GC, RW Starbeam Spirit-of-Radio

BY ERIN CUTCHEN
Starbeam British Shorthairs

Published February 2013

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In the year 2000 my husband, Dale, and I began showing an Exotic Shorthair and a Burmese in Premiership.  Dale, however, wanted a blue cat, and so began our quest to find our first British Shorthair.  Experienced fanciers urged us to contact Paul and Ginger Meeker of Castlkatz Cattery who had lovely blue British Shorthairs. That's exactly what we did.

Tubby

it was over a year and a half before "Tubby" joined our family. He was our first Brit boy from the Meekers — and what a boy he was! Large, sometimes clumsy, but so lovable. He was a real attention-getter in the show hall. We had a great time showing him in CFA and by the end of his adult show season he was our first regional winner — GC RW Castlkatz Vapor Trails of Starbeam.


GC RW Castlkatz Vapor Trails of Starbeam (Tubby)
Photo by Chanan

We were hooked. Brits were the breed for us. The next Brit to join the family was a cute little girl we named Mini, officially titled GC Potterkatz Earthshine of Starbeam.


GC Potterkatz Earthshine of Starbeam (Mini)
Photo by Chanan

Tubby and Mini became the foundation cats of the Starbeam breeding program.

Starbeam Baby Blues

When we bred Mini to Tubby, the first Starbeam litter was born in September of 2006.  It was a rough start, and we ended up with just two kittens that survived.  We had our first homebred kittens to show!   

Pick of the litter was an adorable little boy. Most of our kitties (and dogs) are named after a song or album by the rock group Rush. We named the pick kitten “Spirit of Radio”. We called him "Buzz" for short after the buzzing sound that the bristle of energy makes running through a radio antenna.


Rush album cover "Spirit Of Radio" , for which Buzz was named


Baby Buzz
Photo by Chanan

Oops!

We sold Buzz's littermate as a pet to a delightful family. Shortly after going to his new home, we heard back from his owners that their new kitten was ’wearing a skirt. ‘He’ was in fact a ‘she’.

Oops!

Being a newbie, I had not sexed the kitten correctly. But wait. The pet kitten's "nether region" and Buzz's had looked just the same. Closer examination revealed that “Buzz” too was also a girl.

Double oops! The paperwork was quickly corrected, but the not-so-feminine name of Buzz stuck.

British Shorthair cats are generally a bit aloof; loving to be around but not really lap cats.  Buzz didn't get the memo. Like her other, Buzz was a Velcro kitty, always in your lap if you sat down.  She quickly became our pride and joy.

Buzz Goes To Her First Show

It was February 2007. Buzz turned four months and was just old enough to enter her first show. Imagine how excited we were to be exhibiting our first home-bred kitten at her first show.  

Good friend, Bobbie Irie of Jobara Devons & Exotic, and I departed from Salt Lake City, Utah in the middle of winter driving I-80 interstate to a show in Colorado. As we neared Evanston, WY, the overhead highway signs informed us that the highway was closed up ahead due to snow accumulation. 

Nothing was going to stop me from getting to that show!

Checking the map, we backtracked to take a different route on I-70. We were well on our way when we heard that I-70 was also closed. What were we going to do now?

Not giving up, we drove as far as we could and then we stayed overnight in a motel, planning to get up very early the next morning to make the show once the highway was plowed. Unfortunately the road didn’t re-open until mid-morning. With 200 miles still to go, driving as quickly as we could on slippery roads clogged with backed-up traffic.

A Helping Hand & Good People

Stressed and exhausted, we finally arrived at the show hall around 1:30 in the afternoon. We had already missed half the rings.

Club members scurried out to help us unload, setting up our benching area, and generally getting us situated. Judge Betty White was still working on her kitten classes but Buzz had already been marked absent from her ring. Since Buzz was the only British Shorthair kitten entered, Betty graciously agreed to judge her out of order given the unusual circumstances that had delayed our arrival. And so it was that I showed my first Starbeam kitten... in her first show... in her first ring…  

When we were called back to Betty's final she chose Buzz as her Best Kitten!  I was so proud of my little baby. It certainly made the challenging drive getting to the show worth it.


Baby Buzz is Best Kitten
Photo by Chanan

Our First Homebred Grand

Buzz grew more beautiful with every week that passed. Once she turned eight months, she quickly earned her Grand champion title. We were having so much fun that we decided to continue showing her. Then, after a fantastic show in Houston, Texas, we realized that she might be in contention for a Regional Win if things stayed on track!

The Bald Spot

Then our train derailed. Buzz scratched a big bald spot in her coat. 

We reluctantly made the decision to stay home from the shows until her hair grew back. There were only a few months left in the season. We knew that missing the upcoming shows might mean Buzz would lose all her momentum and miss out on a regional title, but we didn't want to show her if she wasn't in tiptop shape.

We watched with disappointment as Buzz dropped in the regional standings.

With the season almost done, her hair had finally filled in and she was ready to rumble. Buzz was able to return to the show ring. With just one week left in the show season, Buzz was in 26th place in the standings - one spot shy of earning a regional win.  If she did well at this one last show it might be enough to move her up to that precious 25th slot. We arrived at our last show in Colorado with our fingers crossed.

Buzz's Last Show

It was so exciting. One last show. One last chance. Our girl was ready.

I was setting up in my benching area when I realized that the cat in the cage next to me was the leading British Shorthair in CFA that year. He was gorgeous.  My hopes sank. What chance did my little Brit girl have up against the #1 cat in our breed — and a massive boy, too?


Buzz ready to go...
Photo by Chanan

In spite of the "obstacle", Buzz still made finals as some judges used both BSH grands. We had a good show but I knew she had needed a great show.  The cat in the 25th spot in the standings would also be at a show and gaining points. Buzz probably couldn't catch him.

Accepting we were going to be a few points short of making a regional win, we were packing up to leave when an exhibitor who knew my story told me that the #25 cat in the standings wasn't at a show that weekend. The cat already had an RW as a kitten, didn't need another RW on the same cat, and so the owner decided to give someone else a chance at that last slot in Championship.  

My heart beat faster. Hope surged through my body. Buzz needed 110 points to move into 25th place. ad she gained enough at the show? Never have I done math so quickly in my head.  It would be close. Of course, I had to wait until the official standings came out later that week, but at least I knew she had a chance if my math was correct.

The final standings came out, and there it was in black and white (and blue). Buzz was our first homebred regional winner! She was GC, RW Starbeam Spirit of Radio.   What a special moment it was for us.

The person who had "retired" their cat to give someone else a chance was Kendall Smith of Kenipurr Japanese Bobtails. To this day I still appreciate Kendell's generosity and display of sportsmanship.

So that was how Buzz squeaked into a Regional win having only gone to eight shows as an adult.   She was our first Starbeam British Shorthair kitten, our first Grand Champion and our first Regional Winner.

Little Brother

We had one more litter from the Tubby / Mini breeding. They produced a male kitten that was such a fat baby that we nicknamed him "Chubby"…and did he live up to his name!  Chubby grew up to tip the scales at 18 pounds. Carrying him around a show hall was a real work out.  He had an undescended testicle and so was neutered. He earned a Regional Win in Premiership — GP, RW Starbeam Rush 2112.


GP, RW Starbeam Rush 2112 (Chubby)
Photo by Chanan

The Hills & Valleys

We were so blessed during Buzz's campaign. And thrilled with Chubby's success. But being a cat breeder is filled with hills and valleys.

We tragically lost both of Buzz' and Chubby's parents in 2010 — Tubby in January then Mini in December of the same year.  Their passings were hard losses, not only to our breeding program but in our hearts. We are still trying to find that ‘magic’ that will bring us another Starbeam regional winner. We even dare to dream that perhaps one day we might have a National win with a Starbeam kitty.

While Buzz unfortunately never produced kittens, she always remained a treasure and delight in our home.

 

Below are photos from the show career of:

GC, RW Starbeam Spirit-of-Radio

British Shorthair Blue Female

CFA Northwest Region's 25th Best Cat 2007-2008

Born: 10/06/2006
Sire: GC, RW Castlkatz Vapor Trails of Starbeam 
Dam: GC Potterkatz Earthshine of Starbeam
Breeder/ Owner: Dale & Erin Cutchen

 


Photo by Chanan


Photo by Chanan


Photo by Chanan


Photo by Chanan


Photo by Chanan


Photo by Chanan


Photo by Chanan


Photo by Chanan


Photo by Chanan


Photo by Chanan


Photo by Chanan


Photo by Chanan

 


Photos at the top and bottom of this page are by Chanan

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