went in with a rather special boy just over three weeks ago, and does look like she is pregnant. She is also eating slightly more, and hasn’t come back into season either, so we’re keeping our fingers crossed. Since she miscarried last time, and the boy is rather special, I’m not going to say too much else about him until the kittens are safely here.

Dàrna has also been calling almost continuously, and is losing condition, so we can’t hold off mating her for too much longer. I am therefore planning to take her to stud later in the month, and we’ll just have to hope that none of the litters are too big, or we’re going to be overrun with kittens and struggling to find homes for them all!  She will also be going to a very special boy, whom we met for the first time at the weekend just gone – he is absolutely gorgeous, and I can’t wait to see what they produce together.

Keep your fingers and toes crossed for some lovely babies, and some even lovelier homes for them!!

Durham County Cat Show

The Cagaran cats had a very good day at the Durham, winning two Premier certificates, one Grand, one Reserve Imperial, one Imperial and four Best of Breeds!

We were at the Durham County Cat Club show on Saturday, and had a FANTASTIC day!  The most critical result being that Annas won her fifth Imperial certificate, making her the first ever Imperial-titled Tiffanie!!  We took Annas, Xaria (competing against each other for the Imperial!), Coimhlion and Monty.

Annas with her 5th Imperial
Annas making up to Imperial

We had to be up at 03:30 in order to get down there in time.  A good run as far as Berwick meant that we had time to stop there for breakfast (at MacDonalds, hardly the healthiest start!).  We had a good onward run from there, too, and arrived at the Nissan Sports & Social Club in Sunderland just a bit after 07:30.  We had taken a flask of hot water with us, so we were able to have a cup of herbal tea (no need for milk!) before taking the cats through vetting in.

Once the cats were penned and settled, and we had been ‘thrown out’ of the show hall for judging, we adjourned to the RACCS mobile (Lenny Pontello’s Alhambra) to watch a Top Gear DVD.  I was feeling decidedly restless (the prospect of an Imperial title will do that to you!), and had checked the results board at least twice before any of our results actually went up.

Elisabeth had come in with me, and she checked the result for her stud boy, Teddy, whilst I checked for the Imperial result.  The Imp wasn’t up yet, but Teddy had won his Grand, in spite of being fairly badly tarnished, so Elisabeth was thrilled.  When I checked Coimhlion’s Grand result, we both fell about laughing, because she had actually been awarded the Grand, which I didn’t for a moment expect.  Coimhlion was only entered because she absolutely loves going to shows.  She had also taken the Best of Breed against a rather nice boy!

Coimhlion at the Durham Show
Coimhlion peering out from her Show Pen

It was another couple of hours before the Imperial result went up, and when it did, I struggled not to cry – not only had Annas taken the Imperial, but Xaria had taken the Reserve, which was the best possible result we could have hoped for.  Monty had also had a good day, winning his third Premier certificate, making him up to Premier.  To top that off, Xaria had completed her day by winning another Premier certificate, and all three had won their Best of Breeds.

Xaria at the Durham Show
Xaria with her prizes at the Durham
Monty at the Durham show
Monty looking for cuddles
Annas asleep at the Durham show
Annas sleeping behind her rosettes

After Xaria’s other Reserves, she has been grumpy for a few days, but this time she obviously knows she did a good job in ‘letting’ Annas have the Imperial, because she’s in a great mood today!