Insights From a Siamese Cattery in Kentucky

Patricia McGraw and Candice Orm: Image used with permission from Patricia McGraw.
Patricia McGraw and Candice Orm

An expert cat breeder and owner of a Siamese cattery in Kentucky weighs in on what you should look for in a cattery if you're considering a purebred Siamese. Learn how cat breeding works and what a well-run cattery looks like.

Topic: Siamese Cattery in Kentucky

LoveToknow had the pleasure of interviewing breeder Patricia McGraw from her Siamese cattery in Kentucky. Emerald Isle Farms Siamese cattery is co-owned by Patricia and her daughter, twenty-year-old University of Louisville sophomore Candice Orm. Candace is currently serving as the Vice President of the Northern Kentucky Region of the Future Farmers of America (FFA). In 2005, Candace won the FFA national small animal husbandry award for her work with Siamese cats.

Patricia McGraw, would you tell us a little about how you got into the business of breeding Siamese cats...

Candice and I are third and fourth generation Breeders of these cats. I have been involved all my lifetime and watched my mother and grandmother breed Siamese too. Candice has been actively involved as a co-breeder for the past ten years.The Siamese is truly to date the oldest known breed of cat. It has contributed genetically in the development of many of other sought after lovely breeds of cats- any one of the breeds which possess color points such as Himalayan, Oriental Short hair and many more. Siamese are loyal to their families, highly intelligent, vocal and entirely enchanting and regal in their presence. They have an easy care coat and are known for their very lengthy life span.

The Balinese (Siamese variant) is produced from a recessive long hair gene that is present in some of the Siamese genetic lines. Balinese have all the beauty of a Siamese, but have longer, fuller fur with very soft non-matting length of hair more present around their neck, legs and tail. In our experience, the temperament and attributes are the same as the Traditional Siamese.

How many queens do you currently own?

Currently, we have six mature Traditional Siamese Queens. We just recently retained two lovely young females for future Queens since we are near retiring a few of the current mature producing Queens, and we have two Toms as well.

We just have one Balinese Queen and one Tom that we will be retiring soon. We are no longer going to pursue the Bali's and will instead concentrate solely on our Traditional Siamese.

We are currently raising only four to six litters per year, averaging five kittens per litter.

Why do some Siamese cats get darker with age? I had a Siamese named Priscilla as a young girl, but she was much darker!

Playful kittens; Image used with permission from Patricia McGraw.

Siamese cats tend to acquire color and shading up to about four years of age. Our Priscilla is a really spoiled blue point female that "owns" Candice (at least that is according to Priscilla's universe). I find it interesting that of the four genetic lines we have been raising, two of the blood lines and their offspring tend to favor/prefer Candice more and the other two blood lines favor/prefer me. I do not know why. I suppose from many, many years back their mommas and grand-mommas and great-grand-mommas favored who they sat on. They probably favored the household care givers they play with and sleep with and the offspring through the generations have followed this preference by mimicking their parents and so on. I find it quite interesting.

Siamese cats have these larger than life personalities. What can you tell us about this breed and their temperament?

Ours are very family oriented and loyal, and extremely intelligent. They remind me more of a dog wearing a cat suit than any other felines I have been around. They are good family pets and good with children when raised as such.

What should people look for when visiting a Siamese cattery in search of a new pet? What are some of your requirements before adopting out one of your cats?

Look for:

  • Cleanliness
  • Happy cats
  • Health records provided
  • Written contracts
  • A breeder who cares about their kittens after you leave with them
  • A breeder who can and willingly provides references
  • A breeder who does not mind sharing knowledge and experience

I recommend folks do some research through books and reliable available Internet sources referring to this subject.

Be prepared. Don't be in a hurry. The good healthy Traditional Siamese Breeders don't usually have kittens available 365 days a year. Be prepared to wait for a good one because they are worth it. Add your name to their birth announcement list and waiting list.

Stay away from breeders who:

Emerald Isle kittens; Image used with permission from Pat McGraw.
  • Do not keep everything clean
  • Do not keep records
  • Do not have an acceptable vaccination schedule
  • Do not have much experience (unless they have an experienced reputable breeder mentor helping them)
  • Do not willingly answer any and all questions.

Do your research in books and at reliable educational Internet web sites. Thankfully ,there are plenty of worthy sources out there these days.

Before adopting out one of our cats, we require a full time indoor loving home, and people who can commit to the long term emotional and financial responsibility of pet ownership. People must agree to spay/neuter these pets since we don't sell kittens without spay/neuter agreement. People need to understand what the Siamese breed is truly like. A Siamese can be a vocal family member because he or she is very communicative, and some demand direct attention from their family members.

Please note that vast majority of the kittens we raise leave to homes that I refer to as "previously owned by Siamese". These are people/families who have lived with Siamese and are not interested in living with any other breed. These folks recognize and appreciate the qualities of this breed. Siamese tend to appear to know "that they are royalty and special". I suspect their either their mothers make certain of this and/or it is part of their genetic make up.

What is it like working so closely with your daughter breeding these cats?

Working with my daughter is a great privilege and joy. She is a very caring and articulate young person, and her integrity exceeds that of almost any individual I have ever worked with.Candice truly cares about the success and quality of our breeding program. She has been involved with it her entire life, and her dedication and experience show that. If I needed to hire good help in this endeavor I would doubt that the same desire and dedication Candice contributes could be cultivated because it is already instilled in her through her life experience with our cats. She is a seeker of continued education and knowledge, is very observant to all of the health needs and well being of our cats. She is willing to sacrifice personal time, lose sleep when necessary to handle "queening" a litter of kittens or whatever it takes to do the best job that we can.

Candice does has promoted "The Traditional Siamese Breed" in her life wherever possible, including her FFA career garnering Local (Courier Journal Young Achievers Awards, 2005) and FFA National Winning Status (Small Animal Care and Production Entrepreneurship, 2005).

Candace Orm Shares a Few Thoughts on FFA

Candace Orm holding her FFA Award.Image used with permission from Pat McGraw.

FFA is the world's largest youth organization, consisting of over half a million members, grades 7-12. Youth are still eligible to compete after high school, just as I am, until their twenty-first birthday or fourth National Convention. Our organization reaches out to all 50 states including Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands.

Our cattery business would not be as expanded and successful as it currently stands if I had not become involved in this organization due to the national support and endless outlets of advertising and marketing that we are offered from my success in the National FFA Organization. This organization has helped me into a great business woman, leader, public speaker and better person as a whole.

The even greater part of being involved in the FFA is that my mom has shared the experience with me, which has enriched our relationship as mother and daughter as well as agriculture advocates. I encourage young people to take part in being entrepreneurial, and if it happens to be with your parent(s) then I hope you have the success that we have.

You can view more pictures of the Emerald Isle Siameses at their website.

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Insights From a Siamese Cattery in Kentucky