My husband and I bought one female Chausie (an Abyssinian hybrid of the Aby and the Asian Leopard Cat) and one purebred male Abyssinian whom we named Tashya and T-Bone. These kittens were approximately 4 months old when we agreed to purchase them from Carol Ashkew of Soaring Eagle/Abicatz Cattery in British Columbia, Canada. My husband and I have been Aby owners since 1990, and we had two established Aby kittens from another breeder who were approximately 10 months old when (what we call) The T-Twins arrived on December 5, 2007. We call them the T-Twins, although they are not related. Carol had 3 queens (the name of a mother cat) give birth in a four-week period of time. Carol also raises Bengal kittens. My understanding of her cattery (I have not visited) is that she has 12 breeding cats and can have anywhere from 12 to 25 cats/kittens at any one time. It is also my understanding that she raises the newborns in what Carol calls a "Cat Shed" which is heated and provides the birthing mothers privacy from the rest of the cattery. So, just that should have been a red flag for me because I prefer kittens that are raised "underfoot", meaning that they live in the same environment as the person raising the cats, but I was taken in by her beautiful kittens, and she seemed very competent. Unfortunately, I now know better. If we as consumers of purebred kittens all band together and stop buying kittens and cats from Carol Ashkew, we will be able to put her where she belongs: out of business.
When Tashya and T-Bone arrived, they had a light sneeze. But even before this, I had planned on doing proper integration buy keeping the new babies be in a spare bedroom for a couple of days and having them checked out before introducing them to the older cats and the rest of the house. Our vet saw the T Twins the day after they arrived, and saw nothing out of the ordinary, and gave us the green light to go ahead and integrate the two sets of cats. The slight upper repertory issue (the sneezing) is very common in young kittens, especially when under stress, which these kittens had been. The day before they arrived at our house, they were taken from their mothers, taken on a 5 hour car trip, spent the night in a place that was unknown to them and then rode on a plane from Spokane to Seattle (where we live) and then had to endure their first night in their new home. Kittens are extremely resilient and purebred kittens go through this sort of thing all the time. Tashya has no whiskers, whatsoever, and after they arrived and I called Carol to ask about that, she told me that the mother of Tashya (named Topaz) was just an over-zealous groomer, and her whiskers have grown in just fine, now. But she and T-Bone are both going to die of FIP, which is caused by the Corona virus and acts very much like AIDS acts in humans: the virus attacks their most vulnerable area. So T-Bone is dying of non-regenerative anemia and Tashya is going blind from cataracts and neither kitten is expected to live very long. Looking back at pictures of Tashya in Carol's online files, I can see something funny in her eyes, but I thought it was simply the flash bouncing off the retnia. Now that I have been educated, it is easy to spot the cataracts in those photos.
Carol has it in her contract that if the kittens are diagnosed with FIP that she will take them back and refund our money. She refused to take them back, so my husband and I are being forced to spend money on their health, keeping them alive and having our hearts broken instead of enjoying their kittenhood. We are trying everything we can think of to keep them alive, and I have had to get quite an education on FIP in the last few weeks. It's not a pretty disease. Sure, we could just put them down and get on with our lives. But we love T-Bone and Tashya and are fighting for their survival. There are a very small amount of cats who have gone into remission from FIP, but T-Bone has not put on any weight since he arrived here 7 weeks ago. In fact, he has lost an ounce. All his energy is going into keeping him alive, and he has what is called "failure to thrive" which is classic FIP. Tashya is not a candidate for cataract surgery (which is $1800) because the FIP may cause the cataracts to grow right back and she may not even be healthy enough to survive the operation. Plus, it makes no sense to do an expensive surgery like that on a kitten who will probably not live. Tashya is putting on weight and growing larger like a 6 month old kitten is supposed to do. Like I said, FIP affects every cat differently.
The reason I believe that Carol is an extremely unethical breeder is because she broke our contract with us. The contract states that we will have "lifetime support" from her, and now she will not accept any phone calls from me and has cut off all communication with me and has been badmouthing me to people I know.
When I first told her about the diagnosis, she went crazy, telling me that our house was toxic and making the kittens sick, that they caught FIP from my older cats (not true, they are both FIP negative), that I have had dead cats in my house before (yes, this is true...my last Abyssinian lived to be 17...which is pretty damn old for a purebred as they are typically expected to live for 15 years) that she and only she could cure them (but wouldn't tell me what her secret was) and when my husband and finally agreed to return the kittens to her a couple of days later she refused to take them back.
After a long struggle to get her to keep to our contract, she FINALLY agreed to send back my money, but she "accidentally" hit the wrong button on her VISA machine and re-sold the $1200 kittens to me! My VISA company called me because they thought it might be a fraudulent charge (it was) and I had to cut up that card. It will take me hours and hours of my extremely precious time to correct all of that, because that VISA card is tied to all my monthly automatic bills and is on every account from my gardening service, to Amazon.com to my Internet provider to my netflix account...basically EVERYTHING! I have been barraged with calls saying my card doesn't work anymore and had to live without my VISA card for about 10 days while they were sending me a new one. Just that headache alone is enough to make me say that Carol is completely incompetent, possibly crazy. I even posed as another potential buyer with a new screen name and point blank asked her if she has ever had a kitten come up sick after a sale, and she lied and said no!
Another reason to boycott Abicatz/Soaring Eagle (aside from her being difficult to work with, being underhanded, selling sick cats, lying to people about her cattery, breaking contracts, trying to steal money from us, blaming everything and everybody except herself) is because she doesn't take her kittens to a real veterinarian! When I asked for Tashya and T-Bone's prior health records, she said "There aren't very many as I do most things myself'"!!! I got physically sick when I heard her say this. Two vets have told me that she needs to spay her Toms and Queens that produced the unhealthy kittens, but she will never do that. And if you ever have the misfortune to speak to her, she will tell you that she has been breeding cats for 20 years (she's only been breeding for 5) and that never once in all those years has one single kitten ever come up sick. The woman is unstable, a liar and a contract-breaker, and I'm being nice and not using stronger words because I want this to be published as potential cat buyers need to be aware of this crazy Carol Ashkew of Soaring Eagle/Abicatz.
Tashya and T-Bone are absolutely adorable, and my family is sick over the fact that they will die, and Tashya will go blind before she dies. My husband and I have been married for 22 years, and we both agree that this is the most stressful experience we have ever been through. Plus, we are pouring money into these kittens trying to keep them alive, healthy and safe. Of course, Carol would never think to help out with veterinary bills...she told me that her vet told her not to refund our money, but that she was going to do it "out of the kindness of her heart"! She only finally refunded our money because we had to threaten to sue her, and plus there is the issue of her trying to steal money from us by re-charging us for the kittens! She also claimed that she never got one single email from me outlining the horrendous experience we were going through until I threatened to sue, and the most interesting thing about that is she replied on an email that she claims she never got.
Please...stay far, far, far away from this woman.
If you are interested in a purebred Abyssinian, Chausie or a Bengal, please do not buy from Carol. Like I stated above, if we, as consumers band together and stop buying cats from her, she will be forced out of business.