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They want feeding every 5 minutes, they cry and often wake you up at night, so it is no wonder that getting a cat is often the first sign of commitment between a couple, before they go the whole hog and get the baby!
Well this is how it was for us, my husband decided that he wanted a cat and as I had never lived in a house without one I didnít take too much persuading. So for the princely sum of £47.50 each ( We split everything equally in the early days, nowadays he pays) we acquired Digby a small cute British Cream Shorthair kitten and as we paid half each that meant hubby got the pooy end and I got the head, fair deal I think Ė that was 12 years ago, now heís a fully grown, very opinionated cat.
British Cream Shorthairs are a very beautiful breed; they originally appeared by accident in litters of tortoiseshell cats in the late nineteenth century. I must admit this information completely flummoxes me as there is nothing tortoiseshell about them; they look like tabby cats that have been dipped in a tin of cream paint, but the thing that really sets them aside from other cats is their eyes, they look artificial like the eyes that toymakers put in teddy bears. Now this has two effects, the first is it makes them look incredibly cute and appealing, the second is like dying your hair blonde it makes them look like they have a lower IQ than other cats, and just arenít as streetwise, Iíll come to the reality of this perception later.
There are other forms of British Shorthair, the others similar to ours being Black and Blue both of which also appeared around the end of the 19th Century. The more modern bi-colours blue/white, cream/white (very pretty cats) and Blue/cream all appeared around the 50ís. On the whole the temperaments are pretty similar, although I have had friends who have had Blues and they have been quite viscous. Then you get all the tabbies, tortoiseshells, reds, lilacs, white, tipped the list seems endless.
So moving onto temperament, now the book says (The Ultimate Cat Book by David Taylor) extremely good natured, intelligent and affectionate towards its owner. I say, Digby has about as much intelligence as a pickled Wombat, he has absolutely no common sense at all. We have had Burmese in the past and they can work out how to open doors and all sorts, Digby cries at the patio window to be let in having walked past the open door to get to it! Affectionate? Well I can sort of see where heís coming from if affection means never sitting on your lap, but sitting on the top of the sofa and poking your head from time to time with his paw, whilst purring in your ear. He does show affection, probably in a more human way by trying to stroke your head, but the only time he has ever sat on my lap was while I was pregnant, then baby kicked and he jumped six foot into the air and got all upset when I laughed. Good Natured, well I think that is the only one I agree with completely.
So why chose a pedigree? From my own personal viewpoint, I have no idea. As a kid I always had good old fashioned moggys who you could let outside without worrying that they would be stolen, they cost you nothing except food and vets bills and went outside and caught mice, then presented them to you as a present. There is this whole world of pedigree cats that to be honest doesnít interest me, Digby is a pet first and foremost. I have no desire to show him and there are plenty of websites out there for any of you who may be interested. However having owned one, I am familiar with what you should look for, I will concentrate solely on Creams at this point, the colour of the cat should be as near to completely cream as possible, all of the cats have some tabby markings on them and this can vary depending on the weather, ones that fade completely are better to show. If you are buying a kitten you should look for a pale cream colour coat. They are very muscular cats and have a strong, stocky body, Digbyís was helped by the fact that he had to spend just over a year on Steroids because of a heart condition when he was younger, so we would probably have been disqualified anyway!! This brings me to another thing to look for when chosing a kitten, look at the health of the whole litter, Digby was the sole survivor in his which should have told us something.
To show or stud from a pedigree you need to maintain the birth certificate that comes with the cat as this is his registration. Iím always reminded of the TS Eliot poem from the Old Possum poems at this point, the ones that formed the musical CATS as all pedigree cats have two names, the one they are called and the one on their birth certificate. I really wish I could tell you what Digbys proper name is but his certificate is unused in the loft somewhere but it is a really posh name.
The Naming of Cats is a difficult matter, It isn't just one of your holiday games; You may think at first I'm as mad as a hatter When I tell you, a cat must have THREE DIFFERENT NAMES. First of all, there's the name that the family use daily, Such as Peter, Augustus, Alonzo or James, Such as Victor or Jonathan, George or Bill Bailey -- All of them sensible everyday names. There are fancier names if you think they sound sweeter, Some for the gentlemen, some for the dames: Such as Plato, Admetus, Electra, Demeter -- But all of them sensible everyday names But I tell you, a cat needs a name that's particular, A name that's peculiar, and more dignified, Else how can he keep up his tail perpendicular, Or spread out his whiskers, or cherish his pride? Of names of this kind, I can give you a quorum, Such as Munkustrap, Quaxo, or Coricopat, Such as Bombalurina, or else Jellylorum -- Names that never belong to more than one cat. But above and beyond there's still one name left over, And that is the name that you never will guess; The name that no human research can discover -- But THE CAT HIMSELF KNOWS, and will never confess. When you notice a cat in profound meditation, The reason, I tell you, is always the same: His mind is engaged in a rapt contemplation Of the thought, of the thought of his name: His ineffable effable Effanineffable Deep and inscrutable singular Name
Pedigree cats cost money, Digby was cheap at £95 as the breeder only wanted to cover her costs, stud fees etc. He was never going to be good enough to show. You can expect to pay anywhere from £250 upwards, for rare cats you are talking in the thousands, but whatever you go for always chose a reputable dealer, (or should that read breeder), your vet should be able to recommend one. Ongoing costs are no different to regular cats, unless you want to spend a fortune in grooming products, they need feeding once or twice a day, there are many different ideas about what you should and shouldnít give them, some people just use dried food, others use a mixture, vets suggest the science diet which cost a fortune. I donít know, all I do know is they need plenty of water, more if they only have the dried food, and not to think youíre being kind by giving them extra treats etc, Digby has 2 sachets of Kit e Kat a day, more if he can persuade multiple members of the family that he hasnít been fed which he is very good at doing. Vets bills are the other consideration, there is an annual £28 for worming and top up boosters, it is worth considering pet plan, as things can go expensively wrong and you donít want to have to consider putting them down because it is a cheaper option. You also have to have your jabs up to date if you ever want to use a cattery whilst you go away, which is fair enough but neighbours always feed ours.
Pedigrees have a safety issue as well as you do get a number of cat thieves around, so Digby has always been a predominantly indoor cat, until we moved a couple of years ago and he discovered that he could get out of the garden, he never goes very far though and interestingly always comes back inside to use the toilet! Indoor cats do naturally need a litter tray, which isnít the most pleasant job in the world, Digby always thought of this as a game to see how far he could kick the litter!
So would I get another pedigree cat, probably yes, the advantages of putting your shoes on and not finding a dead mouse in the bottom are appealing, I wouldnít pay a fortune for one though as I have no intention of winning best in show, heís best in my house and thatís all that matters.
Thank you for reading and I look forward to your comments.