There was something about her that stood out from the time she was born. Experienced breeders know what it is, but they can't always explain it to those uninitiated in the ways of Nature. Suffice it to say, there was a quality about her that could, if the gods smiled and all went well, make her a star.

It wouldn't be easy. From a bumbling baby, struggling to stand on her own, she would make it through all the trials facing a young animal in this world. She would untangle her legs, raise her head high and stare at the moon. She would sing to the gods and laugh at the clouds and play with the wind. She would be what she was -- mind, body and soul. She would be a cat -- nothing more, nothing less - chasing the mist of destiny.

All of us see, at one time or another, cats that catch our attention and stand out in a crowd. Call it a mysterious link - call it a deep, inner "knowing" - or call it love at first sight - we know when we feel it.

I've often wondered if everybody feels the same way in the presence of cats that electrify us this way. I don't have an answer to that, because we all seem to respond to something different. We could be at a show and each of us could be falling in love with a different entry. I could be saying "Can you believe that! Look at those markings!" and, right next to me, somebody else could be bored to death! 

Much of this, of course, has to do with our own idea of what makes a good cat. It also has a lot to do with the chemistry crackling between owners and the cats in their charge. But, no matter how the pieces of the puzzle fit together, we all feel it.

There are some cats ... graced by something almost other-worldly ... that just take your breath away. Those are the ones that almost everybody agrees on. You might be able to pick them apart and say this is "wrong" and that could be better, but, something makes it all work - even if it shouldn't.  Those are the ones that last forever in our hearts.

Stories? I could tell you stories about cats that would unravel for miles. If we were starting in New York and driving all the way to California, you wouldn't need a radio to keep you company because I'd be talking about famous, talented cats you know - and a zillion others you'll never meet.  By the time we reached Los Angeles, you'd swear you knew their colours, their sires & dams and the mischief in their eyes.

What transports a bumbling kitten into a star? What magic does it take to create a champion or a cat that captures the imagination of the public?  It takes more than you might think and more than many owners can provide, but it is impossible for the cats you love to change from obscurity into household names? I would say it's as possible as your willingness to do whatever it takes.

Many of us would say pedigree weeds out the losers. Still others would say it's all in the training or grooming. And most of us believe enough in our favourite feeds and nutritional supplements to praise them from the top of the highest mountain! But, training, grooming and nutrition can vary greatly and, much as I respect a good and honourable pedigree, some of us have learned that pedigrees are only as good as the people who write them. Pedigree, alone, doesn't make a legend.

As I often say, if you think of people and their pets as athletes or actors, then all we have to do is look to the masters of public entertainment for answers. Look to Hollywood directors, high-powered agents and Broadway producers. As they well know, great stars can hail from both sides of the tracks. But, we're talking about cats, you say. Yes, we are. But, we're also talking about the people who love them.

From the time a kitten is born, it is your own creative power and desire that determine the outcome of its life. If you believe in a cat's chances for success - if you're lucky enough to find a cat that's really special - then, most of us would feel compelled to take that cat to the top or die trying. Along the way during such an adventure, you learn all kinds of things. You study and figure things out because, maybe, nobody in your life ever made it to the top before and now you have to. Before you know it, you can advertise effectively, you can network with the best of them and you know every trick in the trade. Some you'll use; some you won't. But, at least you'll know about them.

We've mentioned pedigree, training, feeding and basic care, but we skipped over the biggest thing of all - and it's the one thing you can affect more than anything else in the making of a champion. We didn't mention Heart. Do I mean the actual size of a cat's heart? Am I speaking about its weight and circumference?  Not really. Yes, I've heard stories about animals with bigger-than-average hearts and some people say that's the secret of a champion. But, much as I, too, am fascinated by stories of the great Secretariat's unusually large heart, for example, I do not believe an oversized heart makes a champion. I don't believe it because each of the elements we've mentioned here are the ingredients of a recipe. A little more of this, or a little less of that, will change the outcome of a whole life. Including your own.

As we bring our beautiful cats into the world with each generation; as they struggle to nurse and we hold our breath as they unfold into the most beautiful things we've ever seen, know this: You are the ingredient that makes the difference. No matter how perfect they seem, only the greatness of your love can bring out the best in them. Only you can change a heart.



A Morning Kiss

A morning kiss, a discreet touch of his nose landing somewhere on the middle of my face.
Because his long white whiskers tickled, I began every day laughing.

Janet F Faure

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