Our Previous Neuters
We have had various neuters in the past, all of whom we are proud to have owned, and sorry to have had to say goodbye. In order of age, they are:
Since Tiger was our first cat and the one who started all of this, clicking on his name will take you to a separate page detailing his story. For the others, clicking on their names will jump to their individual introductions further down this page.
Jinny is an old Scots word for 'White Wave' - so named because she had flowing white fur on her chest and tummy.
Also known as 'Flufty', 'Flufty-bird', 'Fluff-monster' and 'Jinny-fur'
We adopted Jinny from a rescue shelter in January of 2005, when the vet estimated her to be about four from the appearance of her teeth. Since she still had excellent teeth by the time we'd had her for eleven years, however, we now know that this estimate was probably very conservative. Her previous owner had suffered from Alzheimer's and Jinny had been abused, although we don't think her owner did so deliberately. When Jinny's owner was forcibly taken into a home, Jinny was taken to the sanctuary for re-homing. When we got her at first, she was terrified and would literally do the toilet where she was standing if you walked into a room too fast. She was a longhair and therefore required grooming but I used to have to groom her on a towel because she would wet herself.
Over subsequent years she came a long way, particularly once we started showing her. At her first show she took Best Non-Pedigree and this seemed to give her a huge confidence boost. After taking her second 'Best in Show' award, she started coming along to sit with us in the Living room every evening, in spite of never having sat with us before then. She was an absolutely stunning cat with a very sweet personality - she loved cuddles on the bed at night, before we went to sleep. She finally died of old age on the 26th of May 2016, but was the matriarch of the house right up until she died, and the other cats did what she said but also used to rub themselves against her and lick her face - probably trying to get into her good books, but very cute all the same!
Jinny was a Grand Mastercat, making her officially 'GMC Jinny'. She also had two Imperial Grand Mastercat certificates, and was Best Non-Pedigree five times and overall Best Household Pet three times.
Call (PR Elmcoon Basil, 64 20 - Maine Coon, Brown Tabby)
Call is Gaelic for 'Mischief', pronounced as the first half of the name 'Callum'
Also known as 'Call-Cat', 'Cat' and 'the Mo-bug' ('mo' is one of the noises he makes)
Call's Pedigree (opens a new window)
Call was our first pedigree cat, purchased shortly after my beloved Tiger had been put to sleep. He came from Helen and Brenda (Elmcoon Maine Coons) in South Yorkshire. He is a big boy at around 7kg, and he tends to be a bit skinny at that - if he would actually eat properly, instead of getting distracted and wandering off half way through, then he would probably be a bit over 7kg. Call was our 'boss cat', mainly by virtue of his size, and the others all looked to him for permission to do things. He is a loveable dope - a big, gentle boy who's very good at learning things but has no common sense. For example, if he wants to open a door, instead of pushing it with his head like a 'normal' cat, he tries to use the door handle, because that's what we do! He's not keen on strangers, but is very loving when you're one of his friends, and always liked to sleep on the edge of the bed, using the pillow just like a person would.
When we went looking for a Maine Coon, it was because of the descriptions I had read of their temperaments - we were looking for something to fill the hole left by Tiger. We knew nothing about showing, and weren't interested either, so we gave no consideration to show merit, going purely for the kitten we fell in love with. When we bought Call, his breeders told us that he isn't 'show quality' - his muzzle is too narrow, his ears aren't upright enough and his tail is slightly too short. When we did start showing, however, we decided to have a go with all our cats, including Call, and in spite of his type failings, he has such a fantastic temperament that some of the judges like him anyway. He actually won a certificate at his first show, from George Gow, but we had filled the entry form in wrongly and he was disqualified after the show, meaning that the certificate couldn't count towards a title. He doesn't travel well, so we couldn't take him any distance, but we did continue to show him occasionally at local shows. He won his first legitimate PC at the Caley Longhair show in 2009 (from Sheila Hamilton), and his second at the West of Scotland in 2010 (from Malcolm Brace). He then missed out repeatedly, and when he went to live with my brother, Calum, in 2013, we thought he was going to remain the only one of the cats we have shown, who hasn't won a title. However, the Bombay & Asian show clashed with the Edinburgh that year, and since we like to support both our breed shows and the Scottish clubs, we took our own cats to the Bombay & Asian, and 'borrowed' Call back to take to Edinburgh. To my immense delight, he picked up not only the PC, but also the 'Best Maine Coon Neuter' trophy!
When we had tried to put the cats back together after the Tritrich treatment, we discovered that Call had started spraying if he was kept around entire females, although he didn't do so when only kept with neuters. As a result, we continued to keep our neuters and entire girls apart for a couple of years after we completed the treatment, which was a real pain, but we couldn't bear to think about parting with Call. Then my brother, Calum, bought his first house and asked if I would consider allowing Call to go and live with him, because he wanted to get a cat but had always loved Call (we'd had Call since Calum was 14). Since Calum only lives 10 minutes from us, that was an ideal scenario, and we agreed to let him go. We still miss having him around the place, but at least we can go and visit regularly, and the other cats can start to get used to living as a group again.
Ali is short for 'Droch Ailig', which is Gaelic for 'Rascal'
Also known as 'Ali-cat' and 'Big Al'
Ali came from the same rescue shelter as Jinny, but was brought there with his feral mother, her pregnant sister and his brothers, at only a couple of days old. Between reserving Call and actually going to collect him, I had fallen in love with Ali whilst volunteering at the shelter. He was an absolute wee monkey and a total escape artist. He tried everything to get out of his kitten room - he used to attach himself to staff members' belts and try and ride out dangling from their back, or climb up into the food trolley and try and ride out on that. As soon as he was old enough to jump onto the window ledge he used to stand there with his paws up against the glass.
Ali considered Call to be his big brother and Jinny to be his mother, and the three of them were always quite close. Ali was definitely the most independent of all our cats, though - he would come up for you to stroke him and roll around for his tummy to be stroked, but didn't like cuddles, and affection had to be on his terms. The only real exception to this was with my oldest friend, Carrie, whom Ali adored from the first moment he met her, and would let her do absolutely anything with him. Since he obviously loved her so much, we'd been saying since he was a juvenile that when Carrie got her own place he could go to live with her, but it didn't work out that way because she had a very mobile job and also lived in some rental places that didn't allow pets. At long last, she got a fixed-location job and a pets-allowed flat in late 2014, however, so after a wait of almost ten years he has finally gone to live with his one true love!
The only other place he seemed to make an exception to attention being on his terms was at shows, which he loved and seemed to relish the attention. He won his three Master Cat certificates, making him officially 'MC Droch Ailig', and two of his three Grand Master Cat certificates. He also took one Best in Show, and was placed between 2nd and 4th in the Royal Canin Non-Pedigree Stakes Scottish final every one of the last four years that it was run.
Tármus (PR Ballego Foreverinblugenes, 73a - Ocicat, Blue (spotted tabby))
Tármus is Gaelic for 'dislike of food' - so named because when we got her she was called Minimus, but was really rather fat, so that name seemed silly. We wanted to change it but without causing her too much confusion, so we looked for something that sounded similar and found Tármus, which we felt had quite a nice irony to it! Tármus is pronounced 'Tar-mus'.
Tármus came to us as a retired breeding queen, having had a litter of kittens for a friend of ours. We got her only a short while after we got the Devons, and she instantly adopted Coimhlion as her 'baby'. Coimhlion wouldn't do anything for herself and used to stand and cry for Tßrmus instead - Tßrmus even used to clean her! Tßrmus was a typical Oci - busy and into everything you're doing, but not particularly into being cuddled. She would come and snuggle up next to us on the couch, but was never keen on being picked up. She loved going into the garden so that she could sit under 'her' tree, which was where she spent most of her time during the summer. When I came in for meals, I would go to the catflap and shout for her, and she would come bounding across the garden and rush into the house, shouting to make sure I didn't forget that she needed fed too.
Like Call, Tßrmus wasn't a particularly good example of her breed - one of my friends thought she looked more like a Russian Tabby (the tabby version of the Russian Blue: not accepted in this country at present)! Her 'wedge' was too short, her ears sat far too high and were too small, and her spots were often barely visible because there wasn't good enough contrast between the marking colour and the ground colour. Again like Call, however, she had a fantastic show temperament and the judges liked her for that reason. She won her three Premier Certificates in 2009, from Mary Kalal, Helen Marriott-Power and Hans-Jo Appold, making her up to Premier.
When Xaria first arrived in the house, Tßrmus was the only one of our cats that Xaria would accept as a cat (because she is blue, and Xaria had only lived with blue cats up to that point). Having accepted that the others were, in fact, cats, however, Xaria then decided that there was only space for one blue in the house, and it was going to be her. She started bullying poor Tßrmus, who would rush through the house to get out the catflap, and would only come in for meals, when she had to dodge Xaria, who would wait for her under the catflap. The bullying was bad enough before we treated the cats for Tritrich, but once Xaria had got used to being by herself, she was not enamoured at being reintroduced to the other cats, and the bullying became completely untenable for poor Tßrmus.
Luckily, the family who were interested in Grace's brother, Maltech (now called Simba), mentioned that they were interested in getting a companion for him. I told them about Tßrmus, and when they met her, they were smitten, so they took her as well as Simba, and the two are adorable together. When their owners went to visit family in South Africa for three weeks in the summer of 2012, we had Tßrmus and Simba back here, rather than them having to go into a cattery, so we got to see both again, which was lovely.
Gealbhan (Pontaby Zeppole, 23a - Abyssinian, Sorrel (cinnamon ticked tabby))
Gealbhan is Gaelic for 'little fire' - so named due to his rich colour, and feisty temperament.
Also known as 'Spider-Cat' and 'the Cinnamon Devil'
Gealbhan was our first experience of a Foreign breed, coming to us from Maureen and Lorraine Pontello (Pontaby Abyssinians), near Cumbernauld. A few months after we moved from Lancaster to Scotland, I was surfing online and saw that there were Abyssinian breeders living only about 15 minutes from us. I had admired the look of Abyssinians for several years, so I contacted Maureen and Lorraine and asked if we could go round to meet their cats. We didn't even know that they had kittens at the time, and hadn't planned on adding another cat to our feline family, but every time I moved the same kitten was sitting between my feet, and how could we not take him, when I had been so definitely 'chosen'?!
Lorraine told us that one of the other kittens in the litter was the best show-type, and that they were hoping to find a show home for him, but we still weren't interested in showing, so again we went purely for the kitten we had fallen in love with. A few days before we collected Gealbhan, we did actually visit a show (the Scottish), because his brothers and Dad (the fabulous One Shot, whom Gealbhan was so like) were being shown there, but at the time we just thought it all seemed a bit mad! Looking back, Gealbhan was actually a very nice Abyssinian, with a lovely head, a fabulous short coat, rich colour and excellent 'ticking', but we didn't know any of that at the time, and frankly, we didn't care.
Gealbhan was a real live-wire, and was a fabulous little cat to have around. He was definitely my cat, rather than Richard's, and would never do as he was told if Richard was the one asking, but would then obey immediately if I asked, which used to drive Richard bonkers. Gealbhan would usually sleep underneath me at night (yes, literally underneath me - I never did figure out how he got in there without waking me), and it was a semi-regular occurrence for him to stick his paws underneath Richard in the middle of the night, spike Richard with all his claws, and then quickly withdraw his paws to underneath me again. I'm sure that if I was being a properly supportive girlfriend, I would have told Gealbhan off, but I have to confess that it just amused the heck out of me!
At that point, we only had Jinny, Call and Ali, who had all been used to having outside access in Lancaster. The house we live in here (which is owned by the company that I came up to work for), has a ż acre walled garden, surrounded by 8-12 foot high walls. We built a suspension bridge to take the cats from our study window onto the top of the garden wall, and then a set of ramps to take them down into a run on the other side. The whole lot is encased in mesh, and we had mesh covering the back of the garden gate, so that the cats were completely enclosed. If we were going in and out of the garden, we used to shut the catflap on the run, so that they could still get outside, but only into the run.
One day, we had been in and out of the garden, and had shut the cats away as usual, then let them out again once we were finished. A wild rabbit hopped into the garden when we we had the gate open, and although we tried to chase it back out again, we ended up having to leave it in there. Unfortunately, the rabbit disagreed with this plan, and chewed his way back out of the garden. Gealbhan, being a typical inquisitive and active Abyssinian, of course couldn't resist exploring the new world beyond the garden gate, and went missing.
Some local kids told us, later, that they had seen him being scooped up and put into the back of a van, which then drove away. There had been a spate of thefts of pedigrees and pedigree-lookalike cats in our area, and we assume that he fell prey to that. He was so friendly that he would have walked up to anyone, and thought nothing of letting them pick him up, so he would have been ridiculously easy to steal. With his sorrel colouring, and ticked tabby coat, he was very obviously a pedigree, too, so would have made a great target for someone wanting cats that could be sold on as pedigrees. He was microchipped, so we hoped that we would get a call telling us that he had been found, but the call hasn't come yet, and it gets less likely with each passing year.
When Gealbhan went missing, the other cats would come in sounding hoarse in the morning, because they had been out shouting for him all night. We really felt his absence, because he had been so lively and interactive that even though we had other cats, he left a massive hole in our little cat family. It was looking for a similar cat, to fill that hole, though, that lead to our finding Tiffanies, so every cloud has a silver lining. You can read the full 'story' of how we went from having one cat, to where we are today, in the 'Our Cat Story' section.
Coimhlion (PR Velvarex Coimhlion, 33a 30f - Devon Rex, Cream Spotted Tabby)
Amlach is Gaelic for 'Curl' (because of the curly fur), and is pronounced as it looks but ending in 'ch' as in the end of the Scottish 'loch'. Coimhlion is Gaelic for 'Perfect', and is pronounced 'kawv-lin'
Amlach was also known as 'Lamlach' and 'Lamb', and Coimhlion was also known as 'Pinklet' and 'the Squiner'
The Devons' Pedigree
Amlach and Coimhlion are litter sisters from Jen and Laura Pinches (Velvarex Devon Rexes) in Bolton. As Jen said to us when the girls were kittens 'they are funny little people'. At the time, we thought that was a strange way to put it, but it is so true. I don't think Devons are really cats - they are some sort of strange little people from outer space! They are completely oblivious to the ways of 'normal' cats - our two didn't even realise that there was a hierarchy among the rest of the cats, which meant that as far as the other cats were concerned, the Devons were in the bottom spot, whereas the Devons thought that the world just revolved around them!
They talk in funny grumbles, growls and squeals - one of Coimhlion's nicknames was 'the squealer'. They also don't play like 'normal' cats, preferring instead to stand up and box like hares, then crash their chests together, wrap their front legs around each other's sides and roll around the floor growling and squealing the whole time. They are the only breed of cats I've come across that growl as part of play - the others do it either when they are angry, or at the very least as a warning (for example when they have a particularly tasty piece of food, or toy, that nobody else is allowed!).
Although Coimhlion is registered as a Cream Spotted Tabby, and definitely looked like one as a kitten, we believe that she may actually be a Cream Smoke. As she aged her undercoat became whiter and whiter, and now looks a lovely pure silver, and her spots have completely disappeared. She was actually the 'typier' (closer to the show standard) of the two, but because Amlach has the tabby facial markings, she ends up looking like she has a better 'Devon scowl' and the judges kept placing her ahead of her sister. Both girls won the three Premier Certificates needed to make them up to Premier - Amlach from Grace Denny, George Godfrey and Shirley Bullock, and Coimhlion from Louvane Stevenson, Sheila Heavens and Hans-Jo Appold. Coimhlion used to get very competitive at shows, and was in a foul mood for about a week after a show if she didn't get a red rosette or a certificate on her cage!
Xaria never much liked Coimhlion, because she refused to accept that such a strange-looking beast could actually be a cat. As a result, she would pursue Coimhlion round and round the house like a blue demon, and poor Coimhlion was awfully good at playing the victim, so would end up cowering somewhere crying loudly for someone to rescue her. When we first found out that we had Tritrich, the vet suggested that we start by testing any of the cats with a history of diarrhoea, since they were the ones most likely to be harbouring the parasite. Coimhlion and Amlach were part of this first batch, because they always had a tendency to soft stools, but whereas the others tested were all positive, these two were actually negative, and our vet recommended that we find somewhere else for them to live whilst we treated the other cats, to remove the risk of them becoming infected.
When we worked out a treatment plan for the cats, however, we realised that clearing the other cats was going to take anything up to about a year, and it didn't seem fair to have them live somewhere for a year, by which point they would be well settled, and then to pull them out and bring them back here where Xaria would no doubt start to bully Coimhlion again. We therefore took the difficult decision to look for a permanent home for them instead, and after gaining permission from the Pinches, allowed them to go with a couple who had actually come to us looking for a Tiffanie kitten, but fell in love with the Devons instead. The Devons' new owners have since shown them a couple of times, and we also go round to visit periodically, and indeed sometimes cat-sit when Claire is on holiday, so we still get to see the girls, who are gloriously happy away from the ministrations of the blue demon!
Xaria (UK & I GR PR Dushenka Xariabella, also MC Xaria, 16a - Russian Blue)
Also known as 'Xazzle', 'Xaz' and 'the Blue Demon'
Xaria was bred by our friend Elisabeth Stark (Dushenka Russian Blues), near Glasgow. Elisabeth had always loved Xaria's brother Xander - he was one of those kittens that every breeder gets at some point, that just captures your heart. Elisabeth kept both kittens, because although she loved Xander, it really made more sense for her to keep a girl, and after Xaria took Best Foreign Kitten at the Teesside in 2008, various people told Elisabeth that she couldn't possibly part with Xaria without breeding from her.
Elisabeth felt guilty for the fact that Xaria had to play 'second fiddle' to Xander, however, and Xaria also wasn't happy as an entire female, so eventually Elisabeth decided to have Xaria spayed and to re-home her somewhere that she could finally be out of her brother's shadow. The only issue was that Xaria is a lovely example of her breed, so Elisabeth wanted her to go to somewhere that she would be shown. Since we were already showing our cats on a regular basis, and had expressed an interest in having a Russian at some point, Elisabeth felt that we would be ideal and so we came to have our first 'deliberate show neuter'!
Xaria made up to Premier in straight shows, winning certificates from George Godfrey, MichÚle Codd, and then, due to a judge change, a second from George Godfrey that was countersigned by Mr Moorman. She then went on to win her Grands from Anne Gregory, Helen Marriott-Power and Marlene Buckeridge, and then her Imperials from Shirley Bullock, Lynda Ashmore, George Gow, Mary Kalal and Helen Marriott-Power. Whilst living with us, she won her first UK Grand certificate, also from Helen Marriott-Power, and was Best Foreign Neuter five times, and overall Best Foreign three times. The last show we took her to was actually the Rexfest, where Elisabeth was was one of the Household Pet judges, so we entered Xaria in the Pedigree Pet section, much to Elisabeth's shock. Xaria not only won her Mastercat certificate and Best of Colour, but also went onto become Best Pedigree Pet and then Best Household Pet (not Elisabeth's choice, incidentally!). Elisabeth didn't know whether to be horrified or delighted!
As you will note from some of the other descriptions above, Xaria was always a bit of a bully. However, once she got used to being 'princess of her palace', when she was kept alone during the Tritrich treatment, she was worse than ever before. We tried everything we could think of to try and get her to settle with our other cats, but nothing worked. She was fine sharing a room with one or two others, but as soon as we tried to add a third (or more), she started attacking the other cats, and it was making them all miserable.
Tracey came to meet Donny's sister, Quinn, and the litter that Ayla and Eiteag were in, with a view to taking Quinn and one of the kittens. She adored Quinn, and loved the kittens, but when she met Xaria, she literally started crying because she was reminded of how much she missed the Russian Blue that she had twenty years ago. Before I knew what I was saying, I had asked if she would be interested in taking Xaria as a companion for Quinn, instead of one of the kittens. She said that she would be interested, so we invited both Elisabeth and Tracey round for a meal, so that they could meet eachother, and Elisabeth agreed that Tracey would be a perfect owner for Xaria. We dropped the girls off with Tracey a few days later, and through us visiting the girls, her visiting our cats, and her new-found hobby of showing her cats (yay!), she has now become one of our good friends.
With Tracey, Xaria won her second UK Grand certificate, from Marlene Buckeridge, making her up to UK Grand. Since then, she has also won her second and third Mastercat certificates, giving her the Mastercat title, and also a couple of Reserve Olympian certificates. She and Quinn thankfully get on great, and we have the added bonus that Tracey now acts as our cat-cuddler when we're away (my parents would be happy to feed them, but Mum's allergies mean she can't cuddle them)!
Monty (PR Pontaby Montagna, 23e - Abyssinian, Fawn (ticked tabby))
Montagna is Italian for 'Mountain', because Monty was a big kitten. Monty is also close to the Gaelic word for 'Moorland'
Monty was bred by our friend Lorraine Pontello (Pontaby Abyssinians), near Cumbernauld. We used to have his cousin, our gorgeous Sorrel, Gealbhan, but he was stolen in January 2008. After Gealbhan was gone, I missed having an Aby around the house and had said to Lorraine that if she ever bred a Sorrel girl of excellent type then I wanted her as a show neuter.
In the summer of 2009, Lorraine had mated her Fawn stud boy (Gealbhan's grand-father) to her stunning Sorrel girl, Berry (I GR CH Pontaby Fragola - the first female Imperial!). The mating produced a litter of three unusually richly-coloured Fawn kittens, of which two had particularly nice type: the only female, which Lorraine kept to breed from, and one of the boys. There has never yet been a Fawn Imperial (Berry's half-sister, Honey, who was Gealbhan's dam, was actually the first Fawn Grand Champion!), and Lorraine believed that these kittens could be good enough to make it all the way.
She asked us if we would be interested, and we initially weren't, because we didn't want to bring another boy into the house in case it upset the balance of Call as the dominant male. However, we went round to meet him, and of course were instantly taken with the lovely Aby temperament and the unusually rich colouring. When I went back to Lorraine's for lunch a few weeks later, and saw him again, I couldn't resist. I told Lorraine that we would take him only if she didn't mind us neutering him at the earliest possible opportunity, in the hope of avoiding conflict with Call. She was fine with this, and so we agreed to collect him after his first show, the Cumberland, in October. He had a good day there, taking his Best of Breed, and won the hearts of several of the judges, not to mention getting a lot of praise for the lovely coat colour! He made up to Premier the day before turning 11 months, receiving his three PCs from Steve Parkin, George Godfrey and Helen Marriott-Power. He also won one Grand from Marlene Buckeridge, and two Reserve Grands.
Monty never produced solid faeces, and even had something of a 'gut explosion' in his basket on the way to that first show. Since his parents also had a tendency towards stomach troubles, however, we put this down to genetics, and didn't think much more of it - he wasn't going to be used for breeding, after all. What we didn't know, however, was that he was carrying a parasitic infection, called Tritrichomonas foetus ('Tritrich'), and that through sharing litter trays with our other cats, he had passed the infection on to them. This included our breeding girls, and in Katie's first litter, we lost one kitten, and nearly lost another two, as a result of their picking up the infection from Katie. It was as a result of these problems that we discovered the infection, though, and although DÓrna tested positive, and was already pregnant when we found the infection, we were able to prevent her kittens become infected.
Our vet's initial recommendation was that we should treat Monty and then re-home him, and that the other cats would clear the infection in their own time. We therefore began treatment on Monty, but when I did a bit of research, I discovered that the other cats wouldn't clear the infection on their own. They would all, therefore, need testing and, if positive (which they all were, except for the Devons), treatment. While we waited for test results to come back on the others, Monty had been treated, and the vet recommended that we find somewhere for him to stay whilst we treated the others, to remove the risk of him becoming re-infected, if any of the others were positive.
We found him a temporary home, in Bedford, with a work-colleague of our friend, Tracey Johnson. Tracey's colleague wanted her little girl, Kili, to experience what it was like to have a pet, but she wasn't sure whether a cat was right for them, so 'borrowing' Monty was a perfect solution for all concerned. As it happens, however, Monty and Kili absolutely hit it off, and they became inseparable to the point that it didn't seem fair to split them up by bringing Monty back here. He has therefore stayed with them in Bedford, and when we last visited, was obviously totally devoted to his new owners.
Quinn (GR PR Cagaran Dòrlach, also MC Quinn, 72 42eq - Asian Smoke, Brown Tortie Smoke with Burmese Restriction)
D˛rlach is Gaelic for 'Handful', pronounced Dawrlach - so-called because she was a wee rascal, as a kitten
Also known as 'Squingle' and 'Quinnlet'
Quinn was from DÓrna's second litter, to I GR CH Bambino Nationalvelvet (Graham), a gorgeous blue Burmese boy owned by Ally and Arty Williams (Molynmeux Burmese), in Liverpool. We were planning to keep a girl from the litter, and I loved the look of Quinn, but unfortunately, at her first vaccination it turned out that she had a heart murmur. Although this can be due to different parts of the heart growing at different rates, and can therefore disappear once they finish growing, we didn't want to risk breeding from her, and so kept her brother, Donny, instead. We also didn't want to risk selling a kitten who might have a problem, however, so we neutered her and kept her to monitor the murmur.
Sure enough, by the time she was about six months old, the murmur had disappeared, but by that point we were rather attached to her, so we decided not to advertise her, but just to wait and see if a home came along. A couple of months later, Tracey Hamilton contacted us looking for a Tiffanie kitten, but mentioned that she had always had two cats in the past, and would be interested in having two again. I told her about Quinn, and suggested that she could come and meet both Quinn, and if she liked her, perhaps take her and one of the kittens from the litter of Tiffanies that we had from Fiona at the time (the one that included Ayla and Eiteag).
When Tracey came to visit, she sat on the floor, talking to Quinn for about an hour, and decided that she would definitely like her. We then went up to see the kittens, but since they were too young to really receive visitors, Tracey looked on from a distance, and was rather taken with the red boy (Dearg). She then asked if she could meet our other cats, and when she met Xaria, it was love-at-first-sight on both sides. Xaria climbed up into Tracey's arms, which she had never done with anyone before, and Tracey was in tears at the resemblance to the Russian Blue that she had owned, and loved, years previously. Before I knew what I was saying, I had asked if Tracey would be interested in taking Xaria and Quinn, instead of one of the kittens, and since that meant that she could have them almost immediately, this suited her even better than having to wait for one of the kittens.
We dropped the girls off with Tracey a few days later, and since Tracey only lives about ten minutes away, and has become a good friend, we still get to see them regularly. We have been down to Tracey's house several times, and she comes up here regularly, plus she has also taken the girls to several shows. We had won one PC with Quinn before Tracey took her, and when Tracey contacted us, we had already got Quinn entered in another show, which we 'borrowed' her back for, winning a second PC. Tracey has since shown Quinn on several occasions, making her up to both Grand Premier in the Pedigree Section, and Mastercat, in the Household Pets.
Bru was the first 'full' Ocicat that we bred; his mother and her siblings all having been 'Variants' (ticked tabbies) due to their father being the Abyssinian that we used for our outcross. He left us at about six months old, to go and live with a trainee vet in Glasgow, but after a few weeks she phoned us to say that he was breathing strangely. I suggested that it sounded like he might have a chest infection but her vet wanted to run some tests and the trainee vet said it was "too much hassle" to try to get a diagnosis. I drove through to Glasgow and collected him that evening, giving her a full refund: he couldn't be allowed to stay with someone who cared so little for him. I found him terrified and a completely changed cat from the one who had left us a few weeks previously. As I watched his owner leaping over beds and grabbing for him, I wasn't surprised at the change but it was the first time we'd got the selection of an owner so badly wrong and I found it a sobring experience.
When we got him at first, he was taken to our vet for x-rays and an echocardiogram (to rule out any heart issues), but his heart was absolutely fine and it turned out to be, as I had suggested, a simple chest infection which required only a course of antibiotics to get rid of. Thank heavens that his issue meant that we were able to find out what his owner was really like and get him back, though - I hate to think what sort of life he'd have had living with someone whose attitude was so un-caring.
Once we'd finished the antibiotics and his wheezing had disappeared, we took him back for a further x-ray which confirmed that the infection was gone but still showed something unusual. The vet asked for permission to do an MRI scan to get a better look and luckily our insurance paid for the test. It turns out that Bru is one of only two cats in veterinary medical history to have been born with only one lung, the only previously-recorded case having been in the USA in about 1980! I read up about other animals and human babies born with one lung and a common theme seemed to be that due to the body being unable to work harder with one lung in order to clear things out of the other lung, lung infections are much more common: in humans, children born with one lung will often have recurrent infections until they are between five and ten, but my research suggested that once the immune system is fully developed and the body has learnt to work around the missing lung, these infections tend to stop. Sure enough, Bru experienced multiple lung infections over the next few months but that all stopped when he was about a year old and he hasn't had any problems since.
The biggest risk-factor for infection in cats is contact with other cats, especially large groups, so we decided to keep Bru separate from our other cats to minimise this risk. He was totally unhappy by himself, however, so we gave him our shorthaired moggy, Ali, as a companion, and moved Bru's sister, Cheeky, in with them once she'd been spayed. They made a very happy little unit together but we couldn't give them the time and attention they deserved when they were shut away like that, so after a year without any further issues, we decided to look for a home for him. By that point, he and Cheeky were so close that it would have been unfair to separate them, so we created a 'rehome' page on our website, giving full details of Bru's unique medical history, and hoped that the right person might see it.
We had a few enquiries but nothing came of any of them and then, after about six months, Sharon Russell and her sons came to visit and immediately fell in love with both cats. They had a few 'teething difficulties' with Bru seemingly reliving the memories of his previous disastrous new home and wetting the bed, but thankfully Sharon and her family decided to persevere and Bru and Cheeky are now extremely happy, playing together around their house and sleeping on the beds with no further issues now that they're fully settled.