Not only is breeding silvers today different, but showing silvers now is far different than it was thirty years ago. There are a wide selection of shows to attend almost every week-end and our award-winning silvers are seasoned fliers. Unlike 1958, where one could earn a maximum of four points at a show, cats can now grand in one show. GC Diadem Allegro was the first silver to do this when he granded in 1975, at only nine months of age. At the time of the 1979 article, the highest scoring silvers were chinchilla females – GC Northbrook Pewter Doll and GC Car-Toma Mitzen of Gray-Ivy. Mitzen was a West Coast winner; Pewter Doll was from the East Coast. Mitzen was shown mostly in her area; Pewter Doll traveled somewhat more. With the new decade, it became obvious that if you wanted a National win, you HAD to travel. In 1980 and 1981, GC Sanmar Ole was Second Best of Division. He was notable for his excellent head type. Silvers have made great advances in type in this decade.
In 1981, for the first time in quite a few years, there was a silver in the top twenty National wins. GC, NW Oakview Cotton Candy of Exton, a chinchilla female, was 9th Best Cat in 1981. Sadly, she died at the end of the show season. In 1980, 1982, and 1983, the Shaded Division wins were shared by a cameo and a silver. GC Flambeau Fabulous of Mac Haven was Second Best of Division in 1982. In 1983, Dr. and Mrs. Howard Jones, experienced campaigners, brought another female to a top National win. GC, NW Exton’s Meadow Glitter was fifteenth in the country. Since then, we have had many other top winners in the Shaded Division: GC Kimberlea Tad of Jenwilli and GC Hershie Haven of Hillsbury in 1984; GC Joyvyn Candy Kisses and GC Diadem Applause of La Cattique in 1985 and GC Myshara’s Sashay and GC Tiffanyland Vanquish of Sheirkahn in 1986. Vanquish is a beautiful cat imported from Japan whose pedigree is made up almost entirely of American silvers from Bean Ridge, Delphi, and Walnut Hill.
There have been many changes in silvers, the Yearbook, and showing in general. One thing that has not changed is that almost without exception, the top silvers of each era have come from catteries that have bred only silvers. Silver breeders are a dedicated group and apparently most have found that it is more productive to specialize. Breeding silvers and any other color or breed means keeping two (or more) sets of cats. This is not to say that breeders have not used other colors in their breeding programs; many have, and with mixed results. “Look what breeding to solids has done for Himalayan type” is something silver breeders frequently hear. Yes, breeding Himmies to solid color (or parti-color) Persians HAS done wonders for the “pointed” Persians. One big difference is that Himmy breeders get “showable” cats (cats that meet the standard for eye color and coat color) in the first generation of breeding pointed to non-pointed cats. With silvers, it is more likely to be three generations before you get the green eye color and white undercoat back. It is especially frustrating to breed your silver to a solid color to gain type or bone or whatever one hopes to gain, only to lose it by the time you regain your coat and eye color.
Silvers differ from Persians of other colors in many ways. One thing I have found consistently in my own line and in many other lines is their extremely early sexual development. Since 1965, when I began breeding my silvers, I have found that, with one exception, my males have all sired by the age of ten months. CH Diadem Pride ‘N Joy may have the distinction of being the only kitten shown in the kitten class who was also a proven stud. A number of our females have called as early as five months, and most cycle regularly by seven months of age. Thus, silvers can be very difficult to show because of their interest in, or longing for, the opposite sex, which makes it nearly impossible to keep them in top show condition. Both sexes lose weight because they will not eat properly, and a female can take off a show coat in a matter of hours, rubbing and rolling while calling. No other color coat is as delicate as a silver coat. Sometimes it is possible to keep them in condition by housing them completely away from all other cats, but many do not do well by themselves. Silvers are more sensitive than other Persians and really need to have company and be around people. It has been observed that solid color, introduced into a silver line for other reasons, frequently slows down this early sexual development.
If you follow the commonly accepted practice of not allowing your queen to have kittens before twelve to fourteen months of age (breeding at ten to twelve months of age), and she has grand potential, you have only a couple months after she is out of the kitten class to “grand” her. This is not an easy feat in some regions where there are few shows or in other regions with stiff competition. Flying and expensive motels do not fit into the budgets of most exhibitors. Some silver females cycle almost constantly when not pregnant or nursing until they are three years old. Breeders then find themselves with two choices: to continue showing this immature silver until she grands or is old enough to breed, or forget about showing for a few years. Holding a female off through months of calling until she is old enough to breed (perhaps from five months on!) can make it difficult or occasionally impossible for her to conceive at all. A male, who may be anxious to sire as early as seven months, can be a very indifferent stud if held off too long after his normal interest develops. They are not called “Sexy Silvers” without reason! Some breeders, in an effort to keep their cats in show condition, resort of a variety of drugs, which may result in a number of dangerous after-effects. Some cats, males and females, after being kept on hormones or steroids, etc, for a show season, never breed. Some suffer permanent or even fatal kidney and/or liver damage.
In order to breed silvers, one must be very dedicated. Silver breeders work not only for type, but also for proper coat color. For instance, blues with very dark coat color can and do win, but silvers, if shown with muddy coat color, can (and should be!) disqualified. Silvers must have a white undercoat and the tipping should be black (not blue). The amount of tipping on the coat and face as well as the color on the hocks and the bottoms of the feet tell you whether the cat is a chinchilla silver or a shaded silver. Though there are slight variations as to the amount of tipping for each color in different parts of the country, a chinchilla is NOT just a white cat with green eyes. The chinchilla standard calls for sufficient tipping with black to give the characteristic sparkling silver appearance. A shaded has a mantle (cloak) of black tipping and the general effect is to be “much darker than a chinchilla”. From what I have seen, some of the shadeds are getting so light that it is often difficult to tell the difference between a chinchilla silver and a shaded silver. Both chinchillas and shadeds are being shown with less tipping than the standard calls for. This may be because chinchillas are more popular, or it may be because it is more difficult to produce a coat that is even and properly shaded. There are additional color problems in silvers. For instance, there is far more seasonal color change in the coat of a silver than in most other Persian colors. In addition, the light shaded silver youngster just out of the kitten class is very apt to mature into a lovely chinchilla after the first adult coat is shed.
Poor eye color in another Persian might be gold instead of copper; poor eye color in a silver tends to be more gray and any yellow or gold in a green or blue-green eye will certainly ruin chances for finals – or worse. Incorrect eye color is cause for disqualification. Part of the appeal of the silver Persian is the unique coat color and the exquisite green or blue-green eyes with a mascara-like outline.
Silver breeders have held to the standard that calls for a sweet expression with eyes that are large and round, and a nose that is “short, snub, and broad; with a break”. The standard does not say how short the nose or how deep the break; simply short with a break. Perhaps some breeders and judges are reading something into the standard which was not originally intended. Few of the top silver today have the exaggerated and/or severe look seen in many of the Persians of other colors. Pictures of this years winners, GC Exton’s This Other Eden, Best in the Shaded Division, and GC Denevers Serail of Chatican, Second Best in the Shaded Division, can be seen elsewhere in this volume. Both have the lovely look that has made silvers, and Persians, so popular for so many years.
Silvers are extremely popular world-wide. In many countries, silver classes have thirty or more entries. Germany and Japan have made great strides in the quality of their silvers by importing cats from the United States. Holland and now France are importing more and more U.S. Silvers. The Scandanavian countries are also quite desirous of obtaining our silvers, but many breeders are reluctant to sell to countries with quarantine regulations. England has a six-month quarantine requirement, while cats going to Sweden have a four-month quarantine requirement plus two months “in house” quarantine in the owner’s home. Australia has even more strict quarantine regulations. Italy, South Africa, East Germany, Poland and a number of South American countries are also looking for U.S. silvers.
There are more silver registered than any other color, nevertheless silver classes have shrunk over the years in this country. This may imply that some silver breeders feel they have not yet reached the level of perfection to which they aspire. However, many breeders feel they are already breeding typy silvers that meet the standard as it is written, and do not wish to produce the ultra-extreme “piggy” look. Still others feel that as more silvers final, more will be shown.
Whatever the reasons may be, Breeders of silvers all have the same goal in mind: to breed beautiful silvers! Breeders of silvers, like most breeders, are always striving for perfection. We wish to continue to improve type, bone structure, and size within the written limits of the standard, yet maintain the beautiful coloring and flowing coat of a “top show” silver.
Author, Janice Reichle, has been breeding Shaded Silver, Chinchilla and the occasional Golden Persian under the Diadem cattery name for more than 35 years.
While many Diadem Silvers have earned the title of Regional Winner, as well as having a National and Breed winner with GC, BW, NW Diadem Dilemma, Janice is most proud of her Distinguished Merit sire GC Diadem Personality Plus, DM, and what he has done for silvers.