CFA Breed Sectretary Candidate:
Every CFA Bengal Breed Committee member should have an equal voice!
If you have found this page, I'm hopeful that you are either a CFA Bengal Breed Committee member or that you want to become one! I put my name up to declare that I was interested in running for the position of Breed Secretary for Bengals - the vote will occur December 2018 but you must have your application for the CFA Committee in by 7/31/18.
The positions for CFA Breed Council Secretaries were created for CFA to have a point of contact that represents the voices of the committee members. This means working with all of the members to gather their thoughts on potential changes to the standard. I believe that this is a strength of mine. My background in Sales and Marketing in the Library market gives me the organizational skills to gather everyone's opinion, formulate ideas for implementation (if 60% of the committee would like something in the standard to change) and then to ask people for their preferences by Polling the group to narrow down various wording options. While I certainly have my own vision for various styles of Bengals and I will gladly share these thoughts futher down on this page, it's important to note that this position is not about "my" bengals. The position of the breed secretary is not to put their thoughts and wishes for the breed on to other people, but merely gathers information from the members and to represent those opinions in the way of proposed changes when needed. (I've been told that this is why they use the word Secretary vs. President/Chairperson)
There are no "incorrect" Bengals
The Bengal is a man-made breed. There are more varieties and styles in our breed than any other cat in the world since it did not have hundreds of years of isolation to create a breed with specific traits (and therefore, a standard for that breed.) Therefore, there is literally "no incorrect Bengal". Everyone is correct and has the right to breed for the traits and styles that we each find most appealing to ourselves and to our Clients. With that said, there are many associations throughout the World that have developed a Bengal Breed Standard in order to judge and evaluate the cats entered in for competition.
Bridging 2 Factions
There seems to be 2 main factions in our committee currently - One that did most all of the work with getting our 1st standard put together (Rich Nolte and Marianne Byrne) and the 2nd one that includes Marie Vodicka and many of her connections that seems to be more aligned to an idea of using the TICA Standard for CFA. Both of these factions are at one end or the other of a Spectrum of ideas for where CFA should go for their Bengal Standard. This has caused great friction between the two groups and will make it extremely hard for the Bengal Standard to move forward. While we don't know the make up of the new Bengal Breed Committee until some point in August, currently - Just one of these two factions can block a vote from passing. This type of divide will hurt our breed if we continue down this path. Since I have friends in both groups and haven't had any hugely negative experiences with any of the CFA committee members, I believe that I'm in a good position to be the bridge between these groups.
CFA is not TICA!
I believe that the bengal breeder movement to bring Bengals into CFA was created because of many things that were lacking in TICA. I do not want to duplicate TICA - we already have one! I want to help CFA continue on the direction that was already started by Rich Nolte, Marianne Byrne and the "Group of 8". We currently have a standard that appreciates the Pelt, Structure and Personality of this amazing breed. Personally, I LOVE the 50/50 point split for Pelt/Structure as it aligns with my personal experience and belief in creating a Gorgeous, Rosetted (usually) Bengal with a mostly domestic temperament.
(TICA has been rewarding breeders to create Bengals with more Asian Leopard Cat attributes - It is creating personality/temperament issues because Breeders like myself end up getting too much "Wild DNA" and they are not always making the best pet temperaments for modern society - that's my experience at least.)
PS I've been to 3 shows in Europe where the show hall was shared by multiple associations - It works great even though they have different standards and different ways of judging the cats. I will work well here in the US too - I would love to help put together a combined CFA/TICA cat show someday.
The ALC is not the only Wild Cat that inspires Bengal Breeders.
I hear too often at the TICA shows (incorrectly) that a Bengal cat should have the mixed and muted colors of the ALC as this wild feature is what lets it hide from their predators in the grass. Some Judges/Breeders don't believe that a Rosetted Pattern with high Contrast, extreme Clarity, Rich coloring and a Soft Luxurious Pelt does not look wild. I've heard this for 8 years and disagree with it. While the ALC look is one type of "Wild Appearance", a Bengal with a pelt that I describe above is similar to a Jaguar, Leopard, Margay, Ocelot or Clouded Leopard!!! There are many ways in which a Bengal looks Wild. Just ask the crows in your neighborhood who start screaming about a Rosetted Cat walking around warning everyone - They also agree in this version of "Wild Appearance"! They don't do this with other cats - Just a Bengal. While I have learned to appreciate the look of the ALC more than I thought I ever would, it is still not my main focus in my breeding program.
One idea that I want to explore further is to do polling of the breed council far in advance of voting. This way, we will find out by popular vote, the priorities within the Bengal Breed Standard, we want to work on together. From here, we can suggest multiple ways to "phrase" a section of the standard and get committee members to vote on which phrasing they like the best, 2nd best, 3rd best and so on.
I believe in transparency and think it could be an interesting idea to publish an excel file with the various examples of changes to consider and have the members number their preferences. This could be kept private by assigning everyone a unique ID that only they, myself and anyone else that they wish to share it with will see. I don't believe in bullying or in having individuals try to push their ideas on others when they are not invited to. This way, they can always make sure that their opinions are represented exactly as they would like. I know that so many people love the group discussion formats like Facebook and believe that we need to keep this going in a manner that is kind and respectful to the group. We also need to realize and respect that not all people use the social platforms, email, phone conference calls etc. - yet their feedback is just as important. I believe that this manner of "polling" people could work really well for the Bengal Group in CFA. (I still have to research to see if there is an effective way to do this)