By Francis Simpson, printed in 1903.
Here we present a few chapters from Francis Simpson's "The Book of the Cat", printed in 1903. The pictures are from the same book.
From my earliest recollection I have had from one to several long-haired cats of that variety often called Maine cats. As to how and when they came, I would say, like Topsy, they just "growed," for their advent reaches far back beyond the memory of the oldest inhabitant.
Our own family circle was never complete without one or more cats - not always longhaired, but that variety always held the place of honour. As early as 1861 my younger brother and myself owned jointly a beautiful long-haired black pointed with white ; he bore up for several years under the remarkable name of "Captain Jenks of the horse Marines." I have no recollection of his earlier history or advent. I fancy, however, that these cats came into Maine much in the same way and about the same time that they did in England.
The Maine people having had them so long, it is difficult to arouse any great enthusiasm about them there. They are much like other people - they go into heroics over things they know less about.
Not until the craze for long-haired cats struck the West did they think much about selling cats; their very best would be given to their dearest friends. When I think of the number of beauties that I have had given me on my return visits because I would be good to them, it makes me wish for the good old times when the little dears were beyond price in "filthy lucre."
I think the first really important development of the cat fancy that took deep and lasting root in me occurred in 1869, when I saw for the first time a pair of blue-eyed white Persian kittens that landed, to say the least, free of duty, in a sailmaker's pocket, from a foreign vessel, which put into a seaport town for repairs after a severe storm.
This Mr. P----, being a great lover of cats, while on board the vessel making repairs, admired a beautiful white Persian cat with a family of kittens, belonging to the cook, who gave him a pair of them. They grew and were nursed with tenderest care, the female developing much the better quality in hair ; but females were not highly prized at that time.
They were both kept two or three years to get a good male for a gelding. I was told that they destroyed all the female kittens but at last they were rewarded, and then the original pair were sent to a relative in the country. From that time on long-haired blue-eyed white kittens sprang up in most unexpected places. At intervals they have appeared and almost disappeared several times for want of care in breeding, but with this drawback they will still frequently come forth in the same fine type.
I owned a very fine specimen called "Dot," who became a noted winner, and who came from this strain about eleven years after the kittens landed. I think he was quite as good a specimen of Persian as the one that came from the original kittens. They were both cat show winners at the same time, although "Baba" (or "Babie") was in his dotage when "Dot" was in his prime. We were not thinking of pedigrees then, but merely who had the best cat.
"Baba" at that time belonged to Mrs. Mason (formerly Mrs. Philbrook), and won the cup over everything in the Boston show. "Dot" was not at the Boston show, but won first in his class at Bangor, Maine, which was held at about the same time.
"Dot" was sent to the Bangor show to please Mr. Robinson, owner of "Richelieu," who had the management of it, and without the slightest thought of winning. He brought home a gorgeous silver butter-dish, elaborately inscribed, which sat about at least ten years before being given to the cook. Oh, that I had it now, that its picture might grace these pages!
For intelligence and affection "Dot" was by far the superior cat. I have never seen his equal. Although deaf, his other senses were so keen that we hardly realised he did not hear. He would answer to the slightest beckon, and was always watching for a call. He was quite proud of his beauty, and never failed at his mistress's receptions to speak to each person present before taking his seat in the window.
At one time some office girls who passed our house every day on the way to their work told me he was usually on the gate-post at seven o'clock in the morning to salute them and wave his plume to them. Each one stroked his head, said "Pretty kitty!" and passed on. He then took his morning roll on the lawn, and was ready for his breakfast.
His benevolence and tender feeling for cats of 1ow degree was displayed by his keeping a cat two winters ; his protégé was an example of the sad-eyed forlorn cat (one sad eye, the other closed beyond repair) ; spirit completely broken by neglect. As soon as the weather became cool, "Dot" would usher his sad friend into the kitchen every morning and ask for breakfast for him, then sit back on the rug the while, and with utmost satisfaction - expressed in song - watch the tramp cat eat it. Where he kept his friend when he was not eating we knew not ; he was invisible.
He also excelled as a traveller, making several short journeys. When with me he scorned a basket, much preferring to sit on the seat and look out of the window and incidentally entertain the other passengers by his unusual privileges in cat travelling.
He developed an unusual taste for moisture, often sitting on a garden bench through a heavy shower, while his frolics in a light snowfall were most entertaining.
Taking him all in all, I have not yet seen a finer pet cat. We sent him to rest in the happy hunting grounds at the age of ten years.
I would like to say a few words here in regard to American cat shows. We are continually hearing it stated or seeing it written by the clubs and those who are new to the fancy, "The first cat show ever held in this country," and so forth, was, we will say, according to their light, some three years ago. That is true so far as clubs go, but large cat shows were help spasmodically in all the large and some small eastern cities as far back as the 'seventies.
I have a photograph of "Richelieu," owned by Mr. Robinson, of Bangor, Maine, who had won first in his class at Boston, New York, and Philadelphia previous to 1884, when he was shown at Bangor, Maine, in a limited show of the one hundred best cats. He was a silver or bluish tabby, very lightly marked ; about seven years old at the time ; weight about twenty pounds ; he was, as his picture shows, rather a coarse-grained variety ; a drug store cat.
I know nothing of his early history ; but his owner had the cat fad - a well-developed case - and travelled from city to city to show his cat, much as we are all doing now twenty years later.
At that time Maine, near the coast, was rich in fine specimens of the long-haired cats. That was before they began to sell. I have in mind their brown tabbies.
We often hear it said by people who know them not that the Maine cats are unhealthy, that they have worms ; and I have to admit it, and that they sometimes die like other cats ; but here is one that didn't until he had rounded out his full seventeen years.
On page 329 is a picture of "Leo," brown tabby, born 1884, died 1901 ; presented to Mrs. Persis Bodwell Martin, of Augusta, Maine, by Mrs. E. R. Pierce, when he was six months old.
He lived a life of luxury and ease, having his meals served by his mistress's own hand in the upper hall, where he chose to spend his time for the later years of his life.
If I may be permitted, I would ask comparison between the picture of "Leo" and any thoroughbred brown tabby - first, colour of muzzle, length of nose, size and shape of eyes, breadth of forehead, size of ears, length of hair in the ears, and on the head. In body markings "Leo" would fall off, as his hair was so extremely long that the markings became somewhat confused.
They have had some extremely fine brown tabbies in Maine. In the summer of 1900 I bought "Maxine" there - the mother of "Young Hamlet," who won over his sire "Prince Rupert" the first year he was shown. She was, or is, very much the type of the "King Humbert" stock, though she has no pedigree whatever. It is one of Nature's own secrets how they keep bringing forth - now and then, not always - these fine types.
I have before me a most interesting letter from a Maine lady, one of my con temporaries.
I will first explain that Maine at that time was one of the largest ship-building States in the union, residents of the seaport towns and cities being often misters of their own floating palaces, taking their families with them to foreign countries, and having in many towns quite social sets, like the army set or official set in other sections.
Mrs. Thomas, to whose letter I refer, was the daughter of the late Captain Stackpole, who commanded his own ship for many years, taking his wife and little daughter with him. That was before our Civil War. She says: - "I was always very fond of cats before they had to have a pedigree. In my younger days, en route for California, we stopped at Juan Fernandez, and I got a little wild cat.
"Later on, when in Europe, I got a Manx cat from the Isle of Man ; it was a great curiosity, and not considered very handsome, with its bob-tail, and hind legs so much longer than the front ones. It came to an untimely end by running up a flue, and was smothered to death.
"The wild cat did not flourish on condensed milk, and lived but a short time. Bad luck has followed me right along, but I keep right on like an old toper, and don't know enough to stop."
In writing of her own cat, the mother of "Swampscott," she says: - I cannot tell you much about my cat's pedigree - only that her great-grandfather was brought to Rockport, Maine, from France ; he was a blue-eyed white." This line of whites, while in the same locality, are quite distinct and unrelated to the first whites mentioned, of which "Dot" was given as a type. But her reference to her early exploits with Manx cats clears the air as to how these different varieties first got root in Maine. This instance is only one in many where pets of every variety were bought in foreign ports to amuse the children on shipboard ; otherwise, as in one case I can call to mind, the children would make pets of the live stock carried to supply the captain's table with fresh meals - chickens, lambs, etc. - until it would be impossible to eat the little dears after they were served by the cruel cook.
Therefore birds of plumage and singers, cats, dogs, and even monkeys, found their way to nearly all the coast towns - many more in the past than at this time, when sailing vessels have passed their usefulness as money-making institutions, and those that do go out are not commanded by their owners ; paid captains, as a rule, cannot take their families with them, and the supply of cats from that source has been cut off for many years, so those we find there now can safely be called natives.
Up to this point I have been writing of the cats of the long, long ago, and perhaps only interesting to myself, being as full of pain facts as Gradgrind. Before coming down to some of the fine cats of the present day, I will say that I am told by an eye-witness that on a little island quite well off the coast which is inhabited by only three families, and where a few gentlemen have a quiet nook to fish in summer, they found pure white Persian cats with the most heavenly-blue eyes. So far as is known, no other cats are on the island. I had the promise of a pair last year, but cruel fate had visited them in their sheltered nook, and the kittens that year died. The promise still holds good, and I do not want to believe it a "fish story." Time alone can finish it.
I really know nothing of the cats that are said to be found on the islands ; but no doubt they are much the same as those found all along the New England coast.
For a long time the long-haired cats seemed to be confined mostly to the coast towns and cities ; but the giving their best to "their sisters and their cousins and their aunts" have spread them inland, as well as scattered them over nearly every State in the Union. They thrive as well as any other long-haired cat. No doubt they do still better in Maine, but the difference comes from the fact that they have the freedom of living a natural life, without dopes or over-coddling. Their offspring are beautiful, because they are from their own choosing, and not from compulsory mating - often distasteful, no doubt.
About 1895 or 1896 the cat fad struck the Middle West. The time was ripe for its development. The high, the low, the rich, the poor have all felt its force, as the real love of animal pets is no respecter of persons, and this fancy has made the whole world kin.
A few people who had never seen a cat show in their native land "go across," attend a cat show, or pick up a cat at a bargain on the streets of London ; They "fetch" it home, and, lo! their neighbour has seen something very like it while at their summer home on the coast of Maine. The fad is contagious, and if they have the fever running very high they send back east to their "handy-man" to get them a long-haired cat, and these cats become popular. Clubs are formed to discuss points and exchange knowledge, shows become a necessity, large premiums are offered, numerous valuable specials become a feature, cats must be found to fit them, the home market at a low figure is looked over, many Attic treasures are brought out, and have often tipped the scales in favour of the Yankee cat. We all turn green with envy. Before another show we must import a ready-made winner at any cost! In the meantime, the demand for the home-grown article is increasing, and prices are getting much inflated, the dealers in large cities keeping their buyers busy in the New England field during the fall and winter months. But the stock of kittens has been looked over by the summer residents or visitors ; the real cream disappeared with the first frost to some winter homes in the big cities ; the dealers get what is left at almost any price they please to pay, many of the specimens being indifferent, and some, no doubt, mongrels.
In the last few years I have known less of the Maine cats, except through the shows and a few that I have owned myself, which have not been shown much or proved remarkable in any way ; but among the gems that have shown out with more or less brilliancy when on the bench we find "Cosie," a brown tabby, taking first and special for best cat in show in New York, 1895. Mrs. Lambert brings out "Patrique" in New York in 1896 - blue, and a nice one.
"King Max" - first brought out by Mrs. Taylor - won in Boston first in 1897-98 99, only to be beaten by his sire "Donald" in 1900.
Mrs. Mix has shown a fine Persian type from Maine called the "Dairy Maid." I believe she has also "Imogene," from the same place - a tortoiseshell.
Mrs. Julius Copperberg's "Petronius," of whom we all expected great things, was from a line of creams coming well down from a fine cream brought from some Mediterranean port by one Captain Condon about fifteen years ago. I have secured for friends several kittens from his cat's descendants, which are now somewhat scattered, but all showing great strength, form, bone, and sinew.
Mrs. Chapman's "Cusie Maxine" - a fine type of brown tabby, dam of "Young Hamlet," who won over his sire "Prince Rupert" - was also a Maine cat. Mr. Jones, of The Cat Journal, has from time to time had some fine brown tabbies of the Maine stock, winners at some of the larger shows.
A fair representative of the whites, who has acquitted himself well at the various shows in competition with large classes, is "Swampscott," owned by Mrs. F. E. Smith, of Chicago. He comes from Mrs. Georgia Thomas's white cats at Camden, Maine, his maternal great-grandsire coming from France.
"Midnight" - a younger black cat, winning second it Cincinnati to a cat from New Hampshire in better coat, and second in Chicago in 1901 in large classes - has since become a gelding and pet of Mrs. J. J. Hooker, of Cincinnati. He comes from a line of blacks owned by a retired sea-captain named Ryan, who had at one time four generations of black cats. They loved their cats like babies, and for years looked for people suitable to give their kittens to. I have been the flattered recipient three times in the last dozen years of these beautiful black diamonds.
"Antonio," a gelding, now owned by Mrs. A. B. Thrasher, of Cincinnati, Ohio, is also a fine representative of this stock. See photograph. In the last few years, since cats there are at such a premium and old age getting nearer every day, these good people have hardened their hearts, and now sell like others to the highest bidder.
I can also think of "Peter the Great," a neuter cream and white, owned by Mrs. Carl Schmidt, shown at Detroit, Michigan, 1901. Also "Black Patti" - originally owned by Miss Ives - and "Rufus," both Maine cats, now owned in Detroit, and winners in some of the Middle West shows ; and many, many other winners whose place of nativity is a sacred secret with their owners, which we will not wilfully expose to public gaze until our native cats have been accorded the place that is due to them.
I would like to tell you of some of the handsome geldings in Maine. No cat is too good for a pet with them. They may be seen on nearly every lawn or stoop ; but as that is a little out of the province of this story I will only describe one - a beautiful smoke owned by Dr. and Mrs. E. A. Wilson at their beautiful home in Belfast, Maine. He is now ten years old ; his mask and feet are black, or nearly so ; his hair is very dark, rather brownish at the tip, but as white as snow at the skin. I have begged them to show him at Boston or New York. The answer is always the same: "Not for any amount of money or prizes. 'Tags' wouldn't like it ; he would be unhappy. Wouldn't you, 'Tagsie'?
The smokes have not been well developed there yet. In a letter lately received in regard to that variety, I am told that one of the regular agents said he found only about one in 200. The silvers and chinchillas are not common. The strong coloured predominate, whites, blacks, blues, orange, and creams, tabbies also being well divided and distributed along the coast, and for quite a distance back, perhaps sixty miles or more ; but I have not known of their appearing to any extent in the northern portion of the State, which is less thickly settled.
Having had this fancy from my infancy and before it became a fashion, I took kindly to all the new developments. I have since had some experience with imported and kennelbred cats, and from time to time had opportunities of seeing the best we have in our shows, and I fully believe that cats that have their freedom, as most of the Maine cats have for the greater part of their lives, are healthier than kennel cats can be. The cool climate and long winters, with clean air full of ozone, is what is needed to develop their best qualities, and, with a few years of careful breeding for types, they would be able to compete quite successfully in an international cat show.
F. R. PIERCE.
A great change has taken place of late years in the quantity and quality of these beautiful cats, for whereas formerly blue eyes were considered quite a rarity, now it is seldom we see any yellow-eyed white cats exhibited at our principal shows. The most perfect type of a white Persian is assuredly to be found amongst the imported cats; there is a certain beauty of form and silkiness of fur which is not possessed by the specimens bred in this country. They are also generally distinguished by unusually long coats, round heads, tiny ears, and wonderful toe tufts.
One of the most lovely white imported cats was exhibited by Lady Marcus Beresford at the Westminster Cat Club Show in 1900. The best judges declared that there was not a fault to find with "Nourmahal," but her career was a short one. These imported cats are often of a rather savage disposition, and, although they can be sweet-tempered enough with human beings, they are extremely fiery with their fellows. There are two points peculiar to the white cats - they are frequently stone deaf, and they very often have odd-coloured eyes. Certainly the deafness is a drawback, and in selecting a white cat care should be taken to ascertain if the specimen is possessed of sound hearing. Needless to say, there are many ways of arriving at the solution of what is really a mysterious dispensation of Providence, for why should one particular breed of the feline race be so constantly minus this useful sense? Then, again, as regards the quaint arrangement of different-coloured eyes. One might not be so surprised if the eyes of white cats were sometimes pink, for their noses are pink, and the cushions of their feet, and, as in human beings, we might expect to have albinos amongst cats, namely white with pink eyes; but Harrison Weir states he has never seen pink-eyed whites, although it has been asserted that they exist. This peculiarity, however, of odd eyes seems only to be found in white cats, the two colours being blue and yellow. Occasionally white cats have wonderful sea-green eyes; and although these are decidedly very uncommon, no colour is so completely in accord with the purity of the coat as eyes of heavenly blue. The tone should be not so much of a sapphire as of the deep forget-me-not blue. One of the drawbacks to white Persians is the difficulty of keeping them in spotlessly clean condition. This is absolutely impossible if they are living in or near a town, and certainly a white cat soiled is a white cat spoiled.
"Jungfrau," sire and grandsire of many American winners.
(Photo: W. F. Arnold, Oak Park, Ill.)
As regards the mating of blue-eyed white cats, I have been told by experienced breeders of this variety that kittens with blue eyes are just as frequently bred from odd-eyed parents, or, at least, when one of the parents has different-coloured eyes. It is easy to tell whether the baby blue eyes are likely to retain their colour or turn yellow. If at about three weeks or a month old the blue becomes tinted with green, then surely but sadly may we make up our minds that these kittens have not a distinguished career before them, for they will see and be seen with yellow eyes. It is a pity to try mating white cats with any other variety, as broken-coloured cats will probably be the result. It frequently happens that white kittens, when quite young, have smudges of grey on their heads; these gradually disappear. In America white cats seem prime favourites, and the demand exceeds the supply for importation of white Persians with blue eyes. At the last Beresford Cat Club Show the entries in the white classes were very large. The classification included and provided for golden- and blue-eyed whites, and these were subdivided according to sex, and all the classes were well filled. Mrs. Clinton Locke's "Lord Gwynne" is a noted white stud cat on the other side of the water, as is also Mrs. Colbourn's "Paris."
The devotees of the white cat in our own country are not many in number. I may mention Mrs. Finnie Young and Miss Hunt, who are perhaps the most successful breeders of whites in Scotland; and in the south we have Mrs. Pettit, whose tribe of blue-eyed whites I had recently the pleasure of seeing. No more lovely specimens could be imagined, and I counted more than a dozen long-coated, full-grown, bonnie blue-eyed beauties, walking about in the woods surrounding Mrs. Pettit's dwelling-place near St. Leonards-on-Sea. The illustration shows Mrs. Pettit surrounded by eight of her pretty white pussies. Mrs. Westlake, Mrs. Nott, Miss White Atkins, and Miss Kerswill are all successful and enthusiastic breeders of white Persians.
Mrs. McLaren's white Persian "Ladysmith."
(Photo: C. Reid, Wishaw.)
Several well-known fanciers keep one white cat amongst their flock. I may mention the Hon. Mrs. McLaren Morrison, the owner of "Musafer," a famous imported puss, and Lady Decies, the former possessor of "Powder Puff,"who has recently been presented to H.H. Princess Victoria of Schleswig-Holstein. There is always a keen demand for white kittens, either as pretty pets or, if with correct-coloured eyes, for breeding purposes, and, doubtless, when more encouragement is given to this beautiful variety, there will be an increase of fanciers of the white cat, whose praises have been sung in fairy tales, nursery rhymes, and by novelists who have a weakness for describing interiors with a beautiful white Persian cat reclining on the hearthrug.
I am indebted for the following notes on white Persians to Miss M. Hunt, whose beautiful white cat "Crystal" appeared on an earlier page, and by an unfortunate mistake was stated to be the property of Mrs. Finnie Young:-
"The blue-eyed white Persian is, I consider, one of the most interesting to breed, and, in my experience, no more delicate or difficult to rear than any other Persian.
"I have had them now for nearly four years, and, I think I may say, with a good deal of success. I bought 'Crystal' in 1898, when four months old, and she certainly has been a good investment. Out of the sixteen white kittens she has had, ten of them have been blue-eyed.
Mrs. Pettit with her White Persians.
(Photo: Cassell & Co, limited.)
"The very best kitten I owned was never exhibited; he went to Mrs. Champion, who considered him the best and healthiest kitten for his age she had ever seen. Unfortunately, he died suddenly shortly after she had him. He was by Champion 'White Friar' ex 'Crystal,' and was one of the same litter as 'Jovial Monk,' which did so much winning for Miss Ward, who purchased him from me at the Crystal Palace, where he took first. 'Crystal' herself has only been beaten by a white cat, and that had not even blue eyes; but she was in splendid coat, and 'Crystal' was quite out of coat. Most judges are agreed, I think, that 'Crystal' is the best blue-eyed white female in the country.
"The colour of the eyes of white kits can be told much earlier than in any other colour; some I can tell as soon as they are open, others I am not quite sure of until they are about a fortnight old. The eyes are generally bright blue from the beginning, without a shade of kitten grey in them. I do not think that both parents having blue eyes makes much difference to the number of blue-eyed kits in the litter. If one parent is blue-eyed and the other odd-eyed the result is often just as good. I know of a green-eyed queen which had a litter of three by Champion 'White Friar' - all were blue-eyed.
"As to deafness, I cannot account for it at all, as it often appears, though both parents have perfect hearing.
"Since Mrs. Finnie Young and I purchased 'White Friar' in 1900, whites have become much more plentiful in Scotland, and the competition is now very keen indeed up North. 'White Friar' has had a very successful career since he came into our hands, both as sire and on the show bench, and can still hold his own against all comers. He has won sixteen first prizes since 1900, besides championships and numerous specials."
Mrs. Champion, whose name is well known in "catty" circles, and who has now left these shores for America, did a great deal to establish a thoroughly good strain of white blue-eyed Persians. Her celebrated "White Friar" (now in the possession of Mrs. Finnie Young and Miss Hunt) is justly considered the finest male specimen in the fancy. Certainly he could only have been beaten by his son "White Tsar," bred by Mrs. Champion from her "White Witch." This cat, which assuredly would have had a notable career, was sold by Mrs. Champion for £20 to Mrs. Colbourn, in America. He arrived in poor condition and died shortly afterwards. I remember seeing an absolutely perfect white Persian kitten at Mrs. Champion's. It was by "White Friar" ex "Crystal." He had startling deep blue eyes, tiny ears, and broad, round head, and at nine weeks old his coat measured nearly three inches across. Alas! though healthy and strong, this proved too perfect a specimen for this world, and "Crystal Friar" succumbed to the epidemic of gastritis then raging amongst our feline pets. Referring back to celebrated white Persian cats of the past, I well recollect the marvellous size and splendid coat of Mrs. Lee's "Masher," who took the cat world by storm when exhibited at the Crystal Palace in 1890. This enthusiastic fancier paid £21 for "Masher," whose show career was shortened by an accident. This cat was remarkable in those days, if only for his grand blue eyes.
"Crystal." The property of Miss M. Hunt
(Photo: C. Reid, Wishaw.)
The well-known breeder andjudge Mr. A. A. Clarke, whose name is more closely connected with blue Persians, once owned a famous female called "Miss Whitey." I remember that this really remarkable cat was exhibited in 1887 at the Crystal Palace, and again the following year, when at four years old she took first prize and silver medal in a strong class of nine females. It seems to me that these cats, as I recollect them, appeared half as large again as the present-day champion winning whites; but whether this was in consequence of more profuse coat or a generally bigger build of animal I cannot at this distance of time pretend to determine.
Amongst the well-known prize-winners and stud white Persian cats of the present day I may mention Miss White Atkin's massive-limbed "White Knight," whose broad skull is especially remarkable in a show-pen, and commends itself to the notice of the judge. Miss Harper's "Blue-eyed Wandered" has great quality and lovely texture of coat. He was in truth a wanderer in the streets of a London suburb, and, although labelled "breeder and pedigree unknown," he has almost always held his own in the white classes at our largest shows. Mrs. Westlake, Mrs. Pettit, Mrs. Finnie, and Miss Hunt are all possessed of imported white cats, which have proved worthy ancestors of many prize-winning kittens. There have not been any very notable female white cats exhibited since the appearance of Lady Marcus Beresford's "Nourmahal," with the exception of Miss M. Hunt's "Crystal" and Mrs. Pettit's most lovely "Piquante Pearl," bred by her from her stud cat "King of the Pearls" and "Beautiful Pearl." This cat is as near perfection as possible, and has carried off highest honours whenever exhibited. Mrs. Pettit began breeding white Persians in 1896, and has kept faithful to this breed ever since. This enthusiastic breeder always accompanies her exhibits, and her precious Pearls are never seen at the smaller mixed shows. I have always heard that white kittens are difficult to rear, and Mrs. Pettit, who should be well qualified to give her testimony on this point, says: "Whithout a doubt blue-eyed white Persians are the most delicate cats in existence." A well-known authority on cats, writing to one of the cat papers, says: "What a change has taken place in our white classes, long- and short-haired! A few years ago white cats with green or yellow eyes frequently were prize-winners, and a blue-eyed white was looked upon as a rarity. Now blue eyes have it all their own way, and judges are becoming more and more exacting as to the depth of tone and quality of the blue tint. If we could obtain a white Persian with the glorious eye of the Siamese, it would be a treasure indeed."
"White Butterfly." The property of Miss White Atkins.
(Photo: E. E. Lipputt, Leamington.)
A gentleman who has lived for ten years in Assam says that he never saw in that part of India any long-haired cats except blue-eyed whites. He also gives an amusing account of the usual way of obtaining a cat of this variety for a pet. It is as follows:-"you give instructions to a native, who offers to procure you one at a certain price, but gives you no idea where or how he means to procure it. In about a week's time he appears with the cat and claims the money. Things progress favourably with your new possession for a time, but suddenly and unaccountably your puss disappears. You are calling some friend or aquaintance, and, to your surprise and astonishment, there on the armchair lies, curled up, your cat! "Thus it will be seen that the wily native makes a small income out of one cat, by stealing or enticing it away from the original purchaser and calmly re-selling it to one of the neighbours."
Mrs. Clinton Locke, the president of the Beresford Cat Club, has owned some beautiful white Persians which she has imported from time to time. This lady writes thus to "Our Cats":-"The first white Persian I ever owned was brought to me many years ago from Persia by a distinguished traveller, and its eyes were amber, showing that the white cats brought from their native land have not always blue eyes. The descendants of this cat, mated to both amber and blue eyed cats, have thrown blue eyes. Two odd-eyed cats have also given blue-eyed kittens; but a pair of blue-eyed cats has by no means always thrown blue eyes with every kitten in the litter."
One of our most persistent and consistent breeders and fanciers of white Persians is Mrs. Westlake, and therefore I am glad to be able to put forward a few of her experiences as to the peculiarities of the breed.
Imported blue-eyed tom, "Musafer."
(Photo: V. R. Clarke, Thirsk.)
Mrs. Westlake, writing from Camden Town, says:-
"My acquaintance with white Persian cats began some years ago, when I imported a white female as a pet. I was so delighted with her that, although for a London resident white cats would seem the least desirable, I decided to import two blue-eyed whites for breeding purposes. It was a litter from these two cats that tempted me to take up exhibiting. This litter consisted of ALL blue-eyed kittens, the tone of the blue being exceptionally deep. Since then I have, of course, often had a different tale to tell, and odd-eyed kittens have sometimes predominated. This curious freak of nature connected with white cats seems unaccountable. The two colours are generally yellow and blue, but I have seen green and blue. I have also remarked on the very brilliant tone of the one blue eye.
"There is a popular belief that almost all blue-eyed cats are deaf. All I can say is that I have never had a blue-eyed white that was deaf. I have, however, often come across those that were stone deaf, and others with defective hearing. Again an unaccountable freak.
"White Persian cats have been declared to be the most difficult to breed and delicate to rear. My opinion is that the delicacy is much more in their coats than their constitutions; that is, of course, in comparison with other foreign varieties, none of which are as hardy as the British.
"A few remarks as to the cleansing of white cats may be useful. As a dweller in London, I need scarcely say that unless I occasionally gave personal attention to my pussies they would not always be in the show condition that I would desire. Some fanciers wash their white Persians, but I have come to the conclusion that this treatment tends to coarsen the soft silkiness of the fur; and therefore, for this reason, and also because there is a risk of cats catching cold, especially in winter, I advocate dry cleaning, and suggest the use of Pears' white precipitated fuller's earth. One plan is to place the cat on a large sheet or towel, mix a little ammonia in warm water, dip your hands in this, and pass them over and over the fur, letting it become thoroughly moistened but not wet. Then well sprinkle the coat with the powder, and by keeping the animal in front of the fire the fur will soon become quite dry. Then rub with a soft towel, and finally brush thoroughly with a clean and not too hard brush. Your efforts will be rewarded with success, and though puss may be considerably bored during the process, she will not resent it so much as a tubbing. I find that with white females are far more diligent as regards their toilet than the males, who seem always to have more of the Eastern languor and indolence in their nature. I have remarked - and no doubt it is more noticable in the white breed - that as soon as young kittens are beyond their mother's control they exhibit a marked antipathy to keeping their coats in anything like a decent condition. Sometimes they will make a feeble attempt at washing themselves; but something will excite their attention, and off they will go, or perhaps in sheer fatigue will fall asleep during the toilet. Thus white kittens will very soon present a most unkempt appearance, and the poor mother gazes sadly at them as though the cares of the family were too much for her, and she no longer wishes to own what was once her pride and joy - a spotless litter!
"Crystal," the property of Mrs. Finnie Young.
(Photo: C. Reid, Wishaw.)
It has been stated that white cats are wanting in expression, probably because of the lack of markings to give character to the face; but breeders of whites will nevertheless agree with me that they have even greater force of expression, not being assisted by any markings. I have found white cats to be most affectionate, and very conservative in their tastes. I have owned some white Persians with light sea-green eyes, and although these are not correct, yet I must say they were strikingly beautiful and very uncommon. I have been offered high prices by Americans and others for my imported white female, but my 'blue-eyed darling' will, I think, end her days with her devoted mistress in dear, dirty, old London."
[Typed in by Martina Šiljeg, Delta Pelegrino cattery]
Black Persian "Johnnie Fawe," owned by Dr. Roper.
(Photo: Lavender, Bromley.)
NEVER have these truly handsome cats received the amount of admiration and attention which they deserve. There are fewer breeders of black Persians than of any other variety, the two most noted fanciers being Dr. Roper and Mr. Robert Little. Both of these gentlemen have owned and exhibited very handsome specimens; Miss Kirkpatrick has also bred some lovely black kittens. The entries in the black classes at our shows are almost invariably the smallest; but as a specialist club for black and white Persians has been started, it is hoped more encouragement will be given to the breeders of these handsome self-coloured cats.
As in the other self-coloured cats, the chief point is absolute uniformity of colour throughout. It is fatal for a black cat to have a brown, rusty tinge; it should be a glossy jet black, betraying no bands or bars in the full light, and having no undercoat of a lighter shade, and, above all, no spot or tuft of white hairs on the throat. This latter is a very common fault amongst black cats, and it is one which takes away enormously from the value of the specimen, for either show or breeding purposes. In some other varieties of Persian cats two, or even three, colours for eyes are permissible; but a really good black cat must have the full round eyes of deep orange, and very attractive are these gleaming orbs, shining forth from their dense black surroundings. When black cats are changing their coats they often present a very rusty appearance, and newly born kittens are sometimes like balls of brown fluff. These, however, frequently grow up the very best-coloured blacks. This breed is very strong and healthy, and often grow into large, massive cats. A tortoiseshell female is a splendid mate for a black male, and some of the most noted blacks have been bred in this way. Two brown tabbies will generally produce one, if not more, good blacks in a litter.
Black cats have been found very useful to breeders of silver tabbies and smokes for this reason - that these two breeds require to have their markings and colourings intensified. That is, a silver tabby with dark grey markings is not a true type, and a smoke with an upper coat of cinder colour does not represent the true smoke. Therefore the introduction of a black cross is often a great advantage to these breeds. There is certainly not much demand for black kittens, and we never hear of very high prices being asked or given for these, or, indeed, for full-grown cats. But as 'every dog has his day', so, perhaps, there is a good time coming for blacks; and certainly beginners in the fancy might do worse than to provide themselves with a thoroughly good black queen, for, anyhow, in exhibiting the chance of honours is very much greater than when competing in classes in which there are so many entries, as in the case of blues and silvers.
Champion "Menelik III." (American).
The Property of Mrs. Bond, Washington.
For very obvious reasons black cats are the very best animals for those living in London or near large towns. They can never present a dirty appearance, and, therefore, in this particular they will always score over the whites, creams, and silvers. To keep their coats glossy and bright black cats should be well brushed and groomed. They will repay for this care and attention. Our American cousins call self-coloured cats 'solid', and as applied to blacks this is especially expressive, for a black should not have a suspicion of any other colour than a dense black. If, when the coat is blown apart, a shading of grey or blue is seen it is a great defect. The nose should be black, and the pads of the feet also.
I do not remember having seen or heard of an imported Persian black cat. In an article on imported cats in Our Cats the writer (whose name is not given) says:- 'White cats with blue eyes are not often to be obtained from abroad, neither are the blacks warranted to possess the amber eyes voted correct by up-to-date cattists. I know of a black queen straight from the land of cats and the palace of the Shah himself; it had the most glorious emerald eyes it is possible to imagine-as different from the ordinary run of green as flaming amber is from faded yellow. This cat, a Persian among Persians, had a coat as black as the proverbial jet-perfectly black throughout-long and straight, of fine, silky texture, but not giving one the impression of massiveness that issuch a prominent feature of the type of imported cat. Moderate in size, slightly built, with an expression so foreign that it amounted to weirdness, this cat could with a dash of imagination have been worked up into the incarnation of a spirit, a soothsaver, the veiled beauty of a harem, a witch, snake charmer-what you choose; but always remain something far apart from prosaic England, something tinged with romance and the picturesqueness of the mystical East. This black cat was undoubtedly a typical Persian'.
As there is such a dearth of good black cats in England, it is a pity some enterprising breeder does not try to import a really splendid specimen. Which might bring luck to himself an the fancy.
In looking back to the old catalogues of Crystal Palace shows, I find the same scarcity of blacks exhibited as at the present day. In 1886 the black male class is marked 'no entry', and in 1889 Mrs. H. Warner (now the Hon. Mrs. McLaren Morrison) makes the sole and only entry of 'Imp' in the black class. It was in the following year, however, that this same well-know lady fancier exhibited 'Satan', a black that was never beaten whilst it lived. It was the most remarkable of unapproachable excellence I can remember-a varitable triton among minnows.
Kitten bred by Miss Kirkpatrick.
(Photo: E. Landor, Ealing.)
In many of the accounts of our largest shows I remark such paragraphs as these: 'Good blacks with orange eyes were conspicuous by their absence'. Or again: 'The black classes, as usual, were poorly filled'. It is, therefore, high time that this beautiful breed should receive more attention at the hands of fanciers, and that not only beginners but those who are well known in the cat world should take up blacks, and, as the expression goes, 'run them for all they are worth'. At present Dr. Roper's and Mr. R. Little's black Persians have it all their own way. Mrs. Lenty Collins frequently has a look in with her wonderful big-eyed 'Forest Beauty', and Mrs. Crowther, in the North, is faithful to this her favourite breed of cats; but we want some more dusky beauties to swell the ranks of black Persians.
As everyone knows, a vast deal of superstition is connected with a black cat. This is what Harrison Weir has to say on the subject:- 'It is often said, 'What's in a name?' The object, whatever it is, by any other would be the same; and yet there is much in a name. But this is not the question at issue, which is that of colour. Why should a black cat be thought so widely different from all others by the thought so widely different from all others by the foolish, unthinking, and ignorant? Why, simply on account of its colour being black, should it have ascribed to it a numberless variety of bad omens, besides having certain necromantic power? In Germany, for instance, black cats are kept away from children as omens of evil; and if a black cat appeared in the room of one lying ill, it was said to portend death. To meet a black cat in the twilight was held unlucky. In the 'good old times' a black cat was generally the only colour that was favoured by men reported to be wizards, and black cats were said to be the constant companions of witches; and in such horror and detestation were they then held that when the unfortunate creatures were ill-treated, drowned, or even burned, very frequently, we are told, their cats suffered martyrdom at the same time. It is possible that one of the reasons for such wild, savage superstition may have arisen from the fact of the larger amount of electricity to be found by friction in the coat of the black cat than of any other; experiments prove there is but very little either in that of the white or the red tabby cat. Be this as it may, still the fact remains that, for some reason or other, the black cat is held by the prejudiced ignorant as an animal most foul and detestable, and wonderful stories are related of their actions in the dead of the night during thunderstorms. Yet, as far as I can discover, there appears little difference either of temper or habit in the black cat distinct from that of any other colour, though it is maintained by many even to this day that black cats are far more vicious and spiteful, and of higher courage, and this last I admit. Still, when a black cat is enraged and its coat and tail are well 'set up', its form distended, its round, bright, orange eye all aglow with anger, it certainly presents to even the most impartial observer, to say the least of it, a most 'uncanny' appearance. But, for all this, their admirers are by no means few; and, to my thinking, a jet-black cat, fine and glossy in fur and elegantly formed, certainly has its attractions'.
But although black cats are supposed to be harbingers of evil under some conditions, yet in others they are credited with miraculous healing powers. In Cornwall, sore eyes in children are said to be cured by passing the tail of a black cat nine times over the part affected; and in some parts of the country the presence in the house of a black cat is both an antidote and a cure for epilepsy.
I think that most cat fanciers are inclined to believe in the possible luck that a stray black cat may bring them, and perhaps be more inclined to take in a stranger of this particular breed than one of another colour.
Mrs. Little's black Persian "Colleen."
(Photo: D. Nottle, Beckenham.)
There is an old Scotch proverb that says:
'Whenever the cat o' the house is black,
The lasses o' lovers will have no lack'.
The celebrated 'Fawe' strain of black Persians is well known in the fancy. Dr. Roper has sent me some notes on his famous prize-winning cats, together with some useful information regarding the breed with which his name has become associated:-
'For many years black Persians were a most popular breed; but, like fashions, for the time being other colours, I regret to see, are obtaining more notice from fanciers. For years I plodded away to breed what I considered a perfect black Persian; at last my labours were crowned with success. What can equal a richly coloured, heavily coated, deep orange-eyed black?
'In breeding blacks, like any other colour, it is essential you should procure the best of stock, and be prepared to give a fair sum for such, otherwise you are almost sure to be disappointed in your results, and, maybe, retire as a fancier of this colour and try some other; but you will meet with the same fate if you hold the same views as to expense. A black Persian should be perfect in colour, with absence of white hairs, cobby in shape, short in leg, tail bushy and not too long, eyes large and deep orange, a good broad head, ears short with tufts and well set apart, short face, coat long and silky.
'Having stated the points, I will now give my experience of breeding.
'In my opinion, it is most important the sire should be a black, and one of his parents a black, whatever colour the queen is. I have had greatest success in breeding from a black sire and a tortoiseshell queen. Through this cross you may get either blacks or tortoiseshells. As an instance I quote 'Johnnie Fawe' (black) and Champion 'Dainty Diana' (tortoiseshell). From these I have bred many good blacks, amongst them 'Dick Fawe', 'Lady Victoria', and other good ones; also good tortoiseshells, three of them having taken championships. Blacks may also be bred from a black and a blue, or two blacks-in this case, cross the sire with one of his progeny, which I have found very successful. I admit there are other ways of breeding blacks, but in my experience the three ways I have suggested have proved to be the most satisfactory.
The Carol Singers.
Photo: E. Landor, Ealing.)
... In breeding, to be sure of success so far as the eyes are concerned, If possible it is better that both parents should have orange eyes, the deeper the better; but it is most essential the sire should have good orange eyes being light amber, by crossing with a good orange-eyed sire the kittens are very likely to have good-coloured eyes, but not vise versa. As an instance, I once purchased a very handsome black queen, perfect in all points with the exception of the eyes, which were very light amber. I mated her to 'Dick Fawe', who had the deepest orange eyes I have yet seen in a black; the kittens developed orange eyes. I have mated in the opposite way, and the result has been unsatisfactory so far as the eyes have been concerned, and if breeding for show the colour of the eyes is most important. The late Mr. Welburn, a well-known judge, once said in one of his reviews of blacks at a large show (I think it was the Crystal Palace), 'I scarcely think that eyes alone should carry an award, yet it is always best to uphold the desired properties so hard to obtain'.
'Having bred a litter of black kittens, it is unwise to make up your mind what colour they are going to be until they have attained the age of six months. I remember once giving away a kitten at three months old which I called iron grey and thought would or could never be black. Six months after I saw my friend, who thanked me very much for the lovely black kitten. Two months after seeing him I saw the cat: there were no white hairs, and the colour was a perfect black. This last Richmond show I showed a black kitten, aged seven months; it took a first, a second, and a special. At three months old I thought it was going to be a smoke. It was claimed by the Hon. Mrs. McLaren Morrison. I have a kitten now, aged three months, perfectly bronze in colour and a grey frill. I have no doubt at seven months old it will be a perfect black. I have given these illustrations in order that those who are thinking of going in for blacks should not give up all hope of the kittens becoming black until the age I have stated.
'I breed my kittens from January to July, and find they do much better in the catteries, all of mine being separate; and I find Spratt's movable runs most useful. In showing blacks they should be brushed and rubbed with a Selvyt cloth daily one month previously and kept free of matted hair. The application of Brilliantine of American Bay Rum in small quantity brushed on gives a perfect gloss to their coats'.
The following notes from Mr. Robert Little, to whom I have alluded as a breeder of black Persians, will be of interest:-
'Few of these cats retain their proper colour throughout the year. The sun and exposure induce rustiness, and in some instances to such an extent that the handsome jet exhibit of October or January is hardly recognisable as the same cat in July or August.
'The kittens seldom become really black until some months old. 'Lady Bruin', for example, was so named on account of her brown or rusty appearance. Her coat is now, and has long been, of the densest black.
'Long-haired black cats as a class are not so heavily or lengthily coated as some others. In many the coat resembles hair rather than fur, and these I have found the more consistently black and less liable to variation in shade. The tendency in all, however, is for the coat to become blacker with age.
Black and white Persian cats.
'The eyes of the kittens for the first month are blue. They then gradually change, and by the end of the second month it may be fairly ascertained whether or not they will possess the much coveted orange hue. Several months, though, elapse before the shade is permanently determined; but I have never experienced a lighter shade supervening on a darker.
'It is not necessary for both parents, or even either, to possess deep orange eyes in order to secure such in the kittens. I take it, nevertheless, the desired tint must have been 'in the family'.
'The variation in permanent depth of shading in the eyes of members of the same litter is remarkable; and not infrequently the 'white spot kit' or otherwise less valuable member has the compensating qualification of deepest orange eyes.
'The mystery of the white spot on the chest or throat has yet to be solved. In most black litters one at least has this blemish, and this generally settles the question which, if any, shall join the majority at a tender age. The unfortunate kit's pedigree may be absolutely devoid of offence on this point. Apparently no precautions can prevent or eradicate the fault'.
One of the most recent specialist societies to be formed is the Black and White Club, having for its object to promote the breeding and exhibiting of black and white cats, both long- and short-haired. In this last detail it differs from the other specialist societies that confine themselves to the one breed, either long- or short-haired. A note to the following effect is printed in the list of rules:-
NOTE. - With the view of simplifying the labours of judges, and the prevention of mistakes caused by the large number of stipulations often connected with special prizes, it is thought best that special prizes should only be given for prize-winners (first, second, or third), for cats bred by exhibitors, and for cats with the best eyes, this last being an especi- ally important point in self-coloured cats.
No doubt, as time goes on and the number of those interested in black and white cats increases, the Committee will add to their number, and a more powerful society will be formed to promote the welfare of these beautiful breeds.
[Typed in by Martina Šiljeg, Delta Pelegrino cattery]
A FAMOUS publisher once gave the following advice to a young author: 'Never take it for granted that your readers have any previous knowledge of your subject, but credit them with ordinary intelligence'. To all feline fanciers the heading of this chapter is a familiar household term, but to novices in the cat world and to outsiders the term 'blue' as applied to a cat may sound rather absurd. Truth to tell, the name is misleading, and yet the same is used in describing certain breeds of domestic animals, such as dogs, rabbits, etc. There is also a fur much used for trimmings of ladies' jackets, etc., called blue fox, and this is very much akin to the colour and texture of the fur of the blue Persian cat, which, however, varies in tone from a dark slate to a pale lilac-blue.
It is over twenty years ago since I exhibited the first 'blues' at the Crystal Palace Cat Show, and they created quite a sensation, for no one seemed to have seen any cats of this peculiar shade before. Some called them grey or lilac, and others London smoke or slate colour. One of my pair of blue kittens was quickly claimed at catalogue price, and I bought in the other, fearing I should lose her also. She, in her turn, became the mother of many celebrated blues. In those early days of the fancy blue Persians were entered in the 'any other variety' class, and most of the specimens exhibited were in reality blue tabbies. For some years this state of things continued; but Mr. A. A. Clarke, so well known as one of the pioneers of the National Cat Club, and as a breeder, exhibitor, and judge, agitated with other fanciers, myself amongst the number, to obtain a better classification for the self-coloured blues, and in 1889 the schedule at the Crystal Palace Show contained a class for 'Blue-self-coloured without white'. For some time this breed of cats was termed 'self blues', in contradistinction to the many blues with tabby markings which were formerly so very common in the fancy.
(Photo: H. Warschkarski, St. Leonards-on-Sea.)
In 1890 it was decided to divide the sexes in the blue cat classes, and let the kittens compete with black and white. The result was an entry of eight in each class, my famous 'Beauty Boy' taking first in the male, and Mrs. H. B. Thompson's celebrated 'Winks' first in the female division. Al Brighton in the same year the 'self-blue' class was adopted with success.
The famous blue stud cats of that period were Mr. A. A. Clarke's 'Turco', Miss Bray's' 'Glaucus', and my own 'Beauty Boy'. Amongst other exhibitors of blues about this time I may mention Mrs. Warner (now the Hon. Mrs. McLaren Morrison), Mrs. Vallance, Mrs. Wells, Mrs. Hunt, Mrs. H.B. Thompson, Mrs. Ellerton, and Miss F. Moore. In 1891 blues came very much to the fore, and the entries at the Crystal Palace numbered 15 males and 17 femals. At Cruft's Show in the year 1894 a grand blue, called 'Wooloomooloo', was exhibited by Mrs. W. R. Hawkins, and this cat became one of the most famous of stud cats. Many of the finest blues of to-day are descended from this noted sire. Mrs. H. B. Thompson's 'Don Juan' was for many years greatly in request as a stud cat, and many beautiful blues claim him as their ancestor.
A little later 'Moko' became famous as the sire of a sensational kitten exhibited by Mr. C. W. Witt at the Westminster Show of 1900. 'Moko' was sold at a high figure to Mrs. Barnett, and is now in the possession of Mrs. Singleton, of Yeovil. Mr. A. A. Clarke was considered the best judge of this variety, and at the Palace and Brighton he did much to encourage the breed by offering handsome special prizes in the blue classes.
It is true that the prize-winning cats of ten and fifteen years ago would have had but a poor chance in the present-day competitions, chiefly for the reason that cats of the past could look at a judge with bright green eyes and yet be awarded the highest honours. Nous avons change tout cela, and now a blue cat without the much-to-be-desired orange eyes fetches but a small price, and is at a great disadvantage in the show-pen. An up-to-date judge may, however, be led into giving too great a prominence to this point and thus sacrifice soundness of colour, shape, and form. Then, again, I remember when a white spot on the throat of a blue Persian was not considered a serious defect; now a few straggling white hairs will cause anguish to the owner, and a judge will promptly put down the specimen for this blemish.
The Property of Miss Bennett.
(Photo: H. Warschkarski, St. Leonards-on-Sea.)
Blue cats with white spots used to be relegated to the 'any other colour' class; but recently both the National Cat Club and the Cat Club have wisely decided that such cats should be judged in their own classes. However, I think that owners of these specimens would do well to keep them away from the show bench, where the competition in blues is now too keen to give any chance for defective cats to have a look in. I may mention that the nose of a blue Persian is a few shades darker than its fur, and the toe-pads yet a little darker.
As will be seen form the standard of points for blues, which will be found later on in this chapter, the highest marks are given for soundness of colour. There is a tendency to breed very light blues, and popular fancy favours this particular type. I am inclined, however, to prefer a good sound medium blue as being the best and safest for breeding purposes. The lovely pale blues are beautiful to look at, but are seldom absolutely sound in colour. Blues, whether dark or light, should be the same tint throughout, so that when the coat is blown apart the colour at the roots is the same as at the tips. A white undercoat is a serious blemish, and this often appears when silver blood may be traced in the ancestry of a blue cat. We have quite dropped the term of self-blue, and yet this well expresses the uniformity of colour which is so desirable. As tiny kittens blues frequently exhibit tabby markings; but fanciers need not worry over these apparent defects, for as the coat grows the bars and stripes are no longer visible.
It also sometimes happens that a kitten exhibits quite a light ruff, but this is generally shed with the second coat, and eventually disappears. There are some cats erroneously called blues by novices in the fancy, but which in reality are blue smokes. These have probably been bred from blues and smokes, and thus the type of each is seriously damaged. If it is desired to breed sound-coloured blues, then it is undesirable to cross them with any other colour save and except blacks. I have found good results from mating blues and blacks, more especially with a view to obtaining the deep amber eyes of the black Persians which, for some reason or other, are generally larger, rounder, and deeper in colour than what we can produce in blues. Certainly all broken breeds and tabbies should be avoided when mating blues. I have heard of white cats being bred with blues to get a pale tint of blue; but white toes, chests, and spots have often been the results of such experiments. I have bred blue Persians ever since I took up the fancy, which is longer ago than I care to remember, and I have found them strong and hardy cats, requiring no special food, and enjoying the best of health without any cosseting or coddling. I do not consider that blues usually obtain any great size or weight, nor are they generally massive in build or profuse in coat.
Blue and Cream Persians."
(From a Painting by W. Luker, Jun.)
Ten or fifteen years ago I used to have my blue kittens bespoken for about £5 each before they were born; but nowadays, when blues are so plentiful, one must be content with lower prices, and the average sum for a good blue kitten is three guineas. Still, I am sure that for beginners in the fancy, wishing to combine pleasure and profit, there is no better investment than a good sound blue queen with orange eyes. The demand for blue kittens is really larger than for youngsters of any other breed. They make superb pets, but it is to be regretted that blue neuters are generally spoilt with green eyes, doubtless for the reason that the possession of good orange eyes tempts the owner or purchaser to reserve the specimen for stud or breeding purposes.
As one of the first breeders and exhibitors of blue Persians I feel I am in a position to speak with authority, and I am of opinion that no breed has made such rapid strides, either in improvements or popularity, as blues. In this statement I am supported by our best professional judge, Mr. T. B. Mason, who, writing to me on the subject, says: 'I find ten good blues at the present time to one we came across two or three years ago. I am of opinion that in no colour of cats have we seen more distinct progress than we see in blue Persians'. Such a statement, coming from our most able and ubiquitous judge, is a valuable one. Mr. Mason has had a large experience in cat judging during the last few years, and his duties take him north and south, east and west.
As regards the breeding of blues, I consider that to obtain the true sound colour blues should only be bred to blues.
I have often, however, observed that a kitten of unsound colour is to be found in litters bred from two sound-coloured blues; the kitten may have a white undercoat or be full of white hairs, or have a shaded ruff; but experienced breeders will soon discover that such blemishes are but temporary, and that the ugly duckling of a family may develop into the flower of the flock. It is, therefore, very interesting to make experiments and to keep an apparently worthless specimen to see what it turns into when the first months of infancy are passed and the kitten coat has been shed.
(Photo: Mrs. S. F. Clarke.)
I have known a young blue of sound colour completely transformed in this particular by a severe illness. Her fur became a sort of pepper-and-salt mixture-a sprinkling of white and dark grey; but this same cat, contrary to the prophecy of an able judge, has again changed her coat, and is now a perfectly sound blue, even from tip to root. It was evident that her illness had affected her coat, and that when she regained her usual health she recovered her correct coat. As regards the eyes in blues, it is not possible to give any exact time for the change in colour from the baby blue to the dreaded green or hope-for orange. This change takes place gradually, and sometimes the period extends till a kitten is almost a cat. There are many blue cats with what may be called indefinitely coloured eyes; that is, neither orange, nor yellow, nor green. This most unsatisfactory state of thing may be generally accounted for by a circle of green round the pupil, which, according to the time of day, will be wide or narrow. Thus it is that cats with this defect are sometimes described with 'good yellow eyes', and advertised as such, and then, when received by the purchaser, a glint of green is plainly visible in the inner circle. The perfect eye in a blue should be absolutely unshaded; and there are two distinct types of eyes, manely, the golden eye and the orange eye. The former resembles a golden coin in tint, and the latter has the dash of red which is to be seen in copper. Both these coloured eyes are correct, and much to be admired in blue Persians, and no doubt as time goes on we shall find it will be the rule and not the exception to see these perfect eyes amongst the blues of the future. It must, however, be borne in mind that in the point of eyes cats throw back, and two parents with good orange eyes may yet produce one or more kittens with pale eyes of yellow or greenish hue. Although I have dilated at length on the superiority of the orange eye in blues, I do not wish it to be thought that a weedy, boneless cat, even with eyes of deepest hue, would find favour in my sight; for in blues as in all breeds of Persians, what we ought to seed after most earnestly are good massive limbs, plenty of bone, and broad skulls. There are too many Persian cats of hare-like proportions, and we really want some of the type of a good old English tabby introduced into the more aristocratic long-haired breeds.
It will be interesting to up-to-date breeders of blues to hear what the veteran cat lover and fancier Harrison Weir had to say about them fifteen years ago. In his well-known book, 'Our Cats', he thus alludes to the breed:-
Blue in cats is one of the most extraordinary colours of any, for the reason that it is a mixture of black (which is no colour) and white (which is no colour), and this is the more curious because black mated with white generally produces either one colour or the other, or breaks black and white or white and black; the blue being, as it were, a weakened black or a withdrawal by white of some, if not all, of the brown or red, varying in tint according to the colour of the black from which it was bred, dark grey, or from weakness in the stamina of the litter. When once the colour or break from the black is acquired, it is then easy to go on multiplying the different shades and varieties of tint and tone, from the dark blue-black to the very light, almost white grey. If whole coloured blues are in request, then particolours, such as white and black, or black and white, are best excluded.
Many of our leading cat fanciers 'go in' exclusively for blues, and keep faithful to this one breed alone. I give a list of these, and trust I may be pardoned if I have left out the name of any enthusiastic breeder and lover of blues and blues alone: Mrs. Hill, Mrs. Wells, Mrs. P. Hardy, Mrs. H. Ransome, Mrs. Bennet, Mrs. Mocatta, Mrs. S. F. Clarke (Louth), Mrs. Cartwright, Mrs. Gregory (Lincoln), Mrs. H. B. Thompson, Mrs. O'Brien Clarke, Miss Jay, Miss Bennet, Miss Messer, Miss Patterson, Miss Goddard, Rev. P.L. Cosway, Mrs. Swanson, Mrs. Curwen, Mrs. Duffin, Mrs. W. M. Hunt, Mrs. Slingsby, Mrs. Singleton, Miss Savery, Mrs. Eustace, Mrs. Hitchcock, Miss Hooper, Miss Violet Hunt, Miss Humfrey, Mrs. Kennaway, Mr. H. Maxwell, Mrs. Ponder, Miss Rigby, and Mr. C. W.Witt.
There are, of course, a large number of fanciers who, amongst other breeds of cats, keep one or two blues, and several keep blues and silver only. I think I may safely say that blue Persians have the largest number of admirers, and certain it is that at all our large shows the blue classes are the best filled. At the Cat Club Show held at Westminster in 1899 the number of entries in the blue female class was a recor one-there were no less than 48, and the blue males mustered 42.
Seeing, therefore, how popular this breed had become, in April, 1901, I founded and started the Blue Persian Cat Society, a book of rules was drawn up, and the following ladies and gentlemen appointed as officials of the society:-
BLUE PERSIAN CAT SOCIETY
Founded April 24th, 1901
Presidents: Viscountess Maitland, Mrs. Maconochie, Miss Gertrude Jay.
Vice-Presidents: Viscountess Gort, Lady Danvers, the Hon. Mrs. Maclaren Morrison, Mrs. Collingwood, Mrs. W. M. Hunt, Miss Violet Hunt, Mrs. Clinton Locke, Mrs. Lionel Marks, Mrs. Herbert Ransome, Mrs. Mackenzie Stewart, Mrs. H. B. Thompson, Mrs. Woodcock, Sir H. Jerningham, K.C.M.G., Sir B. Simpson, K.C.M.G., Rev. P. L. Cosway, Frankfort Moore, Esq., R. Storks, Esq.
Committee: Mrs. Baldwin, Mrs. Russell Biggs, Mrs. Bishop, Mrs. P. Brown, Mrs. P. Hardy, Mrs. Collingwood, Mrs. H. L. Mocatta, Miss H. Patterson, Mr. Gambier Bolton.
Hon. Treasurer: Mr. Russell Biggs, 1, Garden Court, Temple.
Hon. Secretary: Miss F. Simpson, 9, Leonard Place, Kensington, W.
Judges: Lady Marcus Beresford, Mrs. P. Hardy, Mrs. W. M. Hunt, Miss G. Jay, Miss K. Sangster, Miss F. Simpson, Mr. C.A. House, Mr. T. B. Mason, Mr. F. Norris, Mrs. Mackenzie Stewart, Miss E. Goddard, and Miss Kirkpatrick.
The chief objects of this society are as follow:- To promote the breeding and exhibiting of blue Persian cats; to define precisely, and to publish a description of, the true type of blue Persian cat, and to urge the adoption of such type on breeders, exhibitors, and judges, as the only recognized and unvarying standard by which blue Persian cats should be judged; the improvement of the classification, and, if necessary, the guaranteeing of classes for these cats at shows supported by the society; the selection of specialist judges to make the awards at such shows. The annual subscription to the Blue Persian Cat Society is five shillings, payable by each member on election. At the general meeting of the society, held in April, 1902, the number of members on the books was 183, and the honorary secretary reported that during the past year twelve cat shows had received the support of the society, and numerous handsome challenge prizes, badges, and specials had been offered for competition.
Blue kittens bred by Miss Kirkpatrick.
(Photo: E. Landor, Ealing.)
The following is the standard of points drawn up by the committee of the Blue Persian Cat Society and approved of by the members of the society:-
STANDARD OF POINTS FOR BLUE PERSIAN CAT
Coat (30) - Any shade of blue allowable; sound and even in colour; free from markings, shadings, or any white hairs. Fur long, thick, and soft in texture. Frill full.
Head (25) - Broad and round, with width between the ears. Face and nose short. Ears small and tufted. Cheeks well developed.
Eyes (20) - Orange; large, round, and full.
Body (15) - Cobby, and low on the legs.
Tail (10) - Short and full, not tapering.
Members should not be deterred from showing their cats if they do not come up to the high standard set forth in the above definition.
It is true that very few, if any, blue Persians come up to the high standard here given, but still there is a very marked improvement in the breed during the last year or two. The number of green-eyed blues are steadily and surely decreasing, and the colour of the coat and size of head are points that have been carefully attended to. In reading the list of blue cats placed at stud in the columns of the cat papers we cannot help being impressed with the enormous strides made of recent years in this breed of cats alone. In a recent copy of Our Cats I counted twenty-five stud advertisements of blues, and this does not nearly represent the entire number of blues used for stud purposes by fanciers. This breed of Persians has become very popular in America, and several fine cats have been exported, and have carried off the highest honours at the New York Cat shows, held under the auspices of the Beresford Cat Club.
Mrs. Clinton Locke, the president of the club, is an enthusiastic breeder and admirer of blues, and has possessed the finest specimens among American fanciers.
Mrs. Robinson's blue kittens.
(Photo: J. Joyner, Cheltenham.)
The names of two good 'all-round' judges appear on the blue Persian list, namely Mr. C. A. House and Mr. T. B. Mason, and exhibitors of this special breed-as, indeed, of any other-may feel quite sure that their precious pets will receive justice at the hands of these two careful adjudicators.
Mr. E. Welburn, also a blue Persian judge, was long known and respected in the fancy, and his death in 1902 was a great loss to the cat world. Two silver bowls have been subscribed for by his many admirers in memory of this upright judge, and these are competed for annually at the two largest shows of the National Cat Club and the Cat Club.
Miss Jay and Miss Frances Simpson have frequently given their services as judges at some of the shows which have received the patronage of the Blue Persian Cat Society.
In conclusion, I would say that I am very hopeful of being able at some future time to hold a show for blue Persians, and by dividing and subdividing to give an attractive and liberal classification.
I have pleasure in giving a short account, with illustrations, of some of the catteries belonging to blue breeders.
Mrs. Wells' cattery.
(Photo: Cassell & Company, Limited.)
Mr. Wells, of Isleworth, was one of the first exhibitors of blue Persians, and has been faithful to this breed for many years. She has wonderfully well-planned catteries, and, having plenty of space at her command, the cats are able to enjoy lots of liberty in large wiredin runs, planted with shrubs, and with an abundance of grass. Mrs. Wells' blues are noted for their wonderfully fine coats. Her stud cat 'Blue Noble' has sired many noted winners, and 'My Honey', a lovely queen, has the deepest orange eyes I have ever seen. Mrs. Wells takes the greatest interest in her cats, and each and all are pets; in fact, so great is the care and devotion bestowed upon them that Mrs. Wells is very seldom persuaded into exhibiting any of her beautiful blues, and never lets them attend any shows unless she herself is able to accompany them.
Mrs. Wells' cottage is situated in a most rural district of Isleworth, and one might fancy oneself miles and miles away from the busy haunts of men. At the time the photos illustrating these catteries were taken Mrs. Wells had eighteen blue kittens, besides several grown-up representatives of her favourite breed. At one time Mrs. Wells was bitten with the silver fever, and began to breed this variety; but the litters did not give satisfaction, and she determined to return to blues-with what success can be learnt from a visit to the gardens at Isleworth.
Miss Gertrude Jay started cats in 1891, and her name will always be connected with blues. Nothing has ever been exhibited to compare with her wonderful female 'The Mighty Atom' as regards beauty and shape of head. This cat, now, alas! no more, swept the board wherever it was shown. Twice she carried off the highest honours for best cat in the show at the Crystal Palace. It is true that this grand specimen lacked the orange eyes, but no judge could pass over such a perfect type of cat, despite her one fault, and thus 'The Mighty Atom' reigned supreme. 'Trixie' and 'Doris', two of Miss Jay's noted blues, have also both won specials for the best cat in the show at the Crystal Palace. Miss Jay is fortunate in having some descendants of these precious cats in the luxurious catteries at Holmwood (of which an illustration is given). Many lovely blues may be seen reveling in the well appointed houses set apart at the end of the long terrace for their special use. Miss Jay about a year ago retired from the cat fancy, and withdrew her name from the two clubs; but she is still a vice-president of the Blue Persian Cat Society, and often acts as judge. Her name always draws a good entry, and, as a well-known fancier once remarked to me, 'You can be sure of getting your money' worth when Miss Jay has the handling of the classes'. The following few remarks from Miss Jay on her method of judging will be read with interest:-
I fear my way of judging is unlike most other people's, because I do not judge by points unless it comes to a close fight between two cats. Of course, I consider shape and colour first, and then I mark all those unworthy to be in any prize list; next get to work with the remainder, and this I do, as I say, unlike most other judges, for I pick out the cat that I would soonest have given to me that day, with the object of showing it again at once. The point to be decided is the best cat that day. It is no use beginning to think which cat will be the best in a month's time or which cat might have been best a month ago; it is there that day-which is best? And, to my mind, if I award first to the cat I would rather have, with the one object of continuing to show it, that surely must be the best cat in my opinion, and to that cat the first card goes. And so on through the class, only giving one V.H.C., one H.C., and one C., unless the class is a very large one. I know some judges who say commended cards are very cheap, and they please the exhibitors. True; but are you not pleasing them in a wrong way by making them think their cat is better than it is?
Bred by Mrs. Bennet.
(Photo: H. Warschkowski, St. Leonards-on-Sea.)
Mrs. Herbert Ransome is well known in the feline world as a successful breeder of blue Persians, and as the hard-working secretary of the Northern Counties Cat Club, and more recently as the editor of Our Cats. Her two blue stud cats, 'Darius' and 'Darius III', have earned a great reputation, not only in the show-pen, but as the sires of many lovely prize-winning kittens, notably 'Orange Blossom of Thorpe', owned by Mrs. Slingsby, of Ouseburn, Yorkshire.
It is only of recent years that the name of Mrs. Paul Hardy has become known in the feline world as a breeder of blue Persians. Mrs. Hardy was a member of the Cat Club Committee, but on her removal to some distance from London she resigned her post. To her the Cat Club is indebted for a very beautiful design of a medal which, in silver and bronze, is competed for at the Westminster and other shows (see illustration).
Two Blues belonging to Lady Marcus Beresford.
(Photo: Cassell & Company, Limited.)
Her first adventure into the domain of cat-keeping was in the case of a very fine blue cat named 'Juliet', whose first few litters were not a great success, so that sensible cat took matters into her own hands. She chose for her mate the raggedest black tom she could find, and though, of course, the results of this mesalliance were not at all satisfactory from the show judge's point of view, in later years, when suitably mated, 'Juliet' did not once throw back to a wrong-coloured kitten. I am not sure that I can follow Mrs. Hardy to the logical conclusion of her deductions from this fact, but I think it is worthy of notice by those extremists who hold the view that an incorrect mating in the first instance spoils a queen for the rest of her life.
It was at the Crystal Palace show of 1897 that Mrs. Hardy exhibited her first litter from her blue stud 'Wooshoo', and she was then awarded a first, a special, and two or three silver medals. Another famous cat in Mrs. Hardy's establishment was a blue, named 'Mark Antony', who met with success at several Scottish shows. Later he came under the notice of Mrs. Mackenzie Stewart, into whose hands he passed, and received a good deal of favour at the hands of the judges. From Mrs. Stewart he passed into the possession of the late Dr. Longwill, and was sire of the famous Crystal Palace winning female blue, 'Dolly Gray', in 1902.
Cast of the cat club medal.
Designed by Mrs. P. Hardy.
Mrs. Hardy's success has not been achieved without some set-backs, more particularly of recent years, since her cattery has been enlarged, and she has had to fight her way against disease and death. Her own account is so vivid that I quote it, so that fanciers in a like evil condition may fight for the lives of their pets to the last:-
I was singularly free from illness of any kind amongst them, and I lived for some time happy in the belief that the Persian puss was in no wise different from her short-coated sister in the robust possession of nine lives; so I added cat unto cat, and bred for show; when swiftly Nemesis overtook me. I showed five full-grown cats at the first Westminster show, and twenty-four hours after the show was over my best blue queen, a young beauty whose proud owner I had been only for one brief month, died of acute pneumonia. A few days later influenza showed itself amongst the others, and all four were down with it.
What a time I had, with the experiences of a ward-nurse! But I pulled them through, all but one young kitten of four months, in whom acute laryngitis developed, and so she had to be put to sleep.
'Wooshoo' was given up by the vet., as he piled so many complications into his system one after the other, developing bronchitis, gastritis, and jaundice on the top of the original complaint. Poor fellow, for twenty four hours he lay unconscious, but I kept his heart going by doses of pure alcohol every two hours, while I fought the disease with hot fomentations, medicated steamings, and other proper remedies.
For just one month I had to hand-feed him, and then one afternoon it occurred to him he might try his minced oyster by himself, greatly to my joy and triumph; and when he feebly washed his face afterwards I felt like setting the church bells ringing!
I am convinced, in serious cat illness, it is the night nursing that does the trick and determines whether your patient is to live or die. It is somewhat of an effort, I admit, to have to arise two or three times in a night (nearly always in the bitter weather, when these epidemics occur), and, in my case, to be obliged to dress and go out of doors to the stableyard, with a dimly burning lantern.
Miss G. Jay's cattery.
(Photo: W. Field, Putney.)
In every cat lover's career there must be some such saddening memories. Saddest when, after the efforts of the night, and you have left hopeful the morning will bring improvement, you return in the early dawn to note on entering a sign that causes your heart to beat heavily - your patient's bed is empty!
You know what that means, and look round. Yes, there in a corner, flat, stiff, and draggled, where he has crawled in the last uneasy seeking for air, is your poor pet, still for ever!
Mrs. Hardy, in connection with illnesses, has some advice to offer as regards medicines which she has tested herself, and which I think will be of service to my readers:-
While not intending to say anything authoritatively upon the subject of remedies for various cat ills, all of which will be most ably and exhaustively gone into by the writer of later chapters in this book, I might perhaps mention one or two things of which I have had personal experience, restoratives rather than drugs, which I now keep always at hand.
One is a preparation of beef called 'Somatose'. It is sold in I oz. or 2 oz. tins, is in the form of a fine soluble powder, and has this advantage over certain beef essences-that it will keep good any length of time, and has not to be used up directly the tin is opened; while it is no more expensive, and a little will go a long way if used as directed.
I make it by putting some boiling water into a saucer, sprinkling about a teaspoonful on the water, and allowing it to dissolve slowly till cold, when it would look like weak tea. It is a most powerful restorative and stimulant, and given cold in teaspoonful doses can be retained in the worst case of stomach irritation.
Rev. P. L. Cosway's "Imperial Blue."
(Photo: G. & J. Hall, Wakefield.)
A second good thing is Plasmon powder. I was recommended to try this by a cat lover, for a case of dyspeptic sickness of a chronic character. For delicate kittens it is most valuable, and I believe the very worst cases of diarrhea or dysentery can be cured, and the patient saved to grow up strong and healthy, if a diet of Plasmon jelly, given cold, with alternate meals of Somatose, also given cold, be persevered with until the bowels are normal. Never give milk in any form, either plain, boiled, or in puddings, to a cat that is suffering from looseness of the bowels. Another little hint I may be allowed, perhaps, to give: Don't wait for illness to come before you train your kittens to take medicine from a spoon.
I teach all my youngsters to drink easily from a spoon, beginning with something nice-sweetened milk or the like, going on to cold water and, when necessary, a drop or two of Salvo's Preventive in it. Then, when it becomes necessary for a real nasty dose, they are not in the least nervous of the spoon beforehand, and the dose is down and gone before they discover anything unusual. Never have I to wrap cloths round any of my cats, or get people to hold them by main force; but some cats will nearly turn themselves inside out when a spoon is held to their mouths! All the fault of early training. Badly brought up! You must be very patient with a young kitten; never do anything in a hurry. When once you have gained a cat's confidence it will let you do anything to it.
"Un saut périlleux."
(From a Painting by Madame Ronner.)
[Typed in by Martina Šiljeg, Delta Pelegrino cattery]
PERHAPS no breed or variety of cat has been so much thought about, talked about, and fought about in the fancy as the silver or chinchilla Persian. If blues are a new variety, then silvers are of still more recent origin. Years ago this cat did not exist-that is to say, we should not recognize the silver Persian of today as the silver of bygone times, for the simple reason that the only class of silver in the fancy formerly was the silver tabby. In those days there were self-coloured cats and tabby, or marked cats, and broken-coloured cats. Previous to the introduction of a Chinchilla class at the Crystal Palace in 1894, the class for silver tabbies included blue tabbies 'with or without white', and it is curious to read in the old catalogues of the Crystal Palace shows the titles given to the various cats by the owners, some describing their cats by the owners, some describing their cats as 'chinchilla tabby', 'light grey tabby', 'silver grey', 'silver chinchilla', 'blue or silver striped'. We may infer that these cats were either blue tabbies or silver tabbies, or something betwixt and between. I distinctly remember the large number of cats which in these enlightened days we should find it difficult indeed to classify. It is often said, 'What's in a name'? But still, in trying to describe a particular breed of cat, it is as well to endeavour to find a term which expresses as nearly as possible both the colour and the appearance of the animal. There has been a great deal of discussion as to the correct name by which these delicately tinted Persians should be called.
The National Cat Club began by classifying them for the Crystal Palace show in 1894 as Chinchillas, and they have kept to this, although it is really a most misleading title, as the cats are quite unlike the fur which we know as chinchilla, this being dark at the roots and lighter towards the tips. Now, cats of this variety ought to be just the reverse.
Bred by Mrs. Mix, Old Fort Battery, New York.
(Photo: A. Lloyd, Amsterdam, N.Y.)
It is difficult to give a correct idea of the real colour and appearance of these cats. The far at the roots is a peculiar light silver, not white, as one might imagine, until some pure white is placed beside it, and this shades to a slightly darker tone - a sort of bluish lavender - to the tips of the coat. The Cat Club introduced the term 'self silver', but this is suggestive of one colour only, without any shadings whatever. Another class, called 'shaded silvers', was added; but then, again, tabby markings are not shadings. Formerly, blues used to be called 'self blues', but this is entirely done away with, and now we never think of using this term, and speaking of them as blues we understand there should be the one and only colour.
Surely, then, the simplest term and the most descriptive of these beautiful cats is 'silver', pure and simple, for whether dark or light they are all silvers, and so we should have blues and blue tabbies, orange and orange tabbies, silver and silver tabbies.
"The Absent-minded Beggar."
Owned by Mrs. Neild.
(Photo: E. Landor, Ealing.)
Then comes the question of what is nearest perfection in this variety of cat, which has come upon us of late years, evolved from the silver tabby and the blue. The ideal silver, to use the words of a well-known breeder of these cats should be the palest conceivable edition of a smoke cat, with fur almost white at the roots and palish silver grey at the tips, and as free from markings as a smoke. I do not go the length of declaring that silvers cannot be too light, for I think that it is the delicate tips of silvery blue that lend such a charm and give such distinction to this variety. Without these delicate tippings a silver cat would look inartistic and insipid. There has been of late quite a rage amongst silver breeders to produce a totally unmarked specimen; but fanciers would do better to endeavour to obtain a light shaded silver free from tabby markings with the broad head and massive limbs, which at present are qualities not often met with in this variety. I am quite aware this is a most difficult task, but we must remember that 'all good things come hard', even in breeding cats, and if it were not so half the interest for fanciers would be gone.
Having, therefore, considered what a perfect silver cat ought to be, I will give a description of the type of cat generally bred and exhibited as a silver. I read the following account in one of our daily papers, evidently written by a non-admirer of these lovely cats: 'The chinchillas are very fashionable, and very difficult to breed in perfection. They took their name from a supposed likeness the fur bears to that of the chinchilla.
Silver Persian Owned and Bred by Miss Meeson.
(Photo: F. Parsons, Southend-on-Sea.)
But the chinchilla cat, as at present in request, bears no resemblance to the little rodent. Most of the exhibits are of a dirty white, tinged with lavender, with a quantity of marks and stripes on the face, body, and paws'.
Now this is not a pleasing picture, and one that would be considered libelous by a silver breeder. It is, however, true that at present our silvers are too full of tabby markings, and in many cases the undercoat is not silvery white, but light grey or pale blue. There are many silver cats with dark spine lines and shaded sides, but they are heavily barred on the head and legs, and the tail is frequently almost black. It is a case of tabby blood which needs breeding out of the silvers, and which, no doubt, will be obliterated in time, so that two distinct types of silvers will only exist - the delicately tipped or shaded silvers, and the richly marked and barred silver tabbies. Just as in the case of the blue Persians it took a long while to eradicate the tabby markings which showed the existence of tabby blood, so amongst silvers the bar and stripes need to be carefully bred out, and we shall hope, in the good time coming, to have not self silvers, but a very near approach to this - namely, a perfectly unmarked but yet not wholly unshaded silver cat.
There is a greater delicacy amongst silver cats, and more difficulty in rearing the kittens, than in any other breed, and this may be accounted for by the immense amount of inbreeding that was carried on indiscriminately at the beginning of the rage for silver cats; also the desire to obtain lightness of colour caused breeders to lose sight of the grave disadvantages of loss of bone and stamina. Therefore it is that among the silver cats exhibited at our shows we seldom find massive limbs or broad heads or full cheeks.
The Property of Miss A. Pollard.
(Copyright 1901 - G. Hiller, Elisabeth, N.Y.)
There is a tendency to hare-like proportions, and the faces have a pinched and snipey appearance, and noses are too long. However, great improvement is taking place, and with the numerous stud cats now at the disposal of fanciers, there ought to be no difficulty in making a suitable selection.
The question as to the correct colour of eyes for a chinchilla or silver cat is still a vexed question. In self-coloured cats the broad line is clearly laid down-blue eyes for whites, orange for blacks, and orange for blues; but when we come to the more nondescript cats-such as silver and smoke and tortoiseshell-there seems to be a wider margin given, and the line drawn is not so hard-and-fast. Still, I think it is always well to have some high standard of perfection in each breed, so that fanciers may breed up to it, and to my mind the bright emerald green eye is the ideal for a silver cat. I have seen very fine amber eyes which could not fail to attract admiration; but if these are admitted, then all sorts of eyes, not amber but wishy-washy yellow, will be the inevitable result. So many silver cats have eyes that may be described as neither one thing nor the other. Often one hears the remark, 'Oh! But if you see So-and-so's eyes in the right light they are a lovely green'. But viewed by the ordinary eye of a critical judge, they appear an uncertain yellow. Therefore it is best to set up a standard, and I think it is becoming an almost undisputed fact that silver cats of perfect type should have green eyes, and by green let it be understood that the deeper the tone the better will they accord or contrast with the pale silvery coat.
Three pretty silvers.
(Photo: C. Reid, Wishaw.)
I would here impress upon fanciers the great importance of striving to obtain the large, round, full eye, which gives such expression to a cat's face. How many of our silvers of to-day are spoiled by small, badly shaped or half-open eyes! I do not think sufficient importance is attached by our judges to this point of size of eye. Many are carried away by the correctness of colour, and fail to deduct a sufficient number of points for a beady, badly shaped small eye.
Colour is fleeting, and with age our cats may lose the brilliancy of green ororange, but bold large eyes, placed well apart and not too deeply sunk, will be lasting points in favour of our pets.
There is one rather peculiar feature in the eyes of some silver cats. This is the dark rim which often encircles the eye. This rim decidedly enhances the beauty of the eye, and makes it look larger than it really is, and also throws up the colour. Light, almost white, ear-tufts and toe-tufts are adjuncts which go to make up a perfect silver cat. The nose is of a dull brick red, darkening slightly towards the edges.
Few Persian cats suffer so severely during the process of shedding their coats as silvers, and they present a most ragged appearance at this period of their existence. The lovely fluffy light silver undercoat almost disappears, and the top markings stand out very distinctly, so that a cat that in full feather would be considered a light, unmarked specimen will appear streaked and dark after the coat has been shed. As regards the silver kittens, it is a curious fact that these, when born, are often almost black-or, at any rate, generally very dark in colour, resembling smokes. It is seldom that a silver kitten is light at birth, but gradually the markings and shadings will lessen, and perhaps just the one mite that was looked upon as a bad black will blossom forth into the palest silver. In this respect, silver kits are most speculative, but in another they are cruelly disappointing, for a kitten at three months old may be a veritable thing of beauty, and ere it has reached the age of eight months, bars and stripes will have, so to speak, set in severely, and our unmarked specimen of a silver kit develops into a poorly marked tabby cat. I may say that if the kittens are going to be really pale silvers they will in the majority of cases have very pale faces and paws, with little or no marking, whilst the body will be fairly even dark grey-perhaps almost black. In a week or two a change takes place, as the undercoat begins to grow, and it will be noticed that the kittens become more even in colour, the contrast between their light face and dark backs will not be nearly so accentuated, and by the time they are nine or ten weeks old they will look almost unmarked. The reason for this is that the dark fur they are born with is really only the extreme tips of the hair, and as their coats grow in length this shading becomes more dispersed.
And here I will allude to the so-called three-fold classification which was part of the scheme of the Silver Society, founded by Mrs. Champion in 1900. At the inaugural meeting Mrs. Stennard Robinson took the chair. Voting papers had previously been distributed amongst the members, asking for their votes on the question of establishing three classes for silvers-namely, chinchillas, shaded silvers, and silver tabbies. The votes recorded were fifty-four in favour of the threefold classification, and nine against it. So this was carried by a large majority, and the question of points discussed and settled as follows:-
As pale and unmarked silver as possible. Any brown or cream tinge to be considered a great drawback. Eyes to be green or orange. Value of points as follows:-
Colour of coat.................................... 25
Coat and condition.............................. 20
Colour, shape, and expression of eyes... 10
After much discussion, Lady Marcus Beresford moved, and Mrs. Champion seconded, the following definition of Shaded Silvers:-
Colour: pale, clear silver, shaded on face, legs, and back, but having as few tabby markings as possible. Any brown or cream tinge a great drawback. Eyes green or orange. Value of points:-
Colour of coat.................................... 25
Coat and condition.............................. 20
Colour, shape, and expression of eyes... 10
From this list it will be seen that for colour the highest points are given, and that eyes may be green or orange.
But during the two years which have elapsed since the formation of the Silver Society, there has been a decided desire on the part of breeders for green eyes only, and certainly our best qualified silver judges are not partial to any other coloured eyes in this variety. In an article on the colour of eyes in silvers, 'Zaida' of Fur and Feather writes: 'Eye colouring threatens to become a matter of fashion. Some eight years ago we received from a first-rate fancier and exhibitor a letter respecting a chinchilla cat, which later became a great prize-winner. 'It is useless', wrote this lady, 'to think of exhibiting her on account of her green eyes'. What a change of opinion has marked the flight of eight years'!
"Shah of Persia."
The Property of Mrs. Anningson.
It will be observed that, as regards the description of chinchillas and shaded silvers, there is a distinction and yet no very great difference, and herein lay the difficulty of retaining these two classes at our shows. The lightest silvers were deemed eligible for the chinchilla class, and then came the question for exhibitor and judge to draw the line between the two so-called varieties, and to decide what degree of paleness constituted a chinchilla and what amount of dark markings would relegate the specimen into the shaded silver class. The cat world became agitated, exhibitors were puzzled, and judges exasperated. There were letters to the cat papers on the 'silver muddle'. Show secretaries were worried with inquiries. I recollect a would-be exhibitor writing to me sending a piece of her silver cat's fur, and asking whether her puss should be in the chinchilla or shaded silver class; but even with her lengthy description and the sample before me, I dared not venture an opinion, and I used generally to reply to such letters by saying I did not know in which class to enter my own silver cat, and so I was going to keep him at home.
Silver, Owned by Lady Decies.
(Photo: E. Landor, Ealing.)
One correspondent, appealing through the columns of the papers, wrote: 'Everyone knows a black or white or brown tabby, but how can we exhibitors discern between the number of shadings on our silver cats as to which class they belong? Do kindly air my grievance, and oblige'.
It was quite pathetic to see the faces of disappointed exhibitors at the Westminster show of 1901, when several beautiful creatures who had traveled many a weary mile to be penned and admired were rewarded with a 'Wrong Class' ticket only. They were either too light or too dark for the class in which their owners had entered them, and all hope of honour and glory and golden coins and silver cups vanished into thin air! At one show I recollect a cat was accounted by the judge a chinchilla and a shaded silver, and he came off very well with special prizes for both varieties. No doubt he really was either one or the other, or both!
It was no wonder, therefore, that a reaction set in, and exhibitors and judges felt alike that something must be done, and that, at any rate for a time, it would be better to have only the two classes for silvers and silver tabbies, and that specials might be given to encourage the lightest cats. The abolition of the threefold classification was therefore taken into consideration when the Silver Society was broken up by the departure of Mrs. Champion to America, and the Silver and Smoke Persian Cat Society came into existence, with Mr. H. V. James as Hon. Secretary.
The following are the objects of the Society:-
The title of this Society, which (under the name of The Silver Society) was founded in July, 1900, is 'THE SILVER AND SMOKE PERSIAN CAT SOCIETY'.
The objects of the Society are:-
- - To improve the breeds of long-haired silver (or chinchilla), shaded silver, silver tabby, and smoke coloured cats and kittens, male, female, and neuter.
- - To guarantee extra classes for these breeds at shows supported by the Society, when necessary.
- - To offer prizes for the said breeds at shows supported by the Society.
- - To hold shows independently, or in conjunction with other Societies or Clubs when it shall be deemed expedient by the members.
- - To elect specialist judges to make the awards at shows supported by the Society.
- - To establish and maintain a standard of points for the above-mentioned breeds.
It was in March, 1902, that voting papers on this burning question were sent out to members of the new society, with the following result: For the threefold classification, 20; against, 32. Therefore, by the wish of the majority, it was decided to give up the threefold classification for the present.
The Silver and Smoke Persian Cat Society is now in a most flourishing condition, with about 150 members. It is the fervent hope and earnest endeavour of each and all of the fanciers of silvers in the society to breed a perfectly unmarked specimen, and with perseverance we may in time puzzle the judge to decide which cat in a large class of lightly tinted silvers is the palest. We shall gradually but surely breed out the tabby markings if fanciers will, so to speak, nail the right colour to the mast and keep on striving to breed up to the perfect type.
To quote Mr. C. A. House: 'What is wanted is for breeders to work on standard lines, and not push forward with such persistency their own pet particular whims. All that is required is for breeders to be determined to breed honestly and consistently for what the standard advocates, and leave severely alone all excesses and exaggerations. Let us have chinchillas free from markings by all means, but let us keep our shadings, our silver colour, remembering that pure silver is of a bluish tinge, and is not the whitey-brown article some would have us accept as the ideal in chinchilla cats'. The same authority, writing on the threefold classification, says: 'I have always maintained that the threefold classification in silvers was a mistake, and the majority of breeders, I am pleased to know, are coming round to that view. My opinion, when first enunciated, was not popular. With some it is not to-day. But many who at one time could not see the force of my arguments now do so, and there is a more general feeling that the craze for self silvers is not conducive to the welfare of the silvers as a breed'.
Silver, Bred by Mrs. E. N. Barker.
Amongst the well-known breeders, fanciers, and exhibitors of silvers in the present day, I may mention Lady Marcus Beresford, who owns some beautiful specimens of the celebrated 'Lord Southampton' strain. A handsomer type of silver female cannot be met with than 'Dimity', bred by Miss Cochran, and presented by her to Lady Marcus Beres-ford. Lady Decies is the proud possessor of the incomparable 'Zaida', whose record of wins is a marvelous one. As all the cat would knows, 'Zaida' is accounted the lightest and most unmarked specimen in the fancy. Mrs. W. R. Hawkins has bred some wonderfully good silvers, and was the owner of 'Sweet Lavender', which has been acknowledged as one of the best of this breed that ever existed. The following are the principal silver breeders: The Hon. Mrs. McLaren Morrison, Mrs. G. H. Walker, Mrs. Neild, Mrs. Russell Biggs, Mrs. Wellbye, Mrs. Martin, Mrs. T. Drake, Mrs. Cubitt, Mrs. Marriott, Mrs. Balding, Mrs. Poole, Mrs. Ormerod, Mrs. Fawsett, Miss White Atkins, Miss Snell, Miss Horsman, Miss Dell, Miss Meeson, The Hon. Philip Wodehouse, Miss Chamberlayne.
During the last few years a very large number of silver cats have been placed at stud, but we may regard three cats as the founders of the breed or as the pillars of the silver strain-namely, 'Silver Lambkin', 'Lord Southampton', and 'Lord Argent'. To these worthy ancestors a very large proportion of the silvers of to-day can trace their lineage. But this noble trio is naturally being superseded by such stud cats as 'Silver Starlight', 'Tintagel', 'Cambyses', 'The Absent-minded Beggar', 'Pathan of Dingley', 'Jupiter Duvals', 'St. Anthony', 'Rob Roy of Arrandale', 'The Silver Sultan', and many others. There is, therefore, now no excuse for in-breeding, which used to be carried on to a great extent when so limited a number of sires were forthcoming. To indiscriminate and injudicious in-breeding may be largely attributed the great delicacy amongst silver cats. There is no doubt that the number of fatalities among silver kittens is far in excess of that of any other breed. Then, again, the size of silver cats compares unfavourably with others, and they are wanting in muscle and bone. We do not want huge, coarse, heavy silvers, but breeders and judges sometimes show an utter disregard for size and strength, and the consequence is we see a number of ladylike looking studs that fail miserably in these very essential points.
Breeders should aim at the happy medium between the liliputian and the leviathan, but not be content unless their silver studs turn the scales at 1O lb. As regards the mating of silvers, a broad line to lay down is to avoid tabby markings. It is for this reason that smokes have been wisely selected by most breeders as the best cross for a silver. It is more than probable that in many cases some nondescript sort of kittens will be the result. These sort of light smokes are exceedingly pretty cats and make fascinating pets, but they are useless for breeding purposes or exhibiting. I have known of some handsome specimens that have wandered from class to class, only to be disqualified in each and either, and it was a case of, 'When judges disagree, who shall decide'?
Several experiments have been tried of crossing a white Persian with a silver in order to get pale coloured kittens, but this appears seldom to succeed unless the whites have silver blood in them. Some breeders have tried blues with silvers, but there is the danger of introducing the grey blue undercoat which gives such a smudgy appearance to a silver and is suggestive of a badly coloured smoke. It does not at all follow that the mating of two light silvers will produce light coloured and unmarked kittens, yet this cross and the smoke are the safest. It must be a work of time, as we have before said, to breed out the tabby markings of many generations.
The name of Mrs. Balding is as well known to breeders of silvers of the past as it is at the present day. In the past, however, it was as Miss Dorothy Gresham this enthusiastic fancier won her laurels. I well remember the sensation caused by the appearance in the show pen of the 'Silver Lambkins' at the Crystal Palace in 1888. To breeders, exhibitors, and cat fanciers generally the following account of chinchillas from the earliest days, specially written for this book by Mrs. Balding. Should be exceedingly interesting:-
'There is probably no variety of longhaired cat which has caused so much discussion, notwithstanding that, with the exception of the light-coloured reds, which have been designated 'creams', the chinchilla is the cat which has most recently gained distinction as a separate variety. The notoriety which the chinchilla enjoys has been in great part brought about by the delicacy of its appearance and the difficulty that has been experienced in the production of a perfect specimen. Many cats are called chinchillas and are exhibited as such, often winning prizes, but very few indeed are of the pale silver tint, with bright emerald eyes, and with no bars or stripes on the legs or head.
A perfect Chinchilla.
(Photo: E. Landor, Ealing.)
'The chief subjects that have been under discussion in connection with the chinchilla cat have been the colour of eyes and the shade of the coat; but, with regard to the former, I think it must be acknowledged that green is a more suitable accompaniment to silver than yellow or orange, and, as regards the latter, that silver, with dainty sheen evenly distributed, is more to be desired than a patchy grey, dull in hue and unattractive to the eye. As a matter of fact, these shaded grey specimens are in reality only ill-marked silver tabbies. They must, however, not be altogether despised, as they have been the steppingstones which have led to the creation of the chinchilla.
'It is something like twenty years ago that, amongst the competitors in the classes for long-haired tabbies at the Crystal Palace and other important shows, was occasionally to be seen an alien with the ground colour of the silver tabby, but with very few stripes on the body. These cats were evidently sports from the silver tabby, so much so that the class for that section was the only one open to them; and, although they invariably showed great quality, breeders were loth to exhibit them in the medley of different coloured tabbies, where one of their chief beauties - the absence of stripes - became a disadvantage. Their only chance of distinction lay in putting in an appearance at provincial shows, where the authorities were sometimes to be induced to attach two cat classes to the rabbit division - one for long-haired of any colour, and the other for short-haired. In this indiscriminate assemblage, no colour having been stated, chinchillas when present wrought great havoc, although it cannot be denied that the judges of the day gave precedence to a well-marked silver tabby.
'Amongst these outcasts was a cat of striking beauty, whose like has not been seen again. This was 'Sylvie', of unknown pedigree, owned by the late Mrs. Christopher, at whose death she became the property of the late Miss Saunders, of Peterborough. A beautiful portrait of this exquisite chinchilla is given in Mr. Harrison Weir's book 'Our Cats'. When judging at the Crystal Palace in 1886, this connoisseur and judge of worldwide repute awarded her first prize, medal, and special for the best long-haired cat, getting over the difficulty of her silvery, unmarked coat by calling her a very light blue tabby, though the puzzle was to find the tabby.
'Another chinchilla of the early 'eighties was Miss Florence Moore's 'Queenie', who would, had chinchilla classes been provided at that time, have been loaded with championships and honours. In colour she was as light as any of our present-day celebrities, and might easily, from her freedom from markings, have earned the dubious compliment of the uninitiated so highly prized by owners of chinchillas of being mistaken for a grubby white.
Miss Florence Moore, who later on had one of the best and largest catteries in the country, bred 'Queenie' from her 'Judy', winner of many first prizes, a heavily marked silver tabby of Mrs. Brydges' noted breed, and 'Fez', a light silver cat with indefinite stripes.
Mrs. Balding's "Silver Lambkin."
(Photo: E. Landor, Ealing.)
'Mrs. Brydges can claim the distinction of having owned, something like half a century ago, some of the first long-haired cats ever imported into England. A coincidence worthy of note is that though there is no record of her having bred or possessed a chinchilla, two never-to-be-forgotten pairs of chinchilla kittens - Miss Florence Moore's 'Chloe' and 'Dinah', winners of first and medal on three successive occasions at the Crystal Palace, Brighton, and Bexley, 1887 (they being the only chinchillas at any of these shows), and Miss Gresham's 'Silver Lambkins', who swept the board in 1888, winning the specials at the Crystal Palace from forty-six pairs of other competitors of all colours-could in each case trace descent to the Cheltenham stock 'Chloe' and 'Dinah', through the afore-mentioned 'Judy' and the 'Silver Lambkins', through their sire 'Rahman', also bred by Mrs. Brydges.
'Still more remarkable, these two couples of youthful prodigies were first cousins, on the other side of their pedigrees, the noted 'Fluffy II'. and 'Beauty' being bred by Mrs. Vallance.
'Chinnie', the Mother of chinchillas, is familiar in name to every breeder of this lovely variety, and the following letter, of the early 'eighties, relating to her birth and buying, will perhaps prove interesting to the up-to-date silver fancier. It is copied from the original in the possession of Mrs. Vallance. One guinea appears to have been a price to talk of in those days. Now, one would be tempted to hide the fact of such a small amount, and if a specimen were offered to us at this low figure we should certainly desire it to be sent on approval.
'THE VICARAGE, SANDAL MAYNER,
October 14th, 1882.
'To Mrs. VALLANCE.
'MADAM, - The kitten I have to sell is quite pure bred. The mother I bought for £I IS, when quite a kitten from prize parents. The father is one we bred partly from Mrs. Radford's breed and partly from a splendid tom cat that was found living wild at Babbicombe, and that we had in our possession for some months, but unfortunately he is lost again now-I am afraid permanently. I think this kitten promises to be very like the mother. She is very handsome and has good points-brush, ear tips, and so on-but I consider her rather small. But the kitten may be finer, as the father is a large cat. Miss Grant's are related to ours on the father's side, but Mrs. Radford's very distantly, if at all.
' I do not think these Angora kittens are delicate. We have never failed in rearing them. The more new milk they have, and the better feeding, the finer cats they are likely to make. We do not have much trouble in keeping ours at home, as we live some distance from the village. We always give ours their principal meal at 6 p.m., and keep them shut up in a hay-loft until next morning. If you have a box wherever the kitten lives, with sifted sand or cinders in it, kept in a corner, you will find that the best way to ensure habits of cleanliness. If I hear nothing from you to the contrary I will send the kitten on Wednesday morning, 19th, by the early train from Derby station; and if you are not satisfied with the kitten I am willing for it to be returned within a day or two, if the return journey is paid and I am let know beforehand when to expect it.
'I remain, yours truly,
A letter redolent of lavender and old-world deliberation, but words of wisdom for all that. The reported delicacy of long-haired cats would trouble us less if we had more of the new milk and hay-loft system. Raw meat, raw eggs, new milk, fresh air, grass, and water are the sole ingredients required to rear the most valuable kitten.
'Chinnie's' size is another interesting point. She grew to medium weight, but was remarkable for symmetry of form rather than bulk.
'Some of the loveliest chinchillas are small, but 'Nizam', 'Tod Sloan', 'Ameer', 'Silver Lambkin', 'Laddie', 'Lord Argent', 'Silver Mist', 'Cherub', and 'St. Anthony' stand out as being as large, or larger, than any cats of other colours, and the majority of them have also the purity of colour, broad heads, and short legs so often lacking in large cats.
The legginess and want of quality which frequently accompanies size doubtless cause our leading judges to deem it of little account.
'The name chosen by Mrs. Vallance for her new acquisition proves that even in those early days the term chinchilla was in vogue. 'Chinnie's' wins were third Maidstone, Sittingbourne, V.H.C. Oxford, Maidstone. Her charming little mate 'Fluffy I.' a very pure silver with undecided tabby markings, also showed the quality of coat and cherub face for which their descendants have been unsurpassed. He was bred in 1883 by Miss Acland from imported cats, and won first and medal at Maidstone, Cheltenham, and Ealing, second Ryde, V.H.C. Crystal Palace, Oxford, and Lincoln. His career ended in 1886, when he disappeared. Tradition whispers he was destroyed in the village.
Mrs. Balding's "Fluffie Tod."
'In April, 1885, 'Chinnie' produced a litter by 'Fluffy I', two members of which-'Vezzoso' and 'Beauty'-have earned undying fame in the annals of chinchilla history. 'Vezzoso', a marvel of lavender loveliness, in his one brief year of existence won first in the open class and silver medal for best in show Albert Palace, 1885, first Louth, Maidstone, second Frome, third Lincoln.
'In fatal 1886 'Vezzoso' who belied his exquisite appearance by being very undomesticated, like his maternal grandfather the wild cat of Babbicombe, roamed to return no more. 'Lost in the woods' is his epitaph.
'An even more tragic fate befell 'Fluffy II', the 1886 son of 'Fluffy I' and 'Chinnie', who after winning first Crystal Palace, first and silver medal for best in show Brighton, second Albert Palace and Ealing, and siring the two before-mentioned kittens of the year, died in 1887 from the effects of an accident in which he was internally injured. Thus within little more than a year Mr. Vallance lost three of the most promising young cats anyone could possess. At the time their owner scarcely realized their value, and allowed them absolute freedom, with such sad results.
'But undoubtedly the best result of the 'Fluffy' and 'Chinnie' alliance was 'Beauty', from whom, as already stated, came the 'Silver Lambkins'. As a kitten she became the property of Miss Howe, of Bridgyate, near Bath, and later, by a breeding arrangement with the Miss Greshams (now Mrs. Bridgwater and Mrs. Balding), had three remarkable litters of chinchilla kittens, the first by 'Rahman', who shortly afterwards strayed from home and was lost. This was the litter which produced four queens, including the two 'Silver Lambkins', and which (with the exception of one renamed 'Mimi', who went to America with her owner) all unfortunately died.
'The second of Bridgyate 'Beauty's' litters was by Mrs. Shearman's 'Champion Perso', a magnificent light smoke with remarkable coat and wonderful mane, winner of a large number of first and special prizes. In this lot was a tom kitten destined to be a pillar of the chinchilla stud book, the 'Silver Lambkin', named after his deceased half sisters. The chief beauties of this remarkable cat are his size and muscular frame, the length and thickness of coat, and the enormous frill inherited from 'Champion Perso', which spreads Elizabethan like round his shoulders and falls to his feet in front, a cascade of silvery white fluff several inches long. To 'Perso' may be traced in some degree 'Silver Lambkin's' success as the sire of unmarked cats, and to 'Beauty' their pale colour, green eyes, and perfect shape, which have won for her descendants by 'Lambkin' upwards of 150 first prizes.
The Property of Mr. Laughton.
'At the time 'Silver Lambkin' was bred there was no chinchilla stud cat, and no one had thought of trying to breed chinchillas, for whom, as before stated, there was no encouragement at shows or at home.
'The third litter which brought further fame to 'Beauty' was by 'Bonny Boy', who in the early' nineties was placed second in the class for silver tabbies at the Crystal Palace, but was considered by admirers of chinchillas to be the best cat in the whole show-an honour, however, which came to him a month later when at Brighton he was awarded the special for the most perfect specimen of the Persian breed in the exhibition; he had previously been claimed at Sydenham, by the Hon. Mrs. McLaren Morrison, at his catalogue price of £6 6s., and was afterwards renamed 'Nizam'.
'The only information that could be obtained about this beautiful cat was that he was exhibited by Mrs. Davies and that he came from Wales. Report suggested that he was imported, but there is no evidence of any chinchilla cat having been sent from abroad.
'Beauty's' litter by 'Nizam' consisted of one male and four females, two of which, as 'Twin and I'-so named because they were so exactly alike-won first prizes and medals wherever shown. Another was sold by me to Mrs. Martin, which, as 'Lambkin Queen', was the foundation of the afterwards noted cattery at High Wycombe. 'Twin' eventually went to Mr. Lawton, who renamed her 'Queen of the Mist'. Mated with 'Silver Lambkin' she produced 'Sea Foam', the first chinchilla to win a prize in a class solely confined to cats of the colour. There was an amusing coincidence about this win, inasmuch as after considerable trouble had been taken to get a separate class for chinchillas, the judge gave the first prize to a heavily marked silver tabby, thus totally ignoring the desired object. This occurred at the Crystal Palace in 1893 or 1894. The two first classes ever given for chinchillas were this one and that given at Cruft's first cat show at Westminster, held in March, 1894.
Mrs. Wellbye's "Silver Lotus."
(Photo: E. Landor, Ealing.)
'The next that was heard of 'Twin' was that she had succumbed from the effects of swallowing a needle. 'I', registered as 'I, Beauty's Daughter', remained the whole of her lifetime at The Lodge, Penge, where, when paired with the pale blue 'Champion Bundle', 'Southampton Duchess' was the result, the latter the mother of the 'Silver Lambkin's' most sensational son 'Champion Lord Southampton', who was sold by Mrs. Greenwood for £60, when he became the property of Lady Decies, this being probably the highest price that has ever been given in England for a cat of any variety. 'Champion Lord Southampton', who has been a very great winner, is remarkable for the lightness of colour and slight markings of his kittens, this being undoubtedly due to the strain of blue in his blood. Many beautiful cats own him as sire, notably Miss Leake's 'Seraph', Mrs. Bluhm's 'Silver Sultan', Mrs. Neild's 'Absent-minded Beggar', Miss White Atkins' 'Tintagel', Mrs. Tyrwhitt Drake's 'Musa', Mrs. Rickett's 'Empress Josephine', Mrs. Earwaker's 'Buxton Cloud', Mrs. Geo. Walker's 'Woodheys Fitzroy', Mrs. Barnes 'Nourmahal' winner of the Chinchilla Club challenge for the best kitten, 1899, and a daughter of 'Champion Fulmer Zaida', shown by Lady Decies at the Crystal Palace in 1901, also 'Green-eyed Monster'.
Mrs. Wellbye's silver "Dossie."
(Photo: E. Landor, Ealing.)
'Whilst speaking of 'Tintagel' it may be remembered that he sired a charming litter exhibited by Mrs. Poole, which were first at the National Cat Club show at the Crystal Palace, and one of which won as a single kitten at the Botanic Gardens in 1902.
'Other famous progeny of 'Silver Lambkin' are 'Silver. Mist', 'Watership Caesar' (who won the gold medal at Boston; U.S.A., for the best cat in the show, 1902), 'Silver Tod Sloan', 'Silver Owl', Mrs. Bluhm's 'Silver Lily', 'Silver Squire', and 'Mowgli', the last named bred by Mrs. Dunderdale, but later the property of Mrs. Smyth, of Forest Hill, one of the most enthusiastic admirers of chinchillas, who has in her possession the stuffed figure of 'Beauty'.
A chinchilla that gained a considerable notoriety was 'Sweet Lavender', the property of Mr. Hawkins. This was a beautiful specimen, very light in colour. The latter was also a distinctive feature of the Hon. Mrs. McLaren Morrison's 'Ameer', a son of 'Lambkin Queen', who stands prominently forward as one of the most perfect of his kind. Mrs. Martin's 'St. Anthony', whose name appears in the pedigrees of several winners, is a brother of 'Ameer'.
'As the sire of Lady Decies' 'Champion Fulmer Zaida', the most lovely chinchilla female that has ever been seen, 'Silver Laddie', who is now unfortunately gone to his happy hunting-grounds, can claim to have been one of the most noted of sires, more particularly as he was also the father of many others of great value, prominent amongst which were Miss Horsman's 'Aramis', Miss Snell's 'Starlight', 'Silver Cherub', 'Lady of Quality' (one of the most perfect chinchillas ever bred), 'Charterhouse Pixie' (the dam of 'Tod Sloan'), and numberless others.
'Not only as a chinchilla, but when competing with all breeds of cats, both long and short haired, 'Champion Fulmer Zaida' has proved her excellence, and has on more than one occasion secured the cup at the Crystal Palace for the best cat in the whole show. She was bred by Mrs. Bluhm, one of the pioneers of chinchillas, and, it is stated, has now won 136 first and special prizes, and that Lord Decies has refused £90 for her.
'Zaida' has also produced some first-class kittens, amongst which was Miss Stisted's 'Pearl', the owner of the latter pretty queen being a most devoted admirer of the chinchilla and sparing no expense to further its interests.
'Mrs. Bluhm's strain of chinchillas are all very light in colour, and show great quality, which may also be said of those of Mrs. Wellbye, whose 'Silver Lotus' and 'Veronica', daughters of 'Silver Squire' and 'Dossie', did so much winning in their day.
'Miss Meeson has also shown considerable enthusiasm in her endeavour to reach the ideal, her best efforts having resulted in 'Jupiter Duvals', of wide fame.
Mrs. Wellbye's silver "Veronica."
(Photo: E. Landor, Ealing.)
Two clubs have been formed in connection with the chinchilla cat-one, the Silver Society, embraced other coloured cats besides the chinchilla, this eventually becoming the Silver and Smoke Persian Cat Society. It was owing to this club encouraging shaded, or marked, silver cats and orange eyes that the Chinchilla Club was formed by Mrs. Balding. This Club has the honour of having as patron H.S.H. Princess Victoria of Schleswig-Holstein, who owns and exhibits some beautiful chinchillas, and Lord Decies as vice-president.
The Chinchilla Club gives its support and specials, besides guaranteeing classes at any show whose management apply. The conditions on which the specials are presented is that the cats to which they are awarded must be the property of members of the club, prize-winners in their respective classes, and registered cats.
The club prizes usually consist of half a guinea in each class, and the more coveted Special of the club's badge for the best chinchilla of either sex. Badges were selected in place of the ubiquitous medal, because most of the dainty professional beauties very soon obtain a considerable number of the latter, and smart little badges were more appreciated.
The club's present challenge trophy for chinchilla kittens is a solid silver model of 'Silver Lambkin', offered by the hon. secretary for competition amongst its members; it is also open to members of the National Cat Club, in acknowledgment of the compliment paid by the latter to the original in choosing his statuette to surmount their challenge cup. The little history of the origin of this special has never appeared in print before, and as I was not present at the committee meeting referred to, 'I tell the tale as 'twas told to me'. When the challenge cups of the National Cat Club were designed in 1897, it was decided that the beauty and interest attached to them should be enhanced by immortalizing on each the most representative cat of the long-haired and short-haired varieties. For the latter the great 'Xenophon' was chosen without hesitation. Then came the more difficult task of deciding upon a recipient for the distinction from the long-haired ranks, which claim so much of the beauty and wealth of winnings of the cat world as to render the singling out of one a matter of consideration. To hasten termination of the discussion Mrs. Stennard Robinson sent for a collection of cat photographs which had been left to her by the late Miss Portman, the well-known 'Rara Avis' of the Lady's Pictorial. Amongst these the hon. Secretary of the N.C.C. pointed out one-with no name attached-as the most beautiful photograph of the lot. This was recognized by most of the committee as being 'Silver Lambkin', so the honour fell to him.
'By some error at the makers' the long-haired cat was placed on both challenge cups, and it was determined by the club that the superfluous model which had to be removed and replaced by 'Xenophon' should be mounted as a letter-weight and given as a challenge prize for kittens, to be won three times before becoming the property of the winner. After some keen competition, covering about half a dozen shows, Mrs. Martin won it outright in 1899, when it was replaced by the present exactly similar model.
The endeavour of the Chinchilla Cat Club, of which all the leading breeders and most successful exhibitors are members, is to continue the work that has been done to improve chinchillas, and to produce a new variety the colour of the palest shade of the fur (dyed) known as 'blue fox', or a very light shade of pigeon blue. Without doubt such a result can be obtained by careful selection and - 'the little more'. Darwin's words on the subject of selection are attractive to all owners of live stock. He says: 'Improvement is by no means due to crossing different breeds. All the best breeders are strongly opposed to this practice, except sometimes amongst closely allied sub-breeds. And when a cross has been made, the closest selection is far more indispensable even than in ordinary cases. If selection consisted merely in separating some very distinct variety and breeding from it, the principle would be so obvious as to be hardly worth notice; but the importance consists in the great effect produced by the accumulation in one direction during successive generations of differences absolutely unappreciable by an uneducated eye. Not one man in a thousand has the accuracy of eye and judgment sufficient to become an eminent breeder....... Few would readily believe in the natural capacity, and years of practice requisite to become even a skilful pigeon fancier'.
The Chinchilla Cat Club is also prepared to encourage cats of new colours, which should now be not so very difficult to produce, considering the points that have been brought out in those varieties that were well known, the latter showing that it is possible to breed to a standard if judgment is used in the endeavour to do so. Some of us remember the time when a blue cat, either long-or short-haired (now the largest classes), was a rara avis when Mrs. Lee's 'Meo' was the only Siamese at the Crystal Palace show, smokes an equal oddity, blue eyes in a white cat a comparatively unnoticed point, and cream-coloured cats entirely unknown.
The colour of the chinchilla has been bred in various ways. In bygone days, when chinchilla cats were flukes or freaks and few and far between, methods which would now be considered somewhat eccentric were resorted to by the first breeders of the colour. The useful tortoiseshell, from which black, red, cream, or tabby cats can be got, was pressed into the service, and, paired with a silver or light blue tabby not too clearly marked, would occasionally, amid the multi-coloured kittens for which tortoiseshells are proverbial, throw a medium chinchilla or light silver tabby, which with careful selection might, a generation or two later, develop into something approaching a good chinchilla.
But it is, perhaps, more difficult to foretell with cats than any other animal what the result of pairing will be with anything like certainty. This particularly applies to the ordinary English cat, as it is impossible to guess at the mixture of different-coloured creatures which have preceded it, and any of which may influence the progeny of its descendants. A fancier who would produce any particular specimen must, amongst other gifts, be equipped with the patience of biblical celebrities and prepared to wait seven years, as one enthusiast actually did before arriving at the fulfillment of his desires in the shape of a well-marked tabby kitten.
Southern cattery, showing entrance to infirmary and indoor cattery.
Mrs. Walker visiting her pets.
Two views of Woodheys cattery.
'With pedigree cats, of course, the chances of unexpected traits reappearing in their progeny are considerably lessened, and, given desirable connections on both sides of some years' standing, the personal attributes of a coming litter may be predicted more or less successfully. One of the loveliest of smokes - the correct black, with white undercoat, with out the shadow of a stripe - was from a brown tabby queen, from brown tabby parents, and a chinchilla bred from a chinchilla dam and smoke sire. Again, a brown tabby with white paws, whose appearance did not suggest the bluest of blood, mated with the same chinchilla sire, produced in a litter three chinchillas and two faintly marked silver tabbies, which would nowadays have been styled 'shaded silvers' by followers of the dubious hue. Needless to say, these instances are not given to encourage the idea of breeding chinchillas from brown tabbies, but as illustrations that just as the results of pairing a cat with one of nondescript pedigree cannot be guessed, so in an animal carefully bred for generations so indelibly have the characteristics of the breed or variety been stamped upon it by past ancestors that it is practically impossible for them to become obliterated or submerged.
'Thus the type once fixed survives, though it be by the aid of the incongruous connection, such as brown tabby. Had the latter been the patrician bred from progenitors of her colours, and the chinchilla been the one of doubtful lineage, the result must, of course, have been reversed, and the kittens, in all probability, would have followed the brown tabby strain. If neither parent cat when of distinct varieties can boast a particularly dominant strain, the offspring naturally partakes of the peculiarities of both.
'Colour, in chinchillas, is the most important point. It should be of palest silver, lavender tint, and lighter - in fact, practically white - at the roots. There should be no dark blotches or stripes or brown tint on the back or about the nose. A rusty hue is, however, sometimes caused by action of the sun or wind. As regards bars or stripes on head, these should be as few and light in colour as possible, with a view to breeding them out altogether in the future.
'The coat should be long and thick, of fine, soft texture, much thicker and longer around the neck, forming a decided frill and mane, the latter reaching well down the fore legs. It should also be longer on the hinder part of the thighs, forming culotte, and very bushy on the tail, which should be short and wide. The legs should be lightly feathered, with tufts of hair between the toes. There should also be tufts in the ears, which should be very small and set low.
Owned by Mrs. Walker.
(Photo: Findlow & Co., High Wycombe.)
'The head should be wide at the forehead and short in the muzzle, well filled up below the eyes, giving it a round appearance. The eyes large and luminous, in colour emerald green with black lids. Green and yellow mixture is permissible, but not so picturesque as the green; yellow in the eyes is not desirable. In shape the chinchilla should have a level back, and be only slightly long in the couplings. The legs should be short with round paws, the latter well padded. When in full coat the hair should nearly reach the ground and the frill envelop the back of the head, making a very fascinating whole.'
The following is the standard of points as drawn up by the Chinchilla Cat Club. It is also used in America as basis for criticism:-
- Colour of Coat. - Palest silver, lavender tint preferred, nearly white at roots. No dark stripes, blotches, or brown tint. Darker tips to the long hairs give the coat an appearance of being lightly peppered with a darker shade. The whole appearance of the cat to be very pale .......... 30
- Coat. - Long and thick .......... 20
- Texture of Coat. - Fine and soft .......... 10
- Tufts of hair inside and round the ears and between the toes .......... 10
- Head. - Broad and round; forehead wide, ears small and set low, nose short .......... 25
- Shape. - Back level, not too short; legs short, paws round; brush short, wide, and carried low .......... 20
- Eyes. - Large, luminous, and green in colour (if green mixed with yellow, 5 points only allowed) .......... 10
To breeders of silver Persian cats an article by Mrs. Neild will be valuable and instructive. Mrs. Neild has made, so to speak, a specialty of silvers, and owns two noted silver studs - the 'Absent-minded Beggar' and 'Lord Hampton.' There are always some good silver queens, and very frequently some choice kits, disporting themselves in the well-arranged catteries at Hart Hill, Bowdon, where Mrs. Neild has a kennel of Borzois and a cattery of silvers.
This is what Mrs. Neild says regarding the breeding and rearing of silver Persian cats:-
'Perhaps of the many varieties of Persian cats - and, indeed, they are a goodly number as they now appear on our show catalogues and schedules - the silvers may claim their owners to be the most sporting of cat breeders. Certainly, to breed successfully it is essential that one should possess the not too common virtues of unlimited patience and perseverance. Also experience is necessary.
'A common occurrence among even old hands is to assign a kitten - one of a new litter under inspection, as being of 'little good except as a pet' - 'to be sold at a small sum to a good home,' and a few weeks later discover this same kitten to be the pick of the litter. In short, the old, old story of the ugly duckling incessantly repeats itself in our catteries, certainly in those devoted to silver cats. Therefore I suspect fanciers who have succeeded (all honour to the few!) and those who mean to succeed in breeding silver Persian cats of possessing a larger stock of patience and of having acquired a larger experience than their brothers and sisters whose love has turned towards the blue, black, or white pussies.
'With these last three one may be tolerably sure - always taking for granted some knowledge - of fairly pure coat colour, and at a very early age the best kittens of the litter may be picked out - those having greatest breadth of skull, smallest ears, etc. But the silver litters are veritable surprise packet, and remain so for an irritatingly long period. Personally, I have found that those kittens which, when born, have very pale - almost white - unbarred faces and fore legs are ultimately those which grow the palest. I take no notice of the colour of the coat on the back, sides, hind legs, or tail, even if striped, as frequently happens, for all these markings generally vanish if - as I before said - the face and fore legs are unbarred. I must, however, own to one kitten who was born jet black. She was by Mrs. Champion's 'Lord Argent' and a shaded silver queen of my own breeding. When a month old I dubbed her a very bad smoke; at three months she was coatless - a most indecent little person, having shed her coat more completely than I had ever seen in cat or kitten. When, after a provokingly long period, she again consented to appear clothed, her dress was of palest silver, unadorned by any markings except a very faint smudge on her forehead and - which, alas, spoilt her for show - a darker tinge on her broken tail. How is it that to our best some accident always happens? So, as I could not exhibit her, I sold her to a delightful home in the North of England, and her enthusiastic owner wrote to me a few weeks since that her big babies by 'Lord Hampton' were as pale as the mother, who herself grey steadily of a fainter silver.
Unfortunately, silvers more than any other breed of cats lack bone, caused, of course, by the unavoidable in-breeding practiced when this variety of cat was first introduced and so enthusiastically welcomed, and when but one or two fanciers owned a cat of such shade. Another article on this subject, by a lady who may really claim to have established this breed, will explain to the reader more than it is in my power or province to declare.
To go back to the subject of our small silvers, in-bred to delicacy. We should now remember how many good sires, absolutely unrelated and within easy reach, are placed at our disposal. Therefore, surely there can be no possible excuse if in a comparatively short time we do not manage to own silvers big in bone and limb, and owning - ah! happy accompaniment - greater constitutional vigour.
"Silver Blossom's" two buds.
(Photo: Mrs. G. H. Walker.)
We are, I believe, too apt, if owning a pale queen, to mate her with the palest known stud, disregarding other very important considerations in the all-absorbing wish to breed the wonderful 'dirty white' king or queen of silvers. Sometimes this atom (verily so) of perfection does make its appearance, and is enthusiastically greeted. But what of the mite itself? A tiny, sickly scrap of a kitten, constantly ailing, refusing to grow or to weigh, except at a rate of less than half the average blue kitten of its own age. But extraordinary care keeps the mite alive until one day some chance draught or a maid's carelessness ends our careful nursing, and the poor owner of that 'lovely dirty white kit' at last realizes that this other good-bye means it may be wiser to mate that same pale queen to the strongest, hardiest, biggest-boned stud possible to be found among our silver studs, even if he is rather barred.
Now mark. From the result of this mating, keep the best of the female kittens and marry her - if possible, not before she is eighteen (at any rate, fifteen) months old - to a stud unrelated, sturdy, of undoubtedly splendid health, for preference paler than herself, and boasting grand head and the essential tiny ears and short nose. Then you may dream your dreams with a chance of their resulting in a golden reality.
If breeders would but spend rather more thought when they select husbands for their pussies, they would be indeed repaid. I am not speaking, of course, to the fortunate few who have won their laurels, and of whom I would I might learn; although I rather suspect their secret of success is but the result of continual study, coupled with extreme care. Would not an enormous increase of size and weight soon become evident in the occupants of our catteries if, when a queen was about to be mated, her owner would first carefully study the list of points provided by the Silver and Smoke Persian Cat Society (previously quoted in this work), jotting down those good qualities to which she believes her queen may lay claim, and then selecting that sire possessing the points most wanting in her own cat-of course, never forgetting relationship? The old rule about in-breeding is 'once in, twice out', as all old fanciers know; but where silver Persian cats are in question, I would most strongly urge that this adage be disregarded, and, as a rule, avoid in-breeding entirely until a stronger race of silver cats is established, cats with frames equal to those big blue beauties we see at our shows. I think that in a comparatively short time - of course, always avoiding tabby blood, breeding chiefly for bone - our silver cats may be very different to those of today, those who own too fairylike limbs to be beautiful.
Silver. Bred by Mrs. G. H. Walker.
(Photo: Mrs. G. H. Walker.)
A word about our famous sires - and, by the way, we may congratulate ourselves on having within reach so many beauties. Often I have letters asking for advice as to which stud letters asking for advice as to which stud such and such a queen shall visit; and, in addition to the above suggestions, I would remind the owner that length of journey should be taken into consideration, and the fact that if the chosen sire is extremely popular it may be that a better result may be gained if the queen is sent to one not so much in request, especially if the owner of the stud cat has not been warned before of the visit of your pussie. However, most owners of stud cats are extremely careful in limiting the number of visitors, and few object to keeping Sir Thomas free for a week beforehand if given due notice.
Do let me urge all whom it may concern to keep Madame in close confinement for several days after her return home. Indeed, in the interest of the owner of both stud and queen this is of vast importance, and many a disappointment is due to this seemingly small neglect. Puss does not always return as one would wish, however great the care given her whilst away on her holiday, and may take her matrimonial affairs into her own paws with results most unsatisfactory to everyone but herself. When the kits arrive, do not - if you have reason to expect valuable kittens as a result of the mating - leave more than two or three with the mother (I am, of course, speaking of silver kittens) for reasons I shall directly state. By far the best plan is to procure (some time before the birth of both litters) a good big English cat as foster mother, one known to have brought up a previous litter - not an old cat. The usual method of substituting her foster for her own babies is to take away the mother cat for a few minutes - of course, out of sight - and, removing one of her own kittens, rub the little silver baby with the hay of the nest and against the other kittens so that the strange smell - sense of all other so wonderfully developed in animals - may not raise suspicion in the foster mother. Then the next day remove one or two more.
May I, at this point, plead that the little kittens taken from their mother for your benefit should not be drowned? If they must be sent along the silent road to the Quiet City, let it be done mercifully and by chloroform. Such wee things may rest easily in a big biscuit box, the lids of which usually close tightly, and about I 02. of chloroform poured on a piece of flannel or sponge laid on a small saucer by their side will send them painlessly to sleep. (Remark from PawPeds: Note that this is what is written in an old book, it is of course not PawPeds's recommendation to euthanize healthy mixbreed kittens in order to let their mother take care of more "valuable" pedigree kittens instead.)
The reason I strongly advise that the English foster should nurse the best of the litter is but an echo of the old cry, 'Want of bone'. Fed by the sturdy British puss, the delicate tiny balls of silver fluff will gain greater strength, and be mothered for a longer period than would be possible with their real parent.
"Fur and Feather."
(Photo: Mrs. S. F. Clarke.)
It is necessary to remember that, although the foster mother needs extra food when nursing-just as in the case of the silver mother - more caution must be exercised when beginning the more liberal diet, for very probably, if this is forgotten, a liver attack - which will also affect the precious kits - will be the result of her unusually liberal fare. Remember, also, to inquire of the owner of your foster as to how she has been fed. With this knowledge, common sense and careful watching of cat and kittens will quickly show if it would be better to increase of diminish her meals either in quantity or quality. It is of enormous value to bespeak the foster mother, if possible, four or five weeks before the birth of the kittens, for then it will not hurt to give her what is almost certain to be necessary - i.e. a worm powder.
I always allow my mother pussies as much milk as they like (although, as a rule, my cats drink water), but it should be boiled, and one tablespoonful of lime-water added to each half-pint. -When I once urged this care of the foster mother to a friend who owned two kittens she was extremely anxious to rear, I was laughed to scorn, and assured that such fussiness about a strong English cat was more than foolish. Yet I would remind breeders who are inclined to agree with the above opinion that on the perfect health of your much-prized litter. On her depends their growth, their first chance of throwing off their natural delicacy. Mr. House, in one of his articles lately published in Fur and Feather, advises that kittens should be kept with and fed by their mothers as long as sixteen weeks. In my humble opinion this is too great a strain on any Persian cat, but there may be great wisdom in keeping the kits with the mother or foster for as long as it is possible without overtaxing the cat. The same authority speaks of a relay of foster mothers. I confess this puzzles me, for I should imagine that the food supplied by the second mother would be too weak in quality (as Nature provides it shall be of different quality to suit the age of all and every kind of baby) for the big kits after that of the first foster, and I should have also imagined the second foster would refuse to nurse kits so much bigger than those she had just left.
'When my kits are four weeks old I give them raw lean beef-scraped, not chopped-beginning with half a teaspoonful daily, then the same quantity twice daily, then three times a day; and at the same time teach them to lap, using a plate, which, being shallower than a saucer, causes less choking and fear to the little things'.
Mrs. G. H. Walker, of Woodheys Park, is the chief supporter of the Northern Counties Cat Club, and is a member of the National Cat Club Committee. For several years she has been a well-known breeder and exhibitor of silver Persians, and has a most excellently planned cattery, which I had the pleasure of seeing when on a visit to Woodheys Grange. Mrs. Walker kindly had some views taken, specially for reproduction in these pages. I consider the arrangements for the pussies' comfort and well-being as complete as it is possible to make them. The floors of the outside catteries, which face south, are cemented, so that they can be washed over every day. The roofs are boarded, and then covered with galvanized iron, so that all the rain runs away easily. The spacious apartments are fitted with benches and ledges, and trunks of trees and leafy shrubs are planted in the ground for the cats' special amusement and exercise. The kennels - which, for the purpose of photographing them have been placed outside - are the cosy sleeping dens of the pussies. There is a maid in attendance on these fortunate cats, and the man who looks after the kennels of dogs also gives a helping hand.
"The Silver Lambkins."
By "Rahman" ex "Beauty."
In one of the pictures will be seen a staircase, and this leads to three charmingly arranged rooms. All the appliances and utensils connected with the animals are kept in one of these apartments. Another is set apart for mothers and their families, and a third is kept in case of illness for an isolation ward. In one of the loose boxes near at hand the cooking for the pussies is carried on, and there is a larder specially for the cats' food. Mrs. Walker devotes much of her time to looking after her pets, and great has been her sorrow over the untimely death of some of her treasured pussies. After one of the large shows, infection crept into her cattery, and worked most cruel havoc. Such losses as Mrs. Walker sustained were enough to damp the ardour of the most enthusiastic cat lover and fancier; but the lady of Woodheys Grange bravely faced the situation, and after a period of sad reflection she once again resumed her hobby with renewed interest. At the Northern Counties Cat Show at Manchester in 1902 Mrs. Walker exhibited a really wonderful silver kitten. I say wonderful, for this youngster, bred from the owner's 'Woodheys Fitzroy' and 'Countess', was the most unshaded and unmarked specimen of a silver I have ever seen. This unique specimen will be watched with interest by silver fanciers. May his shadings ever grow less!
The average number of inmates of this cattery is about thirty, but at one period of Mrs. G. H. Walker's catty career the silver fever ran high, and there were sixty-three cats and kits within the precincts of the spacious and luxurious catteries of Woodheys Grange.
Mrs. Martin, of High Wycombe, who has often acted as judge, has been a most successful breeder of silvers, and the progeny by 'St. Anthony', her noted sire, have distinguished themselves by winning over one hundred prizes. 'St. Anthony' has retired into private life, but he will always be remembered if only by his two children 'Silver Dove' and 'Fascination'. Mrs. Martin says, 'I am all in favour of the male being older than the queen in breeding silvers; also select a good-coated stud cat, short in the legs. Eyes are a worry just now. Of course, I like green best, but if a cat is good in all points but colour of eye, this should not upset an award. I find that if a kitten is born almost self silver, it will develop into an indifferent silver tabby later; but if the body is dark, and head and legs light and clear, you may hope for a very unmarked specimen in due time'.
Mrs. Wellbye's silver cats 'Dossie', 'Silver Lotus', and 'Veronica' were at one time well-known winners, and for length of coat and beauty of eye have seldom been surpassed. Mrs. Wellbye is a most astute judge of silvers, and her remarks on this her favourite breed will be read with interest:-
This handsome variety of the Persian ranks high in the estimation of cat lovers; indeed, its ardent admirers consider it the crème de la crème of the cat world. And why not? Surely there is nothing to compare with a lovely young chinchilla Persian in full coat. Its very daintiness and seeming pride in itself is quite charming. One is reminded of a pretty child dressed out in its party frock, for puss appears to know it is well dressed and desirous to show her charms to the best advantage. She dances, pirouettes, and throws herself into the most graceful and entrancing attitudes, until we feel in sympathy with the Egyptians of old and are willing to fall down and worship our adorable pets. We all love beauty, but to those who love cats there is something beyond even beauty, for only they who keep and care and treat them well know the comfort these little creatures are, and the happiness they can bestow by their sweet caressing ways, perhaps more especially to those whose hearts are starved of human love, but still to all whose sympathies are wide of the varieties of silver cats. I will first treat of the chinchilla.
The Crystal Palace show of 1895 or 1896 was the first I remember with a class for chinchillas; previous to that, I believe, they were not recognized as such, but were shown with the silver tabbies. Strictly speaking, the name chinchilla is a misnomer as applied to these cats. The soft grey coat of the little animal called the chinchilla, whose lovely fur is so much prized as an article of ladies' dress, differs diametrically from the cat so called.
The fur of the chinchilla is dark at the roots, and shades quite pale grey at the tips. The cat's fur, on the contrary, is absolutely pale grey, almost white at the roots, but tipped with black at the outer edges.
The points as laid down by the Silver Society are as follow: 'Chinchillas should be as pale and unmarked silver as it is possible to breed them'.
The aim of the breeder of this variety, therefore, is to obtain a cat with none of the markings of the original stock (the silver tabby), the dark tippings to be slight and faint.
Brown Tabby and Silver Persians.
(From a Painting by Miss. F Marks.)
Breeders have found this ideal most difficult to obtain; although some kittens are born pale all over, with no markings, in a few weeks - or maybe months - the hope of the family is no more, for the lighter the kitten the more delicate. 'Whom the gods love, die young'. Or, again, if the cherished one lives over its baby troubles, and starts on the change from its first, or kitten coat, to the second coat, too often do the markings appear, the shadings get darker, or fine black hairs are seen amongst the pale grey. Some of the best chinchilla kittens have been born quite dark, and with tiny stripes all over. At a month or six weeks these marks have disappeared, and later the coat has become an even silver.
The breeder must not even then build high hopes. Again change may occur. There is no cat which varies so much; it is quite chameleon-like in this respect.
A few years ago the Cat Club adopted the name of 'self silver' as applied to the chinchilla - another misnomer, as a self silver should have no tippings or shadings, and the silver cat has not been bred that had fur the same shade throughout from roots to tips.
Owned and Bred by Miss S. Meeson.
(Photo: F. Parsons, Southend-on-Sea.)
The slight dark edging to the fur constitutes to most people the charm in these silvers. Sometimes it is almost imperceptible to the casual observer; or when the cat is in full coat (the fur being from three to seven inches long on the tail-sometimes as much as nine inches) the tiny fleckings are lost in wavy, tossing, billowy coat. But let the coat become damp, however slightly, it will be seen that the dark edges are clearly in evidence.
As, however, breeders could not always produce the pale shade of silver, the litters, even with the most careful mating, being generally assorted in good, bad, and indifferent so far as colour was concerned, many fine cats - dark silvers - had no place assigned to them.
It was then suggested that a class should be given at the shows to be called 'shaded silver', the points according to the Silver Society being as follows:-
'Shaded silvers should be defined as pale, clear silver, shaded on face, legs, and back, but having as few tabby markings as possible'.
The dark or shaded silvers, it was understood, should have pale, clear undercoats; but instead of the fleckings of the self silver (so called), the dard edges ran a considerable way into the fur. The shaded silver is a handsome cat, but too often much marked on the face and barred on the legs, a defect most difficult to overcome. Many cat fanciers describe the shaded silver as a 'spoilt tabby'.
The third in the group of silvers is the silver tabby. The points are here stated:-
'The colour of a silver tabby should be a pale, clear silver, with distinct black markings'.
This variety ought in equity to have been mentioned first, as it is the original stock, but it has been overshadowed by the superior attractions of the chinchilla. (Silver tabby enthusiasts will perhaps pardon this eulogy of my favourite breed). There is not the slightest doubt this handsome cat, the silver tabby, has suffered materially from the craze for the newer variety, and consequently the type has not been kept pure. They have been mated over and over again with cats of less markings in the hope of breeding chinchillas, until at the present day ther are very few silver tabbies true to type.
The Elder Miss Blossom.
Silver, Owned by Miss Horsman.
The position of the silver tabby in the feline scale is very peculiar. As a Persian it is, of course, necessary that its coat should be long and fine, whilst as a tabby it is desirable that the markings should show up to advantage. How to reconcile the two is the puzzle, for the longer the coat the less the markings are evident, as the stripes are merged in the flowing coat, so that we sometimes see at the cat shows exhibits woefully out of coat placed in the first rank, as the markings are much more distinct. It follows, then, in this variety of the silver, a long coat is distinctly a disadvantage when competing at shows.
Having now obtained three types for silvers, and the Cat Club willing to give classes for them at the great shows held in St. Stephen's Hall, Westminster, the outcome was looked forward to with much interest. But it was one thing to get four types, and quite another matter to get silver breeders to understand the fine distinction; consequently, the cats were entered in self silver, shaded silver, and silver tabby classes indiscriminately. The result was, of course, muddle and confusion, many exhibitors having the mortification of finding 'Wrong Class' on the cat pens.
At a recent show held at Westminster under the auspices of the Cat Club, the judge was asked by the Honorary Secretary to go round the classes first, and if any exhibit was wrongly placed to re-classify before judging. This worked satisfactorily so far as disqualification was concerned.
At this show, however, the judge was confronted with another difficulty, it being found that most of the cats in the classes for shaded silver had deviated materially from the standard of points laid down by the Silver Society. Instead of the clear, pale undercoat, the fur was a dark grey right down to the skin. The majority of these cats were quite dark, and, rightly speaking, were not silvers-that is, if one bears in mind the metal so named. It is difficult to say in what class they could be placed, unless a new class was created, to be called 'clouded or oxydised silver'. If we go on to these subdivisions we shall not know where to stop. Self silver or chinchilla, shaded silver, clouded silver, and silver tabby-a truly appalling problem for the bewildered judge to decide, for the majority of exhibitors would not appreciate the variations.
It may come to this eventually, but at the present time the threefold classification leads to much confusion, for as nearly-or very nearly-all silver cats are more or less tabby marked, so will exhibitors be in doubt as to the class to which their cats rightly belong.
It is a question if the introduction of the shaded class at shows has not done more harm than good, for as previously we saw very few of the dark silvers-it not being worth breeding the variety when there was no class in which to show them-so now the tendency of exhibits, as anyone who attends shows can see, is to run to darkness rather than light; and breeding for colour, purity of colour, and absence of markings has received a set-back, for with some judges colour is nothing, and prizes will be showered upon a 'spoilt tabby' if it happens to have, perhaps, a broader head or a bulkier body-good points, as everyone will allow, but points which the common or garden cat may possess; and we do not pit our dainty chinchillas against all and sundry.
(Photo: E. Landor, Ealing.)
'Without wishing in any way to detract from the good qualities which the more plebeian branches of the cat tribe undoubtedly possess, it is impossible not to award the palm for grace and beauty to the highly bred aristocratic chinchilla. Coal and iron are useful, but we give our admiration to diamonds and pearls'.
Before closing the chapter on silvers, I will allude to the Cat Club show held at St. Stephen's Hall, Westminster Aquarium, in January, 1903. On this occasion there was quite a record entry in the male silver class, which contained twenty-one cats. The list was headed by Mr. J. F. Dewar's handsome 'Father O'Flynn II'. Many well-known prize winners had to be content with a V.H.C. card in this class of quantity and quality. The females numbered eighteen, and here again a noted winner was awarded the highest honours. Miss Chamberlayne's 'Cap and Bells' is very pale and pure in colour, and carries a soft, silky coat. In the silver kitten class the sexes were not divided, and Miss Ford's lovely kittens scored first and third. A sweeter face and rounder head than that possessed by 'Silver Button', the first prize winner, would be difficult to find, and Miss Ford may be congratulated on having bred such a gem. Mr. T. B. Mason judged the silver classes at this show, and he doubtless experienced some difficulty in testing the colour of the exhibits in the bad light of St. Stephen's Hall, more especially as on the opening day of the show a dense fog hung over the city. Another difficulty which must present itself to our most capable judges might justify themselves if they awarded both sets of specials to the one cat. At this show Lady Marcus Beresford offered three special prizes in each silver cat class for the palest specimens, one of these in the male class being won by her own handsome 'Beetle', a son of the famous 'Lord Southampton'. The classification for silvers at the specialist societies' show at Bath, which followed close after the Westminster show, was the largest that has ever been given, consisting of classes for novices and breeders, in addition to the ordinary division and subdivision for cats and kittens. The sensible plan of a ring class for neuters only was adopted.
Members of the specialist society for the encouragement of silvers must on this occasion have felt proud of the liberal classification and of the long list of handsome special prizes offered for their favourite breed of long-haired cats.
"I want to go home."
(Photo: E. Landor, Ealing.)
This may be said to be the very latest variety in Persian breeds, and one which bids fair to become very fashionable. The term cream describes exactly what is the desired tint of these cats, but few and far between are the specimens which are pale and even enough in colour to be correctly described as creams. No doubt, in times past now and again a cream cat would be seen exhibited in the "any variety" class, but then they might be designated as freaks or flukes. Now, however, fanciers of these cats have a system in their matings, and therefore, as a result, there is a breed of cats established which until late years were not recognised or classified.
Mrs. Clinton Locke's cream kitten.
It is true that the cream Persians seen in the show pens are often much darker than implied by the name, and, indeed, are really fawn-coloured. The great thing, however, is to obtain an even tint throughout, whether dark or light, and to avoid any patches, streaks, or tabby markings. I think the very pale creams are more dainty and fascinating than the darker cats, but the lighter the coat the more difficult it is to obtain perfect uniformity of colour. Of course, there will always be a certain amount of shading in cream cats - that is, the spine-line will be slightly darker, shading off on the sides and under the stomach and tail. I think that creams are making more rapid strides towards attaining the "almost unmarked" stage than are silvers. Certainly, good creams of to-day are very slightly barred on head or legs or tail, and this cannot be said as regards some of our best silver cats. This is probably to be accounted for by the cautious and wise discrimination used in mating creams by selecting blues or tortoiseshells, and thus avoiding tabby-marked cats. It is a peculiarity of cream cats that the eyes are generally almond-shaped, and are set rather slanting in the head. It is rare and a great treat to see bold, round, owl-like eyes in cream cats. These in colour should be golden or hazel, the brighter the colour the better. I will here give the points of cream or fawn cats, as drawn up by the specialist society:-
CREAM OR FAWN.
Colour. - To be as pure as possible without marking or shading, either paler or darker, dulness and white to be particularly avoided. All shades from the palest fawn to be allowable. 25.
Coat. - To be very long and fluffy. 25.
Size and shape. - To be large - not coarse, but massive, with plenty of bone and substance; short legs. 20.
Head. - To be round and broad, with short nose, ears small and well opened. 15.
Eyes. - To be large and full, and bright orange or hazel in colour. 5.
Condition. - 10.
Much has been done by this energetic specialist society to get a better classification for creams at our shows; and perhaps, as time goes on and a larger number of fanciers take up these breeds, a distinct classification will be given for creams and fawns. It may always be a little difficult to draw the line between the two; but such a division of colours would, I think, give satisfaction to the breeders of both creams and fawns, for at present judges are more inclined to give a preference to the palest-coloured cats, perhaps because more beautiful and more difficult to breed.
In the former breeds, more especially blues and silvers, that I have described in this work it would have been impossible to name all those cats that were noted in the fancy, for the simple reason that their name is legion; but is different in a breed like creams, for, as I mentioned in the beginning of this chapter, in times past it was a case of only here and there a cream Persian appearing on the scene, then vanishing perhaps to America, or else being purchased for a pet and retiring from public life. These "sports" in the fancy were not seriously taken up, and no one thought of trying to establish a strain; so that one can, as it were, put one's finger on the cats of this variety, if not so easily in the present day, certainly in the past.
A creamy smile.
The first recorded cream Persian in catalogues or studbooks is "Cupid Bassanio," born in 1890, bred by Mrs. Kinchant; no pedigree is given. He was a big, broad-headed, heavily coated cat, with a good many marks and shadings, and was sold to Mrs. Preston Whyte, and passed on to Miss Norman. In the same year Mrs. Kinchant exhibited cream kittens at Brighton. "Ripon" was another well-known cream of imported parents (a blue and an orange). This cat was purchased from Mrs. Foote by Lady Marcus Beresford, and eventually disappeared when in the possession of Miss Cockburn Dickinson. Mr. McLaren Morrison in 1893 owned a pale cat called "Devonshire Cream." In the following year Miss Taylor bred a splendid specimen from "Tawny," her noted tortoiseshell. This cat, called "Fawn," was an absolutely self-coloured fawn with brown eyes, and would do some winning if alive now to compete in our up-to-date classes for cream or fawn. It was in 1895 that Miss Beal first exhibited some of her creams, upon which at that time she did not set much store, more interested as she was in blues; but of her now celebrated strain more anon.
Mrs. F. Norris's cream kitten.
(Photo: E. Landor, Ealing.)
One of the best-known creams of later years is "Zoroaster," bred by Mrs. Bagster from her tortoiseshell "Pixie." This was a remarkably large pale cat with glorious eyes, but he was a good deal patched in colour when I saw him at Mrs. Mackenzie Stewart's cattery. Mrs. Cartwright bred a well-shaped light cream, "Upwood Junket," by "Timkins," a blue, and a daughter of "Cyrus the Elamite." Mrs. Davies, of Caterham, has often had creams in her possession, notably "Lord Cremorne," quite one of the palest seen in the show pen. Two noted creams now placed at stud are Mrs. Norris's "Kew Ronald" and Mrs. Western's "Matthew of the Durhams." Both these cats are bred from Miss Beal's famous "Heavenly Twins." Regarding "Matthew," a reporter in Our Cats thus writes after the Botanic show of 1901:- "Creams are, we prophesy, the coming cats. There seems to us great possibilities in this variety. 'Matthew of the Durhams' is one of the cats we would bring forward in support of this view. Eminently aristocratic, breathing an air of refinement, this cat might be the petted darling of a princess whose cats are all selected by a connoisseur." Mr. Western is justly proud of his purchase, for he claimed this fine cat at the Sandy show, 1901, when he was exhibited by Mrs. D'Arcy Hildyard. "Matthew" has on four separate occasions taken second to his father "Admiral's" first. He has sired some lovely creams, notably "Wynnstay Myrtle," also owned by Mrs. F. Western. This female is one of the best of her breed, and is sure to have some influence over the creams of the future. At the Crystal Palace show of 1902, where she was awarded first and many specials, she was the admired of all admirers. As a rule, cream females have been very much behind the males in quantity and quality. Almost the first two were bred by Miss Hester Cochrane from "Cyrus the Elamite" and "Brunette." "Crême d'Or" is quite one of the best, and was owned by Mrs. Wellbye, who sold her to Mrs. Norris. This cat declined to enter into any matrimonial alliance for some time, but at last presented her owner with a family by "Darius," Mrs. Ransome's noted blue. Two of these cats, "Kew Laddie" and "Kew Ronald," are well known in their different spheres. "Kew Laddie" I purchased to send out to Mrs. Clinton Locke, in Chicago, and she presented him to the honorary secretary of the Beresford Club, Miss Johnstone. This lady exhibited "Laddie" at the big Chicago Cat Show, where he won high honours, and in a letter recieved from Miss Johnstone I learn he is growing a grand fellow and, in fact, is quite la crême de la crême in catty society over the water.
"Kew Ronald" and "Kew Laddie."
(Photo: E. Landor, Ealing.)
The picture of a perfect kitten on the opening page of this chapter represents a cream female, "Jessica Kew," bred by Mrs. Clinton Locke from "Lockhaven Daffodile," sired by Miss Johnstone's "Laddie Kew." Mrs. Clinton Locke is justly proud of this lovely kitten, and writes: "Jessica is the finest kitten I have ever seen; all her points are perfect. She was five weeks old when this photo was taken. Her grandfather was my 'Victor,' an orange, her great-grandmother a tortoiseshell-and-white."
I have mentioned Mr. F. Norris as a breeder of creams and the owner of the handsome pair of cats illustrated on this page. ["Kew Ronald" and "Kew Laddie."] He has kindly supplied me with the following notes:
"Cream cats are of a modern colour in Persians, but are now being more freely bred and finding numerous supporters.
There are, however, very few good ones in the fancy, for size and colour are difficult to obtain. The great failing with them is that, although they are called cream cats, the best and soundest coloured ones are really of a fawn shade. So many show markings, patches, or shadings, whereas the colour should be one shade and sound throughout; better be a little dark in colour rather than a shade from cream to white, as is the case with so many specimens exhibited.
"For one grand-headed and good-eyed cat you see a dozen snipy, long-faced ones with curious slit eyes, instead of a short, snub head, with glorious big round golden eyes.
"In my opinion, to get the short head, good eye, fine body shape, and short legs, it is best to mate a cream with a good cobby blue. From my experience nothing beats a blue, although you can mate them with a red, tortoiseshell, or black. Mating two creams together I do not advocate, unless one of them has a distinct out-cross in the first generation to totally different blood.
"All the creams shown are descended from Miss Beal's two brothers 'Romaldkirk Admiral' and 'Romaldkirk Midshipmite,' and to keep the colour, breeders have bred in and into them again; and that is why they have lost so much in type and character, which would have improved by using an out-cross.
"I have heard people say, 'Cream females will not breed.' If they only studied the question a minute, they would know the reason well enough, which is that they have been too much in-bred. If breeders will only try the blue cross more, they will, I am sure, be pleased, and we shall see a better cat being shown. Breeding from blue you will get pure creams and some cream and blue mixed. Keep the blue and cream females, and when old enough mate them to a cream, and you will get some fine sound-coloured cream kits.
"It is very curious that there has been nothing yet bred in males to beat the twin cats 'Admiral' and 'Midshipmite.'
Miss Beal and her kittens.
"In females the best I have seen is 'Miriam of the Durhams,' who has a lovely body and coat, but is long in face and has those bad-shaped eyes. 'Crême d'Or' runs her close, as she has such a good head, with perfect eye, but is a wee bit long in the leg."
Miss Beal's females "Caliope" and "Mignonette" were both noted prize-winning cream females. Mrs. D'Arcy Hildyard has been most successful in her endeavours to breed creams from creams, and a letter from her in Our Cats of April, 1901, will be interesting to breeders ofthis variety:-
BREEDING OF CREAMS.
(Photo: E. Yeoman, Barnard Castle.)
Sir, - Being much interested in the breeding of creams, I should like to say a few words on the subject and state my experience. Though only a novice, I have up to date succeeded in breeding twenty creams - two in 1899, thirteen in 1900, and seven this year. I began by mating my mixed blue and cream queen "Senga" to a cream tom "D'Arcy," which I bought from Mr. Hutchinson, of Egglestone. From this pair I got four kittens, all females - two cream and two marked blues. I kept the creams "Josephine" and "Hazeline," winners at Westminster as kittens, first and second special and medal, 1900. Later on in the year I mated them, "Hazeline" to Miss Beal's "Midshipmite," "Josephine" to her "Admiral." Both litters were entirely cream, "Josephine" producing six kittens, "Hazeline" producing five, two of which I have kept. "Matthew" and "Miriam of the Durhams" both won as kittens at Manchester, and "Miriram" has since taken first and specials at Barnard Castle, Westminster, and Reading. "Matthew" is growing into a very handsome cat, and I hope to exhibit him at the Botanic. On Saturday last, April 13th, "Hazeline" again kittened and produced five creams, having again been mated to "Midshipmite." This I think distinctly proves that good creams can be got from a pair of the same colour. On April 14th "Senga" also presented me with two more creams, also two marked blues, this time the result of a mating with Miss Beale's "Romaldkirk Toza."
Mrs. D'Arcy Hildyard's cream kittens.
(Photo: E. Yeoman, Barnard Castle.)
AGNES D'ARCY HILDYARD.
Mrs. Barton Collier has two good creams, "Bruin" and "Dolly of Brough." Again these cats are from Miss Beal's strain, the male being a fawn and the female quite one of the palest of creams.
Miss H. Cochran, who formerly took a great interest in this breed, writes:- "I should be inclined to mate a pale cream male or female with a white, and the progeny with an unmarked orange, or vice versâ. I had a litter from 'Buttercup' and 'Zoroaster,' consisting of two oranges, two fawns, and a cream. Thefawn and creams were females, but all died in their youth. I made other attempts with similar crosses, as I had been told it was impossible to breed cream queens, and in the first year all the creams were queens, and the males red! My idea was to select a male of the required colour, and mate a queen of suitable breeding with him, then to mate the resulting queens with their own father. I believe this plan would have been a success if I had followed it up. My idea is that the natural males are the fawns and oranges, and that their complementary queens are the blue tortoiseshells and the ordinary tortoiseshells. No harm is ever done to a cream or orange strain by crossing with black, and it may do much good to the latter by deepening the colour of the oranges, and promoting patchiness as opposed to streakiness in the tortoiseshells."
"Miriam of the Durhams."
(Photo: E. Yeoman, Barnard Castle.)
I have made frequent mention of Miss Beal's noted creams during my chapters on orange and cream cats. These two celebrated champions are commonly known in the fancy as the "Heavenly Twins," their registered names being "Romaldkirk Admiral" and Romaldkirk Midshipmite." They are really fawn Persian cats, very sound in colour, well made, big boned, and are always exhibited in the pink of condition, and at all seasons of the year are in marvellous coat. Certainly, the cold climate of the Romaldkirk cattery, which is situated 730 feet above the sea level, must, anyhow, suit this variety of Persian cat. I suppose the day will come when these well-tried and well-seasoned veterans will have to retire from public life and make way for some of their already noted offspring. In the north, south, east, and west these "Heavenly Twins" have reigned supreme, and Miss Beal must almost have lost count of the number of prizes won by them, which, I think I am safe in saying, would give an exact record of the number of times exhibited. In response to my request, Miss Beal has sent me some notes regarding her cattery arrangements, She says:-
"Most of the houses are old farm buildings round about our stable yard, and I have recently utilised an old granary which is over the coach-house. This is about 40 feet long, and has a room at one end, with five windows and good ventilation above. In addition I have three big cat houses and a loft, where most of the queens reside. 'Middy' and 'Admiral' (the 'Heavenly Twins') have small wooden houses, felted inside and out with wired runs and concrete floors.
"I have the use of two laundries and a tool-house fitted with fire-places, and these I reserve in case of illness."
There are no cats exhibited in better coat and condition than those that come from the Romaldkirk cattery, and the Misses Beal may be justly proud of their splendid specimens of creams, oranges, tortoiseshells, and blue Persians. Miss W. Beal has kindly supplied me with a short article on cream and fawn Persians:-
"The cream and fawn Persian was a few years ago looked upon as a 'sport,' and when cream kittens appeared in an orange strain they were considered spoilt oranges, and were either given away, sold for a few shillings, or in many cases destroyed as useless. Now, however, it is very different; there is a growing demand for cats and kittens of this colour, and at the big shows they usually have two classes, i.e. male and female, for them. They were certainly slow in coming into general favour, owing, I think, to the following facts: First, that the specimens formerly exhibited failed very noticably in head, being very narrow in face and long in nose; secondly, that cream females were practically unknown; and, thirdly, that a show, where they are generally seen, is emphatically the worst place to see cream Persians to advantage, as the journey and being in a town, etc., takes off the spotlessness of their coat and dulls their colour, and the dingy grey of the pens and the yellow of the straw combine to spoil the effect of their colour.
"Champion Romaldkirk Admiral."
(Photo: G. W. Vidals.)
"The place, without doubt, to see creams to perfection is the country, where against a background of vivid green lawn their pure, soft colouring is indeed a thing of beauty, and rarely fails to command admiration. The colour is rather difficult to describe, and there are two distinct tones of colour bred, the one which is generally seen and is so far most successful at shows being a cream rather deep in shade, almost buff, with a distinct pink tinge about it, which is very different from the washed-out orange or sandy colour some people imagine it to be. The other tone of cream colour is much paler in shade, but, instead of the pink, it inclines to a lemon tinge, and, though paler, it is, as a rule, more 'flaky' and uneven than the darker shades, and it is also very apt to fade into white underneath.
"Nearly all the best-known creams are bred in the first place from orange and blue strains, though creams have appeared as freaks in many colours - silvers, tabbies, etc.; but I believe the present strains sprang from crossing blue and orange, and you can generally rely on getting some creams by crossing a tortoiseshell, cream, orange, or blue tortoiseshell queen with a blue sire. But, so far, reversing the mating, i.e. a blue queen with a cream or orange sire, is not successful from the cream breeders' point of view, though very good from that of those breeders who want blues, as the kittens generally excel in purity of colour. Cream females are now fairly common, and so in a few years there ought to be a well-established strain of cream-bred creams; but, as in all other breeding for colour, people are apt to get surprises - for instance, one strain of cream females mated to a cream sire invariably produces whole litters of creams, while another strain, more cream-bred than the first named, mated to the same sire produces equal numbers of creams and orange-and-creams. If people wish to start breeding creams, and cannot afford a cream female, it is a good plan to buy a well-bred nondescript coloured female, either blue-and-cream, tabby, tortoiseshell, or anything that has cream or orange about it, and if it is properly mated there are nearly sure to be one or two creams: thus a cream strain can be gradually built up.
"There are several things to be remembered in trying to breed good creams. One point to be aimed at is to keep the colour as level as possible, whether it be of a dark or light shade, and to keep it pure, not tinged with blue or dull. Among other faults to be bred out are the light lip and chin, which are very common defects, and the long head, which is still seen sometimes, though creams have improved vastly in this respect in the last few years. Creams have been taken up greatly in America as well as oranges, and there they seem to be formidable rivals in popularity to the silvers, which have so far over here outdone them in that respect.
Mrs. F. Western's "Matthew of the Durhams."
(Photo: E. Yeoman, Barnard Castle.)
"One great point in favour of creams is their hardiness, for they do not possess the delicate constitutions which seem to belong to most of the other very pale varieties of Persians. With other coloured cats - blues, silvers, etc. - creams make a splendid contrast, and with oranges add greatly to the effect of a group. They also cross well with several colours - blue, black, tortoiseshell, etc. - for breeding; and many breeders think the result of the growing fancy for these colours, i.e. cream and orange - for, though so different, they are hard to deal with separately - will be that they will be better catered for at shows as to classes, and more extensively bred than they are at present."
[Typed in by Martina Šiljeg, Delta Pelegrino cattery]
Mrs. Singleton's "Orange Girl."
(Photo: J. G. Christopher, Crewkerne.)
IN the short-haired varieties, these cats are sometimes called red tabbies; but I do not think the term gives such a true idea of the correct tone of colour, which should be just that of a ripe orange when in perfection. As I write I have in my mind's eye the mass of bright colour presented by a pile of oranges in a greengrocer's shop, and this is the tone that is to be desired in our orange cats. There is a dash of red in the ideal orange cat, suggestive, perhaps, of the blood-oranges with which at Christmastide we are familiar. Anyhow, an orange cat should be as far removed as possible both from sandy or yellow or, as I have heard them called, lemon-coloured cats.
I have left out the term 'tabby' from the heading of this chapter, and I think advisedly; for in the Persian varieties the markings are gradually but surely vanishing, and orange cats may be said to stand in the same relation to orange tabbies as shaded silvers do to silver tabbies. I mean that most of the orange Persians now exhibited have shaded bodies, with tabby marking on head, face, and paws. The body markings, never very strong in Persian tabbies, are even less distinct in the orange than in the silver varieties. It may therefore be said that in judging this breed as they are represented in the show pen today, colour is taken into consideration first, and tabby markings are of less account. As regards other distinctive features of this breed, I may say that it is the exception, and not the rule, to find good round heads and short noses. The longest faces I have ever seen in any felines have been those possessed by orange Persian and short-haired cats. I have really sometimes felt quite sorry for a magnificent puss of this colour whose nose was so self assertive that every other point, however excellent, seemed to be lost sight of, and that nose with the accentuated terminus stood out with distressing prominence. Until the year 1894 the classification at the Crystal Palace was 'brown or red tabby, with or without white', and the descriptions given in the catalogue by some owners on entering their cats read 'brown and red', 'red-marked tabby', 'spotted red tabby', 'sandy Persian'. In 1895 orange and cream cats were placed together in one class.
Bred by Mrs. Vidal.
A specialist society for orange, cream, fawn, and tortoiseshell cats was founded in 1900, and although the number of members is small, yet they have proved a strong body of staunch supporters of these breeds, and a really astonishing amount of good work has been done by these few enthusiasts. The classification at the large shows has been greatly supplemented, and, whereas before the formation of the society the sexes were never separated, now this energetic little club asks for, obtains, and often guarantees extra classes. The result, therefore, to breeders of orange and cream cats is much more satisfactory, and males and females have their respective classes; and right well have they been filled. It was in 1900 that classes for creams were introduced at shows. At the Richmond show in 1902 there were thirteen entries in male and thirteen in female orange and cream classes, the sexes, but not the colours, being divided. This was really a splendid testimony to the efforts of a specialist society of less than two years standing. It is such a short time ago that orange, cream, and tortoiseshell cats were relegated to the 'any other colour' class, even at our largest shows; now it is often remarked by reporters in the cat papers that the well-filled cream and orange classes were the chief attractions of the show.
I will here give a copy of the circular issued by the honorary secretary inviting members to join, and the points for orange cats, as drawn up by the specialist society, which were decided upon at the inaugural meeting:-
ORANGE, CREAM, FAWN, AND TORTOISESHELL SOCIETY
LONG AND SHORT HAIRED
As societies have been lately formed to promote the interests of one or more colours in the cat world, it has been thought by a few fanciers of orange, cream, fawn, and tortoiseshell cats that there is an opening for a society for the purpose of encouraging the breeding of these colours. The objects of such a society would be:-
- To secure better classification for these varieties at the different shows.
- To encourage fanciers to breed and show these colours by offering special prizes, etc.
- To improve the type of cat bred.
- To secure recognition for all shades of orange, cream, and fawn; and, inasmuch as many fanciers disagree as to the merits of the different tints for eyes, to encourage the breeding and showing of specimens with green, orange, hazel, and blue eyes.
Miss Mildred Beal, Romaldkirk Rectory, Darlington, has undertaken to act as hon. Sec. to the society, and will be glad to hear from any fanciers who may wish to support it.
"Puck," son of Mrs. Vidal's "Ellwayda."
The Property of Mrs. Moxon.
(Photo: E. D. Percival, Ilfracombe.)
ORANGE SELF OR TABBY POINTS
Colour and marking - Colour to be as bright as possible, and either self or markings to be as distinct as can be got. 25.
Coat - To be silky, very long, and fluffy. 25.
Size and Shape - To be large, not coarse, but massive, with plenty of bone and substance; short legs. 20.
Head - To be round and broad, with short nose, ears small and well opened. 15.
Eyes - To be large and full, and bright orange or hazel. 5.
Condition - 1O.
It will be noticed that the heading of these points is 'orange self or tabby'; but, as I have pointed out, the cats exhibited as orange Persians are neither self-coloured nor can they be called tabby. So it remains to be seen which type of cat will in due course be the established one. I incline towards a self-coloured orange in the Persian breeds, and a very handsome cat this would be-of just one tone of bright even colour, perhaps slightly lighter on the flanks and stomach, under the tail, and with a frill of paler tone. In fact, very much the type of a smoke cat, in two shades of brilliant orange. At the same time, if real orange tabbies can be bred with the distinct body markings these should be encouraged.
At the Cat Club shows it has been customary to give the classification for orange cats marked or unmarked, so that then the judge may not have to take tabby markings into consideration, but give his awards according to colour and other points of excellence. It is the same when a class is given for sable or brown tabby, silver or shaded silver. In such classes it would be unfair to consider either the tabby markings in the one or the amount of shadings in the other. Of course, it is possible that in time orange cats may be bred to such perfection that two distinct classes will be given, namely 'orange' (selfs) and 'orange tabby'. In former years blues (selfs) and blue tabbies were included in one class, but gradually blue tabbies have been disappearing from our midst. If, therefore, orange tabbies-I mean, of course, long-haired cats-should likewise become extinct, our browns and silvers would be the sole representatives of tabbies in the long-haired varieties.
"Benjamin of The Durhams."
The Property of Mrs. D'Arcy Hildyard.
(Photo: Burgess, Market Lavington.)
As regards the eyes in orange Persians, the standard given in the foregoing list of the specialist society is 'bright orange or hazel'. I should prefer the terms 'golden bronze or hazel', as there is a special shade of gold with a dash of bronze or brown which seems to tone best with the bright coats of these cats. Certainly the pale yellow or greenish-yellow eye is not desirable-better a bright green eye. I often wonder if ever fanciers will be fortunate enough to breed an orange Persian with bright blue eyes, such as are seen in whites and Siamese. I have heard of a short-haired orange cat with blue eyes, and sometime I have been told by a fancier of the Persian tribe that they had bred an orange, and its eyes had not turned from the deep kitten blue at four months, so they were fondly hoping they were going to astonish the cat world; but their hopes were dashed to the ground, for surely and sadly a change came o'er the colour of that cat's eyes, and it was a case of the blue that failed! I once noticed an advertisement in one of our cat papers which announced, 'For sale, a unique orange Persian male with perfect deep blue eyes'; but I also remarked that the age of this unique specimen was not given, and I did not think it was worth while to write and inquire.
The Property of Mrs. G. W. Vidal.
(Photo: G. W. Vidal.)
The texture of coat in this breed ought to be particularly soft and silky, and is often of great length and thickness. The kittens when born are usually dull in colour, and gradually brighten as they grow older. As is well known to cat fanciers, orange females are rarer than orange males, so their market value is higher. There is, therefore, always a flutter of excitement on the arrival of a litter, and too often fate has decreed that all are males!
Orange cats make a splendid foil for other varieties. This is especially the case as regards blues and blacks; the contrast in colour enhances the beauty of each. I know one lady who, having an eye to the artistic, keeps a blue and an orange neuter, and a lovely pair they make. I think the largest cat I ever saw was an orange neuter that simply filled the show pen with a mass of bright colour-but he had a white shirt front and white gloves!
As regards mating orange cats, they make a good cross with blacks and tortoiseshells; and if a brown tabby lacks the admired tawny or golden tint, then an orange may assist to brighten and improve the general tone, and do away, perchance, with that drabbiness which is so undesirable in a brown tabby.
I do not think orange cats have ever been very popular, and I have remarked at shows that a certain number of people refuse to give anything but a passing contemptuous glance at the classes which contain what they call 'those yellow cats'.
A very common defect among orange Persian cats is the white or very light chin. Sometimes there is the still more damaging blemish of a white spot on the throat, spreading, perhaps, further down the chest. It is very rare to find an orange that has really a dark under-lip, and chin level in tone with the body colour. The white lip is a bugbear to breeders and exhibitors, for Nature repeats itself, and judges make notes of the defect; and in these up-to-date catty days of specialist clubs and standards of points a cat full of quality failing in one particular is too often a white elephant, if desired for anything more than a pet. I have observed that orange cats will sometimes develop a light or nearly white chin in their old age. I never consider a white spot or tuft of white hairs such a blemish to a cat if these are on the stomach, as compared with the same defect on the throat. Such a spot would not be so likely to be handed down to successive generations; and, of course, a blemish that has to be sought for in an obscure part of the body is not such an eyesore in a self or tabby cat. I have often observed orange cats with very light hair underneath which has almost approached white; but such defects are sometimes only temporary, whereas a white spot on the throat or a white chin remains once and for ever.
In the early days of the fancy, orange cats were decidedly more tabby marked than they are in the present day. A noted one of this type was 'Cyrus the Elamite', born in 1889, and bred by Mrs. Kinchant, an enthusiastic fancier at that and later periods. In 1893 and 1894 Mr. Heap exhibited a handsome orange, 'Prince Charlie', at the Crystal Palace. He also owned another, called 'Prince Lyne', of the same breed, the celebrated tortoiseshell 'Queen Elizabeth' being the mother of both these cats. 'Puff' was exhibited by Mrs. Spackman in 1894; this orange cat was not much marked and 'Lifeguard' was bred from him. It was about this date that unmarked orange Persians became more fashionable. Among females, 'Lifeguard's' sister, 'Goldylocks', owned by Mrs. Marriott, was one of the very best queens ever shown. Mrs. Foote, who is still well known in the fancy, had several beautiful orange females, notably 'Marigold', 'Buttercup', and 'Cowslip'. With these cats Mrs. Foote tried to breed unmarked creams and oranges, 'Ripon', a noted cream, being the sire. She built up several storeys of her catty castle, but then sold them to Lady Marcus Beresford. 'Trilby', litter sister to 'Zoroaster', a famous cream, was one of the brightest and deepest coloured orange females-or, indeed, orange cats-that has ever been seen.
Formerly the Property of Lady Marcus Beresford.
(Photo: E. Landor, Ealing.)
Coming down to the present day, I may remark that the number of orange cats placed at stud is very limited. A great loss to the ranks of male orange Persians was 'Lifeguard', formerly the property of Lady Marcus Beresford. This cat was almost unmarked, of a beautiful bright shade, and had an unusually round head and short face, with long silky coat. He was purchased by Miss Cartmell, who is well known as an enthusiastic breeder of orange Persians, but who never exhibits. This lady has been very successful in breeding numerous fine female orange cats, and many a winner has been born to blush unseen in the Barham Cattery, near Canterbury.
Another noted winner and stud cat is 'Torrington Sunnysides', of whom a portrait is given. This cat is the property of Mrs. G. H. Vidal, and has done a lot of winning. His colour is exceptionally good, and he has sired several prize kittens, some of which have been sent out to America and gained distinction over the water. 'Torrington Sunny-sides' has a most luxurious house in the spacious garden surrounding Mrs. Vidal's residence at Sydenham. The photograph is by Mr. G. W. Vidal, who dislikes taking orange cats, because the tone is so difficult to reproduce in photography. Mrs. Davies, of Caterham, has owned some good orange cats. Her male 'Hamish' was a grand specimen, but was only twice exhibited, when he gained highest honours. He was then purchased by Mrs. Vidal, and sent out to Mr. Storey in Chicago. A son of 'Torrington Sunnysides' has also found a home in a Chicago cattery. 'Red Knight' was sent by the writer to Mrs. Colburn, and in an article in the American Field and Fancy mention is thus made of him:- 'Red Knight', an orange male, with deepest orange eyes, was imported from England. He is a very good type, and has sired some beautiful kittens, notably two by Miss Adams' 'Daffodil', very fine specimens of pure orange, with cobby bodies, wide heads, tiny ears set far apart, and beautiful coats. They have been fed on 'Force', and Miss Adams is going to call the male 'Sunny Jim'. Another son, seven months old, of the same parentage is the largest cat ever seen for his age, and if he continues growing will certainly be enormous.
One of Mrs. Neate's out-door catteries at Wernham.
One of Mrs. Vidal's orange kittens, 'Puck' by name, is now owned by Mrs. Moxon, of Ilfracombe, from whom I have obtained a photograph for reproduction.
A few notes on orange Persian cats by Mrs. Vidal will be interesting to my readers:-'It is difficult to imagine a more gorgeous colour than a really good orange lying full length in the sun. There is, however, rather a prejudice against them, chiefly because some people persist in calling them 'sandy' or 'red', both of which names are quite misleading. I have several times had people say to me when visiting my cattery, 'I have always thought I did not like sandy cats, but I have never before seen a cat of such a lovely colour as the one you have just shown me'. Six years ago, when I first took up cat rearing, it was rare to see any orange cats at the shows, but now they and the creams form one of the most beautiful classes, and they have a specialist society of their own and an energetic secretary in Miss Mildred Beal.
There are two classes of oranges, one which has the ordinary tabby markings, more or less distinct, and the other which is 'flecked' all over the back in small patches, and which is usually not nearly so bright in colour as the so-called 'tabby' markings. The correct thing is to breed a totally unmarked orange; and, although many people claim this for their pets, it is very rarely seen. The absence of markings usually means absence of the rich orange colour so much admired. Any white on chin or bib is, of course, a blemish, and for breeding or show purposes such an animal is perfectly useless.
Photo: Mrs. S. F. Clarke.)
An orange stud cat is a very useful animal to have in a cattery, for crossing with him will improve many colours, viz. tortoiseshell, brown, grey, and sable tabbies; while if he is mated to a blue queen the kittens, if orange, are beautiful in colour-brighter, I think, than if two orange cats are mated together. In mating with other colours it is a toss-up what colour will predominate, but the only way to ensure all orange kittens is to mate with orange queens, when, according to my experience with my stud cat ('Torrington Sunny-sides'), the results are all orange. Mated with tortoiseshells the orange kittens are very good; but mated with blacks the strongest colour carries the day, and the kittens are mostly black or tortoiseshell, seldom orange. Silvers, chinchillas, and smokes should, of course, never be mated with oranges, as the result would be a horrible mixture! Orange queens were at one time very rare, and even now are not plentiful, being delicate and difficult to rear.
The time at which the kittens change the colour of their eyes from the baby blue to orange varies a great deal in individual animals, from seven to twelve weeks. When the eyes are very deep blue, they change to bright rich orange or hazel; but if of a pale blue, they change very quickly to a poor yellow, and never get the rich dark orange which the deeper blue get. Therefore rejoice when you see your kittens with deep blue eyes. Some of our kittens have had the most lovely deep blue eyes, and great has been our sorrow as we found the inevitable change coming on. If I could only manage to get some kittens with the permanent blue eyes that the best white cats have, I should indeed be proud; but thinking of the kittens with terrible white chins and under-coats, which would crop up in every litter and would have to be drowned, quite deters me from sending my orange queens to white studs with blue eyes!
Mrs. Neate's cat houses.
All who have been accustomed to frequent the show pens will remember Miss M. Beal's splendid old orange queen 'Jael', who up to the last although nearly fourteen years old, always took first prize, and was a very good specimen of what an orange queen should be-of a bright rich orange, without any suspicion of light under her chin or chest (the usual weak point), and having the splendid head, short nose, and good cobby shape which all breeders strive for. Short-haired orange cats are often seen about our towns and villages, and are always called 'sandy', but are not, I think, held in much account. They are distinct from the so-called 'red tabby', which is a recognized colour in our shows.
Among the prize-winning females of the present day I must not forget to notice Mrs. Singleton's 'Orange Girl', bred from Miss Beal's noted strain. This cat has had many honours showered upon her during a very short career, and as there must always be a scarcity of queens in this breed, this fine specimen is a valuable possession.
So long as there are two cat clubs and two registers there will be a confused multiplicity of names, and so yet another orange male called 'Puck' inhabits the cat world. This handsome fellow is owned by the Hon. Mrs. McLaren Morrison, to whom I had the pleasure of awarding first prize and many specials at the Botanic show held in June 1902. His vivid colouring and well-shaped limbs and splendid eyes will always make him a conspicuous specimen in the show pen. Alas! His photograph does him but scant justice. Quite a surprise packet appeared at the Crystal Palace show of 1902 by the appearance of a very handsome young male in 'William of Orange' exhibited by Mrs. Stillwell, and bred from Dr. Roper's noted black 'Johnnie Fawe' and tortoiseshell queen 'Dainty Diana'. This cat was awarded first and many specials, and was claimed by Lord Decies at catalogue price. As 'William' was not a year old when he won his laurels, it may readily be believed that he has a distinguished career before him, and may add another to the long list of winners owned and exhibited by Lady Decies. No orange male cat is better known in the fancy than that splendid fellow 'The King's Own', belonging to Mrs. Neate. He has had a most successful career, and may be considered as nearly self-coloured an orange as any yet exhibited.
Another view of Mrs. Neate's cat houses.
Mrs. Neate is a devoted admirer of this breed and also a great cat lover, and has recently started an arrangement for boarding cats, and truly I know of no place better adapted for successful cat keeping than the home of Mrs. Francis Neate, at Wernham, near Marlborough; situated as it is in the very heart of the country, a mile from any other house, her cats can enjoy their liberty with perfect safety.
A large range of brick-built and slated outhouses has been converted into catteries and comfortably fitted. All have wooden floors, wire doors, and large runs attached. A number of portable houses and runs are dotted about the kitchen garden and meadows. An empty cottage serves as an isolation hospital, or place of quarantine for cats returning from shows.
A herd of pure-bred goats supply the inmates of the cattery with milk, and rabbits, which abound, form their staple food when in season. The largest of the outhouses is fitted with a Tortoise stove, carefully guarded. The pride of Mrs. Neate's cattery is, of course, the famous orange stud 'The King's Own'. He is the sire of the two winning orange queens 'Mehitabel of the Durhams' and 'Glory of Prittlewell'.
Fitting mates for him are 'Wernham Titmouse' (tortoiseshell-and-white), 'Evening Primrose' (a cream daughter of 'Champion Midshipmite' and 'Hazeline'), also 'Mimosa' (an orange bred by Miss Cartmell from 'Richmond Bough' and 'Mistletoe'), these occupy the house adjoining the stables.
'Champion Bundle' and 'Betsy Jane', a lovely little blue with glorious orange eyes, are the only blues of the establishment. Latterly Mrs. Neate has reduced her own stock of breeding queens, and makes a speciality of receiving cats during the holidays. Judging by the number of cat fanciers who sent their pets to Mrs. Neate during the summer of 1902, it is certain that a great want has been most efficiently supplied. Not only does Mrs. Neate give personal supervision to her catty boarders and visitors, but they have splendid caretakers on the premises. These custodians are Mrs. Neate's big St. Bernard and a chow-chow, who jealously guard the Wernham cattery. These dogs are on the very best terms with the feline inmates, and the strange pussies very soon appear to settle down to an amicable cat-and-dog life. The accompanying photographs, as will be seen, were taken in the depth of winter. These brick-built houses, slate roofed and with wooden floor, are splendidly adapted for keeping the cats snug and warm during the cold weather. One of the buildings illustrated is 25 feet by 15 feet, and has three windows. This house is provided with large table, shelves, and chairs, and cosy sleeping-boxes. An outside wire run, of the same length and width as the building, is erected for an exercise ground in summer weather.
Mrs. Neate has kindly supplied me with a few notes on orange Persian cats:-
It was in 1897, at Boscombe show, that I claimed the winner in a class of twenty-six kittens, my now well-known orange Persian stud 'The King's Own'. The same year, at the Crystal Palace, I purchased a lovely orange female kitten sired by Mrs. Pettit's 'Champion King of Pearls' and the tortoiseshell-and-white 'Dainty Doris'. From her I fondly hoped to establish a breed of blue-eyed oranges, which feature would be charming in the variety; but alas! she came home to sicken and die, as so many another valuable kitten has done, and I have never since been able to obtain an orange of either sex sired by a blue-eyed white.
It is most difficult to breed oranges without white lips and chins; the pink nose, too, is a feature in the breed that I do not like.
I have found crossing an orange male with a cream female the surest way to breed sound-coloured specimens of both sexes and varieties, e.g. 'Mehitabel of the Durhams' (a really rich-coloured unmarked orange queen, and quite free from the objectionable light shading on lips and chin); she was bred by Mrs. D'Arcy Hildyard from her cream female 'Josephine of the Durhams' and 'The King's Own'. Again, from a blue male and a tortoiseshell queen you are more certain of breeding good oranges (though seldom of the female sex) than from mating tortoiseshell and orange together; in the latter case more often than not black kittens predominate in the litter, and there is rarely, if ever, an orange female amongst them.
Mrs. Vidal's famous orange stud 'Torrington Sunnysides' was a son of my light blue 'Champion Bundle' and a tortoiseshell dam 'Torrington Owlet', herself of an orange strain. Mrs. Walford Gosnall's 'Rufus' (whose name discloses his colour) was also the result of this union. 'Red Eusign', the orange kitten who won first and three specials at Westminster in 1902, was bred by me from 'Champion Bundle' and 'Mimosa', an orange queen of cream breeding, and with his litter brother 'Scarlet Lancer' took first and silver medal for the best pair of kittens. The latter is now the property of Miss Cartmell, and has grown into a fine cat. Unfortunately for the cat fancy generally, 'Red Ensign' was claimed at the show, and is now a house pet.
The best orange kittens I have bred were from my 'Wernham Titmouse', a tortoiseshell-and-white who owns an orange dam, and 'The King's Own'; the whole litter were females, and redder than any oranges I have seen. These never lived to see a show, and their death was one of the greatest disappointments I have experienced in my career. The demand for good orange and cream females is greater than the supply; in fact, these colours are decidedly 'booming', and better classification is given for them at our principal shows.
At the Crystal Palace show of 1898 there were only four entries in the open class for orange and cream males, and four of the same varieties in the female class, compared to the ten entries in orange and cream male classes and the same number in the female classes at the Cat Club's show, held at Westminster, 1902. These facts speak for themselves of the increased interest now taken in these varieties.
Unlike some of the warmer tinted of us humans, orange cats of both sexes are particularly sweet tempered, showing great attachment to their owners. They are of strong constitution and attain to great size, being at present free from the in-breeding that is practiced amongst many other varieties of our show cats. A small piece of sulphate of iron in the drinking water will enrich the colour of orange and tortoiseshells, besides being an excellent tonic, especially during the moulting season.
Orange Persian cats do not, as a rule, make good photographs, as they lack expression compared to the short-haired tabby varieties of this colour.
The Misses Beal, of Romaldkirk, near Darlington, have long been associated with orange and cream cats. 'Jael' was quite unique as an orange female, and at fifteen years of age could yet win in her class by reason of her grand colour, perfectly shaped head, short face, and tiny, well-set ears. Such a cat stands out in any breed, and such a cat may never again be bred. 'Jael' died in 1902, after a long and successful career.
(From a painting by Madame Ronner.)
Miss Beal's male orange 'Minotaur' is one of the most beautiful cats of this breed now exhibited, and has quite the best round head and face, with sweetest expression. These are qualities too often lacking in orange cats.
Miss Beal's name is, perhaps, more closely associated in the cat world with cream cats, and in my next chapter on this breed she has kindly supplied some notes.
Another fancier of both orange and cream cats is Mrs. D'Arcy-Hildyard, and to her I am indebted for the following notes on orange Persian cats:-
Until comparatively lately I confined myself entirely to the breeding of creams, and my efforts were attended with considerable success, both in multiplying the number of cats of that colour-I bred thirteen one year-and in filling the classes given for cream females. I was particularly lucky in breeding many creams of the gentler sex.
The birth of the Orange and Tortoiseshell Society fired me with ambition to start breeding oranges. I was much fascinated with the colour, though I hate their being penned beside the creams at shows, as they completely take all colour out of the lighter animals and give them a washed-out appearance. I started by crossing my cream queen 'Josephine of the Durhams' with Mrs. Neate's famous 'The King's Own'. This proved a most satisfactory cross, the results being three rich-coloured unmarked orange kittens, one male and two females. I sold one female to Miss Scratton, of Prittlewell Priory, and it has, I hear, grown into a very handsome cat; the other two I kept, and they won all before them at Manchester Kitten Show, 1901, and were shown at Slough after, where the male was claimed. The remaining one, 'Mehitabel of the Durhams', I kept, and she won me many prizes last winter, and being mated this year to 'Champion Romaldkirk Admiral' has presented me with a litter of two creams and an orange. Certainly creams and oranges cross well, and often I think produce a brighter and deeper tone of colour than is obtained from other shades. I have lately purchased an orange tom, and by crossing him with 'Hazeline', one of my cream queens, have got a splendid litter of seven pure oranges. This, I think, proves that the cream and orange cross is good, and that they breed very true. Oranges bred by crossing other colours seem to me rather spasmodic, if I may use the term. When breeders try crossing an orange and a tortoiseshell they very often get blacks and blues as well as oranges; on the other hand, from a blue and a tortoiseshell cross sometimes an orange is obtained. But they do not seem able to count exactly on the results.
Reliability is what I claim from the cream and orange cross. I emphatically believe in mating creams to creams if you wish to get a good pale colour and few markings, and oranges and creams crossed have certainly produced good specimens of both colours for me. I speak from my own experience.
I hope to do great things by trying a cross between my orange tom 'Benjamin' and 'Mehitabel'. Miss Winifred Beal's 'Minotaur' was the result of a cross between a cream and a tortoiseshell. Her well-known 'Garnet' is the daughter of a cream and a blue. At present there is, to my mind, no orange female on the show bench to compare with the late 'Jael', owned by Miss Mildred Beal, whose brilliant colour and perfect head with its tiny ears made her hold her own at all the shows up to within two months of her death at quite a venerable age; but I hope in the future, as oranges become more popular and breeders work hard at producing good specimens, we may see her like again. I was much taken at Richmond show with Mrs. Singleton's 'Orange Girl', and also with the kitten of that colour exhibited by the same lady at Manchester. Every year, I think, shows that the general world is becoming more alive to the beauties of orange and cream cats, as proved both by the large increase in entries of these colours at the principal shows and the great demand for kittens when any are offered for sale. Undoubtedly breeders owning creams should stick to them, if they wish to produce good oranges-see the many splendid specimens sired by 'Midshipmite' and 'Admiral'.
Out in the cold.
(Photo: E. Landor, Ealing.)
It is a hard matter to say decisively what tint orange kittens should be when born. I have known them enter the world a bad cream, and gradually grow redder till they develop into the brilliant colour we all look to see in a cat of orange hue. Personally, I prefer them born a dark shade; they usually lighten and brighten a little, but on the whole I think that is the more satisfactory of the two. It is distinctly discouraging to see a washed-out looking kitten when you are expecting a bright orange one.
Fanciers differ about the eyes which are supposed to be correct in this breed. Hazel eyes are universally acknowledged to be the right thing. Personally, I admire green, or rather eau-de-nil eyes, as giving more contrast to the colour of the coat, but you do not often see them. I have always wished to breed a cream with blue eyes-I do not mean the baby blue, but the colour that Siamese have-and only the other day I sold a kitten three months old with brilliant blue eyes of this tint, and shall be anxious to know whether they change in time or not.
I think the time is approaching when the orange and cream cats are going to be among the most attractive classes at our bigger shows. Already the classes are much better filled than when I first joined the fancy, and you always find an admiring crowd in front of their pens. I wish, though, that a nice sprinkling of blues could always be placed between the two colours at shows. The close company of the oranges is so excessively unbecoming to the creams, while when you see the three colours together they are especially lovely. To see cream and orange cats at their best they should be at large in the country and running about on the green grass.
In 1902 an Orange and Cream Cat Club was started by a few enthusiastic breeders of these varieties over in America. The Misses Beal, Mrs. Vidal, and Miss Frances Simpson were elected as honorary members. The following is an extract from Field and Fancy, the American weekly paper:-
There is very little doubt that this is a colour that has from the beginning of the fancy in America been very popular, and has had a very strong hold upon the American love for colour. But, of course, as is generally the case with the popular ones, the supply has never been too plentiful, and probably never will be as regards the queens, for they only appear once in a while, according to what seems to be one of Nature's rules, that the queens should be tortoiseshells.
(Photo: Mrs. S. F. Clarke.)
The Orange and Cream Club is probably destined to do a great deal for the variety, which is one of the colours from which it takes its name. Breeding orange cats opens quite a field, for in attaining your end you can at the same time indulge in other colours, for undoubtedly a cross with a tortoiseshell will be found necessary to keep the colour sufficiently intense, and at other times it may be quite as well to throw in a little black. The tendency for the queens to be tortoiseshells may possibly be somewhat overcome in time, but these inherent traits in colours in animals and birds are often so strong that they have a knack of reappearing even after several generations. We occasionally see queens of the orange colour, and these are usually high quality ones, both in colour and type; but the orange queens are not destined to at present make heavy classes by themselves. Though the standard calls for orange eyes, it is a curious coincidence that the most consistently successful cat of recent times has been Miss Beal's 'Jael', who had green eyes; but so good was her colour, so good her type, that she generally won when exhibited.
The struggle carried on in the British Isles for some years to breed these cats without marks has been hardly a success, and there have not been very many evolved of that colour that were really without marks, and it is a great question if in this craze for absence of marks they have not been passing by a lot of good cats. As far as we personally are concerned in the matter, we see little to be gained by the absence of marks in the orange cats. If the colour had been very prolific in numbers it might have been a good idea to try and split up the classes, but they were never too well filled, and there is room still for plenty more, though we cannot complain so much at the representation that they have had in America last season, either in numbers or quality.
[Typed in by Martina Šiljeg, Delta Pelegrino cattery]
"The Marquis of Dingley."
Silver Tabby, Owned by Miss Anderson Leake.
(Photo: Cassell & Company, Limited.)
THERE can be no question that a really good silver tabby will carry off the palm even from the most exquisite unmarked silver cat, and in this assertion I feel I have the support of all our professional judges, for with the 'mere man', it is well known, the pale silvers do not stand high in favour. Men call them 'wishy-washy', insipid, and wanting in expression, and are generally displeased at this sport in the fancy that has spoiled the handsome silver tabbies of years gone by.
No doubt there is just cause for complaint, for the inter-breeding of silvers with silver tabbies has undoubtedly done much to destroy the clear defined markings which in tabby cats is their chief glory. Now, of course, it is easily understood that these tabby markings in a long-haired cat cannot be so distinct as those that appear to such advantage in the short-haired breeds. 'The better the coat the weaker the markings', may be said of Persian silver tabbies, and judges have been known to give the highest award to an out-of-coat specimen just because the markings are more evident than in a cat in full pelage'. Harrison Weir states that 'Tabby is not a Persian colour', and goes on to say, 'Nor have I ever seen an imported cat of that colour'. His definition of a silver tabby reads thus:-'Markings: Jet-black lines, not too broad, scarcely so wide as the ground colour shown between, so as to give a light and brilliant effect. When the black lines are broader than the colour space, it is a defect, being then black marked with colour, instead of colour with black. The lines must be clear, sharp, and well-defined, in every way distinct, having no mixture of the ground colour. Head and legs marked regularly, the rings on the throat and chest being in no way blurred or broken, but clear, graceful, and continuous; lips, cushions of feet, and the backs of hind legs, and the ear points, black'. And here it will be interesting to give the discussion which took place and the list of points drawn up at the inaugural meeting of the Silver Society in 1900, and which standard is still adhered to in the present Silver and Smoke Persian Cat Society:-
At the meeting of the Silver Society, discussion arose as to whether the markings on silver tabbies should be broad or narrow. Lady Marcus Beresford proposed that Miss Leake and Mrs. Herring should be asked to express an opinion, both being breeders of prize winners. Miss Leake said she thought there were two distinct types of cats, the one with broad markings, the other with narrow stripes, and that both were correct silver tabbies, the superior beauty of either being a matter of personal opinion. Mrs. Herring agreed, and said the markings should be a dense black. Miss Leake considered they should be black at the tips, but shading to light at the roots. Mr. Abbott objected to the word 'dense', as black was black, and the word 'distinct' was substituted. Finally the following was resolved:-The colour of a silver tabby should be a pale clear silver, with distinct black marings, any brown or cream tinge to be considered detrimental. The eyes should be orange or green:
Head and expression................. 25
Colour and markings................. 25
Colour of eyes........................... 5
Coat and condition.................... 20
The adoption of the preceding descriptions and scale of points as a whole was carried unanimously.
Miss Leake's summer cattery.
(Photo: Cassell & Company, Limited.)
As regards the eyes of a silver tabby, Harrison Weir says 'deep bright yellow'. The Silver Society gives an option of 'orange or green'; but the mandate of present-day fashion and personal bias is in favour of green eyes for silver tabbies. From an artistic point of view, there is no doubt emerald green is a better contrast to silver than yellow or orange.
The Rev. R. Maynard, whose name has for many years been connected with silver tabbies, recently complained in the papers of the tendency to breed green eyes in this variety. He writes: 'In former days we never had anything to do with a cat that had green eyes, and now that so much is being done to improve the feline race, why should we try to think the green eye right and even desirable'?
Another authority says: 'The fiat has gone forth that silver tabbies are to have green eyes. Happily there still remains room for a difference of opinion on the subject, for the oldest and most perfect breeds of silver tabbies have always been distinguished by their deep hazel eyes'.
This vexed question of eyes, certainly outside the 'self' classes, ought not to be one of such vast importance. As Louis Wain aptly writes when complaining of this undue proportion of points, 'Everyone, judges and exhibitors alike, are bitten by the craze for the 'correct coloured eyes'. It is a fault that judges are prone to commit, and truly one point ought not to be allowed to outweigh others, and it is just this balancing of merits with a mingling of common sense that makes the good all-round judge, whether of self or tabbies, of long- or short-haired cats. In judging a class of tabbies, first and foremost in the judge's estimation must rank the markings, and in Persian tabbies coat must next be taken into consideration. I have always thought that judging long-haired tabby cats in a ring class would be specially welcomed both by judges and exhibitors, for it is when a good cat of this breed runs or walks the beauty of his markings can be seen and admired. Then the dark spine lines will show up to advantage, the side markings will stand out, and the bars on the legs and the rings round the neck may be clearly discerned. I think it is not to be wondered at that fanciers who have bred tabby cats are not easily satisfied as regards selfs and silvers. A friend of mine declared, 'I always miss the stripes which give a tabby cat such a sweetly expressive countenance'. Yet in spite of the beauty of the silver tabby, there are very few fanciers of this variety, and to those wishing to take up Persians I could not recommend a more interesting field for speculative breeding. The number of good show specimens can be counted on the fingers of one hand. Silver Tabby classes at our shows are full of nondescript cats with shaded silver bodies and markings only on legs and head.
Silver tabby kittens owned by H.H. The Princess Victoria of Schleswig-Holstein.
(Photo: E. Landor, Ealing.)
When judging the silver tabbies at the Crystal Palace in 1902, I was greatly struck with the number of cats and kittens which ought really to have been marked 'Wrong Class', for some of these were absolutely wanting in any definite marks at all; some had faint grey penciling on the head and legs, but not a sign of the dense mottling on the sides. It is, no doubt, disappointing to exhibitors to have their specimens labeled 'Wrong Class', or for really lovely kittens to be passed over without even a card; but it is only by thus treating exhibits so lacking in the essential point of the class for which they are entered that fanciers will learn to discern between the genuine article and what may be called a spurious one. These pretty nondescript silvers, which are neither one thing nor the other, should be disposed of as pets; but to enter them at our shows in classes for tabbies is only throwing away money and risking the animals. No cat has come nearer to the perfect ideal of a silver tabby in our day than Lady Pink's 'Shrover II', now gathered to his fathers. He possessed the wonderfully clear silvery white ground with distinct dark markings, and was always the admired of all admirers at our leading shows. Lady Pink is not without some worthy descendants of her famous 'Shrover II', and writes to me thus: 'I have a smoke male by 'Shrover II', and hope to show him at Westminster. 'Shrover III', is just like his father 'Shrover II', but I shall not exhibit him, as I am too afraid of losing him. I have suffered many losses after shows. 'Shrover III', is a fine, big fellow, even better marked than his father, with long silky, wavy coat, lovely eyes, and a perfect temper'.
Mrs. Herring has bred some fine silver tabbies, notably 'Duchess Lestock', a sensational kitten at the Westminster show of 1900, when she was claimed at a high price by Mr. G. H. Walker, of Woodheys Park. Mrs. Herring's 'King Alfred' was the sire of 'Shrover II.', and is quite 'one of the best'. Miss Anderson Leake is justly celebrated as a most enthusiastic and successful breeder of silver tabbies, and is our greatest authority on this variety. As far back as 1887 'Topso of Dingley' was exhibited by Miss Leake at the Crystal Palace. This cat was said to be of Irish descent, but his ancestors were sunk in oblivion. Not so, however, his progeny, for the winnings of his son 'Champion Felix', owned by Miss F. Moore, of Beckenham, are fresh in the minds of those who, like myself, can remember beautiful cats of bygone years. In 1889 Miss Leake entered 'Topso' and two toms in a class for 'blue or silver tabbies, with or without white'. 'Felix' was also in this class, as a winner of the Challenge Cup. Miss A. Leake's 'Abdul Zaphir' and the present representatives of the breed 'Abdul Hamet' and 'Marquis of Dingley' are household names amongst silver tabby fanciers. Miss Derby Hyde has long been faithful to this breed, and 'Thames Valley Silver King' and 'King Alfred' have often had to fight it out together at our shows, sometimes one being favoured by the judge and sometimes the other carrying off the honours. Miss Cope has recently been bitten with the silver fever, and her tabby kittens are always to the fore. Her 'Roiall Fluffball' took first and seven specials at Westminster in 1901, and her 'Silver Tangle' is a well-known winner. Mr. Furze, another Midland fancier, is also making a speciality of silver tabbies, and the Hon. P. Wodehouse possesses a fine silver tabby female in 'Silver Saint'. Mrs. Slingsby owns 'Don Pedro', a beautiful specimen, and Miss Meeson has bred some good silver tabbies as well as silvers. But the ranks need felling, and with the assistance of the society now in existence the classification at shows will become more liberal, and instead of silvers and browns being often placed together at our smaller shows, separate classes are guaranteed, for it is certainly most unfair on judge and exhibitor to place these two very distinct breeds together. 'Comparisons are odious', we are told, and certainly it is hard on the brownies for the more brilliant silvers to be placed side by side in competition. As regards the mating of silver tabbies, the essential point to try and breed for is markings, and it behoves the fancier to endeavour to find a sire with bold, distinct tabby markings, and if it is desired to strengthen the colour, then a black is not at all a bad cross. There are two distinct kinds of tabbies-the blotched and the penciled varieties; and it is a matter of choice which is considered the handsomest. But it does not do to mate these two varieties together. A well-known authority on breeding silver tabbies writes thus in Fur and Feather:-'A great deal has been said as to the disadvantage of crossing chinchillas with silver tabbies, but we think this applies more to the detriment of chinchillas than of tabbies. Provided the tabby, on one side, is of a very decided type, the chinchilla, having come originally from the same stock, may not prove a bad cross. Miss Cope's 'Silver Tangle', for instance, one of the best-marked silver tabby queens, is the child of the chinchilla 'Silver Chieftain', and of a queen bred from a silver tabby sire. A good young queen, belonging to Mr. Hoddinott, was bred from 'Lord Argent' and a tabby mother. 'Champion Felix' was bred from 'Topso', a heavily marked tabby, and 'Lady Pink', a cat that would nowadays have been called a light shaded silver with white markings. 'Climax' came of the same parents, and both have broad dark markings, and transmitted them to their offspring. The union of two strongly marked silvers is not always a complete success. A brown tabby makes a most excellent cross, and some of the purest and best silvers we have seen have been obtained in this way. Of course, you must be prepared for a brown tabby kitten or two; but you need not fear sandy smudges and yellow noses. The colour seems to be concentrated in one or two examples, and leaves the silver free. In short, in colour breeding we must be content with one or two perfect specimens in a litter, and, retaining them, try again for yet further perfection'.
Owned by Mrs. G. H. Walker.
The cat fancy needs some new sensational cat to appear on its horizon, and if only a perfect silver tabby, male or female, could be penned at one of our leading shows a great impetus would be given to this variety, and a thoroughly good strain might be established. Then we should not read such remarks as these from the pen of the reporter: 'The silver tabbies, we regret to say, were only a shade of days that are gone. There is room for an enterprising enthusiast in this breed. The beautiful clear silver colour with deep black markings seems to be quite a thing of the past. Who will revive them?' And echo answers, 'Who'?
From such an authority as Miss Anderson Leake the following article on silver tabbies will be of great interest, and the photos of her cattery at Dingley Hill, Bradfield, near Reading, have been specially taken to illustrate these notes:-
'Possibly amongst the rarest of our long-haired cats may be classed the really well-marked silver tabby. Twenty years ago he existed, and was, indeed, more commonly met with than to-day. For at that time chinchillas were practically unknown, save for a few scarce specimens, and the silver cats of that day were more commonly called 'grey' Persians, and were nearly always tabbies. But with the popularity of the pale chinchillas began the downfall of the heavily marked tabby. Instead of breeding for the preservation of markings, everyone worked their hardest to breed out markings, and real tabby kittens were almost unsaleable. Those that were produced were very frequently ventured, and sold at a low price for pets. The lightest specimens in a litter were preserved for breeding purposes, and rarer and rarer became the deeply marked silver tabby. But at last the tide has turned, and people are beginning to realise that there is a character, a beauty, and a contrast of colouring in a good tabby, which lend to them a charm all their own. Added to this, they are exceedingly rare and difficult to produce.
'Competent judges agree that to breed regular, symmetrical, and well-coloured markings is no easy task, for contrast is the grand point in a silver tabby. His ground coat from tip to tail should be pure pale white silver. On this light silver ground-work lie the most beautiful even dark mottlings, dark to the point of blackness. These markings are most difficult to describe. A dark stripe runs the whole length of the spine. Then comes a light stripe on either side, then two more dark stripes, but these are broken just behind the shoulder by a transverse bar of light silver, and widen on the shoulder into considerable sized patches. The markings on the sides are not stripes, but patches, elliptical in shape, generally three in number, and partially encircled by dark stripes. The shoulder is particularly heavily barred and striped, as are also the hind quarters. The legs are barred throughout their length, the face should be dark, with dark tufts, and the back part of the hind legs from the knee downwards is black, as in a Southdown sheep.
Winter quarters at Dingley Hill.
(Photo: Cassell & Company, Limited.)
The head is most beautifully penciled, the cheeks possess double or treble swirls, the eyes are outlined by dark rims; on the forehead the lines form a complete triangle, which is repeated at the nape of the neck. The chest is encircled with a perfect dark ring, called the 'Lord Mayor's chain' but this is concealed when the large light frill is in full beauty, as is also the neck triangle. The whiskers often contain all the different shades of colour found in the coat. The ear tufts should be long and light. The tail is generally ringed from trunk to tip, but this is not noticeable after kittenhood, owing to the great length of the hair. Also the hair to the root is much darker in colour on the tail than on the body.
The correct colour for the eyes of a silver tabby is neither green, orange, nor yellow, but hazel-a deep nut-brown. This shade of eye is very difficult to obtain, and it fades with age; but once seen, its beauty and suitability to the colouring of the cat will never be denied. Many of the most noted prize-winners have not possessed this coveted hazel eye. The nose is by preference dark, but this, so far, has Ð not been considered as a point.
Not only evenness and regularity of markings go to the making of a good tabby, but sharpness and depth of colour in the dark parts, and clearness of colour in the light parts. A great deal has been said of late regarding the depth of the black markings; but it is quite as necessary to insist on the purity of the silver tone. No suspicion of brown must be tolerated, neither any blue nor grey tone.
There is no question that, as a tabby, a long-haired cat is handicapped by his length of coat. There are some people who would rob him of his crowning glory in order that his beautiful striping may the better appear. But surely it were better for them to confine themselves to short-haired cats if they cannot appreciate the marvel of long-haired tabby marking. For marvelous they truly are, when we consider that the dark marks are only formed by tips to the hair of some quarter of an inch in length. When the coat is quite short these tips are massed together, and the blackness is, so to speak, concentrated. When the hair is at its full length-of from two to four inches-it can be readily understood that the long floating locks mix and mingle with the paler coat, and some distinctness of marking is lost. The massive frill and the long light shoulder tufts give the cat a very pale frontage; and if he be placed in a show pen side by side with a cat whose coat is just coming, whose marks show up, in all probability he will take a second place. No stroking. Blowing of the coat, or other device will show off a tabby cat. He must be made to get up and walk. Then the long coat falls apart, the spine lines reveal themselves, the side patches fall into place, and bars, stripes, swirls, and rings all are to be seen. Even then you will not see them all at once, but as he moves and turns one by one the points will show themselves. As a show cat, a tabby is not a success, for his period of perfect beauty is exceedingly short. When he proposes to moult he changes colour, and if you are unwise enough to exhibit him at this stage ominous whispers of 'Brown tabby blood' will pass from mouth to mouth. For a thorough good rusty brown shade, commend me to a moulting silver tabby. Then a little later he completely loses his side markings, and you must wait until the new coat makes its appearance before you can venture him in the show pen. In the first beauty of that new coat, when the hair is about an inch long, he is a dream of colour contrast, and somehow suggests such ineffable cleanliness!
Miss Cope's "Starlet."
How to breed silver tabbies is a moot point. One thing is certain, that if we expect whole litters of well-marked kittens we shall be grievously disappointed. Personally, we have had the best results from pairing two marked cats slightly related and of good silver pedigrees. A smoke of silver origin is another good cross, but the sire should always be a tabby. The blacker the kittens are at birth the better. There is no sign of light undercoat, but generally narrow pencillings of silver are to be seen, and face and paws are fairly light. The kittens which at birth show contrast of dark and light rarely turn out good tabbies. The markings, as rule become too faint. At a month old the light markings should widen and develop, and at three months old the full beauty will be seen. Before the change to cat coat, many of the kittens become more shaded than marked, and up to the sixth or eighth month there is always a possibility of their proving disappointing. If, however, after this age the markings return, harden, and develop, they will endure for ever, except during periods of moulting. In extreme old age both the purity of colouring and distinctness of markings are lost. Exposure to the sun considerably injures the colour of the silver tabby cats, giving them a brown tinge. We believe exhibitors of magpies never allow their birds to enjoy the rays of the sun for a similar reason, but it is a question whether it is not wiser to study the beneficial effects of a sun-bath on the health of our cats rather than the slight detriment to their coats caused by its enjoyment. I have said nothing about size and shape. The silver tabby should be a large cat, with good bones, and very heavily coated. The old-fashioned cats were very long, low on the legs, and a trifle narrow in head. Nowadays we have remedied this defect, and the modern cats are decidedly more cobby than their progenitors. The ears should be set wide apart, and be small and not too sharply pointed. If only fanciers will now devote themselves to the production of such cats as I have tried to describe, we shall soon see the silver tabby classes at our shows filled with typical animals, instead of, as is too often the case, with spoilt silvers, too heavily marked to be called chinchillas, too unevenly or lightly marked to be correct tabbies.
I have mentioned Miss Cope as a breeder of silver tabbies. Her remarks on her favourite breed are as follows:-
There is no doubt that until quite recently interest in this fascinating breed had, to a great extent, died out, owing to the craze for chinchilla breeding. But I hope their day is coming again. There is a marked improvement already shown in the silver tabby classes at the best shows.
Mr. St. George Mivart, in his celebrated book, asks, 'What is a cat?' But even so simple a question as that appears from his statement to be more easily asked than answered. The same may be said of the question, 'What is a silver tabby?' I will endeavour to answer the question by giving my own idea of what may be considered to be a perfect type of a silver tabby. The chief point of a silver tabby should be clearness and distinctness of markings; the sharper they are the better. My ideal cat would have the two spine stripes clear and well defined from shoulder to base of tail, set off by the 'epaulet' behind each front leg. On each side of the body should appear what may be called the horseshoe; both sides should match exactly. The hind-quarters well barred. The fore-legs should also be barred, each in symmetrical correspondence with the other. The double cheek swirls, the markings on the forehead, which may be easily imagined to take the shape of a lyre, the shaded eyebrows and whiskers, and dark outlines to the eyes, all these give a character to the face not found except among tabbies.
A pair of silver tabbies.
Photo: E. Landor, Ealing.)
More or less conspicuous will be the dark lines across the chest, known as the 'Mayor's Chain'. Occasionally some more favoured animal is found to have two such lines. The beauty of all these markings is thrown up by the ground colour of the coat, which should be a clear bright silver. The whole effect, if one may so describe it, is like a piece of elaborately wrought black lace on lustrous silvery silk. The colour of the eyes is somewhat a vexed question. Some fanciers prefer green. Personally, I think nothing is more lovely than the hazel eye, enhanced by dark rims. Happily, latitude is allowed in this direction in the standard drawn up by the Silver Society, which decrees the colour shall be the green or orange. But with all these, my ideal silver tabby must have perfect shape of body so far as it is possible to obtain it, as well as luxuriance of coat. The long, thin-bodied, snippy-headed, spindle-legged cat is an abomination. The ideal cat must be cobby, with short thick legs, the head broad and massive, ears small, well tufted and set wide apart, the nose short and wide at the tip, the tail short and wide at the extreme end-I consider a pointed tail very undesirable. The coat of the ideal silver tabby should be long and thick, and the texture as silky as possible.
Having described my ideal silver tabby, the next question is how to get it. When I succumbed to the fascination of the long-haired beauties some years ago, I resolved to breed only from the very best stock obtainable, and I have unflinchingly adhered to this rule. I would like to impress upon anyone starting this delightful hobby that it is absolutely a waste of time and money to attempt breeding from any but the best. The observance of this principle will save many disappointments, much heart-burning, and not a little money. Having made up one's mind which breed one admires most, it is far better to keep to that particular variety, and win success worth having, than to dabble in a variety of breeds with only a moderate amount of success. To a rigid observance of these principles I owe any honours in the show pen which have been awarded to me. It is of little use taking up the breeding of long-haired silver tabbies unless one is possessed of unlimited patience and perseverance. It is sometimes very disappointing to find the kitten one fondly hoped would prove a coming champion merging into a shaded silver-exquisite in colour and as far as head, shape, and coat are concerned, but none the less not a silver tabby. Here comes in the study of pedigree. It by no means follows that the mating of two tabby parents will result in a litter of pure tabby kittens, unless both sire and dam are of pure silver tabby lineage. Hence purity of pedigree on both sides is of great importance.
If there is a trace of chinchilla blood in the ancestry it is certain to manifest itself at odd times in the progeny. Nevertheless, do not despise your shaded silver, if it be a queen, providing all other points are perfect. As Miss Leake says Ð and I quite agree with her Ð' You no longer have a show specimen, but you have a cat that, crossed with a heavily marked cat, will probably provide you with splendid silver tabbies. This, however, can scarcely be called the true science of breeding, as the progeny of two such cats may hark back to some of the original characteristics.
Miss Derby Hyde's "Thames Valley Silver King."
Photo: E. Landor, Ealing.)
My own practice is to mate silver tabby with silver tabby invariably, and of the purest pedigree I can find. I should never breed from a sire that I knew possessed a brown tabby ancestry. I would far rather choose a good black sire, and in this way strengthen the markings. Of course, one would not expect a mating of this kind to produce a litter of champion silver tabbies; but if I secured one well-marked kitten I should feel quite repaid. On the general question of breeding, Mr. C. A. House, who is no mean authority, and whose suggestions I have often followed with advantage, recently said: 'If I were asked to pick out in a certain cattery a pair of silver tabby Persians which would be likely to make a good match, I should proceed on lines similar to the following:-Shape and size with quality of coat I should expect the dam to possess. Marking, colour, length of coat, colour of eye, and strength of bone, I should demand in my sire. This is, of course, if I were selecting from cats whose ancestry was quite unknown to me. My reasons for so doing are because in nine times out of ten the sire influences the outward characteristics of the progeny, while in like ratio the dam exercises her influence over those oints which are more hidden. The dam has far more to do with shape than is generally supposed, and I would rather breed from a bad-headed male than a bad-headed queen. Quality of coat must always be looked for in the queen.
With regard to in-breeding I have no hard-and-fast rules to lay down. The whole matter, in spite of what one and another may say, is too experimental and speculative for anyone to dogmatise. The authority I have just quoted remarks on this matter: 'It sometimes happens that a fancier puts together two animals which excel in some particular property, yet not one of their progeny is above the standard of mediocrity, so far as that property is concerned.' Experience has shown me the importance of studying the weak points of the dam. These I try to remedy in selecting the stud cat. But with all my care I sometimes find 'the best laid schemes.......gang aft agley.'
For the successful keeping of cats and rearing of healthy kittens, my prescription begins and ends with two words-liberty and amount of cold, providing, of course, they have never had artificial heat previously. Two things must be carefully guarded against Ð damp and draught. These are fatal. Kittens so reared will be healthier, grow better coats, and will be much better able to stand the wear and tear of show life. My own cats live in wooden houses, raised at least one foot from the ground, the size at least seven and a half feet by five and a half feet. Each house is fitted with an inner wire door, as well as the outer wooden one. Along the entire length of the upper part of one side is a wire netting window, with a broad shelf fitted beneath. This opening has also a sliding shutter fitted with glass panels. I am thus able to give ventilation at will, or fasten them up securely in bad weather. In one corner of the house is a cosy sleeping box: in another corner an equally cosy chair. All cats love a chair. Cats kept outside, when they are admitted to the house, invariably find out the most comfortable corner of the most comfortable chair. In such a house as I have described, kittens can be successfully reared; there is ample room for them to scamper round should a wet day keep them in. Unless it is absolutely raining all my cats have the run of a large garden the whole day, and are only shut up at night. I never coddle my kittens, but try to bring them up as naturaily as possible.
I am sometimes asked how it is my kittens attain such good proportions. The secret, if secret there be, lies in this-I never allow my mother cats to nurse more than two kittens after the first week. If a foster cannot be found, I select the two I consider the most promising, and the lethal chamber claim the rest. Some may consider this foolish. I can only say I would far rather rear two thoroughly healthy kittens than five or six little puny things that will require weeks of care and attention, and then fail to reach the end in view. Baby silver tabbies, I must admit, are not altogether things of beauty and of joy. More often than not they are dark and uninteresting. The time to decide which is the best marked kitten is while the coat is comparatively short. When compelled to make a selection, I usually give the preference to the darker kittens. Experience has taught me that the lighter kittens, so attractive in themselves, even at that early stage, and whose colouring is so exquisite at eight or nine weeks old, are apt to prove deceptive in the end, and often develop into shaded silvers.
The Property of Miss Cope.
Photo: E. S. Baker & Son, Birmingham.)
To Miss Cope's last statements I can add my testimony, but I will also mention a curious case coming under my direct notice and regarding my own silver stud cat. 'Cambyses' is by 'Mowgli' (a noted pale silver of 'Silver Lambkin' strain) and a handsome silver tabby unknown to fame, being a house pet. When I became possessed of 'Cambyses', then five months old, he was a decided silver tabby, taking after his mother; he has since shed all his markings, except faint grey pencillings on head and legs, and is one of the lightest silvers at stud. When mated to smokes and silvers I have not known or heard of any tabbies in the litters; but on one occasion, when crossed with a silver tabby, he had some very densely marked tabbies. I have remarked that this beautiful breed of Persians has not been taken up by American fanciers in the same enthusiastic manner as have blues, orange, and especially silvers. In an account given by Field and Fancy of the Beresford Cat Club show in New York, January, 1903, I find mention made that over 125 long-haired cats were entered, and that in the silver classes alone there were thirty-five entries, almost as many as were entered in the whole long-haired section of the previous year. The smoke male class was cancelled, but eight females of this breed put in an appearance. No mention is made of silver tabbies. Amongst the winners of the challenge cups offered by the Atlantic Cat Club, a silver tabby called 'Queenie', owned by Mrs. Wagner, carried off the trophy. Miss A. Leake, of silver tabby fame in the English fancy, has exported some of her stock, and no doubt our American cousins will not let this beautiful breed remain long neglected, but some enthusiastic fancier will establish a strain on the other side of the herring pond.
At the Westminster Cat Club show of 1903, held about the same time as the Beresford New York show, the entries in the three classes provided for silver tabbies numbered twenty-seven, which is an increase on previous years, but with two or three exceptions quality was lacking. No new names appeared in the catalogues, and Miss Anderson Lecke and Miss Cope carried off the highest honours.
The winner in the female class was 'Roiall Fluffball', whose portrait appears below, and who is the best-marked silver tabby that is now before the public. Miss Cope must be proud of having bred so fine a specimen by Miss Anderson Lecke's 'Abdul Hamel of Dingley', whose picture appropriately forms the heading of this chapter on silver tabbies.
[Typed in by Martina Šiljeg, Delta Pelegrino cattery]
Mrs. Stead's smoke litter by "Ranji."
(Photo: Russell & Sons, Baker Street.)
IT is only within recent years that smoke Persian cats have really come into notice at all, and even now these lovely cats may be said to be sadly neglected in the fancy. It was not till the year 1893 that they were considered sufficiently popular to deserve a class to themselves. They were formerly relegated to the 'any other colour' class, and very often at smaller shows this is where we find the smokes penned. A really good smoke is a thing of beauty, and it seems certain that as the fancy expands and the Silver and Smoke Cat Society looks after their interests, a good time will be in store for breeders of this handsome variety.
Smokes may threfore be called a new breed, and it is a very distinctive one, made up, as it were, of the three self colours-black, white, and blue. It is a shaded cat without markings, the fur being pure white underneath and gradually assuming almost a black tone on the outer coat. The face, paws, and back down to the tip of the tail are the darkest parts, shading to a dark grey down the sides and on the under part of the tail. A very great beauty in smokes is the light frill and ear tufts, which lend an air of much distinction to this breed. The great failings in many smokes is the appearance of tabby markings; these especially mar the beauty of head and face, and take away from their value in the show pen. The tail should be quite free from any rims of light and dark, and should have the upper part an even dark colour, and underneath a cinder grey. Some smokes are so dense in the surface coat as to be really black cats with white under-coats, having none of the modulated grades of dark and light grey. These cats are often minus the light ear tufts and ruff, and therefore cannot be regarded as correct smokes. Then, again, there are light smokes which might almost be called silver smokes-very beautiful cats to look at, but far removed from the ideal smoke.
"Jo" and "Tiny" (smokes).
(Photo: Gross, Brooklyn, N.Y.)
Perhaps at some future time there may be a special classification for these cats, which are now without an abiding place at our shows. It is most important that the coat of a smoke should be long and of the true Persian flakiness, otherwise the chief beauty of the contrast between the light under-coat and dark outer-coat is not seen to full advantage.
I think I may say without fear of contradiction that, of all long-haired breeds, smokes present the most altered and absolutely dishevelled appearance when out of coat. The glory of the light frill disappears, and multitudes of lines and streaks can be plainly discerned. Then a very rusty brown tinge appears on the back, and the rich, glossy black surface coat vanishes. I owned a lovely smoke cat once that at certain times of the year-and, I may say for most part of the year-was nothing better than a bad black, his only claim to the title of smoke being the general appearance of a dark cat that had spent his life in an ashpit. But when 'Pepper' was in full feather, he was a joy to behold.
It is curious that when the kittens are first born they appear almost a dead black, with no trace of a white under-coat. This appears gradually as the kittens grow, and at three weeks old the lighter coat becomes visible. Their faces and paws should be intensely black when born, as the tendency in smokes is to get lighter and not darker. If a kitten is born with the appearance of a smoke it will generally turn into what I have termed a silver smoke later on. As with black kittens, so with smokes: they are often very rusty in appearance, but this will disappear with their kitten coat. This also applies to tabby markings, though, of course, if there is any tabby blood in the strain the markings may be retained. For this reason it is most undesirable to mate smokes with tabbies; neither is it advisable to select a blue as a cross. The blue tinge destroys the purity of the white under-coat, which is one of the glories of a perfect smoke. It is a case of 'like to like' in breeding smokes, and, failing this, choose a good black sire for your queen with amber eyes. This is especially advantageous if your queen should be light in colour and throw light kittens; but if she is already too dark, mate with a chinchilla, avoiding, if possible, a green-eyed one.
Above all things shun, as you would Sin, tabbies of any colour, and let your choice fall on a heavily coated sire. I have been told by smoke fanciers that it is much more difficult to breed a good smoke female than a male, and that the latter seks predominates in litters.
I will here give the officially approved table showing the proportion of marks which should be awarded for points of smokes. This is as drawn up by the Silver and Smoke Persian Cat Society, which has Mrs. H. V. James, our principal breeder of smokes, as Honorary Secretary:-
Smoke cats should be black, shading to smoke (grey), with as light an under-coat as possible; light frill and ear tufts; eyes to be orange.
Value of points:-
- Head and expression ...............20
- Colour of eye .........................15
- Colour of under-coat ...............10
- Absence of markings ...............15
- Coat and condition ..................20
- Tail ......................................10
- Shape ..................................10
I think there are no fanciers or breeders of smokes who feel that any option should be given as to the colour of eyes in this breed, for, as in the black cats, the eyes should be amber or light golden. However, I must confess that brilliant green eyes are to be preferred to the pale yellow, which too often spoil the beauty of many of the smokes now exhibited. I should never place an indifferent smoke with orange eyes over a good specimen with eyes of emerald green. In the early days of the fancy, smokes were entered in the 'any other variety' class, and were sometimes called Smoke Blues or Smoke Chinchillas.
Miss Bartlett's two smoke kittens.
(Photo: E. Landor, Ealing.)
In 1891 Miss Manley (now Mrs. Strick) exhibited a fine smoke called 'Bayadere'. Amongst the names of our oldest smoke breeders who still continue to breed I may mention Mrs. Cartwright, of Upwood. In 1895 this lady showed smokes at Cruft's show bred from her 'Timkins'. The Upwood cats are very pure in colour, having the dense outer coat very white at the roots. At one time the Lindfield smokes held their own everywhere, Miss Molony winning first at the Crystal Palace in 1893 with 'Lindfield Bogie'. Mrs. Bluhm, better known as a silver breeder, also owned about this time a famous smoke female called 'Smuttie'.
Mrs. Robert Little has for years combined the breeding of smokes with blacks. In 1897 'Namouska', a smoke female, won first at the Crystal Palace, and her descendants continue their career as first-class smokes. In more recent times the following are noted winners: Lady Marcus Beresford's 'Cossey', Mrs. H. V. James's 'Backwell Jogram', Mrs. Sinkins' 'Teufel', Mrs. Stead's 'Ranji', Mrs. Stillwell's 'Victoria', Miss Snell's 'Dusky Girl', Mrs. Collingwood's 'Minouche', Rev. P. L. Cosway's 'Maritana', Mrs. Neild's 'Silver Soot', Mrs. Hamilton's 'Bulger', Miss Rose's 'Judge'. Perhaps the most consistent and successful breeder of smokes now in the fancy is Mrs. H. V. James, who started in 1893, and has been faithful to this breed ever since. I have had the pleasure of visiting Mrs. James's smoke cattery, and I felt that the lovely old-fashioned garden surrounding the Grange at Backwell was truly an ideal place for successfully rearing live stock of any kind, and all the pussies were pictures of robust health. I am glad to be able to insert the following valuable article on smoke Persians from the pen of Mrs. James, who is certainly our best authority on this breed.
'Before entering upon the distinctive points of smokes, I will give a short account of my smoke cattery, and how I first took up this breed. It is curious to look back and see what mere chances govern our actions. I have all my life been devoted to Persian cats of one colour or another, but never intended to go in for any special breed. However, in 1893 I purchased a blue kitten, which, on its arrival, appeared far from well. The man who sold it offered, if it died, to replace it. In a few days I was in a position to accept this offer, for the kitten succumbed, and another-which was also supposed to be a blue-was sent to replace it. As time went on this kitten darkened, and, much to my disgust, turned to a deep cinder colour. In 1894 there was a grand West of England Cat Show held at. Bristol, and, to please an old servant who had taken great care of the kitten, I entered 'Jubilee'. I was not much up in cat showing then, but 'smoke' seemed to answer the description of the kitten better than any other colour; so into the smoke class he went, and, to my surprise, carried everything before him. This started my career as an exhibitor. I showed 'Jubilee' again at Cruft's and Brighton the next year,where he again carried off firsts, and was described as the best smoke cat seen since the days of the famous 'Mildew'.
Mrs. James's cat houses at Blackwell.
(Photo: F Holmes, Clifton, Bristol)
'At the Palace in 1894, I bought a smoke female kitten from Miss Bray as a mate for 'Jubilee'. This mating proved successful, and I had several grand litters of smokes, most of which, I am sorry to say, went to swell the ranks of neuter pets, being given as presents to my friends. In time I learnt wisdom, however, and kept my smokes myself. 'Jubilee's' career as a show cat was unfortunately cut short after his. Brighton win in 1894. He escaped one night, and in a fight with another cat had his ears so torn that I was unable to exhibit him again. A year later, when I was away from home, he was let out one day, and never returned, having, I expect, been trapped in the woods. At that period my smokes nearly died out, as I had only one litter a few weeks old by 'Jubilee'. Of the two smokes one was promised, and the other I kept, and he is still alive as 'Champion Backwell Jogram'. So I think I may consider I have had my share of luck, though, like most breeders, I have had my bad times, and have lost sometimes as many as twelve cats and kittens in a few days from distemper, and once or twice a very promising female has strayed into the woods and been seen no more.
I hope, however, that for some years, at least. 'Jubilee's' descendants will continue to flourish, as there are a number of 'Jogram's' kittens scattered over England, and several have left these shores for America.
'In mating my smoke queens I have several times tried a black sire, and have always been successful in getting good smokes from this cross. 'Jubilee II'. Is an example, being by 'Johnnie Fawe', Dr. Roper's famous black Persian. I have only once-years ago-tried a blue cross, but the result was a mixed litter of blacks and blues. I have found that all the blue queens mated with 'Jogram' have had chiefly blacks. Smokes may be considered a very hardy breed, perhaps from the fact that there has been little in-breeding so far. 'Jogram' lives in an unheated wooden house all the year round, and has never even had a cold. Kittens will also stand the same treatment.
'And now I will endeavour to give my ideas as to the points which go to make up a perfect smoke. A good smoke is perhaps one of the most beautiful of the many beautiful breeds of long-haired cats, a bad smoke one of the plainest. The novice - for whom this article is principally written - may therefore be glad to have a clear definition of a amoke to start with.
'The definition drawn up by the Silver Society when it first started reads as follows: 'A smoke cat must be black, shading to smoke (grey), with as light an under-coat as possible, and black points, light frill and ear tufts; eyes to be orange'. But the word 'black', having sometimes led novices to suppose that a black cat possessed of a white under-coat is a smoke, it would be perhaps safer to say 'a smoke is a deep cinder-coloured cat shading to grey, with a white under-coar', etc. In order to distinguish the difference between black and the true cinder-colour of the smoke, it is an excellent plan to keep a sound black cat in a smoke cattery.
Mrs. A. M. Stead's smoke Persian "Ch. Ranji."
(Photo: E. N. Collins, S. Norwood.)
'Smokes are, comparatively speaking, one of the newer breeds of long-haired cats, and arose from the crossing of blues, blacks, and silvers, and appeared as a freak in litters of blues or silvers, and, being beautiful, were kept by their owners. No serious attempt, however, was made to breed them until quite recently. If beauty and a hardy constitution count for much, they should be more popular even than they are at present; but no boubt the extreme difficulties of breeding a good, unmarked shaded cat deter many breeders from taking them up. With a whole-coloured cat it is fairly plain sailing when a strain, sound in shape and bone, has been established; but with a shaded cat it is quite another matter. Litter after litter of kittens appear, grand in shape, strong in limbs, apparently perfect in shading. In a fey months the kittens moult, and the shading becomes perhaps a hopeless jumble of light and dark. Where it should be dark it has turned light, and vice versa. Still worse, the shading disappears, and the markings-the bugbear of all smoke breeders-appear, showing traces of the far-away silver tabby ancestors. These markings have perhaps been lying dormant for a generation, and appear as a reminder of the silver tabby origin of the smoke.
'To all smoke breeders who wish to succeed I would say', Never part with a well-shaped smoke until at least a year old, lest you find you have, in rejecting the apparently uglyduckling and keeping the gem, thrown away the substance for the shadow'. On the subject of mating, there is much to be said. I am afraid many owners of smoke queens mate with any coloured cat which takes their fancy in the hopes of getting something in the litter besides smokes.
'I have sometimes heard owners say, 'Oh! I mate my smoke queen with all sorts of colours. She always has one or two good smokes in each litter'. That may be true, but if a smoke strain is to be built up, you are making a fatal mistake. The kitten thus bred goes to a new home and is expected to produce smokes as good as herself. She is mated with a smoke male, and when the litter arrives there are perhaps no smokes, she having trown back to her sire, so as a breeder she is useless. Smoke to smoke must be the rule, except in special cases-when, for instance, the queen is on the light side; then a cross with a black may be found to be necessary. Or the queen may be too dark and given to breeding black kittens. Then the choice should fall on a silver as free as possible from silver tabby relations. On no account must a tabby of any colour be chosen or a sire with any white. A blue should also be avoided, as the under-coat is liable to take the blue shade and become blurred instead of white at the roots.
'Orange eyes are much prized in smokes, and I believe, from my own experience in breeding smokes for the last ten years, that it is from the mothers that the kittens get their eye colour. If the queen has pale green eyes you may mate her with all the orange-eyed sires in the kingdom, and the eyes will still be pale. But if the queen has deep orange eyes, the kittens will inherit them also, even should the sire have only pale eyes.
'Thanks to careful mating by some of our smoke breeders, smokes are not the flukes they once were, and a smoke queen, well mated , may now be relied upon to produce whole litters of smoke kittens. As a rule, the kittens at birth are quite black, and remain so for a week or so; and my experience has been that if a kitten shows any trace of grey at birth, it will grow up too light. There are, however, a few well-known queens who throw almost silver kittens, which remain so for weeks, and then shed this kitten coat for a darker one; so no hard-and-fast rule can be laid down as to what a smoke kitten should look like when born. Try in-breeding for coat to avoid the sleek or wooly-coated smoke, and aim at getting a cat with a coat of the true Persian flakiness described by Mr. Harrison Weir in his book on Persian cats, otherwise the chief beauty-the light under-and dark outer-coat-is not seen to advantage as the cat moves. One point to be remembered in this breed is that the new coat growing is dark just at the roots. These marks, when the smoke is changing coat, have often been mistaken for tabby markings, so for this reason it is most unwise ever to show a smoke when out of coat. Wait until your cat is in full coat before accusing it of having tabby markings.
'There is a fashion in smokes, as in everything else; and at present in England the very dark smokes are the rage, but in America the light ones are more sought after. That grand cat 'Watership Caesar', who was considered too light for English taste, was last year bought by the late Mrs. Thurston and taken to America, where he carried off all the smoke honours, also taking the prize for the best cat in the show. The same happened to Lady Marcus Beresford's 'Cossey', a lovely cat of the lighter type. The tide may turn, however, even in England, where the slightly lighter smokes may share the honours with their darker brothers. It is better, however, to be on the safe side and breed for the darker smoke, as the lighter are apt to lose the smoke characteristics and overstep the line which divides them from a shaded silver'.
Mrs. Sinkins, to whom I have alluded as a smoke breeder, owns a splendid stud cat called 'Teufel' that has made a name for himself as a first prize winner. This cat is as nearly a perfect specimen as it is possible to find. Mrs. Sinkins has written a few notes on smokes.
Mrs. Sinkins' smoke Persian "Teufel."
'I must consider myself honoured in being asked to write about smoke Persians in 'The Book of the Cat', as I am, comparatively speaking, a beginner in the cat fancy, only having kept Persians for three years or so. I began by buying a well-bred queen in kitten, and she presented me with two chinchillas and a perfect smoke female, which I named 'Teufella', and showed at Westminster in 1899. She carried all before her, winning everything in her class, and was claimed at once at catalogue price. From a silver halfsister of hers I then bred 'Teufel', whose picture is in this issue, and who is a great pet, being extremely sweet-tempered and affectionate. His chief characteristics are his absolutely unmarked black face and the lovely white under-coat, so desirable in a perfect smoke, and for which he received a special this spring (1902) at Westminster. I hope some of his descendants will take after him in these respects and make smokes increasingly popular.
'In my opinion, it is a fatal mistake to mate smokes with blues, as they then lose this white under-coat. I think one obtains it best by mating a smoke-bred smoke cat with either a silver-bred smoke or else with a silver cat, as unmarked as possible, who possesses a smoke ancestor. Some day I should like to try mating a black with a pale silver, just as an experiment.
'As to eye colour, there can be no two opinions. The deeper the orange, the better.
'I do not find smokes at all delicate, no more so than the common or garden cat. All my queens have entire freedom, one in particular being a first-rate ratter and mouser, even catching moles sometimes. And they live out of doors in unheated houses all the year round, even in the most severe winter.
'It seems hard that all Persians should have to pass through an 'ugly' period - luckily a short one - when they change their coats, looking ragged and certainly not their best. Smokes and blacks then show the brown tinge even worse than chinchillas, as it gives then the poverty - stricken appearance of rusty moulting - though I must say 'Teufel' has so far been the exception, taking all honours at one show when in full moult.
Owned by Mrs. Clinton Locke.
'However, their good time fully compensates for the shabby period, and a typical smoke, with his large orange eyes set in his black face, with light ear tufts and frill, his white under-coat showing with every movement, is a thing of beauty hard to beat, and I feel sure the smoke variety has a great future before it'.
Mrs. Stead, the owner of 'Champion Ranji' and 'Rhoda' a winning smoke female, has kindly given me her opinion on smokes.-
'My ideal of perfect smoke cats is that they should be black, shading to smoke grey, with as light an under-coat as possible, light frill and ear tufts, eyes orange. This is the standard up to which I try to breed. I find the kittens go through several stages before they approach this perfection. For instance, a kitten I had in the spring of 1902 lightened considerably, and developed markings on the face, but at eight months old he was nearly up to the standard. A litter of six I have recently bred were entirely unmarked at birth, being, in fact, quite black. Five are now medium-coloured smokes, and one a very dark one, with beautiful light under-coat. I strongly advise all breeders not to despair of colouring until their kittens are fully grown. Permanent markings are, of course, very detrimental, and there is always great anxiety as to the final colour of the eyes. If, however, both parents are good in this respect, the result is generally satisfactory'.
The following article on smoke cats in America is taken from Field and Fancy of October, 1902:-
'Smokes, with us, will probably rank with the silvers, and are destined to always hold a measure of popularity, though we have not such a very strong lot; in fact, we may say that good smokes are never so numerous anywhere as to become a nuisance, and we may fairly congratulate ourselves at this stage of the game upon what we have had and bred.
Smoke and orange Persians.
(From a painting by W. Luker, Jun.)
'Opinions differ as to what is a smoke, and at times we have to be rather lenient in the judging of these cats, for they are apt to be off colour-too light or too streaky. No one has yet, in America, taken up the colour solely to breed smokes and nothing else, which seems a pity, for they can be bred and kept with blacks, and each sets off the other, and when visitors come to the cattery the contrast is made more apparent.
'Those not conversant with the colour are apt to think anything smoky is a smoke exhibition cat, and no doubt, when good, those cats with dark faces and paws and light bodies are very handsome, but more often than not they are streaky and are smoke tabbies.
After mature consideration and after seeing a good many, we, as well as other breeders, still think that unless the 'Southdown' cats, as some have called them, are very good we had better stick to the old definition of a smoke, and demand them dark enough.
'A really dark, rich smoke without marks is, without doubt, one of the richest in colouring of all our long-hairs, and the stars are few. One may go away from the original definition of a smoke, but when brought face to face with a good one it forces one to confess that this is the genuine article, and when in grand condition, a thing of beauty and a joy for ever'.
[Typed in by Martina Šiljeg, Delta Pelegrino cattery]
"Topsy of Merevale."
The property of Mrs. Bignell.
(Photo: O. Hardee, Chislehurst.)
MANY years ago, when I first took up the cat fancy, I used to think tortoiseshells ugly and commonplace, and I am afraid even now I have not that admiration for the breed which I feel a really good specimen of this variety ought to inspire. To begin with, it is seldom that a true type of long-haired tortoiseshell is seen or exhibited, and perhaps this may account for the breed being so much neglected. They are not taking-looking cats, and make a poor show in the pen. I have often remarked, however, that this is a favourite breed with the sterner sex, and that our professional men judges will almost invariably pick out a tortoiseshell when judging an 'any other colour' class, and give it some mark of distinction. This may be accounted for by the fact that, of all varieties, a really good tortoiseshell is most difficult to breed, and therefore any specimen approaching perfection should be encouraged. There are splashed and sable tortoiseshells and tortoiseshell tabbies, all handsome cats of their kind, but not the genuine article. Real tortoiseshells may be called tricolour cats, for they should bear three colours, like a tortoiseshell comb, on their bodies, namely black, red, and yellow, in distinct patches or blotches, solid in colour and well broken up, with no trace of stripes, bars, or tabby markings. A brindling effect is to be avoided, and a white spot on chin is a great blemish. It is most undesirable that the black should predominate, in which case the specimen will lack brilliancy. The three colours should, if possible, be pretty evenly distributed over the body, legs, and tail, and should not run into each other. The red and yellow may preponderate over the black with good effect.
A blaze, so called, up the face is considered correct, and this should be of the red or yellow, and in a straight line from the nose upwards. This is a very distinctive feature in the breed, and one that judges will look for in a good show specimen. It is incorrect for the tail to be in any way ringed with the colours. The texture of the coat is often coarser and more hairy in this breed, and it is not usually so long and flowing as in other varieties of Persian cats. There is no difference of opinion as to the correct colour for the eyes of tortoiseshells. They should be a bright golden or orange, and these seem in perfect harmony with the colouring of the coat. Tortoiseshells never attain any great size, and may be called a small breed of Persian cats. I give the list of points as drawn up by the specialist society:-
Colour and marking. - The three colours - black, orange, and yellow - to be well broken and as bright and well defined as possible; free from tabby markings, no white. 30.
Coat - To be silky, very long, and fluffy. 20.
Size and shape - To be large-not coarse, but massive, with plenty of bone and substance; short legs. 25.
Head - To be round and broad, with short nose, ears small and well opened. 15.
Eyes - To be large and full, and bright orange or hazel in colour. 5. Condition - 10.
They are quite one of the most interesting from which to breed, and experiments can be tried successfully in crossing a tortoiseshell queen with black, cream, orange, and blue cats. The litters will often be a study in variety. I have known one family to consist of a black, a white, a cream, an orange, and a blue! The owner of such a litter would have something to suit all comers. A really good tortoiseshell queen may, therefore, be considered a valuable property. And what of a tortoiseshell tom? A mine of wealth would such a possession be to any fancier. Among short-haired cats a tortoiseshell tom is a rare animal, but I do not think a long-haired specimen has ever been seen or heard of. Several experiments have been tried, but it remains for some skilful and scientific breeder to solve the problem of the manner and means to be employed to produce males of this breed. The classification at our smaller shows for tortoiseshells is generally of a meager and discouraging description. There are so few specimens that executives of shows fight shy of giving a class for even tortoiseshell and tortoiseshell-and-white together. So tortoiseshells are mixed up in the 'any other colour' class, and therefore this breed can seldom, if ever, be really judged on its own merits, or comparisons made between the different specimens that are exhibited. At our largest shows there are classes provided, which, however, are poorly filled.
Miss H. Cochran's tortoiseshell "Brunette."
Tortoiseshells may be said to have had no past. There are no celebrities in feline history save and except 'Queen Elizabeth', and not only was she the finest of her breed, but she also made her name famous by severely injuring Mr. W. R. Hawkins, who was examining her when making his awards; and I have good reason-or rather bad reason-for recollecting her, on account of her fixing her teeth into my hand when I was removing her from her basket to pen her at the Westminster show in 1899. It seems that she had a great objection to traveling, and resented making an exhibition of herself in public! She was a grand specimen, however, and, besides always carrying off highest honours herself, she was the mother of many prize-winning orange and tortoiseshell cats, amongst others 'Prince Charlie', 'Prince Lyne', and 'Mattie'. I have failed to obtain a photograph of this celebrated cat; and, even had I succeeded, a tortoiseshell makes a terribly poor picture when reproduced in photography, for the reason that the yellow comes out only fairly light, the orange appearing as dark as the black patches.
Miss H. Cochran had a dear old pet puss called 'Brunette', a dark tortoiseshell, and from her were bred some of the first cream females ever exhibited. The Hon. Mrs. Mc Laren Morrison has a good tortoiseshell, 'Curiosity' by name. The best three specimens now before the public are Dr. Roper's 'Dainty Diana', 'Miss M. Beal's 'Pansy', Miss Kate Sangster's 'Royal Yum Yum', and Mrs. Bignell's 'Topsy of Merevale'. As regards the last-named, Mrs. Bignell has kindly supplied me with particulars of 'Topsy's' litters when mated with different-coloured cats. 'Topsy's' first litter in 1896, when mated to the 'Duke of Kent' (a blue), was two creams and two smokes. When mated to 'Johnnie Fawe' (a black) her kittens were all of the father's dusky hue. Again, when crossed with another blue male her litter consisted of two orange males and a tortoiseshell female, and again to the same cat one black male and two orange males. 'Topsy' is a noted prize-winner, and one of her smoke children, 'Lucy Claire', went out to Chicago, and is considered the finest smoke specimen in the American fancy. Dr. Roper's 'Dainty Diana' is one of the best-known tortoiseshells, and her colouring as good as any eyhibited; she is the mother of many winners. Miss Kate Sangster, who is a great admirer of this breed, writes: 'My 'Champion Royal Yum Yum' was bred from a black and a tortoiseshell, and her grandsire was a cream. She is over seven years old, and has had twenty-two kittens, namely, five cream, five blue, five orange, four black, and three tortoiseshell'.
Owned by Miss Sargent.
(Photo: J. P. Bennett, West Norwood.)
Miss Mildred Beal, who with her sister is so well known in connection with cream and orange cats, is also the owner of some fine tortoiseshells. 'Wallflower' (well so named) is the mother of a noted prize-winning cream called 'Sunlocks'. 'Pansy', Miss M. Beal's special pet, is a well-known tortoiseshell. 'Snapdragon', another prize-winner, was exported to America, where quite a number of the Romaldkirk cats have found their home. We need a few more enthusiastic admirers of tortoiseshells like Miss M. Beal to take up this rather despised breed and follow in her footsteps. Some notes by the owner of 'Pansy' will be of interest:-
Even fanciers who will go into raptures over the blue, orange, cream, or silver members of the establishment have no admiration to spare for a tortoiseshell, however striking its record of prizes may be; and yet to those who breed and understand them there is something very fascinating about these quaint creatures, though the taste for them is certainly an acquired one.
Among non-catty people great ignorance prevails as to what colour a tortoiseshell cat really is. Many people, if asked to describe a tortoiseshell cat, would say that it was a sort of sandy colour all over; others imagine that the 'chintz' cat, as it is called in the North-white with black and red patches-has a right to the name. So let it be said at once that three colours, namely, orange, yellow, and black, and these only, enter into the composition of the true tortoiseshell. There must be no white, neither should there be any trace of tabby markings, though this is very difficult to attain. The three colours should be patched or 'broken' all over the cat, and the more distinct each separate colour is in these patches the better. Brilliancy of colour is another point which breeders have to consider; many tortoiseshells have far too large a proportion of black in their colouring, which gives them a dingy and uninteresting appearance, and is sure to go against them in the show pen. The eyes should be orange, and in other points, such as shape, head, and texture of coat, the standard is the same as for the other varieties of long-haired cats.Miss H. Cochran's tortoiseshell "Brunette."
Miss Kate Sangster's "Royal Yum Yum."
(Photo: W. V. Amey, Landport.)
One curious fact in connection with longhaired tortoiseshells, which is well known to fanciers, may be mentioned, namely, the nonexistence of the male sex. Among shorthaired tortoiseshells toms are exceedingly rare, though one or two do exist; but an adult longhaired male appears to be absolutely unheard of. The writer knows of one male kitten born some years ago, but it was either born dead or died in very early infancy. Darwin's theory that the orange tom and tortoiseshell queen were originally the male and female of the same variety is borne out by the fact that until recently orange females were also rare. Of late years a good many of these have been bred and reared, and therefore, if the Darwinian theory be correct, it seems hard to believe that the tortoiseshell tom must be regarded as unattainable. If the difficulty has been successfully overcome in the one case, why not in the other? Breeding with this object in view is very slow work, for some tortoiseshell queens will produce litter after litter without a single kitten of their own colour, and a family consisting entirely of tortoiseshells would be as welcome as it is rare. But it would be a pity to despair of breeding the long looked for tom; if he ever does make his appearance, he will be hailed with sufficient interest to gratify any quantity of feline vanity.
At present, breeders hardly seem to recognize the great value of a tortoiseshell queen for breeding almost any variety of self-coloured cat. If the queen is mated to an orange, a cream, or a blue tom, she will be very likely to produce at least one or two really good specimens of the same colour as the sire, and sometimes a far larger proportion of the litter will 'favour' him. Much, of course, depends upon how the queen herself is bred, and this no doubt accounts for disappointment in some cases.
Tortoiseshells compare very favourably with the other varieties of long-haired cats in the matter of intelligence. The writer knows one which enjoys the well-earned reputation of being the cleverest thief in the cattery. Nothing is safe from her nimble paws; she has often been known to remove the lid from the saucepan in which the meat for the cattery supper had been placed, and make off with the contents; and if the cook's back should be turned for only half a minute, woe to tomorrow's dinner or to anything else tempting which may chance to be within reach!
Though tortoiseshells may be distinguished for brains, some of them certainly fail considerably in temper. They seem to find it most difficult to keep the peace with the other members of the cattery. I sincerely hope this breed will receive more attention from fanciers in the future.
[Typed in by Martina Šiljeg, Delta Pelegrino cattery]
THESE cats, both long-and short-haired, have always had a great fascination for me. One of my first Persian pets was a tortoiseshell-and-white, with a gorgeous coat, stand-out frill, and wide-spreading tail. She was so stately and dignified that we called her 'The Lady Mayoress'. In those days cats were of no account, and shows were non-existent. My pretty pet roamed at will and made her own matrimonial arrangements: the kittens were consequently mostly consigned to the bucket.
With my present knowledge of the feline race, I realize that 'The Lady Mayoress' was a grand specimen of what a tortoiseshell-and-white should be.
She was not a white-and-tortoiseshell, as so many now seen in the show pen might be called. In these cases the white predominates, and in reality the four colours should be about equally distributed. The patches of black, red, and yellow should cover the back, head, and tail, leaving the chest and paws and part of the hind-quarters white. There should be patches of the three colours on each side of the face, with a white blaze up the nose.
As in the tortoiseshells, so in this breed it is better for the brighter colours rather than the black to predominate. I believe an old-fashioned name for this breed was chintz cats. I think they might also be called patchwork cats! There is a great deal in the manner in which the colours are distributed on either side of the head, for expression in a cat goes a long way, and if the patches are badly placed and unevenly distributed the effect may be displeasing, and perhaps grotesque.
Harrison Weir, in writing of this breed, says: 'In a good tortoiseshell-and-white there should be more white on the chest, belly, and hind legs than is allowable in the black-and-white cat. This I deem necessary for artistic beauty when the colour is laid on in patches, although it should be even, clear, and distinct in its outline: the larger space of white adds brilliancy to the red, yellow, and black colouring. The face is one of the parts which should have some uniformity of colour, and yet not so, but a mere balancing of colour; that is to say, there should be a relief in black, with the yellow and red on each side, and so in the body and tail. The nose should be white, the eyes orange, and the whole colouring rich and varied, without the least 'tabbiness', either brown or grey, or an approach to it, such being highly detrimental to its beauty'.
"Peggy Primrose." Owned by Miss Terrill.
(Photo: W. Baker, Birmingham.)
This is another of the breeds of long-haired cats that may be said to have no history in the fancy, and I doubt if tortoiseshell-and-whites will ever be taken up seriously. There will always remain the difficulty of obtaining good mates for the queens, as males in this variety are almost as rare as in the tortoiseshells. It would seem that the corresponding males to tortoiseshells and tortoiseshell-and-whites are orange and fawns. I do not remember ever having seen or heard of a long-haired tortoiseshell-and-white tom cat; and as regards notable females, these have never at any time been numerous, and few really good specimens have been exhibited.
The most perfect type was Lady Marcus Beresford's 'Cora', an imported cat of great size and beautiful shape. Her colouring and markings were lovely, and her round snub face and short nose lent great charm to this unique specimen. It was a grievous loss to her owner and the fancy when poor 'Cora' suddenly developed dropsy, and succumbed to this rather unusual complaint amongst cats. Mrs. Davies possessed a fine tortoiseshell-and-white named 'Chumly' and Mrs. Bampfylde's 'Susan' was a good type. Many of the cats exhibited have either too much or too little white, and often there is a grave suspicion of tabby amongst the black and orange.
Coming down to the present-day cats, I may mention Mr. Furze's 'Beauty of Birmingham' and 'Peggy Primrose', both of which he disposed of after shows where they were exhibited. There is no doubt these cats are very taking in the show pen, where darker feline beauties are at a considerable disadvantage.
Miss Yeoman's tortoiseshell-and-white "Mary II."
(Photo: D. Pym, Streatham.)
I have had a difficulty in obtaining any good photographs illustrative of these cats, for, as with tortoiseshells, the colouring cannot be successfully portrayed by any gradations in tone, so that the orange and black both appear dark on a white ground, and thus the individuality of the breed is lost. It is different in painting, when it may be generally noticed that artists choose to depict these broken-coloured cats in preference to the self-coloured ones. In Madame Ronner's lovely pictures, of which several adorn these pages, it will be remarked that almost all the fascinating fluffy kittens are patched in colour.
As I have remarked, one of the reasons why these cats have not been seriously taken up by fanciers is the difficulty experienced in selecting suitable mates that will be likely to perpetuate the breed. In fact, this is not possible with any degree of certainty. Tortoiseshell-and-whites may be crossed with black or orange cats, and it is a toss-up what the progeny may be. Creams are sometimes bred by mating with blues, but there is always the danger of white spots and white toes. I once mated a pretty tortoiseshell-and-white with my silver 'Cambyses' and the result was a good pale silver and an almost unmarked cream. Considering all things, I cannot prophesy any future for this breed in the fancy; in fact, I think there is every chance of these really pretty pussies disappearing from our midst. At the Westminster show of 1903 there was only one solitary entry in the tortoiseshell-and-white class! This was Miss Yeoman's 'Mary II.', whose portrait appears on the foregoing page.
(From a Painting by Madame Ronner)
A litter by "Tachin."
Owned by Lady Marcus Beresford.
(Photo: J. Fall, Baker Street.)
I have often remarked at our cat shows that strangers in the fancy will inquire and ask to be directed to the Siamese class, and many and varied are the exclamations of surprise and admiration expressed by them on seeing, perhaps for the first time, a row of Siamese cats seated in their pens. Nor is it always necessary to direct visitors to the Siamese classes, for generally these animals will betray their whereabouts by the unique tone of their voice, which is distinguishable at a great distance.
There is certainly a great fascination about this peculiar breed of cats, which is yearly becoming more popular and fashionable. But fanciers are also learning a lesson in the school of experience, where frequently the fees are high, that they dare not trust their valuable specimens on the show bench. Siamese cats seem to be more sensitive than even the most delicate of the long-haired breeds, and if attacked by any of the ills that catty flesh is heir to they do not appear to have any stamina to bear up against the ravages of the disease. Their recuperative powers are almost nil, and they rarely pull through a severe illness. I have never kept Siamese myself, but I have had many opportunities of observing them in sickness and in health. I have seen grwon-up specimens go out like the snuffing of a candle with acute pneumonia, almost before one has realised they were even ailing. These creatures are quite human in the way they look at you with those bonnie blue eyes, and when you talk to them they seem to answer in their croaking voice. I can well understand what companionable cats these may become, and to fanciers of this unique breed other cats must appear lacking in interest and wanting in intelligence.
From time to time there have been discussions in our cat papers on Siamese cats in general, and on their kinked or kinkless tails in particular. It is certain that those cats known to us as royal Siamese are not the only species in Siam, the common cat of the country being tabby or black. So many friends who are fanciers and breeders of Siamese have kindly supplied me with interesting facts concerning this variety, that I do not intend to enter into any details, but will state that in 1902 a Siamese Cat Club was started by several enthusiastic admirers of this breed, and the members have certainly done much to improve the classification at shows, by offering prizes and guaranteeing classes.
The garden cattery at Bishopsgate.
(Photo: Cassell & Company, Limited.)
The following is a list of the officials of the specialist club, with a standard of points for royal Siamese cats: -
President. - Mrs. Vary Campbell.
Vice-Presidents. -The Lady Decies, Mrs. Vyvyan, Miss Sutherland, The Hon. Mrs. McLaren Morrison, Mrs. Chapman, and Miss H. Cochran.
Committee. - Mrs. Parker-Brough, Mrs. Carew Cox, Miss Derby Hyde, Mrs. C. B. Robinson, Mrs. A. Spencer, Miss Forestier Walker, Mr. Gambier Bolton, and Mr. C. W. Cooke.
Hon. Treasurer. - Mrs. Parker-Brough, Springfield, Kettering.
Hon. Secretary. - Miss Forestier Walker.
Hon. Auditor. - Conrad W. Cooke.
STANDARD OF POINTS FOR THE "ROYAL" SIAMESE CAT.
Body Colour. - As light and even as possible, cream being most desirable, but fawn also admissible, without streaks, bars, blotches, or any other body markings.
Points, i.e. mask, ears, legs, feet, and tail, dark and clearly defined, of the shade known as "seal" brown.
Mask. - Complete, i.e. connected by tracings with the ears, neither separated by a pale ring (as in kittens) nor blurred and indistinct, the desideratum being to preserve the "marten face," an impression greatly aided by a good mask.
Eyes. - Bright and decided blue.
Coat. - Glossy and close lying.
Shape. - Body rather long, legs proportionately slight.
Head. - Rather long and pointed.
General Appearance. - With points emphasised above, a somewhat curious and striking looking cat, of medium size; if weighty, not showing bulk, as this would detract from the admired "svelte" appearance. In type, in every particular, the reverse of the ideal short-haired domestic cat, and with properly preserved contrasts of colour, a very handsome animal, often distiguished by a kink in the tail.
Remarks. - While admitting that blues, blacks, whites, tabbies, and other coloured cats may be also cats of Siam, these being common to all parts of the world, this club recognises only as Siamese cats those cats the points of which conform to the above standard, and is, in fact, desirous of encouraging the breeding of those particular cats first made known to British fanciers as the "royal" Siamese.
The points of the "chocolate" Siamese are the same as above, with the exception of body colour.
VALUE OF POINTS.
Body colour................... 20
Density of points............ 15
Mrs. Robert Locke, with "Calif," "Siam," and "Bangkok."
(Photo: S. S. Finley, Chicago.)
Any cat failing to obtain 75 of the above marks shall not be eligible for the club's challenge prizes and medals.
It was shortly after the formation of the Siamese Cat Club that the following letter appeared in Fur and Feather: -
POINTS OF THE SIAMESE.
The committee of the Siamese Club wish to draw attention to the unfortunate diversity of opinion concerning Siamese cats expressed in articles which appear from time to time in some of the papers which devote a portion of their issue to cat news. One great object of the Siamese Club is to encourage the distinct breeding of the royal cat of Siam and also of the chocolate cat of Siam - both beautiful in their own way, but recognised as distinct breeds. The siamese Club is young, and nnot infallible; but, containing as it does most of the principal breeders and exhibitors, its committee would like to record their opinion on some few points which have appeared in the Press, in order to avoid a silence which might be construed as consent. With regard to colour, they cannot agree that a royal can be too light in body colour, nor can they endorse "we like a rich cream body, chocolate saddle, and the points glossy black, whading away to chocolate." Another paper advises the mating of royal Siamese wit hthe chocolate variety. It is true that the young kittens are very pretty, but after six months old quickly become dark and blurred. The great beauty of royal Siamese is the contrast between the sharply defined, deepest brown markings and a body of as light a cream as possible. A third paper gives the information that an exhibitor known to it has bred prize-winning Siamese from a cross between a white cat with blue eyes and a Siamese queen. It also mentions another case where such crossing has produced good Siamese kittens, and thinks "that many other people have, with more or less success, followed the same tactics. The above experiment has often been tried, purposely and accidentally, but no case is known to the writers where the result has been anything like Siamese, the kittens always favouring the English parent. All Siamese are born white, and therefore if the children of one white parent died quite young such a mistake might be natural. It certainly would be very unfair to sell such kittens, as their progeny wuld inherit, and might pass on, an English parentage, not even necessarily white. A white is, or may be, merely an albino variety. - (Signed) A. Forestier Walker, Jean A. Spencer, May Robinson, L. Parker-Brough, S. E. Backhouse, Constance Carew Cox.
The Property of W. Margetson, Esq.
(Photo: H. J. Comley, Stroud.)
Miss Forestier Walker and Mrs. Vyvyan were amongst the first to introduce Siamese cats into England, and they have always owned a direct descendant from the first and famous "Tiam-o-Shian," and many are the prize-winners they have reared and shown from this celebrated strain. Miss Forestier-Walker has frequently acted as judge of Siamese, and took a very active part in the formation of the specialist club for this breed. She has kindly furnished me with the following notes, and given me some photographs of Mrs. Vyvyan's cats: -
"Siamese cats were first introduced into England about twenty-five years ago, but were not often seen until a few years later. Among the earliest were those belonging to Sir Robert Herbert, Lady Dorothy Nevill, the Rev. S. Baring-Gould, Mrs. Cunliffe Lee, Mrs. Vyvyan, and myself. Since then they have become fairly common.
"There are two distinct varieties in the present day. (1) The royal cat of Siam, cream-coloured in body, with sharply defined seal-brown markings on head, ears, legs, feet, and tail; eyes a decided blue. The cats generally become darker after two years old, but where great care has been taken in breeding the true royal cats keep the light colour longer. In any case the body colouring should be even, not blotched or striped. The larger, lighter-coloured cats have china or ultramarine blue eyes; the more slender, darker cats have deeper-coloured eyes. (2) The chocolate cats are deep brown in colour, showing hardly any markings, and have blue eyes.
Owned by Mrs. Vyvyan.
(Photo: Speight, Kettering.)
"All Siamese kittens are white when born, but in a few days slight markings appear on tail, ears, and paws, and by four months old the markings are dark and complete, excepting those which connect the face and head; these are seldom perfect before eight months old.
"The tails are sometimes straight, which is not a fault; but a knot or kink in the tail is a peculiarity of the breed, and therefore desirable. In England it has been asserted that this is a defect, but in Siam it is highly prized, and cats from the royal palace which have been given by the King as presents of value to important people have had this distinction. In the East a cat with a kinked tail fetches a higher price.
"The Siamese have a greater affection for animals, and there is no doubt that the cats are much valued, those in the royal palace having been kept exceptionally pure.
"There is a legend that the light-coloured cats, with blue eyes, represent silver; the dark cats, with yellow eyes, gold; and that the possessor of both will always have plenty. This rather gives the idea that originally the eyes of the pure chocolate cat were yellow, and that the present variety has been crossed with the royal cat.
"Mr. Young, of Harrogate, had some years ago a chocolate cat with yellow eyes.
"Another belief is that they receive the souls of their owners at death, and it is well known that the King of Siam had one on board his yacht when visiting Europe a few years ago.
"It is a great mistake to mix the varieties, as the result after they become adult is a blurring of the markings and a patchy coat.
Owned by Lady Marcus Beresford.
(Photo: Russell & Sons, Windsor.)
"The males are extremely powerful, and will kill strange cats and fight dogs. They are devoted to their wives and children, and to their owners. They are exceedingly intelligent. With the dogs of the house they will be on excellent terms.
"The litters vary in size, but four to five is the usual number. The kittens are difficult to rear, as they suffer from worms and teething, but after seven or eight months old there is little danger. Some people think a meat diet best, but I find it satisfactory to bring them up on lighter food, such as Ridge's food, milk, gravy, and fish, until they begin to cut their teeth, when meat is required.
"A pair from the Palace were given to Mrs. Vyvyan and myself in 1884-5, and we have been very careful in breeding, mating when possible with such good cats as Mrs. Lee's celebrated 'Meo,' Miss Moore's 'Siam,' Mr. Harrington's 'Mechi,' etc. and have bred in consequence the famous 'Tiam-o-Shians' II., III., and IV., 'Polyphema,' 'Susa,' 'Kitya Kara,' 'Goblin,' 'Champion Eve,' 'Mafeking,' 'Vishuddha,' 'Ah Choo,' 'Suzanne,' and many others."
Among fanciers and importers of Siamese cats in the past, I may mention the Hon. Mrs. McLaren Morrison, Lady O'Malley, Lady Decies, Mrs. Brodie, Mr. Temple, Mr. Gambier Bolton, Miss Moore, Mrs. Elliott Hill, Mrs. Cunliffe Lee (owner of the celebrated "Meo"), and Mrs. Carew Cox, who later in this article will give some account of her "King Kesho" and the breed with which her name is still associated. Mrs. Herring has exhibited good specimens from time to time. Mrs. Chapman's "Wally Pug" used to cross the Irish Channel to visit English cat shows. Mr. Young and Mr. Inman, both of Harrogate, favoured this breed, and had some lovely cats. Mrs. Nield owned a charming little female named "Minthamee"; and Miss Sutherland, who lives in the south of France, used to breed a lot of good Siamese from her imported "Prince of Siam." Several of her breeding have been sold in England, and have won at shows. Mrs. Patton Bethune has often exhibited, and is an ardent admirer of the breed. Mrs. Parker Brough, in whose care "Tiam-o-Shian IV." is placed by Mrs. Vyvyan, is well known as a Siamese breeder, as is also Mrs. Spencer, of Eye Vicarage, who exports quite a number of cats; one of her breed - owned by Mr. Vary Campbell - is a beautiful animal. Mrs. Vary Campbell, the president of the Siamese Club, is a generous supporter of the breed. Mr. and Mrs. W. R. Hawkins have always had some fine specimens; and Mrs. Hankey, Miss H. Cochran, Miss Derby Hyde, and Miss Armitage are among others who owned some notable Siamese cats. Mrs. Backhouse's "Champion Eve" was a distinguished prize-winner, and Mrs. Robinson's "Ah Choo" was chosen as a model for the medal of the Siamese Club. But it is chiefly as the owner of the celebrated "Champion Wankee" that Mrs. Robinson is known in the cat fancy in general, and among Siamese breeders in particular. "Wankee" was the first Siamese to win the title of "Champion." He was bred in Hong-Kong, his mother - "Nims" - being a stolen palace kitten. "Wankee" was six months old when he arrived in England: and was born in September, 1895. He has won over thirty prizes, but was never shown till June, 1898, therefore losing the time in which most Siamese cats gain their honours - namely, between six months and two years, when they are pale in colour of coat.
Mr. Ratcliffe's Siamese."
(Photo: Hartley, Burnley.)
Many are the prize kittens he has sired, too numerous to mention. Mrs. Robinson, who is a member of the National Cat Club committee, has frequently acted as a judge of Siamese, and has kindly written the following account for this chapter: -
"One of the most beautiful of the shorthaired cats is undoubtedly the royal cat of Siam, and the breed is greatly increasing in popularity; but is never likely to be common, as the cats are delicate in this country. The best description is that drawn up by the Siamese Cat Club in their standard of points. The points of the chocolate Siamese are the same as the royal, with the exception of body colour, which is a dark rich brown all over, thus making the markings less noticable. All Siamese cats darken with age, and when they get dark there is a tendency to call them chocolates. I know of only one real chocolate - Mr. C. Cooke's 'Zetland Wanzies' - so consider them more likely to be a freak than a distinct variety.
"Of the royals there seem to be two types in England: the one - rather a small, long-headed cat, with glossy, close-lying coat and deep blue eyes, and with a decided tendency to darken with age - is generally the imported cat or having imported parents; the other is a larger cat, with a rounder head, a much thicker, longer, and less close-lying coat, and the eyes a paler blue (these cats do not darken as much or as soon as the other type, and have generally been bred for several generations in England).
"The kittens are born absolutely white, and in about a week a faint pencilling comes round the ears, and gradually all the points come. At four or five months they are lovely, as generally they retain their baby whiteness, which contrasts well with their almost black ears, deep brown markings, and blue eyes. Some kittens are much longer than others in getting dense, these making the lightest cats.
"This breed is said to be kept very carefully in the palace in Bangkok - hence the title 'royal' - and is by no means the common cat of Siam. One gentleman (a missionary), who had lived there fifteen years, had during that time seen only three. A few years ago there was a pair of these cats in the Zoological Gardens at Bangkok, but they were very poor specimens.
"They have occasionally been given by the King as presents of great value, and several pairs have come to England in this way; also kittens have undoubtedly been stolen from the palace from time to time.
"There is a legend that these cats were kept exclusively and with great care in the King's palace, as resting places for royal souls. The Siamese are Buddhists, and consequently believe in the transmigration of souls; but with the growth of Western ideas and Western scepticism I doubt this being admitted.
"They are very intelligent, almost doggy in their ways, and very affectionate, but not universally friendly. The males are great fighters, and freely use their terrible voices; but they are well suited for house pets, as they seem happiest with their human friends.
"The first specimens were brought to England about twenty-five or thirty years ago, and Mr. Harrison Weir says that among those who possessed them were Lady Dorothy Nevill, whose cats were 'imported and presented by Sir R. Herbert of the Colonial Office. The late Duke of Wellington imported the breed, also Mr. Scott of Rotherfield.'"
Lady Marcus Beresford's "Ursula."
(Photo: E. Landor, Ealing.)
Miss Armitage, of Chaseleyfield, Pendleton, has sent me some charming photographs of her pets. She writes: -
"I have very few cats at present; I lost so many beautiful Siamese last year, and I think I made rather a mistake in having their skins made into mats! 'Cora,' the mother of my Siamese cats and kits, is still a beauty, and I really think she improves with age; and though her eyes are not all I could wish for in colour, yet her kittens have always had the desired tone of blue. I have now a lovely daughter of 'Cora' and 'Champion Wankee,' aged nine months. When she was a few hours old I put her to be fostered by our old English garden tabby, who makes her headquarters in the greenhouse. This kitten has never had a day's illness. She leads a wild life, catching birds and mice, and nibbling the tips off the ferns - much to the gardener's annoyance. I am hoping to send her to our next National Cat Club show, if I can catch her that day, but she is generally up a tree when wanted!
"I find the way to succeed in breeding and rearing Siamese kittens is to only keep a few. I strongly believe in putting them forth into cottage homes. Distemper spreads like wildfire amongst this breed, and it is heartrending to lose whole litters at once. It is strange how much stronger the females are than the males. I have never lost a female kitten yet; but, alas! many a promising male."
I remember a beautiful male bred by Miss Armitage that she exhibited at one of the Manchester shows. "Sam Sly" was as near perfection as possible, and after taking everything in the way of prizes, medals, and championships this fine fellow came home and died! Mrs. Spencer, of Eye Vicarage, to whom I have alluded as a Siamese fancier, has bred so many large litters of kits that I wrote to ask if she would kindly give me and my readers the benefit of some of her experience in rearing young Siamese. She writes in repky: -
"My 'Royal Siam' came from the royal palace, and I consider him a splendid specimen. I did not breed from him until he was between three and four years old, which may be one of the reasons why all the kittens by him are so wonderfully strong and healthy. he has never ailed anything since I had him. I have never placed him at stud, but have allowed a few friends to send their queens to visit him. Neither have I ever exhibited him, for he is far too precious a pet to be allowed to run any risks. My queen 'Princess Maimowne' is also a fine strong cat, a daughter of Mrs. Carew Cox's 'King Kesho'; and many are the prize-winners bred from these two. I heat my catteries during the day in the winter, and at night in cold weather I give the cats a hot stone bottle in their sleeping boxes, for it is the damp and cold of our English winter nights which are so dangerous. The windows of my catteries face south, and this is important in rearing Siamese. I always allow my cats an abundance of fish; this I give - mixed with bread soaked in water - twice a day, with another meal of something different, thus making three meals a day. I boil all the milk. Sometimes I give a little cod-liver oil over their food - with very beneficial results. If the kittens have bad colds or any trifling ailment, I indulge them with a little finely cut up raw beef. I have been breeding Siamese for over five years, and I have only lost one kitten my own rearing. I think the reason of my success is that I never pass over the most trifling symptoms of illness, and it is very necessary to take the temperature of Siamese at the slightest sign of sickness. I send a great number of kittens away to purchasers, and I am most particular in the way I pack the kits for their journey. The basket outside should be covered with thick brown paper, leaving just a square piece in the lid for ventilation. Inside I line with new house flannel, and place a soft cushion at the bottom, and if verfy coldweather I put an indiarubber hot-water bottle under the cushion. If the cats have to pass through London, I arrange with the District Messengers Company to meet the cat and convey it to its destination or to another station. Thus dangerous delays are avoided at a very little cost."
As everyone knows, Lady Marcus Beresford has always been especially fond of Siamese cats, and many splendid specimens have inhabited the Bishopsgate cat cottage. At present "King if Siam" and "Kholua," and a quaint little female called "It," represent this breed. In the days gone by "Tachin" and "Cambodia" were the admired of all admirers, and I doubt if ever a more perfect pair has landed on these shores. These cats were given to Lady Marcus Beresford twelve years ago by the late Lord William Beresford, who brought them straight from the palace at Bangkok. Lady Marcus writes: -
"I never once had any trouble or anxiety with them - dear, gentle, friendly little people, so clever and attractive. i have never seen any I have so admired. They had many fine, healthy litters, scattered about now amongst various friends. My success all round was great with them - no illness of any kind, till one day a fiend poisoned both 'Tachin' and 'Cambodia,' and some of their six months kittens. I have replaced them with some bred in England; and my opinion is that, as a rule, the imported ones are much stronger. A pair of Siamese imported from the temple at Bangkok I purchased from Mrs. Vary Campbell, and had the great misfortune to lose them. They differed from the royal Siamese, being darker and having a more pointed head and face, and their eyes were larger and fuller.
"I consider that Siamese cats are much cleverer than other breeds, and with patience can be taught several clever tricks. I intend to go in more largely for them in th future."
Several of Lady Marcus Beresford's Siamese found their way into Mr. and Mrs. Hawkins' possession, and were exhibited from time to time, always gaining great distinction. Mrs. Hawkins possessesa daughter of "Tachin," and so hopes to keep up this unique strain. Mrs. Hawkins has some of the best arranged and very solid built catteries at Brighton, of which I give an illustration. These are specially adapted for the breeding of Siamese and silvers, the two varieties which find favour at Shalimar. A long experience with Siamese enables Mrs. Hawkins to write with authority, and I give her notes as given to me for the benefit of my readers: -
Miss Armitage's "Cora."
(Photo: Salmon & Batchan, New Bond Street, W.)
"The first thing you have to consider with regard to these animals is that when newly imported they are naturally delicate, and must be hardened off, so to speak, just as our delicate foreign birds have to be; that is to say, you cannot treat them at first as you would our ordinary fireside cats. If you are fortunate enough to pick up newly imported ones, even if you have to pay a good price for them, they will prove a good investment; and perhaps you may be able to get some from one of our numerous cat fanciers, though they are very scarce at present and difficult to obtain. My advise is to get the best possible pair, and let them breed in the spring in the house, if you can let them a spare room, which need not be warmed in any way. Leave the mother quietly with the kittens; and having provided a warm bed and bedding for them previously, leave them to nature as much as possible, just going in now and then to see that all is going on all right, and giving the mother warm milk, etc., and coaxing her to get used to you.
"Siamese cats are particularly gentle and affectionate, and if you are kind to them they soon get to knowand love you. It is a pity their nature is not more copied by human beings - then the world should not have so much dissention and wrangling in our cat fancy. But this is a digression! As the kittens get on it is as well to have a warm place outside prepared ready for them; but do not put them out too soon, and if they show the slightest suspicion of cold they must be brought in and allowed to get over it completely before being turned out in the garden or outhouses, with the others.
"My own Siamese kittens were born in a cat house in my garden at Brighton, but they were June kittens, so by that time we were having very nice weather. The father and mother I had as kittens; I pulled through their baby ailments successfully, and as soon as the weather was propitious and sunny I put them in their outside houses. Siamese and chinchilla kittens (both of which I go in for) must be hardened off gradually. They are just like English children brought from abrouad, who have to be carefully nurtured at first and trained to get used to our English climate.
"What we want is to establish a really healthy, strong strain of Siamese in England, and by following the above suggestions I think it is possible to do it - not without difficulty, as, of course, it takes a little time and trouble (like everything else), but what is worth having is worth trying for.
"I may say I won with my Siamese at Brighton shows every time I exhibited them, and am now starting breeding them again; and I think that everyone who will have the patience to go in for this charming variety will find themselves well repaid, as the kittens command £5 to £10 each if successfully reared, and sometimes more. Of course, one must keep a careful watch over the diet, and not over-feed (this is a great point, as they will contract skin diseases if you do); but all these things apply as much to all cats, and I cannot see why Siamese should be more difficult to breed and establish thoroughly in England than other cats. One of mine, a female, is out now (and has been all winter) in a brick cat-house, and is perfectly well. I have benn told Siamese are so delicate that people cannot rear them. This is often the fault of the people themselves, for if they will not take a little trouble over animals they cannot expect to make money by them. By this I do not mean fussing and worrying your serverants over them. Look after them yourselves, see that they are all right every day (a good feed twice a day is quite sufficient), and then your Siamese will soon be as healthy and strong as your other cats. All the points of a good Siamese are so well known that I need not touch upon them here. Start with a good strainm be carefulm be patient, and you will be rewarded in the end."
I have mentioned Mrs. Parker Brough as a breeder of Siamese cats, and I am indebted to her for the following account of her favourite breed: -
Pair of Siamese belonging to Mrs. Armitage.
(Photo: Salmon & Batchan, New Bond Street, W.)
"A peculiarity of royal Siamese is that the kittens are born white, and at about fourteen days the points begin to look rather grey, turning at two months to a deep seal-brown, while the rest of the body usually remains white or cream for at least a couple of years (the whiskers and claws remain white). The colouring process resembles nothing so much as that of a meerschaum pipe. There are distinct varieties of Siamese known to fanciers - the palace or royal cat, the temple cat (chocolate), and there is likewise the common cat of the country, which is also found within the palace. The points of the chocolate cat are identical for shows with those of the royal except body colour, but the imported chocolate is often dark chocolate, with blue eyes, stumpy tail with a marked kink, short legs, and heavy, thick body. There are not many chocolates exhibited, owing to the preference given to the royal variety.
"It must be understood that there is no definite royal breed as such, but the palace breed seems to have originated by selection. The Siamese as a nation are lovers of anything quaint or uncommon, and the white-bodied cats in Bangkok seem to have been given to, or bought by, the inhabitants of the palace, until they have established a breed of their own, and reproduced the cat that fanciers know to-day as the royal cat of Siam. This should explain a point which has given rise to much controversy, as travellers agree that other cats than royal Siamese are to be found inside the palace, yet the King and Prince Damurong have given from time to time royal Siamese to friends, naturally choosing for a present the cat that has the most value in their eyes. That is to say, that the term 'royal Siames' or 'royal cat of Siam' is a descriptive term applied to a particular variety of cat, and should imply no more than this. We have a parallel case in 'King Charles spaniels.' The temple cat is under the care of the Jan priests, who have the greatest reverence for animal life, and whose temple is a sanctuary for all animals.
"Those who have kept Siamese will readily understand that, given a climate to suit them, only one breed of cat would be left in the temple - i.e. the Siamese, for this breed is distinguished as much by its pluck and activity as by hatred for any other breed of cat. The common cat of Siam is very much the same as anywhere else, except that the Malay kink in the tail is to be found in many of them. Until recently the Siamese was but little known in Europe, but occasionally was to be found in the various zoological gardens. At present there is a fine female-specimen to be seen at the Zoo at Frankfurt-on-the-Main, having been purchased from the King of Roumania. One or two are to be seen at Berlin, and we understand some are to be seen at the Hague. London has the first one it has had for six years, but it is not shown owing to its want of condition.
"A point on which the Siamese fancy is divided is whether the ideal cat should have a kink in the tail or not. The Club remains neutral. 'Champion Wankee' has a decided kink, looking, in fact, as though the tail had been caught in a door in his early youth. 'Tiam-o-Shian IV.,' on the contrary, has none. This kink is a peculiarity of the animals of the Malay Peninsula, and sometimes is so marked, as to make the tail appear like a corkscrew, though others of the same litter may have quite straight tails. There is a peculiarity in breeding Siamese - i.e. the rarity of female kittens in a litter, the average seeming to be five males and two females. This may be due to the artificial lives so often led by these cats; and, if so, corrobates the theory of Herr Schenk, the Austrian doctor, of the probabilities of sex at birth. Three of the most noted male cats in England have been Mrs. Robinson's 'Champion Wankee,' Mrs. Vyvyan's 'Tiam-o-Shian IV.,' and Mrs. Parker Brough's 'Koschka.' Probably Mrs. Backhouse's 'Champion Eve' and Mrs. Vyvyan's 'Polyphema' were the best females exhibited. 'Koschka' was, perhaps, the finest cat we ever saw, having eyes of the most glorious blue imaginable. 'Koschka' died after the Westminster show of 1900. Owners run a great risk in sending their Siamese (especially kittens) to shows, as in addition to being more liable to take cold, are apt to fret themselves ill at being separated from their mistresses. many fanciers are leaving off showing Siamese for that reason - for instance, the Siamese classes were cancelled at the Westminster show of 1903 owing to lack of entries.
Mrs. Robinson's "Ah Choo."
Bred by Mrs. Vyvyan.
(Photo: E. Landor, Ealing)
"It is hard to say how they should be kept and how they should be fed. Some Siamese thrive by being treated just the same as ordinary cats, but they are few and far between. We have known cats which have been allowed to run about in the snow, and in and out of draughts, and remain perfectly healthy; and others, who seem quite strong as long as they are taken care of, catch cold and die if they get their feet wet. However, if their cattery is kept constantly at a temperature of 50 degrees, and they are fed on scraped beef, milk (without boracic acid or preservative), water, and vegetables they seem to do better than under any other conditions. Personally, we have two catteries - indoor and outdoor. The indoor one is fitted up with 'foster-mothers,' as used for chickens, on legs about three feet from the ground. We find this very necessary owing to the draughts on the floor. The rooms can be quickly warmed to any temperature required, even in the depth of winter. We like our grown-up cats loose about the house, but it is impossible to allow kittens their full liberty when there are many of them, as they are bound to get into mischief and do much damage to the furniture, climbing up curtains and breaking ornaments on mantelpieces and scratching leather, etc. Of course, they are allowed downstairs a portion of every day when their mistress is able to look after them. They are most fascinating, frolicsome little creatures. The outdoor catteries - for use in summer - consist of a house and greenhouse, with covered runs leading from them, and so arranged that any or every cat can be isolated at will. These arrangements have taken a great deal of anxiety off our shoulders.
"This breed is certainly the noisiest, least dignified, most intelligent, and most active of all the cats, They are dog-like in their nature, and can be easily taught to turn back somersaults, and to retrieve, and in the country take long walks like a terrier.
"If they think it is meal-time and they fancy themselves neglected, they cry like children. The points of the perfect royal Siamese lie in the eyes, which should be a most perfect blue, and the contrast between the seal-brown of the paws, mask, and tail and the white or cream of the rest of the body, which should not be distinguished by bars or blotches. Age should be taken into consideration in judging this contrast. There are many beautiful kittens shown that we never hear of again after they have grown up, age having blurred their coatsm thereby making the contrast less defined.
Mrs. Robinson's "Champion Wankee."
(Photo: E Landor, Ealing.)
"For travelling short distances there are few better travelling cases than a Canadian cheese box, with holes bored in the side. They are cheap (say 4d.), light, and damp and draught proof, and can be burnt after once using."
It will be gathered from the accounts given by Siamese fanciers that these cats, though delicate, with the exercise of care may be reared like ordinary ones of other breeds. Miss Cochran is very emphatic on this point. She says: -
"If Siamese are treated like common English cats, given plenty of fresh air and proper food, they are hardy and healthy; and by proper food I mean a meat diet - raw shin of beef, and as often as possible any kind of bird with the feathers on, or fowls' heads and mice. The fur and feathers act as a mechanical vermifuge. If the Siamese cats are coddled, they will certainly die. They have naturally rather delicate lungs, and for these fresh air is absolutely necessary; a close, hot atmosphere and heated rooms are fatal."
Mrs. Carew Cox I have alluded to as one of the pioneers of the Siamese fancy, and she still remains an ardent admirer of this breed, and often acts as judge. She has kindly written a very valuable article specially for this work, and I have therefore great pleasure in giving her interesting experience in this chapter on Siamese: -
The Property of Mrs. Vyvyan.
(Photo: E. Landor, Ealing.)
"Only those who possess Siamese can understand how reluctant a lover of this breed takes up a pen to endeavour to do justice to its characteristics - it is like attempting the impossible. One feels one must step softly - so to speak - in the presence of these wonderfully fascinating creatures, whose thoughtful yet penetrating eyes appear to see so far and so much, whose intelligence seems almost human, and who seldomly stay with us for long. Unfortunately, these cats are difficult to rear, the constant damp of our climate affecting their lungs and producing frequent colds and coughs, lowering vitality and causing debility.
"There are two recognised varieties of this breed - the royal and the chocolate. The former is certainly the most beautiful in appearance, the seal-brown points - sometimes black in adults - relieving the pale but rich cream colour of the rest of the body, and the brown mask forming a grand setting for the superbly blue eyes. the mask on the face should circle well above the eyes, but should not extend into the ear space; the cream colour should be in evidence beyond the circle; the ears should be seal and well and distinctly put on - i.e. the seal or brown should not merge into the cream; the legs, feet, and tail should be of the same shade of seal, the darker the better. The tail of a Siamese cat has been the subject of considerable discussion and argument, some preferring the straight tail and some the kinked. The former is surely the most to be desired for appearance sake; but the latter undeniably adds to the quaint and foreign appearance of the cat, and in Hong-Kong preference is given to them and higher prices paid for 'kinks.' The eyes should be large and luminous, of a bright shade of true blue, appearing flame-coloured at night or by artificial light; good specimens are often spoilt by small eyes, pale in colour. There appear to be two distinct types - the compactly built, short in body, short on legs, and round in head; and the long-bodied, long-faced, lithe, sinuous, and peculiarly foreign-looking variety. I am informed that the small cats are held in great esteem in Siam, some of the females being quite liliputian. It is a matter for regret that as the cat ages the beautiful clear cream colouring becomes cloudy and dark. There have been exceptions to this rule: the late 'Polyphema,' owned by Mrs. Vyvyan, retained her pale colouring and her well-defined points to the last, and was the mother of many very beautiful kittens. Male cats are generally larger than females, and possess voices, which demand instant attention.
The late "King Kesho."
(Photo: Phillips, Croydon.)
"The chocolate Siamese are of a rich chocolate or dark seal, with still more intense points. These cats usually possess eyes of rich amber. I have Miss Forestier-Walker's kind permission to utilise the following most interesting - and hitherto unpublished - extract from a letter received by her in October, 1902: -
'I am very pleased to write and give you the following information re Siamese cats. During a stay of some thirteen years in the Straits Settlements I have visited Siam on several occasions, and on one of these visits the present King of Siam gave a friend of mine a pair of cats. These cats were what the King called palace cats, were very valuable and perfect specimens, with short twisted tails. It may also interest you to know that the Siamese have a superstition about their cats, and like to have both breeds in their houses - i.e. the dark, coffee-coloured ones with yellow or golden-coloured eyes, and the cream-coloured with blue or silver eyes. The idea is that the yellow-eyed cats will bring gold and the blue-eyed silver, hence if you have both breeds there will always be plenty in the house.'
"I advocate that all kittens should be reared by healthy English foster-mothers, and am convinced that if breeders would adopt this plan we should in time succeed in establishing a far stronger breed of cats. As matters now stand, the kittens inherit and develop many ailment or weakness to which their mothers may be subject, so that from the very commencement of their existence they have but little chance of becoming strong and healthy enough to withstand our climate of many moods.
"Plenty of sun and air they require, but damp and draughts are fatal. All young kittens should be encouraged to take exercise; empty cotton reels cause hours of amusement, also a rabbit's foot tied on to string or otherwise; corks of any description must be avoided. Large bones should be given when the kittens are two months old - they assist the growth of teeth; small ones, such as of game, chicken, or fish, are dangerous. The best and safest of all is a bullock's foot boiled down and pulled apart; these bones will occupy kittens for a considerable time.
Lady Marcus Beresford's "Cambodia."
(Photo: E. Landor, Ealing.)
"Worms cause an enormous mortality amongst Siamese, and are, I feel convinced, at the root of nearly every ailment from which cats or kittens suffer; therefore, however reluctant one may feel as to giving medicine to youngsters of tender age, it is better to do this than to run the risk of these odious parasites establishing themselves, for they are most difficult to dislodge permanently. I have used Saunder's worm powders with considerable success. Of course, the dose for kittens must be administered in minute quantity - just a small pinch given in warm olive oil early in the morning after an all-night fast. In giving the powder to adults I always enclose it in capsules. In cases of weakness or exhaustion a few drops of brandy or whisky in a teaspoonful of warm milk works wonders. It is often necessary to give some sort of tonic after medicine of this description.
"Siamese kittens should be well fed; not much at a time, but little and often - lean scraped beef of mutton, vegetables, stale bread and gravy, boiled fish, rabbit, raw eggs, milk (previously boiled); in fact, anything light and nourishing. The remains of a meal should never be left on the floor. These kittens' digestions are not strong, and their intestines are most delicately formed.
"The colour of the eyes of Siamese kittens should be well determined at eight weeks. They are most interesting and playful at this age; a tunnel made of newspapers will afford endless amusement, and after a long and energetic game of play they will sleep for hours. It is not desirable to lift or handle them more than can be avoided whilst they are very young. In cases of bad colds or coughs, a simple but usually effective remedy is a mixture of three pennyworth of oil of almonds and three pennyworth of syrup of violets, mixed by a chemist - a quarter of a teaspoonful thrice daily (it is absolutely necessary to shake the bottle thoroughly before administering the medicine). For an adult an eggspoonful three times daily may be given. Cod-liver oil is always safe (also the best olive oil), and helps to build up the constitution. As a tonic I know of nothing to equal half-grain (coated) quinine pills, given early each morning for a few days now and again. In cases of bronchitis, Carvill's Air Purifier (about a teaspoonful) should be placed in boiling water, and the cat or kitten made to inhale the steam several times daily, and particularly the first thing in the morning and the last at night.
Pugs paying a visit to the Siamese.
"For adults suffering from bad throat complaint and total refusal of all food I have found no remedy to equal the following prescription, if given in time. I have administered it with great success to numberless cats: Forty drops Calvert's pure carbolic acid, two drachms spirits of wine, six ounces pure water. Not quite half a teaspoonful to be mixed with a teaspoonful of warm milk, poured down the throat three times daily; for very young cats a smaller quantity of the mixture should be given. I doubt if it would be advisable to give it to young kittens. Even if the cat does not swallow the whole dose, it acts beneficially as a mouth-wash and disinfectant, apparently removing an unpleasant taste and re-establishing the power to smell - the loss of this sense often preventing a sick cat from eating. Weak eyes, sickness, and diarrhœa are tedious ailments to which all kittens are very subject, and to effect a permanent cure the treatment must be very persistent.
"I do not know when Siamese were first introduced into England, but Lady Dorothy Nevill possessed some several years ago. Sir Robert Herbert imported some; and Miss Forestier-Walker and her sister (Mrs. Vyvyan), who have owned and bred many beautiful specimens, first made acquaintance with this breed in 1883, and soon afterwards were presented with 'Susan' and 'Samuel' direct from the palace at Bangkok. 'Tiam-o-Shian I.' also came from Bangkok. All these cats had kinked tails. From 'Susan' and 'Tiam-o-Shian I.' - mated with Mrs. Lee's 'Meo,' Mr. Harrington's 'Medu,' and Miss Moore's 'Siam' - descended, amongst others, the following well-known and typical cats: 'Bangkok,' 'Tiam-o-Shian II.,' 'Goblin,' 'Kitza Kara,' 'Queen Rhea,' 'King Wallypug,' 'Prince of Siam,' 'Tiam-o-Shian III.,' 'Adam,' 'Eve,' 'Cupid,' 'Mafeking,' 'Rangsit,' 'Vishuddha,' 'Tiam-o-Shian IV.,' 'Suzanne,' 'Ah Choo,' 'Tornito,' and 'Evangeline.' In awarding prizes in the Siamese classes at the Cat Club show at Westminster in 1901 I found 'Suzanne' quite the best cat present, and upon referring subsequently to a catalogue was not surprised to find that Mrs. Vyvyan was her owner. 'Champion Wankee' for a long time held his own in the show pen, and has sired some very good kittens; but, of course, as usual, age has darkened him.
Mrs. Hawkins' cattery.
"Mrs. Robinson's 'Ah Choo' and Mr. Cooke's 'Zetland Wanzes' are well-known cats of to-day. Lady Marcus Beresford's 'King od Siam' is imported, has glorious eyes of sapphire-blue, and sires exceptionally good kittens; he is short on the leg, has a coat like satin and an excellent constitution. 'Royal Siam,' the property of Mrs. Spencer, of Eye Vicarage, Suffolk (who has bred some of the best kittens I have ever seen), is a superb creature with eyes of deepest blue; he was given to a friend of Mrs. Spencer in Siam, is a genuine royal palace-bred specimen with bright blue eyes, a handsome cat with strictly typical points, and - he is never ill! Miss Harper's (late) 'Curly Tail,' a daughter of 'King Kesho,' was an excellent example of the breed, all her points were very good; unfortunately her life was not of long duration - she died a victim to dropsy. It is so long ago since I first possessed a Siamese kitten that I cannot remember from whom I purchased her; she was a very perfect little creature, absolutely adorable with her quaint ways, appealing and yet assertive nature.
"After her death from rapid decline I tried to put aside all thoughts of securing another, and not until September, 1893, did I again fall victim to the attractions of this breed, purchasing a female of about one year old from Zache, of Great Portland Street. I named her 'Yuthia'; she was supposed to have been imported, had very expressive blue eyes, and lived until February, 1899.
"In October, 1893 - immediately after the Crystal Palace show - I became the owner of 'Kitza Kara,' a very perfect male, bred by Miss Forestier-Walker, which won first prize and several medals and specials. He also carried all before him at Bath in March, 1894. Unfortunately, he died that year from congestion on the lungs.
"'King Kesho,' the well-known male (sire of many beautiful kittens), I bought from Mr. Forsgate in 1894; he claimed descent from the Duchess of Bedford's, Mrs. Seton-Kerr's, and Miss Forestier-Walker's cats; he had large bold eyes of a glorious shade of blue, and very dark points; he won many prizes and specials, but died in 1897. 'Lido,' a male bred by Mrs. Chapman and sired by 'Champion Wankee,' was descended from some of the best of his time; he was of the long-bodied, narrow-faced type, most graceful in his movements.
"Amongst the many females I have possessed, 'Cameo' was one of my best, her pale body colour being relieved by intensely dark points; this little pet died suddenly in July, 1896, from failure of the heart's action. 'Koko' was a very large cat, comparatively coarse in appearance for one of this variety; she won the Duchess of Bedford's special at Holland Park in 1896, for the best adult Siamese. 'Princess To-To' 1900, bred by Mrs. Bennet, became a great favourite; no words of mine could ever do justice to her remarkable individuality, her fascinating moods, her expressive little face and sense of the comic. She loved to be sung to sleep, closing her eyes with an unmistakable air of enjoyment and confidence, and clearly requesting an encore when the song ceased. I taught her to dance, and every night at ten o'clock the frantically enjoyed prancing round the room on her hind legs.
"Alas, that these little companions to whom we are permitted to become so deeply attached should be only lent us to brighten our weary way for so short a period! 'To-To' was always very delicate, and after lying at death's door on several occasions she finally entered in; with her very last breath she crept into my arms to die. 'Yolanda,' the female I now own, was presented to me by Mrs. Hankey, and bred, I believe, by Mrs. Foote. She is a small cat with very blue eyes, and has recently had a litter of five kittens by Lady Marcus Beresford's 'King of Siam'; these kittens all possessed the gloriously blue eyes to which both of their parents can lay claim.
"Romeo" and "Juliette."
The Property of Mrs. Vary Campbell.
(Photo: J. Clapperton, Galashiels.)
"'Attaché' (a neuter) was given to me in October, 1900, when six months old, by Mrs. Spencer, of Eye Vicarage, Suffolk; he is a very large and powerful creature, with massive limbs, and an unconquerable antipathy to all other cats of any description, excepting only my Russian neuter, whose presence he tolerates. So great is his aversion to even the semblance of a cat, that he has attacked a life-size print of an assertive-looking Persian that acted as a stove ornament in the room he occupied during the summer months, scratching it several times across and across, and then retiring behind it, evidently to watch the effect from another point of view! He has large and luminous eyes, in whose unfathomable depths linger many and varied expressions; he is of a peculiar jealous disposition, capable of intense devotion. In spite of his living the life of a recluse, he is by no means a victim of ennui, possessing his own special play-things, which he keeps under one particular cushion, hunting them out when he feels inclined to play; for so large a cat he is remarkably athletic, and as yet his health has caused me no anxiety.
"It is highly desirable that all who own cats should keep a few simple medicines always at hand. Personally, I am never without the remedies previously alluded to. Delay, in neglecting to note and treat at the very commencement certain symptoms of illness, often proves fatal, whereas a 'stitch in time saves nine,' and may even save one of the nine lives that a cat is (or was) supposed to possess."
The love of Siamese cats has not seemed as yet to have developed in America, and specimens of the breed are few and far between. Lady Marcus Beresford sent out two good cats to Mrs. Clinton Locke, and I believe several fine litters have been reared, and some fine exhibits appeared at recent shows. I give an illustration of some of these pets, with Mrs. Robert Locke, on page 256.
In the foregoing remarks of noted breeders of this variety many useful hints are given, and some peculiarities of the breed mentioned. I would, however, draw attention to a curious and rather remarkable fact in connection with Siamese cats.
When they are ill, a sprinkling of white hairs invariably appears all over the face and head, the bright blue of the eye vanishes, leaving it a sort of pale opal colour. It often takes many weeks before the cat regains its ordinary appearance. Harrison Weir, in his allusions to Siamese, tells us that he had observed a great liking of these cats for "the woods," and goes on to describe them as not passing along like an ordinary cat, but quickly and quietly creeping from bush to bush; nor do they seem afraid of getting their feet wet - like the feline tribe in general. The male Siamese will take a most friendly and parental interest in the welfare of madame's family, indeed, he shows a great liking always to have the company of a lady, and frets greatly when left alone.
The males are, however, antagonistic to others of their sex, and fight with a terrible persistency. I have heard of a stalwart fellow who, being allowed his liberty, cleared the neighbourhood of all other wandering toms. When made neuter, Siamese become most charming home pets, and can be taught to do tricks more easily than other cats. The sole objection to a Siamese house cat is the trying nature of its unmelodious voice. Siamese are rather prolific breeders, the litters being generally large ones, and the females, as a rule, in the minority.
I do not believe that Siamese will ever become common in England, for many reasons. these cats are expensive to purchase, difficult to rear, and fanciers are afraid to risk them in the show pen; but in spite of these drawbacks, I think, as time goes on, and the Siamese Club extends its labours, we shall see and hear more of these really curious creatures, for what we call the royal Siamese bears no resemblance to any other cat, and the distinguishing differences, being so great, tend to make the breed one of our best show cats and a clear class to itself, for the Siamese of the purest blood should not be crossed with other cats. We have heard of "any other colour" Siamese, but these cats of varied hue claiming to be Siamese are but the offspring of a cross. We have been told of black and blue and tabby Siamese; but the fanciers of Siamese look askance at these freaks, and feel that it is worse than useless to attempt to produce any other variety than that which we have learned by custom to designate the Royal cat of Siam.
If a census could be taken of the cats in England, or even in London, I suppose the proportions of short-haired cats to long-haired cats would be about ten to one. In the cat fancy, however, the breeders of Persians in comparison with those of the short-haired varieties are far more numerous. In former days, when cat shows were first held at the Crystal Palace, the premier position was given to the short-haired breeds. On reference to the catalogues up to 1895 I find the following heading at the commencement: "Class I. Short-haired Cats: He Cats, Tortoiseshell or Tortoiseshell-and-White." Then followed the rest of the short-haired varieties, including Siamese, Manx, and blue (self colour).
The long-haired breeds, therefore, in those days had to play second fiddle, so to speak. It was in 1896, when the National Cat Club took over the Crystal Palace shows, that the place of honour was given to the long-haired or Persian cats ; and now, as all the world knows - or, at any rate, all the cat world - at every show the short-haired cats are in a very small minority.
At one time - not so very long ago - there was a danger of these breeds becoming an unknown quantity at our shows. This would have been a grievous pity ; so some champions of the household or homely puss arose, and Sir Claud and Lady Alexander founded in 1901 the British Cat Club, to encourage the breeding, exhibiting, and kind treatment of these cats. The subscription first started at 5s., but was reduced to 2s. 6d., so as to try to get members of the poorer classes to join and take an interest in the welfare of pussy. A goodly number of members' names are now on the list, and much has been done in supporting shows by offering specials - chiefly in money - and in the generous guaranteeing of classes. The hon. secretary and treasurer is Sir Claud Alexander, Faygate Wood, Sussex. There is a Scottish branch of this club, of which the secretary is Miss Leith, Ross Priory, Alexandria, N.B.
The property of Mrs. E. A. Clark.
It was also in 1901 that the Short-haired Cat Society was founded by Mr. Gambier Bolton, whose name is so well known in the animal world. At most of the principal shows this society is represented, and some handsome challange cups and prizes are placed for competition. The hon. secretary is Mrs. Middleton, 67, Cheyne Court, Chelsea, and the annual subscription is 5s., and 2s. 6d. to working classes.
In considering the short-haired breeds, I will divide them into three sections - viz. selfs or whole colours, broken colours, and any other distinct variety. The Siamese and Manx cats I have dealt with in previous chapters, and foreign cats will have a corner to themselves later on ; so I propose to deal first with those interesting short-haired self-coloured cats formerly called Russian or Archangel, and which in America are termed Maltese.
There has been a good deal of discussion lately as to the points desirable in these cats, which of recent years have clearly become a species of British cats, and therefore are rightly classed as such at our shows, instead of as Russians. Yet this latter name sticks to the variety, and no doubt there are still some real foreign short-haired blues to be found, differing, however, in type from those we have become accustomed to breed and exhibit in England. Harrison Weir and John Jennings, in their book on cats in the early days of the fancy, deal with cats called Russians amongst the long-haired breeds, and these are described by them as larger in body and shorter in legs than Persians, with a coat of woolly texture interspersed with wiry, coarse hairs. In colour we are told they were generally dark tabby, the markings being rather indistinct.
I do not think such cats are to be found now in our midst, and so I presume this species of long-haired cat has died out. Anyhow, the term "Russian," when now used, is meant to designate the self-coloured, smooth-haired cat with which we are all familiar. Certainly, the best blues I have been bred in England, or that, at least, can boast an English sire or dam ; and, after writing right and left to breeders of British cats, I have had a difficulty in obtaining any really good photographs. I cannot, however, complain of the pictures of the blue short-hairs which illustrate these pages, and which have been really showered upon me. I have failed, however, to be able to illustrate the difference between the foreigners and Britishers.
"BALLOCHMYLE BLUE QUEEN."
Belonging to Lady Alexander.
That there are two distinct types of these blue cats is apparent to anyone who observes the specimens exhibited at our shows. The foreign or imported variety have wedge-shaped faces, and are longer and larger in the head, with prominent ears ; otherwise, in colour and coat, they are similar to those bred in England, and which partake of the same formation as an ordinary British cat. In describing the correct texture of coat of these short-haired blues, I would compare it to plush, for the hair does not lie softly on the slope, but has a tendency to an upright growth, and yet the coat should not have any suspicion of coarseness or roughness to the touch. We know the difference between silk and cotton plush, and it is to the former I would liken the correct coat of these blues. Needless to say that, as in all self-coloured cats, the colours should be absolutely even - of a bluish lilac tint, without any sootiness or rusty shade. As in other breeds of "selfs," the young kittens exhibit distinct tabby markings, but these vanish as the coat grows, and many a ringed tail which may have caused distress to the breeder will as time goes on be proudly held aloft without a suspicion of any blemish. The blues now exhibited appear generally to fail in eye, the colour being yellow, and often green or greenish-yellow ; whereas a special feature of this breed should be a deep orange eye, round and full. Another fault which is sometimes apparent is too thick a tail, which is suggestive of a long-haired ancestor. The following is an interesting letter from Mrs. H. V. James which appeared in Fur and Feather: -
MRS. CAREW COX'S BLUE MALE "BAYARD."
I am very interested in the discussion on the blue Russians, as years ago I had a perfect type of a blue Russian, which had been imported. When Russians were judged as Russians it won well at shows, so you may like to have a description of the cat - which is, I believe, a correct one, according to several authorities on Russian cats. A real Russian should be longer in the leg than the English blue. The head is pointed and narrow ; the ears large, but round ; tail long, full near the body, but very tapering. According to the English taste, it is not a pretty cat, and only excels over the British blue in the colour and quality of its coat, which is much shorter and softer than the latter. The true colour is a real lavender-blue, of such softness and brilliancy that it shines like silver in a strong light. The eyes are amber. I think it a great mistake to give "Russian" in our show classification now, as these are almost extinct in England, I believe, and our principal clubs have been wise in the same way that "Persian" has been dropped for "Long-haired Cats." The last time I showed my Russian was at the first Westminster show, in a class for Russians. She was, however, beaten by the round-headed British blue, although she was, I believe, the only Russian in the class. In 1901 the class was altered to "Short-haired Blues," which was more correct, as few of the blues shown then had anything of the Russian about them, either in shape or coat. As these classes are now arranged, it would be unfair to judge them except by the standard of our own short-haired cats, and I think that if a club wants to encourage Russians it should give the extra class, "Blue Russian," and let it be judged as such. I must own it is disappointing for a Russian owner, who, seeing "Russian Blue" only given in the schedule, enters his cat accordingly, and gets beaten by a short-haired blue failing in just the points that the Russian is correct in. I know my feelings after Westminster, 1899, when my Russian was described as "grand colour, texture of coat, failing to winner in width of head and smallness of ears." The blue short-hairs now shown are, I know, far more beautiful with their round heads and shorter legs ; but, unfortunately, the beautiful is not always the correct type. As British cats, however, they are both beautiful and correct, so why not drop the Russian name altogether? I had a most amusing talk with a blue Russian (?) owner the other day, and a good laugh with him over the ancestors of his "Russian" blues.
ANNIE P. JAMES.
At the Crystal Palace show of 1902 Mr. Woodiwiss judged the blue classes, and awarded first to a cat having the English type of head. He gave as his reasons that although he considered the long nose and thin head the right shape for a Russian, yet, he added, "I am not here to judge on those lines ; I have to judge according to the standard, which gives preference to round head, neat ears, and short nose ; and, although I really believe Mrs. Walker's blue 'Moscow' to be the nearest in type to those I have seen in Eastern countries, yet according to our English breeders' standard it is out of it, and I can only give it reserve." Mr. Mason, our ablest judge of all classes of cats, upheld Mr. Woodiwiss in his awards, and makes the following remarks in Fur and Feather of February, 1903, in reporting on the Manchester show: - "I hope exhibitors and breeders of short-haired self-blues will take my remarks in the spirit in which they are written. I am glad to see that the Manchester committee named the classes 'Blues (Male)' and 'Blues (Female).' To call them Russians is a mistake, seeing that a very large number of those exhibited are crosses from some other varieties. To all intents the self blues, as we find them to-day, have little of the Russian blood in them. Then why call them Russian? Why not "self blues," and judge them on the same lines as the British short-haired cats? What I want to obtain is a uniform type. To go for two opposite types in one class of exhibits cannot be right or advantageous to breeders or exhibitors."
"SHERDLEY SACHA II." "SHERDLEY SACHA I."
Breeders of short-haired blues have never been many in number, nor has there ever appeared any startlingly good specimen in the show pen. Mr. Woodiwiss kept and exhibited several fine specimens - "Blue Boy," "Blue King," and "Blue Queen." The two latter have been passed on to Lady Alexander. Mr. Mariner, of Bath, is an old exhibitor and great enthusiast of this breed. Mrs. Middleton, Mrs. Herring, Mrs. Crowther, Miss Butler, Mrs. Illingworth, and Mrs. Pownall have all from time to time been possessed of fairly good Russians so called. Mr. Cole used to show a lovely fat-faced cat called "Muff," but she had green eyes. Mr. Dewar's "Firkins" and Mr. McNish's "St. Juan" are blues that have made their name.
The three principal breeders at the present time of these cats are Lady Alexander, Mrs. Michael Hughes, and Mrs. Carew Cox. It is at the Crystal Palace shows that an opportunity is given of admiring the fine team of blues from the Faygate cattery. "Brother Bump" has won a first prize whenever he has appeared in the show pen, and, curiously enough, each time under a different judge. He is a full champion, and special prizes have been showered upon him. Besides this handsome fellow, Lady Alexander owns another male - "Blue King" - and two good females.
At Sherdley Hall, in Lancashire, there is quite a colony of blues owned by Mrs. Michael Hughes.
The cats are reared in outside and unwarmed houses, with ample wired-in runs. All the Sherdley cats are prize-winners. I am able to give illustrations of "Alexis Michael" and the two "Sachas." The first named has been quoted as a typical British blue.
Mrs. Carew Cox is a most ardent supporter and successful breeder of short-haired blues. As she has had a long and varied experience, I asked her to send me some notes. I have pleasure in publishing them for the benefit of my readers: -
"Blue short-haired cats - many of them imported from Northern Russia - make very desirable pets, presenting, as they do, a neat, smart, 'tailor-built' appearence all the year round, and possessing the great intelligence usually to be met with in all short-haired breeds. They have the advantage over many other varieties in that they are, as adults, strong, healthy cats - not at all liable, as a rule, to pulmonary attacks. Kittens, however, require both care and patience to rear successfully, and, strange to say, attain sounder constitutions when brought up by healthy English foster-mothers. Females are more difficult to rear than males. A Russian cat should be of an even shade of blue throughout, even the skin itself being often - in fact, generally - of a bluish tinge. There should be no stripes or bars, and - for exhibition purposes - there should be no white patches. Kittens frequently have body markings when very young, also rings on their tails ; but in pure-bred specimens these defects generally become effaced before they are many weeks old. In one case a kitten (now a large neuter) had until five months of age two broad black stripes down his back on either side of his spine ; they were so decided in appearence that it seemed very doubtful that they would ever disappear. However, at six months old he was a perfectly self-coloured cat! This is, of course, most remarkable and unusual, and amongst all the many kittens of this breed that I have reared for the past thirteen years there has never been another presenting a similar appearence.
Owned by Mrs. Woodcock.
(Photo: S. Richardson, Standish.)
"The eyes of a Russian should be golden in colour, or deep orange. To procure deep-coloured eyes, experiments have been made in crossing Russians with Persians, but the results - so far as I have seen - have not proved satisfactory, and to an experienced eye the cross is perceptible. I believe there is no really recognised standard of points for this breed, which until quite recently was comparatively little known. I note that there is a very fair demand for Russians at the present time - chiefly, strange to say, from the North of England. The shape of the head in many of those imported is more pointed than round ; indeed, some have long, lean, pointed heads and faces, with big ears. The backs of the ears should be as free from hair as possible ; some, I remark, are entirely devoid of hair on the upper parts of their ears - at least, if there is any, it is not perceptible to the naked eye. Others, again, have ears covered with peculiarly fine, close, silky hair. Some imported blues are very round in face and head, with tiny ears, and eyes set rather wide apart. These are surely the prettiest, and are generally given the preference at shows ; but, of course, it cannot be denied that the long-faced variety present the most foreign appearence, more especially when this type also possesses a lithe and rather lean body. The whiskers, eye-lashes, and tip of nose should all be dark blue.
"The coat should be short and close, glossy, and silvery ; sometimes it is rather woolly and furry, Nature having evidently provided these cats with their warm, close coats to enable them to resist the severities of their native climates, short-haired blues existing also in the north of Norway, Iceland, and - I am told - in some parts of the United States. Many years were imported from the north of Norway ; these were called 'Canon Girdlestone's breed.' I owned two very pretty soft-looking creatures. Blue-and-white cats have been imported from the north of Russia, and are particularly attractive when evenly marked.
"Some blues are far paler in colour than others. Amongst my kittens are frequently some very beautiful lavender-blues ; I have remarked that these are rather more delicate in constitution than those of darker hue. As these cats advance in years they frequently become a rusty brown during the summer months, or when acquiring fresh coat ; this discoloration asserts itself principally at the joints of legs and feet. The fur of a very old cat becomes dull and rough, losing the soft and glossy appearence identical with the blue Russian in his prime.
MRS. CAREW COX'S "YULA."
"There are some people who appear to wish to assert that there is an English breed of blues, and I have been told strange tales of unexpected meetings in country villages with cats of this colour, whose owners declared that both parents were English bred. As, however, it is not always possible to identify the sires of household cats, I venture to doubt these assertions. It is sometimes possible to breed blues from a black English female mated to a Russian male. This experiment does not always succeed, as some blacks never breed blues, although mated several times consecutively with Russians. A white English female mated to a blue male simply produces white kittens - at least, this has been my experience. Cats imported from Archangel are generally of a deep, firm blue throughout ; the eyes and ears rather larger than those of English cats, the head and legs longer. In many of the Russian peasants' cabins can be seen a curious coloured print (executed in Moscow). It represents the burial of the cat after a dramatic fashion, and derives its origin from a very interesting Russian legend. The cat is represented as slate-coloured.
"It is often impossible to decide the ultimate colour of a kitten's eyes until it is four months old. They vary very much, sometimes giving one the impression that they are green, and perhaps a few days afterwards one discovers them to be yellow! As these cats become better known they naturally increase in popularity, and I should not be surprised to hear of several well-established kennels of this breed in the immediate future.
"It is many years ago since I first made acquaintance with this breed ; but I find I made no notes at the time, so cannot give full particulars. In 1889, however, I purchased a smooth blue, whose owner declared her to be a Siamese - she certainly resembled a puma-shaped Siamese in her body outline and movements - and I believe I entered her in the stud book as such. 'Dwina' won many prizes at Crystal Palaceand other shows in 'any variety' classes, was a most faithful creature, reared many families, and lived until June, 1901. In 1890 I owned a very pretty soft-looking blue female - she was, in fact, a blue tabby (one of Canon Girdlestone's breed) ; also a male of the same variety. They had evidently been the victims of tape-worm for a considerable period, and finally succumbed owing to the presence of these odious parasites in overwhelming numbers. That same year 'Kola' - a very pretty blue-and-white female - became mine. She was imported from Kola, and after changing hands more than once whilst at sea she was finally exchanged at the London docks for a leg of mutton! A very lovable little cat was 'Kola,' with very round face and very soft fur. She lived until November, 1900, and evidently died from old age, becoming feeble and toothless, but quite able to enjoy the soft food that was specially prepared for her. These two old pets - 'Dwina' and 'Kola' - were a great loss, after twelve and ten years' companionship. 'Lingpopo' - an extremely beautiful blue - was imported from Archangel, very sound in colour, rather long in face and legs, sleek, sinuous, and graceful, peculiarly lethargic in her movements, and dainty in her deportment. I bought her in 1893, when she was seven months old. Unfortunately, a disease of the kidneys carried her off when in the flower of her existence. 'Moscow' (1893) was a very successful blue Russian sire of many kittens ; he won many first and special prizes ; he died in 1897, during my absence from home. In 1895 Lady Marcus Beresford presented me with a very handsome kitten - a male - with a very thick yet close coat, and very compact in shape. 'Olga' came to me in 1893 or 1894, and still lives ; she was imported, and has been a great winner in her time, but is getting an old cat now. She is the mother of my stud cat 'Bayard,' who was born in 1898, and whose sire was 'King Vladimir.' 'Fashoda' was born in 1896, and was imported ; she is a large, strong cat, and a winner of many prizes. 'Odessa' is a daughter of 'Fashoda' by 'Blue Gown.' 'Yula' came to me in 1901, and was imported from Archangel. 'Sing Sing' (neuter) is the cat that as a kitten had the peculiar black stripes down his spine alluded to previously. He was born on Easter Monday, 1899, a son of 'Fashoda' and 'Muchacho.' He has two toes off one of his hind feet - the result of a heavy weight falling upon his foot when a kitten ; he suffered greatly from shock, and every day for three weeks he paid visits to the doctor, who dressed his foot, having previously amputated the toes. The little fellow had a sad time, but he does not miss his toes now.
LADY ALEXANDER OF BALLOCHMYLE.
(Photo: Lafayette, Ltd.)
"'Muchacho,' the stud cat that has sired so many winning kittens, is a son of Mrs. Herring's (late) 'Champion Roguey' and my (late) 'Lingpopo.' I sold him as a kitten, but after two people had had him I again became his owner, and now he will never leave me until he is called to the 'happy hunting grounds' that I hope, and think, must be prepared for all faithful creatures somewhere 'beyond the veil.'"
In America the classification given for these cats at the Beresford Cat Club show is "Blue or Maltese," but I have not heard of any ardent fanciers of this breed over the water. More will be written on the so-called Maltese cat by one well qualified to give information later on in this work.
I have alwways been told what delightful pets these blues become, being extremely intelligent and affectionate. Mrs. Bagster, the Cat Club's hon. secretary, owns a splendid fellow - one of Mrs. Carew Cox's well-known strain. At the time of writing there is no specialist club for short-haired blues, but they are included in the list of the British Cat Club, founded by those ardent supporters of the short-haired breeds, Sir Claud and Lady Alexander. No standard of points has been drawn up for these cats, but the following definitions are descriptive of the two types exhibited at our shows: -
"BALLOCHMYLE CHAMPION BROTHER BUMP."
BRITISH BLUE (SHORT-HAIR).
Head. - Round and flat, with good space between the ears, which are small and well set on.
Shape. - Cobby in build, round quarters, and good in bone substance.
Coat. - Short and close, of sound blue colour throughout. Legs and feet shade lighter in colour, with no bars or markings.
Eyes. - Deep orange in colour.
Head longer in formation, has space between the ears, more prominent in ears, and well-tapered face ; fairly round under the cheek bone, thin, falls away under the eye.
Comes out rather longer in back. Less bone substance.
Colour same as the British short-hair, with no bars or markings.
Eyes deep orange colour.
MEXICAN HAIRLESS CATS.
A most extraordinary variety, of which next to nothing appears to be known, is the hairless cat, and we cannot do better than quote in extenso the description given by the owner of what, if his surmise should unhappily prove to be correct, was the last pair of these peculiar animals, a portrait of which we give.
Albuquerque, New Mexico,
February 3rd, 1902.
MR. H. C. BROOKE.
Dear Sir, - Yours of January 20th is at hand. In answer would say my hairless cats are brother and sister. I got them from the Indians a few miles from this place. The old Jesuit Fathers tell me they are the last of the Aztec breed known only in New Mexico. I have found them the most intelligent and affectionate family pets I have ever met in the cat line ; they are the quickest in action and smartest cats I have ever seen. They are fond of a warm bath, and love to sleep under the clothes at night with our little girl. They seem to understand nearly everything that is said to them ; but I have never had time to train them. They are marked exactly alike - with mouse-coloured backs ; with neck, stomach, and legs a delicate flesh tint. Their bodies are always warm and soft as a child's. They love to be fondled and caressed, and are very playful ; will run up and down your body and around your waist like a flash. "Nellie" weighs about eight pounds, and "Dick" weighed ten pounds ; but I am sorry to say we have lost "Dick." We have never allowed them to go out of the house, as the dogs would be after them. They were very fond of our water spaniel, and would sleep with her. "Dick" was a sly rascal, and would steal out. One night last year he stole out, and the dogs finished him. His loss was very great, as I may never replace him. The Chicago Cat Club valued them at 1,000 dollars each. They were very anxious for me to come on with them for their cat shows, but I could not go. They were never on exhibition ; as this is a small city, I feared they would be stolen. I have made every endeavour to get another mate for "Nellie," but have not been successful. I never allowed them to mate, as they were brother and sister, and I thought it might alter "Nellie's" beautiful form, which is round and handsome, with body rather long. In winter they have a light fur on back and ridge of tail, which falls off in warm weather. They stand cold weather same as other cats. They are not like the hairless dogs, whose hide is solid and tough ; they are soft and delicate, with very loose skin. "Nellie" has a very small head, large amber eyes, extra long moustache and eyebrows ; her voice now is a good baritone, when young it sounded exactly like a child's. They have great appetites, and are quite dainty eaters - fried chicken and good steak is their choice. Have never been sick an hour. The enclosed faded picture is the only one I have at present ; it is very lifelike, as it shows the wrinkles in its fine, soft skin. "Dick" was a very powerful cat ; could whip any dog alone ; his courage, no doubt, was the cause of his death. He always was the boss over our dogs. I have priced "Nellie" at 300 dollars. She is too valuable a pet for me to keep in a small town. Many wealthy ladies would value her at her weight in gold if they knew what a very rare pet she is. I think in your position she would be a very good investment to exhibit at cat shows and other selected events, as she doubtless is the only hairless cat now known. I have written to Old Mexico and all over this country without finding another. I would like to have her in some large museum, where she would interest and be appreciated by thousands of people. - Trusting this will reach you in safety, I am, very truly yours, F. J. SHINICK.
We can only add, whilst deeply regretting that Mr. Shinick did not mate his cats, the earnest hope that we may hear that he has discovered the existence of other specimens. Should it prove that a parcel of street curs are responsible for this curious variety becoming extinct, even such confirmed dog lovers as ourselves are almost tempted to acquiesce in a universal and everlasting muzzling order! It is to be regretted that no information is given as to whether the dentition of these cats was abnormal and imperfect, as is the case with the Mexican hairless dogs.