Our Cats Shop

Cat Chat with Chris Stalker

Shock and dismay
Like many of you reading this column, I too, was shocked and dismayed at the announcement from the GCCF that OUR CATS is to cease being their official journal. I well remember buying ‘Fur & Feather’ when I first started showing in the mid 1970’s and the transition to ‘CATS’ was eased into ‘OUR CATS’ and accepted by the many hundreds of exhibitors across the UK and further afield.

Whilst I was editor of OUR CATS, I was touched by the loyalty shown by its readers to their favourite publication. I recall too, the disaster of an independent breed magazine which took subscriptions and then failed to deliver.

Like you, I am watching this space and hope that the voice of public opinion may alter the proposed plans for a new publication - which appear to have been forced upon the exhibitor, without consultation.

A first for the Ocicats!
I met up with Nicola Eaton at the Chester & North Wales show recently. Nicola was delighted to tell me her news… "Vervain Onthespot, got his Imperial Grand Premier Title on 21st July at the Edinburgh and East of Scotland show (yippee) and he was also BIS Foreign Neuter. He is the first Imperial Grand Premier Ocicat in the UK. Also, a tiddly bit of news from the same show is that Tammy, our moggie, got BIS Non-Pedigree and also won the heat of the Crystal Clear Championships".

Jackthelad’s story
Joan Pounds emailed me last week, saying that she thought I might like to hear about a very strange co-incidence… Joan wrote, "I have a very beautiful blue point Siamese neutered male, called Jomese Jackthelad.

Jack is now two years and four months old and has had an amazingly successful show career. He was a Premier at ten months and a Grand at 13 months. He was BOV Siamese kitten at the Supreme 2005 and Royal Canin top Siamese Exhibit 2006 and has 16 BIS kitten/neuter awards and seven Overall BIS awards.

However, after gaining four Imperial Certificates fairly quickly, we stuck on the fifth and just could not get there, despite often winning BIS! BUT... at the East Sussex Show jack got his fifth Imperial and also BIS Neuter and then Overall BIS.

Here's the strange co-incidence…Jack's first show as a kitten was the 2005 East Sussex, where Steve Morris gave him BOV Kitten. Then exactly two years later at the East Sussex, again Steve Morris gave him his fifth Imperial and Overall BIS. It was obviously meant to be!"

Flushed away?
I came across an interesting story recently, whilst doing a bit of research about cat litter. One of the websites that I ‘visited’ - http://www.emagazine.com/earthtalk - had an article about the effects of roundworms on sea otters. Dr Melissa Miller of the California Department of Fish and Game department explains that cat faeces can contain Toxoplasma gondii, a parasite that gets into feline systems from the eating of infected rodents, birds or other small animals. When cats later expel these parasites in their droppings - sometimes hundreds of millions at a time - each can survive in soil for over a year and also contaminate drinking water.

Most municipal sewage treatment systems are not designed to filter out Toxoplasma, and so the parasites also get into storm drains and sewage outflows that carry them out to near-shore ocean waters. Here, researchers have found, sea otters prey on mussels, crabs and other filter feeders that can concentrate Toxoplasma. Hundreds of sea otters have been found dead on California beaches in recent years with no obvious external injuries, and Miller and other scientists think that Toxoplasma may be the cause.

California’s legislature last year nonetheless passed a bill to protect sea otters, in part by requiring that all cat litter sold in the state carry a warning label advising cat owners to not flush cat litter or dispose of it in storm drains.

Dr Patricia Conrad, a veterinarian and parasitologist at the University of California at Davis who has studied Toxoplasma contamination in sea otters, says cat owners can start to help by keeping their cats inside, where they are not able to hunt the small animals that can pass Toxoplasma along to them in the first place.

Those cat owners unwilling to keep their cats inside should do their part by at least not flushing cat litter or cat faeces down the toilet. Cat faecal material should be placed in double plastic bags and included in the household trash. As such it will end up in the landfill where precautions are taken to prevent environmental contamination.

Of course, once on the internet, one never knows what useful information one can find… A ‘tell me how site’ called ‘wikihow’ has a whole store of cat-related articles, sent in by cat lovers. You could start by looking at
http://www.wikihow.com/Make-Cat-Toys and then go onto find out more by checking out the following:

• How to Take Digital Pictures of Pets
• How to Shampoo a Kitten for Fleas
• How to Make Cat Jungle Gyms and Playgrounds
• How to Recognize a Cat's Sense of Humor
• How to Give a Cat Medicine
• How to Grow Catnip
• How to Litter Train a Kitten
• How to Choose Your Cat
• How to Choose Safe Pet Food
• How to Tame a Feral Cat
• How to Bathe a Cat
• How to Make Cat Toys
• How to Medicate Your Cat
• How to Ship a Cat
• How to Clean Your Cat When He Can't Do It Himself
• How to Get a Cat As a Teen
• How to Litter Train a Kitten
• How to Tame a Feral Cat

The Barn Cat Programme
According to a story on the Palladium Times’ website, The Oswego County Humane Society is offering an opportunity for farmers to obtain free "mouse patrol" and for feral cats to gain shelter and food through participation in a project called the Barn Cat Programme.
It’s a simple concept that reaps great rewards for the barn owner and the cats alike. Each animal has been spayed or neutered and had all vaccinations necessary to allow it to live a healthy life. Those who participate agree to confine the cats to an area of the barn for the first two weeks, thus increasing the likelihood that the cats will then consider this their new "home" and stay put. After that period of time, all the cats need is a safe shelter from weather and regular food and water. The reward for the barn owner - superior and dependable rodent control.

Supreme drapes

OUR CATS’ Message Board members have recently been discussing how best to furnish the exhibition pens at the forthcoming Supreme Cat show…

Among the many ideas that have been shared among the members was a set of simple instructions, written by ‘Reynard 78’ (an online nickname). I was impressed by her contribution and felt that the instructions would be very useful to novices who were going to perhaps show at the Supreme for the first time. My thanks to ‘Reynard’ for permission to reproduce the instructions here:

"It is not too difficult to make a set of show drapes if you're reasonably adept at driving a sewing machine. That is not to say that they're quick to make - getting a good finish on the drapes (and straight seams) does take time, but it's well worth spending that little extra on getting it right. I made my own set of drapes last year, with a little help from my Mum.

You will need five yards (or meters, depending where you buy) of fabric to make the drapes and pelmets. Make sure you pick a good quality fabric as the flimsy stuff just looks cheap and can be difficult to sew. For the cage pad you will need up to another couple of yards of fabric plus stuffing, if you want it padded. Or you can buy some padded fabric if you want to go that way. Either way, you will need to spend around £20 on fabric and trimmings to make a set of drapes. N.B. 1 yard = 3 feet = 36 inches.

The double pens you get at the Supreme are 4 feet x 2 feet x 2 feet, i.e. 48 x 24 x 24 inches so measurements are actually quite easy. You basically add an extra six inches per foot lengthways on the measurement to allow for adequate ruffling on the drapes, plus a little extra on the top to allow for the loop that takes the curtain wires.

For the curtain at the back of the pen, you need to cut a rectangle 72 x 26 inches and for the two side curtains, 36 x 26 inches each. For the front pelmet you will need a rectangle 72 x 10 inches and for the two front drapes, 16 x 26 inches each. You will have enough width on the fabric to cut the front pelmet section from directly underneath the main rear drape.

Pin to size along all the seams, allowing extra on the top (height) to double over to take the curtain wire later. Check edges are straight, then tack carefully and remove pins before sewing the seams. If you are using a silk satin fabric, sew twice to give some extra strength. Once you've done all the seams, unpick the tacking.

Then for the side and rear curtains, measure the height accurately and double over the extra. Pin it down, then, tack down. Sew it about an inch from the top to give you the sleeve to take the curtain wire that you'll use to fix the curtains to the pen. For the front pelmet and side curtains, pin the side drapes to the back of the piece for the pelmet - top edge to top edge. Tack, then as for the other curtains, fold over to required height, then tack again, before removing all pins and then sewing. Once you've finished, remove all the tacking.

For the cage pad, there are a couple of ways to go; If you buy padded fabric, you just cut a rectangle 50 x 26 inches, fold over the extra to make seams, pin, tack and then sew and you're sorted. If you want to make a pocket that you can put stuffing in, you will need two pieces 49 x 25 ins. (if you haven't enough fabric yardage, you can always make the bottom from two smaller pieces.) Pin each to size, tack then sew the seams around each. Remove tacking, and then pin back to back (wrong side to wrong side). Tack then sew all the way around about 1/4 inch from the edge, leaving one short side open so you can get the stuffing in. Here you now have two options - you can either stuff the pad and sew up the open side or fit poppers or eyes and hooks so that you can remove the stuffing when required and launder the pad.

Don't forget that you will need some 12 feet of curtain wire, hooks for the wire plus ribbons, beads etc to trim the front side drapes. You can use the scraps of fabric to make tie backs for the front drapes, a ruffle to camouflage the litter tray etc. A good mosey around boot sales, clearance / thrift / pound stores and such will return items such as cushions, pet beds and items to suit the decorated pen theme.

One tip is to look in Asian fabric shops. They stock some gorgeous fabrics that are perfect for drapes and if you choose judiciously, they are not too expensive.

Many thanks to ‘Reynard’ for the above help and good luck to everyone who is going to get ‘crafty’!