Julie Stanton Welch

I attempt to own the Bengal Cat, with spotty success...

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Our cats and our humans - love and grief

All cat owners grieve the deaths of their cats. At least all of the owners I know. I have never asked why but I've wondered why people grieve in different ways and for different lengths of time. I may be wrong in my assumption that all cat owners grieve at all. I've also wondered why we grieve our cats and our humans differently.

This was on my mind because I was updating some writing samples and came across something I wrote in 2008. I had lost two cats in two days. One died of Feline Infectious Peritonitis and another died of Cardiomyopathy. I was not prepared for either death. I did not know that one cat was sick. I knew that the other cat was sick but just for just several days. Mariah had to be put to sleep. Shelby died instantly of heart failure.
Their sudden absence was more than I could comprehend. This is what I wrote at the time. I felt like sharing it today. I have more questions about grief, one is about why we might grieve our cats in a different way than we do our humans. I might write about the questions, I might not. I do not want to think about it too much but I think that when insight into something I fear comes to me, I better express it. I mention a third cat named Seamus. He was a cat that was my good-natured soul mate. At that time I'd had him for 12 years.
I still feel Mariah's spirit with me. She was that special cat just for me that set off a whole series of events. I feel Shelby too. She was so quiet and sweet. I keep seeing her in my peripheral vision. She was so much a part of the house. I keep stepping over her in the dark even though she isn't there. 
I am not that strong but I am trying to be strong. I cry at specific times: When I'm in the shower and when I get into bed. Mariah used to sit behind the shower curtain and poke me while I took a shower. Every once in a while she would slide right into the tub and get soaked. So I always think of her in there. 
She also loved to sleep with me. She always wanted to be tucked under my chin and she'd knead my neck. Seamus would try to curl up with me and Mariah would head butt him right out of the way every time. And if Seamus got there before she did, Mariah would sink her little teeth in Seamus' rear end or his neck until he gave up and went away! 
Shelby would join us in the morning. She would quietly curl up at about my waist and let out little squeaks when I would scratch her back. She would roar like a cougar at Seamus though. They were territorial about me and the kitten. So I cry in the shower and in my bed. But I must bathe and sleep. And for now, cry...sometimes. I don't want to sleep. But I am so tired.
This didn't make me cry today. I just remembered it. So at some point in the last 5 years I stopped actively grieving for my cats. I have heard that we grieve our pets more than our humans because our pets are actually closer to us. Our cats love us unconditionally. But I still cry for my mother and sister and I think of them every day. I lost my mother and sister in 1995 and 1997. We loved each other like humans love each other, sometimes it hurts.

When we lose humans we love, it hurts forever.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Snow Bengal Cat Purr-fection on Instagram

I have never broken lamps or mirrors. I've never even chewed any electric cords. I absolutely never knock everything off the nightstand to get Meowmy to wake up.. #BengalCats #instakotik #badkitty #bengalcatsofinstagram #cat #catstagram #cats #catoftheday #catsofinstagram #snowbengal by @seamuskitty

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Gene Ducote: What could Bengal Breeders have done better?

Seamuskitty: What are the most important things the inheritors of your legacy have done right and what could they have done better?

Gene: Now this is controversial, and we are all entitled to our opinions...but this is mine. And I think Jean (Mill) would agree. 

I have always felt that the most unique feature of the Bengal, what sets it apart from all other breeds, is its incredibly wild-patterned coat. 

No other domestic breed has markings like this, it is truly the most distinctive feature of the breed, and for thousands of years, man has been drawn to the beauty of the gorgeous rosetted coats of leopards and ocelots. 

We're seeing Bengals out there now who have even more incredible coats and markings that its wild ancestors. 

So yes, I am thrilled with what breeders are doing.

Ok, since I have stuck my neck out here, I'll bring up another controversial subject, where many will disagree with my views. But it's my opinion, take it or leave it. 

To me, a big factor in the beauty of the Bengal's pattern and one that is even mentioned in the Standard, is contrast.

No matter what the pattern, without good contrast, the pattern is lost. I said this long ago when there was so much ticking in coats that you could hardly see the markings, and I think it's just as bad with charcoals. 

Charcoals, to me, are the exact opposite of what we've been working towards for a quarter of a century. 

So this is the one aspect of current breeding programs that I am not happy with, the use of charcoals. And remember...recessives are forever!!!

There will always be the negative aspect of breeding, those who breed just for quantity, regardless of what the cats look like. 

All breeds have this, and I suppose there's not much that can be done about it. 

I've always believed that ultimately, the public demand for the "real thing" will win out.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Gene Ducote: What have Bengal Breeders done right?

Gene Ducote (Gogees) was one of the earliest Bengal Breeders and was one of the founders of The International Bengal Cat Society. She watched the breed develop as new Bengal Breeders took progeny from her program and other early programs and made choices that created the Bengal we see today.

The International Cat Association provides a general description of the Bengal  and a specific Bengal Breed standard yet Breeders have always had differing ideas about what the Bengal Cat should be. 

I wanted to know what Gene thought about how the breed turned out...

...so I asked her. She had a lot to say! I have divided her response into two posts.

Seamuskitty: What are the most important things the inheritors of your legacy have done right and what could they have done better?

Gene: I think this is the normal progression of a breed, any breed, and I am happy to say that I am thrilled with the way the breed has progressed. By virtue of photos that I see posted on facebook and the web, I see most breeders very proudly displaying cats that come very close to what Jean Mill originally had in mind for the breed.

Of course I can't speak for Jean Mill, 

...but I think her goal was to produce a domestic cat with the spectacular beauty of the wildcats. We've got that now, and even more!! 

I never dreamed we'd be seeing such incredible cats as what we're seeing now, 

...and I'm curious to think about what we'll see in another 10 years. 

How much better can it get?

Next: Gene's controversial response...

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Gene Ducote answers the Question...

To Gene Ducote:
What are the most important things the inheritors of your legacy have done right and what could they have done better?
Coming soon....

Saturday, February 23, 2013

My Sapphire Shadow

What are Bengal cats? Let's talk.

Bengal cats were originally developed from crosses between domestic cats and the Asian Leopard Cat.

My Snow Bengal cat Sapphire sleeps next to me at night and follows me around during the day. She is a sweet companion.

Bengal cats come from Bengal to Bengal breeding only now.

They are active domestic cats that do not require special care.

This blog shall be a resource for all types of information on the Bengal cat. I will share my experiences and consult with experts to present the best information.

So let's talk about the Bengal cat!

Let's look at topics like food,veterinary care, litter and toys. We can also look at Bengal cat buying, breeding and showing. 

I would love to share what I know about Bengal cat photography and videography. Meanwhile look at my photos on Instagram and my videos on YouTube.

Please join this blog and feel free to ask questions.

I will do my best to find answers.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Rest Mariah

I posted this in October 2011 on the third anniversary of the FIP death of my Bengal kitten Mariah. FIP is the always fatal disease Feline Infectious Peritonitis. My seamuskitty wordpress blog has been closed down. You can read more about my story on my previous blog myindigosea

Three years ago, rest Mariah...

I knew I would be traveling for work this week so I posted pictures of Mariah on the facebook group FIP Fighters before I left for Houston. I cried ahead of time. She died on October 20, 2008.
I go on a trip at about this time every year. That year I was in Savannah enjoying beautiful weather and watching boats float by right outside of our meeting room. I worried about my kitty at home because when I left, she wasn’t quite right.
I came home on a Thursday and found that Mariah had developed the neurological symptoms of Dry FIP.  I didn’t know what it was. I had no clue and assumed she could be cured of whatever she had.
But she collapsed on Saturday and was gone on Monday. FIP is a merciless killer.
I couldn’t cry on my trip to Houston this week but I thought about her. I will think of her each year when I make the annual work trip, no matter where it is. I can cry now, I have the time and space.
Mariah started me off on the path of activism. Seeing her go from bright energetic kitten to a kitten shaken by seizures made something click in my mind and heart. So when I pack my car to go to a cat show with the FIP Fighters Booth I don’t think twice. I HAVE to do it.

Most of the time I end up sharing a box of kleenex with someone as they tell me about a loss. Grief is a process. If one isn’t allowed to pass through the stages with the support of loved ones, one gets stuck in protracted grief.
A lot of the time I see the look of relief on a breeder’s face when they realize FIP is not contagious. Every time I’m at a show I distribute info from the Winn Feline Foundation with their support. And with special support from Susan Gingrich, the founder of the Bria Fund. Susan is doing mirror FIP Fighter booths in the Mid-Atlantic area.
Poor Mariah showed me the horror of FIP. I reacted and did something. It is life and activism intertwined.
Thank you everyone who has donated to support the booth so I can inform about FIP and raise funds for Winn. Thank you to everyone who has donated directly to Winn. - Originally posted on seamuskitty.com October 21, 2011