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Sunday, July 10, 1994 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Ranny Green

Home-Grown Pixie-Bob Is Bound To Capture You

Imagine for a minute. You own a cat with a look of the wild, yet possessing a friendly, outgoing "purrson-ality" of a dog. And it has no known genetic faults. It's the best of both worlds, right?

Meet the Pixie-Bob, showcase breed (there will be about 10 of them) at the Emerald City Cat Fanciers show next Saturday and Sunday in the Seattle Center Flag Pavilion.

Chances are you probably haven't seen one of these unusual creatures, which have only recently been exhibited in The International Cat Association (TICA) events.

There are only about 500 Pixie-Bobs and 20 breeders nationwide, says the Pixie-Bob matriarch, Carol Ann Brewer of Bellingham, who has carefully nurtured a breeding program since 1985.

It all started with a newspaper advertisement for a "polydactyl (extra-toed) Manx," says Brewer. "The woman lived near Mount Baker. When I went out to see the kittens, I asked her if I could see the father. She told me it wasn't there and reluctantly told an incredible story about the breeding.

A small coastal red bobcat was seen breeding in the barn with the family's polydactyl Manx. Believing that their cat was in danger, the owners ran to save her. It turned out she was fine and eventually delivered a litter estimated to be carrying 50 percent bobcat blood.

In every area on this continent where the bobcat is found, says Brewer, kittens are born in barns every spring, resulting from wild-domestic matings. "The kittens produced by these breedings," she says, "often go unrecognized, as they are usually wild in temperament, but more domestic in appearance." Because there are 11 subspecies of bobcat in the U.S., Canada and Mexico, the kittens' temperament will vary considerably, depending, too, on the breed of domestic female.

Brewer acquired a male polydactyl kitten, Sasha, from the litter and immediately was intrigued by its appearance and behavior.

Within a year, she acquired a female, Maggie, of the same heritage.

It wasn't long before she spotted a classified advertisement in the local newspaper for a Manx (he turned out to have a bobcat-length tail with a small knot on the end, ferocious personality and his back reached to the 5-foot-3-inch Brewer's knees). It had been found near Mount Baker. "The ad ran about three weeks and no one answered it," recalls Brewer. "It was the middle of the winter, so I went out and decided to adopt him."

The emaciated cat she named Keba weighed 17 pounds during a physical examination at the veterinary hospital. Because he was a real scrapper, Brewer's mother didn't want her to take him home. So she kept Keba for three years

Keba bred with Maggie, producing Pixie, a female which had a heavily spotted fawn coat with a wild face similar to a bobcat, and two others, which were sold. "Pixie became the major dam line for nearly every female cat in her program," says Brewer, "but also the namesake for the breed and cattery."

"I didn't really know what I had then," admits Brewer, who next bred Sasha and Maggie, kicking the program into gear.

Eventually, the feisty Keba became too much for Brewer's mother to handle, so Brewer placed him in her tightly wired cattery. "He escaped the first night and I haven't seen him since," she says. It was like he had this urge to return to the wild."

For nine years, the Pixie-Bob has become an obsession with Brewer, who quit a bookkeeping job in 1991 to devote full time to her cats. "I am not a scientist and I don't know genetics, but I can tell you what every mating will produce."

None of the nation's major associations has recognized the Pixie-Bob, but Brewer is hopeful TICA's decision to allow it to be displayed, has left the door ajar for it to gain eventual acceptance.

"It's up to the breeders to show its potential," she says, "and prove we have a sound, controlled breeding program based on natural hybridization."

Brewer's goal has been to reverse the natural characteristics of these creatures - producing a wilder appearance, yet domestic personality - and now it's reached the point where substance has supplanted symbolism.

"A few breeds purport to have bobcat look-a-likes, but only the Pixie-Bob has authentic, certifiable bobcat heritage," she emphasizes.

"They are excellent house pets, nondestructive, easy maintenance and extremely quiet. In fact, they only occasionally chirp or chitter.

" Often characterized as "dogs in disguise" because of their canine-like temperament, the Pixie-Bob is highly trainable, says Brewer. "A couple of other dog-like traits they possess are devotion and courage. They want to be with you all the time . . . in the car or when you're walking from room to room in the house."

Kittens produced from Pixie-Bob to Pixie-Bob matings have a muscular, rangy body, thick legs, ticked coat, loose skin and short tail that may be wagged or curled up and down for effect. Their trademark, says Brewer, is their face, "which evokes the feeling that you are looking into the face of a true bobcat. It has that wildcat look without the behavior. Most average about 25 percent bobcat blood.

"The bobcat itself is a wild animal and is not a good pet. We, in turn, have taken what it has given us - its children, grandchildren and more and have made them a part of our lives."

Because it may be mistaken for a bobcat if left outdoors, Brewer carefully explains to each new owner that these are indoor-only animals.

The Pixie-Bob Association, which certifies all kittens as having bobcat blood and registers all approved kittens, maintains a tight reign on its breeders, reserving the right to approve each kitten for introduction into the breeding program.

The criteria, explains Brewer, is not so much for the size (eight to 14 pounds for females, 12 to 22 for males) but the conformation of the head and face, i.e. no bobcat face, no bobcat/domestic breed.

Average price for the Pixie-Bobs is $400-$1,000 for pet quality and $2,500-$3,000 for breeding stock.

Show hours are 10 a.m.-4 p.m. both days. Admission is $4 for adults, $3 for seniors and children and children under 6 are free when accompanied by an adult.

An admission discount of $1 will be given to all spectators bringing an unopened bag, can or box of pet food to donate to the Seattle King County Humane Society's Pet Food Bank. -- Mail information regarding dog and cat events to Classified Division, Dog and/or Cat Events, The Seattle Times, P.O. Box 70, Seattle, WA 98111. All releases must be in writing. Information must be received by Monday prior to Sunday publication. Be sure to include a public phone-contact number.

Copyright (c) 1994 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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