Breeders Name: Anthony Nichols
I grew up with lots of pets but cats were my favourites because of the special relationships and friendships that you can build with them. While I was a student I lived in Paris for a year and went to as many cat shows as I could there and during that time I particularly fell in love with the Devon Rexes I saw because of their unique look. As soon as I was settled enough to have a cat of my own I got Murrmal Pansy, a chocolate tortie point Devon, bred by Hazel Hillman. She did not do brilliantly at shows but was a devoted mother and produced some nice kittens. I also have a Singapura whose show career did not go far as she developed a tail fault. These two are still with me and are the old dames who like to help keep any kittens in line.
I liked LaPerms for a long time before I was able to have one of my own. There were none in the UK and only one breeder in Europe at the end of the 1990s. I had just started using e-mail and got in touch with LaPerm breeders in other countries. At the time the Pets Passport scheme did not include the USA, but a breeder in Holland was importing some LaPerms from the USA and agreed to import one for me come along and stay with her until she qualified for her passport. We were lucky enough to get her mated before she came over to the UK so I managed to import another five LaPerms ‘in utero’.
LaPerms have come a long way in a relatively short space of time. I am the Chair of the LaPerm Cat Club which is currently working towards GCCF affiliation. Six cats bred by me have become ‘qualifiers’ getting at least four merits in assessment classes, as well as my original import girl, Omaste.
I am lucky that my husband Christopher is as much of a cat lover as me and we often go to shows together or sit watching kittens being born together. We don’t have lots of breeding cats and only have two or three litters a year. We have done a range of matings, including starting some outcross lines to expand the gene pool. I have also exported LaPerms to Sweden, where one has become a Grand Champion, and more recently to America.
I have a particular interest in cat genetics, which I think you need to have in a breed where all colours and patterns are accepted!
What attracted you to LaPerms?
I was particularly interested in the Rex breeds with their lovely curly coats, and the genetics behind them. The first photo of a LaPerm that I saw made a very big impression on me. I loved the combination of curls and long hair, and the really eye-catching unique coats with their light, shaggy tumbling curls. Although now that I have bred some shorthaired LaPerms I have also fallen for their charms. I was also attracted to the challenge of working with a new breed and co-ordinating with other people to plan breeding programmes and get the LaPerms established.
How did you come up with your prefix?
Our cattery is named after the (Galton’s) Quincunx invented by Sir Francis Galton, the cousin of Charles Darwin and a pioneering modern scientist in many fields including genetics and heredity. Galton wrote the first study of cat heredity called “Three Generations of Lunatic Cats” (in 1896) and was a strong advocate for keeping pedigree records in animal breeding before this was common practise. My grandfather owned a quincunx and I grew up fascinated by this strange object and its quirky name, so it was one of my favourite words and the first word I thought of when I came to choose my prefix.
How did you get into showing?
I started showing in the 1980s when I was a teenager and my sister and I used to show our non-pedigree pets at local charity shows such as the Rhodes Minnis show. We did well with our marmalade boy Zaccy and a very fluffy white longhair called Orlando whose mother was a British SH x Persian. We loved the shows and both went on to breed cats, my sister with Bengals.
Showing LaPerms in assessment classes and winning merits is a wonderful experience and I am looking forward to the new challenge of showing in intermediate classes when the LaPerms move up to provisional recognition.
What has been your greatest moment so far?
It was an exciting time taking LaPerms to UK cat shows on exhibition for the first time; so many people came to see them and ask questions about them. Then when the breed was recognised and LaPerms could enter assessment classes in shows and win merits it was thrilling to see that the breed had really arrived.
What has been your funniest moment so far?
Having small kittens running round and learning about the world provides no end of funny moments!
Do you have any breeding or showing tips?
A good tip for showing LaPerms is to resist the temptation to over-groom them as this can make them into frizzballs! As many curly haired people will testify, using plain water to spritz and scrunch will bring out the curl. A good tip for breeding is not to mollycoddle kittens, but to expose them to as many sights, sounds and experiences as they are developing to ensure that they grow up to have robust, outgoing personalities and a lust for life.