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Hard Facts at the Forum

The well-publicised “Breeders Forum”, hosted by the SPSCC, took place on Sunday, 3rd September. The event was provided at no charge to breeders, in the interest of promoting best practice in breeding, and all places had been booked well in advance of the day. Those who missed it missed a treat!

Leading speaker was the well-known Danielle Gunn-Moore – one of the few Feline Specialists in the country – who kept her audience riveted with her observations on neonatal death, interspersed with laughter as she touched on subjects ranging from menopausal hot flushes to thrush!

Rarely have breeders been so impressed by a veterinary lecture – not least because of her obvious passion for cats, highlighted by the number of pictures of her own beloved pets which slipped in with the clinical pictures on show.

That Dr Gunn-Moore was able to carry off her talk without benefit of the expected data projector is a testament to her abilities as a world-renowned lecturer.

Her subject matter was not an easy one. Research has shown that breeders are accepting an average 40% mortality rate in their kittens, across the breed range.

The explanations covered a wide range of factors based on the three critical areas of environment, nutrition and genetics. Interestingly, she stated that infection itself is rarely the cause of the misnamed “fading kitten syndrome”. It is impossible to cover the subject even in brief here, but the SPSCC have a transcript of the talk and hope to make this available.

The lecture was a hard act to follow, and as the participants took a break for tea and biscuits, subsequent speakers were a little concerned as to how well their own talks would be received. They need not have feared!

The stunning bi-colour boy, on exhibition, FIROUSI FOUQUET.

The second half of the afternoon saw the Breeders Forum live up to its name. Harry & Rosie Meekings took to the floor for an expected “brief” observation of colour and genetics, and as opinions varied and debate came alive, the organiser was required to bring the subject to a close for fear of seriously over-running time.

Whether breeders came any closer to discovering how we return to breeding “really good Blues” or avoiding “black & white” Seals is a matter for conjecture. Or perhaps a debate for a subsequent Forum!

Chairman, Lilian Hughes and Treasurer, Mavis Donnelly take time to relax and chat with one of the Committee.

Speaker John Hansson took the opportunity to handle the beautiful cats on exhibition as he led a discussion of type, and whether Siamese breeders are focussing on extreme looks. Certainly nothing on the day could have been described as extreme as stunning example followed by stunning example crossed the table in the secure arms of honorary Steward Irene Roos.

His chosen cat of the day was one of the very newest breeds on show … an outstanding bi-colour boy bred by Mrs Di Brown, who achieved a remarkable feat by taking John’s vote in the presence of three Imperial Grand Champions.

It must be said that it was a pure delight to see so many almost faultless cats on display, and those who chose to bring them to the Forum rather than to one of the several possible shows on offer are to be congratulated.

The final debate of the day returned to a subject left unresolved at the previous event. Stud work has always been known as a complex task, certainly not for the fainthearted.

As well-known judges and stud owners Jackie Reed and Di Brown steered the discussion, the topics which arose served only to highlight the difficulties.

From contracts which may prove unenforceable, to the issue of adequate testing, it would seem that there are many pitfalls for the unwary. Sarah Johnson was a valuable contributor to the discussion, enlightening fellow guests on the ease of microchipping and its value as a tool in saving cats which may otherwise be consigned to rescue facilities.

John Hansson handled stunning cats in his discussion of breeding to extremes.

The afternoon closed with much deserved thanks to all those who had taken part and it is to be hoped that the Seal Point Siamese Cat Club are themselves thanked for their provision of such an unusual event.

Seminars are a must for those hoping to progress through stewarding and judging schemes. Lectures take place, but there are few opportunities to share breeding experience with other breeders and with experts in their fields, regardless of ability to pay.

That this generosity extends to the provision of a superb buffet (thanks to the organisational talents of Yvonne Marriot this year) is a credit to the club.

Departing speakers and exhibitors carried away an armful of gifts and flowers. Guests were treated to “goody bags” courtesy of Royal Canin, who recognised the value of the event and were particularly generous in their support.

Speakers - John Hansson, Harry & Rosie Meekings, Jackie Reed and Di Brown.

As they left, most visitors showed their appreciation with welcome donations and with genuine praise. Perhaps the nicest compliment to the club was to hear that the afternoon had been “even better than last time”! I understand that the Officers and Committee may have pencilled in a “Forum 2008”……. Perhaps we should book now?