Friday, January 2, 2009
New Years Eve, not too auspicious
Didn't want to be by myself this New Year's Eve, wanted to go out dancing, have a good meal. Decided to go out with an acquaintance I know from cat showing, thought at least we'd have the cats to talk about. On a scale of 1 to 10, the evening was about a 2.3 (my perspective, of course). In veterinary medicine, there's what's called a Body Condition Score, from 1 to 9, 1 being emaciated and 9 being grossly obese. So, you get the picture of 2.3, okay.
First off, my date showed up 90 minutes early, I was still in my work clothes and had 30 minutes of chores to do before I could even jump in the shower. Then he was dressed quite casual, sort of what I see him in at cat shows and I was sure I was going to be overdressed, but what the hell. I decided to ask him if what I was wearing when I finally was ready to leave the house (at 6pm) was too fancy, and he said he was going to change into his dressy clothes at the hotel. Good enough.
Then the hotel, which used to be a Holiday Inn but in the past couple of years renovated (assume upgrade) to a Hospitality House & Conference Center. Umm, not so much an upgrade as a name change, me thinks. Mike and I used to go down to Fredericksburg to have dinner (at Bonefish Grill usually) and dance in the lounge at this hotel, so I had no clue what the rooms or food was like, but figured they would have the "Gala" in a "ballroom". Make that a conference room, with a few tinselled decorations placed on the wall, numbered tables where you didn't get to choose who you sat with (I know, mingle) and scant choice of party favors and you have it. It was more like a boring work seminar environment.
When we looked at the buffet, we decided we were glad we ate elsewhere (even though it wasn't at Bonefish but The Crab Shack...I wasn't pushy enough with my answer to "Where do you want to eat") but we held out hope for the band. Most of the time, bands that hotels hire are varying qualities of cover bands and we were hoping for their New Years Eve Gala that they might have splurged...not so much. This band was much more impressed with themselves than what the crowd wanted (demonstrated by lack of dancing until about midnight) and while I like Van Morrison and New Orleans funk, nothing they played was danceable, but more like what you'd want to listen to while eating.
Hmmm, and once back in the hotel room...well, suffice it to say that my rating for the evening was based on that also. In all fairness, I think if we were both questioned separately, that we probably would have the same opinion of the Eve of Destruction...better than a sharp stick in the eye, as my dad would have said.
And so here we are in 2009 now, and I have been feeling a distinct lack of motivation to try and map out the next year for myself. Most of it has to do with with some bad news I received this week with regards to Furrydance Cattery and my ability to continue breeding and showing these Cornish Rex cats that I love.
I got my first Cornish Rex in 1988 and have been deeply committed to being the best breeder I can be. Being in the veterinary field and knowing more about animal health care than many and having access to the best veterinary care (even if it means driving 5 hours to see a cardiologist as I did when I lived in Oregon and took my cats there for yearly heart screenings). I do a lot for my cats in terms of veterinary care and tests, but it seems like each time I bring a new cat into the house, it brings with it some health issue and so I go through an isolation and testing period and have been able to get them healthy. Some of those issues are just to be expected in some cattery environments without stringent, knowledgeable husbandry.
But in the past year, as it is time to retire my 6 year old stud cat, I purchased a new male in the spring to carry on his duties, and when I took him for his pre-breeding heart exam, he had some defects that could be passed on to his offspring, so I made the decision to return him to his breeder and she did the ethical thing and neutered him and his littermate sister. I then began to look for a new male and this time choose one that was older and had no audible evidence of heart problems, but when I took him for his heart exam, they found issues with him, too.
I know that neither of these males were screened before I purchased them, and have no written reports that their parents were either, so it has been put on my plate to do the testing myself, at my expense, to try have the best odds of having defect free cats. But having this happen twice in one year is very devastating emotionally to me. When I lived in Oregon (before meeting and marrying Mike) I had 5 cats and lived in an 850 sq ft bungalow and was able to clean and maintain the house as well as the cats and have quite a bit of free time left over. Marrying Mike, and moving to Virginia into this nice, large house was great as a couple, but for me I find I am having a difficult time keeping up with the house and the cats too and that doesn't even count the financial part of it.
Having kept track of what I spent and brought in and adding it up this week is quite sobering and it is giving me cause to think that doing this is not meant for me at this point in my life. I spent $15000 on the cats care, food, and cat shows and brought in $5000. That just seems like an extravagance that I just can't afford and while giving it up would mean giving up something I enjoy and get great satisfaction from, I will have to say that this past year, keeping the cattery going has felt a lot more like work and a lot less like pleasure.
I told myself when Mike passed away, that I wanted to get back to having less cats and doing this more on the level I did in Oregon, where I was single and on a tight budget. I have made some headway in that direction, but this last year I took back 3 cats due to behavior issues, so the headway I made got negated by that. But, I couldn't refuse taking them back, they are my responsibility and the two times I have not been able to take a kitty back right away, I have lost track of those two cats and that saddens me deeply. I was able to successfully get two of them over their behavior issues (inappropriate urination) and find new homes for them together and I am working on #3. I have found a home for one of my two Sphynx cats, as much as doing that is sad, he is going to a friend who I have known, because of the cats, for 15 years and will be loved to bits and even have a sweet girl cat to befriend, too.
I have weathered some big issues here this past year, but was truly looking forward to making and meeting some goals in 2009 and these recent revelations have just got me floundering. I think I know what I need to do, I am just having difficulty with the decision. I sometimes envy my friends that have just a couple of pet cats, and lots of time to do fun social things. I think about having to place cats I have grown so fond of, and though I know from my experience in the veterinary field that I am not the only good pet owner out there, I am still very conscientious about where my cats and kittens go and am proud to say that I have only lost track of two in 20 years of breeding and not many breeders can say that. I am also good friends with many families who have cats from me, and one joy is that I will not lose their friendship, even if I stop breeding.
One day I want to stop, the next day I want to give myself another year. Right now, in typing this...I want to just be done with the stress of it all, knowing that another year of commitment to this may not be the best thing for me emotionally or financially. So, I guess I am writing this post to see what response I get from people who only know me through blogging. If you visit my cattery website, you can learn what kind of person and breeder I am and be able to offer my your perspective on this, having that information, http://furrydancecattery.blogspot.com
Maybe just putting my thoughts into words and being to read over those words will be more like a journal for me and help me see the big picture and the future better, too. I know my plans for the future changed alot with Mike's passing and I am not totally okay with that, either. I saw myself in our retirement doing more volunteer work with regards to cats such as with Best Friends Sanctuary in Kanab, Utah and getting more involved with animal health care with related Blogs, and still having 2 or 3 Cornish Rex racing around the house. While I can't retire yet, I can make choices that will lead me in that direction.