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Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Dismissing Breeder Nonsense

Every breeder of pedigreed animals seems to have a mantra ; when asked why they are commencing a career in breeding, they will invariably tell you that they are aiming to "better their chosen breed".

Three questions invite response from cat (or other animal) breeders who claim they are embarking on a career of this nature :

1. What qualifies you to believe that you are in a position to be able to improve a breed, when many other breeders before you clearly have failed?

2. What is it about your chosen breed(s) that you think needs improving and how exactly are you planning to go about effecting these improvements?

3. What makes you think any improvement is necessary from a health and physiological point of view in the first place? (how will your improvements assist the animal's quality of life?)

Of course, the vast majority of cat breeders will have no response to these questions, because they plainly have no formal qualifications whatsoever - and especially any that qualify them to conduct scientific breed studies. And a very large percentage will not even have a certificate from the institute of Toyland showing that they have a diploma in nosepicking or whatever they might think makes them special.

They cannot list anything in their chosen breed that actually needs improving, other than the fact that they want to breed a cat which gets a rosette or two, and maybe a nomination or a SHOW WIN. wow. yawn. But most of the most successful South African cat breeders have demonstrated that the easiest way to achieve a show win, is to import a cat from somebody else. Yep folks - it's easier to buy than breed. Why?

Because the majority of all South African breeders we have encountered have never bothered to analyse what they're trying to do and why (other than win ribbons and burnish the ego - neither of which count for anything). Let's face it - any breeder can achieve significant success by importing someone else's bloodlines, show them and allow the local fancy to buy the lines and breed from them, whilst joining committees, making happy noises and brown-nosing anyone and everyone in the heirarchy above them. Oh - and being a "loyal supporter" at shows.

Any answer to question 2. above, can be countered by pointing out that breeder X, Y or Z have already "been there done that" - bigger eyes, smaller ears, cobbier bodies, longer bodies, longer legs, bigger muzzle blah blah. Why reinvent the wheel? Why not just buy what already has been accomplished?

And of course question 3. above does not have any answer, since to show how you are planning to improve the breed while also sorting out all the health and genetic issues, is tantamount to showing that all the breed committees before you don't have the faintest idea of what they should have been doing. They don't of course. But that's not a great way to try and achieve show wins, is it? Particularly when your "elders and betters" in the cat fancy are judging your cat.

Follow me here - this is not brain surgery : in the 141 years since the first cat show organised by Harrison Weir we should already have completed our work of bettering the breed in every respect - conformation, coat, type and first and foremost - genetics and health. However all evidence is that we appear to have been going backwards - especially as far as the last 2 are concerned. Why is this?

Because the focus of the cat fancy is not the cat - it's the survival and growth of the cat fancy and therefore every initiative which boosts new breeds, kitten registration fees or gate income will be applauded, and anything which encourages moderation and concern for the cat, will be boo'ed.

The cat fancy should be renamed : "The Me Fancy". Look at me. Fawn over me. Gimme ribbons and titles. Put me on your committee. I'll make you feel good. I'll fawn and lick and brownnose. In turn, make me feel good. Good good good. The cat is merely your entry pass, to be checked in at the door. Makes you part of an "exclusive" cult.

Why don't they leave the cats at home, and just put each other in cages and judge one another? After all, that's the basis of the decision making these days, isn't it? The person standing holding the cat is nice/ a buddy/ the breeder of my cats / the person who is showing my breeding/ someone who I want to see at COTY this year/ a pain in the ass etc.

God help the cat - or more likely animal activists are going to have to help the cat, because God and the cat fancy won't.

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