There are surely as many reasons for breeding as there are breeders around the world. Some do it for the money, they cut corners on the quality of life of their animals in order to maximise their profit margins. Others do it because they love bringing beautiful kittens into the world, and some of those do not bother to think about over-population issues in the cross-breed or moggie populations. Yet some breed for fame, by showing and winning titles for their cats and cattery and gaining the respect of other competitors. Quite a few breeders enjoy the social side of breeding. -Belonging to a social network of other like-minded people who breed pedigree kittens, who they meet in the show halls around the world, to chat about lines, pedigrees, health issues and sharing their lives with breeding animals and their offspring.
Whilst Wychwood pride ourselves on our show bench accomplishments, and we now have established our own cat club within The International Cat Association (TICA) in order to host cat shows of our very own, we have discovered that we are part of a very select group of breeders who do it for love.
There are many different types of love that a breeder can express. Our first love is for cats. All cats, regardless of type, pedigree (or lack thereof) and background, are loveable in our eyes. They all share that feline “je ne sais quoi” that makes us stop and stroke a cat in the street for the sheer pleasure of sharing that privileged moment “à deux”. The second love, which is necessary in order to be counted amongst the “Good” breeders of this world, is a love of the breed. Breeding is a passion, and it rapidly becomes all-consuming. Conversations tend to centre around pedigrees, breeding lines, and friendships are forged around matings, kittens and breeding cats. Holidays become centered around other cat breeders and acquiring genetic diversity. Feline pedigrees tend to also mirror relationships between humans. Those who share certain lines, are related via beloved cats. Parents of kittens are cherished and likewise, the passing of elderly cats who have contributed to lines and pedigrees are mourned internationally by all those whose kittens live on through that cat. Cats create ties that bind and create community. Some breeders will only work with specific lines, and others will avoid them, but most breeders will embrace friendships within their own breed group, and cats will travel around the world.
Social media has been embraced by certain breed groups, creating even more binding ties and links around the world, as breeders enlarge their social circles to embrace new friends and add to their feline families. This is all for the good of the genetic diversity of breeds, as breeders blend lines and widen their gene pool across most continents. As an example, there are Russian Blue Breeders on six of the seven continents, and Facebook ensures that everyone knows of each other and/or have links with other Russian Blue breeders around the world, in some way or another.
Clearly the love of cats creates links. It has been said before that cat-worshippers are geeky internet-lovers! Dog lovers meet in in parks and go for sociable walks, but us cat lovers are left with nowhere to express our devotion to our pets, and so have taken the internet by storm. Facebook, Twitter, Tumbler and other internet-based social media all help like-minded cat lovers to reach out to each other.
At Wychwood, the Wychwood Family is another example of how cats create ties, and the Wychwood Family is a very central reason to our breeding programme. Each kitten goes to a family that we hand-pick, amongst all of our enquirers. We love our families. They are genuinely lovely people, who open their hearts and their arms to our little babies and love them and cherish them for their whole lives. -What is there not to love?
Cats seem to create culture. Whether pop-culture or academic culture, the result is similar. There is a sense of belonging, of being able to group with like-minded others who love cats. There is always something to share, something to relate to and sympathise with or something to chat about. New kitten owners find themselves overwhelmed by the positive response that they get within their own communities, once they open up and share the passion that they have for their new arrival, or soon-to arrive kitten.
Once of our kitten mums had her soon-to-arrive kitten as her screen-saver at work, and to her surprise someone recognised the little one as a Wychwood simply because they knew another Wychwood mum socially. The chances are slim to nil of this happening, but there was an instant bond created between both mums, and they then kept abreast of each other’s cats. Instant family, just add kittens!
I delight in the social aspect of breeding, and I very much feel that if it takes a village to raise a child, then it takes a community to be an effective breeder.