Newbie 101: Research

BY LEE HARPER
Mockingbird Persians & Exotics

 

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We all are novices at some point in the cat fancy. And we all start in different ways.

So... how do you get started? How do you learn?

Let's assume you don't know anyone in the fancy. No relatives, no friends. You just love cats. Maybe you have owned a purebred, but you never have been a serious breeder with goals. Now you have the time, money and desire to enter the world of the cat fancier.

So... where do you start?

Well, I recommend you don't start by buying a cat until you have dome some research and acquired some "education" about the cat fancy and showing and breeding you favorite type of cat . Or as most people would say, "You need to do your homework!"

But how do you go about educating yourself?

Research 101

What exactly does "Doing your homework" mean? There are some basic ways to start your cat-education.

  1. Attend local cat shows. If possible, go to shows put on by different associations. If you have not yet chosen your breed, see which ones appeal to you at the show.
  2. Choose a registry and obtain their breed standard. Study it. Memorize it. The breed standard is your roadmap for your breed.
  3. Buy old yearbooks. You are going to use them to familiarize yourself with past national winners, the cats behind the cats, past breeders. Look at the grand parade and study not only the cats you like but note their sires and dams.
  4. Subscribe to PandEcats.com of course :-) Go to the Article Title Index and browse through past articles.
  5. Subscribe to and obtain back issues of breed magazines.
  6. Tour cattery websites to see which cats and pedigrees you like best. If you are interested in a particular color division, one of the easier ways of finding the websites of breeders working with your color is to go to the Breed and Color Division Index in our Breeder Directory.

What am I trying to learn?

  1. Developing an eye for a good cat: The most important skill you learn is being able to evaluate and judge a cat for yourself. You can ask twenty people or judges their opinions of a cat, but the most important evaluation is your own - because the value of a cat to your breeding program goes beyond just its strengths and weakness. Look at photos in books. At first you will develop a liking for certain "looks"... then attempt to find specific reasons why you prefer one cat over another. Look at cats you don't like and figure out why or what it is you don't like. Be analytical.
  2. Becoming familiar with the history of your breed: How long has you breed been recognized in your registry? When were certain colors accepted? What are the current concerns and issues facing your breed?
  3. Being aware of the great "Names" in your breed: As a student of your breed, you want be familiar with the Breeders and their cattery names who have made significant contributions in the past, the famous cats, the foundation cats.
  4. The current high profile catteries
  5. The up and coming catteries
  6. Pedigrees: knowing what combination of pedigrees produced the significant cats.
  7. Medical information: Basic and general information relative to breeding cats and raising kittens
  8. Breeding techniques: Understanding how line-breeding, inbreeding and outcrossing are used to establish and set type.
  9. Cattery husbandry practices: Understanding the special demands of the multiple-cat household and a breeding population of cats.
  10. Grooming tips for your breed
  11. Showing: general and specific

Determining Your First Goals

Basic questions to ask:

  1. How much of a financial investment are you comfortable with?
  2. How many cats do you want to start with?
  3. What is your maximum number of cats you want to own at one time?
  4. What quality of cat do you want to begin with?
  5. If you are going to spend $5000 on your foundation stock, are you thinking of buying 5 breeder quality cats, or 2 grand quality cats?
  6. What cattery setup are you considering?
  7. Are you going to cage your cats?
  8. What can you do to maintain the cat's Lap-cat lifestyle?
  9. Do you want a separate cattery building?
  10. How much showing are you prepared to do?
  11. Do you have a timetable for what you hope to accomplish?
  12. Do you have an excellent veterinarian?

Priorities

Ever person has their own unique set of priorities into which they must fit the breeding and showing of cat. Things to consider are how your involvement in the cat fancy may impact on your Family, Spouse, Job, Leisure, Time and health. How flexible is your schedule if you have queens delivering kittens or babies in need of hand-feeding? Who will take care of your cats if you get sick?

As you can see, there is a lot you can do to build a good foundation on which to build your cat fancy "home"... even before you ever own a cat :-)

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