Not quite the typical "what am I"

Anna DuchAnna Duch Member Posts: 170
edited 25 October, 2011 in Choosing the Right Cat
I've been with my meowmy two years now, and I could not be happier. She's always wondered what I am, because I am a very striking kitty and very very different from Tenny, our torbie and white mix -- she has everything!! Meowmy has always loved my smokey coat -- black with white underneath. I also have some spots and stripeys. Today, she decided what breeds have smoke coats. 'Egyptian mau' came up, so she googled that and 'black smoke' -- if you do that, you see a couple of kitties that look like ME! Big ears, the coat, the eyes, the silly looks some of them have...and Meowmy thinks there was a backyard breeder near where she lived when she found me. I do fit most of the temperament characteristics. I have a small white crest on my chest, though -- it breaks up the completely smokey look. So I guess my questions are: 1) am I mau? 2) if so, is a white crest is considered enough of a genetic boo boo to get dumped? Meowmy is just curious, as am I -- I get lots of love no matter what I am!


  • Valerie DurhamValerie Durham Member Posts: 8,724
    edited 24 October, 2011
    Black smoke is not an uncommon coloration for breeds that come in a wide variety of colors--Persians, Maine Coons, American Shorthairs, etc.--although I'm not sure what the prevalence of smoke coloration is in the moggy population. I just looked up Egyptian Maus on the CFA page, and indeed, black and smoke Egyptian Maus seem to exist, although I didn't find a reference to black smokes per se, and although they are not eligible for showing with the CFA (I don't know about the other cat registries). True, Memphis does have a distinctive face. The typical American moggy has a round or horizontal oval face, while Memphis has a triangular face with a well-defined muzzle and tall, unusually shaped ears. In the case of cats with triangular faces and tall, obliquely set ears, distant Siamese heritage is often suspected, as Siamese genetic heritage is not uncommon in moggies. On the other hand, Memphis' facial configuration does seem to resemble that of a Mau or a possibly a Burmese. I have seen Egyptian Maus at CFA shows in Japan, but have never seen a Burmese in real life, and don't know that much about either breed. However, there are fewer than 100 Maus (intact, altered, kittens) competing in the CFA worldwide this year, compared to hundreds in each class in the case of popular breeds such as Persians and Maine Coons. In other words, Maus are rare. Burmese are rare too, although not as rare as Maus. Generally speaking, the rarer a breed is, the smaller the chances are that it will have an opportunity to mate with the moggy population, or just show up at a shelter. Although Memphis does bear some resemblance to a Mau, statistically speaking, chances of her being part or all Mau are pretty small. The rarer the breed, the more likely it is to be owned by hobby breeders and/or cat show exhibitors, and the more likely it is that the cats will be sold to a non-breeder owner in an already altered state, thus preventing any random breeding, and that they will be so expensive that the new owner(s) will probably not choose to let the cat outside, or have to relinquish it to a shelter for economic reasons. Also, a responsible breeder will take back any kittens or grown cats that the new owner cannot keep. Bodily configuration and coat (including color) are the way cat breeds are identified. Personality traits are of secondary importance. Not every cat of a certain breed has the same personality, and not every cat with a certain personality is therefore a certain breed. All of my Maine Coons have unique personalities, and the only thing they have in common is that they are not particularly nervous cats in most situations, and that they like to play with their drinking water. Since I don't live in the States, I really don't have a good idea of what an American backyard breeder is like, or what breeds they specialize in. I do know that backyard breeders are not quite as bad as people who run kitten farms, and that there are fewer kitten farms than puppy farms. But the distinction between a backyard breeder and a reputable breeder is not always so clear-cut. A really top-class breeder is someone who is active in the cat show world. Showing your cats regularly means that you are constantly having them appraised by judges and other breeders, and that you are able to form ties with other breeders that enable you to buy cats with breeding rights. However, showing cats is expensive; your average hobby breeder typically uses any money they get from breeding for the purpose of putting more cats into shows. Backyard breeders are into breeding for the money, and do not show their cats, because it is expensive, and because a backyard breeder's cats would usually not do well in the show ring anyway. However, that doesn't mean that a breeder who doesn't show actively is necessarily a bad breeder. For example, modern-day show type Persians and Siamese are too weird looking for a lot of ordinary people, and breeders who continue to breed the older versions of these breeds cannot always find a cat registry that will accept the older breed standards for showing. I'm sure that many of these breeders are ethical breeders who produce healthy and happy cats. My suspicion is that sleazy breeders are into breeding for the money, and that they therefore tend to specialize in popular breeds. I'm not sure which are the most popular breeds in the U.S. at present, but I am pretty sure that, if there are so few Maus being shown with the CFA, that means that they are probably so rare that backyard breeders are not dealing with them. However, I really don't know exactly what backyard breeders are like in the U.S. I imagine that they tend to have only a few cats, which they mate twice a year or so. They may or may not sell their cats to pet shops (at least in Japan). Their breeding stock will probably not consist of superlative cats. However, my own breeder never had the money to do but a minimum amount of showing, and his cattery would never have made the top ten in Japan, but he produced some very good cats, and did everything that a responsible breeder is supposed to. My fledgling cattery has produced some Regional Winners, but, like every cattery, I need to move up the feeding chain by getting better and better breeding stock. There is no perfect cattery, and there is no gold standard for determining one, but, conversely, a sleazy cattery can easily be outed by someone who knows the cat world. As for backyard breeders "dumping" cats that don't fulfill the requirements of the breed--I have a feeling that this is an urban legend in most cases. Why? Because conformance to strict breed standards is only something that really concerns someone who shows their cats, and backyard breeders and their customers, by definition, do not show their cats. Even the best breeders with the best cats don't always produce Grand Champions--thus, their cats are often divided into show quality and pet quality, and sometimes a third category, breeding quality. According to the CFA article, a black Egyptian Mau, while it cannot be shown, can certainly be sold as a pet. It may not command as high a price as a spotted Mau, but the costs involved in producing it were the same as those involved in producing spotted offspring, so a breeder can always make some money off cats who do not entirely conform to breed standards. The only time I can imagine a backyard breeder dumping a cat is if it has some physical deformity or other feature that makes it impossible to sell. Someone who buys from a backyard breeder probably doesn't know that much about purebred cats anyway, and will believe the breeder who claims that a cat is a superb specimen. In fact, one mark of a backyard breeder is often the price: hobby breeders who show need lots of cats, which means lots of cat turnaround in the cattery. You can often get a very good cat from a good breeder for a relatively low price because the breeder is more concerned with finding a good home for the cat than making a profit. A backyard breeder, however, is in it for the money, and will sell you an inferior cat for big bucks. I have a backyard breeder in my immediate neighborhood. Even before I got involved with the cat world and started breeding, I thought she was strange. She has a few purebred cats that she breeds randomly with one another--a Norwegian Forest Cat with an American Shorthair, for example. Mixes like this cannot be shown (except as household pets), and the cat fancy is opposed to mixing breeds, unless outcrossing is necessary in the breeding program. Her cats are also known to die very young. However, she charges between $2000-$3000 for her inferior, unhealthy, mixed up cats. You need a license to sell cats in Japan (you can breed all you like without a license, and sell on the sly if you like, but you cannot advertise your cats without a license, which means that they are hard to sell). Apparently, her license has been revoked (is my guess) because her cat shop advertises "Kittens!", and there are obviously kittens within, a big sign says that "Our cats are not for sale." Obviously, they are, but she can't advertise that fact, which is what makes me suspect that someone finally caught up with her and she lost her license. I really can't say one thing or other about Memphis. If you're really curious, you could send her photos to an Egyptian Mau purebred breed rescue group, or show her as a household pet in a cat show. However, my guess is that she's unlikely to be an Egyptian Mau or part Egyptian Mau. But one never knows. Stranger things have happened.
  • Kelly M-Kelly M- Member Posts: 779
    edited 24 October, 2011
    My mom thinks of what I could be all the time! Mom is leaning towards part Ragdoll, and part Maine Coon. But, I'm not as big as those breeds are. I'm almost 2 and weigh only 9.5lbs. One big characteristic I have, is that I go limp when someone picks me up. Mom at first thought I was part Turkish Van, but that is very very unlikely. Does anyone have an ideas on what I might be? As to the OP, I think Memphis, might be part Siamese or Oriental. Obviously that is just moms opinion. Egyptian Maus are beautiful cats though. =;
  • Anna DuchAnna Duch Member Posts: 170
    edited 24 October, 2011
    Thanks for the input. I would argue with the fact that breeders don't dump; a breeder near my college dumped a litter of Angora kittens because 'they didn't look right.' My friend Mel ended up with one of the kittens - found her in the woods after a neighbor flagged her down in tears saying there was one little baby all alone and that a human had dumped her. Apparently, there was a confrontation between the neighbors and the breeder about it later on -- the source for the quote above. People stink. :( but there are good people who do pick up the slack ^_^ Memphis also has this little flap thing by her rear legs -- it's not the spay sag that Tenny has, so that was one other thing I noticed that was 'Mauish.' The way she stands is also similar, but not quite. I know that Maus are rare, but there was one breeder who was in my zip code. The babies of previous litters were on her website, but not the 'coming soon' August 2009 litter or any later ones. I'm guessing she shut down? It's all circumstantial, and I'll probably never know. But it's still interesting trying to figure out where your wacky cat comes from, you know? Thanks for the input :D I appreciate the time you took for your analysis!
  • janice lancasterjanice lancaster temple gaMember Posts: 2,505
    edited 24 October, 2011
    That's a very unusual breeder, then. Most of us would prefer to alter and then give away kittens who fail to meet the standard--and that rarely happens with PB cats these days.And how anyone could say the kittens 'didn't look right' is beyond me. And as Val said, unless the buyer is going to show, most don't care if the ktten is 'pet' and not show quality, and do pay about the same (as if we made any money-speaking as someone who takes care of the kitties the right way). Until they are about four months old, you really can't judge how they might turn out and even then you're only guessing. Meowma currently kicking herelf (but not as hard as MY breeder is kicking her!) because she took an early deposit on a girl-kit who REALLY should be shown. But the buyers aren't show people. Val, I guess I'd count as a back yard breeder. I can't show every weekend, am just starting to build stock and never want more than 4 queens (tho will have K's also, temporarily) and maybe one male. But I am not a kitten mill; my kitties get the best food, at least 30 minutes per kitten of one at a time attention daily (and 24/7 group hugs)and frequent vet visits. To me, a 'mill' is like the place that gave up a bunch of persians to a rescue last week--I was at my merntor's spay/neuter clininc to help and was sad to see the grossly matted, nasty group. Most of the girls had awful big cysts on the ovaries and all the cats had rotten teeth and inflamed gums. 2 of us worked for nearly 2 hours to clip the worst matted kitty.This can't be blamed on 'cat show breeders'either, as they were not tyhe modern Persian we see at shows. Anyway sorry to get OT--I also have to say I don't think Memphis is or has any Mau in her. There are 3-6 Mau adults at most of the shows I go to, and the type is totally different. And the black smoke Mau still have a very obvious pattern of penny sized round black dots all over them. Memphis is of course still beautiful :)
  • Valerie DurhamValerie Durham Member Posts: 8,724
    edited 25 October, 2011
    Of course I wouldn't consider you a background breeder, Pandora. In fact, I think you now know more about breeding than I do, and I'm going to be picking your brain in the near future. I'm sorry if I seemed to imply that you must show regularly or else you are a backyard breeder. My own breeder only shows a few times a year, if that, because he doesn't have the money or the time, and he's certainly not a backyard breeder. I myself haven't been to a show for almost half a year. But a backyard breeder will NEVER show, because they have inferior cats and don't want to spend the money, and because they engage in questionable breeding practices that would make them get into trouble with a cat registry or other breeders. Ideally, a breeder produces kittens that are show quality or pet quality, and both can be sold, but occasionally a kitten is born with a birth defect or otherwise is not a satisfactory representative of the breed. I've heard of breeders, even good breeders, having kittens with birth defects euthanized, but a truly responsible breeder will try to find a home that will accept the kitten for what it is, or keep the kitten in the cattery. Right now, I have a cat who I want to sell who has suddenly lost all her lovely fluffy tail fur. I know it's not fleas or mange--if it were, the other cats would have the same problem. I'm going to go to the vet tomorrow and try to find out what is causing this, and whether it can be reversed. She's a sweet little thing, and I suspect that someone would like to adopt her for free, even if her tail isn't very fluffy. I can go through my vet for this--he runs a kind of cat rescue/sanctuary, and is good at finding people for the cats he takes on (my moggy Spike comes from him). As for judging a breeder by their website--that is not always an accurate way to judge a breeder's quality. Some breeders don't have the expertise to set up a website, and don't have the money, or don't consider it necessary, to hire someone to set up a website for them. I myself don't have a website yet, although I plan to set one up in the near future. Some breeders have tremendously ornate websites with blogs they update daily; some breeders have websites that they haven't updated for years. Three cases: my own breeder knows nothing about computers that's any more complicated than sending e-mail; thus, no website. My new mentor is a dynamo of energy and has someone (she won't tell me who) who has set up what is one of the most beautiful websites I've ever seen, and she updates her blog almost daily. Another breeder I know, who produces some of the best cats in Japan, has a website that hasn't been tended to for years. Some breeders breed mostly to sell their cats as pets; some sell their cats primarily to other breeders; and some are so absorbed in breeding that they give away their cats to their friends. There are many kinds of legitimate breeders, although there's probably never a breeder who everybody will agree is perfect in every regard. I have, however, seen very snazzy websites put up by breeders who have a bad reputation. I remember reading about some doll-face Persian breeder who is known by those in the know to be a really rotten breeder who engages in questionable breeding practices and produces lousy cats, but who has a website that would convince you that she's a top breeder. Don't be fooled by websites, either the way they look, whether they are regularly updated, or whether a breeder does or does not have one. It's said that a large proportion of breeders bow out within the first ten years; conversely, it's when you hit the ten-year mark that you begin to hit your stride--with good breeding stock and lots of experience. One of the best Maine Coon breeders in Japan retired for a few years because she got tired out by the stresses of breeding. Breeding involves a lot of physical work, but also involves a lot of emotional turmoil as well--for example, what should I do with my Maine Coon with the rat-like tail?
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