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BREEDER PROFILE Conducted by Marianne Brett

Breeders Name: Mrs Linda Vousden

Prefix: Mymystic

Breed: Tonkinese

My parents felt it was important for children to be brought up with family pets, in order to instil a sense of responsibility and respect for other creatures. Over the years we had a range of pets from goldfish to Dobermans and Siamese, I was especially fond of our cats. For my 21st birthday I was given my lovely lilac-tabby Siamese, named Moral (Tibaan Spica). A few years later I met my wonderful husband, Mike – I believe he fell in love with Moral and married me! For a man who’d never grown up with pets he soon became a cat lover and Grimley, our cream-point Siamese, was devoted to him.

What attracted you to Tonkinese?
When Grimley passed away, Moral needed a companion – Mike and I wanted a foreign breed but the Siamese of the 1990s were not like those of the 1970s, so we chose a Burmese, our gentle blue Mistry. I’d recently read about Tonkinese and liked the look of this elegant cat-shaped cat with its subtle coat-pattern and gorgeous eyes. I took Mistry to a local breeder to be mated with her Siamese, but instead she was put in with her Tonkinese stud! Mistry’s seven beautiful and very precocious kittens were born on Christmas Eve 1991. As they grew their appearance, character and obvious intelligence completely captivated us and we kept three – Speckle, Caspar and my special Fable who had so many of his mother’s gentle ways. The kittens gave Moral much comfort in her last few months. I have been utterly devoted to Tonks ever since. Later we had Shadow (Predator Minnie Themoocher), our brown Burmese girl whose rich colour gave the Mymystic Tonks their lovely warm tones. With every subsequent litter our admiration for the Tonks is enhanced.

How did you come up with your prefix?
‘Mystic’ was the name I wanted; it honoured my gentle Mistry and reflected the spirit of our cats. However, in the 1940s it was a Siamese prefix and I wanted a name of my own, so the choice
was obvious – ‘Mymystic’.

How did you get into showing?
A couple of weeks before our first kittens were born Mike and I went to the 1991 National Cat Club show to see more Tonks – which had just been recognised by the GCCF and were in Assessment. There we met several Tonk enthusiasts including Hazel Forshaw (Ishokats). Hazel lived not far from me and was the best mentor any new breeder could wish for, I am very grateful to her for guiding me through the potential pitfalls of paperwork and kitten rearing. It was Hazel and then Carol Poole (Clarinath) who encouraged me to show Caspar (74c) and Fable (74a) – they both did so well and received so much praise as ambassadors of a new breed that naturally I was infected with the ‘show-bug’.

What has been your greatest moment so far?
There are so many personal moments - the numerous times a Mymystic Tonk has won a BIS award at the Tonkinese Breed Club and Tonkinese Cat Club shows (including an Overall BIS); the day that my wonderful stud, Mymystic Pharoah (74at) became the world’s first Grand Champion Tonkinese Tabby male; the day that my book ‘Tonkinese Cats’ was published and honoured by the Cat Writer’s Association of America. Nevertheless, anyone who has been in the privileged position of working with a new breed from recognition to Championship status will understand the sense satisfaction it provides. So my proudest moment to date has to be the day that I represented the Tonkinese at the GCCF Council meeting in June 2002 – when the Tonks were granted Championship status.

What has been your funniest moment so far?
Very early on we discovered how easily four-week-old kittens could climb out of a three foot high pen and make a break for it; it was like trying to keep a waterfall at bay! At 4am Mike and I had exhausted ourselves trying to keep them in their pen, weeping with laughter at these indomitable clockwork scraps who had but one aim – to get out of their pen, upstairs and into our bed. Then there was the night before a show when I’d just finished grooming my boys for a show and settled down to a curry supper and Casper, in his ‘evening mad hour’, jumped into the curry. Washing curry sauce from the coat of a lilac Tonk meant only one thing – a glorious aqua-eyed, lilac puffball at the show! There was also the time that I was mincing chicken for a litter and managed to ‘mince’ my finger. To cut the story short, after re-decorating the kitchen blood red, a trip to the doc’s to be stitched-up, a prolonged clean-up operation and a fresh batch of minced chicken – the little beggars weren’t interested in chicken! Any intelligent cat will provide years of entertainment – to choose a single funniest moment is impossible with Tonks.

Do you have any breeding or showing tips?
Breeding – don’t go into breeding Tonks without understanding the registration policy and getting to know the breed first! Showing - don’t bath your Tonk the day before a show! In fact, unless an accident happens they really don’t need to be bathed at all – it’s unnatural. With regular grooming and a good diet (plus lots of stroking) a Tonk’s coat will look wonderful. Give it that extra show gleam with a rubber-toothed brush, a silk cloth and lots of stroking.