Keeping A Fresh Eye
by PETER ROMICH, Grandaries Persians & Exotics

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Peter Romich bred Persians and Exotics under
the Grandaries cattery name for almost a quarter of a century.

The cat fancy lost Peter in January 2003.

Shortly before his death, Peter wrote the article below for PandEcats.com. In the article, he shares his excitement at the new direction he was taking with his breeding program. He discussed his philosophy of breeding with typical Peter candor.

He was so excited about taking a step back, re-examining where he was as a cat breeder, and trying to always be learning more. As we begin this new year, his words are particularly timely . . .

I have been involved in the breeding of purebred animals since the beginnings of protozoa—many years in dogs beginning at 8 years old, then into cats in 1979, so most of my life has been spent in pursuit of breeding the ideal in one species or another.

Then last year, I had a stroke—and I was forced to spend at lot of time at home while I recovered. Depressed that I couldn't just hop on a ladder and slap a coat of Venetian plaster on my newly purchased house (lived in it only 12 days before I had my stroke—a little vintage number with hardwood floors and all kinds of great architectural features), I began to spend a lot more time assessing my cats. Argh!

The first thing I did was reread Robinson's Revised Genetics for Cat Breeders & Veterinarians. The chapters on breeding selection and plans are not to be missed, even by old timers like me—LOL!

Next I began the task of looking at my cats with a cool, hard eye. That means for example, seeing less of a cat's ability to amuse me, and seeing more that she always had a very hard, unassisted delivery.

As a result of these reevaluations, I spayed and placed a couple of cats, which was a huge relief . . . and I also bought in four or five new, and some very expensive, cats into my breeding program.

But in making these new purchases, I had fallen into the old trap of "looking for a magic bullet".

My eyes were really opened by two cats I bought. In reassessing them I realized they were totally inferior to anything I already owned. They were expensive kitties from top NW lines . . . and it was those titles in the pedigrees rather than the quality of the cats that had attracted me. I began to really question my motives—vanity vs. practicality, and saw vanity was ahead by several lengths. I realized, in a very honest way, it would be difficult to buy better than I already had sitting at home . . . not because my cats are so fabulous, but because my "eye" had become distorted.

That was enough to slow me down, but I also forced myself to think about a vacation I could have had in some lovely, tropical place for that hard-earned money I had spent on those cats. That put me in a much more conservative frame of mind!

At any rate, the moral of this story is, no matter how long you have been doing a particular thing, such as raising purebred dogs or cats or horses, and no matter how successful you have been at it, it is still very easy to become cattery blind.

You must try always to "keep a fresh eye."

So before you leap and buy a new cat, make a pot of tea, and begin reading about your beloved breed.

Do other helpful things to train your INNER eye. Thoroughly going over your kitties in a dark room (you will need a helper for this if you don't want bruised knees and scratches!). Wow! Assessing your cats by forcing yourself to "see" them WITHOUT use of your vision, but only by touch and feel, is a real eye-opener. You will "see" things about your cats you never saw before, but any prejudice or influence of color/pattern won't influence your findings.

And it's all fun and part of growing & learning. Let's face it, the day we think we know it all, is the day we should "hang it up."

A passionate linechaser, Peter Romich left a legacy of a searchable pedigree database
of Persians & Exotic Shorthairs at http://www.grandaries.com/search.html

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