interview conducted by Rowe Ann Durant for a 1994 article
in Cat Tracks Magazine
Twenty CFA grand champions in four years? For
a Himalayan breeder that has to be some kind of record! Fifteen
grand champion colorpointed cats, three grand champion CPC's
(colorpoint carrier), one colorpointed grand premier and one CPC
grand premier. And where did it happen? Down in Southern California
in Thousand Oaks, once famous as the training site for America's
Team, now with new claim to fame with us Himalayan fans as home
of Prancenpaws Himalayan Persians. Virginia King is the "coach"
of this program. Her specialty is cream points and flame points
with a bit of blue in the mix. So let's ask Virginia King how all
How and why did you get started with breeding and
In 1981 the mailman of my company
came to my office and asked me if I liked catsÖ that someone had
ordered a C.F.A. Yearbook and had left the company with no forwarding
address. When I said yes, he presented me with the book. I
figure that book has cost me about $500,000.
I opened the book to a Himmie... two weeks and
lots of phone calls later, I owned my first Himmie. I had to drive
several hours to get her, and my friend and I laughed all the way
home because the breeder said she was getting rid of her because
she wanted better quality Himmies. We laughed because we thought that
was really a lame excuse... there certainly were no better quality
Himmies than Pixie. I've never had one of anything. So pretty soon,
Pixie was joined by Katy and Tina. Then I began going to cat shows
I'd walk around and see all those people sitting in front of
beautiful cats and I'd wish so that I was the one sitting there.
I bought cage curtains several years before owning a show cat. I began
breeding healthy, happy pets, but I dreamed of show cats.
When my youngest son (now in medical school) went
off to college, I decided to do it. But no one would sell to
me. I hadn't shown so I wasn't a good risk to grand a cat.
I couldn't grand a cat when I only had pets. I finally got Noel
Newton (you've probably hear of her, huh?) to say she might
sell me a seven month old kitten named Good Vibes.
I called the airlines and made a reservation for several days
hence and flew to Syracuse, N.Y. I was so afraid she'd change her
mind. I called Noel from a motel... She almost fainted... and she
graciously agreed to meet me for dinner. A Lincoln Towncar
arrived at the motel where I shivered in the cold waiting outside
(I had borrowed a winter coat because in Southern California I didn't
own one). The license plate said "Madame Nu" but the lady
who got out of the car couldn't be Noel Newton. Noel Newton - Madame
Nu - had to be oriental, tall, thin wearing her hair in a shiny
black ponytail and wearing a cinch waisted leopard outfit.
Instead, here was a woman who looked like me... little makeup ...
a little over the hill ... a little past thin. She really had to
convince me she was indeed Madame Nu. To make a long story
short, by Sunday she agreed that I could purchase Good Vibes.
I told her the plane home was two hours earlier than it was
so I could get him to the airport and she couldn't change her mind.
To what do you think you owe your remarkable
I owe my success (I don't think it is remarkable)
to 1) Good
Vibes and Noel, 2) Pat Hancok (Lotsapurr),
Shot & 4) My tenacity.
I learned on Vibes. Coming from Syracuse in January
to Southern California, he promptly dropped his coat and regained
it the following Fall. I granded him in his pajamas. I didn't
know how to groom. I didn't know how to bathe. I was afraid to admit
Noel how little I know. Vibes took 15 show to grand, not because
he wasn't wonderful, but because he was naked and what fur
he had looked terrible. In my own region, no one would help me.
They laughed at me ... big expensive cat who looked terrible.
One person did help me... she told me to take him out of the
region. Vibes and I flew somewhere almost every weekend. Because
we were strangers, people would tell me what I was doing wrong.
They knew I wouldn't be back next show. I learned so much.
When Vibes finally granded in May (open show in February),
I cried (sobbed ) when I heard his number. Everyone crowded around
me because he had come in only needing 2 points so anything would
grand him. They all thought I was crying with joy, but I was crying
with sorrow... Vibes and I had been so many places... places no
one knew we were there. We had spent so many nights together in
motels we'd forgotten the names of. And now I knew it was over.
In the airplane, he nestled in my lap under the blanket. I kissed
him and told him that I was sorry it had taken so long for him to
grand... but that I would do whatever was necessary to make
him a D.M. He smiled... because he knew he needed no help.
Pat Hancock was my shoulder to cry on, my veterinarian
when my vet failed (which was often), my inspiration, my friend.
I called her when I saw Lotsapurr Lulu's Back In Town in an ad,
and she supplied wisdom, a breeding program, and the cats to do
it with. When Pat went out of cats, I bought the best of what she
had. One of the cats was GRC Lotsapurr Rose Royce. Six
years old now, Rosy could grand today. She was way before her
time. CH Frenchcreek Right Shot of Twinshire, (Shotty) was a stroke of luck. Judy and Jackie
were selling him as a kitten at a show in Malibu and I brought him.
It was love at first sight and Shotty and Vibes have made the
perfect combination - Vibes daughters bred to Shotty and vice versa
make up a large portion of my grand champions.
My own natural tenacity was the final key. When
local breeders wouldn't sell to a greenhorn (or backyard breeder
as one called me), I made up my mind I would succeed. If they had
sold to me, I probably would be doing much less than I've done.
When no one would help me groom, I made up my mind to learn. And
when I've lost precious show quality babies, I've gone out in the
backyard and shaken my fist and said "God, if this is
a test, I will pass it. I will not give up. No matter what
you give me, I will go on." When I lost Fantasy, I thought
I'd never recover. I still think of her so often and know she's
waiting for me.
Do you cage your cats?
Yes, I do. I realize that many breeders proudly
point out that their cats aren't caged. However, Pat Hancock strongly
advised against this early on. She used to tell me that nothing
was worse than a common litter box. By caging, I know what's going
in and out. And show coats suffer from static electricity in carpet.
However, my cages are large and have three levels. The second level
is almost the same area as the floor. If I opened my cages and let
everyone out, they'd all be back in their own cages within fifteen
minutes. When I let Tempe run free after showing her all last season,
she had a fit that someone else was in her cage. Every time I opened
it, she'd dart back in.
Do you work full time on your cats?
Unfortunately, no. I am a Personnel Manager for
an insurance company in order to keep my cats in the manner to which
they've become accustomed. I do have someone home with them all
the time and have a man who comes in to clean and change boxes,
etc. I do the feeding, show bathing of whomever I'm showing at the
time, and loving.
Do you depend on your own cats for all of your
breeding or do you sometimes send out for some stud service?
I depend on my own cats. I've never used stud service
and given in only for very close friends.
Is there a particular cat (or cats) that you believe
is the most important you have used in your breeding program?
GRC Madame Nu's Good Vibes and
Frenchcreek Right Shot of Twinshire (Vibes
and Shotty). I think my future is in their son, GRC RW Prancenpaws Booster Shot. Booster is Vibes grandson and Shotty's son. His kittens
are gorgeous. He is an avid breeder and the consistency of the look
of his kittens (whether outcrossed or line bred) is incredible.
Richoshot hasn't figured it all out yet... we're loaning him the
book Booster read... but I think he'll be a very valuable stud soon.
How do you go about planning breedings for the
Itís all very scientific. If a boy looks lonely,
I give him a girl. If it's his birthday or anniversary, I give him
a girl. Pat Hancock used to tell me to put so-and-so with so-and-so
and I would. Mainly now I just check to see that a breeding isn't
too close (I don't inbreed). My cats all seem to fit together. I
have added several Persians to my line for type and its all worked
Do you have a particular color choice for breeding?
Cream points are my favorites. Seal points are
my least favorites. But I'd rather have a wonderful seal point than
a mediocre cream point. Usually whatever I'm showing is my favorite
color and I show more cream points than anything else. I think many
breeders make a mistake when trying to buy "a grand quality
flame point (blue point or whatever)". I think color is the
least important part of a cat. I've had people turn down a cream
point that was super and I've seen them showing a cat who never
did grand, who was the color they were stuck on.
Do you do CPC to CPC breedings?
Occasionally. Pat Hancock did. Rose Royce
was from a CPC to CPC breedings. Her litter sister, Brazen Brat,
is a red CPC who carries the point gene. She has produced some lovely
grand champions. Of course, I don't like the problem of not knowing
if a cat carries the colorpoint gene, so I don't do those breedings
that much anymore.
Which color cat do you most enjoy showing?
Cream Points. They don't seem to shade. You can
see where the nose and break are placed.
Do you ever show CPC (colorpoint carriers)?
Occasionally. Because I prefer to show Himmies
and have not had a problem with having something to show, I have
not shown quite a few CP's that are grand quality. However, their
pointed children get shown.
When do you know that you have a show prospect?
I usually wait until the cord is cut! Actually,
this is true more times than not. My kittens are what they are at
birth. Occasionally one will surprise me one way or the other, but
most of the time we can tell immediately. Tempe (GRC RW Prancenpaws Simply Tempting) didn't even have the cord cut when I said, "This
one will grand."
What are some of the more exciting moments you have experienced
in the show ring?
At a one day show in San Diego, we had two cats
and a kitten. The grand finaled in all rings with several Best Cats,
the champion granded and made all the finals, and the kitten made
all the finals with several Best Kitten wins. I know this was a
show to put in a capsule and bring out during the shows when we
Also, Fantasy and Felicity,
litter sisters, granded the same day of the same show. Fantasy
was pointed; Felicity is a bluecream colorpoint carrier.
As I think back, one show stands out that I didn't
know enough to treasure at the time. I took four Himmie kittens
to a show. They were all out of Vibes and four different moms. It
was quite a thrill, but the big thrill came later - the kittens
turned out to be: GRC Prancenpaws Simply Rambunctious.
Prancenpaws Carmen of Operacats, GRC Prancenpaws Simply Capricious, and GRC Prancenpaws Simply Marvelous (Best
Cat AB 2 years ago in Hawaii). These were the first Himmie kittens
of my own breeding that I showed.
Do you believe there will come a time when breeders
will not have to continuously introduce pure Persians in their breeding
Yes. As Himmies become more and more "pure
Persians", I don't think it will be necessary. I look for the
day when "pure Persian" breeders and Himmies to their
programs. (Dream on, Virginia.)
Will you describe the "Look" that you
are seeking for Prancenpaws Himalayans?
I like the cats to look sweet. I like big eyes,
round and poppy, and far apart. I like noses that you want to kiss.
I like short legs and short bodies. I really like Booster and
his sister, Candid Shot's look. And Richoshot
is a half brother - I love his eyes. They are so blue - so big and
round - and he has such a sweet look. I like the look of confidence,
sweetness, and enjoyment of their surroundings. Most of my cats
love to be shown and are very out-going and loving. This shows in
their overall look.
Did you in years past and do you now have
a "dream" with regard to your Himalayans?
In years past. I dreamed of sitting in front of
a cage with a beautiful cat inside who was mine to carry up to the
ring. For the "now" part, I guess this is where I should
say I want a National Winner or to have Prancenpaws cats on pedigrees,
etc. But my dream is different. My dream is to have each cat placed
in the perfect place for that cat. A place where each cat will
live a happy, healthy life. We have such an awesome responsibility!
Not one of my females has ever come to me and said, breed me. I
make this decision and they then undergo the pain of birth and caring
for the babies. Where those babies go is either to a wonderful
place where they will live a terrific life, or we sentence them
to a life of horror. My dream is that not one of my cats will
ever wind up in a tiny, dirty cage... unloved, untouched. My dream
is that none of my cats will be bred and bred until they are thin
and sick. My dream is that my show kittens will go to novice breeders
and bring the joy to them that Vibes brought to me. Booster's brother,
Silk, was sold as a kitten to a couple in Connecticut. They were
quite insistent that he be what they wanted. I was a little nervous
when I shipped him. The telephone rang... the man said, "Virginia..."
The pause let me think he didn't like Silk... all kinds of things
went through my mind. And then he said, "How did you ever
let him go?" This is my dream... the Max and Norma's who adore
my kitties, the Earl's and Peggy's and Linda's who call me and rave
about my kitties and the kittens they are producing. The Charlotte's
in Denmark and Maggie's in England and Max's and Marinella's in
Italy who love my cats. And the Sharon's and Brad's who have become
my lifelong friends. I guess my real dream is that someday, when
I meet my Maker, He will smile and hand me the keys to the Nursery,
and Fantasy and I will spend eternity watching the kittens romp