Choosing a Russian Blue

The Russian Blue, also known as the Archangel Cat, is a gentle, courteous cat that wears a perpetual Mona Lisa smile. This breed is a growing favorite with feline fanciers. Although currently still rare, an increasing number of cat lovers are discovering the joys of singing rhapsodies in blue. With his vivid green eyes, silver-blue coat and pleasing body style, the Russian Blue is a strikingly beautiful breed. And his pleasing personality and playful temperament make him a delightful companion.

History and Origin of Russian Blue Cats

The Russian Blue has been around long enough for its ancestry to be shrouded in legend and conjecture. According to accounts, the Russian Blue has existed for centuries in the White Sea port town of Archangel in northern Russia, about 150 miles from the Arctic Circle. No direct evidence exists to prove this, but the breed’s thick coat gives credence to the theory that they developed in a cold climate, and, according to reports, Blue shorthairs still exist in Russia today.

It’s thought that British sailors transported Russian Blue cats to Great Britain in the 1860s. At the first modern-day cat show held at London’s Crystal Palace in 1871, a Russian Blue was shown under the name “Archangel Cat.” Early photos show the cat as a solid blue feline of foreign type with a short, dense, glossy coat. Besides Archangel Cat, in the past, the breed was also known as the Spanish Blue, Foreign Blue and Maltese Blue. Over the years, the term “Maltese” came to mean any solid blue cat.

In 1912, the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy (GCCF) acknowledged that the Russian Blue was distinctly different from the British Blues with which it had been competing and granted the breed a class of its own. The breed made good progress until World War II when it almost ceased to exist. While people were struggling to stay alive, maintaining their cats’ bloodlines wasn’t their main priority.

During the 1940s and 1950s, two breeder groups, one in Britain and one in Scandinavia, worked to save the breed from extinction by crossbreeding the few hardy survivors with other breeds like the Blue Point Siamese and the British Blue. In 1965, a group of British breeders began efforts to restore the Russian Blue to its original appearance by breeding together the lines developed in Scandinavia and Britain.

The Russian Blue arrived in America in the early 1900s, but it was not until the 1960s that serious attempts at promoting and developing the breed began. Imports from Britain helped improve the U.S. stock, and today America’s Russian Blue is considered so highly that examples of the breed have been sent to Europe to improve their bloodlines. While still uncommon, the Russian Blue has gained an enthusiastic following both in North America and in nearly every other continent of the world.

Appearance of a Russian Blue

The Russian Blue’s body style is “foreign,” which means long, lithe and slender. While appearing slim, the Russian Blue is actually quite muscular and strong and can leap to the top of the tallest bookcase with ease. Its head is wedge-shaped, but the face appears broader than it actually is because of the wide set of the eyes and the thick facial fur. The large ears are also set far apart and are wide at the base. The slight upturn to the corners of the mouth makes Russian Blues appear to be forever smiling at some secret joke. The eyes are always vivid green.

This breed’s most distinctive feature – its beautiful coat – is silky, plush and so dense it stands out from the body. The thick undercoat gives the coat its density, and no doubt helped protect the cat from the harsh winters in its native land.

The Russian Blue, as one might expect, comes in only one color and pattern – solid blue. The color that cat fanciers call blue is actually gray to the rest of us. The coat’s outer hairs are decorated with silver tipping that reflects light, giving the coat a silvery sheen. Although blue is the only color accepted by the North American registries, other colors are accepted in other countries. The Australian Cat Federation (ACF), for example, accepts the Russian in blue, black, and white.

Russian Blue Cat’s Personality

Russian Blues are gentle, reserved cats that usually can be found under the bed when strangers come to call. Russian Blues like their usual routine and dislike environmental changes more than the average cat. With their own chosen humans, however, they are playful and affectionate and develop close bonds of loyalty and love. Active but not annoyingly so, Russian Blues like nothing better than retrieving a tossed cat toy or chasing sunbeams for your amusement. Agile and light-footed, Blues pussyfoot about the house with the grace of small, furry dancers.

Choosing a Siamese

The Siamese is the most universally recognized domestic cat breed on the planet and one of the oldest, with a history as colorful as the cat herself. These sleek, vocal cats with big baby-blue eyes and striking pointed pattern originated hundreds of years ago in Siam (now Thailand), where they were held in high esteem. According to legend, for generations the kings of Siam kept Siamese cats in the royal palace. Siamese were considered worthy companions for Siam’s royalty and religious leaders.

History and Origin of Siamese Cats

The Siamese has been around for many centuries. The Siamese is described and depicted in the Cat-Book Poems, a manuscript written in the city of Ayudha, Siam, sometime between 1350 when the city was founded and 1767 when the city was destroyed by invaders. The illustrations in the manuscript clearly show cats with slim bodies and legs and pale-colored coats with dark coloring on the ears, tails and feet.

In 1871, Siamese cats were first exhibited in Britain in the first modern-day cat show at London’s Crystal Palace, where they were disparagingly described as an “unnatural, nightmare kind of cat.” Nevertheless, the Siamese rapidly became popular among British fanciers. By the early 1900s, the Siamese had made the move to America, where the breed quickly became popular with American cat lovers as well. The breed is now the most popular shorthair in America, and third most popular breed overall, according to CFA’s registration statistics.

Siamese Cat’s Appearance

The most striking feature of a Siamese (next to her big blue eyes) is the point-restricted coat pattern, for which the breed is famous. This means that the body of the cat is always a light color while the face, tail, paws and ears (the points) are always a darker color.

The point-restricted pattern is caused by a gene that reduces the amount of pigment in the hair. The pattern is controlled by an enzyme that produces greater depth of color at the areas farthest away from the heart. The skin temperature of the body’s extremities is a few degrees lower than the rest of the body, and therefore attracts more pigmentation. The body hair contains little pigment, but the “points” of the body – the face, tail, feet and ears – contain more.

The Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA) recognizes the Siamese in only four colors: seal point, blue point, chocolate point and lilac point. However, other cat associations accept additional colors including red point, cream point, cinnamon point, fawn point, tortie point, lynx point and tortie lynx point. In the CFA, these colors of Siamese are considered a separate breed called the colorpoint shorthair. Most of the other cat associations, however, consider these cats to be simply color variations of the Siamese.

The Siamese is a shorthaired cat. The longhaired version is considered a separate breed, called the Balinese. This breed is also pointed. In the CFA, the Balinese comes is seal point, blue point, chocolate point and lilac point. The longhaired version of the Siamese with other color points is referred to as the Javanese, considered yet another separate breed by the CFA. Other cat organizations do not consider the Javanese to be a separate breed but merely an extension of the Balinese.

Two body types exist. The show Siamese is characterized by a long, elegant, svelte body, refined, tapering lines, and a long, tapering wedge-shaped head. The ears are strikingly large and pointed, the eyes slanted and almond-shaped, and the tail whip-long and tapered to a fine point. This variety enjoys championship competition status in most of the cat associations.

The traditional or old-style Siamese (also known as the Applehead) is a medium- to large-sized robust cat with a muscular build and substantial bone structure. The head is rounded rather than wedge-shaped, and the ears are medium-sized and rounded at the tips.

Personality of a Siamese

The Siamese are well known for their talent for communicating with their human friends. If you crave peace and quiet when you return home from earning the cat food, this breed may not be for you. The Siamese’s loud raspy yowl can be a bit annoying to some, but Siamese fanciers value the breed’s skill at communication. Siamese are masters at human manipulation with their attention-getting yowls and their belief that the world rotates around them.

Shoulder perchers and cat toy fetchers, Siamese are social and dependent upon their human companions. They are intelligent and loyal and crave attention, affection and active involvement in your life. If left alone too often, they pine. Once you develop a close relationship, however, you have a loving and devoted companion for life.

The Top 8 Reasons Why Your Kitty Won’t Use the Litter Box

Why won’t cats use the litterbox? There are several reasons that we will tell you in this article. We will also give you solutions to help you solve your litter box problems.

Litter box avoidance and inappropriate elimination (urinating outside the litter box) are the most frequent and irritating disagreements humans have with their kitties.
Inappropriate urination and defecation may mean that the litter box facilities are sub-par, that there’s a medical problem or, in the case of marking behavior, that your cat is trying to signal something.

Cats use elimination of urine (and sometimes feces) for communication – a kind of pee-mail if you will. That can be a sign that something is wrong. In the latter situation, your kitty is not mean or spiteful. She’s got a problem and you’ll have to figure out what it is if you want it to go away.

Punishing your cat for inappropriate elimination will not solve the problem. It will only teach her to fear and avoid you and eliminate when you’re not around. In fact, it can actually make the problem worse, since inappropriate elimination is often caused by stress, and punishment will only add to her stress level.

What Should You Do if Your Cat Doesn’t’ Use the Litter Box?

When your cat eliminates outside the box, you should first schedule an appointment with your veterinarian. Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease(FLUTD), a group of disorders and diseases affecting the urinary tract, and colon disorders, such as irritable bowel disease, can cause inappropriate elimination.

Symptoms of FLUTD include frequent voiding, straining at the end of urination, and blood in the urine. If your cat shows any of these signs, schedule an appointment immediately. Both males and females are at risk, but males are more likely to develop life-threatening blockages. If your cat strains to urinate and only produces a tiny amount of urine, rush him to the veterinarian. This is a life-threatening emergency.

Once your veterinarian rules out a physical problem, then you should start to unravel the problem by looking at what’s going on in your cat’s life. Watch carefully and find out when and where she is eliminating inappropriately, and what’s happening in the household at the time.

Recognizing the reasons for litter box avoidance and addressing the cause will help you find a solution to the problem. With understanding, patience, and persistence, most such problems can be overcome.

Here are the top eight reasons cats won’t use the litter box with some helpful solutions:

8 Common Reasons Cat’s Won’t Use the LitterBox

1. Dirty Litter Box

A common reason for litter box avoidance is the cat’s natural cleanliness. If you think the box smells bad, just imagine how it smells to your cat, since she has 200 million odor-sensitive cells in her nose compared to your 5 million. If she is turning up her nose at the box and eliminating elsewhere, it could be that it’s not clean enough and offends her sensitive olfactory apparatus. In the wild, there’s a good reason for such fastidiousness. Predators locate prey by scent. This is one good reason why cats are so careful about covering their waste – to keep bigger predators from locating them. A dirty litter box can make your cat feel vulnerable.

Clean the box often. Scoop out the soiled litter and solid wastes daily or twice a day, and change the litter and scrub the box with warm, soapy water weekly if you are using regular clay litter. Don’t use harsh cleaners, such as bleach, to clean the box; they may offend your cat’s delicate sense of smell further and add to the problem.

Some cats are simply fussier than others, so a weekly scrubbing might not be enough. If so, you might try a clumping litter. With clumping litters, the litter needs changing less frequently and still remains relatively odor free. By scooping out the clumps and solid wastes once or twice a day, depending upon the number of cats you have, you can make all but the most sensitive cats happy. Ultimately, you and your cat will have to reach an agreement on the cleaning frequency.

2. Placement

Location is also vital. If your cat doesn’t like the litter box’s location, she may not use it. For example, if you place the litter box too close to her food and water dishes, she may avoid the box since cats don’t like to eat and eliminate in the same area. If the box isn’t easily accessible – for example, down in the basement or up on the top floor – she may not be able to get there in time or may think it’s too much trouble. If she has to brave some stressor to get to the box, such as a noisy water heater, the washer, and dryer, or a dominant cat’s territory, she may look for a safer place to eliminate. Cats like quiet, safe, private places to do what they have to do. Follow your cat and observe what’s going on.

The Fine Art of Litter Box Care

It is important to know how to care for your cats litterbox to help insure that your cat uses the box. We will give you our best tips to care for your cats box to prevent or fix behavioral problems in your cats.

As you may realize, one of the cat’s most attractive features is that she comes with an automatic waste disposal system. Cats need no daily walks in the blinding snow or blistering heat, no long and sometimes unsuccessful house-training.

Just show kitty the litter box, and in most cases she’ll instinctively do her business and considerately cover up the results, too.

However, buying the appropriate litter box and filler is important to your kitty. Not every litter box and filler is right for every cat, and what works for one may not work for another. Cats, as we know, are individuals with distinct personalities and preferences.

Fortunately, today’s cat lover has myriad choices, and one of them will keep kitty purring. Here are some tips on how to choose the right litter box and litter and how to care for the litter box.

The Right Stuff

If your cat isn’t happy with the litter he may avoid the box, so finding the right kind is important. Litters can be separated into seven basic categories:

  • Regular clay. These litters absorb fluids very well, control odors and are inexpensive and economical. Some are formulated with antibacterial agents and many have additives that absorb, neutralize or mask odors. However, clay litter is often quite heavy, a problem if you have trouble hefting weighty containers. If solid wastes aren’t scooped daily and the litter isn’t completely replaced regularly, odor and box avoidance can become a problem, particularly if you have multiple cats. But a highly scented litter often isn’t the answer – some cats dislike the added fragrances even more than the litter box odors themselves.

    Tracking and dust can be problems as well. The finer the grade, the more a litter will track, creating a beach effect around the house. Fine clay dust billows up when some clay litters are poured into the box. Litters formulated to be dust-free can help, but few clay litters truly live up to that claim. If you or your cat has asthma or other respiratory conditions, consult your doctor or veterinarian before using clay litters.

  • Clumping clay. Most of these litters contain sodium bentonite, a clay that swells and forms hard clumps when it encounters fluid. Clumping litters are popular because they cement the cat’s urine into easily removable clumps that can be scooped out when solid wastes are removed. They help control odors and, because the entire contents of the litter box needn’t be dumped as often, clumping litters are economical and useful in multi-cat households. Unless you enjoy plumbing problems, don’t flush these litters. Dust can be major concern with clumping litters, too, and because of the smaller granules tracking is often a problem.

    According to some sources, clumping clay litters containing sodium bentonite can cause feline health problems, although this has not been conclusively proven. When a cat finishes using the litter box, he typically washes his feet, and any litter left on the paws is ingested. It’s not hard to believe that a product that stops up plumbing might stop up kitty plumbing as well. Reportedly, once inside your cat the litter swells and clumps, causing blockages in cat’s digestive tract, particularly dangerous in young cats and kittens.

    To be on the safe side, use clumping litters for adult cats only, and buy a dust free variety. Clumping clay litters made without sodium bentonite are now available, and may be a safer choice. Read more about the issue at www.sonic.net/~marina/articles/hornfeldt.html and www.thelighthouseonline.com/marina/articles/moredata.html.

 

 

  • Plant and plant by-products. These earth-friendly, biodegradable, renewable source litters are made of various plant materials like wheat, corn, grass, alfalfa, peanut shells and citrus, and are either formed into pellets or granules. These may be a better choice if you or your cat has health concerns, because they produce little or no dust. Most are lightweight, smell fresh and clean and control odors well without the use of chemicals or additives. While they don’t form hard clumps like clumping clay litters, many form soft clumps that are possible to scoop out, although they do break apart more easily. Unlike clay litters, most can be flushed down the toilet in small amounts, so don’t contribute to growing landfill problems. The downside to these are tracking, availability and cost. Lighter litters tend to track more, particularly the granules, and are easier to scratch out of the box.

Choosing a Manx

To some folks, a cat without an elegant and expressive tail to lash with anger, frizz with fear and hold high with self-assurance is missing an indispensable part of its character. Manx lovers are not of this mind, however, and the enthusiastic fanciers of this breed assert that the Manx has as much feline character as any tailed cat, and maybe more. This round, huggable breed so well known for its want of tail is long on personality and has a long, fascinating history to match.

History & Origin of Manx Cats

The Manx has existed for many centuries on the Isle of Man, a small island located in the Irish Sea midway between Liverpool, England, and Belfast, Ireland. Since the Isle had no indigenous feline species from which the Manx could develop, domestic cats must have been introduced by human settlers and explorers, but who and when is not known. Some believe that the Manx is descended from British shorthairs, which is likely given the proximity of Britain to the Isle. Many trading vessels stopped at the Isle, however, so the Manx’s ancestors could have come from another part of the world.

Geneticists believe that the Manx’s lack of a tail is the result of a spontaneous natural mutation that occurred within the Isle’s domestic cat population. Given the Isle’s closed environment and small gene pool, the dominant gene that governs the Manx’s lack of tail easily passed from generation to generation. But no one knows for sure when this happened, or even if the mutation occurred on the island itself.

What we do have are myths and legends to account for the Manx’s lack. According to one such tale, the Manx is a cross between a cat and a rabbit (for the record, that’s biologically impossible). Another story claims that Irish invaders stole the cats’ tails to use for their helmet plumes, and forever after the cats nipped off the tails of their kittens to protect them from the thieves. A third says two cats were passengers on Noah’s ark, but as they were late in boarding, Noah slammed the door on their tails.

Max Cat’s Appearance

The Manx is the only breed of truly tailless cat. The overall impression of the Manx is that of roundness, enhanced by the lack of tail. From the round head and prominent cheeks to the round rump and rounded, muscular thighs, the Manx is a sturdy, solid, roly-poly cat. The chest is broad, the front legs short and substantial, and the back short and arching from shoulders to rump. The hind legs are much longer than the forelegs, causing the rump to be considerably higher than the shoulders. Male Manx usually weigh 10 to 12 pounds and females usually weigh eight to 10.

The coat is glossy, short and dense, and possesses a cottony undercoat that gives the Manx a well-padded appearance. The Cymric (KIM-rick), the longhaired version of the Manx, is identical to the Manx in every way except hair length. The Cat Fanciers’ Association considers the longhaired Manx to be a division of the Manx breed, but most other associations consider it a breed in its own right.

The “Manx gene” produces a variety of tail lengths. Tail types are broken into four classifications: rumpy, rumpy-riser, stumpy, and longy. Rumpies are highly prized by show enthusiasts, since this is the type favored in the show ring. They are completely tailless, and often have a dimple at the base of the spine where the tail would normally begin. Rumpy-risers have a short knob of tail that consists of one to three vertebrae connected to the last bone of the spine. Risers can be shown if the vertical rise of the tail doesn’t stop the judge’s hand when the cat is stroked. Stumpies have a short tail stump that is often curved or kinked; stumpies are usually pet quality. Longies have tails that are almost as long as an average cat’s. Many breeders dock the tails of these pet-quality kittens to make them easier to place and also to avoid a manifestation of the Manx gene, which causes the tail vertebrae to ossify in later years, causing great pain.

Manx’s Personality

The Manx may be short of tail, but it’s long on personality. Fans say Manx get their feelings across very well without a tail to swish. Intelligent, even-tempered and adaptable, Manx cats form strong bonds of love and trust with their chosen humans. While they usually choose one special person, they get along well with all family members, including children, other cats and even dogs. Manx adapt well to most situations. They are playful, too, and enjoy a good game of fetch. Manx are fascinated by water – possibly from all those years surrounded by it on the Isle of Man. Manx are exceptional jumpers because of their powerful back legs, and no cupboard or shelf is safe from the curiosity of the Manx. If given the opportunity, Manx become good mousers.

Cat Colors and Coat Patterns

Our beautiful domestic cats come fabulously clothed in hundreds of color, pattern and coat varieties, a pretty amazing feat for a species that developed from a rather drab-looking desert animal. The African wildcat, the predecessor of our modern domestics, is a shorthaired sandy brown cat with Abyssinian-type ticking and tabby stripes. This color and pattern combination acts as effective camouflage in the cat’s native desert environment.

After cats began their association with humans, however, they were transported into other areas and climates, and Mother Nature did the rest – spontaneous genetic mutation brought us the myriad colors, patterns and coat varieties we enjoy today. Because of these mutations, our feline friends come in hundreds of color and pattern combinations. Humans also played a role in coloring outside the bloodlines through selective breeding.

While all of these choices are great for the cat lover who likes variety, they also can be confusing. What does a “lilac” cat look like? What’s the difference between a tortoiseshell and a calico? And just what the heck is a particolor? Read on for a short course in cat color and pattern.

Color

A cat’s color depends upon the presence of pigmentation in the epidermis. For cats, only two pigments exist: black and red. All cats, no matter what color they are on the outside, are genetically either black or red, or in females, a combination of the two. All other colors result from other genetic factors or modifiers acting on these two pigments. Pigments are produced in cells called melanocytes, and the distribution and number of these cells are determined by the cat’s genetic makeup. These cells pass the pigment onto the cat’s hair, skin and eyes, and create the pattern and color.

Three specific genes are essential to the cat’s colorful exterior: pigment, color and density. The pigment gene determines the amount of pigment that’s distributed over the cat’s body. The color gene determines the intensity of the cat’s color. The density gene determines the density of the pigmentation; the more densely packed the pigment, the darker the color will be. For example, in order for a cat to appear black, the cat must possess three genes: B for black pigmentation, D for dense coloration, and C for full color. These are all dominant genes. However, these genes have corresponding recessive mutations that can change the cat’s appearance.

Sex-linked Color

The gene for red (also called orange) is carried on the X chromosome, and that’s why it’s called a sex-linked color. Females have two X chromosomes, while males have one X and one Y chromosome. Since the X chromosome is longer than the Y, no location for the red gene exists on the Y chromosome. Therefore, male cats with their one X chromosome always express whatever color gene is present on that chromosome. If the gene is red, he will be a red tabby. If he receives the black gene he will be black or one of its variations, depending upon his genetic makeup. Females, on the other paw, can have both the gene for red and the gene for black, which gives us the colorful tortoiseshell with patches of both colors. Male cats can only be tortoiseshell if they are born with an extra X chromosome, a very rare occurrence. However, male tortoiseshells are not extremely valuable as is sometimes thought.

The Tabby Pattern

When talking about cats, “pattern” refers to the color distribution on a cat’s coat that forms a particular pattern, such as tabby stripes. Just as all cats are genetically black or red, all cats are genetically tabbies, no matter what pattern they appear to be on the outside. All possess one or more of four tabby genes: mackerel, classic, ticked and spotted. Although these patterns are quite different in appearance, they are all variations of the mackerel tabby from which the others arose.

The Seven Ancient Mutations

So now we know all cats are tabbies and are either black or red (or both if female). However, the presence of other genes can mask the stripes and cause changes in the cat’s coloration. Researchers have identified seven mutations that occurred many years ago, when felines had only recently become so-called domestic animals. These mutations are not the only ones that affect color and pattern, but they are essential for the myriad color, pattern, and coat varieties we see in cats today. They are:

  • The classic tabby pattern, which is recessive to the original mackerel tabby pattern.
  • Sex-linked red, which changes black to red.
  • Non-agouti, which masks the tabby pattern. If a cat inherits two copies of the non-agouti gene, she will have no stripes, although genetically she’s still a tabby.
  • Dominant white, which is dominant to, and masks the expression of, all other color genes. This gene can also mask the underlying stripes. Combined with blue eyes, this gene has been linked to deafness in cats.
  • Dilute, which is recessive to dense coloration; this mutation creates a softer, paler version of a dominant color. For example, blue is the dilute of black, and cream is the dilute of red.
  • Piebald spotting factor, which creates areas of white. This gene is incompletely dominant and is affected by modifying genes, which causes the white areas to vary greatly in size and location.
  • Long hair, which is recessive to short hair.

    A system of internationally recognized symbols was established to make it easier to understand the feline color genes and relationships to one another. Capital letters indicate dominant genes while lower case letters represent recessive genes.

  • Showing Your Cat

    You want to show off your pampered purebred, the most beautiful, intelligent, personable cat on the planet. At least, you think so, and you can't help thinking others will, too. You are ready to enter the exciting but often confusing world of the cat fancy. Here's how to get started.

    Does Your Cat Qualify?

    To compete, your kitty must be a pedigreed (with proper documentation) member of a breed accepted by the association sponsoring the show. He or she must be healthy, vaccinated, and free of fungus, parasites, and infectious diseases. In some associations, your cat cannot be declawed. And she must meet the conditions of the category in which she'll be shown. For a complete list of the competition classes, see Let's Go to a Cat Show!.

    The HHP Category

    Is your feline friend not pedigreed? No problem. You can still show her in the non-championship household pet (HHP) category. In this category, cats without papers and random-bred domestics are judged on their beauty, personality, demeanor and grooming rather than on a breed standard. The same basic rules apply, but HHPs must be altered. The Happy Household Pet Cat Club, an organization for HHP exhibitors, offers a wealth of HHP show information at www.hhpcc.org.

    The Breed Standard

    First, obtain and study your breed's standard. Some cat associations post their standards online, and others will mail them for a small fee. This "standard of perfection" is a guideline that describes the breed's ideal characteristics and assigns those traits a number of points according to their importance, totaling 100 points. The cat's "condition," meaning her grooming and overall health and balance, is also taken into consideration. Undesirable traits, called objections, faults or penalties, are also noted in the standard. The standards can vary from one association to another, so it's important to be familiar with the standard of the association in which you'll be showing.

    Generally, the standard covers four areas: head, body, coat and color. Although judges don't give each cat a point score when determining the winner, the points can be used as a guide to determine each trait's importance. For example, let's say you're showing Curly, your Cornish Rex. CFA's standard allots the head 25 points, the body 30 points, the coat 40 points and the color 5 points. Therefore, Curly's coat is his most important trait and his color is the least. So even if Curly has the best color in the galaxy, he won't win if his coat isn't up to par.

    Finding a Show

    Check the "Show and Go" calendar in Cats Magazine (www.catsmag.com) for upcoming shows. Show information is also available at association websites and by mail. The Cat Fanciers' Association (CFA) is the largest association that sponsors cat shows, but it's not the only one. Cat fanciers have nine from which to choose:

  • CFA (www.cfainc.org)
  • The International Cat Association (www.tica.org)
  • American Cat Fancier's Association (www.acfacat.com)
  • American Association of Cat Enthusiasts (www.aaceinc.org)
  • Canadian Cat Association (www.cca-afc.com)
  • Cat Fancier's Federation (www.cffinc.org)
  • Traditional Cat Association (www.traditionalcats.com)
  • United Feline Organization (941-753-8637)
  • National Cat Fanciers' Association (810-659-9517)

    Before the Show

    Visit a few shows to get a feel for the process before you enter your cat. The associations have written rules dictating how shows will be run and what you must do to compete. These rules vary from one association to another, so obtain and read the show rules of the association in which you'll be showing. Some associations have rules, standards, and forms available on their Web sites.

    Registering and Entering

    To be shown, your cat must be registered with the association sponsoring the show. Your breeder will have provided a certificate of pedigree and a registration form for the association or associations of which he or she is a member. Fill out the registration form and send it and the appropriate fee to your chosen association. When the proper forms and fees are received, your cat is eligible to enter that association's shows. If you wish to show her in more than one association, you'll have to register her with each.

    To enter a show, obtain and fill out the entry form and send it and the appropriate fee to the entry clerk. Such forms can be obtained from the entry clerk or sometimes from the association website. The closing date for entering is usually a month or more before the show, so allow time for paperwork processing.

    Preparing Your Cat

    If your cat has never been shown, prepare her for the commotion of the show hall. Her mental readiness is just as important as her grooming. Get your cat used to being kept in a benching cage by caging her for short periods, always inside your home and always under supervision, of course. Pet supply stores carry such cages. Also, accustom her to being handled by strangers. While cats are not judged on obedience as dogs are, a cat that struggles wildly, cowers in terror, or claws the judge to pieces won't make a good impression. Well before the show, have friends come over and pretend to judge your kitty. Have them take her out of the cage, carry her to a "judging table," hold her up, stretch her out, run a hand through her fur, and wave a feather in front of her. Always offer praise and a special treat afterward so she will associate rewards with the experience.

  • Choosing a Cornish Rex

    When you first encounter the Cornish rex, you might think you’re looking at something that beamed down from the Mother Ship. The breed’s willowy contours, curly coat, satellite dish ears and large soulful eyes give it an unsettling otherworldly appearance. Once you get to know the breed, however, you’ll realize these cats are pure feline. Like small, furry aliens from the planet Rex, Cornish rex abduct your heart and keep you laughing at their playful antics.

    History and Origin of Cornish Rex Cats

    The first Cornish rex was discovered on July 21, 1950, on a farm in Bodmin Moor, Cornwall, England, when Serena, a tortoiseshell and white domestic, gave birth to five kittens. Four were ordinary, but the fifth was unique. Kallibunker, as the kitten was named, was an orange and white male with short, curly fur. Unlike the other kittens that were stocky little domestics, Kallibunker had a long, lithe body, large ears, a slender tail, and a wedge-shaped head.

    Nina Ennismore, the cat’s owner, consulted a British geneticist and on his advice started a breeding program with her mutant mouser. She selected the name Cornish rex because the breed originated in Cornwall and because of the resemblance to the curly-coated Astrex rabbit.

    Two Cornish rex were imported to America in 1957. One died shortly after arrival, but the other, pregnant by one of Kallibunker’s sons, survived and became the foundation for the breed in North America. Since the gene pool was small, breeders initially crossed the Cornish with other breeds such as American shorthairs, Siamese, and Havana browns. This provided genetic diversity and added a vast array of colors and patterns.

    Appearance of a Cornish Rex

    Sometimes compared to the whippet dog because of his lean, racy build, the Cornish rex is built for speed. From torso to tail, the Cornish is long and lean, and the back is naturally arched. The head is small and egg-shaped, the ears large, alert and set high on the head. The eyes are large, oval, and slanting slightly upward. A long Roman nose enhances the head length. Don’t let the slim build fool you, though; the Cornish is no weakling. Under that ultra-short hair are strong muscles and bones.

    The breed’s most celebrated trait, however, is its very short rexed fur. An ordinary cat’s coat is made of three hair types: guard, awn, and down. The Cornish coat, however, completely lacks guard hairs – the long, stiff, outer hairs that act as a barrier against the elements. Very short awn and down hairs cover the entire body in tight, uniform curls. Even the whiskers are short and curly. The fur lies close to the body and is extremely soft, silky, and dense. It feels like warm velvet to the touch. Produced by spontaneous natural mutation, the Cornish’s coat is not unique – it has appeared in other animal species such as rabbits, mice, horses and other cat breeds as well.

    Common colors and patterns include bicolor, solid white, blue, and black, black smoke, and red tabby, although virtually every color and pattern is accepted including the colorpoint (Siamese) pattern. However, since the breed is comparatively rare, not all colors are available.

    Cornish Rex Cat’s Personality

    Cornish rex have great personalities to match their special packaging. They have only two speeds – warp drive and out cold. They are perfect for people who like energetic, inquisitive, agile felines. Everything is a game to the Cornish and many will bring back toys for you to toss again and again. You’ll tire of the game long before your Cornish does. They are adept at climbing, leaping and sprinting and have marvelously nimble paws. No shelf, drawer or cupboard is safe from the curious Cornish.

    Cornish rex are intelligent, people-oriented extroverts. They crave the attention of their preferred people and can be hard to ignore when they’re in a sociable mood, which is most of the time. Keen observers, they quickly learn your routine and insist on helping with every task. Since their thin coats don’t offer much protection from the elements, Cornish are heat-seeking missiles aimed straight at your lap. With their warm suede feel, they make perfect winter lap warmers.

    Grooming a Cornish Rex

    You might expect the ultra-shorthaired Cornish to need no grooming. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Some rex require regular bathing because of the buildup of sebaceous secretions. All cats produce these normal oily secretions, but Cornish rex don’t have as much hair to absorb them as ordinary cats. Allowed to collect, these oily secretions can make the coat look greasy and can even cause skin problems. The need for bathing depends a lot upon the individual cat, however. Some need weekly bathing, while others need a bath every few months. Either way, it’s important to train your Cornish to tolerate bathing early, starting at 16 weeks or so. Since the Cornish’s short, thin coat dries quickly, bathing is not the ordeal it is for ordinary cats.

    Selecting and Showing Your Domestic Longhair Cat

    The longhaired cat is one of Mother Nature’s most beautiful creations. As colorful and diverse as their shorthaired kin, these luxuriously furred cats come in every shape, size, color and pattern.

    Longhaired cats are frequently, but incorrectly, called Persian or Angora cats because two of the oldest and best-known types are known by those names. A Persian-type longhair has a short, compact body, a short tail, and a large, rounded head with a short nose and small ears. The Angora-type longhair is finer-boned with a longer body, legs and tail, smaller head, and larger ears than the Persian, and his coat is not as long and dense.

    While the domestic longhair is not considered a breed as such, random-bred or mixed breed longhairs, with their healthy mix of genes and diverse personalities, coat types and body styles, make champion companions.

    America’s own longhaired breed, the Maine coon, is one of the oldest natural breeds in North America. These cats are tall, muscular, big-boned cats; males commonly reach 13 to 18 pounds, with females normally weighing about 9 to 12 pounds. Today the domestic longhair is second only to the domestic shorthair in popularity.

    Cost of a Domestic Longhair Cat

    Acquiring a domestic longhair is certainly easier and cheaper than getting a purebred. Cost varies depending upon the source. You can often get a free or nearly free domestic longhair from private parties who advertise in your local paper, but often this is not as good a deal as you think. In the long run it can be better to adopt a kitten or cat from your local shelter, SPCA, or rescue organization. Generally, people who allow their cats to breed indiscriminately will do little to ensure the health and socialization of the kittens. Then too, you’ll be doing your part to end the pet overpopulation problem by not supporting people who allow their cats to breed.

    Shelters and rescue organizations, on the other hand, see to it that the cats they adopt out are healthy and well socialized, and often test for serious diseases such as feline leukemia virus and feline AIDS. They also make certain that the cats are spayed and neutered. If you were to buy these services separately for your “free” kitten, it would cost you much more than the adoption fee.

    Our nation’s shelters are overflowing with lovely longhaired cats and kittens that would love the chance to share your life. Visiting your local shelter or humane society is an excellent way of getting your dream cat, and you’ll feel good about saving a worthy cat from possible euthanasia.

    Selection of a Domestic Longhair Cat

    When choosing a domestic longhair kitten, look for a kitten that’s healthy, curious, playful and alert. Look for clean, soft fur, and avoid kittens with a rough or dirty coat. A longhaired kitten will not yet have extremely long hair; the hair grows as the kitten matures. Spread the hairs and examine the roots of the fur. If you see tiny black particles clinging to the hairs, the kitten has fleas.

    A healthy kitten’s eyes are bright and clear and do not run, and the face shouldn’t have tear stains. The kitten should not sneeze or wheeze, and her nose shouldn’t run as this could be a sign of respiratory problems or illness. The ears should be clean and free of dark colored wax, and the kitten shouldn’t shake her head or scratch at her ears. That’s an indication of infection or ear mites. The anus should be free of fecal matter or evidence of diarrhea. Gently pry open the kitten’s mouth. A healthy kitten’s gums and mouth are pink with no sign of inflammation. The teeth are clean and white.

    A kitten’s temperament is equally important. Domestic longhairs are individuals and they behave according to their unique natures. In any given litter you’ll notice a range of behavior. Observe the kittens before you choose. Tempt the kittens with a cat toy and see how they react. Look for a kitten that seems curious, friendly, intelligent and used to handling. Don’t choose a kitten that cowers, runs away in terror, hisses, snarls or struggles wildly. Avoid a kitten that appears too passive or unresponsive as well. This could be a sign of health problems as well as temperament concerns. If all the kittens seem unaccustomed to human contact (provided they are more than six weeks old), go elsewhere. Kittens that have had little early human contact are less likely to form strong, trusting bonds with their human companions.

    Selecting and Showing Your Domestic Shorthair Cat

    The gentle, even-tempered domestic shorthair cat can be considered one of the earliest pioneers to the New World. Indeed, these stocky, muscular cats earned their right as passengers by hunting vermin that infested the first sailing ships to arrive in North America. These working cats flourished along with their pioneer owners and eventually established themselves as the native shorthaired cat.

    With the introduction of foreign breeds to the United States during the early part of the 20th century, the naturally pure bloodlines of these “native” shorthairs began to be diluted. Longhairs and Siamese were being allowed to run free, resulting in kittens with a variety of coat lengths, body types, colors and temperaments. Those who admired the qualities of the native shorthaired cats and wished to preserve them acquired the finest examples of the American shorthair and began to selectively breed them. These pioneer breeders worked to perfect the patterns and colors, while retaining the strong conformation, beautiful face and sweet disposition of the breed.

    Cost of a Domestic Shorthair Cat

    Acquiring a domestic shorthair is certainly easier and cheaper than getting a purebred. You can often get a free or nearly free domestic shorthair from private parties who advertise in your local paper, but often this is not as good a deal as you think. In the long run it may be better to adopt a kitten or cat from your local shelter, SPCA, or rescue organization. Generally, people who allow their cats to breed indiscriminately will do little to ensure the health and socialization of the kittens. Then, too, you’ll be doing your part to end the pet overpopulation problem by not supporting people who allow their cats to breed.

    Shelters and rescue organizations, on the other hand, see to it that the cats they adopt out are healthy and well socialized, and often test for serious diseases such as feline leukemia virus and feline AIDS. They also make certain that the cats are spayed and neutered. One California SPCA charges $60 for a cat adoption. For that price, you get a free veterinary exam, vaccinations, the spay or neuter surgery, and a pet identification tag. If you were to buy these services separately for your “free” kitten, it would cost you much more than $60. Prices vary by location, however, so call your local program for more information.

    Our nation’s shelters are overflowing with lovely shorthaired cats and kittens that would love the chance to share your life. Visiting your local shelter or humane society is an excellent way of getting your dream cat, and you’ll feel good about saving a worthy cat from possible euthanasia. June is Adopt-A-Shelter-Cat Month, and with the annual crop of spring kittens, a variety of domestic shorthairs will be available.

    Selection of a Domestic Shorthair Cat

    When choosing a domestic shorthair kitten, look for a kitten that is healthy, curious, playful, and alert. Look for clean, soft, short fur, and avoid kittens with a rough or dirty coat. Spread the hairs and examine the roots of the fur. If you see tiny black particles clinging to the hairs, the kitten has fleas.

    A healthy kitten’s eyes are bright and clear and do not run, and the face shouldn’t have tear stains. The kitten should not sneeze or wheeze, and her nose shouldn’t run or be crusted as this could be a sign of respiratory problems or illness. The ears should be clean and free of dark colored wax, and the kitten shouldn’t shake her head or scratch at her ears. That’s an indication of infection or ear mites. The anus should be free of fecal matter or evidence of diarrhea. Gently pry open the kitten’s mouth. A healthy kitten’s gums and mouth are pink with no sign of inflammation and the teeth are clean and white.

    A kitten’s temperament is equally important. Domestic shorthairs are individuals and they behave according to their unique natures. In any given litter you’ll notice a range of behavior. Observe the kittens before you choose. Tempt them with a cat toy and see how they react. Look for a kitten that seems curious, friendly, intelligent, and used to handling. Don’t choose a kitten that cowers, runs away in terror, hisses, snarls, or struggles wildly. Avoid a kitten that appears too passive or unresponsive as well. This could be a sign of health problems as well as temperament concerns. If all the kittens seem unaccustomed to human contact (provided they are more than 6 weeks old), move on. Kittens that have had little early human contact are less likely to form strong, trusting bonds with their human companions.

    Showing a Domestic Shorthair Cat

    While the cat associations give preference to purebreds, most associations have a category in which random-bred cats can compete. This is usually called the Household Pet Category (HHP). The purpose of the category is to promote appreciation of cats that are lovely, personable, and well cared for even if they don’t have a piece of paper that tells who their parents are.