Dr. Douglas Schar
Phyllis Wilson is an artist, a teacher, a lawyer and a Burmese cat breeder. She is a lot of things all at the same time. An amazing and fascinating woman. When I first got involved with Burmese breeding, she spent endless hours talking to me about breeding, the history of the breed, and more. She has studied the Burmese breed like no one I know and knows more about the history and origins of the breed than anyone I know. Basically she took the time to bring me up to speed with American Burmese breed and her wealth of knowledge and wisdom has helped me more times than I can remember. Many of her cats are in my program.
When I first decided to breed Burmese cats, I thought I would get breeding cats from breeders around America and I would be set up. However, when I read the work of famed cat geneticist Leslie Lyons, and discovered the American Burmese were the most inbred cat in the world, I would have to do more. Inbreeding, in people and cats, always leads to unhealthy organisms. As the breed came from cats imported from Thailand, I realized I would have to import cats from Thailand as well. If I knew then what I know now, I might have taken up breeding tropical fish. In any event, I set out to breed Burmese cats, and ended having to find American Burmese cats and Thai cats for my breeding program.
Every cat breeder carries on from a breeder that came before them, and that is certainly my story. Some of my cats come from people who have been breeding American Burmese for a long time. Some of my cats come from Thai breeders who have been breeding for an even longer time! Some of my cats came from the streets and temples of Bangkok.
In my search for breeders of American Burmese that would help me get started, I came across three wonderful women, Lee Cunningham, Jo Lynn Paige, and Phyllis Wilson, who were all willing to help me. Help me by giving me breeding cats and help me by talking to me when I had questions and needed answers. I am forever in their debt. What has become a major undertaking would not have come into being had it not been for their kindness. So, below you will read about these three amazing woman and their collective 90 years experience breeding Burmese cats.
My attempt to import cats from Thailand can best be described as a circus. It did not go well, but, I kept working at it, and eventually worked out a way to get Thai cats from Thailand to my little eco farm in DC. The search for Thai cats lead me to Luang Pu, the senior monk living at Wat Thong Nopakhun, a temple in Thailand famous for its Thai cats. As you will read, Luang Pu has being doing his part to keep Thai cats going in Thailand for many of his 92 years. One cannot mention imported Thai cats without mentioning this incredible man.
Many of my cats come from "The Thai Cat Centre" in Bangkok, a cattery run by Kamnan Preecha. Khun Preecha has been breeding Thai cats for decades, and if it were not for his work to preserve the Thai cats, I would not have my wonderful imported cats.
Nolan Betterly, an American living in Bangkok, and Panarat Kamchat(Bew), his Thai partner in cat crime, were entirely responsible for finding and sending me breeding cats. Without their help and work, I would not have ended up with the cats that became apart of my program. I am forever in their debt. Forever. The work they does to keep the Thai breeds of cat alive is incredible and we are all lucky they exists and are doing the great works they are doing.
Anyhow, all breeders get their cats from somebody, and I wanted to pay a little tribute to the people that came before me and made it possible for me to keep these breeds going into the future. I also wanted to give credit to the cats that contributed to my breeding program. The cats you see here have contributed their genetics to the cats you see in my "meet" the parents section of this website. They are the daughters and sons and granddaughters and grandsons of these cats!
Lee Cunningham is the owner of Madame Butterfly cattery and has been breeding Burmese cats for 50 years. A native of New York,
Lee got her first Burmese when she moved to Nevada. She fell in love with the breed and has been creating beloved pets for
families for five decades. Lee is a remarkable person on every level. A business woman when women were not in business, she worked in Real Estate, successfully filed a Patent for her kitten warmer, had so much more. She is a professional and taught me
that cat breeding should be handled with professionalism just like any other business. Lee has kept her line going for fifty years
through healthy breeding practices, and, I am pleased to say, I am going to be keeping it going for as long as I can. Lee took the
time to tell me about the breed throughout the years, and, her knowledge of the breed has given me the knowledge I need to
keep the breed going. And on top of all that, Lee is fun. We are going to meet in New York sometime soon and do the town up!
I met Jo Lynn because my sister bought a blue Burmese kitten from her. Well, when I announced I wanted to breed Burmese cats, my sister said, you must speak to Jo Lynn. I contacted Jo Lynn and it was one of the best phone calls I ever made. She went out of her way to encourage me, support me, and connect me with other people. Jo Lynn is an animal person, from top to bottom. She grew up around the horse business, and, has worked with animals her entire life. She understands animals the way few people do, and, when I need advice, she is the person I call. She has that perfect blend of experience, common sense, and kindness. Jo Lynn creates healthy Burmese cats through maintaining genetic diversity in her breeding population. Because, she understands animals and always knows what to do! If Jo Lynn lived near me, we would go to the movies once a week, and I would just listen to her talk. After the movie, of course!
Kamnan Preecha is one of the foremost breeders of Maew Boran in Thailand. He fell in love with the ancient breed as a child. At that time, he had a Wichienmaat (Siamese) as a pet. That love inspired him to open the Thai Cat Center, in Ampawa, Thailand. Mr. Preecha breeds the four ancient breeds, Wichienmaat (Siamese), Thong Daeng (Burmese), Suphalak (Brown), and Konja. Though famous for his outstanding Wichienmaat, Mr. Preecha has spent endless hours in an effort to maintain the most rare Thai cat, the Suphalak. The Suphalak is a solid brown cat that has no points.
To date, Mr. Preecha is the only breeder in Thailand focusing on this unusual cat and will be responsible for it existing in the future. The Thai Cat Preservation Center is world famous, and, visited by people from around the world. Located not far from Bangkok, any person interested in Thai cats, or the the Thai cat preservation effort, should take a day trip to visit the center.
There one will see a range of Thai cats and may be lucky enough to have the opportunity to meet one of the true pioneers of Thai cat preservation. People associated with preserving Thai cats are forever in his debt for his endless work keeping this ancient breed alive.
Temple and Street Cats
As I mentioned, Nolan Betterly and Panarat Kamchat helped find me cats in Thailand for my program, from breeders, from temples, and from the streets. They would rush off in the middle of the night because they got a call about a cat that needed to be rescued, they would save the cat, and then send me the cat! Their dedication to the preservation of the Thai cat is unending.
I will tell one such story. Nolan got a call from a dock manager that there was a mother cat and three kittens living around the dock. The manager was concerned that certain workers on the dock might try to kill and eat the cats. So, Nolan rushed out into the Bangkok night and saved the mom and her three daughters. You will see them in the slide show. The beautiful sable cats with blue eyes are the kittens that Nolan saved and sent me …. four cats that could have been dinner ended up in my breeding program!
As I mentioned earlier, Lung Pu is the senior monk at the temple known as Wat Thong Nopakhun. At the temple he is known as holy grandfather, because, at 92, he would be the most senior monk living at the temple.! He shares his home with several dozen Thai cats, and has for 7 decades. He has helped maintained a natural breeding colony of Wichienmaat and Thong Daeng cats, Siamese and Burmese to the westerner, for most of his life. Breeders in Thailand have him to thank for the wonderful cats in their breeding program.
Lung Pu is heir to an incredible Thai cat legacy. As a younger man, he learned from the famous monk Somdet Phra Puttajan. Somdet Phra Puttajan studied the ancient Thai text, the Si Samut Khoi, that describes the most ancient of the Thai cats. He worked to keep all the ancient Thai cats alive in the temple in which he lived. And in turn, Somdet Phra Puttajan was schooled in the ways of the Thai cat by and older monk.He learn more about Luang Pu, visit the following Facebook page. It is quite fascinating.