Monday, November 28, 2016

Hybrid Cat Breeds: Khaomanee

Some breeds are both ancient in origin and virtually unrecognized at the same time. Such is the case with the Khaomanee. Still a well-kept secret in its native Thailand, there are references to this majestic breed in the Tamra Maew, which is an ancient collection of Thai poems from 1350. So he's not exactly young, but he has only recently been discovered in the west.

It wasn't until 1999 that the first of these cats was imported into the United States by Colleen Freymouth. She bred the first American Khaomanee kittens even as Janet Poulson was importing a breeding pair into the United Kingdom. It took ten years, but TICA eventually accepted the Khaomanee for registration in 2009. Two years later these striking cats were advanced to Preliminary New Breed Status. Most registries, however, do not recognize the Khaomanee as a distinct breed at all.

If there is one defining characteristic of the Khaomanee, it is the eyes. The preferred eye color is actually one blue, one yellow. Sometimes the yellow eye will be more green, and sometimes a kitten is born with yellow or green eyes. Since odd-eye is preferred, kittens who are not odd-eyed are not generally included in breeding programs unless there are no other options.

The preferred coat color is white. This may, in fact, end up being the breed standard once the Khaomanee is more widely accepted. There are kittens born of other colors, however, and these kittens are as much Khaomanee as their white siblings. They're just not preferred for breeding programs.

In addition to coat color and the odd-eyes, the Khaomanee can be spotted by its heart-shaped head and high cheekbones. Ears should be large and entirely upright, giving the cat an alert appearance. All in all, the Khaomanee is a joy to behold.

Playful and a little bit naughty, the Khaomanee is devoted to his own people but sees himself as far above all who enter his domain. Humans, canines, other cats...they are all less than he is, and they all owe him a snuggle. Guests should expect a social and demanding feline companion the moment they step through the door. Once the guests have departed, however, he'll be right back in your lap, enjoying the company of his own human.

He is a curious cat and can often be found exploring cupboards, crawling thought the pantry, or scaling a bookshelf. He'll happily play fetch or climb the nearest curtain, so he has no trouble keeping in shape. You may have trouble keeping your curtains in one piece, however.

The Khaomanee is a fun loving and exciting companion. He's a wonderful addition to many households, but he's not great with dogs or other pets.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Cat Breeds: Ragamuffin

The Ragamuffin is one of those newer breeds with a somewhat hazy past. We do know that this sensitive breed was developed in 1994 from the experimental "Cherubim" cat Ann Baker tried to create in the 1960s from street cats in California. We don't really know the full story, and are not likely to discover it, but we do know that though Ann Baker is also connected to the development of the Ragdoll breed, the two breeds are not the same. There are very specific differences that warrant this cat being recognized as a separate and distinct breed.

Luckily, most registries agree. Both the Cat Fanciers' Association and the Cat Fanciers' Federation, accepted the Ragamuffin in the early 2000s, and granted them Championship Status not long after. Today, most associations acknowledge the breed, though some still contend that the Ragamuffin is merely a variant of the Ragdoll. This is, of course, nonsense.

The Appearance of the Ragamuffin

The body of a Ragamuffin is substantial and heavy. He's a large cat, weighing up to 20 pounds, and he definitely feels like it. Females tend to be significantly smaller, not usually weighing more than 13 pounds. Regardless of gender, this cat is heavily boned and well rounded. He even has a fatty pad on his abdomen, giving him more weight.

These guys take up to four years to reach maturity, so they're kittens for a long time. If you're comparing them to their cousin, the Ragdoll, you might notice that the Ragamuffin has a rounder head and a shorter nose, so he lacks the more gentle curves of the Ragdoll.

Ragamuffins come in all colors and patterns, and they may or may not have white patches. Some registries restrict which colors and patterns can be shown, but most registries that accept the breed also accept that the colors are quite a bit more varied than the colors of the Ragdoll. In essence, a Ragamuffin can look like whatever a Ragamuffin wants to look like.

Coats are a bit longer than the Ragdoll, but they're just as soft and just as low maintenance. A quick brushing once a week will do the trick. Their coats don't tend to mat and they don't shed as much as you'd expect for a cat with fully furred, medium-long hair. They're also so soft you'll find yourself unable to take your hands off the plush furball sitting on your lap.

The Personality of the Ragamuffin

The Ragamuffin is one of the sweetest of cats. He forms a strong bond with his family and pines for his people when they're not around. He doesn't like to be alone, so most people get two of these lovely beasts. Two Ragamuffins are better than one, guaranteed. Besides, this cat breed is just a little addictive. Most people find they want a second cat in short order anyway.

Calm and patient, this cat is great with children. He'll sit for hours in a baby stroller, tolerate being dressed up, and even sit through a game of checkers or a tea party. He's eager to please, making him highly trainable. He'll learn to fetch, to walk on a leash, and will usually come when called. Except when he doesn't. He is a cat, after all.

His temperament makes him a great pet for almost any household. He'll play with children, sit on the lap of an adult, and generally just offer unconditional love and support.

Like his Ragdoll cousin, the Ragamuffin tends to go quite limp when you lift him in your arms. This is temporary and normal, so don't fret. He'll be back to curling up on your lap as soon as you put him down. But for all his napping and cuddling,  he's not a lazy cat. You'll find him playing with a scrap of paper or bounding about the room at the oddest hours.

One important thing about this gentle giant is that he's far too trusting. He assumes everyone is his friend and wants to play. Because of this, he should not be left alone outside. He's far too likely to trust the wrong dog or assume the car won't run over him to be left among such dangers unsupervised.

The Ragamuffin is gentle and loving. If you're looking for a sweetheart of a cat and like having a giant furball on your lap at all hours, the Ragamuffin might be for you.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Cat Breeds: European Burmese

The European Burmese and its cousin, the Burmese, are descended from the same source. A cat named Wong Mau was the first Burmese brought to the west in the 1930s. Since she was the only one of her kind, she had to be bred to other breeds of similar type. The Siamese, being the obvious choice, was selected. Both solid and pointed kittens were produced from these breedings, with the solid kittens selected for the new Burmese breeding program.

But what about the pointed kittens? They weren't quite Siamese but they were of no use in the Burmese programs. They might have been discarded, lost to time, but a few intrepid breeders kept these kittens and labelled them European Burmese. It took time, but breeders managed to establish firm breeding programs to create and promote their new breed. Today these guys are rare, but still out there. They're just difficult to find.

The Appearance of the European Burmese

With a body that is sleek and round at the same time, the European Burmese is the perfect blend of the Siamese and the Burmese. He has short hair and is medium in size, which serves to emphasize his graceful contours and solid boning. Eyes should be large and alert and range in color from yellow to gold.

The coat should be short and soft. Unlike the Burmese, the European Burmese allow many different colors. Blue, brown, chocolate, cream, lilac, and even soft apricot reds are just some of the allowable colors. Tortoiseshell colors are also around and gaining in popularity. The pointed areas of the cat should vary, but this variation can be quite subtle or remarkably obvious. It depends on the particular cat. Marked points are preferred, but more subtle points are still allowed in competition.

The European Burmese doesn't need bathing and only rarely requires grooming. A soft rubber brush is all you really need to brush out your cat once a week.

The Personality of the European Burmese

The European Burmese is a real people cat. He loves to be with people and hates to be alone. Loyal to a fault, once you've earned his love there's nothing you can so to get rid of him. He'll follow you around, almost stalking you, until you sit down so he can curl up on your lap. When you get up again, he's going with you. He bonds strongly to a single person, but loves other as well, especially if they'll pet him.

Both intelligent and affectionate, a European Burmese will slip his way into whatever you're doing. Dishes? No problem. He'll get right in the dishwasher. Laundry? He's probably already in the dryer. And don't bother with paperwork. He's sitting on it so you'll have to play with him first. He needs your attention and knows just how to get it.

Because he loves people, all people, children are perfect companions for the European Burmese. He will play and snuggle all day if you let him. He also loves other cats and can become fast friends with the right dog, so he's suitable for most households.

If you're looking for a sweet and affectionate cat who will love you until the sky falls down, you might be looking for a European Burmese.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Cat Breeds: Burmilla

While the Burmilla is one of the newer breeds to be recognized by most associations, its origins actually go back over thirty years. And its origins were entirely an accident. A chinchillla Persian male cat was purchased by Baroness Miranda Von Kirchberg for her husband in early 1981. She was going to have him neutered, but before she could do so, he met a sweet little lilac Burmese female.

As often happens, nature took its course and on September 11, 1981 a little of four kittens were born to the Burmese female. All four kittens had short hair and were black shaded silver in color with piercing gold eyes that would later deepen to green.  These kittens were so attractive and so sweet that a breeding program was immediately established and the Burmilla was born.

The Appearance of the Burmilla

Muscular and solid, the Burmilla is a medium sized cat with a sculpted appearance from head to tail. The head should be rounded and the muzzle broad. Eyes are green, but they can start off as good or yellow when the kitten is born. A fully mature cat of at least three years should always have green eyes, but this green can take a while to appear, so don't expect your kitten to have green eyes.

The coat of all Burmillas is a sparkling silver that draws every eye. The distinctive markings on the face, which should extend directly up the nose, are often referred to as makeup. This makeup should mark the nose and line the eyes and mouth, giving the cat a sweet and open expression.

Though most people don't realize it, there are actually two coat lengths for the Burmilla. Most cats have the traditional short hair of their Burmese ancestors, but some actually have a semi-long coat. It's not as long as a Persia, but it's certainly longer than the short haired variety. Both coat lengths are acceptable in competition.

The Personality of the Burmilla

Independent and just a little irreverent, the Burmilla adores his owner but doesn't always want to show it, especially around strangers. His kitten-like attitude persists well into adulthood, but he's never annoying. Instead he is fun and gentle and always willing to nap beside you.

The temperament of the Burmilla is really quite extraordinary. He can very demanding and cuddly one moment, mischievous and playful the next. He is easy going and relaxed, like a Persian, but also social and affectionate, like the Burmese. He talks, but he's usually quiet. He is sweet natured, but tends toward inquisitive and even snoopy. A mass of contrasts describes the Burmilla best, but that's what tends to attract people to this intelligent little guy.

The Burmilla is still rare in the United States, and not exactly bountiful in Europe. If you want one, you'll have to be prepared to wait and you may have to pay a hefty price. But the exuberant and loving Burmilla is worth it, especially if you're looking for a stunning cat with a unique personality.