Its been literaly months since I posted about the Helki breed. There has been so much that has happened since I decided not to blog. Lets see if I can fill you all in. For those of you who don't breed cats, let me tell you its not an easy hobby. Its time consuming, life altering, you never make a dime. There is a lot of paperwork, legalities, record keeping, and animal caring that MUST happen. When you are working with an estabilished breed you can keep only a few cats because there are many more breeders out there holding on to lines that can be used in the future. When you are working with a rare or new breed keeping your gene pool swimmingly fresh is a whole other ballgame. When cat fanciers are asked how many cats they have they often reply with "too many". Its the appropriate response given the witch hunt mentality of the world at large. What is scary is when its not cat breeders but rescuers, and cat lovers all over saying this. I came to realize during the summer that the pedigree breeders, rescuers, and cat lovers need to unite and stop our government from telling us how many cats we can own. If the welfare of the cats is good then why can't a person own many cats? The welfare of the animals is what is key. It seems easy for the world to see a house of many cats and say "crazy cat lady" or the new and popular "hoarder". While hoarding is a serious mental condition it should be pretty easy to pick out true hoarders from people who own many cats. I wont get into this enlarge today, but it makes me angry to hear that a good cat breeder whose animals are well cared for is being villianized in the news and throughout their community.
Why am I so outraged? Well because not only has this happened to friends all too recently but it also happened to me. Thankfully the "authorities" came in and looked about my home and said the case was unfounded. The scary thing... all it takes is a call. One person doesn't like you or what you've said and they can anonymously call you in. I think the scariest thing is that it targeted not only my animals but my children. It was a wake up call that has made me a bit of an activist. It has also made me more cautious as to what I post and say on the interwebs about my own household. I screen my Facebook friend invites and I am cautious to the 'Nth" degree. I took down all kinds of info on my website and I stopped blogging. But that is just the beginning of this tale.
Now if that wasn't hard enough to get out here is the most difficult thing to say. My kitten mortality rate was really bad. I was at the point where I was going to stop breeding for the fear that the breed was not viable. There were no, known illnesses detected. There were many different reasons the kittens weren't making it. There seemed to be no real pathology and that was the scary part. I started to wonder if the kittens were just weak. I started to isolate litters and I was very careful about what was going on with them and began to notice that the litters would be healthy until they were allowed out of their enclosures and onto the carpet. The house was old and not as well cared for as it should have been before we moved in. We lived in this house for five years not knowing what was growing throughout the house. I got severely ill, enough I could no longer work. Everyone in the house had sinus issues. The signs were there, but we didn't know there was black mold growing rampant through the home. Thankfully we moved, and within two weeks my blood pressure was automatically down and my thyroid levels were spot on after two difficult years. That was when I decided it might be ok to try again.
Ok so here I am trying again to be cautious for the protection of my breed and family. I'd love to tell you how many Helki kittens are running around without a sign of illness, but I will just say this the kitten mortality rate is at an amazing all time low. I was guarded, and worried. Still ready to shut the whole thing down, but the mystery illness and infections that plagued my kittens in the old house are non existent now. I am not using different breed stock then I did before, the only thing that changed was where we live now. My conclusion is that the problems from before was because of black mold. While I am thankful to know why, it still hurts to think of the cats I lost in this fight. My health has improved also, the only major issue that continues to bother me is my arthritis. I still have some issues with fibro and CFS but they are much better then before. Some of which I think is because I've learned how to manage my illness better and reduce fatigue.
So there you have it. A lot of cat breeds have issues in the beginning. Bengals had issues with mates killing each other. Manx, munchkins, and Scottish Folds still have issues where they cant mate homozygous without a high kitten mortality rate. And there are many other examples, but truth be told, speaking out about these issues is not easy. In fact its down right scary. I've been lucky to have a strong network of friends, mentors, and advisers to help me through this. I am thankful for their input and help.
I'd love to give the power forward speech. I'd love to see more awareness about black mold and how it affects people and their pets. Overall, the most difficult part is moving forward. Everyday I wonder if starting a breed is the right thing to do. Recently I read a excerpt from the CFA Almanac regarding the Bombay breeding program and it really hit home. Starting a new breed is not for the faint of heart. Its not for those who want glory, its not for people who care more about awards then their cats. Its a job for those who know how to stick to a goal and proceed. Its for those who love people and cats. Its for those who can network and stay critical and positive at the same time. This is a struggle that is worthwhile and so I continue even in the face of adversity.
Now for some lovely pictures:
Tae (daughter of Pixie) and Kiyame her auntie
tomorrow breed selection and scoring