I recently had a lovely letter from Robert Kennedy and Mark Waddington, who have just started out in the world of showing and breeding. Robert explained how this came about…
"We are writing to share our good news, as relative new comers, who have just started to exhibit two babies from our first Burmese litter that carry our prefix. You can imagine our delight when our baby girl Beechbank Carrie, won five out of five classes at the Nor East of Scotland Cat Club Championship Show and then bowled us over by taking Best of Variety at under 8 months old and being in the final line up for best in show! We were speechless! Carrie is a total live wire and a complete comedian to boot! She has only ever attended three shows and has had three BOB awards.
Mark and I have been cat lovers all our lives and have always had cats as pets since childhood (that was a very long time ago!). We have two beautiful moggies called Chance and Chester - after Chance gave birth to two beautiful kittens (by Caesarean section) she decided to give them to us to rear because the vet reckoned, her hormones didn't kick in and produce her milk. So we reared the babies from the day they were born, feeding them every two hours around the clock, they grew into two little crackers. The experience we gained, whilst parenting these delightful infants got us thinking… maybe it could be fun to have pedigree cats and start to go to shows and breed the odd litter, and that was the start of our addiction!
We were fortunate to obtain the very beautiful Burmese girl, Catniper Prettywoman (Gr Ch Elmyra Cream Delight ex Ch Somatir Whatagem) and we mated her to Champion Adtrebu Cody Gray – the result was six lovely babies, including Beechbank Carrie and her brother, Alfie (Beechbank Aristocrat).
We kept Carrie because, from the day she was born, she had a face like a little old lady and her nick-name was Granny! For me it was love at first sight! As soon as I speak to her, when I come in after work, she becomes all coy and cute and wraps me round her little paw, demanding whatever she likes!
Carrie has only ever been to three shows and has managed to get three BOB and to take the group, at under eight months, when up against many Grand Champions, and Champions, was the best rush of our lives! we will never be able to thank Pamela Read enough, as we know that this was a once in a life time experience, but one we will obviously live and hope for again in the future as Carrie is still very young and has a long, exciting way to go.
She is a very mischievous young lady and when she is out in the cattery, sunning herself on a fine day, she likes nothing more than to grab your hair from above, as she suspends herself from the rafters! Carrie also loves to box you on the noise if you lean in to kiss her - a bad game I encouraged with her as a tiny kitten!!
Sue Neate was thrilled to bits when her own bred boy gained his new title. Imperial Gr Ch Anokhi Masterblaster (aka Robbie) was made-up at the London show where he won his fifth consecutive certificate. Sue kindly sent me this photo of her handsome lad.
Joyful Jersey experience
Heather Horton is a great fan of showing her cats in Jersey at the Caesarea show and she very kindly sent me the following article, to include in this column.
"If you’ve never been to Jersey, now is the time to consider showing your cat and having a few days break away. I have been going for about 12 years now – and never tire of visiting this beautiful island.
It all started with three of ‘us girls’ getting together for an extended weekend break, and also having the opportunity of showing our beloved cats. My! Were we ‘green’ in those days? We drove down to Poole to get the ferry. We stayed overnight in a B & B, all sharing a room with the cats as well. No-one got much sleep, but the cats had a whale of a time. In the early morning we drove onto the ferry – this was a first for me. The cats had to remain in the car on the car deck and seemed to travel well. I went down to check the cats when we docked at Guernsey, only to find them fast asleep. There was absolutely no need to worry about them at all. The journey over to Jersey was lovely – I spent quite a bit of time on the decks just enjoying the wind and the sea. Upon docking in Jersey the cars were very quickly allowed to leave, and we then made our way to the hotel. Hotels in Jersey are great, and there are many that allow us to stay with our cats.
Jersey suits me – a lovely island with so much to see, seeped in history, and life at a much slower pace, compared to somewhere like Birmingham. The island’s maximum driving speed is only 40mph, so you get to see so much more around you. I don’t know why there are so many big and powerful posh cars – maybe it’s to do with money and prestige!
Jersey is a truly beautiful and proud island. There is so much historical interest, as they were occupied by the Germans in the last war and there is still much evidence of this all around. The Jersey War Tunnels (formally The Underground Hospital) is an absolute must for all visitors as there is a definite atmosphere down there.
Another of our favourite visits is to the Jersey Zoo. This was set up and made famous by Gerald Durrell, and is dedicated to conservation and breeding rare species to be returned to the wild. I was amazed at the Lemurs and Marmosets that live free in the trees, and come so close to you.
Jersey offers many other delights such as antique fairs, garden centres - with many unusual gifts, museums, and lots of cafes and restaurants, which serve excellent food. No good watching the waistlines there!
I’ve had such fun exploring this beautiful island both with friends, and more lately, with my husband, Malcolm. There are so many delightful coves and beaches with wonderful scenery. Even in the pouring rain it is a unique experience to sit in the car on a cliff top overlooking the sea.
There is also the opportunity to visit the other islands and even to go over to France for the day, (passports needed). We have been to Sark and to France, and had a wonderful time. We hope to visit some of the other smaller islands in the Channel Island group.
We in the UK don’t realise how dedicated the show management teams are, to host shows in Jersey. Fundraising is essential all the year round, because the costs of running a show are much higher than our shows at home. A hall is expensive, and judge’s expenses with flights and hotel accommodation must be a nightmare (minimum two nights and meals).
We love to help set up the show, as everyone is so friendly and make us feel part of the team.
After the show most of the judges and many of the exhibitors meet up at a top restaurant and have a lovely evening together, and the next day we Birman breeders get together for Sunday lunch. Does nothing for the waistline – but is great company and food!
All these years of our Jersey experience have been terrific. We all enjoyed our breaks, and the cat showing. My husband, Malcolm, is now also a convert to Jersey! The Show Managers are so helpful with recommending hotels, which will allow us to stay with our cats, and also give information as to ferries and flights. We have stayed at a variety of hotels all over the island, and the cats are always very settled in the room with us. We’ve been very lucky and had many good wins at the shows.
Mainly, it’s the beauty of the island, and the great hospitality that draws us back to the Caesarea show in October every year.
Why not give this unique show experience a go – you won’t be disappointed.
See you in Jersey on 13th October this year!"
Why not take up Heather’s suggestion and join in the Jersey experience?
My very own Maneki Neko
The last time I saw Liz Mills at a cat show, manning her charity stall, I asked her to keep in touch and Liz has come up trumps with the following story…
"I tend to receive OUR CATS a few weeks after publication, thanks to my dear friend, Babs Bailey, who regularly sends me her copies. I noticed this column had pieces about Maneki Niko cats - the Japanese good luck charms. It made interesting reading. Then while filing away the papers of my new ‘Chinnie’, I realized he was called Niko. I hadn’t noticed before, as I had christened him ‘Willow’ immediately he arrived. Mind you – ‘Dyson’ was a second thought. as he hovered up everybody’s food! Jo Barlow is breeder is of Dreampaws Niko, as well as the super, fantastic, Dreampaws Summertime, who has with more titles than whiskers! All the kitties in Niko’s litter had Japanese themed names.
If ever a kitten was a good luck charm then it’s Niko. He was born last summer but his mum didn’t want to feed him. So he was hand reared and gradually began to thrive. His personality traits all go back to the hand rearing, as he literally screams blue murder when he wants any thing and is very vocal in general. He has attention-seeking off to a fine art and he spent most of his youth tucked in Jo’s zipped sweatshirt, as she went about her chores. He is still a bit clingy, but I like that. He knows he is special.
He was neutered recently and refuses to see visitors at all at present because he has an ‘electric blue’ coloured bottom (thanks to the skin disinfectant used when he was neutered) - Well wouldn’t you hide away! Pity the vets didn’t think about that outcome, on a pure white pedigree cat! Surely there was an alternative? Good job he was not entered in shows, as his bottom is still badly stained, eight weeks later.
The story of Neko’s arrival started in September, when I was at a show, with my charity stall. I was a bit anxious and terse as a little bungalow that I wanted and had been promised to me, had been ‘on and off’, all summer. It had been a stressful time and I was still mourning the loss of my last Chinchilla, dearest Sgt Mills and my last Shaded Silver had just been diagnosed with a liver tumour. I had toyed with one last kitten, once I had moved house and was contemplating a Colourpoint. As I arrived in the show hall, two of my friendly Chinchilla breeder friends were holding young Chinnie kitties and chatting. My heart turned over and I felt light headed - it was deja vu - the 1980’s all over again; when I saw my first Chinchilla held aloft, in the arms of Norman Cater (Furifriend). That was the start of my love affair with the breed. Seeing Sue and Carols’ kitties that day, I knew instantly I wanted one last Chinnie. Nothing else would do.
Shows came and went, I moved house and I occasionally mentioned the possibility, to various breeders. Then I saw Jo in November, at this time I hadn’t seen her at a show for ages, so didn’t know about Neko. She later came over to my stall and told me of the hand-reared kittie she had. It was no contest - of course I wanted him….I love a challenge! Within weeks, Jo brought him over and he settled in very quickly - a strong mined, well adjusted little kittie.
I feel very blessed, that the ideal retirement home came along, blessed that I moved in and settled so easily, grateful that I had Pudding for those extra weeks and even that the sun kept shining. My lucky charm Niko, had seen me through those last few weeks with poor Pudding. He helped put behind me, the stress and trauma of another house move. He has completed the circle of my six remaining cats, that all get on so well.
Mowgli, my youngest and biggest, is Willow’s best friend now. At first he could run under Mowgi’s tummy! Not now - he runs INTO him, but Willow is catching up. He often sits with his paw to his mouth, in a typical Neko posture but, try as I might, I cannot capture that on film. Never deterred here is Willow / Neko my own personal lucky charm. Thanks so much – both to Jo and Willow".
See you next month!
Many thanks to everyone who has contributed to the Cat Chat column this month. If you have any news, views, stories or photos that you would like to see on this page in August, please write C/O OUR CATS or email email@example.com Deadline for sending your contributions 25th July.