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Profile: Procurl Harem American Curls in New York City - Caroline Scott
CURLS AND THE FAMILY
1/ How and when did your interest for cats start?
We started breeding Curls in 1990 , after we started showing them in 1986. We started with a household pet American Curl. That show association, TICA, had a division called Apparent Pedigree Household pets. That is how we learned about the breed and showing in general. We were hooked. We became friends with Geri Hamilton and Ann Wilson of New Jersey Curl Catteries. Both wanted to retire from curls and asked us if we wanted to use their Quad Grand Champion in TICA, Geris Carbon Copy as our stud to start us off. This was amazing fate, as he was the very first Curl we ever saw 2 years earlier and started us loving Curls. Geri, Ann, and Roslyn Hirsch, all thought we would make good prospects for continuing the breed since we showed them so well and really loved them. So we had our first litter in 1990 with Carbon Copy and a girl from Roslyn named Mirabelle. We were on our way. 20 years ago. Also we personally showed in TICA, Carbon Copy to achieve his very deserving Supreme Grand Champion Status in 1990 also.
2/ When you got together with your partner, were both of you just as “cat crazy” or did one of the partners have the cats in to the bargain?
I only had an apple head Siamese and a household pet named Petal that passed away in 1886. Helmut, my life partner since 1983, took me to visit the Madison Square Garden Cat Show after Petal passed on. That is where I saw my first Curl, Geris Carbon Copy. Little did I possible realize, he would be our foundation male to our Curl legacy only 2 years later. Life is amazing that way.
3/ Can it sometimes be a problem that one of the parties concerned might not be as interested in cats as the other one and think the cats takes too much time?
Not the case in our home. We take equal time with the kittens and adults and love them to sit on our laps and get treats from us all the time. They are the last thing I see when closing my eyes at night as one of them is in my arms. We do not have human kids, so these are our children. Our current 4 females and 4 males were achieved after years of experimenting with getting something from column A and something from Column B each year. We achieved the best of the best in outgoing, affectionate temperaments, and standard confirmation. It took a very long time and I smile when I think of all the early moorings driving to crazy cat show places just to present them proudly to a judge. Hours and hours of flying all over the country and rental cars.
4/ How about the cats and children? Does the children sometimes think that the cats takes too much time? And is the children careful when picking up cats and cuddle them?
We do not have children, but our neighbors do and they handle them all the time. We go for walks with kitten in a carrier and harness. When we stop in a park, kids always come to pet them and we let them. People that want to buy our kittens for their families have to come over first and let us be introduced to their kids. I look deep into that child's eyes and have them tell me they will never intentionally yell or hurt Curlie, or something really bad will happen to them. That does it every time, but not selling kittens to households where there are boys under 6 years old is best policy. Then I laugh and say you will love this baby Curl and always be kind and give it protection and never never let it go outside to run away? I can usually tell if this might work for our babies, we are very careful. Many people do not qualify either. We have prepared a very extensive questionnaire before we even talk to anyone. It is like buying a home for all the checking and paperwork involved. We stay in contact over the years making it our extended family and people are very very happy often adding up to 4 eventually.
5/ Do you have time to spare for other interests or do the cats take all available time?
I could say they do not take all my time, but they do. We have a big loft in NYC, and they have the master bedroom naturally. My husband, Helmut is a painter and they enjoy giving criticism to his work. He equally is gently and loves them very very much.
I am a hat designer and artist too, and hope to get back into commercials and basic modeling again. I did that for many years and stopped to attend Audio Engineering school. Now I would like to again. I dream of a place for the Curls on TV and in advertising. I always think of great ads with Curls as subjects and now it is happening in 2010.
6/ Why did you start breeding?
To introduce CFA, the most prestigious feline registry in the world, to the American Curl. After showing in TICA, we just awaited the day until they were accepted in CFA, which happened in 1992. Only 11 years after first discovered in Southern California when Shulamith appeared on a door step one day.
We were asked to carry on a task of insuring the Curl breed would not die out in the East Coast. We were honored to consider such a challenge and took to learning with each litter and strengthening each component of the curl “look” and to achieve the perfect Curl in our minds eye. It is indeed a challenge and a very very important one to us. Of course there is no perfect Curl, but we have gotten very close, that is what keeps us going . Being among the most creative and respected breeders in CFA.
7/ Why did you choose to breed the American Curls?
For the spiritual feeling I received from holding my first Curl, Carbon Copy in 1986. I KNEW there was something very very special about them. They give off a calming and happy vibe like a great and funny acquaintance that becomes your best friend you can share anything with and they completely understand it. That is a Curl buddy for you.
8/ What made you choose the prefix you have?
We were driving back from a show in the early days of TICA thinking if we ever had a cattery it would named FUN FURZ or FREAKY PEAKS, I forget which one, but a favorite song started to play on the radio, “A Whiter Shade of Pale” by Procal Harum. I immediately said wow! PROCURL HAREM! That’s it!!! So we registered our cattery with CFA and had our first litter with that name and we still love it.
9/ When you started to breed, what colors/varieties did you choose and why?
We naturally wanted every kitten to be black and white exactly like Carbon Copy, and it happened with only one kitten which we kept for our program named Procurlharem To CURL A MOCKINGBIRD. She was our first dam of our name. We got to liking the color points after we got several in some litters, and the blue eyes took my breath away. So we now specialize in that color. Light body fur, and blue eyes with extremities of color as a colorpoint Siamese. That gene came from somewhere in an outcross domestic we believe. We naturally love the red and white bi-colors and most people want that combo from our national winner in CFA, Procurlharem CURL HAND LUKE.
He was really stunning red, and his red and white babies look and act just like him. Judges all know when a kitten is out of LUKE.
10/ Do you still breed these colors/varieties or has your taste changed?
We still breed these colors. We have 2 Calico girls we breed with LUKE's son, CURL HAND LUKE JR.(LUKE Sr. was neutered Oct 1 2010) to achieve these Red and Whites. To get our outstanding blue eyed color points, we have Procurlharem LEONARDO DICAPRICURL from our own breeding, and a colorpoint girl NYCurl to get these very rare color points. Soon we will breed Chocolates when our new addition male will breed to our chocolate tortoiseshell girl, Bunny. (Procurlharem Leanmean Curlin Machine)
11/How many varieties do you have?
Only Longhair, and many colors, but primarily red and whites, and the very rare outstanding blue eyed color points.
12/ How long has you bred the bi colors, calico color?
We specialized in LUKE's colors since he achieved his CFA National Win in 2000, and color points since 2005. Many years of exporting Curls from other countries for new blood, while constantly working towards the standard. A very long road, and it paid off today, October 2010.
13/ How many cats do you have? (breeds, male/female, breed/pet, adults/kittens)
8 total American
14/ And - how many litters do you usually have in a year?
Each of our 4 breeding females has one or 2 litter per year.
15/ What’s important in a breed plan?
That you can afford breeding, be willing to stay active in showing what you are doing to improve the breed constantly, being a great mentor, stay in constant contact with other curl breeders, and have facilities for breeding ie professional cages, well lit , with fresh air. To be there when having a litter, keeping accurate birthing records so not to over breed, and sacrificing many vacations to be with potentially sick litter or adults. It is a 24 hour a day obligation and joy.
Be sure you can be there at birthing, and to handle the babies from day one. To keep them warm and make sure at 5 weeks they eat well on their own. Plan always when to be there when due, and give intranasal vaccines at 2,9,12, and regular shots at 4 months old. This way you keep all kittens healthy and nothing gets transferred from shedding shots in traditional way. You have to keep spraying males happy and breed them, and let them run about each day with diapers on. They have to come out and be part of the family. Not all whole cats get along, and they should be given lots of attention. If you cannot do that, then do not breed and keep them in a cage all the time. It is not fair nor a good plan. You must always keep a chart of when bred, pinking and due date, and vaccine records. It has to be run with time for cleaning and sifting 3 times a day, and washing with soap and water the food and water bowls every day. We use Crystal Cat litter that has NO odor. It absorbs into the crystals. A miracle--also a cat tree very tall with sisal and scooped platforms so curlie does not fall off. Very important for it to be sisal or rope. Carpet is not good for climbing and cats need that for conditioning and well being as a human does with exercise- it is vital.. You must show also to be a good breeder. Why are you breeding if not to show what you are improving and progressing in for the breed?
16/ If you look for a new queen/stud for your breeding, what qualities do you look for?
To be a happy and people loving, spirited, life-loving Curl first, then we go to the ear set and height, then a strong chin, then the silky coat. Body is important and a long tail naturally. But this is order of importance that is most hard to achieve consistently for each or one Curl. It takes several.
17/ What’s the hardest thing in breeding?
All the experience in the world cannot prepare one or prevent heartache if a baby does not make it. Curls do not have birthing problems or very rarely stillborn kittens, or I could not breed them.
Only once a female could not push out a baby and I could do nothing. I cannot ever ever get over that. It happened years ago, but I never forget that dear baby. Everything else comes with experience. I had every book and every tool at my side and someone on the phone when our first was due. I was a wreck. But we finally learned that Curls can do things quite well by themselves. We've never had Curl need a cesarean or anything related to birthing. Curls are very good mothers and very capable of doing things on their own. That one unfortunate time was due to a lack of the mothers inertia from a bad tooth which we did not know about. You learn all the time and have to go on, and all worked out OK. Curls have no birthing problems ever. Breeding Curls is serious and so we are very careful who we place breeding Curls with that want to start breeding them. These potential owners have to show one of our curls in CFA for a year to know our breed and be in constant contact with us . We always co own the sires and dams.
18/ Do you have a cat/kitten that’s special for you?
Yes those girls from our beloved SANDY HOOKS who passed away 3 years ago. Then her mother TO CURL A MOCKINGBIRD died right afterwards, and she came from our first love, CARBON COPY. We now breed and show GC Procurlharem MADELEINE CURLBRIGHT, the great great granddaughter of Carbon Copy, because that is our look, and to always have a girl from his lines going. We just lost in Oct 2010 Procurlharem Diamonds R A Curls Best Friend. It was devastating to us, but we must go forward loving and carrying her legacy forward. Thank you DeeDee, Sandy, Birdy, and Carbon Copy for our special life with American Curls and that their love of people and goodness they bring out in everyone, goes on forever. Had to say that here.
19/ Can you make money breeding cats?
No. It all goes back into breeding , teeth cleaning at NYC prices , renting cars to get to shows, airline tickets, and litter. Forget any profit. I do not want to ever sit down and figure out that. I may see something in the numbers I do not want to, so I do not really think so to be honest.
20/ What made you start showing your cats?
Seeing a classification for household pets being shown at that Garden Show, we took our SEEZER curl- apparent pedigree to that TICA show and showed him in household pet class. It was the biggest thrill to see a ribbon on his cage. Just a best of color ribbon which means nothing because he was the only one, but we proudly took it and hung it on our benching cage and swelled with pride.
21/ How did the very first show turn out – positive or negative memories and why?
Amazing memories. We knew nothing of cage curtains or supplies. So we showed up with nothing but a cat. A woman next to us gave us a towel and something like a sheet to put over our cage. It was hilarious looking now that I look back. She became a very very close friend helping us along the way throughout the years. We got to know many people and have for 20 years. It is such a wonderful hobby in that way.
22/ What’s good and what’s bad at the cat shows of today?
Good competition is important. It keeps one on their toes and keeps things real.
If you get a ribbon from one judge one weekend, your cat may not get a ribbon from the same judge a week later...It is a beauty pageant and all cats change from week to week. They can be a bit off, or someone else shines more that week. It is frustrating and you always think it is political. It may be the smallest part in very few instances, but judges are fair and I have to believe that and we must because we still show year after year. You want to show what you have accomplished and there is nothing then really knowing you have a great kitten and cannot wait to get it out there to see judges faces. It is exhilarating if they think like you do, and very disappointing if they don’t give it any look at all. Then you sit there an stare off thinking what happened to that? But it always reveals itself in the end. Sometimes breeders become cattery blind and cannot see flaws and blame it on anything but the their cat. It is exhilarating when a judge loves your cat too. You get a rush like the best high ever. It is very enlightening and you feel wonderful.
23/ Everything changes with time. Are the cat shows of today perfect or is there something that in your opinion needs to change? (Perhaps show rules or something else, like breed standards)
We in CFA have kept the same standard for some time.
24/ How do you keep your cats? (For example do you have separate stud houses to the males...)
Since we have a large New York City loft space, we have a large art studio/cat room. We keep the 4 males separated from the 4 females to prevent unplanned pregnancies and having too many litters at once. Curls will go into silent heat cycles at within 4 weeks of having kittens, and they can be in heat at 5 months old, so the boys have their private spaces and take turns throughout the day with their Fancy Pants on that I designed for spraying males not to mark furniture in hopes of attracting females in heat. When a girl is in heat, we put her in a specific area until it is over, and use Feliway plug in pheromone diffuser. This is a great product for keeping the mating smells to a minimum so heat cycles are only a few days and not as often as without this product. It also keeps down the calling which can be pretty noisy in a New York City loft with neighbors so close. So we keep our breeding males and females ratio to a minimum while guaranteeing good confirmations and affectionate personalities. Both vital in a good Curl breeding program.
25/ Do your cats have access to outside runs?
No. It is New York City. But they run free in 1000 feet of space daily with tall sisal cat trees and plenty of window space for watching seagulls and pigeons. Occasionally we take them in a harness and carrier outside in the part across the street. People love to see them. I have taken a potential show kitten to stores so unfamiliar people interact with them early.
26/ Do you think the food you give your cats is important and what food do you give your cats? Beauty and conditioning start from the inside out with animals as well as humans.
It is vital Curls get nutrients for longhair coats to be shiny with minimal shedding.
We have tried all foods and Eukanuba adult is the best digested by kittens and adults. We give the kittens Eukanuba kitten formula at 5 weeks old up to the time they are placed at 3 months old. This bowl is out all day and fresh big water bowls of water throughout the loft. A big bonus to great Curl coats, is a stick of real butter in a dish for them to lick when they want to. It stays near the food at all times. A vey 20 years ago told us the butter keeps the skin moist and thus not as much shedding as without because the fur does not fall out as much. Also big factor is the natural B vitamins it provides daily. It is not a fattening agent as they only lick it and take it in when the body needs it.
Kittens and adults get wet food 2 times a day also. Usually a Purina product they like ie Friskies Prime Filet of Beef with Gravy is key to their eating and nutrition. Some prefer the shredded, some like the tender cuts, some like just the smooth consistency with no chunks. How do we do this so all are happy? We give a small banquet like a cafeteria style morning and night. At least 4 flavors are put down and they eat what they like. We always use steel pans and bowls for sanitary reasons as germs do not get into the crevices and form bacteria like plastic. I always say to use ceramic, glass, or steel only for food and water dishes, changing the water daily naturally in a huge salad bowl. They like that, and some stand in it up to their chests! Curls love water as a trait and will even jump into the shower with owners. Very funny.
27/ Is there a question I should have asked and didn’t and can you in that case please answer it for me?
Q. What do you provide to your new kitten owners whether show or house pet buyers?
A. Assuming the new owner has answered our extensive questionnaire to our liking and we “know” the persons best we can, they get updated every 2 weeks with kittens clips and pictures for printing out of their new buddy. At time of pick-up we provide a health record with all vaccine labels affixed including dates and when to spay or neuter date. We do not alter young kittens as our vets and various studies have proven that for indoor cats owned by responsible people, it is really detrimental to the kittens small bone development for proper growth. Bone marrow nutrients are vital for growing kittens, and we do follow up that the new owners do alter them from 6-7 months old by calling and emailing until we are sent the proof from their vet. We provide much information on cat trees, scratching post tips, how to cut the nails with diagrams, introducing your new Curl kitten it’s new home. A list of kitten needs and grooming instructions with a grooming DVD in real time if a show kitten home. We want each person to have a real buddy in their lives as a family member and that is a Procurl Harem American Curl.
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