Archive for November, 2006

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Supreme Cat Show – Saturday 25th November

22 November, 2006

If you’re at a loss this Saturday, and fancy seeing some magnificent cats then you must visit the Supreme Cat Show.

To qualify for the show, a cat must win at a GCCF Championship show: Entire cats must have won a challenge certificate, kittens must have won an open class and neuters must have won a premier certificate.

Just as it says on the can: the best of cats will be on show … the pick of cats … hence the “Supreme”.

The show is run by the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy which is the largest cat registry in the UK. It is the largest cat show in the country and differs from the usual GCCF shows. For example, there are special titles unique to the Supreme, and pens can be decorated. (if you go to any other GCCF show, pens are undecorated – cat bedding, cat food/water dishes, litter tray are white so that there is nothing to distinguish one pen from the other).

It’s somewhat mind-boggling to be surrounded by all these superb cats, but it’s a good learning experience. You soon develop an eye for what a top show cat should look like, and why they set the standards.

First you pause at each cat pen, studying each cat carefully, nonchalantly trying to eavesdrop on the breeders who are discussing their cats. Then you realise that you’ve spent 10 mins on just one cat when there are 150 more cats to be seen (which means you’ll be there until midnight long after the cats have gone home). So then you move into museum-zapping mode, and start rushing round in a frenzy trying to see as many cats as possible. But if you do this, you start suffering from supercat-overkill, and after awhile when faced with specimen after specimen of perfection, the cats strangely start looking … normal.

The best compromise is to treat the Supreme like the Louvre, and do a bit of both. Make your way to the Mona Lisa and one or two other select treasures, study them carefully, then having sated your eye, move onto other exhibits. So … find one or two breeds that catch your fancy and devote some time to them. Once you’ve had enough, then move onto the other breeds.

For me, my favourite breeds are of course, the Maine Coon and the Bengal.

Last year’s Best of Variety Semi-Longhair Neuter, Supreme Neuter and Supreme Exhibit was Imperial Grand Premier Dairymaine Chestaton who just happened to be, you’ve guessed … a Maine Coon. A red-tabby boy with a magnificent mane and a wonderful disposition.

But I enjoy looking at the other breeds as well, and I must confess to a strange fascination for the Sphynx. You may have seen one already – it’s the cat without fur and ears like a bat, it looks like something which you would find in a horror movie with mummies and women named Cleopatra. Some people say it’s the ugliest cat in the world. I think it’s so ugly it’s beautiful. Some say it’s a travesty of what a cat should be, and yes, but it’s here to stay and it’s so extreme it’s worth a look. I was fortunate enough to be allowed to pet a male Sphynx once – it felt like a warm peach. As he was hairless, his family jewels were bared for all to see, but he comported himself with such dignity I didn’t dare giggle.

As with every cat show, you will hear the Bengals long before you see them. I don’t know what it is about Bengals. Maybe it’s the wild cat gene, or maybe they hate being penned. Anyway, to say they express themselves vocally is an understatement – it’s like feeding time at the zoo. And once one starts, the others follow. I’ve seen some amazing Bengals. Like little leopards with perfect rosettes and spotting. And I still remember the first time I saw a snow-marbled Bengal. His coat had a sheen like I’ve never seen before – it was like a 3-D illusion – there were layers upon layers of colour that led your eye deeper into the pattern. As you know, the better the coat, the more a Bengal costs. I remember asking the owner how much and his evasive “too much” which hinted at a second mortgage. Hmm … something else to put on my “When I win the National Lottery” list.

Needless to say, in the company of the finest cats, you must be prepared to rub shoulders with cat breeders and other Cat Obsessives (myself excepted of course!).

If you know some of the breeders at the show, then you’re truly fortunate because they will be able to explain some of the more arcane points of cat showing. You may even be privy to the secret rules that govern cat breeding, which as a novice breeder I’m still trying to work out. In fact, I sometimes think it’s easier to become a third degree mason than a reputable cat breeder. Not that I’m one of the former.

I have to confess I’m not familiar with the judging system of a GCCF show. As far as I can work out, the cats are penned all day, and the judges go round with trolleys to take out and examine the cats. Results are based on points given by the judge – you can ask the judge for their opinion of the cat after the show, but otherwise, it’s all very anonymous.

However, what distinguishes the Supreme from other GCCF cat shows is that some of the judging is done before an audience. At present, the only cat shows that do this as a matter-of-course are TICA-run cat shows. And that’s why I prefer TICA shows generally – the judges talk about the cats as they examine them, they explain to the audience what makes the cat special, and if it has any obvious faults. It’s what makes a TICA show such a valuable learning experience and visitors feel more involved.

What more can I add to entice you? Well, the Supreme is the one-stop-shop for cat goodies. Most of the major cat trade suppliers will be there. You will not be able to resist buying the latest cat toy, or stocking up on 3-for-2 bags of cat litter. I remember last year my long-suffering hubby having to borrow the trolley from R&L cat products so that he could lug 9 bags of cat litter to the car. I’d like to say I saved so much on discounted cat litter it paid for the petrol, but alas, no.

And it’s not just stuff for cats, but stuff for humans … T-shirts, scarves, paintings, jewellery – all cat-themed. And the thing is, after awhile, all that over-the-top cat merchandise and people dressed in cat-branded gear start looking normal. It reminds me of the time I went to a world sci-fic convention in Glasgow – I walked past some people dressed as Klingons and Vulcans and didn’t even blink. Context, they call it: so it is in the safety of the Supreme … cat lovers can come out of the closet and express their true inner selves.

It’s a great place to find Christmas presents for cat lovers. (In case anyone wealthy is reading this and would like to make this cat breeder’s cats very happy, please could I have one of the 4-tier cat posts from Cat Palace.nl? The model with the ficus leaves.)

What else? Oh yes, mustn’t forget:

The Supreme Cat Show
Halls 3a and 4
Birmingham NEC (National Exhibition Centre)
http://www.supremecatshow.org/
Tickets £10 for adults

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Homeopathy (1) – Why I use it

5 November, 2006

I was first introduced to homeopathy when Sophie, my tortoiseshell moggie, developed cancer. She’d lost a lot of weight, her liver values were abnormal, she had a palpable tumour in her abdomen. The vet said 3 months max. We decided that at her age (14 years plus) and in her weak condition, surgery or even chemotherapy would have been cruel. He put her on steroids which stimulated her appetite briefly, but had no effect on the tumour or her weight.

So I went the alternative route, and one of the therapies I looked into was homeopathy. The homeopathy I took Sophie to was also a vet. However, the homeopathic consultation was very different from the conventional veterinary procedure. The homeopathic vet wanted to know what Sophie’s personality was like, whether she’d had any emotional shocks, trauma in the previous months, what her diet was. Then he prescribed some remedies: Nux Vomica, Carcinocin and Lycopodium, one tablet of each remedy to be taken twice daily for 2 days followed by the next remedy and then the next.

Unfortunately, the treatment didn’t have the miracle effect I was looking for. None of the other alternative therapies I tried succeeded either. And I was reeling from an enormous bill from the homeopathic vet which was far higher the consultation charges of a conventional vet. Plus after the initial consultation if I’d wanted to ask the vet anymore questions, there would have been additional charges. Homeopathy was such a strange territory for me, I would have appreciated some hand-holding from the vet. Maybe I was asking too much of someone who had to make a living from animals, maybe I an idealist who thought alternative therapists should not to be so mercenary. I was pissed off, to say the least – what was the big deal in homeopathy?

Then after a long period of grieving, I got a pair of kittens – a Bengal and a Maine Coon.

The Maine Coon was going to be my breeding queen. But when she first started calling, she started peeing inappropriately, on the door mat, in the bath etc. I was advised to get her checked by the vet, because one of the causes of inappropriate peeing by cats is a urinary tract infection. (Apparently some say that the pain of a UTI drives the cat to pee in the owner’s presence, as a means of telling the owner that something is wrong.) True enough, the vet took a sample of her urine and confirmed that she had a UTI.

The conventional method of dealing with a UTI is with antibiotics, and that’s what she got, an injection of, and a week’s supply of tablets.

A week went by and she was still peeing in the wrong places and her eyes were willing me to help her. So, back to the vet, more antibiotics, different ones. Another week in which the door mat got replaced by a plastic sheet, another test and still the UTI persisted.

It didn’t take rocket science to see that the antibiotics were not having an effect. But as far as the vet was concerned, there was no other choice but the antibiotics route. In the meantime my girl was in pain and I would have done anything to get her a cure.

So how did my girl’s story end? Happily this time.

I was then in correspondence with Michelle Bernard of the Blakkatz cattery in the US. If you’ve read my last post on raw feeding, you’ll know that Michelle is the guru on raw-feeding for cats, and she also has a wealth of holistic knowledge based on years of breeding cats.

I was at my wits end when I told her about my girl’s UTI, and Michelle very generously responded with her time and help. She asked me questions about my cat. About what was happening in her life at the moment. What her personality was like. And then she prescribed a homeopathic remedy: Pulsatilla.

Why Pulsatilla? Well, Pulsatilla is one of the remedies used for cystitis (which is a urinary tract infection). But Pulsatilla also has an affinity for personalities which are gentle, yielding and affectionate and that was my girl inside out. The Bengal girl was bullying my Maine Coon girl and Michelle felt that the stress of the bullying while she was calling may have triggered the UTI.

The Pulsatilla worked. One dose of 30C, that’s all it took. I felt I was on the brink of something mysterious but wonderful with homeopathy. In the hands of a master practitioner, homeopathy is a powerful tool, and I was fortunate to have Michelle Bernard there to guide me. (And I’ll tell you something else … unlike the homeopathic vet who charged a small fortune, Michelle didn’t ask for anything – that’s a big-hearted person. But I sent her a payment because that was only fair.)

Then Teddy, my neuter boy fell suddenly ill. We were out one day, when we got home Teddy was lethargic and had runny poo. Later, he climbed onto the bed and lay there not moving. At first I thought it was a bit of a tummy problem but the next morning he wasn’t any better. What got me really worried was that the Bullying Bengal had placed herself next to him and was warming him with her body and licking him as if to comfort him.

I rushed him to the vet. He had a temperature. It was an infection. At this point you would have thought I’d learnt my lesson and gone down the homeopathic route, but no … I panicked and allowed the vet to give him an antibiotic jab, his explanation being that in Teddy’s weakened state, it was easy for secondary infection to set in, and the antibiotic was to prevent that from happening.

Poor Teddy. The antibiotic jab didn’t help. I remember carrying him into the garden for fresh air and he just staggered around.

So … yes, I went to my healer of last resort, Michelle Bernard. I don’t think she was too impressed by the fact that Teddy had already had an antibiotic jab because apparently the energy of the antibiotic would interfere with any homeopathic remedies. If he hadn’t had an antibiotic, then possibly Belladonna might work because of the sudden and acute nature of his illness

But I remembered how my girl responded to Pulsatilla even though she’d been on antibiotics. So I tried Belladonna. I was lucky and Teddy got visibly better before my eyes.

So you might be thinking … maybe it was the antibiotics. But the antibiotic had been administered the day before. I believe it was the Belladonna because of the speed of his recovery. It showed me that the correct homeopathic remedy, properly selected, works.

After that incident I realised that I needed to know more about this non-orthodox method of healing. I was also conscious of the fact that I could not keep running to Michelle every time there was a crisis. So she recommended that I enrol on an on-line beginner’s course on homeopathy, run by Sheri Nakken (a nurse and qualified homeopath): http://nccn.net/~wwithin/homeo.htm. I highly-recommend this course as a good introduction to homeopathy. I also recommend reading Michelle Bernard’s very comprehensive and easy-to-understand explanation on homeopathy on her site: http://www.blakkatz.com/homeopathy.html – she says it better than many other sites devoted to homeopathy.