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President & Founder:
Mrs S LeCocq 
 2 Sydenham Villas 
 Janvrin Road 
 St Helier 
Channel Islands
 Tel: 01534 7 36820

The Heirs, 
                 by Kay Hill

Kay Hill was a well-known breeder of beautiful Siamese cats. Her prefix, Hambleton, and Hambleton Simon, will be found in many of the old pedigrees. She was also a member of staff in Yorkshire racing stables for many years.

When I started breeding Siamese as against owning them, I was lucky enough to live on a [horse] stud farm and listen to some of the great names of the bloodstock world discussing bloodlines and pedigrees. 

As the talk went far on into the night, and the table became heaped with pedigrees, sales catalogues and racing records, and the names of horses long-dead were brought up as part of a planned blueprint mating, it dawned on me what a long-term affair the true breeding of a pedigree animal should be, and I was horrified when I entered the world of cat breeding to find how casual and short-term most of it was. (It is a ridiculous idea that you can instantly get a better head or a finer tail fixed into your bloodline by a single mating.) 

There were, in fact, with a few notable exceptions (and they were successful over years), no true bloodlines at all, just hit-or-miss matings and fluke winners. Worst of all, stamina and longevity were sacrificed for show points. The weakest kittens, dragged up on antibiotics, were kept as breeding stock and proudly described as “typey” when in fact, they could have been more aptly described by the Yorkshire word for the runt of the litter: the “wreckling”. 

So the wrecklings were reared and mated to others like them, and the stamina, the longevity, the temperament, and some of the beauty of the Siamese were largely bred out, and brought heartbreak to many pet owners who expected at least a dozen years of companionship and love. 

It is not easy, I know, to discard a beautiful cat as breeding stock and have her neutered because you know in your heart of hearts that she will never produce and rear a litter with ease and gaiety, but it has to be done. I remember asking at a show: “What on earth is a fading kitten?” because I had never had one, and I would never have repeated a mating that produced one. 

Once you have established several generations of long-lived healthy cats that produce kittens easily, which look beautiful and live to their appointed span, then it is possible to breed back to the original stock with safety and make it your own true line of blood with reasonable certain results. Make certain that any new blood is researched for longevity, stamina and temperament for several generations before being introduced. (A famous breeder with a number of Champions at stud told me some ten years ago that there were only two lines of blood in all England that she dared to introduce into her own). 

If the old plush-coated Siamese were to appear today I believe it would cause a sensation: and I believe that when this completely waterproof and weatherproof pelt (as against hairs) was bred out, the resistance to colds and chest complaints went with it. 

You would need, if you were painting this coat, the faintest touch of pink in your brush both for the heavenly pale colouring and the darker warmer back. 

You would find the delicate tracings on the mask lasting into extreme old age, and the kitten would have that faintly, deliciously scented fur, like chrysanthemums, described by Michael Joseph in his classic “Charles”. 

When your cat got tired of you she could go out into rain, hail, sleet or snow without causing an instant of worry, and return to you with the skin on her back completely dry. 

Comparing notes with Sir Compton Mackenzie (the President of the Siamese Cat Club), he wrote in 1962 that his Siamese on a Scottish Island were as tough as farm cats, and that certain breeders were spoiling the Siamese exactly as they had diminished some breeds of sporting dogs, notably the Poodle, in pursuit of show success. 

I believe in the Buddhist saying: “We are heirs to our actions”, or, if you like it better, we reap what we sow. Let us see to it, at least, that our cats do not reap the harvest of human folly, ambition and greed. 


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Last Updated 01/29/2009.
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