GC, BWR, NW Velvetkist Designer Genes
CFA’s Cat of the Year 2016-2017

BY NORALYN HEISIG, Velvetkist Persians

Published May 2017

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CFA's Cat of the Year 2017 is GC, BWR, NW Velvetkist Designer Genes, a magnificent cream and white Persian male.  This gorgeous boy, known as "Gino", was bred, owned and campaigned by Noralyn Heisig of Velvetkist Persians.

This is Gino's story . . .


GC,
NW Velvetkist Designer Genes
CFA's Cat of the Year 2016-2017
Photo by Helmi Flick

In early 2015, I bred my dilute calico, RW Velvetkist A Girl Needs Cash to to GC, DW Zenithi Grisogono of Velvetkist, who is the grandson of GC, DW Velvetkist Tiara of Zenithi, DM.


Gino's Sire: GC, DW Zenithi Grisogono of Velvetkist


Gino's Dam: RW Velvetkist A Girl Needs Cash
Photo by L. Johnson

Casha, is also the little sister to her national winning brothers, GC, NW Velvetkist Fiori Di Como and GC, NW Velvetkist Pack’n Heat.


Noralyn & GC, NW Velvetkist Fiori Di Como
CFA's 10th Best Cat 2010-2011


GC, NW Velvetkist Pack’n Heat
CFA's 2nd Best Kitten 2010-2011 and CFA's Premier of the Year 2014
Photo by L. Johnson

My hope was that Casha would give me a kitten I could show for fun and, with luck, perhaps obtain an RW.

In the spring of 2015, Casha gave birth to four beautiful babies.

I watched the litter of kittens as they grew . . . and one in particular seemed to be gaining size at twice the rate of the others.  He was a cream and white boy that slept and ate and seemed quite content to lay around while the others kittens bopped about playing.

At 12 weeks, I had homes reserved for all the kittens except the large, lazy one.  I named him Velvetkist Designer Genes, Gino for short.  Gino was so different . . . so enormous . . . but to my critical eye, he was a little unrefined and his ears were high.  So, he sat home until six months of age when I took him to the CFA World Show 2015 as a kitten.  He made a couple of finals, but certainly did not set the world on fire. 

So I waited . . . giving him time to mature . . . and my patience paid off . . .

Gino's ears dropped, his coat grew to the floor, and he weighed in at 13 pounds at 9 months of age.  I took him out to grand.  He was a one show grand and finaled in the top 10 with cats that were currently ranked at the top of the national points.  I was thrilled . . . and encouraged to campaign him the following show season.

May 2016 . . . The Journey Begins

We started off the campaign the very first weekend of May at the Rebel Rousers show in Atlanta, Georgia.   Gino finaled very high (and still retains those rings as some of his highest all season).  We were off to a good start.

Gino was massively boned and carried great weight.  When a judge would pick him up for the first time, often you could see their expression of surprise.  Once he impressed the judge with his quality, Gino would charm the judge with his super sweet personality — rubbing their faces and jumping up on the chest to give a kiss.  He was The Big Mush for sure!

Through June, July and August . . . Gino continued his winning ways, raking in many Best Cat rosettes and climbing up the national standings in CFA.


Photo by L. Johnson

A Health Scare . . .

The judges loved Gino and were rewarding him accordingly.  The campaign was going so well. 

Then, mid-show season, I noticed Gino spending a little too much time in his litter box.  I am super-sensitive to the litter box habits of my boys.  A blocked bladder is always a possibility with a whole male.  And I had been down that road before.  Gino's uncle, GC, NW Velvetkist Pack’n Heat (Frankie) was CFA's 2nd Best Kitten in 2011.  Before he had a chance to sire a litter, he blocked, and to save his life he was neutered.  As a neuter, Frankie was CFA's Premier of the Year 2014.

With memories of Frankie on my mind, Gino and I made an emergency trip to the vet.  There was good news — and bad news.  Gino did not have a blocked bladder (Yea!) . . . but he was diagnosed with cystitis, which is inflammation of the bladder from an unknown cause.  His bladder was going into spasms, causing him intense pain.  It was heart-breaking to watch helpless when these spasms occurred.  Gino would lean on the side of the litter box and cry out in pain.

Making things worse, cystitis is a difficult problem to treat.  It is not an infection, so antibiotics don't help.  Vets don't know what causes cystitis really.  Aside from medication to relieve the pain, treatment is more about lifestyle adjustments; more exercise, diet changes.  I didn't care if Gino ever went to another show.  All that mattered to me was getting him healthy and pain-free . . . so while pain medication helped with his comfort, Gino would undergo a lifestyle change.

Gino was always a big, lazy kitty.  He was a real couch potato.  Now I needed to force him to "work out".  So I concocted games we could play together.  Soon he was chasing fluffy balls like a dog.  He loved jumping up to swat at little bugs on a string.  My big couch potato became an athlete!   His cystitis symptoms waned.  He consumed more water.  After weeks of dedicated care, he finally turned the corner.  I could tell he was definitely getting better.  I was over-joyed and relieved.

By the time he was fully recovered, he had missed seven weeks of showing. 

While Gino had regained his health, his magnificent coat was gone.  He re-entered the show ring in his summer pajamas — and he still was awarded many Best Cats.  As one exhibitor said to me, when the structure of a Persian is exceptional, coat is just icing on the cake.

While always monitoring his health, I concentrated on working to improve his show condition.  He gained weight . . and his coat was coming back strong.  Coat is genetic — the kitty either has it or it doesn't — and Gino was a cat with big hair potential.  However, maintaining a big Persian coat it is a challenge.  Keeping the coat long and pristine is an every day chore.  His diet included skin and coat supplements. A daily comb-out was routine.  Mid-week conditioning baths were must-dos and of course, he had his show bath every weekend. The show bath routine alone took two hours from start to finish.

Gino continued to blossom and by the CFA International Show, he was once again in prime condition and ready to take on the best cats in CFA.


Head Study of Gino
Photo by Helmi Flick

The CFA International Show . . . and Beyond

The CFA International Show was held November 19-20, 2016 in Novi, Michigan.  It is arguably the most prestigious show on the CFA calendar with more than 500 cats competing over the weekend, representing 40 pedigreed breeds.

Gino was highest scoring cat in Championship in the Red Show — and went on to final in the Top 3 in the Best of the Best final.  Gino was back!

After the International Show, Gino moved into the #1 spot in the Championship national standings of CFA.  He maintained his top ranking for the rest the season.


Noralyn & Gino at the CFA International Show 2016

At the largest CFA show of the year, the prestigious San Diego Food & Water Bowl held in January in California, he was Best across the board. In the following months, Gino received many Best Cats and was Highest Scoring Cat In Show many more times. 

At the season's end, GC, BWR, NW Velvetkist Designer Genes officially became CFA's Cat of the Year 2017. What an adventure we had together!

Thanks For The Memories . . .

What I remember most about our journey together was how much Gino enjoyed the shows.  He was a natural born show cat that loved people and all the attention.  Gino would stand on the judging table and peer out at the audience, taking in all the admiring faces.  He kissed the judges and played on the table and knew exactly what he was supposed to do.

He was a joy to show.  He is a joy to love . . .

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GC, BWR, NW Velvetkist Designer Genes
Cream & White Persian Male

CFA's Cat of The Year 2016-2017

Born May 12, 2015

Sire: GC, DW Zenithi Grisogono of Velvetkist
Dam: RW Velvetkist A Girl Needs Cash
Breeder/Owner: Noralyn Heisig

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