The Many Careers Of A Cat Named Danny

BY NANCY JO BUENO

Published June 2013

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It is said that a cat has nine lives. Danny can top that. He's a cat with nine careers. He is a show cat, therapy cat, a service animal, a cat model, an artist's inspiration, ambassador cat, shopping feline, my treasured friend and life savior.

This is his story . . .


Photo by Chanan
Danny, GP Coppercats Danuwa Analihi of Najo

Najo Orientals Shorthairs

My name is Nancy Jo Bueno. I started showing in CFA in 1977 under the Najo cattery name after receiving a show quality Siamese from Dolly Schorsch's An Tai Lis cattery as a Christmas present. At my first show I won the cage decoration contest. The prize was a brand new Vari-Kennel carrier. I already had two carriers — one for my Household Pet and one for my Siamese. I decided that fate had decreed that I get another cat to put in the extra carrier, so I bought a lynxpoint Colorpoint Shorthair from Dolly that I admired at the show.

The next year I saw GC, NW Sand N' Sea Bikkuri of Jemwyck, a lavender spotted tabby Oriental Shorthair (OSH) female that became the first National winning OSH in CFA. It was the first time a new breed earned an NW in their first year of Championship status.


GC, NW Sand N' Sea Bikkuri of Jemwyck, CFA's 18th Best Cat, 1977-78


I said to my friend, "THAT is the breed for me!"

When I moved to Arizona in 1981, I became deeply involved with breeding and showing Oriental Shorthairs. I've never chased titles but instead had great fun by accomplishing unusual goals. I thought I wanted to breed spotted tabbies until I bought a girl from Jayne Murray (Jemwyck). Her type was poor but her classic tabby pattern rivaled that of any great American Shorthair and so classic tabby became my favorite.

In 1987, GC Najo's Zuboshi, aka Zuzi, became the very first classic tabby OSH to earn a Grand title in any association. After her win, the pattern became popular.


GC Najo's Zuboshi

In 2008-2009 I showed another unusual color, a black smoke named GC, RW Syncitykitys Nite Out of San-Toi, to 2nd Best OSH in CFA; something only two other smokes have ever achieved.


Photo by Chanan
GC, RW Syncitykitys Nite Out of San-Toi, CFA's 2nd Best OSH 2008-2009

A Need

In 2000, I started using a walker because of progressing rheumatoid arthritis. The same year, my husband and I moved into a veterans home — a complex housing 900 retired armed force veterans and their spouses. Pets were not allowed. After almost a quarter century of showing and breeding cats, I was forced to stop. I returned to college to study multimedia including graphic arts, web production and computer programing.

A few years later, my husband died unexpectedly. I was devastated. I tried to make the adjustment to living alone but finally realized that returning to an empty house was making me miserable. I'm allergic to dogs so I couldn't take advantage of the available therapy dogs in the community. What I needed (and wanted) was a cat.

Despite the fact that pets were not allowed, in the fall of 2005, my doctor ordered the veterans home administration to allow me to acquire a therapy cat.

Finding The Feline

Once my doctor told me to get a cat, she asked, "How difficult will it be to find one?"

I replied confidently, "One phone call."

As soon as my friends knew I needed a cat, offers poured in. Quickly the perfect cat was available and I arranged to purchase a beautiful ebony silver spotted tabby Oriental Shorthair boy from Joan Henderson, Coppercats cattery. I got to meet him at the International Show in San Mateo, CA when Joan brought a group of kittens from which I could choose. One of the kittens was just a little guy and not quite ready to leave home, but he definitely chose me, fighting the other kittens to sit in my lap. I didn't seem to have a say in the matter. I arranged to pick him up two weeks later.

His Name

I intended to make my new kitten available for therapy visits to others at the veterans home. With that in mind, I named him Danuwa Analihi — the Cherokee words meaning "warrior." I felt that if the kitten's destiny was to be as a therapy pet at a veterans home, then "warrior" was an appropriate name.

I chose "Danny" as his nickname because one of our residents always sang "Oh, Danny Boy" for our remembrance services for those residents who had passed. That song had such meaning to the residents I knew if I called him "Danny" they would call him "Danny Boy" and smile. I was right.

One Smart Kitty

I arranged with Joan to pick up my new kitten up at a show. He was only 13 weeks old so he wasn't allowed in the actual show hall. This meant he would have to make the long trip to the show in one car just to immediately be transferred to another car to travel home with me. I didn't want him to have that kind of stress so we stayed overnight in a hotel. I watched him explore the room for a bit, then I looked at him and softly called his name.

He immediately responded. He realized I had to be speaking to him because there was no one else, no other cat in the room. That was the first inkling I had that Danny was "scary smart".

Next, I taught him to wake me "nicely" in the morning. Being a typical OSH kitten, as soon as he awoke in the morning, he would scramble up my body and scream in my face to feed him. I would pretend to still be sleeping until he gently patted my cheek to wake me. Danny learned that on the first morning. He was definitely a quick learner.


Danny is a cat that looks at life from many angles . . .


Danny likes to walk around wearing a blanket when he is feeling chilly


Still feeling chilly . . .

Danny, The Therapy Cat

Danny took quite naturally to being a therapy cat. He did one-on-one therapy, group therapy, and hospice. When I learned that cats could catch the resistant staph infection at the hospital, I had to quit taking him there, but he continues his therapy work otherwise.


Danny learned how to sit on the seat of my walker.

I used both a walker and an electric scooter. When I was on the scooter, Danny rode in his carrier on the platform under my knees.

The first time I took him to a group therapy program he saw a resident with a walker and begged to sit on the walker. He was on leash, and after I sat him on the walker, he rode on it for a minute while the resident pushed him.

That gave me the idea to teach Danny to sit on the walker so it would be easier for me to take him to the rings when I started to show him.

I was already teaching him commands, like "down", "up", "jump", "leave it" and more.

I just used "sit" and "stay" to keep him on the walker. It didn't take long for him to catch on.

He also accidentally learned how much space he had on the seat. We were standing at a ring when he took a step back and fell off. It was not a "cat out" situation. Danny simply looked up at me with a confused look on his face. I put him back on the walker seat and he never made that mistake again.

 

Sleep Apnea

During a stay in hospital, I was diagnosed with sleep apnea — a sleep disorder characterized by abnormal pauses in breathing or low breathing during sleep. I told the respiratory specialist that I really didn't think I was having a problem at home.

Then I recalled that some mornings I had small bite marks on my right arm when I awoke. I put two and two together and realized that Danny must be biting me to wake me up when I stopped breathing.

When I told my doctors, they decided to test my theory by sending me home with an oxygen monitor for a few nights. Sure enough, whenever my oxygen level started to drop too low, but not yet in to the danger zone, it suddenly bounced back up.

Once I awoke to find Danny patting my cheek and staring into my eyes. As soon as I said, "Oh, hi, Danny," he slipped back under the covers and went back to sleep. It was reassuring to confirm that Danny was indeed waking me when I stopped breathing. This was especially important to know since I couldn't use the machine normally given to people with sleep apnea to provide a constant flow of air into the nose and mouth. The apparatus triggered my asthma.

Danny, The Show Cat

The time came when I took Danny to his first cat show. He loved it — and was doing very well. As the weekends passed, he climbed in to the top 25 in the standings in Premiership in the Northwest Region. An RW was anticipated.

Then he had an allergic reaction and began pulling out his coat. Poor guy. Benedryl and a bath in the middle of the night but his skin remained fuchsia colored. He was already entered in two more shows. Since he goes everywhere with me, I took him to the show with a plan to just put him in the first ring to help with the show count. Prepared to apologize for his coat condition, imagine my delight when he finaled!

He was just so good that he continued to final at that show and the next. But then I made the difficult decision to pull him. His coat was just unacceptable.

He dropped out of the top 25, but he continued going to shows as a "pet me" cat.


Photo by Chanan
GP Coppercats Danuwa Analihi of Najo, my "Danny"

When his coat finally grew back, I thought I'd show him in the new show season and try once more to add an RW to his name. I wanted to do it to thank his breeders who had given me their pick of the litter.

His first time back in the ring, Danny totally ignored the judge and instead played to the audience. When the judge tried to block his view by walking in front of the table, Danny just leaned to look around him. Everyone was laughing hysterically. The judge (John Webster) put Danny back in the ring cage, still trying to get his attention, and finally ended up dancing in front of him. Danny strained his neck to look around him to see the spectators. Laughing, John said, "I've NEVER been so totally ignored by a cat."

So Danny had "told" me what he wanted. He wanted to schmooze with the spectators, not the judge.

Danny, The Ambassador Cat

In 2010, the CFA Iams Ambassador-Cat Program began. Fondly called I-Cats, successful applicants and their retired show cats attend shows and pet expos, interacting with the public. Their role includes education and allowing the spectators to touch, pet and love a pedigreed show cat.

In 2011, Danny began a new career as an Ambassador Cat. He was a natural. The only drawback is that he can no longer be shown while in his new role. He is at the shows for the spectators, required to attend as shows, and interact with the visitors.

He is housed in a special Sturdi tent with groom space — orange with white paw prints. The setup takes an entire 8-foot table!


Danny poses in the original I-cat area sponsored by Iams


The I-Cats are are not charged fees for the space by the club. In return the club has a guaranteed, experienced cat to be handled and petted by the spectators, and the owners spend an enormous amount of their time talking with the public. The Ambassador Cat is an attraction that the club can feature in their advertising to increase paid spectators.

A new Sturdi set-up for the Ambassador Cats is black and features the CFA logo.


Danny poses in front of the new CFA logo in his Ambassador Cat benching area

Danny And The Kids

Danny did not grow up with children but absolutely loves them at the shows. He knows what strollers are and if one goes by quickly without him getting to see the baby, he can become frantic. Once I had to grab him mid-jump before he landed in a carriage.

When training Danny, I taught him that pats on the head and pats on his body are good attention. That way he can even interact with a very small child.


Danny was taught to accept being petted on the top of his head just like a dog



At the show, Danny sits on the table greeting the public. He is so afraid that he will miss something at a show that he rarely sleeps, taking only an occasional nap or a 5-minute zen break.

If a child is hesitant in approaching him, I ask, "Could you do me a favor? Danny is hungry. I'd really appreciate it if you could feed him." Then I hand them a small spoon with Danny's favorite treat — baby food. I do this when the children seem fascinated by Danny but are just shy. Danny, is, of course, very happy to eat the baby food off the spoon. Some of the kids are wise enough that they turn the spoon over so he can get all the baby food off the bottom too.

I also always have some teaser toys handy so kids can play with Danny. Then Danny gives everyone a "kiss" as they leave — a Hershey's kiss. I plan to have a custom stamp mad with a paw print and his name so that kids can get his "paw-tograph."


Danny loves being petted


Alex Jeffers fell in love with Danny and spent most of the weekend visiting with him . . .

Danny Goes Shopping

By now, you probably realize that Danny is quite a character. Another thing he likes to do is to go shopping — for himself. He will be riding in the walker as we will browse the vendor's booths at a show. If he sees a toy he likes, he will reach out a paw, indicating it's the one he wants.

Another time he jumped off of the walker into a cat bed that caught his eye. Of course, I had to buy it for him.


Danny looks rather pleased with his new "purchase" — a gorgeous fur bed color-coordinated to match his own coat.

Danny, The Cat Model

Sturdi Products, wanted to photograph Danny "modeling" in a Sturdi show shelter, the popular benching "cage" used by so many exhibitors at the cat shows. Danny's photo is now featured on the Sturdi Products website and on their vendor banner at the shows.


Danny in his role as cat model for Sturdi Products


Danny thinks lime green is "his" color


Rich, the owner of Sturdi Products, mans their booth while Danny is featured in the banner above.

Danny, The Artist's Muse

Danny also captured the attention of Laura Seeley, an artist, at a local cat show. She was so impressed with him that she asked if she could paint him. Of course, I said yes. Laura painted him from memory, really capturing his look.

In the painting titled "Beach House", she envisioned him living in a large home and that he liked to travel, especially to the beach. She was quite amused to learn he lives in a home that includes more than 900 residents. She was correct about his love of travel though.


Danny poses with Laura's painting of his likeness. . .

Danny, An Extraordinary Feline

So that is Danny's story. He serves as my therapy cat — to keep me sane. He is my service animal — to keep me alive. And he is a great ambassador for the benefit of CFA, Oriental Shorthairs, and cats everywhere.
Oh Danny Boy! You are something special indeed . . .

 

GP Coppercats Danuwa Analihi of Najo

Ebony Silver Spotted Tabby Oriental Shorthair Neuter
Born: August 30, 2005
Sire: GC Sherona's Bingo of San-Toi
Dam: CH San-Toi's Liberty of Coppercats
Breeder: Joan Henderson, Dee Johnson, Connie Roberts
Owner: Nancy Jo Bueno, Dee Johnson

You can see more on Danny's Facebook Page


Photo by Chanan


Photo by Chanan


Photo by Chanan

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