World Cat Congress Meeting

Copenhagen, Denmark 6 – 9 March 1998

Mrs Alva Uddin, the President of the FIFe welcomed those present to the Meeting. She laid stress on the importance of ‘the Cat’ and its welfare. She also spoke of the need to unite for this purpose as she felt only by being united could the Cat Fancy bring arguments to bear with the Governments concerned. Mrs Uddin thanked Mrs Aase Nissen, the President of Felis Danica for hosting this meeting. She said that the meeting would take place in Malmo in 1999.

Mrs Nissen spoke on behalf of Felis Danica and welcomed everybody to the Congress.

Those present introduced themselves:

Mrs Uddin introduced FIFe. She also presented Mr Ole Magne Grytvik from Norway who is the Chairman of the FIFe Judges and LO Commission and those members of the FIFe Board who were present.

Mrs Anneliese Hackmann presented WCF. She said it was a big federation with 46 members and that they had adopted the FIFe breed standards and practices.

Mrs Georgia Morgan introduced TICA which was not yet 26 years old. She was very pleased to be included in the Congress and spoke of enlargement of gene pools.

Mr Craig Rothermel introduced the CFA. He thanked Mrs Uddin for the idea of the Congress which gave the chance for people to get together because of cats. He said that CFA was founded in 1905; there were 650 clubs throughout the World and they were glad to participate at the Congress.

Mrs Lesley Morgan Blythe introduced ACF Inc. For whom she was acting President. It was founded in 1972 and was the first organisation to try and unite the various bodies in Australia. She explained that the size of Australia tended to make for regional differences. She then spoke of the common interests.

WCC 1998 delegates

WCC 1998 delegates. From left to right: Georgia Morgan - President TICA, Lesley Morgan-Blythe - ACF International Liaison Officer, Alva Uddin - WCC President & President FIFe (standing), Eric Reijers - FIFe Vice-President, Craig Rothermel - President CFA (standing), Anneliese Hackmann - President WCF and Penny Bydlinski - FIFe General Secretary.

Terminology was a point on the Agenda for discussion.

Problems arose because of the use of different names. Reference was made to the EMS system which was a logical system which made it easy to identify colour regardless of breed. There was discussion about different systems.

Mrs Dortemarie Kaplers (DK) asked if standardisation was desired and Mr Rothermel replied that they had problems even within his own organisation. Mrs Uddin spoke of different names for the same breed e.g. In TICA there is an Oriental shorthair and an Oriental longhair whereas in FIFe the Oriental is a shorthaired cat and its longhaired counterpart is a Javanese.

Mrs Morgan Blythe took up the point about the codes. She said that Australia does not put codes on export pedigrees, they spell out the colour, pattern etc., to avoid any confusion. Mrs Schuller (AUS) supported this statement.

Mrs Hackmann said that WCF used the same codes as FIFe but differences in terminology, e.g. A Javanese is a ‘Mandarin.’ The European Shorthair was also a problem since some take it to refer to British Shorthair. She agreed it was not easy to work with different names.

Mr Marc Mechant (NL) said that In Belgium Javanese were a mixture of Balinese and something else.

Mrs Kaplers (DK) observed that even if names and colours are written out on a pedigree, it was not much help if the name of the breed was not known.

Mrs Georgia Morgan said that in TICA the numbers in the registration indicate the breed.

Mrs Uddin felt that a dictionary needed to be created which would indicate what really was meant in each organisation. Mr Mechant said that he had such a thing and offered to send a copy to Mrs Uddin. Mr Grytvik said that he was newly elected as President of the Norwegian Fancy and he did not find this a serious problem since they simply wrote to the exporting organisation for clarification of the breed name.

There was further discussion on the idea of a ‘dictionary’. It was felt there would have to be a description of the breed and/or photographs as a breed in one organisation could be a bad example of another breed in a second organisation. Mr Reijers (FIFe Vice-President) felt that breeders would find these things out on their own account anyway.

Mr Rothermel put the question: “What is a Breed?” He spoke of a proposal identifying this. There was much dissent on this subject. For instance, in CFA a Siamese is only recognised in four colours, the other colours are identified as ‘colourpoints.’ He felt that CFA was unlikely to change inside the next twenty years.

Mr Grytvik spoke of getting information clearly set out on an Internet Web page. Mrs Morgan Blythe felt that a glossary of terms could also be considered as there is a discrepancy also in naming colours. He had a definition of a breed: it was the opinion of the majority at the General Assembly of the FIFe!

Professor Sir Patrick Bateson

WCC Delegates respond to questions from the audience. From left to right: Penny Bydlinski - WCC Secretary/Treeasurer, Anneliese Hackmann - President WCF, Alva Uddin - WCC President & President FIFe, Georgia Morgan - President TICA, Craig Rothermel - President CFA and Lesley Morgan-Blythe - ACF International Liaison Officer.

The Identity of a Cat was a further subject on the Agenda.

Mrs Uddin referred to the last meeting. She spoke of multi-scanners which were able to read the chips of different manufacturers. She felt that with regard to health, identification was very important. Microchipping was more efficient than any other form of identification and could also be read from 15 metres.

Mrs Nissen said that the members asked how they could find the owner’s registration number, where was it registered? Mrs Uddin said that in Sweden the Dog Fancy hold the records, this was also the case in Spain and Austria. Mrs Nissen asked if Mrs Uddin would raise this point at the next meeting of the ISO.

Mr Mechant said that there had been discussions with the Government in Holland as there were seven different data bases. The Government was making a new data base to read the existing ones.

Mr Grytvik asked if this is an item and what policy or information was available. He pointed out that in each country there are activities apart from a cat organisation. Veterinarians needed cats to be identified for research work and other elements may insist on it. Problems also arose with stray or feral cats where ears may be nicked etc., for identification purposes.

Mrs Morgan-Blythe said that there were different problems in Australia. The Federal Government ‘greens’ were against cat ownership and much pressure was being exerted on the Cat Fancy which felt under threat. Each local government body had its own measures, microchipping in one state, a different one in another etc. She asked if microchipping was compulsory in Europe at all and was told that in Holland it was for pet cats only. In Denmark it was not compulsory but good systems available, however it was not something people looked for. In France identification was compulsory for show and breeding purposes, either microchipping or tattooing.

It was felt that microchipping needed more media coverage.

Mr Mechant talked about microchipping in Holland. He asked if it were not possible to take it further; members do not want government to have access to data. Would it be possible for individual clubs to have a data base also with genetic defects recorded?

Mr Rothermel said that CFA was negotiating to keep all data base for microchips. He felt that it was dangerous for government to be involved. In the USA at present the AKC have the records, but CFA will get these for cats.

Concern was expressed over the Council of Europe. It was felt that more governments will interfere as, for example, in Sweden it is forbidden to breed from a companion animal with a defect. It was noted that governments go ahead without any reference to cat organisations.

Mrs Georgia Morgan said that DNA testing was now starting and this would identify feral/wild genes as well as possible defects. This testing was at an early stage with companies who were starting with DNA; they will set up a register of cats with genetic makeup.

Mr Reijers referred to the microchip recommendation. He felt that unless countries are forced, they would not do it. Not all countries at present have the facility for microchipping. Mrs Uddin agreed there were also difficulties between different mentalities but she believed, nevertheless, identification would eventually come.

Requirements for Registration of a Breed was the next subject for discussion and one in which there were some inconsistencies between the organisations.

FIFe requires 5 generations.

TICA has various categories:

  • a) all established breeds
  • b) non-established breeds
  • c) a breed looking for recognition
  • d) foundation registry - this was primarily to establish a larger gene pool. Bengals had to go on a foundation registry before being shown etc.

Mrs Uddin asked what would happen if TICA imported a Sokoke and was told that TICA would then require a further 50 cats in more than 3 regions before it could be recognised. CFA would not recognise a Sokoke; the criteria were the number of breeders, the number of animals registered and there were many requirements, e.g. Numbers, including a breed club. Mr Rothermel agreed that a breed is what any group choose to accept as a breed. TICA, for example, recognises more breeds than CFA - I.e. Whatever the group wants.

Mr Ole Magne Grytvik from Norway, Chairman of the FIFe Judges and LO Commission with a Sokoke on his shoulder.

Mr Ole Magne Grytvik from Norway, Chairman of the FIFe Judges and LO Commission with a Sokoke on his shoulder.

Mrs Morgan Blythe said that ACF Inc. Had a basic registration requirement of 4 generations full pedigree. She spoke of requirements for recognition and mentioned ‘Russian White’ which was accepted in 1985; 30 cats of various generations had been presented. A breed recognised outside of Australia when imported would be accepted if it is a bona fide breed. Recently, Japanese Bobtails had been brought to Australia and had been fully accepted with the same standard as the overseas club.

Mrs Hackmann said that WCF had one new breed recently - the Ceylon cat. They had had 20 cats at a show and the Judges Commission had seen them. They needed a minimum of three generations. They were currently working on Sphynx and Brazilian Shorthairs. They had a meeting every two years and this meeting had to agree any new proposal.

Mr Mechant said that in Belgium they had to have 20 cats of 5 different lines. Munchkins have come to Holland and want to incorporate - there were, he said, no genetic defects.

Mr Grytvik said that he liked the idea of a certain number of cats as a basic requirement. He felt that people outside the fancy were wondering what we were doing and pointed out that we were making new ‘breeds’ which were not really breeds. Mrs Uddin spoke of the golden version of the Burmilla pointing out that it looked like a Ceylon cat. It was pointed out that the CFA says that a new breed ‘must add something new to the Cat Fancy.’

Standards - with regard to health and welfare

This was the final point for discussion on the Agenda. Mr Rothermel said that he thought that the Cat Fancy is sometimes politically correct without regard to the health of the cat. He wished CFA would recognise for example, new colours of Birman, for the sake of vigour of the animal. He has seen super Siamese in Australia that had come from Oriental breeding.

Mr Grytvik said that a veterinary surgeon and a cat person had a different imagination when reading a standard. As a breeder and a judge he felt that if he compared the first standard made for a breed with the current standard, he would find very little difference but if he compared the cats, he would find a world of differences. A breed is always being improved, therefore changing. He did not feel a standard was so important.

Mr Rothermel said that he had similar thoughts. He asked whether the standards were written for breeders or for judges? Breeders breed to competition which is controlled by judges, therefore judges control the health and welfare of the animal. It was therefore important for the judges to understand so that they did not proliferate defects. Mrs Morgan agreed this, she pointed out that a top winning male would be used by all breeders. She felt that judges had a great responsibility.

Mrs Uddin felt that the standard did have something to say. She asked what did we have without it? She felt that if the cat could not breath properly, no matter how beautiful it was, it should not be winning. She spoke of the over-use of talcum powder which affected the lungs. She was concerned about a humped spine which is endangering the health of the cat. She hoped that The Cat Association of Britain would bring their proposal over health and welfare again.

Mr Rothermel commented that interpretation varied. Judging, he said, was subjective. He had asked pupils what was most important: short, snub, broad, break - all were equally important and in that order. Mrs Hackmann agreed, she asked what was short? - everything is subjective.

Mrs Uddin, returning to the point, spoke of entropium. She mentioned the ‘open, sweet face’ of a Persian etc. She thought we had things that were not good for the health of the cat. Deep set eyes led to entropium.

Mrs Lesley Morgan Blythe proposed an international list of withholding defects etc. (Or disqualifying faults).

There was lively discussion on various aspects of the show cat. Mrs Georgia Morgan pointed out that shows were a beauty contest but did we listen to the comments of the visitors? Mr Rothermel agreed and said that judges must accept the responsibility. In the USA there were no rules about protruding sternums but a judge can still penalise this because it spoils the line.

The condition of cats walking on their hocks was raised and it was observed that this means that their shoulders are also out and they have no depth in their chest. Mrs Uddin had seen it in British and Mrs Schuller had also seen this condition in Scottish Folds in Australia. Mrs Morgan Blythe said that at the last AGM in ACF they had recognised the existence of this condition in the Folds and the allowable outcrosses were only British and straight-eared Folds. The best Folds in Australia were good up to the age of two and a half and then nothing more, they have therefore made this a fault in the breed in order to make the judges aware. Mrs Uddin said that her experience of Folds in Australia was that they could not walk properly. Mr Rothermel said this was a breed to be careful about as there are many problems. Special attention should be given to tails also. Judges should be very careful indeed with this breed. TICA recognises both long and shorthaired Folds. The allowable out crosses are British and American Shorthairs. It is obvious if they are cow-hocked but a fused tail effected the spine etc.

Lisa Høj (DK) asked about aggressive cats. She wanted to know whether we were concerned with temperament. Mr Reijers saw a difference between judges who were breeders and those who were not. Mr Rothermel thought it depended on the format of a show; in FIFe there was only one judgement over the week-end whereas in CFA a cat could be judged six times. Under CFA rules a cat which is ‘threatening or recalcitrant’ must be disqualified. Mrs Morgan Blythe said that in ACF if a cat was ‘unable to be handled’ three times, it could not to be shown again. TICA has a similar rule of three times, then may not be shown again and this is recorded. She spoke of Bengals and said that the breeders had policed this group; they may be loud but one could see in their eyes what they meant. No studs should be penned side by side. They had experimented in CFA with 6 rings in one day and this had been a disaster as the cats were very upset. Mrs Morgan Blythe said that ACF shows were a mixture of different way of running shows. They now penned the cats in bays and the judges and clerks moved from bay to bay. This gave minimum stress and worked well. Mrs Uddin spoke of a show in Berlin where 7 Maine Coon males had been penned side by side and remained calm, she felt that owners sometimes passed on their nerves to the cats.

A.O.B.

Mr Mechant spoke about the situation in Holland. He said that they had a battle with the government. In Germany white cats and Scottish Folds had been forbidden. The government in Holland were threatening to forbid cats with genetic faults. He needed help in defending these actions.

Mrs Hackmann said that at a show in Wiesbaden the Government veterinary surgeon had requested addresses of exhibitors with white cats. He had then written to them threatening prison or large fines if they bred from these cats. So far, this was only in Hessen.

Mr Rothermel said this problem was in the European Union, the USA objects to government interference.

There was discussion about the activities of certain governments and also the need for activists on behalf of the cats. Mr Grytvik felt that the Council of Europe may however be correct. He asked about the moral and ethical attitude of the Cat Fancy. He felt this was a huge challenge and there was much to do.

Mr Rothermel questioned how unhealthy deafness actually was. Mrs Uddin thought that it would be an impediment to a Miss World contestant to be deaf.

Mr Rothermel felt that people should lobby their own governments, who actually want to be re-elected generally. In the USA they have supplied standard letters for people to send to their local government representatives. Mrs Hackmann also felt there was a lot that could be done; making a movie for TV, speaking for white cats etc. She urged action from individuals. Mrs Morgan Blythe felt that politicians should also be made aware that some of these breeds/varieties had been in existence for a very long time, and had successfully perpetuated themselves with no human interference.

Mr Grytvik explained that he worked with disabled people and asked about the morality of mating with cats known to produce problems. Mrs Schuller (AUS) felt that the government should not interfere and legislate in the cat fancy. People should get the newspapers to take up the cause. Mr Rothermel said that everybody was interested in the welfare of whatever breed. He had recently heard a veterinarian at a congress saying a Cornish Rex would freeze in winter, but he argued, so would we. He was appalled at the veterinarians attitude. He felt that European people do not object, they just accepted. He felt that legislation on animals was a big concern. The CFA would back Europeans in this as they were also facing same problem.

There was discussion on the fact that the cat fancy as such did not have the money to make big publicity and on the whole was not known. The man in the street is unaware of the different breeds. It was suggested to contact the dog fancy in this respect.

Mrs van Haeringen, responding to Mr Rothermel’s offer that he and Mrs Georgia Morgan would answer any questions anybody might have, said that people were against Munchkins, Scottish Folds etc. Mrs Morgan said that there had been genetic research into Munchkins and material could be supplied.

Lisa Høj asked how other organisations felt about new colours in Norwegians and Maine Coons. Mr Rothermal said that CFA is controlled by the Breed Councils. These must be in agreement before CFA can put something into a breed. TICA wanted to eliminate the lilac and chocolate. TICA is a genetic registry and therefore cannot eliminate them, so they do register them. Mrs Uddin said that Norwegians were recognised in all colours except for pointed patterns and now natural colours only which precluded lilac or chocolate. Cinnamon and fawn were also not accepted. The FIFe standard gave no points for colour but still decides not to have certain colours. Research has been made on colours in the breed and cinnamon and fawn have been identified. She thought they would go for recognition. WCF recognises the same colours as FIFe. Mrs Kaplers (DK) said that a blue tabby point Maine Coon had been shown in France. The question was raised as to what was a ‘natural’ colour? Mrs Uddin felt that there should be points allotted for colour. Mr Rothermel picked up the point about not judging colour and Mrs Kaplers said that the coat was important down to the breeches, the all-weather quality etc. She felt if colourpoint pattern were to be accepted, it may change the coat texture completely.

After some further discussion on colour Mrs Uddin thanked Mrs Nissen and the visitors for attending and closed the Meeting.