Breeding or Showing:
Sometimes You Have To Make A Choice

by CHERYL McGee, Heatwave Cornish Rex

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For Everything There is a Time . . .

Most people deeply involved in the cat fancy both breed and exhibit their cats.  Showing and breeding seem to go together.  But the demands of showing and the demands of breeding often conflict with one another.

I am a breeder.  In fact, I am the third generation in my family to be a breeder.

Since the 1930's, members of my family have been involved in raising pedigreed animals.  You might say that I am genetically predisposed to this way of life.  It is a chosen lifestyle for me. It is not just a hobby - it is my vocation.

Besides my involvement in the cat fancy, I have handled and groomed breeds of dogs from all 7 AKC Groups.

I have never had another 'job'.  Everything that has ever brought a living into my life has been connected to this way of life.  I hope I will be remembered for making this vocation into an art form.

I am dedicated to continually learning more about the fine art and science of genetics—always with the goal of producing as close to a perfect specimen as possible.

Lets not take all of this out of context.  I do NOT make my living by selling cats/kittens.  That is truly not possible when the ultimate goal is health, temperament and SOUNDNESS.  My living comes from handling, grooming, boarding and training . . . and now, in my later life, sharing and mentoring along with consulting on my favorite subject, husbandry and care of fine purebred cats and dogs.

I have to spread myself thin at times. I love my Dobermans and my cats equally.
My blood runs bright red for both.

I have what many in the cat fancy refer to as 'paid my dues'.  I have shown all over the country for over 27 years, produced close to 150 Grands and 7 DMs, and have had numerous RW's and a couple of NW's within my breed.

I know that to achieve regional or national wins, most exhibitors need to be away from home at least two or three days a week.  When I was campaigning, I was packing on Wednesday, getting ready to leave on Thursday, on the road by Friday, showing Saturday/Sunday, and still recuperating on Tuesday :-).  And week after week that adds up to a lot of days away from home.

Of course, I always worried about the cats left at home.

What happens in the event of a cat emergency at home when I am away at a show? 
No one knows my cats as well as I do. But if things go wrong, how can I blame the cat-sitter? 
It was I who chose to be away from home showing.

Many of you are blessed to have partners that care and love for your animals in your absence.  This has worked for me in the past.  But as circumstances change, so do priorities . . . and possibilities.

GC Heatwave Orange Blossom Special
of Whiteweb: co-owners David White,
Russell Web and Cheryl McGee

So, I have had to make different choices.  Am I a breeder first or an exhibitor?

I am a breeder.  I still exhibit, but not as much as I used to.

I consider myself doubly blessed to have, after all these years, found willing and financially able people, to show and adore my cats as much as I do.

I will never lower my standards and will continue to breed to the ideal of perfection that I have for all these years.

But my priorities have had to change with the events in my life and so now I will show less—this is what I have decided is best for my cats and they are my first priority.

I miss being "out there".  I miss my friends.  When I do show up, I am met with lots of hugs and lots of "I have missed you's".

A kitty of mine is being exhibited on a fairly regular basis by co-owners and is doing well.  I also have a friend who is campaigning her first homebred Persian this year.  She is financially able to go to shows often and has responsible help at home.  I keep up with how she does every weekend and immediately check her placement when the E-points arrive.  I am thrilled for her success and I enjoy vicariously her showing experiences.  Although I am showing less, it doesn't not mean I am not still very involved in showing . . . in spirit :-).

I love shows.  I have many longtime friends that make all of this worth while for me.  I feel lots of love and don't know what I would have done without the friends in the cat fancy during my darkest hour 10 years ago when I lost my son.  I couldn't have gotten through it without their support.  I will miss seeing my cat-friends as often, but now I must show less . . . and trust reliable people to exhibit my best "kids" in my place.

At some point in their careers, many other dedicated cat fanciers have had to make the choice between showing or breeding less . . . or breeding but showing less. Now it is simply my turn to choose . . . and I choose breeding. It is my first love.  It is my passion . . . and my vocation.

Showing & Breeding: It is always a bit of a balancing act.

At different stages of a person's involvement in the cat fancy,
they may need to change their priorities to fit their situation. 
Sometimes showing will come first.  Sometimes breeding will come first. 
It is never an easy decision to make.  It is always a personal choice.

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