Feedback on World Cat Congress Seminar

This year WCC seminar was attended by WCC President, WCC Vice-President, the Executive  Secretary and Treasurer and 8 delegates of the 9 WCC members.  Unfortunately the New Zealand Cat Fancy could not send a delegate this year, due to major losses being experienced in the cat fancy during  and  after the devastating earthquakes  on the South Island in 2011.

Delegates to the WCC Seminar May 2012.  Jan is second from right.  Photo: Lesley Morgan Blythe.


Opening and Introduction

As tradition dictates, the seminar  started with each WCC member presenting their association to the Czech members of the Moravia Cat Club.

Professor Tim Gruffyd-Jones

The first speaker was Professor  Tim Gruffyd-Jones from the Feline  Centre at the Bristol University,  UK. His topic was: Feline Health: Obligatory and Recommended  Tests. He started his presentation by warning cat breeders not to be caught in the same situation as the dog breeders in the UK, when dogs with obvious genetic defects were shown at the biggest dog show in the UK. Dog breeders were accused that they only act  when genetic defects in certain dog breeds became public. Before  that they have bred and shown dogs with major genetic defects without any action to eradicate the problem. He made two definite statements about genetic defects:

1. Defects are mainly due to recessive disorders in the genetic make-up of a cat.
2. When a congenital or hereditary disease is suspected, the  pedigree should be analysed and test-matings should be done first before a breeder comes to a conclusion  where the defect originates from.  He spend quite some time on explaining  that where genetic tests are available, it is not necessary to spay and neuter breeding cats that carry the genetic defect, but always breed them with noncarriers.  50% of the off-spring will be carriers and after testing these kittens must be spayed or neutered.  He stated that with genetic testing and selective breeding the  Korat breeders were able to eradicate the gangliosidosis 1  gene from breeding lines.  When he started talking about some tests that are available, he stated that registering organisations  should make micro-chipping compulsory. He said that the result  of no genetic test can be validated  if the request is not accompany by the micro-chip number of a cat.

The following available genetic tests were discussed:
1. Polycystic Kidney Disease: A disease seen in Persian, British and related breeds. He said that cats with PKD were reduced from  2005 to 2011 from 30% to 10%, due to breeders making use of the test available.
2. Cardiomyopathy: The test available  can only be used in Maine Coons and Ragdolls and unfortunately not in any other breeds.
3. Hip Dysplasia: Asseen in Maine  Coons.
4. Head

Prof Gruffyd-Jones then dis- cussed the breeding of breeds  based on genetic defects and he specifically referred to Scottish Fold, Manx, Munchkin, Sphynx and Bambino. According to him there is no place in the world for a breed based on genetic faults. He said that there cannot but be a concern for the health of a cat if breeding of these breeds are encouraged.  He asked if registering bodies are living up to their main objectives if these breeds are accepted for registration.  He then discussed extreme types that are encouraged in some breeds. He stated that vets in Europe have the biggest problems  with Persians and Sphynx. In Persians he mentioned the respiratory  problems with the short noses, but he also has a concern for a longer and denser coat. This makes the Persian a high maintenance  cat. Sphynx also develop skin diseases when they are not bathed regularly, specifically in colder months. He also mentioned a concern that the Siamese head shape is becoming too extreme as well. On a question from the floor if he is happy with the extreme  Persian with bigger nose leather and nostrils, his answer was that a group of vets and surgeons  still need to investigate if  this will improve the respiratory problems in Persians.

He has the following advice for registering bodies:
1. Where available, genetic testing should be included in the SOP for specific breeds.
2. Registering bodies should be more active in enforcing breeds to be tested. Breed groups should be given the action to monitor.
3. New breeders should be men- World Cat Congress Seminar, continued from page 2   tored. They usually start with 2 to 3 cats and soon have more than 20. This is when behaviour problems start and cats become more susceptible for illnesses and a greater chancefor FIP to develop in a  cattery.
4. If  registering bodies are not starting to introduce proper breed guidelines, someone else, like government organisations,  will. Worldwide, after the spectacle at the dog show in the UK, there is a feeling by the public that governments should step in if the registering bodies don’t.

Professor Gryffud-Jones is also a breeder of Abyssinian cats.

Professor Leslie Lyons

Professor Lyons from the UC Davis in Los Angeles is well known in South Africa after her appearance at the WCC seminar in Johannesburg in 2011. Her presentation extended from last year and she discussed: Genetic Tests for Cat Diseases & Traits – Their use in cat breed management.

Her presentation complemented  the presentation from Professor Gruffyd-Jones extremely well.

She discussed tests available for the following diseases:

1. PKD: A test is available for the Persian and Exotic and all breeds classified in the Persian family like British Shorthair, Selkirk Rex, Scottish Fold and Chartreux.

2. Pyruvate Kinase Deficiency: A test is available for a red blood cell disorder in Maine Coons, Bengal, Singapura, Abyssinians and Somali.

3. Feline Retinal Degeneration: A test is available for blindness in Abyssinian, Somali, Javanese, Balinese and Singapura.

4. Hypokalemia: A test is available  for a potassium shortage in European Burmese.

5. Head Defect: A new test is available for the head defect in American Burmese. In this breed she said that the only way to eradicate this defect was to outcross to the European Burmese.

She also mentioned the following:

1. Blood tests are available for A, B and AB types.

2. 4 genes have been discovered for the mutations in Persian coats.

Mrs Sara Riviere: PRO Royal Canin

After lunch Royal Canin provided the congress with new developments in their specialist food. They will keep on developing the correct diet for animals suffering  from certain diseases. They believe  that the diet you provide your animals should be the first medicine  you provide your animal should your animal be sick.

The Executive Management and Delegates of WCC officially thanked Royal Canin for their involvement  in the cat fancy to improve  the care of our cats. Their generous sponsorships across the world were acknowledged.

Colours, Patterns and Textures on  the Coats of British Shorthairs

This session was quite interesting  from a cat judge point of few as some British Shorthair Breeders are experimenting with different colours and patterns than the traditional  blue and black. All the attendees  were divided into groups to identify the colours and patterns being presented. Several patterns like patched, tabbies, including ticked and silver tabbies were presented. This provided  apassionate debate between the international judges present and the local breeders.

The Education of Student - Judges  and Judges in WCC Member Bodies

The final point on the Agenda was the presentation of each WCC member on the program a student-judge will follow in each one of the member bodies to become a judge and judge to become an all-breeds judge. SACC was the only association, according to what each organization presented, that will accept  students  without breeding experience. In general the fastesttime in what a judge could qualify to be an all-breeds judge in any of the association was around 6 years.

The following was the minimum  general requirements to be accepted as a judge in any of the WCC members:

1.  Breeding experience of at least 5 years.

2.  Involvement in the cat fancy for more than 5 years.

3.  Stewarding at show for more than 5 years.

At the end of the day another successful  WCC seminar ended and being my 3  seminar that I had the privilege to attend, I experienced  the value for SACC to remain  a member of this international  body. It is such a pity that not more of our members can attend the seminar every year.

1  Lethal degenerative disease of brain, spinal cord or nerves.   2  Also known as “the lethal gene”, not found in the type of Burmese for which we breed.

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