The Premier Online Magazine devoted to Persian & Exotic Shorthair Cats
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The Premier Online Magazine
devoted to Persian & Exotic Shorthair Cats

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The Premier Online Magazine devoted
to Persian & Exotic Shorthair Cats

Close this search box.

CH, GP, NW Starbourne’s Eye-of-the Tiger

CFA’s 19th Best Cat in Premiership 2011-2012 is an exquisite brown McTabby Exotic Shorthair neuter named CH, GP, NW Starbourne’s Eye-of-the Tiger. This is his story.

Ty’s story begins with a mad Sunday dash to my veterinarian’s office 45 minutes away as GC Starbourne’s I Hope You Dance, DM was struggling to deliver her second litter of kittens. On the way, his blue cream sister was delivered on the side of the road and tucked gently into my purse so that her frantic mother wouldn’t step on her. 

Ty’s Dam: GC Starbourne’s I Hope You Dance, DM (Photo by Chanan)

The next day, after no other kittens were delivered, the inevitable c-section was performed and Ty and his look-alike brother were delivered happy and healthy into the world. As Hope was homozygous for short hair, I knew I was looking at three very nice Exotic kittens, but as Hope was also PKD positive, I was hoping that their DNA test would at least show that one or two would be negative. Hope had been bred to CH Ez-Luvin Simba of Wiccacats, a beautiful PKD negative cream Persian male owned by Jean Dugger of Wiccacats Persians.

Ty’s Sire: CH Ez-Luvin Simba of Wiccacats

Jean has always been extremely generous in allowing me to use her best Persians to help my Exotic breeding program. Unfortunately, all three kittens were PKD positive, so I had no interest in using any for breeding. The kittens grew well until the age of 12 weeks, when suddenly they came down with an unknown bacterial infection. My vet and I were able to save Ty and Enchanted, his sister, but his beautiful brother was lost.

Around 3 months of age, the two surviving kittens went through the uglies, and I wondered if I had lost my lovely show kitties, but just in time for our club show the two kittens came together and I was able to show them. In a big Exotic kitten class Ty was was twice 2nd Best of Breed, It was a promising start. 

Baby Ty at 4 months old

The Exotic kitten classes were very competitive that year, and yet I thought that Ty held his own beautifully, taking many finals. I decided that I would work for his GC title and then neuter him and place him in a pet home. 

Ty at 8 months of age

Unfortunately, as he turned 8 months of age and went for his winners ribbons, I saw to my dismay, a strange speck in his left eye. After the weekend I immediately went to the veterinarian to find that he had developed a corneal sequestrum. It had been my experience with friends in the fancy that medically treating the sequestrum was at least as successful as surgery, if not better, so my vet and I decided on a course of treatment. Additionally, I used some holistic methods I knew of. So Ty’s show carrier was put on hiatus. 


He became such a part of my life then that placing him was no longer a consideration. I also had put his neutering on hold. It was during this time that, without much thought or practice, he bred GC Starbourne It’s A Tribble, a lovely blue patched tabby girl who had come in season. It only happened once as I put a stop further breeding to her by separating her from him and when three weeks passed and her nipples did not show any changes I just figured she didn’t take. 

Ty’s first and only “love”, GC Starbourne It’s A Tribble

After three months of treating Ty’s eye, I was seeing definite improvement, when suddenly something alarming happened. His eye clouded over and then almost overnight, cleared up completely. I was told later that the sequestrum had “sloughed off” and now his eye would gradually clear. To my delight, it wasn’t long before his eye looked perfect. I had him neutered and prepared to show him in Premiership. 

It was during this time that I noticed that Tribble was getting awfully fat, and yes, she was pregnant! Fortunately I had noted the breeding date, and after a c-section she produced 4 kittens. Two survived and I kept the tortie female, naming her Starbourne’s Touched By An Angel, a tribute to my first national winner under my original cattery name, a tortoiseshell Exotic named GC, GP, NW Starship’s Magic Fire.

A Regional Win

Ty was a beautiful cat. I am very hard when evaluating my own cats yet there was so much about him that to me epitomized the Exotic Standard. He was large, yet short and compact. He had a huge round head and big round eyes with glorious copper eye color. His mackerel tabby pattern was magnificent, with flawless brown ground color. He had in my opinion the best Exotic coat I had ever seen. He granded quickly and the new 2009-2010 season had just begun so I decided to keep on showing him with the goal of perhaps attaining a Southern Regional award in Premiership.

Despite tough breed competition in my region, Ty steadily climbed up the rankings. By November he had his 100 rings in but many of those were breed wins, so he began to make big jumps in his points every week. This was enough to make the nationally running cats and their owners for that year sit up and take notice. When 2010 rolled around I actually thought that Ty and I stood a chance to possibly attain a National win. We did however, eventually fall short that year, reaching to 34th Highest Scoring Cat in Premiership in CFA and 10th Best Cat in Premiership in the Southern Region. It was then that I made up my mind that Ty and I were not through with his show career.

Jean Dugger, Donna, CH, GP, RW Starbourne’s Eye-of-the Tiger & Barbara Leffler accepting Ty’s award as CFA Southern Region’s 10th Best Cat in Premiership award 2009-2010

The 2011-2012 Show Season

Ty took a year off and was poised to attend our Southern Region’s 2011 Rebel Rousers show that traditionally kicks off the new show season. Ty did extremely well and we were on our way! Through the summer months he was high up on the Premiership scoring charts. Things were looking good — then bad luck struck. I lost my job to a company purchase in July. Ty’s show career would not have gone any further except for the help of my best friend and Ty’s co-owner, Barbara Leffler of Purrstar Himalayans. Barb took over the financials and we kept on going!

Competition & Co-Operation

In August, at the Ocicats International show, I was to first meet his breed competition for the year, GC GP Tigerboy Skip to My Lou, a beautiful blue mackerel tabby Exotic spay owned by Jon and Linda Bartley, famous for their Lynzkatz American Shorthairs, but with a soft spot in their hearts for zots.

Ty’s main competition for Breed during his national campaign, GC, GP, NW Tigerboy Skip to My Lou – Breeder/Co-owner: Suki Shuk Man Lee

Ty did very well at that show but I knew that meeting up with Lulu every weekend would be tough. Some judges liked Lulu better, others liked Ty better. Linda and I became very good friends and stayed in touch, always whenever possible trying to avoid each other at shows and even suggesting to each other shows we thought the other would do well in. To me that is the essence of good sportsmanship. Both cats were great, why shouldn’t both cats make a national win? When we did end up having to go to the same show, we usually came out of it with each cat picking up decent ring points. Linda and I still stay in touch and I will never forget her friendship.

Ty as an adult

Ty’s Traveling Companion & Roommate

At the same time as I was campaigning Ty, I was also showing GC, RW Starbourne’s Moonlight Serenade, aka Sara, a blue mackerel patched tabby and white girl. Originally I took her just to accompany Ty to shows and perhaps pick up a Championship Regional win. She was doing so well that she was in the top 10 Nationally in Championship during the first half of the season. My heart was with Ty as far as a national win was concerned and I retired Sara at the end of March in 2012 after she fell out of the top 25. She still ended up as 3rd Best Exotic Nationally and 6th Best Cat in the Southern Region. 

Ty’s traveling companion, GC, RW Starbourne’s Moonlight Serenade, CFA’s 2012 3rd Best Exotic Nationally, Southern Region’s 6th Best Cat and Best Exotic 2011-2012

Sara and Ty were great competitors for my attention in the hotel rooms, but when one or the other didn’t attend a show, I think they missed each other’s company. 

The Great Escape

Ty and I, along with Sara, attended the National Norwegian Forest Cat Show in February. It was where the most harrowing experience of the show season, and Ty’s life thus far, occurred. Jean Dugger and I were staying at a Red Roof Inn, and we had just pulled up outside the hotel. I was tired and wanted to save myself some carrying and steps, so I opened the car door and then opened Ty’s carrier door to place a small container of beef inside just to carry it in to the hotel room. Ty bolted through my hands and out of the carrier door before I had time to think. I guess he thought I was opening the carrier door in the hotel room to let him out! I vainly grasped for a leg, then a tail as he dove down from the car and out into the night.

He ran up to the first hotel door, found it closed, and then he panicked and began to run down the long line of outdoor entrance rooms to the end of the building. Ty had a way of trotting, not running, but you never saw a cat that could trot this fast in all your life. He would have made any harness racehorse proud. I can smile about it now, but I was not smiling then.

I started screaming for Jean, who was taking her cat to her room. Jean started to run after him. I saw Ty make a turn at the end of the building at the same time that a car was headed up the other side of the building. If Ty ran across the street he would be hit. As I ran, I waited to hear that terrible sound of screeching brakes. Jean was ahead of me and witnessed Ty stop at the curb, actually think about what he was going to do, and at that moment, another exhibitor on the other side of the building had their door opened waiting for her husband to bring something in from the parking lot. Ty very sensibly saw that open door and made a dash up the other row of rooms and straight in to theirs! Ty was moving so fast that they thought a large rat had just dodged into their room, but Jean yelled to them exclaiming it was a show cat and please SHUT THE DOOR!

As I turned the corner and realized what had happened, I was tremendously thankful Ty was safe in a room but also terribly concerned about how scared he must be. Jean left to get a carrier and I went to the room to retrieve Ty. The room’s occupants, the Ensors, were very gracious and helped me extract Ty from under their bed. This is the cat fancy at its greatest — one exhibitor helping another. 

I sat in a chair in their room cuddling Ty in my arms. Jean arrived with the carrier and we returned to my room.

Ty enjoying the comforts of the Red Roof Inn

Ty finally relaxed and seemed none the worse for wear. The next day at the show he was his old self. I almost lost him that day. I couldn’t know then that I had been granted a year and a half more for him to be with me.

A National Winner!

We continued on campaigning, including three big trips — to Topeka, Kansas, then Washington State, and finally Dallas, Texas. We would end Ty’s show career in St. Louis, Missouri in the midst of a hail storm. That storm took out the windshield of my car, but I consider it just one of my adventures on the campaign trail. 

It had been a wonderful year, full of ups and downs but also filled with friends, fellowship and wonderful cats. At the end of the 2011-2012 show season, Ty was CFA’s 19th Best Cat in Premiership and 6th Best Cat in the Southern Region. I will always be grateful to all the judges who loved my big teddy bear.

CH, GP, NW Starbourne’s Eye-of-the Tiger
Ty enjoying his retirement from the show ring.

A Scare

You never know what life will bring you. My first national winner lived to the ripe old age of 17 ½ and was my best friend and companion during all those years. I thought it would be the same with Ty, but I was wrong. In the spring of 2013, I noticed that he was not acting himself and he seemed to be losing weight. I took him to my vet where bloodwork revealed that his numbers were abnormal, his protein values were high and he had lost a pound of weight. My vet prescribed doxycycline.

A few weeks after Ty had completed the course of antibiotics and seemed to be doing much better, I came home from work one day to find Ty with his cheeks puffed up like a chipmunk! His lymph nodes were so swollen he could hardly swallow. I rushed him to my vet, where he remained for the balance of the week. The vet could still not pinpoint a diagnosis, but started Ty on a course of treatment to stabilize his condition. 

Over the next month we tried various treatments, including several different antibiotics and a steroid. Ty improved dramatically and was once again his old self. Treatment completed, my vet declared that Ty’s bloodwork was completely normal and his weight was back up too. I was so relieved and happy! We resumed life as usual. 

Six weeks later, his symptoms returned. His bloodwork was again all wrong, and there were new signs that indicated that this was a lethal disease. When my vet gave me the news we both just sat and cried. 

Saying Goodbye

I took Ty home, wondering just how much time I would have left with my boy who was so much a part of my life. I spent the last two weeks of his life with him constantly at my side. Gradually he lost control of his bodily functions, yet as long as he was eating and seeming happy, which he was, I thought what difference does a little pee make?

Then came a black weekend when he stopped eating and was clearly deteriorating. He even turned his head away from his favorite treats. I saw signs of neurological problems. I picked him up and carried him with me to bed where he laid next to me all night. 

Monday morning, October 28, 2013, I called my vet and made that final trip with Ty at my side. Together with my vet and the head vet tech present, Ty passed away peacefully in my arms. The tears in their eyes told me that Ty meant a lot to them as well. He had been born at my vet’s and he died there too. Ty had come full circle.

I miss and will miss Ty every day. He now shares an honored space in my garden with his mother, his brother, my first national winner, and my Moonlight Sonata. I think often of the time when I will see them all again, healthy and happy.

Just recently a put a brown tabby cat winged windchaser on Ty’s grave. The the moment I put the ornament in place, the wings started to spin and spin and I know Ty was saying to me, “I can FLY now Mom!”

“I can FLY now Mom!”


Ty’s story doesn’t end here. Remember that before he was neutered he had produced a tortie girl, Starbourne’s Touched By An Angel? She grew up and in her second litter sired by GC, RW Steadham’s Jake Sully of Starbourne, she produced two beautiful zot kittens, one tortie and one blue-cream.

GC, RW Steadham’s Jake Sully of Starbourne, CFA Southern Region’s 14th Best Cat and Best Exotic 2012-2013

The kitties seemed to take forever to develop and get some size, but a month after Ty’s passing the little tortie looked like she might finally be ready to bring out to a show.

I had not yet named her, so when filling out her CFA registration form I decided to call her Legacy, as a tribute to her granddad, Ty. As I hemmed and hawed over whether she was ready to show, Legacy came and stared at me with her huge copper eyes as if to say, “What are you waiting for, fill out that entry!” I did, and after just 1 ½ shows, GC Starbourne Legacy carried on in her proud grandfather’s footsteps. A star was shining brightly in the heavens that night!

Ty’s granddaughter, GC Starbourne Legacy

Thank You

Ty’s story would not be complete without thanking the wonderful people without whom Ty and his two campaigns would not have been possible. I want to thank Kathy Holahan, who gave me Ty’s grandmother and all those great Calivan genes, Jean Dugger who allowed me to use her best Persians including Ty’s sire, to Barbara Leffler, whose friendship I could not live without, and my good friend Leslie Carr, whose expertise at scoring and strategy really helped so much, and finally to Linda Bartley for all the laughs, fears and cheers during our national campaign year. Love you all, ladies.

More Photos of CH, GP, NW Starbourne’s Eye-of-the Tiger

CH, GP, NW Starbourne’s Eye-of-the Tiger
Ty and Sara sharing a windowsill at home
Ty’s litter sister, CH, GP Starbourne’s Enchanted of Wiccacats
Ty’s sister, Enchanted, Donna & Ty. Ty and his sister helped their mother earn the title of Distinguished Merit.
Ty winning Best Cat In Show In Premiership at the Platinum Coast Cat Club show in Florida.

GC, RW Starbourne’s Moonlight Sonata 2006 CFA National Best of Color 2006 CFA’s Third Highest Scoring Exotic Kitten Nationally, 2006 CFA Southern Region 10th Best Kitten and Best Exotic Kitten, A Grand and Best Cat (as an open) at 8 months!
GC, GP, NW Starship’s Magic Fire, CFA’s 4th Best Cat in Premiership 1990-1991

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CH, GP, NW Starbourne’s Eye-of-the Tiger

Brown Mackerel Tabby Exotic Shorthair Neuter

CFA’s 19th Best Cat in Premiership 2011-2012
CFA’s Southern Region’s 6th Best Cat in Premiership 2011-2012
CFA’s Southern Region’s 10th Best Cat in Premiership 2009-2010

Born: March 30, 2008
Sire: Ch. Ez-Luvin Simba of Wiccacats
Dam: GC Starbourne’s I Hope You Dance, DM
Breeder: Donna Wilbanks
Owner: Donna Wilbanks & Barbara Leffler