First, a disclaimer. I do not consider myself an expert at anything other than asking questions and seeking answers that are constantly reviewed. The cat world, like all our world is changing. The more we know about genetics, DNA tests, and testing in general, the better our knowledge base. At A-Kerr’s we try to keep up to date on the latest information available but the busy-ness of life and the wealth of information and the Internet often finds us learning from YOU. So if you have any specific questions or suggestions, please pass them on to us.
I will detail below some of the things I have found for us cat loving crazies!
I was in for a rude awakening when my husband and I put our home of 32 years on the market. We had a nursery in our large walk-out basement and were extremely conscious of odor control. Our home was a center for activity both with family and friends and many of our friends were allergic, so we had to be especially diligent in cleaning. Often visitors were surprised we had cats. So, no problem… at least that is what I thought! It did not take long for us to discover that although we could not smell the cats, others who did not have cats inside their home could. Now, granted we had more the ordinary one or two running around, but odor control became a high interest topic for me! Here is what I discovered.
Litter box control
I did not want to mask odor… I wanted to eliminate them at the source.
- Use of black light to find stains that can no longer be seen. Areas will glow blue where there are odor causing spots. Clean the area and then recheck.
- Cleaners that eliminates the odor. Find and use an enzymatic cleaner that literally eat the urine. Be sure to use these cleaners as instructed. Make a spray of the product to have on hand to spray any areas as needed.
- In carpeted areas a steam carpet cleaner can actually set the odors. The best thing to use on carpeted areas is a good old scrub brush and an extractor. Adding additional cleaners can neutralize the effectiveness of the protein based enzymatic cleaner so be sure to follow instructions carefully.
- Place baking soda on areas that have been cleaned and dried. Just sprinkle it on and let it sit for an hour then vacuum it up.
- There are many scented sprays that can be spritzed around in the air, but the best at adding a fresh natural scent was a home made combination of: 1 cup dried lavender, 1 tsp ground cloves, 1 tsp cinnamon and the 1 tsp baking soda. Sprinkle this mixture on carpeting and area and let sit for 20 minutes then vacuum. There are many such recipes on line.
- Clean those litter boxes. Dump that litter. (an interesting side note: The new raw diet used had an added side benefit of reduced litter box issue and low or no odor!)
- Use an electric air purifier. There are some with washable filters that can be reused. Check out all the different types and read what you are comfortable with using.
Obviously, cleaning the litter boxes was very important and keeping the area free of dust. Some of the older plastic litter boxes, though cleaned and really scrubbed would still hold some odor. Replace these.
Note: I use a simple clay litter due to the dumping and cleaning of many boxes for the inside cats. However, with a smaller number of boxes, you might want to check out the other types of litter offered. The ones that seem to test well, are Feline Pine and World’s Best Cat Litter. Any changes in litter MUST be done slowly. This is a whole different study and one that can be researched on line.
I will add some of the recommended odor controls. If you have some to add, please do so.
Just Rite Odor Remover, was recommended on a cat fancier’s list for ALL out odor remover!
REGISTRATION / LINEAGE
Pedigrees take on a different sort of meaning in the cat fancy, and is the main purpose of the registries. While many use the term “pure bred” to designate a pedigreed cat but this is not an accurate term. Proper terminology is pedigreed.
There are several registries around the world, the largest two are the Cat Fancier’s Association (CFA) and The International Cat Association, TICA. CFA does not recognize the Bengal cat as a domestic breed. A more conservative organization CFA and aware of the terminology used earlier, of pure bred, there is an ongoing discussion among the cat fancy of: “When is a breed a breed?” For TICA the answer is at the fourth generation, for CFA it is not defined for the Bengal cat. It could be 4 generations or it could be five or it could be more.
TICA benefits from the popularity of the Bengal cat which has remained the most registered and popular can both long and short haired in the cat fancy for years. TICA is a genetic registry. A genetic registry allows for the official registration of out-crosses in a breed and for the creation of new breeds. TICA allows for the registration of even non-permitted out-crosses to be followed with appropriate paper work. These are found in registrations that are distinct from the Certificate of Registration in the Stud Book Registration. There are two other registries in TICA, one is the Foundation Registry the other is Experimental Registry. Each of the registry have very specific rules to follow and all the registries main goal is to become Certified. The process of certification is a long one.
The Bengal cat has no allowable out-crosses and this includes the Asian leopard cat, the non-domestic source species. Any out-crosses other than Stud book Bengal to Bengal is in the Foundation Registration. These crosses are seen in the first three letter of the registration code. While Stud Book Registry cats begin with SBT, out-crosses begin with A, B, C or O as the first letter; 1,2,3 or O as the second, and N (non-permissible) or S (different species) in the last position. These cats are often referred to in Bengal talk as: F1, F2, or F3. The SBT Bengal cat is the Bengal cat, all other generations are Foundation cats, but not domestic Bengal cats.
- 01 at least one unknown or unregistered parent
- 02 at least one unknown or unregistered grandparent
- 03 at least one unknown or unregistered great grandparent
The reason this is true, is because a breed is considered a breed when it has distinct characteristics (the Standard) from other breeds and it breeds true. That is both sex fertility and progeny consistent with the parents. It is known in genetics that it takes three generations of selective breeding to lock in a trait, or to at least begin to see the outcome of traits. In TICA, the Bengal cat is a Category 1 Established Breed. This designation was given in 1991 to show that the breed bred true, the gene pool was large enough, and that the breed was a distinct breed. From TICA’s Registration Rules: page 35
“This category is for established breeds which are approaching the present goals as set by their standards. These breeds havea sufficiently large available gene pool within the breed that outcrosses to other breeds (other than within a breed group) for improvement of type, increased stamina, addition of new colors, etc., are largely unnecessary. Likewise, the likelihood of finding cats of unregistered parentage which would significantly improve the breed is minimal”
In TICA the process of becoming a recognized breed that competes in the Championship Class is very long with rigid rules to follow. The process is elaborated in the Member Section of www.tica.org These rules allow for the development of traits that distinguish breeds are followed and noted as the breeds progress.
At A-Kerr’s we believe in selective breeding for traits not going back to the Asian leopard cat out-cross. Thus we work to stabilize the breed traits and to allow for the following of temperament and health. Our success at doing this is to be constantly testing for health, improving by bringing in new lines, and working always with the idea in mind of YOUR pet.
CARE AND FEEDING
Cats… how to care for them? There is a joke in the cat fancy that goes like this:
“You take care of dog. Feed it. Brush it. Play with it. Love it. And the dog looks to you as if you are god. You take care of a cat. Feed it. Brush it. Play with it. Love it. And the cat looks to you as if it is god.”
If you remember that a dog has an alpha system of relationship, that is in the pack YOU are the pack leader… but the cats are not pack animals, so they do NOT look to you as their leader! If you remember this, you will be properly humbled with the actual reality of life… “It’s not about you.” Perhaps that is one of the reasons I appreciate cats so much… they are a constant teaching that to give for the sake of giving is enough. But, I digress.
How to care for your cat.
- Coat care
- Insect control, vaccines, etc.
Let’s begin with Shelter.
There is a lot of controversy over “indoor versus outdoor”. Should a cat be allowed to go outside? Should it be an indoor only animal? What are the pros and cons?
I do not want to get into the debate here as both sides have legitimate points of view and in part it depends on where YOU live. If you are in a densely populated area then the question is answered. Indoor only If you live in an area where you can go on walks, etc and depending on the individual cat’s personality… then leash walking might be an option. If you have a backyard or screened patio then building a safe haven outside is an option. But to open the door and allow a cat outside is to open the door to a shorter life. A good article to read on this debate is here. In general the consensus is that an indoor cat has a much longer life expectancy than an outdoor.
So, how to make for a safe INTERESTING environment for your cat. There is a wealth of information on line and a little research will find a plethora of material. Some of this can be overwhelming, so where does one BEGIN.
- Scratching posts are a must. I will go into more detail on this in the Habits section.
- scratching posts should be tall. Tall enough for a full body stretch.
- located by door ways, sleeping areas, and by furniture
- Climbing trees / Poles
- tall with shelves
- hiding holes
- in wood or sisal wrapped (no carpeting which feels like furniture!)
- Rule of thumb: 1 more litter box than number of cats
- If covered, make escape door in back of litter box
- Safe, secure, private area for cat to use
- Should be in an area where other animals/pets/children cannot scare the cat
- If you are moving a litter box from one location to another, do so slowly over days if not weeks
- Many types available: much discussion about which is best
- Dust free/or 99.9%
- Scented in general NOT recommended
- DO NOT change from one type of litter to another quickly
- Many types available: much discussion about which is best
- Food and food dishes
- Glass and stainless steel are best
- Place in area with easy access for cat, difficult for others to intrude
- Do not change food brands or types quickly. With cats, think slow and gradual
- Fountains are GREAT toys, oh yeah… they do drink from them as well
- Glass or stainless steel
- Always accessible
- Rolling, bouncing, furry, anything becomes a toy!
- Fishing pole type toys
- YOU are the best toy possible
Check for updates as A-Kerr’s has tested toys and making them available for YOU soon! You can get the latest Cat-Go-Round Wheel from us now!
Creatures of habit!
Cats know their environment through their nose… they have an olfactory organ on the roof of their nose that captures and holds smell. This organ is also called the Jacobson Organ also found in snakes. Cats use this extraordinary sense of smell to see the world… which is why SMELL is the habit you need to most understand about your cat.
It is why your cat rubs against you and objects. It is why cats will notice changes such as new furniture, strong odors, scented litter. This sense of smell creates marking behavior, causes cats to be stressed and perhaps most importantly can cause behaviors that we humans cannot tolerate. Living with cats is living with a different species… while we ask a lot of these little predators to compromise their view of the world and live in ours, we need to understand their view of the world as it makes it much more pleasant to have them in ours!
Scent is the most important one to understand. Look at where you have their food and most importantly their litter box, the kind of litter you use, the placement and the type of box. One way to help with introductions of new people, pets, is to exchange scent. A simple way to do this is to exchange scents with a towel, shirt, etc allowing the cat to incorporate the new smells into their world.
So, when we say cats are creatures of habit… we have to recognize our own. While we can change ours with knowledge and awareness of how we impact the life of our cat(s) the cat can only respond as it sees the world. Sometimes a simple awareness of a change in perfume can change the reaction our cat has to us.
There are excellent books and articles on feline behavior, one written by a fellow Bengal cat enthusiast, Marilyn Krieger the “Cat Coach” Marilyn has an excellent book available as well… tell her Libbie sent you!
The ideal cat/kitten is confident. A confident cat/kitten is outgoing, interactive, watchful and most of all, allowed to fully develop its own personality. We breed for temperament. So how do we go about selecting for temperament?
First of all. We only breed to mothers who will allow us to handle the babies from the moment of birth. Many of the kittens are born in our hands, breathed on us from the first moment. It is important to note, that for a mother in labor to allow a human to intervene and participate is a huge step in temperament. This allows the kittens to genetically be inclined to want human interaction. We are able to nurture temperament as well from the beginning in this manner.
The old question: Nature vs Nurture! Who knows. It is just apparent that both are involved.
Let’s face it… to be involved in creating a cat with very specific appearance parameters set by Breed Standards, making it unique in at least two to three areas to be a distinctly different breed… it to be interfering with natural selection. And as the saying goes: “Don’t mess with Mother Nature!” As a breeder, I am very aware of this delicate walk that I am doing when I make the decision on who will be the parents of the next generation.
So, what do I use to select the next generation? This goes back to my basic pyramid approach with each section being equal in importance.
We go through extensive testing of the animals before breeding them, and work with the realization that you can never KNOW everything. These are living entities… and as such many things that we do not completely understand play a role in the overall outcomes. With this humbling realization, I also make sure that I am conscious and aware of the life I have chosen to create with my choices. There are so many unknowns, we can understand the how, but not the why. How genetics work, but not why they work… how a cell divides but not the why… and on and on. I tend to be a bit philosophical and filled with wonder at the whole of life… with the beginnings of each life here, I hold it with reverence and wonder.
So… on with selective breeding. One of the traits that was first worked on by A-Kerr’s was clearing the background color of ticking. This was simply done by breeding and selecting the clearest coats over several generations, once accomplished the next point was to make the pattern go down the full length of the hair… and that is what creates the popping contrast whatever the color of background and pattern. I hypothesize coat clarity and pattern density are polygenic traits, a group of genes that work together, not a major gene. Because these genes are subtle and hard to work with, it takes generations to lock them into the gene pool. There are other such traits that we have worked on: rosetting, three color rosetting, horizontal alignment of pattern, whited underside, spotted legs, and so on and so on. No sooner do we get one thing working and locked in than we bring in a new factor: rounded ears, longer body, thicker tail, rounder eyes… perfection seems to be a moving target.
But the above focuses on appearance, health is also something that is a moving target. We work at doing all we know to do and find the right professionals to guide us in the creation of the best health possible. We keep in touch with owners and have guarantees that make it worth while for owners to let us know outcomes. After over 25 years of work, we do have a lot of feedback and find that people who have had cats from us for 19 years are coming back for more! That speaks best.
Temperament is constantly chosen. A-Kerr’s cats are known for their healthy, confident personalities. We try very hard to allow each individual the space and time to develop into the very best animal it can be!
I hope these notes are helpful to you. Please feel free to contact me for any further information or ask any questions.
I found the following link VERY helpful. Enjoy