One of the advantages of the digital information age, the Internet and social media is that cat fanciers of different breeds are now easily able to share their opinions and experience with fanciers of other breeds. Mostly this is a wonderful thing. But sometimes it can create a great deal of misinformation and resentment. Because different breeds are just that… different. That means that while something may work with your breed of cat, it may not work with a different breed.
This is probably even truer if the two breeds being compared are far apart in physical, mental and emotional “styles”. A Persian has much less in common with a slinky breed like a Siamese than it has with a breed like a British Shorthair, simply because the Persian and the BSH shares many physical characteristics. No matter how innocent the original intention may be, when a person makes a comment about a breed they do not raise and show, it is easy for them to say something that is true for them and the breed they raise, but which may be quite inappropriate for other breeds or breeders.
Recently, there was a discussion on a cat list regarding a grooming product used (mostly) on Persian cats to prevent eye staining. Strong negative opinions were made by a non-Persian breeder. Persian breeders were upset by some of the comments. But even more, they resented some of the assumptions the non-Persian breeder was making about why Persians have eye stains in the first place… making it a health issue rather than a grooming issue.
People deeply involved in their breed will always understand better any issue having to do with their breed. People outside the breed may think they understand — but it is somewhat like being a back-seat driver or an armchair quarterback. Being an onlooker just doesn’t give you the same experience, knowledge or perspective that actually doing it does.
Until you walk a mile in my shoes, you will never really know me. If you haven’t raise a certain breed, you will never know how different it may be from your current breed.
One Size Doesn’t Fit All
There is no such thing as “One Size Fits All” in the cat fancy. Different breeds have different inherent health issues, breeding concerns, grooming challenges and more. Never assume that you know more about someone else’s breed than they do. Regardless of how informed you believe yourself to be in a general sense, if you haven’t personally raised a breed, you should hesitate to comment on the specific issues faced by that particular breed.
How do we share our own experiences and opinions with other cat breeders without seeming to be riding a high horse? Tell people about your experience with your breed or cat, but be careful about assuming that something that works for your breed will work for another breed. Something that works for one breeder may not work for another breeder, even of the same breed. And of course, there are even times when something that works for one of your own cats does not work for another of your kitties.
Consider The Source
Each person must decide how much “weight” to give to the things another person says or posts online. The consumer of the information should consider the accomplishments, experience and character of the author of every post, along with the subject they are discussing. Too many people make comments as if they are facts, when they are really only expressing an opinion. If you want to share your opinion, make sure you make it clear that it is an opinion, NOT a fact.
Share information generously. Share your opinion sparingly.
Be Open To New Ideas
Enjoy your “conversations” online. Send a post when you have something positive to contribute. Accept that some people will have opinions that differ from yours. Don’t waste energy trying to make everyone agree with everything you say, just accept that you see things differently. Keep an open mind.
Every cat exhibitor is entitled to their opinion, and every person gets to choose what they wish to believe… and what they prefer to do. The fun part is that we all can have the choice to try something, or not. It is wonderful that we each have the freedom to make the decision that is best for us personally, and for our cats.