In the first part of the interview with the Slovak musher Katarina Vigodová, we talked about how to prepare for a skiing trip with your furry friend. Today we are going to hit the skiing trails with Katka. What commands should the dog know? Why are a...
Is the Thai cat an endangered breed?
Yes, but the answer is not that simple. At present, I would say that it is becoming increasingly popular and being "resurrected". More and more people are interested in its unique nature and appearance. Thanks to the recognition within FiFe in 2017, it is gaining a lot of public awareness, as it is entitled for a full-scale participation at exhibitions. For the general public, exhibitions are very interesting, as people can take a look at the cats and get in touch with breeders and owners. In recent years, the Thai cat has gained worldwide popularity among breeds, but it is far from recording such numbers as, for example, the Maine Coon or the British cat.
Why is that so?
The Thai cat, formerly also called the Royal Cat from Siam, was almost extinct due to breeding in Europe, which started almost immediately after the first import of the first breeding pair from Siam (today's Thailand) in 1884, to become the Siamese cat. Around 1950, in Europe, opinions concerning the Siamese cat´s appearance, as the RCS was called back then, started to differ on the basis of the standard from 1894, started to significantly split. On the one hand, there have been tendencies to further modernize the breed´s appearance, and on the other, the pressure to return to the RCS´s appearance began to increase. Thus, it became necessary to think of a different name for the original RCS in order establish a separate breed with its own standard meeting the original RCS appearance. Thai cat was to become this name. The Thai cat´s organized rescue was launched in Europe around 1950. Thanks to the effort to regain and preserve the original appearance, not only individuals resembling the original type to the most significant extent, but also other breeds such as the British cat were included in the breeding process. This significantly fragmented the cat type. The first Thai cat standard was established in 1990 under the WCF (World Cat Federation).
Does the principle of saving this breed work around the world?
Unfortunately, many breeders have not yet understood the intention of saving the breed and this breed again breeds, following thus the path market trends and demands. This means that people are striving for more colour variations than the four basic (seal, blue, chocolate, lilac) naturally occurring in Thailand. Furthermore, some breeders are trying to give their Thai cats a more dominant and darker, even purple eye, and last but not least, adapt the structure and a cuter shape of the head.
How does the breed rescue at your kennel work?
We have the huge advantage of having a cat directly from Thailand, which is also the founder of our kennel. We are trying to keep the original look, not improving, but keeping it. We carefully select blood lines that unburdened by breeding and thus not facing a possible threat of hereditary cross-breeding related diseases. We only cooperate with breeders breeding the same way as we do. In real life, this means that the circle of potential breeders to cooperate with is very narrow. We are lucky that two further kennels in the Czech Republic share our ideology: It´s the Dark Paws and Silky Talisman, whom we have set up long-term breeding plans with. Cooperation beyond Czech Republic borders is to be directed to Thailand and partly to Russia or Ukraine, where there was no trend to breed the RCS. In future, we are planning to acquire more breeding individuals imported again directly from Thailand.
What can other cat breeders do for proper breeding, and therefore the rescue itself?
It´s mainly about the following three issues:
1) Why are they breeding - to save the breed or for their own profit? Producing kittens with certificates of origin stemming from the same individuals over and over again is financially very advantageous, but this is not breeding.
2) Do they breed or only produce kittens with a card? If there´s no kitten from the litter surpassing its parents and does not become part of the breeding process, it does not make sense to repeat that connection of parents. Unfortunately, by producing only pets, they will not achieve anything in breeding and will not help Thai Cats in any way.
3) What type are they breeding, how closely does it resemble the original one? It is necessary to try to introduce genetically new individuals into breeding and to support the original type of breed.
How does the Thai cat's normal life look like?
Thai cats are very playful and sociable. If they are in a pack, you will see constant interaction and care. They are not too loud. They like medium heights, but they don't mind being on the ground. However, thanks to their muscles and athletic body, they are able to jump right from the spot to a height of three meters. The household of a Thai Cat owner never becomes boring and abandoned. Thais generally like swimming, travelling and accompany their owners for walks, if they are taught to do so. The closest comparison to their relationship with man is that between man and dog. Thais choose their main person, whom they give love and fidelity throughout their entire life.
Is there anything difficult to breed Thai cats? Are there any specific aspects related to this?
Thai cats have a strong bond with humans, so the whole breeding process is very slow, after all, it is not possible to buy twenty unrelated individuals at once. You have to bear in mind that the cat will stay with you for more than fifteen years, and for at least six of which she will be retired. It is thus important to carefully select the right time to get another family member.
I might mention as another specific trait of this breed that each cat chooses its master, as I have mentioned above, so when it comes to birth, for example, a cat wants to give birth with the key person at her side.
How shall we e.g. respond to specific market demands?
It is important not to succumb to the demand and the trend pressure of those interested in a type or color not belonging to the original and which does not make sense from a breeder´s point of view. When meeting people interested in a kitten meet the animals, we let the kitten choose its owner. Thus, a unique lifetime-lasting bond can be established. Unfortunately, not everyone interested understands or wants to understand this, which is why I believe that some breeders do not mind and simply sell the kitten as a pet to anyone paying. However, this both destroys the opportunity to establish an amazing bond with the animal, and the reputation of Thai Cats, as the wonderfully described relationship does not occur and disappointment comes.
What is most dangerous for these cats?
I believe, it is their appearance and devotion to man. Many people buy a Thai cat just because of its appearance not considering how the cat will suffer if they decide to give it away. Otherwise, there are dangers lurking just as they do for any other cat. It is necessary to think about and provide for its safety in the environment in which it lives.
Can we somehow contribute to rescuing Thai cats (and therefore your kennel)?
Definitely yes, mainly by educating people. It is necessary to keep repeating not only the basics, such as the kittens should not leave a kennel uncastrated (precisely this breed obviously tempts to reproduction), but above all to point out the differences in type and health.
Sponsors are very important for us as well, as they enable us to use the saved funds to acquire new breeding individuals, the prices of which range at abound CZK 100,000.
It helps a lot when the interested look for information about individual kennels and what is included in the individual station´s price for the kitten. The lowest prices would frequently exceed ours if the kittens were provided with the same quality vaccines, deworming, chips, castration, parental tests etc.
The loving owners of our castrated individuals, who cannot be included in the breeding program, are helping us the most. We couldn´t work without them, because the happy life of our babies is one of the most important breeding factors for us, and if we were not able to provide it, we would not be able to breed.
Last but not least, the willingness of owners of castrated kittens to go to exhibitions helps us. This kind of help is invaluable as it is about promoting the breed and people can learn what it is like living with a Thai Cat in a household which is not a kennel.
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