Part 10: Breeding On - Back to Sixteen Via Twenty
We represented the Asian breed for the third time at the London Pet Show in May, and Ayla went home with an Australian Mist breeder to use her fawn stud cat as the first mating in our cinnamon outcross programme. For reasons known only to Ayla, she decided not to come into season for a couple of months so it was September before she had her kittens. As Cheeky and Sonia had grown up, we realised that Cheeky was actually going to be a better match as a cinnamon outcross than Sonia, so we decided to keep her entire for that one litter. Once we knew Ayla was pregnant, we mated Cheeky to Eiteag so that the two outcross litters would be born at around the same time. We kept Zuko from Ayla's litter and Hailey from Cheeky's, and then Cheeky was spayed and moved in with her brother.
Although Breckin's temperament had initially improved after her spay, it began to worsen again after a few months and by the summer of 2013 we were almost scared to approach her because she was so unpredictable. Meanwhile, Grace had developed a fetish for cables and had chewed through every cable in our livingroom - the standard lamps, TV, DVD, Sky box, surround sound system, even the airline and wires for the lights in our fishtanks. When I met someone who was interested in taking the two girls as mousers for a farm in rural Aberdeenshire, I jumped at the chance: Ocicats have amazing prey drive and are excellent hunters so this would be an ideal environment for the girls.
My brother, Calum, had bought his first house that summer and was fully moved in by the autumn. I knew that he was thinking of getting a cat and thought I might offer him one of our kittens for his Christmas. Instead, he surprised me by asking if he could have the first cat he'd ever fallen in love with - Call. Call was our first pedigree and very special to us so I was initially unsure but we had been having issues with Call spraying if he was around the entire girls so we were having to keep the entires and the neuters separate (he didn't spray if kept just with neuters). After lots of soul-searching and thought we therefore agreed that Calum could have Call. He's absolutely in his element in his 'bachelor pad' with Calum and one of his mates from the Royal Naval Reserve. Call now has outdoor access again (we'd had to stop letting him out here when we got the entire girls) and the three of them bring their girlfriends in to lounge in front of the telly!
Tilly had her first litter the following May, by Donny, but the only kitten who really tempted me was a boy who was so like his Dad that he was known as 'Mini-Doop' ('The Doop' being Donny's nickname) the whole time he was here. If Donny had been nearing retirement age I'd have kept his son but I don't really want a Donny son yet. One of the girls in the litter has gone over to Ireland for breeding, though, so at least Donny and Tilly's lines are secure in her.
Having adored the kittens we got from Eiteag to Dàrna and Cheeky (both had lovely temperaments and excellent type), we decided to put Lhasa and Tia to him as well. The two litters were born only a day apart and raised as one giant litter of twelve kittens and though they were all fabulous, it was one of Tia's daughters, Julie, and one of Lhasa's sons, Keeker, who chose us and stayed here. These two were followed a couple of months later by the addition of Lura, a daughter from the outcross mating between Small and a Burmese boy, taking our total to its all-time high of twenty.
The winter of 2014 into 2015 saw lots of change among our older cats, though, starting with Ali finally going to live with Carrie, a school-friend of mine who used to live with us and whom Ali had loved from the moment he first saw her. We'd always said that when she had her own place she could have Ali but it took almost ten years for that to happen. This was followed by Eiteag heading over to Ireland to help strengthen the Tiffanie and Asian genepool over there (as well as one of his daughters going over to Switzerland for the same purpose!), Cheeky and Bru going to live with a lovely family about ten minutes from here who came to visit and fell in love with the pair of them and then finally Small going off to live with a lovely couple who have three other cats and two dogs but had a hole in their lives after losing their Burmese. They had contacted us with a view to having one of Small's kittens but fell in love with Small intead, resulting in us being back to sixteen.