The cowboys (and cowgirls) of the old West were known to live by a simple code of behavior that still has lots to teach us today, both in and out of the cat fancy.
Live Each Day with Courage
Being a cat breeder is not for the faint of heart. Breeding cats is complicated. Many cat breeders come from the dog fancy. Because cats are induced ovulators, their breeding cycle and becoming pregnant is more complicated than that of the canine. Add to that the fact that the health and care of a breeding population of cats is much less studied than that of dogs and other domesticated animals, and it means we often face disappointment and heartache as cat breeders.
Take Pride in Your Work
Never settle for mediocre if with a little more effort you (or your cat) can achieve excellence. Get up at 5 AM Sunday morning to re-bath your Persian kitten for the second day of a two-day show.
Always Finish What You Start
It often isn’t easy to always finish what you start, but perseverance has its rewards.
Do What Has to be Done
Learn the skills of a knowledgeable cat breeder and apply them to your passion. Never let fear limit what you can do. Learn to tube feed weak kittens rather then spend hours trying to feed them with a dropper. Learn how to give your own injections rather than try to force an oral medication down a sick cat’s throat. Learn how to sculpt that hairy face rather than leave it “au naturele” because you are afraid of doing too much.
Be Tough, But Fair
You don’t have to be a door mat in your dealings with others, but neither do you need to be a bully.
When You Make a Promise, Keep It
When you make a promise, it does not mean you will keep your word “only if it is not too inconvenient”. So if you agree to help set up and tear down the show hall, be there at the agreed time and do your best to contribute. If you owe someone a kitten back, even if you have a falling out, make sure you give them the kitten owed.
Ride for the Brand
Loyalty is not always easy, but it is an investment in the future of your organization. Whether it is CFA, TICA, ACFA, GCCF or any of the other world-wide registries, be willing to support your registry. The same stands for your local cat club, your local animal rescue, and the friends and acquaintances you meet along the way in your journey in the cat fancy.
Talk Less and Say More
Avoid senseless arguments. Once most people take a position on a subject, they will never change their minds regardless of the logic of arguments put forth. So the person that believes in feeding raw food is never going to convince the person who prefers a commercial food to feed raw. The person who believes CFA has better cats than TICA is not going to change their mind, and vice versa. The purist who believes in color-breeding or never mixing a dominant color with a dilute is never going to introduce a CPC into their breeding program even if has been proven with a DNA test to not actually have the pointed gene. Do participate in enlightened discussions. Allow other people to have a different opinion from yours without it becoming a personal vendetta.
Remember That Some Things Aren’t for Sale
How much is you integrity worth? How far are you willing to play politics to get that national win? Are you going to lie about that kitten’s birthday to give it an advantage in the show ring? Are you going to hang paper or falsify a pedigree to improve a kitten’s value? Are you going to pay people to bring stuffers to the show so you can enhance your campaign cat’s national standing? Just how cheap will your integrity sell for?
Know Where to Draw the Line
Perhaps the most difficult thing to learn and practice is knowing where to draw the line.