The story of the Kohana's has been broken into parts to make it easier to read as it's a long, long story:) You can jump to the relevant sections by clicking on the links below.
It's a long, long road....
It’s a long long road, is how I would describe my journey into the amazing world of the Kohana cat. I first saw the Kohanas years ago on a cat forum and my eyes nearly popped out of my head! I started to hunt for information about them, but to no avail. I did manage to find out they have various names Kohana, Hawaiian Hairless, Rubber baby and the little information I found made me very despondent. I learned that the Kohana is very rare, far rarer than the sphynx, in fact at the point I was reading up about them there were only 18 in the world. I resigned myself to the fact that although I had fallen in love with these little gremlins the likelihood of me ever owning one was slim, so very slim I could not see it happening…….. not ever. I never forgot them though and I realised they had touched something in my heart. I never thought I could love another breed like the sphynx but I was filled with love for these very special rare cats.
Some time later I had met my wonderful friend over in Oregon Jennifer Vallandigham and in an on line conversation one day I asked her what she knew about the Kohana’s if anything. I fully expected her to say that she knew nothing about them however her answer nearly made me drop on the floor. Jen said I know lots, what do you want to know? I stared at the computer screen hardly believing my eyes as she typed, her friend was the only breeder of them in the world. At one point I honestly believed she was taking the mickey out of me and pulling my leg. Here was a cat I had worshiped for ages and there was she telling me she had MET them. I found out all I could about them and I must have driven her mad because most every day the conversation would get around to the rubber babies. I started to re kindle my faith that maybe one day my prize little rubber baby would come home to live with me. It’s a long, long road little did I know!
I had a trip booked to go out and see Jen, and whilst I was travelling she tried to contact me to ask me if I would like to call in at San Francisco to meet the Kohanas?
I never got that call, my mobile was off. When I arrived at her house I was inconsolable, believing I had missed my only chance. Jen could see I was upset and rang Michelle and Kristin to see if we could drive down at some point in the holiday, and joy of joys they so kindly agreed.
Never, not ever, even if I live to be an old old lady will I forget seeing the two Kohana babies that were sat before me. I could not speak, I could hardly breathe. To this day words fail me as to just how much love I felt for them, it nearly knocked me over. I have only ever felt this feeling a couple of times. When I cradled my children in my arms for the first time, and when I finally knew that after five and a half long months of nursing Isis back from the dead she was going to survive. The Kohanas brought tears to my eyes. Looking into their eyes was like reaching into their soul. I can never describe them accurately to anyone and I never will be able to, you have to meet a Kohana to truly understand. These two little babies just 9 weeks old were an amazing sight, one that I don’t think I truly thought I would ever see again. I remember Orion looking at me moving his head from side to side, which seemed like an age, then gently ever so tentatively he reached out to my hand with his paw and guided my fingers to him to stroke him. This again had me in floods of tears.
All that night I stayed up hand feeding them with Kristin, when it came time to leave I felt like someone was ripping my heart out. I knew that never really in my wildest dreams could I hope to own one, but I also knew I would never give up hope.
When it came to the time to leave I cried and as we pulled away I hoped that would not be the last time that I would meet the wonderful Kohanas. On my return home to the United Kingdom every minute I got the chance I would speak about the Kohanas and how magical my visit had been with them.
I kept in touch with Michelle and Kristin often and still I always hoped one day a little rubber baby would share my life.
Just over a year later I found myself in a position where I could go for a holiday to Oregon again. I hoped I would get to see the Kohanas again. I did feel very privileged to have met them, and I knew I would always be grateful for the special moments I had shared with them. I was acutely aware of the fact that there was only 18 worldwide and I had been privileged enough to meet five of them.
In the time I was waiting to go over for my next holiday a kohana boy was returned to Michelle,his name was Mickey. Never have I been so shocked when I spoke to Michelle and asked her if I would see Mickey when I was over there and she said silly how can you not see him when you are taking him home with you. I remember staring at the computer screen with tears running down my face, finally my dream was coming true.
It’s a long, long road………….
I planned and planned for Mickey’s return journey home, and dreamed of a life with him. I had pictures of him and would carry one around in my purse and stare at it all the time he was so beautiful. About three weeks before Mickey was due to come back, I knew that the chest infection that Mickey suffered from as a baby had returned. I worried about him constantly and just before I was due to fly I got the news that Michelle thought he would be better living in a warmer climate. Months of waiting for him, months of gazing at him, months of loving him. That moment will stay with me forever when I realised that my dream was only a puff of smoke in the air. Still I hoped and prayed things would change. When we walked into Michelle’s house laid on top of the TV was the most beautiful cat I had ever seen in my life. I knew instantly it was my Mickey, I could hardly speak. I remember James saying “my goodness who is that cat” I just said in a very quiet voice that’s my Mickey, I would have recognised him anywhere, how could I not, I had spent months and months of loving him and looking forward to the day he would come home. A day that would never be. We went out for a meal that night, and all through the meal I was getting more panicky. In my lifetime I have never begged anyone for anything, that night I got down on bended knee and pleaded with Michelle to let my boy come home. I remember Michelle looking at me and saying Jen if I could I would but I just can’t. I begged and begged for my boy not to go anywhere else, I said he was my cat and always would be my cat and he did not belong to anyone else. I have nothing but utmost respect for the lady who put her baby first above all, I would have done the self same thing and although it hurt like mad, what a superb person she is to have put Mickey first. Always in my mind I will see Mickey as my cat. Whenever he goes or whatever he does I will always love him and I will always be sorry for the time that we could have spent together. I will never stop wishing that he had come to me, and I will never stop respecting Michelle for making that decision and putting her baby first and foremost above all.
Michelle told me that night that I would have a Kohana one day, it was just a matter of waiting. I looked at her and said M what if there are no more ever. Her face and answer said it all “there has to be Jen”. If you spend time around Michelle Berge and see her with her cats and the Kohanas you can see the love spill over in her eyes for them. M is incredibly proud of the Kohanas and there is no wonder, they are an amazing breed of cat that could be in no better hands.
Over the ensuing years sadly there were never any more survivors of Kohanas. Michelle did have another 5 year old boy returned to her, that looked for a short time destined to come to me, however this was not to be either. I began to realise that above all else I wanted the Kohanas to survive. I did not want to be an old lady explaining to my grandchildren that I once saw this wonderful breed of cat, but sadly it was now extinct. Far more than being selfish and wanting one for myself I became paranoid that I would never see one again.
So this is my account of how I first met one of the most amazing creatures I have ever had the privilege to know, and now to own. I now am the only person outside of the USA to own not one but a pair of Kohanas, two of only twenty two in the whole world.
Today we welcome Maggot and Beetlejuice to their new home and to our lives, and over the course of the next week, I will publish on the website the story of them arriving here. The nastiness, maliciousness and jealousy that surrounded them coming into this Country, and the reason that this was a longer road than any of us ever thought it would be. Not today though for today is the day that we finally welcome MAGGOT AND BEETLEJUICE HOME!!!!!!
Michelle thank you so much.
In 2006 a litter of Kohana kittens were born. At this stage I did not even know about them, I am sure that I would have driven Michelle crazy with my questions and of course in all the years that I had worshipped them there had been no survivors so you can probably only guess how excited but how much concern there was around this litter. For ages babies had been born only to not survive, and each and every time I cried like it was a loss of one of my family. Each and every time my hopes soared to the heavens only to crash on the ground. My heart wept for Michelle and Kristin every time something happened. I became neurotic that there would be no more, gone were my thoughts of owning a Kohana, now my thoughts were monopolised by the mere thought of their survival. No longer did I think about owning one every waking moment, just the sight of one litter would have been enough for me. I will never know through the years what must have occurred with Michelle and how hurt she must have been to see hopes and dreams come crashing down each time, her words “they have to survive Jen” became a distant memory and something that looked certain now not to come true. I know as a breeder what it is like to loose precious babies, I know what it’s like to hand feed and to feel that despite your best efforts your efforts were just not good enough, but I have never had to endure the frantic fight for survival of something so precious so that it will not become extinct, to sit up night after night knowing that that may be your last chance of ever progressing with a breed, and then loose that baby in your hands. Can you imagine what that is like? To have the only chance of survival for a breed on your shoulders, I doubt very many people can understand that. I know for sure they could have been in no better hands, but still it has to have been absolutely heartbreaking.
When the Kohana kittens were quite a bit older I received a picture on email one day of them. I stared and stared at the picture before me. I think I was witnessing a miracle, and it was certainly a day I had started to believe would never happen, could they possibly be Kohana kittens before my eyes, or was this some kind of cruel joke, I looked and stared at the picture not really believing what I was seeing, not daring to believe what my own eyes could see. I began to see a ray of light, maybe this time would be different, maybe just maybe this time they would survive, maybe there was hope. I had never given up hope throughout the years, but it has taken steely determination not to become despondent and to try and keep hopes alive. But maybe this time there was hope, all the time a voice in the back of my head was saying there is always hope Jen, and then another voice was saying idiot prepare yourself for disappointment yet again you do this every time don’t you, you cannot help yourself but to keep hoping and hoping, over and over but to no avail, you know its futile why do you bother?
You can see the photograph of the Kohana kittens on this page, this is the first picture that I ever saw of them, and I will treasure that picture forever.
I followed their progress eager to know about there every move. There was one day that I got a message Michelle was trying to get in touch with me. The only way I can describe my feelings were fear absolute cold hard fear had gripped my heart that there was something wrong with Michelle’s babies. Her pride and joy that held so many hopes and dreams and really I believe were the only chance of survival for the Kohanas. I tried to get back to her many times over the course of about the next three weeks (Michelle is not the easiest of people to contact LOL), finally I saw her on the computer and finally was able to have a very quick chat with her. M was rushing out to work and said would I be there at 8pm, I would have moved mountains to make that conversation that night.
Well make the conversation I did and thankfully heard that the babies were doing fantastically, and that for the first time in a long time M actually thought they were going to all make it. We chatted for ages about them, with me finding out all their quirks and their different personalities it really was a joy to my ears. Many times during that conversation I was in floods of tears. The Kohanas have the ability to do this to me. They always have done, right from day one the Kohanas have only had to look at me to have me doing this and it has not changed to this day! I have cried literally buckets of tears over them. I was delighted for Michelle, delighted for the Kohanas, I was simply delighted! Finally after such a long time my dream of actually believing I would continue to be able to go and visit with the Kohanas and see them for years to come was unfolding before my eyes, it was coming true. It’s a long, long road……………..
It was thought that because they were older and stronger and looked certain to all survive, one of them could be mine, if I wanted one. Oh yes like wild horses would have stopped me, OF COURSE I WANTED ONE. I cried and I cried and wondered could it really be coming true at last. By this time I had started to preserve my feelings, never in my wildest dreams did I think I would get to this stage and I was now VERY wary of letting myself become attached to only be hurt again. Thus I don’t this I ever really believed it. I thought something very wrong would happen again and my dreams would be dashed. I was sent pictures of them all and I had a choice of which one I would have. A choice, oh how funny how on earth could I choose from three of the most beautiful creatures on earth, impossible a choice, I still laugh about that to this day.
Michelle and I spoke a lot I told her that I could not make a choice it was physically impossible for me to do. Just to look at them was enough, to be in a position where I would choose which one would come to me was too much! I asked Michelle to choose for me trusting her judgement completely, however which ever one she chose would be my Maggot. I have had such mixed reactions to his name, and I realise it is very different. A very different name for a very very special wrinkly cat. Actually the one person that was most opposed to his name, I am so glad that I ignored, because she turned out to be one of the most treacherous, nasty, back biting people ever to walk this earth, and although I thought she was my dearest friend at the time, the only thing she was ever concerned with was bleeding me dry for everything I had. So I am so glad that I chose the name that I love for my beloved Kohana, anyone honoured enough to meet Maggot (I always consider it a huge honour to meet probably the rarest cat in the world) will see that he suits his name. He is unique and so is his name. He is known by many other names of course. He is our Maggot, our Mags, our Mr Magoo, he is my Boo Boo, he is the love of my life! I cannot imagine my life without him. Michelle adored his name and wished she had thought of it, and so Maggot became Maggot whichever one of the three Kohana kits I had the choice of he turned out to be. I still titter when I think that I had a choice!
A little while later there was still a choice to be made. Michelle seemed to be having no more luck than me. Loving each and everyone of them for their very different personalities the choice was impossible. One day whilst talking to her I said well it’s simple if we cannot choose I would like a red one, there are two and I don’t mind which one, however if we cannot choose between red and the black and white baby, then I shall have to have two, then I changed my mind and said no it would have to be the black and white baby, then I said I could not choose it would have to be two, on and on it went. I was joking, of course I was joking, how could I have hoped for two, it was incredible to believe I was having one, and I still did not believe it. I did not believe that I would ever own a Kohana cat until a very short time ago when they walked through my front door like they had never lived anywhere else.
It was a couple of days before I heard from Michelle again she had decided that she would rather have two travel back together and if I was serious then two Kohanas could come home with me to England. I remember laughing thinking I was part of a dream, NO WAY were any coming home, it was too incredulous for words to think two were, absolutely ridiculous and no way could it be real. I carried on with this attitude all through the months that past that I refused to allow myself to be hurt and refused to believe that the road had an end, well it did but little did I know it was a long way away yet. So Beetlejuice became my black and white baby, my angel, my miracle. Also known by many names to us, our Beetljuice, our Beetle, my little roach LOL, beetle speetle, snake eyes, so many names our black and white treasure has. Looking at them today it is hard to think about the six years and a half years from me first seeing a Kohana to what went on in that time, and the joy of having them in our lives. It is hard to believe the tears and the heart ache and the complete and utter panic that at many times I felt. The emotions surrounding one of the most amazing cats on this planet.
The time had come to start preparing for their some 8,000 mile journey home to me, still I never thought I would see the day, I thought something would go wrong. I was determined to do all that I could so that this time I would actually get my Kohana. A plan was already formulated in my head. A stupid, irresponsible plan, but a plan nevertheless. All my morals and my ethics should have told me to stop right there, stop what I was thinking, and plotting. So driven was I by the fear that if I waited something would happen just like the last time, I carried on. Thoughts of my Mickey were always in my head, I had done the right thing with him, I had waited but and it had gone drastically wrong, if I had just had an opportunity like this with Mickey he would be here on my knee today. I was not going to let that happen again. So I went through with one of the most stupid mistakes I have ever made in my life. No one is perfect least of all me, but this had to be the craziest thing that I have ever done. It opened the floodgates of all the jealous people in the cat world that have surrounded my life for years to have the opportunity of a life time, finally in my defence (of which I only have the love of these cats and the desire to make sure this time nothing went wrong) I did what I did out of love. Not to cause anyone any harm, in fact there was so much put in place where it was impossible to have any harm caused to anyone, but that was never published. The only story about the Kohanas arrival into this Country was sensationalised by the press, and bastardised by the people that saw it a superb opportunity to get at me. Well no one knows the true story only ME, and finally after what is way to long people wishing to read this story can have the only persons side that really knows what happened when Maggot, Beetlejuice and a female sphynx entered into this Country. No one else is qualified to comment because no one else knows. Oh yes you can surmise those of you who think this will make me go away. Those of you who are so easy to spot it is untrue. Members of the public who want to know the true story of the sphynx only have to look on breeders websites in the Country and see all the sickening links that each and everyone of you have on your websites. You all work together, you all work part of a team, part of the team which poor unsuspecting joe public could never even imagine existed. It’s about the love of our wonderful breed isn’t it, it’s about these adorable cats isn’t it. Or is it? Is it about power and having a monopoly. Is it about setting up websites and only letting the chosen few advertise on there as a breeder. Is it about monopolising the sphynx world for oneself and the crazy individuals that work together. In this Country there are some fine sphynx breeders. I have owned sphynx for 9 years now, and never ever have I witnessed anything quite like the world of the sphynx.
Maggot and Bettlejuice and my sphynx did make it into this Country, at a huge price. It was still a long way before they would walk through the door of their new home. Now was this thanks to someone genuine who felt such a sense of duty to members of the public they had to come forward, or was it down to spite, because how could anyone unless they were very close to me have possibly known how it was planned to get them here? Why did this valiant person hide behind smoke screens and an anonymous phone call, why have they NEVER TO THIS day come forward to explain their reasons? Judge for yourself after reading the next part of the cats journey, you be the judge because only I can tell the story. I can tell the real story and one person knows what part they played in the boys going into quarantine for six months. An act of goodness or an act of maliciousness, read the story and at the end of it only you can be the judge.
It’s a long, long road…………………….
<< Back to top