A kitten on the show bench at a TICA cat show.
When asked what their breeding goals are, responsible breeders will inevitably state that they breed for “Health, Temperament and Type. In that order”.
Showing our cats is a way to ensure that we are achieving those goals.
The majority of pet owners say that they prefer a kitten that is “not show quality”. The assumption is that a “show quality” kitten will be more expensive or somehow more highly strung than a “pet quality” kitten. Very little is understood by the general public, about how important showing our breeding cats is, to responsible breeders of quality pets.
Whilst it is possible for all breeders to produce occasional kittens which have faults that prevent them from being successfully shown, a responsible breeder should be doing everything they can to select away from such faults, so that they only produce show quality kittens. The buyer needs to understand that producing kittens that are have breed faults costs exactly as much as producing top-winning kittens. The financial input is the same, for an ethical breeder who cares for the health of their cats.
A show quality kitten is free from defects of type and temperament. Breed faults of appearance in the Russian Blue include tail deformities, yellow eyes, white patches in the coat anywhere and a pointed coat (siamese pattern). Poor health and an aggressive temperament is a fault across every breed and is penalised by disqualification.
DNA testing is available now to help breeders select away from genetically determined “faults” like Siamese points in the Russian Blue breed, but the other faults such as tail pips or poor eye colour must be selected away from, over several generations, to ensure that they are no longer in the gene pool. To leave faults in the gene pool shows poor selection and a lack of respect towards fellow breeders who are working hard to improve the breed in every new generation. Responsible breeding means taking responsibility for improving one’s small contribution to the entire gene pool of that breed.
Cat shows are necessary for a variety of reasons. They are social events where breeders get to meet other breeders and potentially make connections that will be useful to their breeding programmes. They also facilitate international exchange of genes between breeders who live too far away to meet. Having good results at cat shows is a testimony to the breeder’s grooming practices, socialising skills and their commitment to the health and fitness of their cats. Cats with poor muscular development will not score well at shows. Neither will a dirty, poorly groomed cat. -Cat shows place a strong emphasis on physical fitness, health and friendly temperament and beauty/presentation. All cats, of every breed, which are presented at cat shows, are effectively ambassadors for their breed, but also for their breeder’s ethics and practices.
Regional Winner, Quadruple Grand Champion Zerberus Rosa Glauca, enjoying the show atmosphere from his SturdiShelter.
Buying a kitten from an ethical breeder is investing in the welfare of your favourite breed, and it also helps to minimise the long-term cost of health problems that unethical breeders have not addressed or selected away from.
© Wychwood Russian Blue Cats 2018