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Norwich Bulletin - 2/7/2010

Cats - Chapter One

"When the goddess made the world, she chose to put animals in it, and decided to give each animal whatever special gift it might want. All the animals formed a long line before her throne, and the cat quietly went to the end of the line. To the elephant and the bear she gave strength; to the rabbit and the deer she gave speed; to the owl she gave the ability to see at night; to the birds and the butterflies she gave great beauty; to the fox she gave cunning; to the monkey, intelligence; to the dog, loyalty; to the lion, courage and to the otter, playfulness. These are things each animal had asked for. At last the goddess came to the end of the line, and there waiting patiently, was the little cat. "What will you have?" she asked of the cat.

The cat looked at her modestly and said, "Oh, whatever scraps you have left over, I don't mind."

"But as the Goddess, I have everything left over"

The cat looked up with her big green eyes and said, "Then I will have a little of everything, please."

The Goddess laughed with pleasure at the cleverness of the cat and she rewarded her by giving the cat everything she asked for everything that had been given to all the other animals as well as grace and elegance and, only for her, a gentle purr that would always attract humans and assure her of a warm and comfortable home.

But she also took away the cat's false modesty."

There is no animal quite like the cat, as the above excerpt tells us. From the times of Egypt when the Abyssinians and Egyptian Maus were worshipped as gods to the present day, the cat has caught the heart of millions of people all over the world.

And keeping with the mode of popularity, there are so many new breeds that have come to us in just the last forty-five years; each with their own unique characteristics. Where once the majority of purebred cats were the ancient breeds such as Turkish Angoras, Persians, Siamese, Turkish Vans, Abyssinians and Egyptian Maus, we now have a whole new slate of breeds.

In the 1960's it wasn't just about the hippy era. This was the decade that the American Bobtail advanced. The original roots of the cat are believed to be in the Southwest when a couple found a "bobtailed" cat and mated it with their Siamese mix. After that there was a breeding program started to make the cat look more like the Bobcat it was fashioned after. This was also the year that a natural mutation in a litter of barn cats led to the American Wirehair. This cat has the same breed standard as the American Shorthair except that its coat resembles and feels like a brillo pad! The Chausie is a hybrid of a domestic cat and the wild jungle cat; it is a muscular, golden ticked cat that has a wild lionlike look to it.

The Devon Rex came around in the 60's and they are different from the Cornish in many ways. There are obvious structural differences, but one of the unusual traits of the Devon is that they have very little guard hair (the stiff, coarse, water proof hairs present on most furred animals. They have mostly soft, fine undercoated fur which is curly and their large eyes and low set ears make them very alien E.T. looking.

But there are two breeds developed in the 1960's that have made a tremendous mark on the cat fancy in general. A cross between the Asian leopard cat and a domestic shorthair created the Bengal. Jean Mill from California began the breed that retains the wild looks of the Asian leopard cat with the temperament of a domestic. It is one of the most popular cats in the United States today and is accepted in championship by The International Cat Association.

And the second powerhouse breed to come along in the 60's is another natural mutation, the Sphynx. A hairless cat, it first appeared in Toronto, Canada as a bald, chubby and wrinkled cat. Breeders worked for over thirty years to create a genetically sound breed. Today it is one of the favorite cats with spectators at a cat show. The Sphynx are capable of bringing about feelings anywhere to complete revulsion to complete awe!

The 1970's brought us The Javanese, an offshoot of the popular Balinese, combining the elegant characteristics of the Siamese and the silky long coat of the Balinese with a rainbow of coat colors for the points. In 1975, an American couple on their return to the US from Singapore, imported five cats to start a new breed the Singapura. The cats are descendants of the small brown ticked cats native to the island of Singapore. They are the smallest breed we have.

The list goes on and we will continue next week. But remember, whether you have a purebred cat or the beautiful jet black domestic cat you rescued from the shelter you have an incredible little animal who knew right from the beginning of time how to get exactly what she wanted.

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