There hasn’t been a time longer than a couple of months that I have been without a cat in the past 60 plus years. I never played with dolls as a little girl, just dressed up my cat “Blackie” and drove him around the neighborhood in a baby buggy. When I was 10-14 my family lived in Iran. My first “Persian” cat was a male that I bred to a feral female that I tamed. They produced my first “Exotic”. From then on I was hooked on breeding cats.

Susan and tiger cub

After my family returned to Southern California I discovered cat shows. In the 1960’s shows were quite the extravagant thing with movie stars and flamboyant judges. Most of the cats were Persians and  Siamese.

I graduated from the University of California at Davis with a major in Zoology. After graduating I moved to New Zealand to become the first full time woman Zookeeper in Australasia. I was in NZ less than a month when I picked out my first cat from the Wellington pound.

I lived in N.Z. for 8 years  where I worked at the Wellington Zoo, and as an Entomolgists for the DSIR outside of Christchurch. Both my sons were born there. I bred and showed Persians and “Household Pets” (HHP) and also acquired my first show Collies. I had to leave my pet collie in the US but in 1970 bought  my first show dog. From my NZ Collies I bred champions in 3 countries and maintained my line through 11 generations until the last one died of old age in 2011.

Persian & snow leopard cubs 1982

My sons and I returned to California in 1979 with 2 dogs and 4 cats. The Persians in the States were more extreme than mine, but I discovered Exotics (which weren’t known in NZ at the time) and weren’t yet as extreme. My first Exotic male lived to be 20 but the standard soon followed the Persians in type, and my work commitments were such, that I stopped showing or breeding cats.


Faly, my Coton de Tulear, better known as “the Dat” the dog who thinks she’s a cat.



I began a full-time career at Micke Grove Zoo in CA in 1980 and worked there until I retired in 2004. I have literally cared for every sort of animal from ants to elephants. My specialties were cats and lemurs, but I’ve raised many animal species – exotic and native – as I also did wildlife rehab. I stopped breeding and showing the Collies in 2000 due to work pressure. and also changes in the Collie standard that I wasn’t in favor of ( in case you you haven’t figured in out, I don’t like extremes in my animals. I like  healthy animals that are structurally sound and as free of hereditary problems as possible) I knew that when I retired as Curator I wanted to show cats again so I started checking out shows for a breed I liked and fell in love with the new breed Selkirk Rex. I bought my first one for Christmas in 2004. I’ve continued to show HHP’s as well as the Selkirks, and now Brits. I ‘m not a big time campaigner but enjoy going to shows and breeding the occasional litter. I show in TICA and CFA and love talking to the public about my breeds, and cats in general. My cats are my house pets and that’s why I haven’t been keeping a stud cat of my own. I strive to produce healthy happy kittens that will bring pleasure to their new owners. I DNA test for everything that’s currently possible, and will continue to have breeding cats scanned for HCM. I’m an active member of the Wine Country Cat Club.

I have a couple of small dogs that play with the cats and kittens, and a 23 year old Uramastic lizard just for the fun of it. Aside from  the animals, I love to garden and am active in the local garden club.

Susan Senser