I keep promising myself I'll retire, but I don't.
Professionally, Ed Davis '53 was a Broadway business manager, mover and shaker. But in the feline arena, he is still one big cat.
Nationally recognized as an expert on the Siamese breed, Davis had no interest in felines in the 1960s, when his secretary gave him a Siamese kitten from her cat's litter. Shortly thereafter, someone suggested he attend a cat show. He was hooked.
"So we bought a show cat and exhibited the cat and started to win. And when you win at something, it turns you on," he says. "We had three kids and a house, and I had a career, but we got absorbed in it. We went to shows almost every weekend, and we did exceedingly well. It was kind of like an addiction."
The peak for Davis' cattery, where he bred cats under the moniker Thaibok, was the 1976 show season, when he and wife Donna achieved a record still standing and unlikely to be topped: placing two of their seal point males in top national show spots in one year. Thaibok Teriyaki DM was named the Cat Fanciers' Association (CFA) Cat of the Year, and Thaibok Tyrone placed third in the Best Cat in Championship category.
At 84, the Brooklyn native no longer breeds cats but keeps five companion Siamese at his Orange County, Calif., home. At Bucknell, he earned an English degree with a concentration in drama (one of the University's first). He's retired from managing some of Broadway's top shows, including Grease and Torch Song Trilogy, and a later turn operating Westwood Playhouse (now Geffen Playhouse). But he's still regularly in the ring judging the nation's top cats. In 2003, the Siamese Breed Council of the CFA, the world's largest registry of pedigreed cats, honored him with a Lifetime Achievement Award, and he recently was recognized for a 20-year judging milestone.
"I keep promising myself I'll retire, but I don't," he says. "I still enjoy the social aspect of being with cats and cat people."