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The People

Alida Delport


Alida grew up on a farm in the Bloemhof district, Northwest Province. She loves all animals, but most of all cats, horses and dogs. She started with serious cat breeding after the merger of the Cherie and Finesse breeding catteries into Cherie-Finesse in 1999.

Alida is fairly active in the organized cat fancy in South Africa:
  • Life member and ex-committee member of the All Breeds Cat Club (SACC)
  • Chairperson for the S@CATS Breeders Group
    This is an independent, national group not associated to any cat fancy.
  • Life member of the Western Province Cat Club (SACC)
  • Member of CASA (WCF affiliated)
  • Group administrator for the Chinchilla Longhair Interest Group.
    This is an independent, global group not associated to any cat fancy.
  • Founder of Chats du Cap (Cats of the Cape) who specializes in co-hosting cat shows with country Spring Festivals in the Western Cape.
In the early days of the internet Alida initiated, designed, created and hosted the first web sites of the SA Cat Council, the All Breeds Cat Club and the Western Province Cat Club.

One of Alida's objectives with her cat hobby was to preserve the Traditional Longhair Chinchillas with the open, smiling faces, and to popularize the breed. This was achieved when the World Cat Federation accepted her submission of this breed standard in 2010. A project is underway to publish the submission in book format in 2012 see http://tlh.ad.co.za.

Another objective was to actively work towards establishing a global, stable, sustainable core of Traditional Longhair Chinchillas breeders. In this regard, the Chinchilla Longhair Interest Group plays a vital role. By end 2011 there was fifteen Chinchilla Longhair breeders registered with the SA Cat Council. Several new breeders since 2010 are currently breeding under the brand name "Cherie": Cherie-Lee, Cherie-ShellDon, Cherie-Belle, Cherie-Zelle and Cherie-Storm. 

In her non-cat life, Alida specializes as methodology consultant and lecturer in the field of integrated business process- and software engineering methodologies.

She enjoys outdoor life with her 3 adult children and their friends. Favourite family activities used to include river rafting, horse riding and hiking, especially on Table Mountain and the close by Boland mountains. But now that she is in her sixties, to keep fit and mentally alert, she practices Qi Gong and Tai Chi Chuan as member of the Cape Town Tai Chi Club.

Alida also has a keen interest in small scale wine making and studied wine tasting at the Cape Wine Academy.

 She is an aspiring writer of technical stuff (like the upcoming book on the Traditional Longhair) as well as fiction and literature.

Stella Slabber
(1922 - 2006)

Stella was a well known all breeds cat judge, serving as member of the Cape Panel of Judges of the Southern Africa Cat Council. She was a founder member of the All Breeds Cat Club.

Her life long dedication to the Chinchilla Breed resulted in the overall promotion and improvement of the breed in South Africa. Over time, she imported seven cats from the late Jeanne Ramsdale from the Dearheart Cattery in the USA. Stella and Jeanne became life long friends - hence the "Dear" in many of the Cherie cat names in honour of Jeanne's Dearheart lines. One of the many highlights in her breeding career, was breeding the 1980 SA Cat of the Year, Supreme Champion Cherie Dear Niki.

Stella was the main drive to separate the Chinchilla Longhair (CHL05) as separate breed from the Chinchilla Persian (PER05) in the standards of the SA Cat Council in 1998.

Dr Johan Lamprecht wrote the following eulogy for Stella which he deliverd at her funeral:

Stella Slabber

Eulogy – Huldeblyk – 14 Augustus 2006

Liewe vriende,
Ons is vandag hier om die heengaan van 'n wonderlike vriendin en familie lid te gedenk. Dit is vir my 'n voorreg om 'n kort huldeblyk te kan doen. Ek het Stella vir 25 jaar vanuit die hoek van die katwereld geken en daarom sal hierdie huldeblyk sterk daarop gebaseer wees. Ek vra dus verskoning aan die familie en vriende, wat nie 'n deel van die katwereld is nie, as dit eensydig klink. Stella se heengaan is natuurlik 'n groot verlies vir almal van ons hier teenwoordig, maar ons vind troos in die wete dat daar geen pyn, ongemak en ongelukkigheid meer is nie en dat sy in vrede haar Skepper ontmoet het.

Seven years ago, Stella Slabber wrote the following in an article reminiscing about the history of the All Breeds Cat Club: "I can now, with a satisfied heart and mind, retire from all these past struggles and I am thankful that I was able to prevail through all our trials and tribulations."

"Tannie Stella", as she was affectionately known to those who loved and respected her, was until fairly recently still going strong, although a little smaller and a little slower than before. She judged at the SAC@TS show only six months ago, still fulfilling her passion - judging cats.

Stella was born on 22 June 1922 on the farm Enkeldoorn, 7 miles outside the town Goedgegun, Swaziland. She has always had a soft spot for animals and especially cats. When she saw a cross bred Chinchilla for the first time during the 1960's she was hooked. Her first pure bred Chinchilla was imported from Jean Ramsdale in the USA and so started a long standing friendship, resulting in many of the Champion, Grand Champion and Supreme Champion Cherie Chinchillas from the Dearheart lines. She was a founder of the All Breeds Cat Club at that time and 38 years later was still President, as well as serving on the committee. She helped to steer the club through many troubled waters and saw many changes in the South African cat fancy, always keeping up and meeting positive change with more enthusiasm than many younger members. Stella was the one who started starting each committee meeting with a prayer, a tradition still upheld today.

Stella qualified as an all breeds judge after completing a course put together in the 1960's by the first cat judge in South Africa, Sister Bradford. She passed two formal exams - one set up by the All Breeds Cat Club and a second one set up by the Western Province Cat Club. She saw the formation of the first official governing body, the Governing Council of the Associated Cat Clubs of South Africa. Since then she had been involved in the training and examination of many a local judge and was always one of the best judges to introduce a young, nervous steward to the intricacies of cat shows. One can say many things about this formidable lady to whom a short obituary like this cannot do justice.

Anyone who knew her well would agree that Stella did not let go once she believed in something and she never forgot. Until the end she had a remarkable memory and a genuine interest in things around her. She showed an enthusiastic interest in the many new breeds introduced to the country during latter years and saw it as a challenge to learn about them and judge them - always according to the standard. Stella did not like ultra- or overtyped cats of any breed, but always gave every cat she judged a fair evaluation and exhibitors could always expect a comprehensive show report dictated to her scribe.

Stella lived with her son and daughter, Andre and Juanita in their family home of many years in Southfield, Cape Town, where she was well looked after by Juanita when her health started failing. The well-known Cherie cattery amalgamated with the Finesse cattery of her dear friend, Alida Delport during latter years. Although she did not actively breed anymore, many Cherie-Finesse kittens were still delighting their new owners on a regular basis and graced many an international cat food product label and starred in many an advertisement, as we can see on the slides.

The Chinchilla Longhair as a unique and pure breed, preserving the traditional "look" and type of the "original" Chinchillas and Shaded Silvers, as well as the unique translucent coat, is in existence largely due to her perseverance. The breed is gaining popularity both locally and internationally, where it is sometimes known as the Sterling Silver. One cannot mention Stella without thinking of Grace - her long time domestic worker/cook/groomer/kitten carer/show associate or whatever else one could call her - a formidable person, larger than life in stature and personality and a well known face and voice at cat shows. (Heaven help you if you "withheld" on one of "Grace's" cats - she would take any judge to task there and then before the show day was over!) Grace was the first black Honorary Life member of the ABCC long before the advent of the New South Africa. She was loved and respected by all and her absence at shows and during tea times at committee meetings is missed with sadness since she passed away a few years ago.

Wanneer ek aan Stella dink, is daar soveel dinge wat deur my gedagtes gaan en omdat ek weet dat sy ons nie hartseer uitmekaar sou wou sien gaan nie, 'n paar anekdotes om ook 'n glimlag te bring. Ek onthou hoe lief sy vir haar stukkie vleis was, veral skaapvleis en meer as een maal was ek en Thea, my vrou, as jong getroudes genooi vir 'n heerlike skaapboud, braai aartappels en stowe patats Sondagmaal. Sy was baie lief vir musiek, iets wat nie almal geweet het nie. Die wonderlikste musiekstukke het uit daardie klavierstoeltjie in die sitkamer gekom. Niemand kan aan Stella dink sonder haar sigaret nie. Jare gelede het sy my entoesiasties vertel van 'n nuwe kuur wat sy bestel het - by die bottel vol - dit sou die chroniese hoes genees. By nadere ondersoek was dit toe dagga ekstrak! Ek dink nie sy het verder as die tweede bottel gekom nie.

Tot op 'n ryp ouderdom het sy steeds haar Ierse linne verkoop aan almal wat dit nodig en nie nodig gehad het nie. Ek onthou hoe ek moes gaan help met 'n moeilike geboorte van een van die katte - ek dink dit was Chrystal. Daar was die wasbak vol Dettolwater en handoeke gereed, die verwagtende moederkat in die middel van die dubbelbed al kreunende. Ek moes die eerste baba help verlos en tot my skok kom daar 'n klein donker tabby katjie uit - sowaar 'n bastertjie. Maar Stella was opgewonde oor die pragtige dingetjie, en het onmiddelik van die brandewynwater en eier mengsel, waarin sy en Grace geglo het, begin ingee vir moeder en baba. Gelukkig se ek niks, totdat ek later tot my skande uitvind dat Chinchillas wel soos klein korthaar strepieskatte lyk as hulle gebore word! Chrystal het my nooit vergewe vir die ongemak wat ek haar moes aangedoen het tydens daardie geboorte nie. Wanneer ek by haar hok op 'n skou verbygestap het, het sy begin grom en selfs wanneer ek by Stella se huis ingestap het, kon jy haar diep onder die rusbank oor brom. Ek dra nog die littekens van 'n onbesonne, oorentoesiastiese poging om haar uit 'n skouhok te haal, sodat Marjorie Simpson haar kon beoordeel - die bloed het geloop, maar sy het darem daardie dag 'n kampioen geword. (dit was my bloed, natuurlik...)

Stella often told the anecdote about Doreen Paitaki bringing one of her Black Persians for a mating to her imported stud - I think it was Nicki. He wanted nothing to do with her and almost killed the poor queen. When Mrs Paitaki phoned after a while and Grace answered the phone, she said: "No madam, he does not want a black wife - he only wants a white one!"

Stella Slabber, we salute you and although we sadly look at the end of an era, we know that you will rest in peace and that you will be an inspiration for many of us still in the years to come.

Johan Lamprecht
14 August 2006

Grace Gwedashe
(~1925 - 2000)

Through all Stella's years as breeder, she was faithfully assisted by Grace, who was a cat groomer par excellence. She went to all the local shows with Stella, guarding the Cherie Chinchillas to make sure there was not a single hair out of place! Grace made history as the first black person in South Africa to act as invitational judge for domestic cats (All Breeds Cat Club, Cape Town). Grace retired in 1998 due to ill health, and passed away in 2000.

The essay below was written by Stella in July 2002.

Grace Gwedashe: the extra mile (by Stella Slabber)

"If someone requires of you to go one kilometer, go with him two kilometers.
Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one 
who wants to borrow from you."
(Matthew 5, verses 41-42)


To be blessed with such a beautiful cat as the Chinchilla Longhair is one thing... to maintain an appropriate process of grooming is quite another. It is a process, for to perpetually manifest the beauty inherent in this wonderful animal requires the loving labour of daily grooming.

The Lord provided an excellent friend, Grace Gwedashe, to take on this labour, because He knew that as primary breadwinner, I lacked the time and energy for this task and in His wonderful wisdom, He made sure that my helper possessed the characteristics contained in the book of Matthew, Chapter five: verses 41 and 42.

Grace doubled her grooming efforts prior to each show and this is why my darlings so regularly achieved such high accolades. The memory of her words "Come look, they are as beautiful as flowers" linger in my memory and will continue to do so for the remainder of my life.

Grace's loving care fostered a bond of trust with these cats to such an extent, that I could well believe in the existence of telepathy between mankind and animals. My gratitude for her companionship and help, which lasted for more than thirty years, is beyond expression. Thank you, dear Grace.

As we grow older, we learn that our lives can change in an instant and so it did with a rapid decline in Grace's health and diminishment of my physical strength. This meant that the continued success of the Cherie Cattery came under threat during 1998. In His mercy, our Lord so often opens a new door when an old one closes and a wonderful opportunity entered through the new door He opened for me.

Alida Delport became my new miracle. A daughter of any mother's fondest dreams, she took over the heartbeat of my cattery along with all the burdens of it's administration and marketing. She walked a thousand kilometers on my behalf in providing a wonderful home for my angels, merging our two catteries and never refraining from sharing the joys of our darlings with me.....she has the gift of "kitty telepathy", a wonderful thing to behold.

Our new cattery, "Cherie-Finesse", quickly yielded a big winner called "Finesse Thomas O'Malley". Supreme Thomas O'Malley scored the highest points for neuters in the "Cape Top Cat 2002" competition.

I humbly thank you, Alida, for your unselfish love and sacrifices....may God bless you!

Sadly my Grace departed this life during 2000. She is much missed by many friends who got to know her at all the shows, which she regularly attended with me, benching the cats on the shows and keeping eagle eyes focussed on their welfare all day. I wish she could still be with us.

Grace became the first ever black person to judge on a cat show in South Africa. She once judged the domestic cat section upon invitation by the All Breeds Cat Club in Cape Town.

To end this article, I wish to share an amusing episode. My friend, Doreen Paitaki, brought her black Persian for a mating with Dear Niki, to produce Silver Tabbies, the breed she specialized in. I wish I had a video camera to capture this moment. I put the two cats in my spare room. Niki gave this pitch black, copper eyed cat one look of such petrified horror and reversed into the furthest corner of the room. There he froze, his horrified eyes nearly popping out of his head.

During my absence, Doreen phoned Grace and asked her: "Have they mated yet?"

Grace said very seriously: "Oh no, Madam, he does not want a black wife, he wants a white wife!" Doreen told this to me later, very much amused by Grace's comments.

Olga Mbali

 Olga joined Cherie-Finesse in 2011. She loves the Chinchillas. She is in training to become a groomer. She attended her first cat show on 5 May 2012 as steward on the AICA and CASA shows.

Olga (right) with 
student judge
Theresa Aldum (left)
and judge 
Amanda Visser (center).