THE 2007 World Cat Congress (WCC) was held on 30 March-2 April in Dortmund, Germany at the Congress Center of the Dortmunder Westfalenhallen.
This year’s WCC, which was hosted by the World Cat Federation (WCF), with the assistance of WCC’s partner, Royal Canin, marked the Congress’ return to continental Europe for the first time in six years and the second time the WCF has hosted the event.
All nine members of the World Cat Congress were represented: Lesley Morgan-Blythe, delegate from the Australian Cat Federation (ACF), Cheryl U’Ren, delegate from the Co-ordinating Cat Council of Australia (CCCA), Pam DelaBar, Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA) delegate, Eric Reijers, the Fédération Internationale Féline’s (FIFe) delegate, Betty Shingleton, delegate from the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy (GCCF), Albie Jobson, delegate from the New Zealand Cat Fancy (NZCF), Kaai du Plessis, delegate from the Southern Africa Cat Council (SACC), Kay De Vilbiss, delegate from The International Cat Association (TICA) and Otrun Wagner, representing the World Cat Federation (WCF).
Dr Susan Little DVM from Ottawa, Canada, President of the Winn Feline Foundation, speaking on Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy in cats.
A Ural Rex
The joy of kittens and the more serious subject of paediatrics was discussed by Dr Susan Little.
The format of the World Cat Congress annual meeting, which has remained about the same over the years, consists of a public seminar, a two-day cat show and a business meeting. This year was no exception.
Eric Reijers, vice-president of the WCC, opened the four-day event with a welcoming speech to the attendees of the seminar, followed by a welcome from Anneliese Hackmann, president of the host member WCF and from Alban Morin, International Marketing Director of WCC’s partner, Royal Canin. Mr Morin also presented Royal Canin’s book Practical Guide: Cat Breeding, which was made available to the guests free of charge and in several language versions.
With everyone duly welcomed, Dr Susan Little, DVM from Ottawa, Canada, president of the Winn Feline Foundation and frequent guest speaker at WCC events, took the floor for the first of her two lectures - Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM), a disease that causes abnormal thickening of the left ventricle heart muscle and is the most common heart disease in cats.
In the course of her lecture, which was illustrated by a large-screen Power Point presentation, Dr Little described the disease, spoke of the breeds in which HCM is the most - and least - common and explained how echocardiography is the most reliable means for diagnosing HCM.
Delegates meet the new Russian breed, the Ural Rex.
Judge Pam DelaBar
She even taught the audience how to read an echocardiogram in the process. During the discussion that followed her lecture, Dr Little also pointed out that when cats have HCM, they rarely show symptoms. “Why?” she asked, then answered herself, “Well, because they’re cats. They don’t do anything!
They seem perfectly healthy, even if they have a disease that would show very definite debilitating symptoms in a human being.”
Whipping In From The Urals
A short coffee break followed, then Olga Mironova, WCF all-breed judge from Russia, who was ably assisted by the simultaneous translating of WCF second vice-president Anna Rudakova, also from Russia, introduced the seminar attendees to one of the WCF’s newest breeds - the Ural Rex. Mrs Mironova stated that this curly-haired breed is native to the area around Ekaterinburg on the eastern side of the Ural Mountains in central Russia where they were first sighted in the middle of the last century.
However, as there was no cat fancy in Russia at that time, the cats were just considered curiosities by the local people. It wasn’t until 1988, according to Mrs Mironova, that a Russian breeder in Zarechniy (near Ekaterinburg), Elena Fedorenko, started the actual breed with a black and white male named Vasiliy. The Ural Rex was recognized by the WCF at its 2006 General Assembly.
Galina Devyatkova, a World Cat Federation (WCF) breeder from Russia, who showed a live example of the Ural Rex - a blue male, Leonardo Elly Irresistible - to the seminar attendees, concluded Mrs Mironova’s presentation.
The next speaker was, Dr Chiara Noli, DVM from Cueno, Italy, whose presentation regarding food allergy in cats detailed the difficult and lengthy process of accurately diagnosing this type of allergy.
Unlike these conditions in dogs, feline allergies have not yet been well defined, nor are clinical manifestations of allergy as site specific. Add to this the similarities in the way flea allergy symptoms - and even symptoms with psychogenic causes - resemble those of food allergy and the degree of difficulty facing the veterinarian in diagnosing food allergy starts to become clear.
Dr Noli described the long process of elimination that is necessary to make an unequivocal diagnosis of feline food allergy.
Judge Lesley Morgan-Blythe
German Turkish Van breeder, Marion Schacht, introduced another breed to the Seminar audience - the all white Turkish Van.
The first step is to treat all secondary infections and all possible parasitic diseases, followed by a two-month long flea control. If no improvement is seen, a two-month long elimination diet should be started - if the cat has been eating chicken, turkey could be substituted, or horse for beef, for example. If the cat improves, the diagnosis of food allergy should be confirmed by reintroducing the old diet and waiting from four hours to ten days for symptoms to reoccur, then returning to the elimination diet until the symptoms disappear again.
If the cat had been eating several different food elements, they could be reintroduced one element-at-a-time to ascertain the one that causes an allergic reaction. If the elimination diet causes no improvement in the cat’s symptoms, the cause probably lies in an allergy to something in the environment - but that’s another topic.
The seminar broke for lunch after the discussion period following Dr Noli’s presentation and when it resumed, Mrs Marion Schacht, a German Turkish Van breeder, introduced another breed to the seminar audience—the all-white Turkish Van.
The cat fancy is a western phenomenon, having developed in the United Kingdom, the United States and continental Europe in the past hundred years, and as a result, some of the official versions of breeds native to other parts of the world are, in fact, historical errors that bear little resemblance to their indigenous counterparts.
Usually the result of a foreigner bringing an interesting cat home to the west from a trip abroad and using it as the foundation stock for a new breed. Such seems to be the case with the Turkish Van.
As explained by Mrs Schacht, two British photographers, Sonja Halliday and Laura Lushington, brought a male and female kitten with auburn markings on their heads and tails to England. From these and others brought back in subsequent trips to Eastern Turkey, the official Turkish Van breed was established and eventually recognized as such by the cat fancy, in fact the particular pattern on these cats also came to be known as Van.
However, it seems that in its native land, the people around Lake Van consider only the all-white cats the true Turkish Vans and those with auburn markings an inferior variety. The all-white Turkish Van is known there as the Van Kedisi - the cat from Van, a city on Lake Van with an enormous statue of an all-white cat standing at its entrance.
Judge Kaai du Plessis
Judge Penny Bydlinski
Some progress has been made in righting this historical wrong: on February 23rd, 2005, the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy (GCCF) granted preliminary recognition for the all-white Turkish Van under the name of Turkish Vankedisi, on September 1st, 2006, The International Cat Association (TICA) approved the addition of the all-white Turkish Van to the Turkish Van standard, which made it eligible for registration and championship competition alongside the patterned Turkish Van effective May 1st, 2007 and during the WCF cat show, the day after Mrs. Schacht’s WCC presentation, the breed began the march toward full-recognition in the WCF.
Two breeders, Joyce Ouderkerk and Anke Baks, along with WCF judge Olga Mironova, treated the seminar audience to a first-hand look at several live examples of all-white Turkish Vans before Dr Noli again took the floor for her second presentation - Trombicula, Notoedres and Fleas.
Bugs on pets is something every animal owner is familiar with, though, except for fleas, some translation is needed to put Dr Noli’s lecture title into familiar lay terms. Trombicula are chigger mites and Notoedres are cat mange mites. However, by whatever name, they are troublesome little creatures for both animals and humans. Fortunately, as Dr. Noli explained, all three can be diagnosed and eliminated fairly easily.
Chigger mites (Trombicula) are easily identified with a magnifying glass and any parasiticide will eliminate them. They are usually found on body areas in contact with the ground and their peak infestation period is late summer to early autumn.
Chigger mites can cause skin irritation in humans. Cat mange mites (Notoedres cati) are seen almost exclusively on cats, though rarely in North America and Northern Europe and frequently in Eastern and Southern Europe. The mange caused by these mites is highly contagious. As with chigger mites, diagnosis is easily made and treatment is relatively simple. Fleas, as any cat owner knows, are the most common feline parasites.
Of the three parasites Dr Noli spoke about, flea infestation, in most cases, causes the least harm to the animal, though are the most difficult of the three to eliminate due to their highly developed survival skills and the need for an extended treatment period to interrupt the flea’s life cycle.
Dr Noli concluded her lecture by recommending some very effective products for flea control/elimination.
The effervescent Dr Susan Little rounded out the seminar presentations with her second lecture of the day - Feline Pediatrics. Kittens are the joy and, at times, the heartbreak of any breeder, as Mother Nature can sometimes seem very cruel to fragile newborns.
Dr Little outlined the various phases of normal growth and development in kittens, which begin life with a typical birth weight of 90 to 100 grams, open their eyes at around ten days and are walking by two weeks.
Judge Kay De Vilbiss
Kittens, Dr Little explained, are protected from infections and disease in the early days of life by passive immunity received from the colostrum in their mother’s early milk. Should a failure of this passive immunity transfer occur - the kittens are orphaned, for example - it can be corrected by injecting adult cat serum under the skin of the kittens.
In the event something goes wrong with the newborn kittens and medical intervention is required, Dr Little stressed the importance of giving the veterinarian a complete medical history of, not only the sick kitten, but also its littermates and mother. She then explained some of the procedures the veterinarian should follow and the examinations that should be performed with regard to kittens. Dr Little also described to the audience some basic therapeutics that may be performed by the breeder for conditions such as hypothermia, hypoglycemia, hypovolemia (low blood volume) and dehydration.
She pointed out some of the difficulties in using drug therapy on kittens.
Unfortunately not all kittens make it through the first month of life. Ten to twenty percent of litters born in catteries are lost due to a number of factors: low birth weight, congenital defects, trauma, inadequate nutrition, maternal neglect, environmental factors, infectious diseases and parasitism, and neonatal isoerythrolysis (blood-type incompatibility).
The highest risk periods are: during pregnancy, at birth, the first two weeks and immediately after weaning. Dr Little concluded her presentation with some interesting facts regarding the three feline blood types - A (dominant), B (recessive) and the very rare AB. Most non-pedigreed cats are type A (95-98%), while some breeds, the Devon Rex and British for example, are found to be type B approximately 40% of the time, while others like the Burmese, Russian Blue and Siamese are 100% type A. The Birman and the British may also have rare instances of type AB.
Following Dr Little, Pam DelaBar, president of the World Cat Congress introduced the WCC delegates and opened the seminar to questions from the audience. After a short question and answer session, the seminar was adjourned.
ON THE second morning of the World Cat Congress, the doors of the Congress Center of the Dortmunder Westfalenhallen were opened to the Dortmund public for a two-day World Cat Federation cat show. Over six hundred cats, representing over thirty breeds were present during the course of the exhibition.
The World Cat Congress delegates Penny Bydlinski, Pam DelaBar, Kay De Vilbiss, Kaai du Plessis, Albie Jobson, Lesley Morgan-Blythe, and Cheryl U’Ren were, as has become tradition, among the judges for the two-day event.
The Best in Show for Saturday was TOMBROCK’S SUPERTRAMP, a black Persian owned by Helen and Thorsten Zimmer, from Germany, and for Sunday the Best in Show was a white Norwegian Forest Cat, W.CH. TORALF TABALUGA AV SENJA, owned by another German, Sybille Bauer.
NEXT ISSUE: More reports from the World Cat Congress 2007 including the WCC’s Business Meeting, with comments from the various cat registries from around the world.