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Chrystele Bourely chocolate and lilac persians

Chocoland cattery
Chocoland Cattery

Chrystele Bourely, Chocoland cattery breeding Solid, Bicolor, Van, Himalayan, specializing in chocolate and lilac varieties. Read more about how her interest in chocolates began.

When did your love for these colors begin?

It began in 1996 when I bought my first chocolate persian girl (Myléna de la Marjolaine, from Ch. Julien Van de Zuring -- chocolate and white boy and Isis de la Marjolaine -- chocolate girl) in France (European lines, mostly from Holland) I started my breeding with silvers. I came to the French breeder with the wish to buy a new silver shaded kitten but I fell in love at first sight with the chocolate colour and purrsonality! She was meowing with her tongue out her mouth. I was amazed by her colour and her personality that I couldn't go away without taking her with me.
2 years after, I stopped the silver breeding to focus on the chocolate and lilac colours also at a time when all the French breeders was trying to discourage me to breed these rare and difficult colours. I've been told that chocolate was bad black and that lilac was only a pale blue.

Do you have a mentor, if so who?

I give credit to Alexandra Reynaud (Oceanicor Cattery), that gave me the motivation to start showing my cats. In 1999, I begun showing (before I only visited French cat shows, never shown my own cats) my chocolate point girl, Assaja Juki. I came back home with many ribbons :-) It was a very exciting cat show for me ! Assaja did 2 BIS and was 5 best pointed cat at this show.

Do you remember your very first chocolate/lilac brought into your program?

Myléna has been my first persian girl, mother to many litters. Without her, I'd never had kittens in that period (my silvers was not good to breed with). She gave me my first lilac kitten in 1998 -- a boy kitten from a inbreed mating, pet-breeder quality but with a very pale lilac colour.

In 1998, Ch. CFA Degentilly Star, chocolate boy, imported from Canada, has given me my first chocolate and lilac kittens of show quality (mated to Assaja). It was the really first step to my chocolate breeding program.

Do you have a favorite color division? (bi-color, himalayan, solid, parti-color, smoke, tabby)

My favorite is solid and bi-color persian, but I like chocolate and lilac colours in all the division!

Do you have any particular favorite cats in your program?

Yes ... my particular favorite cat is my International Champion homebred Choco'land Rare Beauty. She has a good cobby body that is so difficult to get in this colour, very nice type (a deep break, good doming, tiny ears) but a closed look. That is the point I'd like to improve by mating her to a type boy with a sweet look (BIG eyes!). She is also so loving and she loves to be showing. She is the only one cat from my breeding that can stay in the bath grooming without trying to escape!

Since all Himalayans are born white at birth, at what age do you determine their color?

At 15 days, I can see the difference between a blue or a lilac point; a seal point and chocolate point. But even at the first day, you can see a difference (that I'll check in the following days) on the blue point kitten, you can see a more beige colour body. On the lilac point, the body appears really white! So with some practice, every breeder could see the difference at the first day.

Do you have any advice when determining a spoiled seal point from a chocolate point?

The body colour, the paw pad colour, the point colours and the nose leather ... on a seal point, it is more dark (especially when it's an adult, the body will turn out to loose the contrast between the points and the body colour). On a chocolate point, the body would be almost white and the nose would appear chocolate.

Do you have any advice when distinquishing a pale blue from a lilac Persian?

The difference is not easy on a bad lilac persian (dark) compared to a very pale blue persian. But if the lilac has a good pale colour, we can't make a mistake. The lilac persian has a pink-beige colour, especially if you look closely in the coat. I use to take off the long dead hair on my lilac persians. It's a good way to groom the lilacs for the show & to show their true colour. If a lilac persian is dirty and has not been well groomed (dead hair taken off), the colour will not appear as it is. It's like for a blue or for a black that would have white hairs in their coat. On very pale lilacs you can see a pink nose leather. But I've noticed that most of the lilacs will loose this colour on their nose; it'll appear more dark, more beige than pink. But when you've a blue persian (even if he is very pale) with a lilac persian, side by side, front of you, you can't mix them! It is really different colours. I've some pics to illustrate it if you want.

At what age do you determine their quality (pet,breed,show)?

At the day of birth, I can determine the kittens that are promising. But I'll be able to determine their quality at 4 months old, after their 2nd teeth and for the male when you can check their testicles. For me, determining a show quality is to offer a guarantee. I'd tell it with certitude only after a first showing, not because I'd not be able to determine their quality but because for me it's important to have the opinion of a judge: we never know. We can have forgotten to check some important things, like the tail, the teeth and so on. A show quality (or top show) should be almost a "perfect" cat. A cat that should win in most of the time on the show hall. It's important to always be aware that we are not the only breeders. Looking at other cats is the best way to always try to improve our breeding. Some breeders will determine a cat as a show quality; for me, he might be good for breeding only ... it's very subjective, depending on what we mean as a show quality cat. When you've seen many top show persians at the shows, you must be very strict on your own kittens. It's like that, we'll improve our chocolate and lilac persians: we can't anymore telling "they're nice for a chocolate or a lilac persian! " We have to reach the same quality as we can see in other colours. For sure, it's a challenge ...

What is the most difficult part of working with these colors?

Well, I'd first say that we always have to make hard decisions : would I focus on the colour this year or would I focus on the type? I've noticed that most of our chocolate or lilac persians are from the same lines: European or US-Canadian (I could tell you some more famous lines like Degentilly, Rosegarth, Tyland, Foxy, Featherland, Kutzikoo ...). Now that we've gotten some very nice subjects in those colours, we should stop mating only chocolate to chocolate, to add new outcross lines. Like that we'll stop getting faults (like jaw problems, kink tail, closed lacrimal canal, yellow eyes ...). Inbreeding is interesting to show the good and the bad things that are behind the cats. After such matings we can be aware of what we've to improve (or which cats we have to avoid from our program). So the most difficult part is to get the colour, with improving the type: first we have to add the colour to very good persians (no carriers); then to make carrier matings to get both the type and the colour. Or I could have said: first to make outcross by adding top show quality persians to our chocolate or lilac persians. It's only the way of thinking!

What is the most rewarding experience working with these colors?

It's when you can show your homebred chocolate or lilac kittens for the first time !!! But before that is when you get your first chocolate or lilac show kittens!

What is your most important advice about these colors you'd like to give?

Personnaly, I prefer the breeders who really came in the chocolate breeding for the love for this rare colour. I'm always suspicious with the breeders that came in it accidently (getting chocolate kittens from unknown carriers) or with the new breeders that want to buy a chocolate or a lilac kitten only because it's the fashion colours ! I'd like to advice to be aware that breeding chocolate and lilac persians can't be just because they're more expensive ... or more rare. If new breeders want to start breeding chocolate and lilac persians, it must be because they really like those colours. Besides, to know that it takes time ... and a lot of work! Improving, with love would be my main advice!

Is working with these colors for everyone? Do you have any advice to offer anyone just starting with these colors?

Well, it depends on what we're looking for. . . breeding chocolate and lilac kittens, or trying to improve them?! I'd suggest to visit many cat shows ... to "make our eyes" on solid or bicolor persians and himalayans. Than to look at the chocolate and lilac persians and himalayans to be aware of what needs improving. Breeders can start with those colours (like I did) but they should learn to make outcross. And to never forget that each year is a new challenge. You can't start by thinking you'll only have to buy 2 chocolate or lilac kittens and that you'll get show quality kittens in those colours. Maybe you'll get, but you'll not get any reward for yourself by acting like that. Everybody can buy 2 chocolate persians (if we are rich enough!) but breeding is not only mating 2 cats. For me, it means something else. Studying the pedigrees, learning at the shows, visiting the breedings, making errors, trying many ways of breeding, taking hard decisions, keeping many kittens ... before improving our own cats. It can take many many years ! But it's worth the wait :-)

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