Tiny Miracles

author Cristin Dillard                                                                                          Magnolia Rags

I am still a newer breeder. Magnolia Rags just had our third litter.

The day we anticipated so eagerly, quickly turned into a near nightmare. Breeding cats is not for the faint of heart. It’s very expensive when you breed for the health of the cats. High quality food, cat litter, cat shows, testing, and vet visits eat up the funds quickly. You learn very quickly that you aren’t in it for the money. And all the time preparing doesn’t always lead to smooth going!!

And thats where I was the Saturday before Easter. I knew my girl, Della, would probably have the babies that day Or on Easter. She had been clingy to me, and in and out of her birthing hotel. So that night, while I was ironing shirts, I realized she was in her box and starting to push. I checked in on her, got my pen and paper ready for writing down the births and weights etc, and sat down to wait. It was her first litter, and I was a little nervous. I was expecting 2-3 kittens. Two hours later the pushes got harder. I saw two little white feet emerge. I was not worried about it being breech. As my other queen had managed that just fine. But it wasn’t going to be easy for Della. She struggled to get the kitten out. Finally it was down to the head. I knew baby needed to get out quickly! But Mom was upset by this point and hissing at me as though I were causing the pain. It took my husband and me to manage to get the poor purple kitten out. I knew he was dead. It had been so many minutes. His gums were gray. Feet dark. I rubbed him. Cleaned out his nose and mouth. Did everything all the videos suggested. But nothing. I gave him a little breath. Rubbed and begged him to come back. Nothing. I told my husband he was gone. But suddenly he gasped! I rubbed him more and suctioned him and told him how brave he was!! He gasped again. Then again. Slowly his white skin colored pink. But there wasn’t time to celebrate. Della had feet dangling again! The same thing happened. Although it took less time to get baby out, he was also lifeless. I repeated the above, and he gasped minutes later. Slowly he too, began to come back to me. Talk about relief! I was never so happy for a small litter!!! I stayed awake with the new family until the wee hours, making sure they were breathing and finally nursing. When I saw the boys fighting over milk, I knew they were ok. Hopefully each passing day they grow stronger and don’t develop any complications.

So many think we breed for the money. Have all these cute kittens everywhere and life is good. But its not like that all the time. Its life and loss. Its litter boxes and vomit and hairballs. Its infertile hopes, and disappointments. We do it for the breed. We stay up late, pay the bills, and clean and plan and prepare, because we want RagaMuffins to be a name people recognize. A healthy beautiful breed for many to enjoy. Never take for granted the miracles we witness a long the way.

Coefficient of Inbreeding

author Sara Thornton DVM                           iCandy RagaMuffins

What is a coefficient of inbreeding  (COI) and why is it important? The COI is a measurement of the amount of inbreeding in a specific population. In my case, the population of concern is the RagaMuffin breed of cats. According to  COI FAQS: Understanding the Coefficient of Inbreeding by Carol Beauchat PhD, “The coefficient of inbreeding is the probability of inheriting two copies of the same allele from an ancestor that occurs on both sides of the pedigree.”

Why is it important to know what the COI is in every breeding? Especially in a limited population like RagaMuffins, calculating the COI is one tool to maintain the health of the breed. A high coefficient is more likely to reproduce qualities that are not desired, thereby decreasing vitality and health of the breed. Think about it this way, sibling pairs or parent-offspring pairs are generally avoided in order to prevent genetic issues. But, in order to truly evaluate a pairing, it is important to go further back in a pedigree. Geneticists recommend evaluating using ten generations.

So, how does a breeder check the COI on a prospective pair? It’s simple, I use a computer program that has much of the RagaMuffin population history stored in it. The data lists cats from the very beginning- including random bred cats, Persians, Ragdolls, and Siberians along with a lot of RagaMuffins. More recently, Selkirks have been added as they are a permitted outcross in CFA. The main chore I have is to keep it updated as more cats join the breeding population of muffins. I input the names of the cats I want to breed, select ten generation inbreeding analysis and click!

My goal is to keep the coefficient under 10% as the geneticists generally recommend. That being stated, does not mean I would not utilize a higher number. As line breeding can produce harmful qualities, it can also increase the incidence of positive traits.  That is the art of being a breeder….figuring out what traits I want to avoid and what traits I want to ensure are reproduced. Health is number one. I do the genetic testing to give my kittens the best shot at a long and healthy life. By being cognizant of the COI, I can reduce the incidence of characteristics I want to avoid.

What happens if breeders do not utilize a coefficient of inbreeding? It seems so many do not understand  that a brief pedigree cannot be eyeballed and deemed safe. For three or four generations, there may be no replication of breeding animals, but further back, there could be substantial replication which leads to a high COI. This is of special concern in a smaller population in a rare breed.

Cattery Parasite Control

Sara Thornton DVM                                                     iCandy RagaMuffins

The first of the month is a big day here at iCandy RagaMuffins. Every month for years. It’s the day I treat all animals to prevent parasites. The dog gets her heartworm pill along with her flea and tick medicine. The cats are on a program to meet their needs.

The RagaMuffin males and neutered pets have access to a fenced outdoor area completed with dirt, shrubs and trees. That means they all get flea and tick treatment. Yes, even in cold weather. It is not unheard of for a bit of warmer weather to produce the dreaded external parasites. I keep my cats on medication so they NEVER have a flea or a tick. It is much easier to prevent a problem than treat an existing one.

The breeding RagaMuffin females and kittens live in another area of the house. They are treated monthly with a medication that controls fleas, hookworms and roundworms. Even though they don’t go outside, after being a practicing veterinarian for many years, I know indoor only pets can still get fleas. In addition, since my show cats travel to shows and hotels, it is possible for one of the pests to take a ride back home. Internal parasite control is also imperative for the queens and kittens. Roundworms are commonly passed from mother to kitten in the uterus. By maintaining the adults on an appropriate parasiticide, it minimizes infestation of the kittens.

Proper parasite control is an important part of managing animals. I make sure all iCandy RagaMuffins and other pets in the house are up to date with a consistent program.

A New Level of Excitement

 

RagaMuffin cat

GC BW RW SantaCats Check Meowt of Xpressions (Piper)

RagaMuffin Cat

GP Xpressions Check Meowt Too (Poppy)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Xpressions RagaMuffins

Showing my animals is not new for me, but it’s always been exciting. I started with horses, then dogs and now cats. I’ve had the pleasure to Grand, be awarded Regional Wins and blessed enough to have achieved the CFA Top RagaMuffin award. As exciting as all that has been, this past year a cat we bred was shown to a Grand Premier! Not only did Poppy Grand, but she did it on her first birthday! To be able to be there to witness this was a dream come true for me.

You may be asking yourself why this is so special. There are several reasons. Diana and Dennis (Poppy’s owners) had gone to a show in Oklahoma as spectators. They shared with us that they’d hoped Piper (Poppy’s future mom) would be there. She was. Diana had followed Piper on Facebook and had named herself President of Piper’s Fan Club. The friendship was almost instantaneous. Months later, as the friendship grew between us, they asked to be put on our waitlist for a pet. Poppy became part of their family (along with their other two RagaMuffins) and Diana and Dennis became part of our family. They caught the show bug and gifted Xpressions RagaMuffins with a Grand Premier!

Another reason this is so special to me is as a breeder of RagaMuffins my vision was successful. Breeders don’t just put two cats together and hope it works out. Many hours are spent over lineage and genetic testing. They look objectively at their cat’s assets as well as where their cats may need improvements. After all this is taken into account, breeders hope that they will have at least one kitten out of the litter worthy of showing. Then they are shown to several different judges (typically over a period of time), hoping that the judges find that your cat fits the standard. You compete not only with other RagaMuffins, but against other breeds that meet their standards. The top cats are given placements, points, and you begin the journey to a Grand title. It’s one thing to think your cat is beautiful, but to have several trained judges feel that too, is amazing! Showing can be addicting, but to be able to meet new lifelong friends in this process is priceless! By the way, Dennis and Diana are addicted. They have another RagaMuffin to show.

When It Rains, It Freezes

Xpressions RagaMuffins

 

Here we go again. We are under another winter storm warning. Last year in February, Central Texas had a freeze that we had never experienced before. Six days of below freezing temperatures, (some days with the wind chill below zero) ice and snow paralyzing our area. Some of you may be thinking why is that a big deal. Simply put, our homes are not designed to handle cold weather. Central Texas has few plows, trucks and materials to use on our roadways. The central Texas electric grids started failing Over 200 people died during those six days.

Now we are bracing for another storm. Thankfully, not as serious.  I’m writing this blog to let you know how we faired, but more importantly, how our dog and RagaMuffin kitties survived this ordeal. We were blessed. Our power went off for hours, but then came on for a few hours. Our home never dropped below 45 degrees. Our pipes did not break and we only lost cell service for short periods.

For the RagaMuffin cats it was a dream come true. Blankets and sheets covered the windows which made a great speedway. All the pillows and extra blankets were on the floor making it a great obstacle course. Because our pipes run on our outside walls, we pulled the furniture away from the outside walls to let the heat from the inside keep the walls warm to avoid broken pipes . Any closets and cabinets that were on the outside walls were emptied and the contents were put on the furniture in the middle of the rooms. That made for not only a speedway and an obstacle course, but now mountain climbing was added! We may not have had phones or television, but we had a kitty circus! A three ring circus!

Our eight week old RagaMuffin kittens were exposed to so many people during the next couple of weeks. Several people who were not as fortunate came to use our showers, washing machine and dryer; along with filling containers to take water to their homes.

The outside temperatures were finally hovering over the freezing mark. The sun was out and we were thankful that we were some of the fortunate. Then out from under one of the piles of stuff, one of our RagaMuffin cats limped out. Her foot was swollen. I did a quick check for punctures and whether her nails were intact. All seemed good. Almost every business was closed due to the weather including our vet’s office. I called and left a message. In the mean time, I called a friend who is a vet to ask her advice. In less than two hours our vet called and said she was on her way to the clinic. If we wanted to risk the roads, we could meet her there. We did. After X-rays and medicines were given, we were on our way home with our kitty and her two broken toes.

Blankets came off the windows. Pillows came off the floors. Furniture was moved back. The tedious task of putting everything back in the closet and washing items to put back into the kitchen cabinets began. Things were finally returned to their original places. The humans were thrilled with getting their life back in order! The dog and kitties not so much.

Toys With a Four Paw Rating

author Terri Cassiday                                        Xpressions RagaMuffins

Owners’ from the United States wants and needs for their pets has become big business. In fact, over $103 billion was spent last year. In this growing business, owners need to be aware of a business trying to make a quick buck without regard as to your pets health. Toys fit into this category. We want to spoil our RagaMuffins. They are our babies after all. What must be kept in mind before purchasing any toy is how safe they are for your cat. RagaMuffins play hard and tend to need sturdier toys. Continue to examine and dispose of toys that are showing wear. A variety of toys are best for your kitty. Keep in mind toys that will keep them stimulated. They don’t have to be costly. Some of my cats favorites are the most inexpensive. The down side is that the inexpensive toys such as the springs, wool balls and boinks play havoc with vacuums. The upside is that replacing them costs little.

Over the years we have purchased many, many, MANY toys. Yes, we have contributed greatly to the $103 billion industry. After all those purchases, several have been our RagaMuffins favorites. Hopefully, this list will help some of you wade through the thousands of toys available. Above we mentioned the springs, boinks and wool balls. Among these inexpensive and most loved are ping pong balls and the little rabbit fur mice with leather tails. Our cats LOVE these! However, keeping track of them is not one of the things I love.

Next on our list is a tunnel. There are tunnels that are made out of many fabrics. Sturdy fabrics are the best. Two things need to be considered before purchasing. The first being the size of the opening. The diameter of some tunnels are not made for the size of the RagaMuffin. The second being the durability of the wires. Wires can break or fray which can cause serious injuries. We tend to buy children’s tunnels that are tested for such things.

Laser lights are good to use periodically for short periods. These should be used only by responsible owners that are cognizant of the potential dangers. We never use the toys that you place on the floor with laser light. They cannot control keeping the light away from your RagaMuffins eyes. There have been some studies that say laser lights can cause behavioral problems. Using them periodically has not been a problem for us, but the choice is yours.

Pyramids and tracks that have balls firmly secured in them are favorites with our kittens as well as the puzzle boxes. They do not keep our adults attention very long. Hexbugs are very exciting to cats. The prey drive in our cats is highly stimulated. The down side is their size. Cats should not be left alone with them! Supervision is necessary not only for your cat, but if they get under something you can’t move, they buzz for hours. Teasers of all kinds are a necessity. Once again, because of the size of the RagaMuffin, it’s worth the extra cost to get sturdy ones. I hesitate to mention brands, but by far the ones that have lasted the longest are dabird by Go Cat. They have several different attachments which can be purchased to keep your cat interested. Feathers, rabbit fur, insects are just a few of them. These are also not to be left out unattended.

We have purchased almost every interactive toy out there. They are mostly used for the kittens because our adults either figure out how they work and dismantle them or are bored by them. The best in our RagaMuffins view is the one that goes in circles underneath the thin material. The adults learned very quickly to sit on the rod that makes the feather move making it a breeze to rip off the feather. The latest interactive toy we bought is great in concept, but made poorly. It’s a spinning ball that flashes different colors. On the ball you can latch on different attachments. This is placed in a poorly made small tunnel with ends that tie. When the cats see the flashing lights as well as the shadows, they get excited. It’s only good until the big cats rip open and destroy the tunnel. Game over!

These are the toys we found that our RagaMuffins like the best besides empty water bottles and paper towel rolls. Hopefully, this makes navigating through the myriad of toys easier.

Is My Cat a RagaMuffin?

author Sara Thornton DVM                                                                       iCandy RagaMuffins

One of the most common comments I see on Facebook is a cat owner posting a picture of their beloved kitty and asking if it is a RagaMuffin. The answer is virtually always going to be no. Same with other breeds like Maine Coons. Unless you go to a breeder for a pedigreed cat, it is unlikely to be a pedigreed cat, especially when it comes to rare breeds.

If your kitten or cat is sweet, floppy and long haired it is not a RagaMuffin unless it came with papers from CFA, ACFA, GCCF, WCF or CCA. Most likely it is a Domestic Long Hair. If it is a TICA registered RagaMuffin, it is generally a Ragdoll crossed with a Persian or other cat (http://messybeast.com/false-ragamuffins.htm?fbclid=IwAR0wWUV8_LncRCE_z3v3ZYRv0DGD90MY-aOiDMemlOkKaWOXlMJCIufg3YM)

Domestic Long Hair, or Domestic Short Hair is a term used to describe random bred cats with long or short hair. These are the most common cats in the world. The truth is, pedigreed cats are developed from these cats. A random bred cat is no less deserving of a good home and love than a pedigreed cat. I have always had rescues in my house; I still do.

Back in the origins of the RagaMuffin, a breeder developed a line of cats using domestic cats and pedigreed cats for a specific temperament and look.  The characteristics that the RagaMuffin is known for come from these cats. Those features are available in the general cat population. In the RagaMuffin, those lovable traits come together in one cat specifically bred for sweet temperament, good health, and to meet the breed standard in looks. (https://ragamuffinfanciers.com/ragamuffin-standard/)

 

Chatty Chanukah (a tongue in cheek tail)

By: Levi, Tavi, Chaya & Shoshana from the land of Presca RagaMuffins
Chanukah came early this year. The first night was celebrated the Sunday following Thanksgiving which is hardly fair considering we were still stuffed with all the trimmings from our Thanksgiving feast.
For those of you who are not familiar with Catty Chanukah, it is celebrated over 8 Days.
As the ancient Hebrew Cats recall, the Maccatabees defeated mean old Greek King Antiochuscats’ troops after a three year war. Oh it was a big dust-up with a lot of hissing and growling going on!
To celebrate their triumph, the Maccatabees and their neighbors lit a seven-pronged lamp, now called a Meownorah in 167 BCE (Before the Cat Era), but found they only had enough ‘tuna’ oil to keep it alight for 1 day. But a miracle happened, the lamp remained lit for eight days which allowed all the cats in the land of Purrrsia to search for more ‘tuna’ oil to keep the lamp burning as a sign of their great victory over King Antiochuscats.
So what does this mean to us cats today? Good question!
Each year we tell this great story so we remember our life before the Maccatabees set us free. Today we celebrate by playing a special game with a Dreidel (a wooden thingy that spins when you bat it). It’s really a secret cat code with the letters Shin, Gimel, Hay, Nun and means “A Great Miracle Happened Here”. Here’s how we play:
Mom holds a pile of Temptations Tuna Treats for us, we like them the best cuz they’re yummy!
The four of us gather in a circle and bat our dreidel to see what letter appears when it stops spinning. If the letter Shin comes up she gives each one of us a treat, if the letter Hay appears we get 1/2 a treat, if the letter Nun pops up then Mom gives us Nothing! But, if the letter Gimel shows up we get all the treats in her pile! Meowhooo!!!
Plus, each of us get a new toy each night for the 8 nights … we always love a new toy mouse, a ball, a crackly thing, a new box, or tissue paper to rip up. We run up and down the stairs, through the hallways, and all through the house joyously chasing each other and our new toy mouse.
We hope you enjoyed our story and in 2022 we hope you and your families experience Great Miracles.
Purrs and Nose Bumps to All!

Picky Cats?

author Sara Thornton DVM                                               iCandy RagaMuffins

Why are cats so picky? Well, one reason is that cats develop taste preferences very early in life. If a kitten is not exposed to beef, for example, prior to five or six months of age it doesn’t really recognize beef as a food item later.

It is not just food flavors or ingredients that matter. It is texture and shape as well. If it was only fed round dry pellets as a kitten, it would be unlikely that it would accept flat shaped kibble later. If it only has canned slices in gravy, a switch to pate as an adult would not be welcome.

 

This is important to note as a RagaMuffin breeder or a pet owner. There may come a day that a cat needs to eat a specific food, whether prescription or not, for health reasons. In addition, a food may become unavailable and an adult may need to have a diet change.

At iCandy RagaMuffins, kittens are fed two premium kitten kibbles, so they get used to the different shapes. They are also fed various flavors and textures of canned food. As I serve multiple cats, I never know who likes what best; I am sure they have preferences. But, I do know the kittens are well prepared to go to their new homes with a base of exposure to foods that a pet owner may prefer to feed.

Heart Disease in Cats

author Sara Thornton DVM                                iCandy RagaMuffins

I recently had an inquiry from someone interested in acquiring a RagaMuffin kitten from me. Pretty typical email. When I responded with general information that I always respond with including waitlist information, price, genetic testing including echocardiograms on the parents, and other details, I got a surprising response.

It appears the inquirer got the impression that RagaMuffins have a significant amount of heart disease. Her background was in a dog breed that has terrible heart disease, so I can understand her concern. But, I didn’t want her to feel that RagaMuffins were in the same league as the dog breed she previously loved.

In fact, RagaMuffins are no more likely to have heart disease than any cat walking down the street. The odds are that around 15% of the general cat population has heart disease. By far the most common presentation is Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy ( HCM). In some feline breeds, HCM is rampant. Gene mutations were identified in both Ragdolls and Maine Coons that can cause HCM. The good news is those genes can be tested for and findings can be used by breeders to eliminate that cause of heart disease in kittens that are produced. Since Ragdolls are in the background of RagaMuffins, I test every breeding cat.

In addition, I take the extra step to screen my RagaMuffin breeding cats with an echocardigram since many types of heart disease are not detectable via genetic testing. 50% of cats with HCM do not have a heart murmur. So, this means a routine auscultation by a veterinarian has only a 50% chance to suspect a problem. The echocardiogram is the gold standard utilized. Even that is not perfect. A cat can have a normal echo and then six months later develop heart disease. HCM is the top suspect in sudden death of a younger cat. That being said, it is not necessarily a death sentence. When detected, a cat may be monitored and live a normal span in some cases. I had a dear Domestic Long Hair that was diagnosed around three years of age. She lived to 14 with no issues, but then her heart failed.

The bottom line is, I do health clearances including echocardiograms to ensure that I am doing the best that I can to produce healthy RagaMuffin kittens.