GPD, RW Laki Augustus Caesar of Whiskerland

BY JIM & TERESA LAND
Whiskerland

Published November 2013

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GPD, RW Laki Augustus Caesar of Whiskerland became the first Burmese to earn the CFA title "Grand Premier of Distinction" on October 19, 2013. Owned and shown by Jim and Teresa Land of Malvern, PA, " Gus" is their first Burmese AND their first show cat. This is their story . . .


Photo by Chanan
GPD, RW Laki Augustus Caesar of Whiskerland, CFA's first Burmese Grand Premier of Distinction

We are Jim & Teresa Land.

Our love of the Burmese began several years ago when my wife and I attended a show at the race track in Philadelphia where we met a Burmese breeder who let us hold one of his kittens.   The little kitten made himself at home in our arms and he melted our hearts.   He was destined for someone else, so he could not be ours, but we always remembered that little guy and said we would have our own dream cat one day.    We never suspected that one day our dream kitty would also be a history-maker for his breed.  

Our Wish Comes True

Fast forward to 2010 . . .

Our two pet Himalayans crossed over the Rainbow Bridge that year.   The house seemed so empty.   We started our search for a Burmese kitten but to no avail.   No one had any kittens.   We decided to look at the Tonkinese and Bombay breeds but we always came back to the Burmese.   Then an adorable copper eyed, red and white bicolor Persian kitten joined our family from Batchos Persians.   We called her Phoebe.   

Months passed and we again sent out inquiries to try to locate a Burmese kitten.   Little did we know that a baby Burmese had already been born who would soon steal our hearts.   There is nothing more exciting in the cat world than hearing “I have a kitten available”.    You cannot imagine how excited we were to receive a note from Barbara Kish of Laki Burmese saying she had several sable male kittens available and if we were interested, to send her more information about ourselves.   In our reply to Barbara, we indicated that we were looking for a kitten to show.   Barbara responded that she had a sable male of “outstanding” quality.   After pictures were exchanged, we decided that the baby should be ours.  


The first photo of Gus

Plans were made for me to fly to pickup the kitten. After a snow storm canceled flights the week before, I was finally able to fly to Pittsburgh on January 15, 2011, to meet Barbara and her hubby, Richard, at the airport. That's when I first met Augustus Caesar—Gus for short.    Before boarding the plane home, there was a stop at McDonalds where we bonded over a shared burger.


Baby Gus


Gus attacking his favorite toy

Gus Is Home

Gus and I arrived home where he was introduced to the "girls".    Teresa and I were thrilled with the new addition to our family.   Initially the "Persian Princess" was not as enthusiastic.    Phoebe didn’t appreciate an intruder that was interfering with her special time with us . . . but before long she and Gus became BFFs.  


Teresa cradles baby Gus in her arms for the first time . . .


Phoebe was not impressed with her first introduction to her new "brother" . . .


. . . but soon the "siblings" were best pals and even shared window-watching time.

Personality Plus

Gus was not like any other kitten we had ever owned.  He had springs in his legs and there was no barricading him with baby gates, boxes, or the like—he just flew over them.   He was inquisitive and needed to see everything high and low.   If not basking in the sun, we would find him curled up in an old fuzzy robe on the bed or perched on some high place scoping out what was going on.  


Gus perched atop a step ladder to investigate the highest window — tastes good?

Gus always liked to be in high places so leaving a ladder sitting open was an open invitation for him to climb to the top of the refrigerator or check the view from the top of the window.  When we moved into our new home, it didn’t take long for Gus to find a way to get to the top of the kitchen cabinets.

Burmese love to be warm so it was not unusual for Gus to paw at the covers during the night so he could get under the blankets and cuddle.    He loves to kiss and lick your nose—no need to exfoliate after he smooched you with his sandpaper tongue. He is a joy in all ways.   


Gus snuggles with Jim as they enjoy an afternoon nap together . . . 

Show Time

June rolled round and we began thinking about entering Gus in his first show.   The Diamond State Cat Club show was scheduled for July 2, 2011—a one day show and it was close to home.   We decided that this was a perfect show to debut Gus and see if we all enjoyed the show experience.   After the entry form was finally sent in, it hit us---we need curtains, what do we pack, how do we prepare our boy for the show ring?   Thank goodness we had the internet to answer some of those questions. 


Gus helps with the packing for the road trip . . .

Gus’s first show bath was a call for "all hands on deck".   He was not fond of the water at first but then not many cats are.   Thankfully, he has now adapted to being bathed and knows that a bath means it is “show time”.

The day of the show finally arrived, the car was packed and we were ready to leave.   That's when we discovered that we had a tire problem which meant we needed to take our other car.   We scrambled to shift all our show paraphernalia from the first vehicle to the second and we were on our way.

We must have looked like deer in the headlights by the time we finally got to the show hall.   We had no idea what we were suppose to do.   Several exhibitors heard that we were "newbees" and generously showed us where to pick up our catalogue, how to find our benching assignment and offered any help that we needed. 

American Shorthair exhibitors, Michelle and Ann Sullivan, ASH LVRS Cattery, were benched next to us and took us under their wing.  Lou Keim, Bijoux Burmese, gave Gus his first gift—a catnip toy.  Gus still has that toy and loves to have it in his cage at the shows. 

The first ring was called and Michelle and Ann explained what we needed to do next.  We all stood at ringside and held our breaths until the judge checked Gus out.    Gus had a great time on the judging table, playing and purring.    He was awarded his first blue ribbon.     It would be the first of many.

As the end of the day was approaching, judge Donna Jean Thompson announced her finals.   No. 125 was called. That was Gus's number!    Gus made his first final!    Second Best Premier!     As she hung his rosette, Donna Jean commented that Gus was so active it made her tired just watching him.

That night we reminisced about the day’s excitement and talked about our next move.    Gus liked showing.    We liked showing.    The decision was obvious.    His journey as a show cat would continue . . .


Photo by Chanan

The Journey

Since we were “newbees”, a few breeders gave us pointers to fine-tune Gus's show grooming, how to count his points and just filled us in on show etiquette in general.   We met lots of wonderful folks at the shows.  Gus was Mr. Entertainment in the show hall and often caught a judge off guard by quickly climbing to the top of the post on the side of the judging table.  Spectators were surprised to see that a cat could climb up the pole in a flash.   As the judges got to know Gus better, they learned to keep a closer eye on him to prevent his unexpected vertical journeys.    

When not showing off on the judging table, Gus would relax in a hammock in his cage or curl up in a lap to keep warm.  


If a judge glanced away for just a second, Gus would be climbing up the post in a flash . . .


Gus loves just hanging out in his hammock . . .

After a few shows, we decided to show Phoebe as well, so now the BFFs traveled together.   In our first hotel room stay, they were like little kids in a candy shop checking out everything.   That is when I  learned to “cat proof” the room.


Photo by L. Johnson
Gus with his BFF, Phoebe

The End Of Our First Show Season

Gus was doing well at the shows, something that is not always easy for a minority breed.   As the end of the show season grew nearer, we realized that Gus was moving up the regional premiership rankings.   Could he make it into the top 25?   Could Gus be a regional winner?   We held our breaths and kept showing . . .

When the final results were posted, Gus was 25th Best Premier in CFA's North Atlantic region.   He had made it by a whisker :-)!   As we prepared to celebrate at the awards banquet, we felt so proud of what we had accomplished with our little boy.

A breeder told us about the National Alliance of Burmese Breeders (NABB), so we became members.   NABB is the only international Burmese breed club affiliated with The Cat Fanciers Association.  When the CFA annual meeting was held in Quincey, Massachusetts, NABB also held its annual meeting and awards presentation.   Gus received a beautiful rosette for being the Fifth Best Burmese in Premiership for the year.

Teresa wrote a poem from Gus after his regional win which reads “let’s try another”.   With this thought in our minds and hearts, we made plans to show him again the following season.


Photo by Chanan

Another BFF

At the region's awards show, our good friend, Diane Castor of Playwickey Cattery, told us that Lori Kerr, Catbery Tail Himalayans, had available a kitten named Tumbleweed.   It would be exciting to have a new baby again, especially since we always enjoyed the Persians, but we were going to be moving soon and weren’t sure that the timing was right.   Would we have the time to show a kitten to its full potential while selling our house and building another?   We decided to put the new kitten on hold.   Then at the Diamond State Show, Diane told us that another couple was looking at Tumbleweed that afternoon.    Since we had decided that we wanted him after all, Diane said she would contact Lori.   It was a long day until Diane received the call back from Lori—Tumbleweed was ours.   We called him Tweed for short.

Right from the beginning Gus was like a big brother to Tweed, always checking on him wherever he was, playing with him, sleeping together and often rough housing together.   Gus now had another BFF!   Tweed was also being shown so now it was a real "boys weekend" when we went to the shows.  


Photo by Chanan
Gus and his long-haired "little brother", Tweed (GC, GP, RW Catbery Tail Tweed of Whiskerland)

Dan Kerns was campaigning his Himalayan, GP, NW Catbery Tail Hero, to his national win in premiership and they joined us on several trips to "away" shows.   On our longer road trips Gus would let me know in no uncertain terms when he had to use the litter.  I would have to find a convenient place to pull over in a hurry so I could let him out of his carrier for his pit stop.  Once in a while it was a false alarm and just an excuse to get out of his carrier to check out the car, but more than likely it was potty time.    I could never take my eyes off of him for a second when he was out of the carrier in the car as he would take off to the back of the SUV.  Climbing over seats and luggage to find a Burmese playing hide and seek is a real challenge.

Season Two

By Gus's second season we were experienced "old-timers" at this showing thing.     We watched the e-points, selected the best shows and by the end of the season Gus was 12th Best Premier in Region 1.    He also received another NABB award but this time he was the 3rd Best Burmese in Premiership! Our boy was moving up in the world!


Photo by Chanan

To Retire Or Not To Retire - That Is The Question

At the final show of the season in Erie, PA, as judge Rachel Anger completed her finals, she remarked to her audience that this was the last time she would ever see many of the cats she had judged that day as many of the kitties would now retire from the show ring.  

But wait . . . In 2011, CFA had introduced a new award and title "Grand of Distinction" for any cat that achieved 30 or more top 10 / top 15 finals for each of three separate seasons.   Perhaps retirement was not in the picture for Gus for another year at least.  When CFA published a list of candidates eligible for the new title, Gus was on it.  Gus had two qualifying seasons and he only needed 30 finals in a third season to add the tile "GPD" to his name.  

But was he in condition to do another year of shows?   Were we?   

Gus had no problem traveling to the shows both near and far and especially enjoyed the hotel stays.   He also appeared to be in great condition with his dark sable coat shining like a mirror.    We decided to go for it.


Photo by Chanan

The History-Maker

So we began showing Gus for a third season in a row.  Gus began his pursuit for his new title by traveling to shows every weekend.  Then, on October 19, 2013 at the National Birman Fanciers & Fyfe & Drum Himalayan Club  Show, Gus made his 30th final in Kathy Calhoun’s ring.    With that final rosette, Gus made breed history by being the first Burmese in CFA to attain the title of Grand Premier of Distinction!  He was also the second Grand Premier of Distinction in the North Atlantic Region.


Judge Kathy Calhoun, new Grand Premier of Distinction Gus, with owners Jim & Teresa Land

At the Liberty Trail Cat Fanciers Show the following weekend, Gus threw a little party for all his friends and well-wishers who had cheered him on and celebrated his incredible accomplishment.


Gus provided a buffet for his many well-wishers . . .

. . . with cake for dessert!

Merci!

We want to thank Barbara and Richard Kish, Gus's breeders, for choosing our home for one of their treasured kittens.  We have shared many of Gus’s achievements with Barbara during the past three years and this award has provided all of us with much joy and excitement.  

We also would like to thank our friends who asked ever Monday “How was the show?” and wanted all the details, both good and bad.    The premiership exhibitors are like family and we are always there to encourage each other on—thanks to each of you.   Also a special thanks to all the judges who have supported Gus on his incredible journey. 

What's Next?

Is Gus going into retirement?   Of course not!     Gus will be in the show halls for the rest of the season.   See you all there!

Having just one Burmese is like trying to eat just one potato chip.   You can’t just have one . . . so there may be another Burmese baby on the horizon for us . . .  only time will tell.

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Below are photos taken during the show career of

GPD, RW Laki Augustus Caesar of Whiskerland

Sable Burmese Neuter

CFA North Atlantic Region's 12th Best Premier 2012 – 2013
CFA North Atlantic Region's 25th Best Premier 2011 – 2012

National Alliance of Burmese Breeders 3rd Best Premier 2012 – 2013
National Alliance of Burmese Breeders 5th Best Premier 2011 – 2012
Multiple “Best Cat” Award Winner
Highest Scoring Burmese 2013 Awarded In Memory of Gay Musser by the Diamond State Cat Club

Born:  November 1, 2010
Sire:  Ch Laki’s Lazarus
Dam:  Ch Laki’s Jentry
Breeder:   Barbara A and Richard Kish
Owner:   James R. Land


Photo by Chanan


Photo by Chanan


Photo by Chanan


Photo by Chanan


Photo by Chanan


Photo by Chanan


At the Diamond State Cat Club show 2013,
Gus is presented with the award for Highest Scoring Burmese In Memory of Gay Musser


Jim & Gus celebrate becoming a Grand Premier . . .


Gus catches some zzzz's atop a pile of freshly laundered towels . . .


Gus babysits kitten Tweed . . .


Photo by L. Johnson
GP Batchos Sweet Phoebe of Whiskerland and Gus


Russell Webb presenting Gus with the rosette for "Best Cat" in Premiership in his ring


"I'm a Grand Premier!  Let's celebrate!"

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