The third annual meeting was held this year in Sirmione, a beautiful medieval city on Italy's Lake Garda. Last minute organisational difficulties had forced the hosts to hold a simpler weekend without a cat show or an organized seminar such as had happened in the previous two years.
The Meeting convened in the afternoon of Friday, 3rd May. The president’s of four of the cat fancy’s organisations being Craig Rothermel (CFA), Anneliese Hackmann (WCF), Alva Udin (FIFe) and Geogia Morgan (TICA) introduced themselves and a special welcome was given to the TICA President who was joining the conference for the first time. The meeting was informed that Lesley Morgan from ACF Inc. Australia had sent apologies as she was unable to attend.
The four presidents were joined at the conference table by Tom Dent, executive director of CFA; Fabrice Calmès, vice-president of FIFe; Penny Bydlinski, general secretary of FIFe; Henry Kellner, secretary of WCF; and Filippo Farinelli and Patrizia de Ferrari, president and vice-president of the host club, FFI.
The experiences of the first six months of the 'Open Doors' policy was discussed. There had been some problems in one or two countries but generally speaking it was working well. Open shows had been held in Austria, The Netherlands and Sweden and had been successful, more were planned. Joint shows had also been held with success.
It was apparent that confusion existed in some areas as to the exact purpose of these meetings and how much authority the participants had in regard to their own members. In the case of CFA, TICA and WCF it is simple as each is an organisation in the sense of one club whilst in the case of FIFe, it is a federation of many member clubs and any decisions must always be ratified or authorised by the General Assembly of all the members.
Georgia Morgan asked if a 'Mission Statement' had ever been made and this was felt to be a good idea. It was therefore decided that the Meeting should concentrate on preparing such a statement and then identifying and considering the various areas which this would cover. The delegates considered this overnight and came the following day with the following suggestion:
These items were then addressed individually.
1. Open Shows
Whilst CFA, TICA and WCF shows are already 'open' in the sense that they are able to accept any cat for competition irrespective of which body it is registered with and in the case of kittens whether they are registered at all, FIFe shows are normally open only to FIFe members. Within FIFe entries are only accepted through the federation of the exhibitor. In the other organisations the entries are accepted direct to the show manager. FIFe objects to this in so much as there is no way of checking whether the exhibitor is a member in good standing etc. which also includes health grounds, e.g. the exhibitor in question could be in quarantine for, say, ringworm and show managers would wish to avoid taking such entries.
CFA had a list of people who were suspended for whatever reason, it was a very small list. There was also a CFA representative in Europe and FIFe show managers could ask for verification through either CFA head office or through this representative, the latter would be more current at any given time and he could issue a 'stamp' of verification for show entries. TICA could appoint somebody to do the same thing.
It was decided that it should be expressly stated that 'This Congress strongly urges all members to participate in open shows for the welfare and good of cats.
It was decided that the FIFe General Secretary would provide a list of those members whose shows were 'open' With regard to interchange of judges. A FIFe Judge is required to ask the General Secretary for permission to judge for a non-FIFe show. The General Secretary would then ask the FIFe member in the country where the proposed show was to be held if they had any objections and if they had not, permission was given, The only proviso was that it appeared in the catalogue that the judge in question was a FIFe Judge.
All participants were in favour of an exchange of judges.
2. Co-operation on Registrations of Cats
The CFA requires a 5 parental generation pedigree, that is to say 5 generations not including the kitten to be registered. The FIFe requires only 4, but all registries within FIFe can issue a 5 generation if required and it was agreed that that would be made on request.
3. Cat Health
Each organisation was in a position to gather information on various subjects concerning the health of cats. The CFA had the Wynn Foundation and different information came up from time to time. It was felt that there should be a person who acted as the collecting point for all such information; it could then be copied and made available to everybody. Alva Uddin offered to do this for the moment as she had the facilities.
The sort of conditions on which further information and research was needed were those which concerned certain breeds which were under threat by the proceedings of the Council of Europe, i.e. white cats, manx, sphynx, etc. Also new conditions were always arising in cats, mention was made of undersized hearts in some of the larger breeds, such as Maine Coons, hip dysplasia etc. All needed research and an exchange of the resultant information was very desirable.
Patrizia de Ferrari suggested it might be a good idea to have a Symposium, perhaps every two or three years and invite professionals, researchers or veterinary surgeons to present some conditions. This would of course cost money and would need thought. CFA thought that if such a thing were to be organised they could probably contribute to the expenses.
This was affecting all countries. The CFA had now a full time employee, a lawyer, just to look after these matters. They were willing to provide any information on the legal side which they learn of, however, legislation in USA might well be different from that of Europe.
This linked up with the previous item on health since the cats that were being legislated against were held to be 'unhealthy' by the public authorities. That often sprang from lack of knowledge and it was up to the organisations to provide true facts to their own authorities in order to fight against the demise of some breeds.
It was decided that the participating organisations should also inform each other of any 'undesirables' they had excluded from their own organisations. In some countries there was an exchange of information on this subject, but this should be a routine.
It was noted that the organisations have no legal authority over their members. They may exclude somebody but they cannot stop them continuing with undesirable practices. The attitude had to be to encourage breeders along the right tracks, to discourage over-breeding, sale of kittens through pet shops, etc.
TICA had an education pack, Georgia Morgan produced an example of this. The need to educate breeders was agreed.
In some countries the authorities were asking that breeders should do a course in breeding and reach a certain standard of expertise before being allowed to breed. Sweden had such courses. It was felt that if national governments could be persuaded to demand that breeders had some education before being given a licence, this would be very desirable.
6. Recognition of Pedigrees between Organisations
The CFA recognised the pedigrees of: TICA, ACFA, ACA, CFF, UCF and CCA. TICA and WCF recognised all pedigrees after making a genetic check for viability. Within FIFe each member had its own rules.
LO and RIEX - FIFe terms were mentioned and Tom Dent thought that 'experimental' had negative connotations to a lot of people.
7. Co-operation on Show Dates and
8. A Liaison Officer/Secretary
CFA show dates were published in the 'Almanac', TICA's were published in their magazine. FIFe issued a show list quarterly. In order to arrange dates which would not clash, a central person would have to co-ordinate and this was complicated. People needed to work together locally. It was felt that the information which was available from all quarters needed to be channelled to one central coordinator.
If a co-ordinator could be found the organisations all agreed to co-operate. The FIFe General Secretary would attempt to do this for the time being.
The next meeting would be in March 1997 in the Netherlands. Final arrangements would be announced in due course.