Friday, July 17, 2015

Romania's first Ragdoll Cattery - interview with Bev Elian

Greetings, commies and fellow cat lovers!
Today's guest is beautiful and enthusiastic Beverly Elian, a British living in Bucharest, Romania with her husband and three children.  Beverly is not just a cat breeder with highest ethic.  She's also an educator, pioneer and advocate.
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MJN: Ragdolls are an American breed and only recently started being included in European-based feline organizations.  When did Ragdolls first become available in Romania? How were they received by the cat lovers?

BE: Ragdolls first appeared in Romania with me.  I imported the first male from UK, a female from UK and a female from USA in 2000.  They were the very first Ragdolls to be registered and bred here.  I since have imported from USA and Canada different pedigree lines and continued to work on the type and temperament.  It is not quite true that it is only recently being included in European-based feline organizations.  The first Ragdolls appeared in the UK in 1981, and considering the breed was recognized in the 1970's in the USA, it is not so much later.  What has occurred is an explosion of everyone breeding 'Ragdolls' but many of these cats are not in the standard at all, do not have the correct temperament, and should not be labelled Ragdolls.  Initially Romanian people viewed them similar to the street cats known as 'burmesa', however this is not a recognized breed in any organization, simply a pointed domestic cat and slowly over the years many people came to understand that a Ragdoll is different, in temperament and type.  It is not an easy breed to work with as the pattern and colour has to be so exact for the shows, but who can resist these big blue eyed babies who behave like small dogs?
 


MJN: In the US, breeders make buyers sign contracts to ensure the wellbeing of their alumni.  The contract includes paragraphs about not declawing cats, not allowing them outside, not putting them in shelters or euthanizing them without the breeder's approval.  Do you have similar practices in place in Romania?  Are there ways to enforce the terms of the contract?



BE: Ragdolls are very gentle, kind cats, and are bred for apartments.  My cats do not go outside as they do not have the same instincts as our domestic cats, are not afraid of people, or other animals and consequently they do not have the skills to run away from danger.  Yes, we do have an agreement with the future owner not to let them outside, if they do, we are not responsible for what happens.  An owner is asked to contact us if he cannot keep the cat any longer rather than just abandoning it.  Declawing is a barbaric practice and is illegal within the EU, even though the practice of cutting off all the toes of the cat continues.  Yes, I put that in the agreement as many people do not know what it is and when they find out they are horrified.  All kittens going as pets without breeding rights, are neutered/castrated before leaving.  There are no exceptions.  The reasons?  1)  USA has been practicing early neutering for decades and there are absolutely no side effects to the kittens, if anything their recovery time is amazing.  They go for the operation at about 3 months and in one hour come home, running, playing, eating like nothing ever happened.  An older cat limps around for a few days in discomfort.  2)  There is nothing more unpleasant than a female calling in heat or a male marking his home and pet owners do not want to be bothered with this so new owners are thrilled to find out the kitten is already neutered/castrated.  3)  As stated above, these babies are carefully raised to be the best Ragdolls from the best pedigree lines, not to be mixed with other breeds or non-breeds and sold as 'Ragdolls'.  If someone wishes to breed then I am always happy to help them find a male and female of the best type, health and quality.
 

MJN: Do you attend cat shows frequently?  Do you spend much time educating the people about the breed?  In the US, breeders also have to think like judges and advocates, not just cat lovers.  When you run a cattery, you have to engage many of your talents.  

BE: I attend shows very frequently, both as exhibitor, organizer of Magnificats Cat Club shows in Romania and also as a WCF (World Cat Federation) All Breed judge and love all the different aspects of shows.  The one thing you have to have when running a cattery is understand cats, how they think, not add human emotions to cats' behaviour, but really try and understand the cat behaviour.   Cats are solitary animals, some are happy to be in a small group, but putting a large number together can bring about huge problems - stress - fighting - illness.   All my cats have their 'places' where they go to be on their own, whether it is the flower pot on the balcony, or behind the cushion on the sofa, they have their individual place.  Your vet becomes your best friend, helping you with many different aspects in the cattery.
 

MJN: What is your protocol for placing retired breeders? How many litters do you get from any given queen before you decide to retire her?  

BE: A retired breeder has a special place in my heart, so I must make sure he/she goes to a great home, where they will be loved and cared for.  Having lived with the cat I know their habits, would they be happier on their own or could they be with another cat or dog?  Are they timid or outgoing and loving?  What they love to eat the best?  There is no rule as to how many litters a queen has before I retire her, some are born to be mothers, others are alright as mothers but not that interested.  How hard was the delivery and nursing for that mother?  Did her babies grow and thrive as they should or was there a problem?   Is the cat happy in the community or are there fights going on?  Males have to be kept separately so I try to retire them very early to have a normal home life.
 
MJN: You are a mother to three children. Do they share your passion for cats?  Do you envision them as your future assistants and heirs to your Ragdoll empire?  

BE: My children adore animals, give them respect, kindness and care, have not shown any interest in having a cattery so I don’t encourage them to take over mine.  I want to see them enjoying their lives in whichever way it pleases them, and if breeding is not part of it, then that is fine.  Breeding is not for everyone emotionally, and definitely you need to be financially stable to be able to breed.  Trust me when I say there is no profit in a good and healthy cattery, there isn’t!    Healthy animals need the best food, the best vet care, and sparkling clean environment to thrive.  It takes money, time and effort, so breeding is for the love of the breed, not for profit.   Many, many people make that mistake and end up with problems.
 

MJN: Are there any new breeds that Romanian people are interested in and would like to see available in the coming years? 

BE: I have introduced several breeds whilst still having Ragdolls.  At the moment I have Persians as well, and they are adorable!   I introduced Cornish Rex, Singapura and now Selkirk Rex to Romania.  I love all breeds and this is actually why I became an all-breed judge, as I cannot have all the breeds at home, but at least I get to see and handle them whilst judging. 

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