World Cat Congress Meeting

Miami, Florida, USA 7 – 10 March, 2014

Steve and Carol Lawson

Steve and Carol Lawson

Hosted by TICA and set in the iconic city of Miami, this year’s World Cat Congress weekend was a resounding success and a credit to the hosts. The hospitality committee was headed by Steve and Carol Lawson, who were wonderful in every respect; they could not do too much for us and were bright and cheerful throughout the weekend.

WCC 2014 delegates

Back row from left to right: Mark Hannon (CFA), Andreas Möbius (WCF), Karl Preiss (FIFe), Eric Reijers (President WCC), Jan van Rooyen (SACC), Betty Shingleton (GCCF) and Vickie Fisher (TICA).
Front row from left to right: Wayne Trevathan (CFA), Cheryle U'Ren (CCCA), Penny Bydlinski (WCC Secretary), Annettee Sjødin (FIFe), Anneliese Hackmann (WCF), Lesley Morgan (ACF) and Chris Lowe (NZCF).

The delegates arrived on the 5th May at the Doubletree Airport & Convention Centre, where the meeting and the show were to take place. We were greeted by members of TICA, headed by Steve and Carol Lawson who were to conduct us the following day on a trip to the Everglades.

The Everglades was a delightful experience; after a short coach ride we were offered ‘nibbles’ which included very large bullfrog’s legs and very tasty alligator nuggets and an opportunity to meet each other and our hosts. We then embarked on an airboat and skimmed across the water at some speed. We were able to see some alligators and turtles although the birds were a bit thin on the ground as there was a lot of water about. We then had the opportunity of learning something about alligators and a ‘hands-on’ experience with a young and, mercifully, small specimen. After a very enjoyable BBQ luncheon, at which we were able to sample the famous Key Lime Pie, we returned to the hotel. Some of the delegates took advantage of visiting Mango’s, which is a famed tropical café in the heart of Miami’s South Beach area. We were taken there in a ‘party’ coach, which was quite amazing with subdued spotlighting, all-round seating and, of course, music. It was a fun evening with floor shows all evening but fortunately we did not stay too late, which was good as the next day was the Seminar and Open Meeting.

World Cat Congress delegates and hosts on Everglades trip

World Cat Congress delegates and hosts on Everglades trip.

The Seminar was opened by Vickie Fisher, the President of our host TICA, who welcomed all present and introduced Eric Reijers, the President of the WCC. Mr Reijers spoke of the fact that this year was the twentieth anniversary of the WCC and went on to introduce Laureline Malineau, the representative from Royal Canin. He stressed that the support of Royal Canin to the WCC makes it possible for its members to meet annually. The anniversary was being marked by a special lapel pin and one was given to Laureline. He then presented them to other WCC members who were introduced in alphabetical order. Each delegate then gave a short presentation of his or her own organization.

Dr Niels Pedersen

Dr Niels Pedersen

Lorraine Shelton, who had organized the day’s programme, introduced the first speaker, Dr Niels Pedersen, a veterinarian who was world renowned as a cat specialist. Ms Shelton spoke glowingly of Dr Pedersen’s achievements within UC Davis, which had given the cat fancy their knowledge on cats, and for its contribution to the understanding of cats and their needs.

Dr Pedersen opened by saying that he had grown up on a poultry farm and that his father had believed in the importance of cats in that system; taking care of the rodents on the farm. He would seek to show the importance of the cat as the principle small carnivore in every human related ecosystem. He stressed the importance of understanding cats as a need to understand their diseases because the nature of cats and the way they were treated was important to the understanding of their health. The domestication of cats went back about 12000 years to the Neolithic era when man ceased to be a hunter gatherer and started to settle land and raise food. Dogs were the first animals to be domesticated because of being companions of the hunt. The first evidence of cats as being domesticated goes back 9500 years to Cyprus where early remains had been found. Within a few thousand years cats spread to be part of the agricultural communities all over the world. It was also known that about 4000 years ago the Egyptians were deliberately breeding cats. He spoke of the ‘fertile crescent’, which were the major sites found where people had ceased to be hunter gatherers and had started to settle. Many species of animals link their evolutionary status to humans, by which he meant that whilst cows and horses were of value to humans, they also gained in having protection and food, which allowed them to survive. The animals have therefore accepted that living with humans is to their evolutionary advantage. Many animals which were not involved with humans in this way got pushed back and became further from humans, in some cases becoming extinct, because the link had not been made.

He spoke of at least 13 sub-species of cats under the main heading of Felis Sylvestris, depending upon the region. They were the most highly successful carnivore in evolution; they were great hunters. The smaller cats had developed over millions of years as separate from their bigger relatives and had settled in different geographical regions and become sub-species of Felis Sylvestris. Together with agriculture came mice and rats, which were from Asia, and with the spread of agriculture, they also spread. Rodents live wherever humans live because that is where their food supply is and consequently the cats follow. The evolution of cats is intimately associated with the spread of agriculture and the introduction of rodents. He therefore did not agree with the people who wanted to remove all cats from the wild, as he pointed out that cats in the wild were domestic cats which had gone wild, and humans had co-evolved with them and they were today the principal small carnivore wherever there were human eco systems. Every time humans had tried to remove these small carnivores from the population it has led to disaster; the most recent one some 20 years ago in Vietnam when all the cats from the villages had been trapped and taken to the towns for food, the rodent populations had gone crazy and they then stopped the practice and started importing cats from the cities back into the farms to control the rodent populations. Whilst he acknowledged that cat populations needed to be controlled, he maintained that they were a necessary part of our ecosystems.

The domestic cat is most closely related to the European wild cat and the African wild cat. All wild cats tend to have similar coat patterns which are associated with survival, in other words a camouflage from predators. The genes were associated with colour but were constantly mutating. In the wild the coat patterns were selected by nature and mutations would not survive. Basic tabby patterns, probably from Felis Sylvestris, also mutated to different tabby patterns.

Dr Pedersen showed slides of cats and wanted the audience to note them, as he would be asking a question at the end. There was something dominant in all the cats pictured.

Cats today were no longer obliged to blend into the landscape and there was no negative pressure against colour and pattern, except from human interference.

He observed that there were cats which preferred to stay away from human society and remain more feral but there were also those cats which liked to be in the home and around humans and some may be dog-like, which is not so acceptable to cat lovers. Domestic animals had adjusted their existence to humans because it was beneficial to them but all domestic species were capable of reversing this trait and becoming feral.

Dr Pedersen then introduced the term Neoteny which is a term for permanent juvenilisation. He explained that the juvenile stage of life is where all baby animals were completely trusting of other species and if this stage can be permanently extended, it is known as neoteny. Most domestic animals have been held in this state.

There are three states of cats: the truly feral cat which cannot be trapped or tamed, the semi-feral cat which allows closer contact but is not really tameable and the truly domestic cat which lives with humans. He spoke of the terms “feral” and “indigenous” and explained that “feral” normally referred to an animal that had escaped from captivity and gone wild as opposed to “indigenous”animals which had occurred naturally in a particular area and had always been there. He referred to Western Australia where he had spent some time and said that whilst there were wild cats generally in Western Australia, they were hard to see in the Northern part of the country. He showed a picture of a cat he had seen there at a road kill and commented on the fact that it looked like Felis Livica and maintained that these cats had adapted a coat pattern in order to blend in. He then referred to a photo by Leslie Lyons showing cats in the Egyptian region. He posed the question as to whether these cats were feral or indigenous but said there was no way of knowing.

Speaking of density of cat populations in the United States, Dr Pedersen said that statistics showed the density of the cat population was commensurate with the density of the human population. He pointed out that cats are territorial animals and are no different to the larger cats such as lions, but when they live with human colonies their territorial nature breaks down. He agreed that the number of feral cats had to be controlled but insisted that cats are a necessary part of the eco system. They were pure carnivores and hunting was instinctive to them, there was no truth in the idea that by feeding them meat, they will not wish to hunt. Neither is it true that the queen trains the kittens how to hunt: it is pure instinct. He maintained that cats were the principle small carnivores in the human eco system. Speaking of the idea that cats were decimating the bird population, he maintained that it was not cats, but humans who were responsible by taking away their habitat. Certain cats would specialize on the prey they prefer. Although they were solitary by nature, they always had a home base and also a home range, which was the area in which they hunted, the males more extensively than the females. All cats were capable of existing by their own devices. Another observation was that because they traced their ancestry back to the North African wild cat, they had a desert physiology with a tremendous ability to conserve water; they did not sweat and their faeces were not watery. A cat could go without water for three or more weeks if it goes into a ‘restful’ state. However, kidney disease is the main cause of death in all cats. The whiskers acted as sensors, allowing them to move through the brush. Their eyes have a slit, which allows them a broad range and also cuts down the light. Their ears could move to the direction of the sound. Their sense of smell was poor but their sight was exquisite. They had sensory adaptations such as hairs in their ears and the almost bald patch in front of their ears where there were sensory hairs and which also assisted in concentrating the sounds. The fangs are used, as with all cats, to sever the spine or break the neck of the prey. They have night vision, which enabled them to hunt at night. They had stealth provided by their padded feet, which are soft and quiet with retractable claws, which are self-sharpening. They have collapsible collar bones, which meant that if they could get their head through a gap, they could also get their whole body through. The tail is for balance and it is a hefty object. He spoke of their agility and illustrated the ability of the cat to turn over in the air so that it lands on its feet. All these points were illustrated by slides.

Speaking of dietary requirements Dr Pedersen mentioned skeletal deformities because of inbalance of calcium and phosphorous. If a cat was sick, it drew on its protein reserves rather than on the fat reserves. Cats do not manufacture a lot of essential things that humans were used to, they had a very short intestinal tract, which was very simple because they did not need anything complex as they were only meat eaters. Feeding them artificially had been a problem; there were a lot of problems with taurine deficiency, resulting in cardiomyopathy. Also feline Urologic syndrome where they developed calcium crystals giving males stoppages and bloody urine in females. This was corrected by acidifying their diet, which had led to the production of uric acid stones. So it seemed that when one thing was corrected, another appeared. He did not think that the perfect cat diet had yet been created. Food allergies were also a huge problem because the diets were actually foreign to those which cats had evolved to eat. He finished by saying that the cat was a unique species in both its requirements and its health conditions. They were the most successful small animal, but their environment had been changed and this has created a problem for them.

Dr Pedersen received much applause and Lorraine Shelton commented that she could listen to him for many more hours.

The next speaker was Dr Craig Datz, whose theme was the development of the kittens’ immune system from birth to adult age. He spoke about a cat’s inate immune system, which varied with the individual cat and the adaptive system, which was something an animal learnt over a period of time. The inate system included the skin and the ability to sneeze, the adaptive was more complex. He mentioned the Thymus gland, the Thyroid gland and the liver. The thymus atrophies when the animal has died from a strong virus infection such as leukemia, FIP etc. Fading kitten syndrome was estimated at 15% and those kittens also displayed atrophied thymus. He then spoke about antibodies, which were protein and programmed to kill germs, bacteria, viruses, fungi and other foreign articles. Dr Datz illustrated these points with slides showing the specific organs and conditions. Ha said that antibodies were, to some extent, obtained from the placenta and from the first 24 hours of lactation. A kitten’s functioning immune system had developed by about 12 weeks of age. He thought there was really nothing that could be done to boost the immune system of the kitten. Stress, however, such as changes of environment did reduce the immune system’s ability to cope. Examples of stress were early weaning, sleep deprivation, small kittens being handled too much and crowded conditions. He thought that young kittens should not be given antibiotics freely and he doubted if vitamins could be helpful to the kitten. He considered that a good diet, containing the essential balanced nutrients, was necessary for good health. Specific conditions could require specific diets. Speaking of raw diets, he pointed out that meat bought at the Supermarket could contain bacteria and, possibly, parasites and should be fed with the same care as would be taken for humans. Exercise was also important. He recommened finding a cat specializing veterinarian with whom the breeder could work.

Dr Emmanuel Fontaine

Dr Emmanuel Fontaine

Lorraine Shelton introduced the next speaker, Dr Emmanuel Fontaine. She said that immunology was an important topic and explained that Dr Fontaine, before moving to Royal Canine, had been attached to CERCA, which was a very famous research facility in Paris, where he had been working on reproductive aspects of carnivores. One of the most important things that had come out of that was a paper on genetic implants releasing hormones in cats, which was something that people had been working on recently in an attempt to reduce the breeding capacity of the cats.

Following on a similar theme to the previous speaker, Dr Fontaine spoke about colostrum, immunity and feline infactious diseases.

He said he had been working with breeders for ten years and knew that breeding was not that simple. The problem of infectious diseases had to be faced. His function was to help breeders manage their felines. A regular question put to him was the problem of lack of milk in a queen who had just given birth; this was a situation he often encountered. Colostrum had been mentioned by the previous speaker, it was what provided the kittens with their first immunity. It also participated in the growth of the kitten and was very important for the kitten. In addressing the solution, he said he would explain colostrum and what breeders could do in the absence of milk from the queen. The kittens received certain antibodies during the pregnancy but these were very limited, however in the colostrum they were more concentrated, which was why it was important. Colostrum was also a different colour to normal milk and it was believed that the more yellow it was, the more the concentration of antibodies it contained. This secretion often commenced prior to parturition and there was concern as to whether it is was then potent by the time of the birth; this could be checked by the colour.

Focussing on the IgG, which were the main suppliers of the immunity to the kitten. The levels were highest immediately following parturition and dropped a day later. He pointed out that the efficacy of the colostrum was severely diminished after the first 24 hours and this was important. The colostrum also contained enzymes, which enabled the kitten to absorb the antibodies, but these were only available in the first 12 hours. The peak of absorption was in the 4 hours after birth so it was important that the kittens got the colostrum as quickly as possible after birth. For the best immunity three things were needed: the kittens should receive the colostrum at the proper time, the colostrum from the queen should be available at the proper time and not some days before parturition, the kitten needed to received ca. 20 ml of colostrum per 100 gram of kitten. The colostrum also needed to be of good quality. This aspect has been researched in other animals such as horses, where if the quality is not good enough, it is possible to obtain frozen colostrum; this level has not yet been reached in feline research. In order to boost the quality, he spoke of good vaccination protocol, which he considered to be important in order for the antibodies to be passed from the queen to the kitten. He added that it could also be boosted by correct feeding throughout the whole pregnancy.

Speaking of the possibility of injecting serum, he thought this was not a practical solution as a lot of serum was required and it would also contain other things, which might not be good for the kitten.

He spoke about using colostrum from other animals or using colostrum from a cat with A blood type on a B blood type, either of these scenarios could be detrimental to the survival of the kitten. He said there was a need to check the blood group of the cat, certain breeds had high risk but there was a genetic test available for this which simplified the breeder’s strategy. In closing, he gave an interesting and in-depth report on this subject.

Dr Alice Wolf

Dr Alice Wolf

Lorraine Shelton gave a glowing introduction to the next speaker, Dr Alice Wolf who was, she said one of the most popular speakers and a long-term colleague of Dr Pedersen. She had gained her degree at the University of California at Davis and had spent 24 years as Professor of Small Animal Medicine attached to Texas A & M University where she was currently an Adjunct and Emeritus Professor.

Dr Wolf spoke on Immunological challenges in cats and current guide lines for feline vaccinology.

Dr Wolf said she differed from Dr Pedersen in as much as she is also involved with horses; she caused amusement by saying that horses had similar personalities to cats in as much as it was not possible to make them do anything – one had to to convince them it was their idea and that they would like it.

Presenting the basic principles, Dr Wolf explained that no vaccine could ever provide better protection than recovery from a natural disease. Vaccination provides the same effect to some extent. However, a persistent viral agent, which remains in the host after the recovery from natural infection is over, is harder to protect against. She cited herpes and chicken pox. Bacterial infections do not stimulate long-term immunity in the same way as viral infections. Some immunity develops naturally as the host’s immune system matures, a good example in the cat was feline panleukopenia virus. 100% of young kittens could be infected by experimental means, at 6 months the percentage infected dropped to 30%. However, it was very difficult to infect an adult cat, which was unvaccinated against Felv, as it had become naturally resistant from the maturity of its immune system. The aim of the vaccination was that a vaccinated cat could encounter the infection and show no reaction at all. Sterilizing immunity is what vaccines seek to produce, the result of which means that the pathogen has no effect on the animal, this can be done in Felv. Some other agents are more complex and the best that can be done is non-sterilizing immunity, which means that the protection is only partial and a small percentage of animals will show clinical signs, but the vaccination does not prevent chronic carrying of the agent; there are many diseases which fall into this category. An excellent example of this is feline calicivirus. Experiments have shown that vaccine cannot reduce carrier rates. The vaccines are good but cannot provide protection to 100% of kittens; there are a small percentage of animals, which are called non-responders, or sub-optimal reponders; such cats are not genetically programmed to respond and they will not develop protective immunity. A high level of immunity in a cat population can protect a cat which does not have such immunity, so that in a well-protected community, those individuals who have not responded will not be noticed.

In the last few years there has been a re-evaluation of programmes. The question being what protection should one provide against those diseases which commonly threaten the cat and what should be the limit of their use? Dr Wolf explained that she was speaking generally about cat populations rather than about an individual cat. There are 17 different individual antigens available in almost 70 different combinations. In order to decide which vaccine to use one had to consider the different kinds of vaccine. There were killed vaccines, modified live vaccines, portable vaccines, perennially administered vaccines. Killed or reactivated vaccines contained an adjuvant, which is a chemical agent that is needed to make it work. Generally speaking more vaccines were required more regularly.

In a modified live virus agents have been changed so that they don’t cause disease but replicate it in all the cells in which the virus itself would replicate, so the natural infection is imitated without causing disease and the immune system responds and protects against the actual infection.

New genetically engineered products: Recombinant, vector vaccines: the genetic coding has been examined and the important ones identified. These new genetic vaccines would be important in the future. They immunize very well and cannot cause disease.

She then quoted the recommendations of major world-wide organisations. They all recommend the ‘core’ antigens, meaning regardless of the cat’s lifestyle, against Panleuceupaenia, Feline Parvovirus, Herpes Virus, Respiratory Calicivirus, and Rabies in those countries where it is endemic. Feline Leukaemia is recommended for all pediatric pet kittens. With Felv she recommended the recombinant non-adjuvant feline leukaemia virus. The least irritating or non-adjuvant vaccines are recommended. Feline Laukaemia for adults, Herpes and Calici Vaccine, the intranasal form being useful. The modified live vaccine proved to be more effective in the young kittens with no maternal antibodies, which were used in the experiment.

Against killed adjuvant is the possibility of sarcoma developing at vaccination sites.

Herpes and Calici: early kitten vaccination with intranasal Herpes Calici Vaccine from 10 to 14 days old. She cautioned about those cats whose nasal cavities were no longer normal, i.e. high behind the eyes, such cats could become chronic sufferers as their nasal cavities did not function properly. A small percentage of cats would exhibit mild symptoms of sneezing and eyes watering from which they recovered very quickly. At about 6 weeks normal vaccination should be commenced. Virulent systemic Calici Virus can occur amongst a group of cats with less than ideal husbandry. It is in fact a virulent mutation amongst a group of cats already infected with Calici Virus. It would burn itself out in a group of cats, on the principle of “A successful parasite does not kill its host.”

Dr Wolf reported that cases of rabies in cats were increasing annually. Bats were a major source of infection and they inhabited houses. She recommended recombinant vaccine, which is non-adjuvant and would not cause inflammation at the injection site.

For Feline Leukaemia Virus, she recommended universal kitten vaccination, particularly as the young animal is the most vulnerable. The situation could be reviewed in the adult cat.

Vaccination against Feline Immune Deficiency Virus is not really recommended as it would interfere with any future testing and was unlikely to be present amongst cat breeding populations.

Regarding FIP, Dr Wolf said that the vaccine was not recommended and may sensitize cats to other diseases. The only way to prevent FIP was to prevent intestinal colonization with Corona Virus. To reduce the level of corona virus in kittens, early weaning and isolation is a possible aid. The pregnant queen is isolated, at 3-4 weeks old the kittens are weaned, separated and kept in isolation. It is not practical and not good for socialization. In practice it is impossible to prevent having corona virus in a breeding cattery and inevitably FIP will appear at some point.

As it is not possible to assess the point at which the antibody protection from the queen ran out in an individual kitten, it is not possible to be sure when to start to vaccinate. Generally speaking it is recommended to vaccinate initially between 6 to 8 weeks and repeating every 3 – 4 weeks up to 16 weeks. It is also recommended to repeat one year later and every three years thereafter.

Bacterial vaccinations such as those for chlamydia needed to be more frequent. Rabies must be according to the government requirements.

Breeding queens needed to be fully protected. Dr Wolf would never vaccinate a pregnant queen. The reason being that by boosting the maternal antibodies, the period in which they remain in the new born kittens could be longer and the early vaccinations would therefore not be so effective. It would be better to follow the protocol for the new kittens.

Speaking of adverse events such as vaccine-associated sarcoma. 99.99% of such sarcomas are caused by vaccines. They are connective tissue tumours occurring at vaccination sites because of chronic inflammation at the site leading to malignant transfer. There is a ten times greater risk of causing cancer with the use of adjuvated vaccines. She referred to recommendations on suitable sites for injection and said that she preferred a site below the shoulder in the foreleg. She was not in favour of using the tail as a site.

Dr Wolf’s very interesting and informative lecture received much applause.

The Question and Answer session was the next item on the Agenda. Dr Heather Lorrimer of the TICA genetics committee acted as moderator.

At this point Dr Pedersen reminded the participants that he had asked them to look for a similarity in the pictures he had shown at the start of his lecture. It was the fact that the cats all exhibited the red gene. Dr Pedersen said that the red gene was stronger than other colours although it was not known why. He pointed out that the dominant male in a group was normally red; they were not only large, but also tough. He had found that they also had a vey sweet temperament. There appeared to be some positive selection for the red gene.

Dr Pedersen responded to a question regarding cats in the eco-system in the future. He said that more than 70% of the cat population would have to be destroyed in order to have any effect. Obviously in colonies where no de-sexing was taking place, there had to be control. Controlled feeding was also necessary. He repeated his earlier voiced opinion that humans were more dangerous in the eco-system than cats. It was observed that the use of vasectomized males in colonies, kept queens out of heat.

A question was put to Dr Wolf regarding intranasal vaccine; the breeder had had pretty sick kittens as a result. Dr Wolf said that she would expect a mild reaction for about 4 days, but otherwise nothing detrimental.

The next speaker was Dr Cristy Bird who spoke about the cats of Thailand. Dr Bird emphasized the fact that they were the cats, rather than the breeds of Thailand. She referred to Dr Leslie Lyons conclusion about the need for genetic diversity in Burmese. In presenting slides which were random pictures of cats in Thailand, she noted that they were all shorthaired and of a similar body type. Some had kinked or foreshortened tails. She also realized that the Siamese breed had evolved and changed from the early Siamese and in that context spoke of Thai cats, which had originally been recognized by the WCF as the old, original type of Siamese and were now recognized by TICA.

She referred to Martin Clutterbuck, who was a student and lover of Thai culture and who in 1998 had published a book ‘The Legend of Siamese Cats’ which was in the nature of a dissertation rather than a book for the general public. She later assisted him with the publication of a further book, “Siamese Cats: Legends and Reality” with more appeal for the cat fancy.

Superlaks, the brown cats of Thailand had been imported to the USA as well as Korats. It was believed that the red gene might have originated in that region as well the gene for the ticked tabby. The Thai cats had continued to breed without any influence from outside; whilst dogs had been imported from Europe, cats had not been. Leslie Lyons research had also established that the cats of Thailand were different from the other cats of the world.

Dr Bird referred to the success of Korats and the fact that they had retained genetic diversity; this she thought was because new cats had been regularly imported and the Korat breeders had also gone to great lengths to ensure health and genetic diversity. This was sadly not the case with the Burmese, which had originated with one cat, which was in fact a hybrid. The early breeders had resorted to very close breeding in order to get the recognition, which had been rescinded, and whilst they achieved a very beautiful round-headed cat, it came with a genetic defect. Speaking of the appearance of the early Siamese, she referred to Harrison Weir, who was generally known as ‘the father of the cat fancy’ but who was also an artist who had been trained as an engraver and draughtsman. The drawings of cats with which he illustrated his books, also showed an early Siamese.

Linking the need for genetic diversity, she referred back to the Burmese and the Tonkinese, both of which were native breeds of Thailand and emphasized that it made sense to outcross within the Thai breeds. Some breeders have already brought cats from Thailand with success and they were, subject to genetic testing etc. being accepted into the Burmese breed pool.

In introducing the Royal Canin representative, Laureline Malineau, Vickie Fisher spoke of the WCC’s appreciation for the on-going support by Royal Canin, which was vital to the future of the World Cat Congress.

Laureline spoke about the passion for cats which both Royal Canin and the breeders had in common. They also shared the common desire to improve the health and welfare of cats. She said that just as cats are at the heart of the household, so were at the heart of Royal Canin. The thirst for knowledge was something else that was common to both parties. She spoke of the need to balance science and observation. Royal Canin was, she explained, in contact with breeders all over the world. Precision was also important as well as quality and safety. They also sought to promote the breeds to the general public. Laureline felt that working with the WCC was also necessary for them. She showed an example of the current project that is being worked on together with the WCC; the digital cat breed sheets, which included the standards of all the nine member organsations of the WCC. The second proposed project is a cat encyclopaedia, which will update and improve the one produced some years ago by Royal Canin. It would be in two parts, the first covering the origins of the cat fancy. It will also explain colours and cat specific terminology. The second volume would be about the cat in general, its anatomy, history etc.

In thanking Laureline, Lorraine repeated that Royal Canin was a vital partner to the work of the WCC.

‘Delegates Question Time'. Left to right: Betty Shingleton (GCCF), Jan van Rooyen (SACC), Chris Lowe (NZCF), Annette Sjødin (FIFe), Anneliese Hackmann (WCF), Andreas Möbius (WCF).

‘Delegates Question Time'. Left to right: Betty Shingleton (GCCF), Jan van Rooyen (SACC), Chris Lowe (NZCF), Annette Sjødin (FIFe), Anneliese Hackmann (WCF), Andreas Möbius (WCF).

The final item of the day was ‘Delegates Question Time'. One questioner asked what she would have to do to get a TICA registered cat registered with another body. This was answered by each delegate. In CCCA it would of course be dependent upon whether the breed was recognized and each organisation varied with the number of generations required. Many TICA cats were also registered with CFA. GCCF also needed the cat to conform to its breeding rules and it too had dual registration with FIFe and TICA in the UK. In South Africa the cat must first be transferred into the new owner’s name. New Zealand’s requirements were a combination of those of Australia and South Africa. FIFe required that the cat be microchipped and in the name of the new owner, who must be a member of FIFe. WCF also required that the new owner was a member of their organization. Mr Mobius pointed out that registration was not necessary for showing in WCF, but membership of one of the WCC members was required. ACF required that the cat’s breeding be in accordance with their registration by-laws.

Mrs Sjødin referred to a cat mentioned in the previous lecture that had originally been registered as a Siamese with CFA and then had become a Thai in TICA. As WCC members respect each other’s pedigrees, she wondered how this could happen. Dr Bird replied that in 2010 TICA had granted recognition to the Thai. Prior to that such cats had been registered as Siamese. This was the case in both the USA and the UK. People were now able to transfer them to the Thai registry. Lorraine asked if permission would be required before transferring from Siamese to Thai registry. This led to a discussion on the fact that different registries have different descriptions for cats, e.g. a colour point shorthair in CFA was a Siamese, which had a colour other than the four basic colours. These differences were understood and accepted. Mr Reijers then reverted to the original question regarding the procedure to move a cat from one registry to another. He said that there were differences in as much as some members were registries and some were membership-based organisations and it was necessary to aware of those differences. In FIFe a TICA person would first have to become a member within the FIFe member bodies, the cat with the TICA pedigree could then be imported into the FIFe registry.

Another question concerned the government health restrictions, which were being imposed in some countries, asking what did the WCC member bodies do to help people on these issues. Mr Reijers said that in a few European countries, there were provisions regarding cats that were seen as being at risk. He cited an example: if a breeder of Maine Coons had a hip problem in his line and sold a kitten which later developed hip problems, the breeder would be liable to reimburse the buyer, not only for the cost of the kitten but also for the veterinary costs, as long as the cat lived. Which meant that a breeder had to be aware and to do everything to avoid such problems. The change of legislation had meant that a cat was no longer an object but has a higher value. Mrs U’Ren spoke of the situation of the state laws in Australia. In the state of Victoria, where she lived, there were a list of heritable defects, which must be avoided or must be pointed out to the buyer. Also, since 2012, it was not possible to register or transfer a cat/kitten without a microchip.

Mr Trevathan said he was not aware of any restrictions in North America regarding the breeds. There was, however, the Sy Howard foundation, which takes care of any problems that arise. This foundation mediates with local laws etc.

There were no government directives in the UK but the GCCF has breeding policies requiring certain things such as deafness, thereby trying to keep ahead of government intervention.

In South Africa if a breed originated in a protected wild cats it is subject to Conservation laws but the domestic cat is only just beginning to awake interest in some cities. The SACC are trying to set up rules for responsible breeding into effect to keep ahead of any future government intervention.

In New Zealand there is an intended new Companion Animals Act and NZCF is a stake holder and consulting at that level. It will take time. There have been consultations about new breeds coming in to the country, particularly Savannah, which will never be admitted to New Zealand.

Mrs Sjodin said that many of the FIFe Members co-operated with the Ministry of Agriculture in their respective countries and the board of FIFe tries to keep track of this legislation.

WCF had similar problems, they were also informing breeders of the genetic tests available, but it was up to the breeder and they do not enforce anything. In Germany there were some laws forbidding the breeding of naked cats or cats with folded ears, but some breeders get special permission from the authorities to breed those cats. Some districts of Germany will also not allow such cats to be shown.

As a question to Dr Bird, Mr Reijers put up a picture of a cat, which had survived the Second World War in hiding with his father. He said there was nothing ‘apple headed’ about that cat; it had a triangular shaped head. His family had had Siamese in the 1920s and 1930s and he had considered that the rounded head cats were the Royal Cats of Siam and the others were the Siamese. So this issue went back to the early 20th Century. He had a problem with the fact that we are calling an old-fashioned version of a breed by another name and wondered where that would stop; he wondered if there would then be a separate breed for the old-fashioned Persian or the old-fashioned British. He thought that the fact of distinguishing between breed and race as pointed out by Dr Bird was a very interesting point. This was true not only of Thailand but also of Indonesia. People pick the cat they wanted, be it a blue cat, a brown cat or a pointed cat and it was necessary to think in terms of groups rather than breeds. Dr Bird commented that a TICA judge would have no trouble distinguishing between a Thai, a Tonkinese and a Siamese.

A further question concerned the white cats, the Khao Manee, and the possibility of deafness. Dr Bird questioned the validity of forbidding the breeding of white to white cats, she did not think it led to more deafness. It was observed that in many European countries it was not allowed to breed white cats to white cats and Baer tests would probably be needed.

A question concerning whether there was registration of cats in Thailand. Dr Bird said there was currently no registration in place. For a cat to be accepted from Thailand into TICA, it was necessary to have documentation proving its provenance.

Another point raised was regarding Leslie Lyon’s recommendation for the breeders to outcross in order to get genetic diversity; the problem was how to pressure the breeders to make it happen.

Mrs Sjodin raised another problem in that many breeders put restrictions on the cats they sold. Many FIFe members were trying to stop this as it was restricting the available gene pool. As long as breeders were selling only neutered cats, which was depleting the gene pool. It was up to the breeders to use their common sense and up to the registries to accept outcrosses as long as there was a good programme and it was for the health of the breed. There was also the problem of breed restrictions imposed by the individual organisations, which also led to a narrowing of the gene pool. With particular reference to Burmese, Mr van Rooyen pointed out that Leslie Lyons had actually said that Burmese in all the countries were fundamentally the same cat and it would be helpful if the breeders would work together to broaden the gene pools. It was noted that there was a test for the head defect as well as for hypoleukaemia and the breeders should take advantage of these.

In winding up Vickie Fisher thanked everybody for attending. Referring to the delegates from various parts of the world, she commented that whilst there was much in common, they did not always agree. She especially thanked Lorraine Shelton for organizing the Seminar. She then invited everybody to attend the reception on the floor below. This reception was hosted by TICA and provided a really sumptuous assortment of hors d’oeuvres, which was enjoyed by everybody.

Eric Reijers, President of WCC judging.

Eric Reijers, President of WCC judging.

The next two days saw the TICA 14-ring show at which many of the delegates were judging. It was interesting to see some of the new breeds such as the Savannah, the Toyger and the Napoleon, which are still unknown in other parts of the world. The show stopper was a Lykoi, which was an extraordinary monkey-faced cat with what appeared to be rough, shaggy hair but which, on closer acquaintance, turned out to be soft and silky to the touch. It was also interesting to note how far the Toyger had progressed. In 1974 it was still almost a drawing-board project, but now there are beautiful cats, which really do resemble miniature tigers. The organisers had published a wonderful booklet which described all the breeds as well as giving information on the show procedures. It was a well-attended event, which everybody seemed to enjoying immensely.

A Lykoi

A Lykoi.

On Monday, the WCC held its business meeting and the Minutes are available elsewhere on this site.

At the end of the business meeting, TICA sponsored a special 20th anniversary cake and wine, which the delegates and observers thoroughly enjoyed.

It had been a very memorable weekend and we are all very grateful and appreciative of the enormous effort put in by Allcats Cat Club, the TICA club which were our hosts, by Lorraine Shelton, who organized the Seminar and the many new faces which crossed our path and who made us so very welcome.