Denson Published Articles

 

Innocent & Caged For Life

We all know as keepers of stud cats, the awful day we have to put them 'Out'.Usually they have committed some anti-social behavioural act in the house. Sprayed on a cushion or a bit of furniture, or worse still been caught rogering the new kitten. Many years ago one of mine was caught mating his litter sister at 6 months of age - never a good idea. We try and make the transition from house to outside pen easier for them, spending as much time with them as possible. But it's inevitable life goes on for us, and our beloved boys learn to adjust to the pen outside, invariably on their own.Its never the same again for them though, as it seems their beloved mummy doesn't love them as much as when they lived inside, when they had her undivided attention, with lots of bedtime cuddles whilst watching TV together.

They didn't choose this life, we did, and we owe it to them to make it more bearable, and certainly less lonely, with the minimum time of incarceration.That's why I wish to put forward the following:

1. Give them a companion, a neuter or a spayed queen. I have two entire half brothers aged 10 months.They have lived together since 4 weeks of age, when they swapped mums.Yes it was an experiment, and I had read about it with big cats in the wild, and I didn't know if it would work for domesticated stud cats.It has.They adore each other, and when a queen comes to visit, I place one in a separate pen.I don't know how long it will continue, with this social brotherly harmony, but they are very, very happy cats.

2. Have your garden cat-proofed.I had mine done 3 years ago and it has changed all our lives.The boys have access to the full garden for approx 7 hrs per day and the girls have about 4 hours.It works really well, and occasionally when no-one is calling they are all out there together under my supervision.

3. Get them neutered under two years of age like they do on the continent. I know this is the 'Elephant In The Room'. But do we really need to keep our boys 'entire' for years on end.Surely they deserve a 'pet life' a bit of one on one love. For the past five years I have kept my studs sons, and grandsons and had them all neutered under two years of age. After all its their genes we need.Yes it's hard for me, as the bond between stud and breeder is very strong.However my rational for their happiness and future overrides my selfishness to keep them entire and caged for life.They have all gone on to wonderful pet homes, one boy even went with his son to a loving pet home.They haven't sprayed, and because they have been so young, they have adjusted extremely well.In a few months time when my two current stud boys sons are old enough to fill their shoes, I will be neutering and re-homing the two brothers together in a pet home.Surely none of you breeders can argue that this isn't the right thing to do!

 

The History of The Havana
by Pamela E Sharp-Popple August 2011

There have been many histories of the Havana, some might say distorted, others quite accurate. It all depended on what side or angle the writer was recording it. Until I  started researching them for this article, I had never realised how controversial the creating of this beautiful cat had been.Incidentally, I am attempting to write this overview of the breed from a totally neutral standpoint.Many thanks to Joan Judd & Joyce Tudor-Hughes for their patience and support.
 
Self coloured coloured brown cats appeared periodically in the 1800's, the earliest record of one being shown was in 1894. However, no attempts were made to breed them at that time, as genetics and heredity just wasn't understood in the way it is by today's cat breeders.
 
Our Havana is not descended from this earlier one, it was 'manufactured' by a group of dedicated breeders, beginning in 1951.The roots of these cats began with black, Russian Blue and Chocolate Point Siamese.The principle we now know is to mate a black or blue self to a Choc Point Siamese. This will result in black kittens. When mated to each other can produce black, seal point Siamese, self brown and choc point Siamese. At this stage the ratio of self brown to other colours is 3 : 16. So when enough litters have been produced and brown/brown is mated and the Siamese gene has been eliminated - bingo they had a self brown cat!
 
The pioneers at that time were, Mrs A. Hargreaves, Mrs I. Monro Smith, Mrs E. Fisher and Miss E. von Ullman joined later by Mrs J. Judd.The first self coloured brown cat was shown to the public in 1953.They were first called 'Havana' , however this name was not acceptable to the GCCF and it was reluctantly changed to 'Chestnut Brown Foreign Shorthair'. The 'Foreign' bit referred to type and bone formation and not to origin, as at that time they were bred in Berkshire, Devon & London. (On the continent and in the U.S.A. the name Havana has remained unchanged to this day) 
 
The standard agreed at this time and presented to the GCCF was as follows:
 
Head and ears
 
Head long and well proportioned, narrowing in straight lines to a fine muzzle; ears large and pricked, wide at the base with good width in between.
 
Body, legs and tail
 
Body long, lithe and well muscled, graceful in outline, legs slim and dainty with hind legs slightly higher than the front, paws oval and neat, nose leather, pads and whiskers the same shade of chocolate as the coat.
 
Eyes
 
Slanting and a definite green as on 'European Havana' SOP card - supplied on request with SAE to Pamela Sharp-Popple. denson-cats.co.uk
 
Coat
 
Any shade of rich chocolate, short and glossy; even and sound throughout after the 3rd/4th generation.
 
Faults
 
Undersized, tabby ghost markings, except in kittens; white spots, a 'stop' between eyes and nose; round or yellow eyes; small ears.
  
A number of these chestnut Browns were exported to breeders abroad, the first in 1956 to Mrs Peters and Mrs Quin of El Monte California. Many of the American 'Havanas' are descendants of these pioneer kittens, the first so rightly named Laurentide Brown Pilgrim. 
 
First Breeders and Prefixes
 
Baroness Edit Von-Ullman              Roofspringer
Mrs Armitage Hargreaves               Laurentide
Mrs Elsie Fisher                           Praha
Mrs Monro-Smith                          Elmtower
Mrs Joan Judd                              Crossways
Dr Nora Archer                             Somerville
Miss Jury                                     Purring
Mrs Dorothy 'Tig' Clavier                Revel                
Mrs Dora Clark                             Craigiehilloch
Miss G.H.P. McFarlane                 Mahogany
The Misses Davies & Walker         Lightfoot
Mrs Sybil Warren                         Senlac
Miss E.R. Sawyer                        Elvyne
Mrs Allen Smith                           Hergas
Mr T. Scott                                  Bluetower
Miss Beckett                               Sunland
 
Breeding Halted
 
Unfortunately they all fell out over 'type'  (similar to today - nothing changes) as Elmtower Bronze Idol was siring progeny, not conforming to the agreed standard. Mrs Monro-Smith and Miss Jury with a couple of others left the group.The type these breakaway breeders were breeding is very similar to today's American Havana Brown, with distinctive stop & chunkier head.These cats were/are extremely attractive, and could at that time have founded a separate breed. Indeed 'Berkshire  Browns' was suggested to council. Now some 50+ years on , there is the British Shorthair breed no 14b. Two pairs of these cats were exported to the USA, prematurely it would seem, and it was soon discovered that they carried the 'split hand' and 'Tumbler' gene. This was a shattering blow. as they had found out in Britain that the suspect line traced back to Elmtower Bronze Idol.
 
Joan Judd, Edit Von- Ullman & 'Tig' Clavier declined to breed from the suspect lines and bred back to chocolate point Siamese studs. This of course slowed down obtaining 3rd/4th generation Havanas, but it really was the salvation of the breed.These three breeders policy was to obtain healthy sound stock of agreed type regardless of opinion. 
 
Breed Recognition
 
In 1956 the Havana Group breeders agreed that they were ready for recognition and application to the GCCF was applied for. It was 1958 before it was approved, and then in the name of 'Chestnut Brown Foreign'  and not Havana!  This came as a mighty blow, as it had been the Shorthair Cat Society with the breakaway members that had opposed the name at Executive Council, without consulting the Havana Group or its members.The breeders on the continent retained the name 'Havana' and this caused lots of confusion with later pedigrees and exports.The name was eventually changed back to 'Havana' in 1971, twenty one years later - the breed it would seem has always been controversial.
 
Judging Difficulties
 
Although the GCCF's standard of points is almost identical to the original agreed standard, years of arguments have continued between those wishing to breed a semi-foreign cat and those insisting that they breed the original aims of the first breeders of the Havana Group. some judges were totally confused and awarding cc's to 'Burmese type'  whilst others were rightly awarding cc's to the correct foreign type.An extract of 'Fur and Feather' November 8th 1962 stated the following:
 
"Many of the Chestnut Browns this season have been called Burmese and Premier Sealcoat Golden Gay was called a Chestnut Brown at the combined Siamese Cat Club Association and the Shorthair Cat Society's Show, he was described as '"good eyes and a lovely coat, but a little dark". A pair of Chestnut Brown kittens were referred to as ' A nice pair of Burmese' at the Kensington that season. A Chestnut Brown was lifted from its pen and pronounced - "Eyes too green for a Burmese" and was promptly returned!
 
At this time, many breeders from the Havana Group gave up breeding Joan Judd went on to create the Feline Advisory Bureau. Of course the breed declined in popularity, as their numbers diminished, however interest gradually returned and the 'Havana and Foreign Lilac Cat Club' was born - now the HOLCC. 
 
Temperament and Characteristics
 
The beauty of the Havana is not based on colour and type alone, but on its unique character; its expression (known as the Havana expression') and also its fascinating vocal range.It is capable of protesting and giving orders in true Siamese style, but will converse in soft tones -after the manner of the Russian Blue.They have very high intelligence, and are similar to Siamese as they cannot thrive without human love and companionship.These are their unique characteristics which make them so rewarding and delightful to own, and we must preserve them at all costs.

 

Quarantine & European News

From January 1st 2012 - the UK are changing their quarantine policy. Once your cat/kitten is rabies vaccinated, 3 weeks later it can travel to Europe, USA, Canada and all countries that have reciprocal rabies agreements with the UK. There will be no need for blood testing, as DEFRA have agreed that this is no longer a necessity.
 
The cat will need to have a valid pet passport, and on return to the UK treated for worms by a veterinary surgeon - although theses conditions may change. All details are on the DEFRA website. http://www.defra.gov.uk/publications/files/pb13582-bringing-pets-to-uk110706.pdf
 
This is fantastic news for the Havana Pure Breeding Group, as it now means that we can travel freely with our cats from January 1st 2012 around Europe, USA and all countries accepted by DEFRA.Linda Spendlove (Eastpoint Siamese) is importing an Havana Brown stud from Paris on January 1st. His name is Gatsby, and he will be invaluable to our breeding programme.
We now have our first litter of five Havana F3's born on July 19th 2011. I went over to see them the day they were born and they were so pale I thought they were lilacs. At present 4 are going for breeding, and we are looking for someone to take on the third boy as another stud.
 
Linda and I are attending a CFA (Cat Fanciers Association) show near Padua, Italy at the beginning of October. This show will have 12 rings, all with different judges qualified to judge our cats. That means over the three days you have the chance of making your cat up to a Grand. It's like going to 12 different cat shows in the UK. In Europe, USA and Canada cat lovers sometimes travel over a thousand miles to a show. That's why they only show once or twice a year. It's very different to the UK. You carry your cat to the show table, you take your own pen insert, and the whole show has a party atmosphere with lots of wine, and continental  foods spread out on trestle tables for all to share, it has a fantastic street party atmosphere centred around cats.
 
Gatsby will be entered in this CFA show in October, so Linda and I will be able to watch from start to finish how he does over the whole 3 days. This will be Gatsby's first show.
 
Several of us have joined the Italian, French, German, American, Belgian and Dutch Havana breeders in setting up a new cat club. It is called the European Havana Cat Club, and I am the UK secretary. It has been registered with the French Cat Fancy and  has just gone live on the internet. We have written our own Sop's and guidelines for Havanas and Lilacs, and they are almost identical to the HOLCC standards. Definitely right in the middle between Oriental Brown and Havana Brown.   
 
It's all so exciting and I want to thank all who have supported this pioneering adventure. I know some Oriental breeders and judges do not approve of what we are doing, as they prefer to breed the more extreme Oriental Brown type. That is their choice and I respect it. However we wish to save this beautiful breed as a breed, and not just as another  brown coloured cat with extreme type that pops out of a mixed litter. There is room for the two. Abroad they have the Oriental Brown and Havana Brown, one day maybe the UK will too.
 
Pamela Sharp-Popple
www.denson-cats.co.uk
 

 

Rescuscitating Kittens Successfully After One Hour Forty Minutes Following Caesarian Section Pamela Sharp-Popple

Firstly, apologies to all you readers about the length of title, however I thought it important enough to include all relevant words for successful hits on the internet.

I first noticed signs of mild labour in Londy, our one year old Havana girl, on the morning of Wednesday June 28th. Around midnight the contractions became really noticeable, and Londy seemed to be progressing well towards the second stage. However, at 05.00hrs on Thursday June 29th everything stopped. I waited all day for the contractions to resume, a small show of blood but nothing else, and then it was obvious to me that the kittens might be in some distress as there was very little movement.

At tea-time I phoned the vet and suggested I take Londy along for an oxytocin injection, alas this didn't work even though she was fully dilated. Around 20.00hrs I agreed with the vet that an emergency caesarian was the only answer to save the kittens and possibly Londy - as she too was becoming distressed at this stage.

My husband Graham and I bundled her in the car and drove the mile or so to our local vets. I had told Zoe the vet, that she was not to worry about the kittens, as I would take care of them. This would leave her free to concentrate on my poor Londy's delivery. I asked what facilities they had, and said that I would bring along my kitten birthing pack.

Pamela SP's Kitten Pack: Flannels, dental floss, blunt scissors, hair dryer, cotton wool, large empty coke bottle filled with hot water, hot water bottle filled with hot water, with cover and cotton wool.

Graham brought his laptop computer along, as he had a document to write for work the next day, little did he realise the events that were about to unfold over the next few hours, which would leave him very little time to do his homework

My experience of kittens delivered by caesarian goes way back to the early 1980s. At that time I lived in Staffordshire, breeding and showing Siamese Cats. Our local vet was a celebrity off the radio and TV - however his main skill lay in large farm animals. One of my 8 pregnant queens had suffered food poisoning, and an emergency caesarian was the only answer. As usual it was late into the night, and the vet was on his own. He asked me to care for the kittens, who were very premature, fortunately he had a large Rayburn Stove, and I took along my hair dryer. Miraculously I managed to save all three tiny scraps, one weighing well under two ounces. Following intensive hand rearing, two out the three became adults, unfortunately the baby, my favourite Miz Ellie, had a hole in her heart and died at six months. Incidentally she never grew any larger than the palm of my hand. From then on, I assisted with many caesarians at our local veterinary hospital.

Prior to last summer (2004), it had been twenty years since I had bred or shown Siamese/Oriental cats. It was last year that my darling Londy popped out, in a litter of mixed Orientals/Siamese. A perfect little Havana girl, believe me I was hooked on Havanas instantly, and now wish to start a breeding programme of my own, taking them back to 'pure' 29s

Anyway, Graham and I are in the vet's waiting room, nervously awaiting the arrival of the first kitten. The veterinary nurse runs out with the first tiny scrap, an Havana girl - which is completely flat! To my amazement she is also attached to a huge pair of clamps. I remove the clamp, tie off the cord and start swinging. Nothing. I use the hair dryer, intermittent gentle mouth to mouth, more swinging. Nothing.

By this time another kitten has arrived, as flat as the first. I give the first to my husband, who continues with the swinging, and I start on the second one.

Another kitten arrives, again totally flat, I really don't know which one to work on now. We place a flannel on the underneath of my husband's warm computer which he has tilted downwards. We lay all three kittens on top of the warm laptop. In turn I take them off one by one swinging them, using the hair dryer and mouth to mouth. Nothing.

All three have heartbeats - you can feel this on their tiny necks.The nurse brings out the fourth kitten, flat. I stop what I am doing with the others and start working on this little one. I know at this stage that I thought I had lost all four kittens. However, we all took a kitten each and began working on them intensely. It had now been over forty

9 minutes since the first one had been delivered and then, the second one, a small Siamese boy began to breathe with assistance.

Within another twenty/thirty minutes we managed to get the first three kittens breathing with additional stimulation from us. The fourth kitten which happened to be the last one to be delivered, had a heartbeat, and I continued working on it in the car on the way home. I truly believe that if I had insisted that we stayed at the surgery another half hour or so I would have saved this one too. Unfortunately you cannot work very well on a sick kitten in a moving car with no facilities.

Once home, we filled the coke bottle with hot water and placed a flannel over it. We then draped this last kitten over it the warm coke bottle to try and drain her lungs. Over the next hour we really worked on this dear little Siamese kitten. Believe it or not nearly two hours after delivery, she still had a heart beat, and had taken one or two gasps. And then her heart gave up the ghost.

We were all very sad, but we had three very sleepy kittens, and a dazed mum to look after. It's obvious that the anaesthetic becomes much more of a problem as each kitten is delivered. It is therefore essential to get your vet to get them out very quickly.

In the past, I have never gone on for more than twenty minutes with rescusitation, that has now all changed. From now on I will not stop until the heart beat stops, no matter how long it takes. And yes I was worried about brain damage, but the remaining three kittens are now two weeks old with their eyes open, feeding, moving around normally. So please don't you give up either.

Pamela Sharp-Popple’ July 13th 2005
Denson Cats
Suffolk email: pamela.sharp@btinternet.com

TALL TALES & STRIPEY GHOSTS

I don’t know about you, but I have always been fascinated by cats tails. Some have thin ones, some fat, some short - Orientals are often long. Over 30 years of breeding, I have bred a handful with kinks - usually Siamese, snapped up first in the litter by their delighted new owners. It got me thinking, is the kinked tail inherited - or is there some other cause?

These kittens with kinked tails have always turned up in large litters of six or more - often the smallest kitten, usually the last to be born. Could this mean that this kitten had the least room to grow in the womb? If this were the case - it would mean that kinks are not a genetic fault? So therefore can we breed from these cats!

In the last two years I have had two Havana female kittens, - absolute little stunners, show quality. They both developed ’pips’ at the end of their tails at 11 weeks and 16 weeks retrospectively. Both of these kittens had previously, won 1st and BOB in their debut shows. .

One had a ‘thick’ tail the other’ extremely tapered. A certain judge wrote a damning report on one of the kittens - published on the web - as all show reports are nowadays. It said that she had an ‘extreme tail kink’. I knew that this was untrue - as the ‘pip’ could only be felt occasionally. I had the kitten’s tail X -rayed - there was no kink or any deviation in the consultant vetinary report. This made me think - would this tail ‘pip’ that had developed at about 16 weeks go when this cat reached maturity. And do you know what - I was right!!!

In both kittens cases the ‘pip’ had gone when the cat has reached adulthood.

I believe that you cannot compare a kittens body with an adult cat’s body. It is constantly growing and changing. The size of a kitten’s tail is a fraction of the size of an adult cats tail. So therefore if you want to keep that kitten with that tail ‘pip’ for breeding or showing as an adult - DO SO!!

As that tail pip will be gone when that kitten reaches maturity. I’m still collecting evidence on ‘definite tail kinks‘ and would love to hear from other breeders about their theories on this?

Oh! I forgot my title mentioned ‘ghosting’!!! As an Havana breeder - 3rd generation 29/29 - the paler I breed them the more ‘ghosting’ I get. I know they are all agouti underneath, and that is why it is so important to keep red, tabby and cinnamon out of the line.

I still welcome breeders with Havana /Lilac lines - interested in saving this beautiful Cat ‘The First Oriental Cat’ to join me in this worthwhile conservation programme.

(I also need suitable breeders out there to accommodate future 4th generation 29 studs? - I cannot keep them all myself - and we need this valuable gene pool to mate back to)

Merry Christmas to all
Pamela Sharp-Popple
denson-cats.co.uk

Havana’s - are they a breed or a colour?

This article should have been solely about the first TICA show that I entered in March 20th and 21sst of this year. However, because of a thought provoking conversation I had with two judges there - I decided to combine the two topics.

I have been entering GCCF cat shows since the 1980’s, so knew their show format and award system inside out. Other breeders have mentioned over the years to me how different TICA shows are, this intrigued me, so I decided to enter and experience it for myself. The show was over two days in Swanley - Kent, so I booked a Campanile motel for me and my two Havana’s for two nights nearby, and downloaded all the forms. When filling in the entry form’s there had been a lot of consternation on my part as TICA Havana standards are so different to the GCCF standards. In the USA the ‘Havana Brown’ is very similar to the original Havana of the 1950’s, as out crossing has not been permitted. My 8 month old Havana girl Denson Havenocinn MCollins is 4th generation Havana , and fit’s the UK SOP’s exactly. Whereas ‘Seido Sea Hawk’ my 9 month old new stud boy is more an Oriental Brown, as he is a 1st generation Havana.

I entered them both as Havana’s, but a week before the show, the show manager Sue Hart-Jones phoned me to say that they had had a meeting about my entry. Bless her, she emailed the TICA Oriental Brown and Havana SOP’s , and advised me to enter both my cats as Oriental Brown’s . Reluctantly I did this, and felt quite ashamed of myself as I have been fighting many years to keep the Havana breed as an Havana , and not an Oriental Brown cat!

We arrived at the show bright and early, there was no vetting in as they trust the breeders to be responsible for the health of their own cats. Of course you have to still show the cats up to date inoculation cards. I was greeted and taken to my pens by my own very helpful show manager, Sue. Double pens had been provided side/side, large enough to hold an inner double pen. Most of the exhibitors provide beautiful colourful inner pens, which they dress exquisitely..They all looked absolutely gorgeous, quite the opposite of white blanket - land at GCCF shows!. The exhibitors were situated around the outside of the show hall, and in the middle were six small show areas with pens and chairs, so the cat judging could be viewed in each arena by their owners.

My cats were allocated pen numbers and these were how the cats would be judged in each of the show rings. It was very hectic, as you have to take your own cat along to each ring to be judged, and I had two cat to ferry around. It took me a while to understand, but the other exhibitors were so welcoming and friendly - certainly not as competitive as at a GCCF show!

American Orientals are far typier than the UK version, and it became very obvious that Wilson fitted this standard far better than my Havana girl Mickey. The third judge Connie Webb from New York, took me to one side after she had finished judging. She said that Mickey was something in-between an American Havana and a British Havana, and if I changed her class, she would have no hesitation in awarding her a first! Connie spoke to another American judge; Rene Knapp who agreed with her totally. It was at this point that the Rene stated - unfortunately in Britain the GCCF think that if a brown cat pops out of a mixed Oriental litter, that makes it an Havana! An Havana is a Breed and not a colour!! I then explained that Mickey was 4th generation Havana at least on one side, with no cinnamon in the breeding. The judges both said that this was clearly obvious to them, so please, please change her from the Oriental Brown class to the Havana Brown class. I couldn’t believe how helpful these judges had been, they were so knowledgeable about Havana’s, and to state that they were a ‘Breed’ and not a colour was music to my ears.

Sue, the show manager was delighted to change Mickey to a different class. And when that was done, Mickey finalled in her last two rings, and on the Sunday she had enough points to be a Grand Champion within TICA. Wilson became a Champion over the two days in his Oriental Brown class. To claim these titles I have to register my cats with TICA.

I had a lovely weekend, it was a little confusing at first, but the other exhibitors, show staff and especially the judges were fantastic. It was worth it, just to take away the one comment from the American judge about an Havana being a breed and not a colour. I truly believe that what he said is correct. As a breeder who concentrates purely on Havana’s, now up to 5th generation kittens, I find them so different from to my other cats. They hold their paw up to seek attention- even swapping paws just in case you haven’t noticed the first time Their voice has an incredible range, from the Siamese wail to a very low delicate pitch. I find them far more intelligent than my Siamese cats, and am now very keen to try and breed a ‘pure 29’ including 29c within the pedigree. One thing I haven’t mentioned is coat colour, the closer I breed towards a pure 29 the coat becomes sounder and richer. If I could only take my Havana’s outside at a show and reveal to the judges how beautiful their coats are in natural daylight, I’m sure that I could win the doubters over. You see you don’t need shoulder ears, just a really sound chestnut coat, muscular body and an equilateral triangular head - and that’s it. Not a Gremlin in sight!!!

If anyone out there has a stud cat (29/29c) out of 29/29c who would like to participate in breeding a pure 29/29c please get in touch.

Looking forward to hearing from you all.
Pamela Sharp-Popple
Denson cats
Felixstowe
denson-cats.co.uk
June 2010

Venus's Obituary

Oriental Cat Photo

















Denson Venus Miraclewilliams June 30th 2009 - September 4th 2010

RIP my darling beautiful little girl. At last your suffering is over. I miss you so much and will always love you. You made my world a much better place.

Mummyxxxxx



Raising Venus

Oriental Cat PhotoOriental Cat Photo Oriental Cat Photo











Oriental Cat Photo

Denson Venus 'Miracle' Williams truly is a 'miracle'. She should never have been conceived let alone survived being born by an emergency caesarian. This is the story of how I have hand-reared the tiniest, sickest, luckiest kitten I have ever known or heard of in all the many years that I have been breeding.

Connie (Venus's mum is a beautiful lilac queen) who had severe pyometria. I was amazed when my stud cat Marvin Gaye impregnated her. As Connie had lived most of her life, since being diagnosed with pyometria with Marvin as his companion. About the time the kittens were due, Connie took to her bed – and nothing happened, no contractions, no labour, nothing. She just sat there for days – refusing to come out. When her hawes on her eyes came up, and her beautiful coat started falling out and separating, and she still refused to leave her bed. I knew something had to be done quickly. So I took her to the vet's – were an emergency section was performed at 8pm at night, at my insistence! The vet had wanted me to take her home and let nature take it's course. It's a good job I didn't, and that I insisted on a caesarian, because when the vet brought the kittens through to me in the adjoining room to deal with, their placenta's had completely disappeared, crumbled away. The vet shouted through that Connie's womb was paper thin and in pieces too! This is what pyometria had done to her.

There were 7 kittens in total, none breathing, extremely tiny – weighing between 55 grammes and 85 grammes. With mouth to mouth rescuscitation, and lots of swinging, constant use of the hair dryer over all 7 of them as they lay on their warm coke bottle – I eventually got them going. It had taken me over an hour.

I left the vets at about 10pm, clutching a very confused half conscious mum, and 7 tiny babies - to drive the 30 miles back to my home. I was exhausted, as I had been up observing Connie so closely for the past couple of nights. When I returned home I placed them all in a warm kitten box with the heater bed on low– hoping for some sleep myself. How wrong could I be!!!

Connie hissed and spat at them constantly, she had no milk and had no intention of having anything to do with them. I syringed all 7 babies with some warm milk, settled mum in a separate adjoining bed – and tried to get a couple of hours sleep. When I woke about 0400 hrs. - 5 had died – just 2 little Havana babies were left still alive. I tried them again with their mum – no luck at all. I realised then that I had no choice but to hand rear these 2 tiny scraps.

I placed them in a straw shoulder basket with vet wrap inside, changing the hot water bottle hourly – feeding them both 2 hourly. This routine went on for 18 days. I took the two tiny babies everywhere with me, to a wedding in London, cat shows, theatre, out to dinner, and then I lost the little boy. He just faded away. I was so upset as I really had done my best.

Venus began to thrive, putting on weight – one thing she really liked was my husband playing the piano. He used to place her in his shirt pocket and her ears would prick up and move to the music. By 4 weeks of age she weighed 150 grammes and purred and kneaded biscuits when I kissed her all over. She responded to her name, and at last I breathed a sigh of relief as it looked that this little scrap was going to be alright. How wrong could I have been? One problem had been the Royal Canin Milk, which she was now having 3 hourly – it gave her constant constipation. So I put a little oil in with her milk and washed her bottom with warm water to try and get her going more regularly.

The weekend of her 4 week anniversary, she started screaming and coiling her legs up, it was quite obvious she had a blockage. I phoned the vet as she was in agony, and he said there was nothing he could do as she was too tiny for an enema. Overnight she fitted constantly, and became unconscious – first thing the next morning I dashed to the vets – talking to her constantly. He gave her painkillers, steroids, and antibiotics – and he didn't hold out much hope for her survival. I placed her on my kitchen counter in a tiny little carrier, with her head elevated – so she could breathe easier. My husband Graham and I talked to her every few minutes all weekend. I syringed her hourly with 2 ml of 'lites'. ( Boiled water, glucose and salt) Occasionally she made a little cry. Graham tied her head down with scraps of material, to stop it 'setting' as this is the cause of many kittens dying When their head 'sets' I'm afraid that's it!!

About 0500 hrs. Monday morning she woke up – hooray. She had 10 ml of milk and seemed a little better – again I was wrong. Within a few days Venus was fitting again, this time constantly. I rushed her to the vets and a different vet wanted to put her down, saying her organs were abnormal. I was having none of it. I took her home and treated her the way we had previously, with the lites hourly and lots of love and attention. This should have been the time that I made that decision to have her put to sleep. But I couldn't – I loved this little scrap so much – so did my husband – he was besotted with her! Their piano duos became a nightly routine. A lot of her fur fell out with the steroid treatment, and she developed a thick scaly unpleasant rash.

The convulsions and fitting began to subside, until one day they ceased altogether, she was now about 8 weeks old. Around this time the vet diagnosed her with total blindness and brain damage. So I was left with an almost bald, scaly, blind, brain damaged tiny little baby, whom I loved more than any other animal I have ever loved in my life. You see she needs me constantly, and we both have to watch over her.

Unfortunately Venus has fitted again, usually at times of change and stress. When I collected her following a holiday, and when she called for the first time, also when she is placed in strange unfamiliar environments and locations. She is now 8 months old, her fur has grown back, albeit white – I suppose it's the shock. She follows my voice, and where I am, you will find Venus. When Graham plays the piano she toddles over there and he places her on his lap – as she is now too big for his pocket .It brings tears to my eyes watching them – she has total trust in us. The other cats love her and wash her constantly – in fact she is always dripping wet.

I don't know how long she will be with us, but every day she brings love and happiness into our lives. I'm so glad that I didn't take my vet's advice and have her put to sleep. When people see her they are captivated and besotted with her – even those that don't like cats. We love her unconditionally, thankyou so much Venus for just being there.

Pamela Sharp-Popple

Belle's Re-Absorption

At 73 days gestation Belle eventually went into labour and delivered a foetal sac with a tiny bit of shriveled contents. A day later she had another one – and then a little discharge for a few days. I put her on antibiotics for 3 weeks and then she started calling again. Mated her for nearly a week this time to Marvin and she started vomiting at about 10 days in. Decided on Tagamet which I am giving her at night – it seems to be doing the trick as she has only v omitted a little since being on this medication.

Belle is now 6 weeks pregnant and has stopped vomiting completely as long as I give her the Tagamet at night time. I am letting her out in the garden every day for a couple of hours – and she loves it. It is making her a more contented cat, still waiting for the nice hormones to kick in – but that shouldn't be too long now. Think I can feel at least one kitten about the size of a broad bean – so here's fingers crossed and third time lucky.

Belle has started calling again at 56 days and I have decide to call it a day trying to get her pregnant and get her spayed . Thank goodness I have as when they opened her up they found huge cysts on her ovaries, which would have caused her a lot of pain, especially when I was searching for kittens. The vet said that she has poly cystic ovaries, and could never have been pregnant with viable foetuses.

A week later and stitches out, she's a much happier cat. My friend's sister who lives out in the country not far from me, has just lost her Oriental at 17 yrs, so I'm going to invite her over to meet Belle with a view to taking her. You see Belle needs to be the only cat in the 'village' and my black girl Ronnie – the one Belle attacked a few weeks ago has taken a real dislike to her. In fact if she sees Belle even through the window her fur stands on end, she growls and gets really agitated. I have had Belle for nearly a year now and I don't think things are going to get any better within the Denson cat household. So maybe it is time for her to have a bit of what's best for Belle.

Pamela Sharp-Popple
Denson Cats
July 2008

Sticky Eyes

I believe that I have found (by accident) the answer to the Sticky Eye Problem in kittens. Over the years I have always had a least one- often two, kittens with sticky eyes in a litter. Usually this begins when they get to about four weeks old and start inter-acting with each other. Sometimes it can be very nasty, although it always looks worse than it actually is. Occasionally when cold tea hasn't worked, I have ended up at the vet's buying antibiotic eye drops for the sticky eyed kitten.

In September 2005 we did a house-swap to Texas, our second having swapped with someone in Canada the year before. I left a litter of five kittens (four days old) in my wardrobe with their new mum Emma looking after them. The pet-sitter came daily, and our Texan friends were extremely amused at the little furry guests in the wardrobe in their dressing room – squeaking and shuffling around the older they became. I was in constant contact with our Texan visitors, and asked for them to leave the kittens alone in the dark until I came home 23 days later. Of course mum Emma had access at all times, with her food, water and litter tray placed downstairs in the storm porch to give her some respite from her ever demanding babies.

When I returned home the kittens where 27 days old. I opened the wardrobe door and they were running around inside their kitten box, absolutely healthy – with not a sticky eye between them. Only then did I bring them downstairs.I am now doing this every time, and guess what no more sticky eyes. When you think about it, in the wild, mum would find a dark safe place to keep her kittens for about the first three/four weeks of their tiny lives. Accidentally I re-created what mum would have done naturally and Bingo!

Pamela Sharp-Popple
Denson Cats July 2008

Breeding From Immature Queens

The reason I am writing this article is that I was dismayed and shocked by a couple of breeders who have informed me that they 'deliberately' breed from queens as young as 7 months. The reason being - they called!!!

Well I'm afraid that's what female cats do - some a lot more than others - some breeds far more intensely than other breeds. Just because they call - you cannot mate them every time. Going along with this theory we should be arranging for our 11 yr old daughters to have babies after their first period - and then continue to have a baby every 9 months! Of course we wouldn't - being an adolescent, immaturity, un-practical, unethical and illegal are just a few of the reasons why modernised western society does not go along with this concept of under age motherhood and sexual activity.

A female kitten under 15 months of age still has a lot of growing and maturing to do and any breeder who does not allow this 'finishing off period' has no right to call themselves a reputable breeder.We all know accidents happen, and I for one have had my share over the years - once I even had a siblings mate in the litter at 5 months.But this has never been deliberate, for financial gain or because they call too much. And of course very young queen's often have difficult labours, still-birth's, kittens born with deformities, as well as rejecting their kittens far more often than more mature maiden queen.

When buying a kitten, if the queen appears young and immature, then she probably is and in these instances we should ask for proof of the queen's age, or decline from purchasing the kitten. A reputable breeder will be delighted to produce the relevant documentation.

Pamela Sharp-Popple
Denson Cats
Felixstowe

Worms & Kittens

Earlier this year my Oriental Black girl 'Ronnie Wood' gave birth to four Havana babies and one black boy - just like his mum. Ronnie has serious fabric issues, eating all material in her way - which includes curtains, towels, blankets, beds and bedding, in fact any fabric that she is exposed to and can get away with - Ronnie will devour with gusto!

Because of this habit, I wormed her twice while being pregnant. Ronnie stopped eating fabric for the first 2 weeks of her kittens lives, then she continued with even more fervour than before - even eating a polishing pad that I had made for grooming at cat shows. It was about this time that Ronnie started to lose weight, and by the time her kittens were four weeks old there was clearly yet again, another worm infestation. I wormed her and her kittens at five weeks, and then again at seven weeks. It was quite obvious that the worm larvae were being passed via Ronnie's milk to her kittens. The kittens became so ill that at seven weeks I separated them from Ronnie and brought down Ronnie's mum 'Emma' with her four week old kittens (remember I keep them in wardrobe) to nurse all twelve kittens.

This she did immediately, feeding them all in batches - with my swapping them around and placing the bigger ones in the 'sin bin' an upturned crate, whilst the little ones took precedent with Emma's milk. Unfortunately, Ronnie's four Havana babies stopped eating solid food and became extremely ill. One lost nearly a third of it's body weight, and I truly thought that it would die. I syringed all four with fluids every hour for 36 hours, and wormed all twelve kittens plus Emma. Every time they went to the toilet I emptied the litter trays, I scrubbed and disinfected six litter trays almost hourly to get rid of the worm larvae. And then the smaller kittens got really thin, and they too stopped eating solids. By this time I was completely exhausted. In all the years that I have been breeding kittens, I had only ever used preventative measures for worms. This situation had become so serious, it needed extreme 'barrier nursing' or I was going to lose all the kittens.

I scrubbed out the kitten room with disinfectant, sterilised my hands every time I touched a kitten or a litter tray, and I cancelled the bigger kittens innocinoculations vet gave them all antibiotics, and said that I might lose one or two of the smaller ones. I drontalled all my adult cats including Emma again - as a preventative measure. It was about this time that Ronnie's four Havana babies, began to eat again - hallelujah!

When they eventually went for their innocinoculations had just about made up their weight from three weeks earlier - to around a kilo each. All four have now gone to their new homes - albeit a little lighter and a couple of weeks later than planned. I had tears in my eyes when the little boy who had been really ill with worms went to his new mummy. But he is fine now, and after a week away, eating them out of house and home.

The smallest babies, a tiny Siamese girl who has arythmarrhythmian Havana boy have a long way to catch up, but the other five are thriving and go go to their new homes in two weeks time. I had never realised that worms could be this serious in small kittens, and I will be especially vigilant in the future when my queens are nursing their kittens. Worm infestation should never be taken lightly with young kittens.

Pamela Sharp-Popple
Denson Cats
Felixstowe