Part 9: Lines and Kittens Returning - Up to Nineteen
In the autumn of 2012, Katie's daughter, Cailin, gave birth to her first litter of kittens, and Anita asked if we would be interested in having the girl to give us Katie's line back. This gorgeous baby is called Tilly, though she is also affectionately known as the 'Tot' because she was the baby of the household and, like her granny, has always been very kittenish. We brought her back with us from the Shorthair show at the start of 2013, taking our numbers to a new high of sixteen.
Having decided that we weren't going to continue breeding Ocicats, we were going to have Grace spayed but then Breckin's breeder, Rita, offered us a mating to one of her boys to make up for never having had a litter from Breckin. At the start of March, Grace gave us six lovely kittens: four Variants and two Ocicats, and the best of these again went to Anita, giving her two half-sisters from the outcross line. After that we had Grace spayed and had a bit of fun showing her as a Household Pet.
A couple of weeks later, we received a phone call from the owner of one of Grace's previous kittens, Bru, to say that he was unwell and that she 'couldn't be bothered' to take him to the vet to find out what was wrong. We went to her house that evening, gave her a full refund and took him back - no way was one of our kittens going to be staying with someone who cared so little for him. Ironically, the owner was a vet student, so we had thought he'd have great medical care all his life! The illness was a simple lung infection and easily treated with a couple of weeks of antibiotics but we discovered that Bru only had one lung. As a result he could be more susecptible to infection and we therefore decided to keep him separate from most of the others to minimise the risks, initially giving him Ali for company and then later his sister, Cheeky.
We weren't planning to keep anything from Dàrna that year, but had a few people interest in Tiffanie neuters for showing and Eiteag was starting to shout for a girl so we decided to mate the two of them in the hopes of having some nice show-quality kittens. Unfortunately, she only carried one kitten who was born by C-section at a week overdue (we didn't want to leave her any longer) so we decided that Dàrna should be retired from breeding and kept her daughter, Small. Although this was a granmother/grandson mating, we had a couple of stud options that were a total outcross for our lines so we knew that Small could still contribute to our breeding.
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.