"Animals make us human."
- Temple Grandin
from Samantha and Libbie...
Animals have always been a part of our lives. Libbie grew up amid horses, dogs and cats. Samantha did not grow up in the country, she grew up touching, exploring and hunting out the contact with nature with insatiable curiosity. Both of us experienced the acceptance, patience, and entertainment that animals share with us. We both recognize their most important gift... they make us human. The quote from Temple Grandin, "... animals make us human," summarizes this relationship between human and our domestic pets. They bring us to the present moment... they live here and now, a place that the human mind does not like to be... while our bodies know nothing else but this moment. Animals live in the moment. They are where their bodies are… here - now. But you and I are rarely in the now. In fact in reading this you are connecting to past and future… we are rarely present. But touch a purring cat, appreciative of your contact… and you touch and become aware of this moment. .
Our first Bengals:
When my husband brought the first Bengal cat into our home in 1989... we thought we would raise some litters and teach our young sons, how to care for animals, run a "business" and communicate to the public. These cats have provided that and so much more. John's animal science degree from Ohio State University seemed a perfect fit for this endeavor, but it soon was apparent that I was going to be the one to work with the cats. It took a lot more time than we had at first imagined!
As soon as I moved away from home I wanted pets! I wanted to work with my animals and achieve things, so I bought my first show cat Pharaohspride King Osiris. Through lugging my unwilling partner around to shows I quickly made some new friends in the cat world and learned a lot about the cat fancy and all that goes into being a reputable breeder and caring owner of such amazing animals. It's been quite an adventure.
My degree from Ohio State University gave me a background in education and writing, and I am a philosopher at heart.. My approach was about the animals, but it was also centered on the human aspect. I began thinking of what was really needed and where this beautiful breed was headed in the future. My focus became what A-Kerr's cats are today noted for world wide... temperament. Not only beautiful and healthy cats but also cats that were driven both genetically and environmentally to want to be with humans.
Working with animals both professionally and here at home with the cats has been an eye opening experience. My experiences in research, clinics, and farm have made me realize the importance of good health practices, and how we can facilitate the best bonding experience between our domestic cats and their human counterparts.
Why breed cats?
Choosing to breed Bengal cats, I was aware first of this connection to the present that animals bring and second that in order to bring this sense of acceptance to my clients I would actively and consciously have to select for these traits. My main purpose for breeding: to breed for temperament and to educate and write about the process. This became the "why" of my focus in breeding, it was to add love and acceptance into the lives of the owners of an A-Kerr's kitten.
As a breeder a huge responsibility is taken selecting breeding pairs, the raising of the kittens and most of all the placing kittens into the hands of another person. I do not take this responsibility lightly. I realize that I am injecting myself in what would have been random selection in nature. In doing so, I am selecting for and against certain genetics... and understanding how limited my window into this process is. I am choosing the direction of the next generation... trying to control outcomes. It is a humbling experience, being a breeder... for you discover how little is known and controlled by you.
Breeding and raising Bengals brings immeasurable joy to the keeping of these awesome cats. To see them grow and change and personalities flourish can be one of the hardest yet most fulfilling aspects of being a breeder. We breed for health, temperament, and beauty, and sometimes the balancing of these priorities tests us in ways that we can't imagine. I strive to breed to the same high standards that Libbie has set in previous years while making progress in our other priorities.
The cats have brought many people into our lives... and a part of this "our" is Samantha, who in 2006 walked into our lives. There are moments that I recognize the serendipity of life... and Samantha is one of the main ones. She wanted to have a cattery... and I wanted to phase out, so it is fitting that she be the new face and voice of A-Kerr's. She met my son in 2007, they married in 2008... and the rest is unfolding daily. I hope to remain a support for Samantha over the next years and her biggest fan!
I have learned so much from Libbie, both regarding this breed we love but also life in general. I've also gained so much from all of the people, other breeders, owners that I've met during my many cat adventures. I look forward to many years of providing loving, amazing companions through these cats to the people that they will soon impact and forever leave their impressions upon.
Together we make the following observations:
At A-Kerr's we work to control what we can ... and learn humble acceptance of what lies outside the realm of current understanding.
- Creating the right environment for the cats to thrive... not simply live.
- Giving the public and our clients the proper tools to make the best decision before bringing a cat into their home
- Selecting breeding cats based on
- The Bengal cat Standard, keeping in mind that there are now two main ones, TICA and CFA.
- Listening to what the potential owner is wanting... and giving options on how to best meet those wishes
- Providing the best possible:
- Veterinary care
- Daily care and interaction
- Communication with clients and prospective owners