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My interest in showing cats began when I was in my teens, with a handsome black domestic cat... named 'Fang'. On the morning of the first show, I set about bathing Fang to ensure he was free of 'vermin' and generally clean. Fang didn't enjoy his first morning dunk and finally shot out of the bathroom, trailing water and me with his towel. I caught up with the cat and dried him, as my father stumbled out of bed, slipped over in the water on the bathroom floor and cancelled my going to the show!
The second attempt wasn't any more successful. By now I had learnt to prepare the cat BEFORE the father got home! However, I was unaware of the finer details of preparation… clean ears! In those days we turned up at the shows to stand in line as each cat was 'vetted'. Fang and I made it to the table, only to have the vet announce loudly "Ear Mites". Fang and I were banished from the hall, me red faced and Fang probably bemused at these early morning activities that could arouse such emotions. A visit to the vet the next morning, only to be shown how to clean the ears and to be reassured there were no mites or other nasties. Oh well, another lesson learnt. I don't remember ever winning anything prestigious with my domestic cats.
Later I was given what I thought was a most beautiful Shaded Silver Persian that I called 'Sasha'. Sasha's greatest win was 'Best Eye Colour in the Silver Division'! But she produced two litters that were registered under my prefix Tacosa. I kept a male kitten 'Casper' and a female 'Ilia'. The girls were somewhat aloof and made nice silhouettes behind the curtains. Casper in contrast, was super friendly to the point of being a hazard in front of your feet. I loved my chinchilla's but didn't regret having them spayed and neutered. I vowed long hair cats and a young family were not a good combination. I later realised I had also learnt valuable lessons in cat genetics.
Eventually, it was time to add new felines to the family that already included husband Andrew and children Robbie, Emma and Luke. I began the search for an easy care, lovely to look at, personality plus cat... if there was such a breed. I saw many lovely creatures, but I wanted a cat that enjoyed being with people, wasn't scared of children and not over-the-top/in-your-face.
I phoned up about 'Ocicats' and went to see the breeder. As we approached the house we were greeted by a slim, biscuit coloured (cinnamon) cat that happily led us up the pathway. This little cat 'Tickles' had the nature I desired. It turned out that Tickles was the result of a mating between an English import Ocicat, Ch Jansied Tarzan (21) mated to an Abyssinian. I couldn't afford a higher generation hybrid let alone a full registered (which weren't available anyway), so here I started on my Ocicat breeding programme.
The breeder had mated Tickles to her father and produced spotted kittens, so I repeated the mating, producing my first litter of generation 2 of the required 4 generations to allow kittens to be registered on the full register. At that stage there were no other full registered Oci studs in the North Island. Of the four kittens produced, three were spotted and the other was a beautiful tawny classic tabby 'Tacosa Thumbelina' (gen2). Classic tabbies were ineligible for challenges, so Thumbelina was never really shown. In the meantime, Tickles' breeder had imported a very handsome chocolate Oci, IntCh/Dble Gd Ch Auxarcs Fire Dancer (imp USA). I was allowed to mate Thumbelina to Fire Dancer, producing three kittens. The two males (a choc and a cinnamon) were sold as pets. The chocolate female I kept for breeding and became Ch Tacosa Spanish Rose (gen 3), my first champion! The cinnamon boy was returned to me to be re-homed after his owner discovered she was very ill. Thomas, my 4th child had also arrived and somehow 'Zac' (Ch Tacosa Stormy gen 3) just never found a new home. I tentatively showed Zac at the Hibiscus coast show, where he won the first in-show award for a Tacosa (Oci)cat. We were finally on our way!
Zac had a liaison with my sister's lilac point Siamese (carrying spots) that resulted in 3 chocolate spotted female kittens, one of whom was the beautiful Tacodah Onca Pentada (26v-hybrid).
In 1997 we 'bit-the-bullet' and imported the magnificent BC Katz Halawa from the USA. Lava is now a Silver Double Grand Champion and has featured in the NZCF Annual Top 10 Awards for 1998, 1999 and 2000! His kittens that have been shown have done exceptionally well for a minority breed. Champions Tacosa Hine Hukatere (gen 3) and her daughter Optispot Trouble Seeker have had several 'In-show' awards and 'Breeders Awards of Merit' prior to taking on family duties. 2001 saw Optispot Aroha join Milwaukee Ocicats in Sweden qualifying as a Swedish champion at her first show. Many thanks to Linnea Johannson.
Premiers include Tacosa Ruamoko (gen 3) and Tacosa Hinemoa (gen 3). 2001 saw Tacosa Hine Huone (gen 3) acquire the prestigious title of Silver Double Grand Premier, thanks to Sharon and Brian Cornere.
Other kittens to win In-show awards include Optispot Samba (owned by Diana & Glen Monro) and Tacosa Solar Flare (gen 3).
Since 1996 full registered kittens have been registered under my second prefix 'Optispot'. From the 2000/2001 show season, all kittens have been registered under the Optispot prefix.
2001 saw the edition to our 'family' of Halifax Night Hawk and IC BC Katz Ahinahina from Sweden. 'Night Hawk' is a magnificent chocolate Classic Tabby that will hopefully reproduce his strong 'type' in his offspring here. 'Nina', originally from Hawaii, is a 5 yr old cinnamon silver queen. She is almost at the end of her breeding days, but has produced successful offspring in her adopted homeland of Sweden. I am hoping Nina will also make a valuable contribution to our New Zealand Ocicats. Nina will be spayed before the end of 2002!
Optispot Truly Scrumptious (gen 3) is a chocolate spotted kitten that I ran on from last year. Being 'Aphrodite's' daughter, she carries dilute. Look out for her at the shows!
Footnote: the Optispot Ocicats now reside on a farmlet of 22 acres in Warkworth, North of Auckland. With the addition of Thomas, Matthew and Georgia to our family, the cats are well socialised by our six children, various dogs, Highland cattle, chooks and sheep!