GCCF needs to stop sitting on the fence
I WOULD refer to an earlier letter in Viewpoint about a heartbroken owner of a cat who died of PKD. I thought long and hard about this subject and finally decided to put pen to paper.
We can talk about PKD, we can write about it, most of us responsible breeders have done something about it, BUT, until GCCF finally carves it into stone, nothing will happen about it. PKD screening has been available, to the best of my knowledge, since before the year 2000, I certainly was one of the first in the UK to start screening in 2000 (A.D.) at Bristol University. My results were horrific, and I was left with one negative male and no females! It was a very long and hard slog, and in the end, I had to import cats from Europe at great expense, to be able to breed my beloved Smokes once again.
We are now a negative cattery, which pleases me no end. Whether my kittens are sold for breeding, or as pets, I sleep well at night knowing that I have done my best and produced healthy cats.
Last year I was trying to purchase a red male from a very well known breeder, who simply refused to test her cats, but asked a large sum of money for a kitten out of untested parents. I ventured to ask, what would happen should this kitten prove positive, the answer was that he had to be neutered and petted out!
There are still a very large number of breeders who do not scan, or indeed perform the definitive DNA test, which unequivocally proves the point one way or the other. They don’t do it because there are big monies involved should their cats prove positive. Also, a number of them do not understand, or don’t want to understand the implications!
Breeding should be about improving the breed and not about finance.
I am afraid this situation will not improve until GCCF finally stops sitting on the fence and brings in a ruling that no cat should be placed on the active register unless both parents (microchipped at the vets) are PKD DNA negative. The microchipping should avoid cheating (falsifying results) which has been happening on a large scale in the past.
I believe FIFe (GB) already have such a ruling in place, and I applaud them for it.
Mary Ann Hobson, Pannonius Persians (Smoke and Cameo)
Restriction not the answer
With the arrival of Imperials, we are enjoying the rhetorical mortar shells being fired via Our Cats regarding top titled cats competing against lesser titled ones. Understandably passions run high and we do not envy those Council members who may eventually have to arbitrate.
Sue Miller (13 Jan) and Anne Gregory (27 Jan) expressed valid concerns should that vital ingredient - competition - be eroded. Do the majority of exhibitors really want winning made easier? Surely the main reason for entering any competition is to compete against (and try to beat) the best. Compare the adrenalin rush you get having done well in a strong class to the anti-climax usually felt when your cat wins but was the only one present.
Caution should be exercised if future restrictions be based upon or influenced by 150 responses. That is a tiny percentage of the thousands who exhibit, one wonders what this “silent majority” feel. It is not unusual for those seeking change to be the most vociferous, not that this means they are wrong! If competitive restrictions were introduced, has anyone considered the possible ramifications? Could the Cat Fancy’s waning enthusiasm for competitiveness be seized upon by the “Nanny State” brigade?
These invasive totally misguided souls genuinely believe their mission in life is to save us all from the pain and ignominy of losing. Their ultimate goal is to abolish competition. Sue Miller mentions school sports as an example. They even argue that pupils should not receive a ‘failed’ mark, but be awarded some non-descript Grade so preventing psychological damage! Should these “Nannies” target the Fancy, we might well find additional restrictions forced upon us. They could commence by insisting all losing exhibitors receive counselling, followed by any wayward judge being sued for not adhering strictly to the SOP - the subjective element of judging outlawed.
Then, for good measure, losing exhibitors encouraged to sue anyone having the temerity to present their cat more expertly than they. Finally, cat shows abolished so preventing anyone from being bitten! OK, we exaggerate, but this sort of thing is real enough and we should be on our guard.
We have listened in awe to the likes of Carole Flynn, Anne Madden and David Redtfeldt recalling their long and arduous struggle when untitled Birmans first competed against the mighty all-conquering Long Hairs in huge classes. Honours were a long time coming but these and many other exhibitors persevered, entered show after show until success finally arrived. Many others in other sections have similar stories. These people did not tinker with the rules nor chuck in the towel, they just kept competing, presenting their cats to perfection.
Anne Gregory writes passionately of her pride when winning against the odds back in 1974. Memorable achievements are seldom forgotten and are so much more fulfilling than wins easily come by and perhaps achieved by avoiding the very best cats.
Those who now demand new constraints on competition should perhaps think again. Competition should never be stifled, but encouraged. Like five fruit and vegetables a day, it is good for us and offers many advantages. Introducing still more constraints will not lead to the promised land but is, in our opinion, the quickest route to mediocrity, apathy and, heaven forbid, the eventual demise of our wonderful hobby. Is there anyone in the Cat Fancy who really wants that?
Elaine & John Culf, Fizzwizz Birmans
Apologies to all concerned
I WOULD like to apologise to the people concerned at the West Country CC Show 2005.
I awarded the Best of Breed in the Burmese Section to UK GR CH HOBBERDY HIS LORDSHIP, but put the pen number of UK GR CH CHARMEUSE MILLENNIUM CREAM in error.
I am very sorry for any disappointment caused, but, as my judging notes clearly indicate, my intention was for the Male to win the award.
Anne Gregory, GCCF Judge