world of breeding and showing pedigreed cats knows no national boundaries.
Thousands of people all over the globe proudly display their pets
to judges and to the public on any given week-end. An example of cat
fancier dedication is that once the Iron Curtain was lifted, the Russian
cat fancy emerged from the underground and began holding cat shows.
Russian breeders have introduced their country’s own unique breeds,
including the Siberian (one of the oldest known breeds); and the Mei
Toy and the Kural Bobtail which were previously unknown to the rest
of the world, but which were carefully developed and nurtured despite
a restrictive society’s laws and hardship.
cats are registered with various independent registries throughout
the world, each of which promulgates written “standards of perfection”
against which the cats are judged in competition, and that constitute
the ideal toward which breeders strive. The Cat Fanciers’ Association
(CFA), founded in 1906, is the world’s largest of these registries
and licenses shows held by the 582 affiliate clubs in the U.S., Canada,
Europe and Asia. CFA recognizes 37 distinct and unique breeds, and
approximately 15-20 additional breeds may be recognized by one or
more of the other world’s registries.
should come as no surprise that cat fanciers love cats, and that this
love is not limited to the pedigreed cats. CFA leads the world in
activities that promote the health and the welfare of all cats.
Cat shows include competition for pedigreed championship cats, and
for altered (neutered or spayed) pedigreed cats, and even for the
lovely random-bred household cats. CFA’s Winn Feline Foundation funds
important veterinary medical studies. The non-profit organization
also has an active disaster relief effort and programs that promote
breed rescue and management of feral cat colonies. Clubs work with
local humane agencies to help place homeless random-bred cats in new
homes, and in promoting and funding low-cost neuter/spay programs,
as well as countless activities to educate the public about responsible
cat ownership and care.
to the Pet Food Institute, there are approximately 65 million pet
cats in the United States today. There is a vast, but unknown number
(possibly a number nearly equal to the owned population) of unowned
or feral cats. These unowned cats and their unweaned litters represent
the bulk of shelter euthanasia currently. No traditional approach
over the last century has effectively reduced this population. The
common “trap-and-kill” programs are not only unpopular but inhumane,
and restrictive licensing and “ownership” laws punish people whose
only crime is to provide kindness and food to these unowned cats.
With no owner to comply with laws, any that are passed are singularly
ineffective in controlling feral cats.
cat fancy, in cooperation with other feral cat advocacy groups, is
supporting programs that have been proven in wildlife management,
involving trapping, testing for disease, vaccinating, sterilizing,
returning to their original location where there is ongoing maintenance
by caregivers. The cats in these colonies, then, will continue to
defend their territory from intruders, will be safer with respect
to public health, and will over time reduce in numbers due to attrition
as older cats die and younger ones are incapable of reproducing. People
might tend to forget that cats still perform the public service that
they have done for thousands of years ... no one has yet invented
a better mousetrap! In areas where either massive trap and kill programs
or natural disaster has decimated the feral population, there has
been an almost immediate rise in rodent populations and their associated
campaigns promoted by some national animal welfare organizations are
designed to eliminate - by trap and kill - feral cats, purportedly
to protect birds. Most scientific studies of the contents of feral
cats’ stomachs show that the feral cat’s diet exists almost exclusively
of rodents, garbage, carrion, and lizards, with birds representing
only a miniscule amount . Birds represent under 10% in most of these
studies, and even then no distinction is drawn between live-caught
birds and those consumed already dead.
pet demographic studies are proving that, despite what is being incorrectly
touted as “fact”, cat owners are being very responsible.
Five different studies show that more than 87% of all owned cats are neutered or spayed. According to a recent independent study
in San Diego, which supports that percentage, a significant number
of those few that are not yet sterilized are too young for the surgery,
or their owners cannot afford it. In fact, were it not for the kittens
from feral populations, it is estimated that all of the owned, unsterilized
cats can fulfill only about half the United States public’s demand
for kittens - what is called the “replacement rate.”
fact, while some animal protection organizations continue to lobby
for stronger laws to restrict breeding and to fund raise based on
skewed shelter data, others have moved on to address the real problems
of why animals die in shelters. The National Council on Pet Population
Study and Policy released in 1998 a study of pet relinquishment to
shelters. Information from this study shows that pet cats obtained
from breeders and pet shops represent a lower risk of later relinquishment
than those obtained from most other sources. Only 3.4% of cats relinquished
at shelters were pedigreed cats originally obtained from breeders,
compared to 23.3% which were obtained as stray.
animal welfare organizations are now recognizing that laws restricting
breeding are not needed, and are even not desirable. Many, with the
help of studies such as the National Council’s, are beginning to identify
and address the real reasons why the human/animal bond might be severed.
As risk factors are being identified, educational programs are being
targeted to accomplish the most good. Education and positive programs
- not laws - have already accomplished a 75% reduction in shelter
euthanasia nationally in the past decade. Notably, the cities that
have achieved the greatest success in that reduction, such as San
Francisco, have done so with virtually no restrictive laws,
i.e., mandatory neuter/spay, breeder permits or cat licensing.
the cat fancy is dedicated to promoting the well being of all cats,
we are primarily committed to preserving our breeds. These pedigreed
cats are pieces of history, each having a distinct story and past.
Some of our ancient breeds have only 100 or fewer cats registered
each year, yet they have devoted admirers. Without responsible breeding
programs, many breeds would today be extinct. Current state and local
legislation proposals involving mandatory neuter/spay, expensive and
intrusive breeder permits and large intact license differentials could
well mean diminished cat fancy involvement that could lead to the
demise of some of those breeds. All pedigreed cats could become difficult,
if not impossible to obtain.
pedigreed cats have not been bred to perform specific tasks as many
dog breeds have, their beauty, predictable temperament, history and
individuality is worthy of preservation. The American Shorthair, for
example, is currently bred to the standard of appearance that existed
at the turn of the century in America, before the advent of the imported
breeds. The Turkish Angora cat had been thought to be extinct until
a controlled breeding colony was discovered in the Ankara Zoo in the
1960’s, and imports allowed this distinct breed to once again grace
showhalls and peoples’ homes. These and the other beautiful and unique
breeds have devoted admirers among both cat fanciers and the public.
fanciers are strong and unified in our opposition to anti-breeding
laws which violate our constitutional rights as well as put our beloved
cat breeds in jeopardy. The Cat Fanciers’ Association has joined forces
with other animal organizations to ensure that public officials are
aware of the serious consequences of these anti-breeding laws on our
pedigreed cats. A study of the issue clearly shows that many of these
laws are promoted by those organizations and individuals who are fundamentally
opposed to any purposeful breeding - indeed, even the keeping - of
the author: Anna Sadler is a former NAIA Board member who represented
Purebred Cats. She is the Legislative Information Liaison for The
Cat Fanciers’ Association, Inc., and is a director of the Coalition
of Responsible Animal Owners of Texas, Inc. Author of a book and many
published articles on cat care and issues concerning cats in American
society, she has bred and exhibited Persian cats for 23 years under the Brannaway Cattery Prefix.
Copyright © 1998 Anna Sadler. All rights reserved.