LAST YEAR'S TOP FIVE MOST REMARKABLE CATS
Peter Paul Moormann
When judging you get a chance of seeing some extraordinary cats. I won't say they are always the best regarding the standard of points, but they certainly attract attention. They are eye-catchers because they possess features other breeds either never had before or don't have anymore. It should be noted that my choice has been directed for a great deal by the moment the picture was taken. The introduction of the digital camera offers new possibilities for the creation of a cat picture gallery. From all those pictures at many different shows I managed to pick out the five most remarkable cats I judged last year. I hope my contribution will lead to contemplation about future directions in the cat fancy.
Below I present my TOP FIVE
Number 1: Ukrainian Levkoy
During the Rolandus show in Kiev, September 2005, I had the honor of judging this newly introduced, strange creature with a dog-like appearance. I think the photograph is super, because it is taken at the right moment. The combination of hairlessness, wrinkles and pendulous ears works surrealistic. The composition of colors is breath taking. Lovely green eyes on a blue background, contrasted by a rosy tongue, nailed in white teeth. Isn't it fabulous? Another aspect making this picture so outstanding is its emotional tone. Obviously the dog-like cat doesn't feel at ease. It has a menacing expression as if it is ready to attack. The delicate, elegant fingers of its owner are vulnerable enough to be hurt by terrible scratches and bloody bites. However this didn't happen. Within the boundaries of her elegant but at the same time resolute grip she allowed the cat a certain freedom of movement. Therefore it could keep its dignity. This is a good example of how to handle a cat that isn't in a good mood.
I had another Levkoy with better ears but the picture is not so spectacular.
I have demonstrated this photograph to colleagues and exhibitors at many shows and the reactions are highly controversial. Some like the breed instantly. Others react with disgust. For me it was a welcome surprise. In my last article for Rolandus I wrote about an ancient Chinese longhair breed with pendulous ears, which probably has become extinct (see picture).
Chinese longhair cat with pendulous ears. Illustration in Van Gink after a sketch of Jean Bungartz.
And then, all of a sudden you are confronted with a new breed with such ears. Isn't it synchronization, a little miracle? It could be a way of reconstructing the Chinese longhair with pendulous ears if they really don't exist anymore. However, first we have to find out the current status of the Chinese cat, otherwise we get a similar development as with the re-creation of the Angora in England, which isn't an Angora at all, but an oriental long hair cat (e.g. Mandarin).
Number 2: Persian Shaded Silver
Another miracle crossed my path in Paris in January 2006 at the Baltard Pavilion. This is the biggest cat show in France. It is organized in a splendid old show hall consisting of iron frames with lovely arcs. The abundance of large windows guarantees excellent daylight conditions facilitating correct judging of eye and coat color. In my last article about the Origins of Longhair Breeds I discussed the Russian, described by Harrison Weir in 1889.
Furthermore I noted that the description given by Weir instantly reminded me of a type of Persians I judged in the seventies in Holland. Those cats all had magnificent coats. Very long, even on the head and legs, with tufts everywhere, particularly around the ears and between the toes. Nowadays you seldom see Persians with such long coats. They have disappeared from the show bench I believed. Why? Coat length doesn't seem to matter anymore to judges and breeders. It is overruled by type. What a shame. However my conclusion was premature. The shaded silver I judged at Baltard disproves that such lines don't exist anymore. As you can see on the picture the type of head isn't what is aimed at nowadays. The nose is quite long and the stop isn't high enough for current standards. However, look at the massive bone structure and the abundant coat. Tufts everywhere! Furthermore it was very well groomed and the tipping was excellent: regular, no tabby markings and lovely dark heels. The maquillage was superb: lovely dark lines around good green eyes and the required brick red nose leather.
Russian (Harrison Weir, 1889)
A second place for this cat in my picture gallery, because Persian breeders should focus more on coat length. Some seem to forget that in fact coat length is the most important feature of a long hair breed. Now we have the ideal Persian type. Time is ripe for improving coat length. It should be noted that this cat didn't become my best variety at Baltard, because I had a female with a super type, better eye color, and a quite long coat as well. You must judge according to the prevailing standard.
Number 3: Norwegian Forest Cat
This picture was taken at a French show in Semur en Auxois on the 25th of March 2006. The region is famous for the Bourgogne wines, which was served at the banquet.
This lovely brown tabby blotched Norwegian Forest Cat female became BIS kitten from 6-9 month in the semi-longhair section. Look at the lovely wedge-shaped head, the large ears, and the beautiful tabby markings. Furthermore it had a superb straight profile, which isn't visible en face. Why third place in the gallery of remarkable cats? Well that's obvious. Look at the tail. It is kept like the tail of a Husky. I don't know whether it is a hereditary feature. I have not seen it very often, only a few times. Therefore this rarity certainly deserves a third place.
All French and Belgian shows have a 'vin d'honneur' event, just before lunch. Then champagne or sparkling wine is served. Everybody is invited, including exhibitors, judges, members of the club, and sometimes celebrities. This is very good time to socialize. It's informal, people can exchange experiences, and it is beneficial for the atmosphere between all cat lovers. The picture below was taken in Semur, a quite small show in a simple hall. However the quality of the cats was superb.
Furthermore some exhibitors and all stewards were dressed in medieval costumes, making it all very special indeed.
The woman above comes from Paris and is a famous breeder of Persians and Exotics. She had a lovely black Exotic.
Number 4: Maine Coon
This impressive shaded cameo Maine coon male was presented last May in Bergen op Zoom (Holland). Although coat color isn't very important in Maine Coon it should be noted that it has a beautiful regular tipping. Look at the fantastic frill and the impressive head with a well-developed muzzle. The profile is good as well with the required dip and straight nose. However the eyes should be rounder. Ears are large but should be set higher. Why fourth place? Didn't you notice the magnificent ear tufts, like a lynx? Isn't it gorgeous? It didn't become best Maine Coon male, because there were others with a better type. However none of them had such enormous ear tufts.
Number 5: Oriental
This picture was taken last April in Andenne (Belgium). This Oriental has lovely small spots, which are not visible right now. Furthermore it has a fine bone structure, well-typed head, straight profile, green eyes, fantastic ear setting, and a lovely short coat. It became best variety Brown Tabby Spotted. Why fifth place? This cat is both funny and clever. It acts like an acrobat. By standing on hind legs it is as if the cat becomes a human being, a person with his own opinion and ideas of being judged. However it should be noted that we don't understand what he wants to tell us. We are too narrow-minded. We never learned how to speak Oriental…