Friends, it's the human here again. I'm sorry it's been a while since I last wrote, but to be honest, I'd been putting it off as I didn't quite know how to respond to some of the comments left on the blog in a way that would get my point across without offending readers or making me seem too defensive. I wish to do neither. After Clowder succinctly summed up some of my thoughts this morning, I figured it was time to get back into writing again, regardless of whether or not I could handle the responses. Avoiding something doesn't make it go away, after all.
I won't say much to answer the comments left, as I feel that Clowder has already done that, but what I will say is that while I understand why some of you feel as you do, I'm going to highlight that I may actually be doing something good for cats. Let me explain. Please don't think that I don't appreciate the validity of your concerns. I agree that there are rescue cats needing homes, but...
For years, Persians have suffered with very severe, crippling health problems. Many have respiratory issues. Lots have trouble with something called tongue tipping which, in its more acute stages, is so desperate that the cat's tongue is constantly hanging out of its mouth because there physically isn't space for it in there. Many have incredibly leaky eyes because of their flat faces. The extreme types often need help to suckle from mum due to their face being too flat to latch on propperly.
Tia has none of these problems, and actually has what is termed as a doll face, or open type. While her nose is a tad too long for a true Persian, her facial structure means that she doesn't have any of the associated problems I've just spoken about. While she doesn't do as well as most Persians on the show bench, she has something to give to new kittens. Again, let me explain.
The typical Persian nose should have a break or stop at the end. This means that rather than rolling off at the tip in a smoothe curve, it should have a definite end point and be flat, rather like a little piggy's nose. Over the years, breeders have worked very hard to achieve this, but in the process, the nose has gotten shorter and shorter, and it is this rather than the stop at the end that causes the health problems.
A Persian's cheeks should also be very full, and are often described as apple cheeks. Again, breeders have worked hard to achieve this in their kittens, but as the cheeks broadened, so did the jaw, and this combined with a flat nose meant that the whole face changed shape so that the jaw and mouth became flat.
I thought long and hard about the boys that I considered for mating. Every one that she's gone to have been extremely typey, that is to say, flat faces, tiny noses. Why? Because by combining Tia's too long nose with a short one with a definite stop, genetics show that I am likely to end up with kittens who have a nose in between, who will most likely inherrit the stop at the end. This is perfect as it will mean a Persian with no health problems, but who conforms to the correct type that a Persian should. By breeding a doll face to an extreme boy, again we should get something in between, so we should have the massive apple cheeks but with a jaw which isn't so squashed, meaning that kittens can suckle and adults can pick up their food easier. Tia's eyes don't run a lot because of her face shape, and a kitten with a longer nose and a better face may avoid this problem also.
From this mating, I hope to establish a bloodline of kittens which are of superb Persian type, but without any of the problems that currently plague the cats who have been made this way by man's striving for a perfection which brings flaws by its very nature. Should I not do this because there's a cat somewhere in a rescue that wants a home? Should I limit myself through guilt even though I could make a massive difference to the lives of so many kittens? Or should I breed a line of cats that can be shown, still achieve titles and show status and consequently be highly desirable to other breeders who will breed from them and hopefully perpetuate the desirable traits in not only show kittens, but many, many pet ones as well? Should I let the people who are already on my waiting list, and others who are yet to come, go to another pedigree breeder and pick up a kitten with more health problems, or who may not have been as well loved as mine have been? When someone has decided they want a pedigree cat, very few of them will go to a rescue just because someone tells them they should, so my stopping will not achieve a thing. Yes, I've heard the arguments. If every breeder stopped, then we wouldn't have this problem. But let me pose two things against that. Firstly, every breeder will never stop, so by limiting one with good intentions, you limit improvements to a breed which will continue to exist because of customer demand (the hypothetical YOU here). Secondly, we actually need stray cats. There is a small island in the UK who ran a massive spay and neuter drive which was successful. Too successful in fact. They had no more strays, no unwanted kittens produced... And a massive rodent problem. This got so bad that they actually imported many ferals from the mainland to repopulate the island to keep it under control. So while it's not pretty, and doesn't sit easy with me to think of so many cats out there in the cold with hungry bellies, there is a need for them.
There, see? I told you I'd sound defensive, and that's not what I meant to do! I must leave the answering of the above questions and the thoughts on the last part to you, dear reader, and hope that you don't burn me at the stake for my herosy! Let me end my rant on one final note. I know that the CB has had at least one breeder of cats before who was well liked and well supported, and I know also that I would like to be received with the same open arms as she was. I hope that my reasons for breeding, having now been explained, are enough for those who worry so that they will be able to welcome my kittens with open arms and share the joy with me as they are born and grow. Please don't think I'm having a go at any commenter who expressed concerns. I'm not at all, which is why it took me so long to decide to post as I didn't want it coming across that way.
Now, on to other things. Tia's first trip out to stud was unsuccessful, but not because the boy wasn't interested. Madam just didn't come into full call, so I went to pick her up on Tuesday night. On Thursday evening, I took her into the bedroom with me, and took a litterbox in too so that I could shut my door and watch TV without keeping Dogman (he's staying with us over easter) awake. I took the cover off it though, as she's still got this problem of lying on top of it, and I'm still working to discourage her.
She seemed very unsettled all night, and made so many trips to the box that I was on the verge of making a very panicky call to my vet to demand she get out of bed and come treat my cat for a probable bladder blockage! However, she didn't seem in pain, wasn't squatting to try and wee anywhere else, and was happy in herself. I left her till the morning.
When I get up, the first thing I do is go and give miss Tia some good morning lovin', and she, it seemed was in the mood to give some back! As soon as I touched her back end, we had a terrible, prolonged case of elevator bum with the tail over to one side. So the mystery was solved. She didn't have cystitis, she was in call.
Many unspayed females spray when they reach sexual maturity. Tia has manners, and will only do this in her box, but only when the cover is on. As soon as I put it back in the morning, she went and liberally anointed both with what I call hormonal pee because it stinks so badly.
One should always leave a cat until she is in her second day of calling before bringing her to stud, so it wasn't until yesterday morning that I whipped her off for her dirty weekend! I wasn't hopeful, mind. She's been out quite a bit now, and has never let any boy near her, but then she'd not long left this particular man, so shouldn't have the same settling in stress. Indeed, as soon as I let her out of the carrier, she went for a sniff, and ate some of his food. Then she was straight in his tray for a spray, which was good on my end because it let the man know in no uncertain terms that she was in call. The owner said that usually he has her girls mated before she can fully set them down, and he started to pace Tia right away, waiting for his chance. But true to form, she wasn't having any of it, and spat at everything and everyone whenever she got close. Even me when I picked her up! So I got on the floor with the pair of them, and every time she ran to hide, I picked her back up, put her on my knee so that she was higher than him (this helps them feel more secure), and rubbed and rubbed the base of her tail. This gives them some relief when they're calling, and they like it a lot. Gradually, she began to associate seeing him with a pleasurable experience. She's always very wary of her back end being touched at all when she's at stud, and I didn't think I'd totally broken it yesterday.
When I left her, she was still spitting at him, but was also eating again, a sure sign that she wasn't stressed. I didn't think much would happen given her attitude problem, but the owner said she'd call me as soon as something happened.
Well, I waited and waited and forced myself to wait some more. I knew no news wasn't good news in this case, and I was too disheartened to phone her myself for my usual daily update, as I knew what she was going to say. Shortly after 8 last night, she rang me, and I figured that she wanted to get the worst off her chest.
Well, was it the worst thing that could have happened? Only you, dear reader, can decide. But I tell you something, I am very, very pleased to report that at 8 PM last night, miss Tia was mated for the first time! The poor boy had to grab her just as she came out of the litterbox because this was the only time he could get near enough to get hold of her. But he did it! The owner says that now that she's been mated once, she shouldnt' be so resistant to it any more. Tia will stay with the boy for two days, as this is how long he'll mate her for. They will do this quite a few times over the next little while. Well, they will if Tia doesn't continue to be a little monster!
So there you have it, my eggsellent news for today! See what I did there? Yeah, bad, I know, but we needed an egg reference in there somewhere!
Let me end by wishing you all a very happy and healthy easter. This year more than any other signifies the possibility of new life for me, and I can only hope that her little easter eggs are as fertile as the male's half of the equasion. Watch this space!
PS: Any and all comments welcome, even if they are only to tell me to stop being an idiot for being so defensive!