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BREEDERS PROFILE Conducted by Emma Matthews

Breeders Name: Marianne Brett
Prefix: Blondbella
Breed: Persian & Exotic

I got my first cat in 1978, a Tabby mog. He made me believe all cats were boring as all he did was eat and sleep, and in between he was bad tempered! How wrong I was! I have since worked as a vet nurse, as a dog groomer (where I also groomed cats) and in a boarding kennels/cattery, but since 1990 have been at home full-time to look after my family – four and two-legged.

I have written 13 books on pet care, mainly about cats (most under my previous name of Marianne Mays) as well as many articles. I grew up being very active in various small animal fancies and bred, showed and judged many such as hamsters, mice, rats, guinea pigs and rabbits, and was the co-founder of several national small animal clubs in Sweden, where I was born, before emigrating to England in 1988.

I bred my first litter of Persian kittens in 1989, and my first litter of Exotics in 1995. These days I also breed and show dogs actively (Malinois and Golden Retrievers under the kennel name of Goldmali), and write the breed notes for Malinois for Our Dogs newspaper. I judge Household Pet cats now and then, sometimes alongside my husband John. I have always enjoyed showing non-peds as well as pedigrees, and always have at least a couple of rescued mogs.

I live on the borders of South Yorkshire/Lincolnshire/ Nottinghamshire in the countryside, in a home full of cats, dogs, pet birds, hamsters, my husband and mother-in-law. My kittens and puppies are always reared indoors to get as much human contact as possible before they go to their new homes.

I only breed from PKD negative cats. A few years ago when I had my cats tested I ended up with several positives, and have virtually had to start all over again, making sure I breed from healthy cats only, losing type and colour whilst doing so in order to save my lines; hence I have been absent from the show bench for a while. However I have most definitely not retired from showing and will be back!

Future stud - Blondbella Mickeymouse, Chocolate Tabby Exotic Variant, pictured as a kitten.

Blondbella Hotpick, my current Exotic stud, Blue Tabby.

Ch Blondbella Cotton Candy (Lilac Cream Persian) and Ch Blondbella Ballerina (Tortie Exotic) in 2001.

What attracted you to Persians and Exotics?
When I worked as a vet nurse in Sweden, several Persian breeders regularly visited the practice I worked for and this is how I came into contact with the breed.

I was so taken with these beautiful cats that were not only lovely to look at but laidback and friendly as well. I decided I would have a Persian of my own as soon as I had a home of my own – at the time I was only 16.

I acquired my first Persian in 1988, a CreamPoint Colourpoint, and after having seen them at shows, my first Exotic in 1993. I still have my first Exotic, Pr Hilal Katy, (Shaded Silver) now aged 14!

Initially I only bred Colourpoints in Persians and Silvers in Exotics, but these days my main interest is the Chocolate series although I still have Colourpoints and Silvers.

How did you come up with your prefix?

The pet name of my first Persian queen was Blondie, and her daughter from my first litter was known as Bella. Combine the two = Blondbella.

How did you get into showing?

I have always been interested in showing and first started showing guinea pigs in 1978. It was natural that I was going to show cats as well.

My original Colourpoints were not quite up to show standard, so in 1990 I bought in a SealPoint queen, Cheval Cressida. She gained 2 CCs (but never that elusive third, having got too dark after being bred from) and so I was hooked. Cressi can still be found behind most of my Persians today, as well as some of the Exotics.

What has been your greatest moment so far?
Perhaps not the greatest moment, but the one most memorable was when I made up my first-ever titled cat, Pr Blondbella Napoleon, a Blue Point Colourpoint belonging to my daughter. You never forget the first one.

Other good memories include making up a Champion and a Premier on the same day with all three CCs/PCs having been gained in three straight shows within just 28 days, back in 2001. Also winning my first ever Grand at the Supreme with an Exotic a few years ago.

What has been your funniest moment so far?

Going back many years, telling my then three-year-old daughter I was definitely selling the ugly pet quality kitten she was so attached to (Napoleon), only to eventually give in to her pleas and keep him – and watch him become our first titled cat when the ugly duckling turned into a swan!

Do you have any breeding or showing tips?

Health has to come first, followed by temperament, followed by looks. A great looking cat is no use if it is unhealthy and/or bad tempered. After all, most kittens will be destined for pet homes as it’s rare for a litter to be all show quality.

Don’t acquire too many cats too soon when starting out – I’ve seen too many breeders appear and disappear within a few short years. Start small and see if breeding and showing really is for you.