Kitten Smitten is a small in home Cattery on an old cattle ranch turned sheep operation in the Sierra Foothills of Northern California where we specialize in both the long and shorthaired version of the incredibly charming and loving Minuet.
Here on the ranch our Minuets, also known as Napoleons, are kept primarily indoors but have access to the outside world via large screened windows as well as a screened secure Catio on our porch that looks out over 143 acres of meadow and undulating oak and pine woodland. The cats enjoy watching a landscape rich in nature that includes, at the height of lambing season, approximately 100 head of sheep, livestock guardian dogs, horses and two hard working spayed and neutered barn cats, along with nesting birds, passing Canadian geese and wild ducks that nest on our frog filled ponds. For added enrichment all our Minuets enjoy riding in cars whether to shows or just errands to town and back. Even the barn cats ride the tractor on our daily rounds to feed the stock.
Because the Minuet, as well as all cats are dedicated carnivores here at Kitten Smitten we feel a diet of at least 50% raw meat is vitally important to all our breeding animals so with the help of our sheep operation we can afford them high quality grass fed lamb along with some outside sourced poultry. A cold water, high oil fish is fed once a week.
Animals of all kinds have always been the central focus of my life. I was a 4-H kid throughout my childhood and worked in a grooming parlor over Christmas holidays. As a teenager I showed horses and dogs. My first serious job was as a racehorse groom. Then in my early twenties I worked as a vet tech for two years. The first year with an extremely busy small animal veterinary hospital and the second year with a country vet. Later in my twenties I spent eight and a half years working for the Seattle Animal Shelter in the animal care division and in their low cost spay and neuter clinic.
This was a time before the rise of the many small “no kill” shelters and the various organizations that now pepper the country. It was a heart wrenching experience and a dark period for out of control, indiscriminate breeding of innocent pets which took a heavy toll on my mental and physical health.
I finally had to leave, in doing so I left the United States to start a B&B and restaurant in Southern Mexico. Even though I had run away I could not help but be involved with animals. In Mexico I started a small wild felid animal rescue where I raised the babies of poached Ocelots, Margays and Jaguarundis. I started programs to educate the village children about ecology and the need to care for nature instead of destroying it.
The Canadian based International Society For Endanger Cats funded a larger enclosure to house them and sent me to a week long Small Felid Workshop in Las Vegas which was attended by eleven country’s from around the world including the Smithsonian Institute with their ground breaking Cheetah breeding program and the president of the French based World Conservation Union with his struggle to save the Tiger.
In the end I spent twenty years in Mexico but I finally returned to the States, buying this ancient ranch and it’s tumbling down, eighty plus year old farmhouse.
The events of this past year were particularly hard for us, from losing too many dear friends, the catastrophic California fires being way too close, the mysterious loss of a beloved guardian dog and numerous sheep to a mountain lion plus my partner needing to be away for the coming winter left us feeling beat up and disheartened. Then in our darkest hour thats when I found… Minnie!
With this wee little “Kitten” we were instantly “Smitten” and thus “Kitten Smitten” was born. It was my love for how special she is that made me realize I don’t have to feel guilty for the unwanted and unloved little souls and sentient beings of this world. I have from my past experience and vast knowledge the ability to be involved with this amazing breed, to be responsible and do it justice.
So this is my pledge… I will not breed indiscriminately. I will strive to test the soundness of all my breeding animals for genetic markers in their DNA, to scan their hearts for defects and to partake in or contribute to research. In particular I am interested in the Munchkin Radiography Study at the College Of Veterinary Medicine. I have spoken at length with Leslie Lyons PhD of the Feline Genetics and Comparative Medicine Laboratory and feel this study has the potential to greatly benefit the future of this wonderful breed. If it can move forward I feel it could be used as the framework for a certification program like the OFA of the dog breeding world that has virtually saved the large dog breeds prone to hip dysplasia. This could be an invaluable tool in helping dwarf cat breeders around the world to choose sound breeding stock.
Most of our kittens will be spayed or neutered before placing in permanent loving homes. The few that are not will remain here in the Cattery to refine and improve our breeding program or go to proven responsible breeders with a similar commitment to the breed that are willing to show and exhibit them to there highest and fullest potential, which I feel is integral to the survival and health of the breed.
Lastly, virtually no one is showing the shorthaired Minuet and it is one of my goals to be their champion by refining and standardizing their own special look away from that of the Munchkin so the world can see their unique charm alongside their beautiful longhaired version.
Thank for your interest in who we are at Kitten Smitten ❤️