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By Chris Stalker V.N.

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Your Cat Chat news reporter has just returned from three great events. The first was The Feline International Convention, held in France on 8-9 March. This was followed by the World Cat Congress on 11 March at the RVC at Hatfield and finally on 12 March, I attended Felis Britannica’s Cat Show at Welwyn Garden City.

All three events were sponsored by Royal Canin and I was most fortunate to be invited along as their guest. I have had a wonderful time along with some 200 Cat Breeders, Veterinary Surgeons, Judges and International feline association officers, from no fewer than 28 different countries.

I will be featuring all these events in forthcoming issues of Our Cats and can promise you some very interesting articles and photographs, very soon.

Your Cat Chat
Contributions to this column are welcome and I would like to thank Linda Dezonie and Babs Bailey for sending me their stories. Linda tells us all about Pepper’s unusual encounter and Babs introduces one of her infamous Capricciosa cats! Both stories are included on this page.
Please send your kitten news, show successes, poems, jokes, tips, stories and photographs to me at the addresses on this page – you and your cats deserve a place in Our Cats so don’t be shy, get in touch!

Tallulah at the Supreme
I had a letter from a cat this week! Tallulah wrote to say she was disappointed that her name and critique was missing from my Supreme report, published in Our Cats (24 Feb). So, I wrote back to Tallulah to say this was a printing error and I sent her my original copy for her to keep. To set the record straight, here is the full report:

Tallulah, Cat Chat’s new penpal

SH Pedigree Lookalike Female: 1 BOWER’S TALLULAH Blue Cream tortie & white. 7 years. Perfect condition and balance of weight. Temperament is just beyond words! She is loving and gentle and shared not only her words with purrs but also by making ‘marshmallows in the air’! A softly mingled coat of delicate blue, cream and white. Texture is a plush, flush of velvet. The softest demi-wave of an expensive ‘marcel’ perm. Beautiful presentation. This cat may have once been Cleopatra’s very own, in an earlier life. I just love the depth of expression that radiates from her olive green eyes. Congratulations on this ‘gift of a cat’, that you have shared with me today! Tallulah was my overall choice for Overall BIS Pedigree Lookalike. Well done!

Wuf and her kittens!
I was enchanted by a story (written by Dennis McCarthy, in the LA Daily News) I read recently about an 11-year-old dog called ‘Wuf’ a Shar-pei cross spaniel, who lives in the San Fernando Valley. She’s mothered more than 150 stray and abandoned kittens and cats and found runaways for their owners. Her owner, Gary Rohde, said, “One day I was visiting a friend and put Wuf in her backyard,” Gary says. “About 45 minutes later, she walked in with what I thought was a rag doll in her mouth. It was a baby kitten.” Rohde and his friend took the kitten, but Wuf walked into the backyard again, and came back with another kitten. Then, a third. We followed her out, and found one more kitten in the ivy. There was no mother around. They had been abandoned.”

Rohde decided to take the kittens home and rear them. That night, Rohde put the kittens in a spare bedroom with the door closed, setting his alarm for two-hour feedings. He needn’t have bothered because Wuf became his alarm clock and cared for the kittens herself.
When Teri Austin, president of the Amanda Foundation (an animal rescue and care organization) heard about this dog, she began sending over her sick, stray kittens for Wuf to watch over until they were old enough for adoption. “We’ve seen her go out on her own and find abandoned kittens, immediately feeling this sense of duty to take care of them. It’s like she goes on automatic pilot. Wuffy just knows her job and won’t leave them until they’re better.”

Why is a cat like…?
WHY is a cat like a camel and a giraffe? According to Beth Adelman, writing in the online New York Post, “it is because they all walk the same way. All of these creatures are the only animals that walk on one side at a time. In other words, they move their right back leg forward, then their right front leg. Then they repeat the whole thing on the left side. At a trot, the front and back legs on each side move at the same time. This way of walking makes them glide gracefully, a perpetual ‘moonwalk’.

Why is a cat like an accordion? Because a cat can compress or stretch his spine, making him smaller to sleep in snuggly places or longer to leap across wide-open spaces. Just like a human spine, a cat’s spine is made of a series of vertebrae. Between each vertebra is a cushy disk that helps us, and cats, bend and twist. But the disks that sit between each vertebra in the cat’s spine are really thick and spongy. The ligaments that join bone to muscle also are looser in cats than in people. That means your cat can stretch out to make himself just a little bit longer if he wants to jump to the back of sofa or onto a windowsill that might have seemed out of reach”.

Cat Lovers Not Welcome
The BBC News website carried the following story this month:
A ban on homeowners having cats is being proposed amid fears the pets could pose a threat to rare birds. Developer George Wimpey has suggested the ban in an attempt to win approval for a 27-apartment scheme in Berkshire. The site of the development, in Crowthorne, lies close to the Thames Basin Heaths area, a protected home to rare ground-nesting birds.

The developer has vowed to legally bind homebuyers to the ban but English Nature still objects to the scheme. The conservationists believe the scheme would have an adverse impact on the heathland, which is a Special Protection Area (SPA) under EU law. The area is home to endangered nightjars, woodlarks and Dartford warblers, to which cats can pose a particular threat as they nest on the ground.

An English Nature spokesperson said: “Cats are only an issue on residential developments 400m or less from the SPA. The Wimpey development is, at its closest, 1.2km away so cats aren’t a significant part of the disturbance threat on the SPA in this case so Wimpey offering to ditch cats isn’t moving us forward at all.”

The developers were refused planning permission last year but an appeal is due to be heard. A spokeswoman for George Wimpey told the BBC News website that the suggested ban was a “genuine attempt” to find a solution to conservationists’ concerns. “One of our thoughts was that if we had a covenant in that said no cats, that would make the situation work and sort this problem out,” she said.

Animal Health Trust’s cancer appeal
THE Animal Health Trust recently reported that their Cancer Appeal has raised an incredible £78,000 - a wonderful achievement! The charity says, “As we come close to reaching the £81,000 needed, the Animal Health Trust would like to thank all those who have helped us get this far.
This money will not only enable our clinicians to continue improving methods of prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer, but will help with the AHT’s more long-term goal in the fight against the disease. This lies in the work of our research scientists, who are studying genetics to identify particular genes which give dogs, cats and horses an increased risk of developing cancer.”

The Animal Health Trust is a charity that has been helping dogs, cats and horses for more than half a century. AHT provides specialist veterinary clinical, diagnostic and surgical services and their successes in research have ranged from major breakthroughs in anaesthesia and surgical techniques to the development of vaccines against diseases such as canine distemper and equine influenza. AHT scientists and veterinarians, many of whom are world leaders in their field, work alongside bringing together a wide range of expertise for a co-ordinated attack on animal diseases and injuries. By publishing scientific papers, speaking at conferences and talking to other veterinary surgeons about the cases dealt with, this knowledge is passed on to benefit the maximum number of animals.

AHT goods raise funds.

You can help the AHT by contributing directly to the Cancer Appeal, buying gifts from the AHT online shop, donating your old ink cartridges for recycling and by nominating AHT when selling items on e-bay. For full details, please contact: Animal Health Trust, Lanwades Park, Kentford, Newmarket, Suffolk, CB8 7UU. Tel: +44 (0)8700 502380. E-Mail: fundraising@aht.org.uk


Little Pink Fit
A short story by Babs Bailey - only the name of the cat concerned has been changed in order to protect one infamous feline!
Little Pink Fit lay comfortably in her carefully-chewed wicker basket beside the glowing gas fire in the old posh parlour and half closed her oval-shaped Oriental eyes as she wondered wilfully whether it was about time that she threw another one - a wonderful wobbly pink fit that is! True, it had been quite a while since the last one, but there again it just wouldn’t do to let her pair of proud, if overprotective (?), ‘pussy parents’ become lulled into too much of a false sense of security. And certainly not where she, strong-minded madam, was concerned!

For surely, seldom had any other infamous feline earned one self-styled show title of ‘that little wiggle and squirm’ as had she. In fact she’d become more notorious for her many mood swings than her poor old menopausal Mumsie. Not that she was really naughty by nature or nasty either, only sometimes on these lazy, laidback and languid stay-at-home-from-Show days, she still felt obliged to (just for their dear sakes) keep up appearances by flinging her folks into a furry-generated tizz in order to ensure that her selected lifestyle stayed exactly the way she wanted it.

Therefore, as a highly prized, highly born and bred, beautiful Havana - an Oriental type of cat - whose Eastern origins were obvious in her long, lithe elegance and her inscrutably slanted eyes, Little Pink Fit would ponder her next ‘get all my own way’ ploy with playful, if intense purpose. She alone, from a lovely litter of five in ’99, had chosen not to conform to the standard. Instead, she held back any hint of how-she-intended-to-grow-up (or what she wanted from her life) until long after her two brothers and sisters had ‘come out’ into polite pussycat society. In fact Little Pink Fit had chosen her own destiny from the date of her birth in the wee small hours of a warm July dawn just before the Millennium.

She had been brought into the world gently by a tender-handed duty vet with her Mumsie assisting, meowing at the humans in her haste to get free from that embryonic sac and meet with her cat mother’s milk supply. Swiftly she latched onto a comforting teat. And also latched onto the idea that she could therefore “do as she liked” from that moment on.

Two of her litter-mates had long since moved out and moved on to their selected new homes and were happily and securely settled. Two more had simply stayed. But as she filled out into her feline form, Little Pink Fit left everyone around her totally in the dark as to how she would turn out. Her brothers were far easier to foretell – one, a Havana, was haughty and svelte, his sleek chestnut brown body coated with good health gloss and his expressive eyes an emerald haze. The other was a Cinnamon, cute and chatty with a plush velvet coat, the colour of burned-off spice and moss green orbs that matched and blended in. Together with Little Pink Fit they termed themselves the Triad and tried people’s patience to the limit!

Yet an enigma remained around the female of the three. She first suspected that - uh huh - something strange was in the offing and that plans were afoot for her future when one of her human family’s cat club friends came to call.

“Destined to be a brood queen, then, am I?” she purroused, “I don’t think so!”
Deliberately she stayed in her cat basket and sulked. She simply wouldn’t purr, sparkle or be petted. The petulant minx, needless to say, didn’t convey a brilliant impression, especially not when she stuck her over-sized Oriental ears straight up so that they looked like they were on top of her head and not wedge-shaped as is correct in Show circles, giving a cross-eyed glare for good measure. The Havana girl hadn’t impressed.

“Not what I wanted, sorry!”So, bye-bye to a possible future number one. And no other nice kitten enquiries ensued in the following two weeks. So she simply stayed on, smiling slyly to herself and feeling smug.

“Right,” said her people, “perhaps we’ll run her on for a while and show her ourselves instead.” So sprung the idea that she’d keep her brothers company in the car en route to their competitions. Oh, oh! Little Pink Fit soon put paid to that idea too. She screamed herself almost sick at her first big Cat Show, so that she ended up being stuck in the sin-bin (alias quiet quarantine room) for the whole afternoon. It was the perfect way out of her predicament, for instead of purring proudly on the judging trolley in the Show Hall, she wriggled and shrieked and slashed and wormed her way into weird contortions until a weary steward and her judge expelled her par excellence. And her perplexed pussyparents found a ‘Could Not Handle’ notice placed on her pen!
Little Pink Fit - one point, people – nil.

“So - she won’t behave well at shows. Then what about her having some babies to calm her down?” said her people, with resignation. As soon as Career Mk III was even threatened, Little Pink Fit schemed some more. To begin with, she came into season on the Y2K calendar exactly when her planned suitor was pre-occupied with another lady friend. Then she let her two neutered brothers try to mate with her - and she stopped her ‘caterwauling’ up short. Then she didn’t call at all for absolutely weeks on end. And then to totally scupper all their designs for her, she scrapped their kitten plans by freaking out at the vet’s practice while being regulation FeLV blood tested, adding to her crimes by biting the vet nurse too, and badly, leaving an embarrassed Mumsie to apologise most profusely.

Branded by now as the little b***** from Hades, she sent her own Havana hormones so haywire that she started to sprout sheaves of streaky, silvery white hairs, sprinkling them amongst the chocolate brown of her sleek coat and then added a yellowish cast to her un-green eyes as another ‘challenge that’ ploy.

CAPRICCIOSA CANDLWYNDZ aka LITTLE PINK FIT, showing her white hairs.

No one knew whom she was taking after, for her pedigree was impeccable. Her people just gave up the ghost of any plans for her and valiantly tried to ignore the pink tinge that had also one been a dark brown nose pad!

QED! She’d finally cracked it. Sacked from the show bench. Safe from being sent elsewhere, Little Pink Fit had finally won her war. So there she was - and there she still stays - back at the base camp where she was born, scoffing herself full of the finest and most select cat foods and sunning herself on the topmost shelf of the twilweld and mesh cat conservatory through their kitchen .

She browses about her own original beauty, boundless white hairs’ an’ all, as she watches the other two from her batch travel to and from their illustrious show careers with scornful disdain. For she’s the first one at the cat bowl these days, she’s the one whose womanly wiles have made it possible to swan around at will whilst the other show cats do all the work. And - curiously enough - it’s Little Pink Fit who has suddenly and amazingly reformed to become the most adoring, most affable and most faithful feline in their houseful of cats.

Proving, of course, that when a petulant pussycat does make up her mind - be she a moggie or a pedigree - there’s not a thing that anyone can do to change her plans. And now living the luxury lifestyle she chose - Little Pink Fit, the layabout lass, has found her fortune as their lovable LITTLE PINK-NOSED PET!
(First published in the HOLCC club magazine)


Pepper and the Foxes
By Linda Dezonie

It has been a freezing night but the snow is now gradually melting under a surprisingly warm sun. My Bengal cat, Pepper, is lazily hunting in the distance on an earth bank. He has found new digging in evidence so a thorough investigation is required. At this stage, it is impossible to tell whether badgers are extending their kingdom or foxes are attempting to dig a new earth – both will be expecting cubs soon.

I become aware of a change in Pepper’s body language: instead of the languid relaxed pottering, he has puffed up into a rigid, hackle-high crab; he is motionless. I scan the surrounding fields. A mahogany glint in a neighbouring paddock alerts me to a large dog fox. They see each other and quickly assume a psychological stand-off.

Concentration is paramount; the twitch of an eye-lid or the flick of an ear is now of great import. As my cat is about as untamed as the fox, I decide to approach stealthily using an evergreen hedge for cover. The concept of wild animal meeting semi-domestic cat also has its attraction and I know I am compelled to watch the reactions of both animals before intervening only if necessary. Creeping carefully, I am now within 20 feet of the encounter and realise with trepidation that there is a second fox sizing up the cat.

The newly-matched pair of foxes have returned to finalise their den only to find Pepper guarding it. I fear for the cat; tales are rife of pets being attacked by foxes in such a rural location, and now he is threatened by not one, but a pair.

So intent is their focus, that I am finally able to get within ten feet of the trio. I can see the bright eyes of both foxes lit with a mixture of caution and anticipation at meeting this fierce feline. They pant lightly and occasionally nod their heads as if begging the scent closer. Their coats glisten with the health and sheen of a recent visit to the grooming parlour. They tentatively creep, step-by-step, closer to the cat. I become seriously worried – Pepper shows no hint of action; indeed he is so still that not a whisker flickers and his eyes seem almost unseeing they are so fixed.

Then, without the tell-tale twitch of a single muscle, Pepper bursts into an explosive bolt at the nearer dog fox. Growling menacingly, he sprints with such vigour that the fox is frozen.

Swiftly and deftly, Pepper swipes the fox over its nose, spins lithely and returns precisely to his previous position. With just the briefest of quizzical glances at his vixen, the dog fox turns to run.

He slips through the hedge, canters across the fields and disappears from view. Hesitant, unsure, having taken a few steps back, the vixen is now right in front of me. I think it is my turn! Just as she considers a counter-attack on the cat, I emerge hollering from the bushes. It is a textbook ambush. She spins round completely confused, ears rotating as radar dishes, eyes wide and wild. With a quick but memorising look at Pepper, she dives away from me and follows her husband out of sight.

I walk to greet the hero; to share our triumph. Far from rubbing my legs or purring at his friend-in-combat, Pepper dismisses me with a withering glare: He was perfectly capable of looking after himself without human intervention. He turns his back. He refuses to respond to his name. He denies any association with me. It is his land, not mine. Long after my return to the house, he remains patrolling his territory and caterwauling loudly. Vibrant and victorious, we are all to know that he, alone, reigns supreme.