About us‎ > ‎


South Africa

The Cherie-Finesse Cattery is a tale of two catteries. It is a merger between the Cherie Cattery, established in 1973 by the late Stella Slabber, and the Finesse Cattery, established 1981 by Alida Delport. The two catteries merged into Cherie-Finesse in 1999.

Cherie Cattery, Cape Town, 1973

The late Stella Slabber started the Cherie Cattery in 1973 in Cape Town. She saw a picture of a Chinchilla in a book by Jeanne Ramsdale with the title: "Persian Cats and other Longhairs". She fell in love with the cats bred by Mrs Ramsdale and wrote to the publishers to obtain Jeanne's address. She then ordered a breeding pair from the Dearheart Cattery.

The Dearheart cats that come to Stella's Cherie cattery were:
  1. Dearheart Alexander (DOB 25-10-70) - arrived May 1971 with
  2. Dearheart Jennifer (DOB 1970);
    • They produced Cherie Alexis, who sired Cherie Dear Niki
  3. Dearheart Daniel (DOB 3 Jan 74) with
  4. Dearheart Chantilly (DOB 9 April 74;
    • They produced Chansonette, who gave birth to Cherie Dear Niki.
    • Cherie Dear Niki made history by being the first ever longhair cat to obtain supreme championship status in South Africa. 
    • Niki was also SA Cat of the Year in 1980. 
  5.  Dearheart Nicholas (DOB 10 Aug 76),
  6. Dearheart Merlin (DOB 27 Oct 79) and
  7. Dearheart Niki (DOB 18 Oct 1988).

Finesse Cattery, Pretoria, 1981

Alida Delport started the Finesse Cattery in 1981 in Pretoria, breeding Siamese and Burmese. The name Finesse was chosen by Alida's late husband, Johan, a keen bridge player. Finesse in bridge indicates nifty play which allows winning despite high cards in the hands of the opponents. The name symbolizes the desire not to compete for being the "biggest", but to be modest and clever. The arrival of the human Delport babies in 1983 suspended breeding with cats for a while. When Alida's daughter, Elize, was 5, she was allowed to choose a cat as pet from a CFA yearbook. The child had just one choice: a Chinchilla! Alida obtained a top class Chinchilla female, resulting in breeding Chinchilla. Alida and her children moved to Cape Town in 1991, where they met Stella.

Cherie-Finesse: a merger in 1999

The two catteries merged in 1999, after Stella had a light stroke. She entrusted 5 of her 8 cats in Alida's care: the stud Ch Toska Alexander, the queen Cherie Dear Shani, Finsesse Dear Crystal, the acclaimed cat star Gr Ch Denchin's Stardust (aged 9), and a retired queen, Sp Ch Cherie Dear Chansonette.


The Dearheart tragedy, 2000

The source of original letter by Sharon Hanley is: http://www145.pair.com/zoom44/MoonDrops/SharonLetter.shtml. We duplicated Sharon's letter here, because we do not want to loose the information in years to come due to a link that may be broken if the source is moved.

Moon Drops and Dear Heart Catteries

December 15, 2000

Dear Family and Friends

It is not a holiday letter that I send you this year, but a note of explanation.

It has been a very hard year for us.

On August 24, at 9:30 at night, an electrical pole outside our house caught fire and within 15 minutes our whole house was involved. That night we lost 42 beautiful angels. All except one of our beautiful and rare cats perished. The house and garage were a total loss. Harve made it out with underwear and shoes. I made it out with a sweat suit and my car keys. With the help of our wonderful neighbors, the Lipscomb's, and the Red Cross we had a place to stay and bought some things to wear.

Within two weeks we bought a 33 foot trailer and moved it on the property, just yards from our burned home. We thought that if any of our little angels made it out of the fire, maybe they would come back.if we were out there. It has been months now and we have seen no signs of any of our babies. The possibility that they could have survived this long out in the wilds of our hills is very slim.

My sister, Nancy and her new husband Doug, were on their honeymoon. They immediately came to our rescue . They sifted through ashes, and organized the placement and hooking up of our new trailer to the water, gas, electric, telephone and satellite T.V.. We are so grateful to them!!! They spent weeks camping out near the burned home looking for our babies and anything else that survived the fire.

Now, we are looking for an architect to design a new home for us. A place to bring new babies when and if we ever find any. We have had the rubble taken away and have a contractor who will build the house when we have a plan.

It is lonely without our babies and the hunt for new silvers has been fruitless. The majority of silvers have been breed for show and in order to do that they have had to out cross to the flat faced cats. I have always worked to keep away from cats with these genes. There is also a new disease P.K.D. A kidney disease which will kill the cats at 8 to 9 years of age. 40% of all persians have this problem and it is passed on to the kittens by the parents. It comes from the flat faced persians and has been introduced to the silvers by the out crossing. I don't feel that I could breed cats that have the possibility of having this disease so I have to be very picky about my new breeding stock. We do have one male which was on loan to a lady who had lost a kitty. He is able to breed. We also have two females available from our breedings. One little girl was sold with the understanding that she would not be bred but they never had her fixed . We have had our little boy over to her house and on December 5 they started making babies. We are hoping that in a couple of months we will see some kittens from this pair. We also have a friend that travels to England a lot and she is looking for breeding stock there.

A breeder friend of mine sold me a little silver girl. She has gold eyes and her lips are partially pink but she was a little baby to hold and love in a very dark time. Lance our chinchilla golden alter that survived the fire was in the hospital for two weeks and then came home in very bad shape. He was burned badly and lost the majority of his fur. In some places clear down to the skin. His back feet were burned so bad the nails melted into the foot and the pads were burned off. He still has trouble walking because his back feet are very tender and they don't have any fur. The vet thinks he may never have fur on his back feet and legs again. Everywhere else his fur has come back except the tip of his nose and the tips of his ears.

When Lance was in the hospital and we were visiting him, we met a lovely cat, Tommy, who did not have parents. We took him home with us. So now we have three cats.

Shortly after the fire my older sister died of a heart attack. I went down to Los Angeles for the funeral and was warmly embraced by my family. They have been the rock that has kept me together. I have been traveling to L.A. about once a month to visit with my nephew and his family. His daughter was named after me and is a real delight. Lance and our new little silver girl Kimberly always travel with me. I now have a room of my own at my nephew's house they call "Aunt Sharon's room" where Kim, Lance and I stay.

We are hoping that someday we will have little silver and golden angels again. In the mean time, we are heart sick over the loss of these precious gifts that we were given and were so quickly taken away.

Please, what ever you do, don't take your little fur people for granted. Love them and let them know every day. I believe that I did that. I believe that my babies knew that they were loved and that they ment the world to me. If I could only turn back the clock and see their little faces one last time. To hold them and whisper in their ear that they were the love of my life. They can not be replaced. They will never be forgotten. The pain of the loss will never go away.

We are sorry that this comes at a time when things should be happy but one of the things that was lost was all my addresses and phone numbers., so I could not reach you earlier. Please keep in touch.

Love always

Sharon and Harve

Sharon and Harve Hanish
P.O. Box 485
Morro Bay, CA 93443
545 Main Street Suite C2
Morro Bay, CA 93442
805-466-2377 Home
805-460-9441 Home
805-772-1203 Office
805-772-5056 Fax
hhanish@slonet.org e-mail