AS you read these words (well, I assume you read the Editorial!) I’ll be well and truly in ‘dog mode’ and pounding the floors of the NEC for Crufts, the world’s greatest dog show in my capacity as Chief Reporter for our sister publication, OUR DOGS.
Don’t worry, I’m not going to start making comparisons between Crufts and the Supreme Cat Show – but the thought struck me about how the various different fancies, such as the Cat Fancy and the Dog Fancy, exist in apparent isolation. To me, this is odd; I’ve bred and exhibited lots of different animals and have experience of cat, dog, rabbit, hamster, rat and mouse shows, whilst many years ago I also showed tropical fish. Of course, for those of us of a certain age, ‘Fur & Feather’ was the publication for most of the above. Regular readers would avidly turn to the pages concerning their Fancy, check out their particular show reports and then have a squiz through the rest of the issue and maybe pick up a bit of news that was happening with other Fancies.
Sadly, when the original F & F ceased publication in 1981, all that ‘cross-over’ was lost and many fanciers now beaver (or rat, mouse, cat, dog etc) away in their own Fancy, totally oblivious of the others.
If I had a pound for every time I’d heard a Cat Fancier say, “Oh, I didn’t know you could show rabbits”, or say that they were aware of Crufts on TV but never watched it, I’d probably have enough money to buy a meal at the NEC!
Of course, there are people who show different animals and thus possess a wider awareness of other Fancies, but it’s a very pertinent time to make yourself aware of our counterparts across the divide, because the Animal Welfare Act comes into force next month. And what’s this got to do with the price of fish, you may ask? (Or the price of rabbits, cats, dogs etc; sorry – I‘ve done that metaphor to death now). Well, quite a lot actually, because the AWA is what’s known as an Enabling Act – it is the spearhead of a whole raft of secondary legislation that will not only affect those of us who show animals, but also the way we keep them.
Check out this issue’s front page story on the RSPCA ‘police’, with particular reference to the keeping of house-cats. Okay, I believe the RSPCA when they say it’s not going to be their priority to be calling on those of us who don’t let our cats outdoors, but the fact that it’s possible for someone to harass us in this way under the Act is quite another matter.
So you see, it may not matter personally to you that the docking of dogs’ tails has been banned (except for working breeds in England, but not Scotland), or that sales of birds at bird shows may be abolished by law, or that breeders of English Lop rabbits may be told to stop breeding them with such long ears as some bureaucrat in Westminster or Brussels says this is cruel, but it should matter to you, because cats are in the sights of the politicos too… There’s a whole raft of directions on how cats should be looked after and if one little official from the local council, or the RSPCA, thinks you’re not looking after them properly… well, expect the knock on the door!
Remember the old adage: United we stand!
Oh well, time to take the dogs for a walk…
Just a quick work about the next instalment of Daphne’s Big Cat Diary by Daphne Butters. This had been scheduled to appear in this issue, but has had to be held over due to lack of space... there’s just too much to go into OUR CATS! All being well, you’ll be able to catch up on Daphne’s adventures in our 23rd March issue.
News & Features Editor