The "Sometimes Rocky" Road to Grand Championship


Some of you may remember my story about my very first litter upon my return to the cat fancy - my queen’s water broke 6 days early and I spent the next week anxiously by her side until her delivery - at 5:00 AM on the floor of my cat room on a quilt that we had both been sleeping on. Kira presented me with the kittens by dropping them in my hand and waited patiently until I cleaned and checked each one. The last kit to be born was a tiny dilute calico, who I began to bottle feed to ensure she got enough milk.

That tiny dilute calico grew quickly, her eyes wide as saucers, with tiny ears and beautiful round head - "a perfect specimen," I was later told by a persian breeder who is also a judge. I named her WiccaCats Krystalle Lynne, after my beloved tortie that I lost at age 16. When she was four months old, I took her to her first cat show, just to see what others thought. Tiny and scared, Krystalle stared wide-eyed at the judges as she tried to figure out why they were looking and feeling of her head and body. A few other breeders came over to peer at both of us, wondering who I was and where she came from. "She’s cute," a couple of them said. But that was all, and I sadly wondered if I had made a mistake by bringing her.

Suddenly the final numbers were called, and someone poked me saying, "That’s your kitten." I grabbed her from her cage without even a swipe with a comb and hurried to the ring. The judge began describing each kitten as she placed them, explaining the attributes of each breed to the audience. Placing Krystalle on her table, the judge gently held onto her while she told the audience, "This beautiful dilute calico is only 4 months old and I’ll bet it’s her first show." I nodded dumbly as she went on to elaborate to the audience about Krystalle’s qualities and the Persian standard, "...and she’s my third best kitten." The judge finished as she hung the beautiful pink and white rosette on her cage. "Thank you. She’s the first of my breeding," I somehow managed to say as the judge signed our ribbon. "She’s beautiful," the judge said to me smiling, "She’s going to be awesome."

As Krystalle developed, she looked better and better - walking away with many many more finals as a kitten. At one memorable show Krystalle best in her class and division, however when they called the final, her number was not among the selectees. Disheartened that our favorite judge was not going to select her for the final, I ran to my friend, almost in tears. "There must be an error," my friend said, "Are you sure? Let’s check." I stood back on the sidelines while Jane went to talk with the clerk. Spotting and recognizing Jane, the judge said, "Where is my dilute calico? Where is your friend and her kitty?" Jane hesitated, "Well, her number isn’t up....." The judge said, "Get her!" Jane yelled to me, "Bring Krystalle." I ran to the benching area and grabbed her in my arms. When I reached the ring, the judge motioned for me to place her on the table, and looked at my tear streaked face. "Did you think I wasn’t going to use this beautiful baby in my final?" I replied softly, "They didn’t call her number, so I didn’t think you wanted to use her," The judge reached behind her and grabbed the biggest rosette - a white and silver flower made of ribbons and a cascade of streamers. "Would Best Kitten be all right?" the judge said smiling. I don’t remember much after that - the judge gave me a hug and held Krystalle up while the audience clapped. The "Kodak Moment" was lost however, as my camera lay forgotten at the benching area.

As Krystalle entered adulthood, my grooming skills were put to test, as I diligently worked through a variety of pet products, people products, and the like. Curlies that were overlooked as a kitten had to be perfectly dried, and I invested in a high volume blow dryer and special combs and grooming tools to manage her magnificent coat. Some of my more experienced cat friends rallied to try and teach me the art of sculpting to accent her beautiful features. Feeling like a 10 year old trying to apply high fashion makeup, I struggled to create the look the judges wanted. Just like with "people makeup" - the ultimate goal is to look completely natural - with "less is definitely more". However, with the help of my special friends, we were on our away again, taking finals in open class, championing, and quickly accumulating grand points. With Krystalle barely a year old, we set out for the International Cat Show - a gala 3-day event which was a mere 800 miles from home!

Although a once in a lifetime experience that I will cherish (especially the international show ribbons!) and a wonderful opportunity to learn about breeding and cat care in general - our show career began it’s downward spiral at its conclusion. During the trip home, Krystalle came into raging season, calling most of the night, which earned me strange looks from our motel neighbors at breakfast the next morning. Determined to coax her through it, I hoped for the best as I prayed that she would hold her luscious Winter coat. However, this time the fates were not with us. On the day before Thanksgiving, I awoke to find Krystalle digging furiously at her right ear. Fearing she had picked up ear mites or worse, I raced her to our vet. It wasn’t ear mites and it wasn’t fungus - just a reaction to some kind of allergen - which a few days of medication took care of. The damage was done, though. My beautiful dilute calico now had a bald patch on her right ear that had once been blue. Although her doctor optimistically told me the hair should grow back quickly, I sat home weekend after weekend as the show season passed, refusing to go out without my beautiful Krystalle.


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Article Author: 

Jean Dugger