Breeding and Mating
In selecting a male cat for stud purposes, you should be guided a great deal by the size of head and limbs. A good sire for future generations should possess a massive, well-formed body with broad head. Take especial notice of the width between the ears, and beware of a long nose and face. Very large and pointed ears are most undesirable. It also spoils the appearance of the cat if the ears are very wide at the base.
Siamese kittens are always white when born, and gradually their ears, legs, tail, and face darken. The denser these points become the more valuable arc the specimens. A kink in the tail is considered a beauty. Blue eyes are very essential. It is a pity that Siamese cats gradually lose the beautiful pale fawn colour, and their coats darken as they grow older. It is quite the exception to see a grown-up Siamese light in body colour. Never try mating a Siamese with any other breed. Experiments have been made in this respect, but no good results have followed.
To novices in the Silver fancy, let me say that they must not be disappointed if after sending their queen to a noted Silver stud, she should produce what appear like very dark smoke, or almost black kittens. These will become lighter every day, and it is often the darkest kittens that turn out the palest Silvers.
The days of pussy's gestation are about sixty-three, but I generally find it is best to calculate for three days extra, this being counted from the last day of mating. It is always safer after the queen has been on a visit to keep her shut up for a few days.
Do not worry if your queens refuse to feed during the time they are mating. When quieted down puss will make up for lost time.
If you have a stud cat and receive queens, it is always courteous and kind to write a line to the sender immediately on the arrival of the traveller. Thus the anxious mind of the owner is set at rest. Then you should give due notice of the time of train by which you are returning the visitor. Avoid despatching a cat on a Saturday.
I am not much in favour of mating Blues and Silvers together, as this cross frequently results in Silver Smokes, a sort of nondescript cat that finds no abiding class at our shows, and is also rather an unsatisfactory cat from which to breed.
In selecting a stud cat we should consider the points of our queens. It is not always the greatest prize-winner that is the most desirable mate for a particular female. We must pair them according to the good points in one and the defects in the other, and thus we may gain the happy medium. If your queen is wanting in breadth of skull and shortness of face, try to remedy and counterbalance these defects by finding a stud cat with these points strongly developed. Two prize-winning cats may not produce even average good kittens.
Of all the breeds of long-haired cats, brown Tabbies may be said to be the strongest. This handsome breed seems coming to the fore. Certainly to a novice in the fancy brown Tabbies are less trouble, by reason of their hardy natures. Two brown Tabbies mated together often produce a black in the litter, and generally a very good specimen.
Do not let your queens mate before they are nine months old, and it is better to wait another three months if possible. I do not think sufficient attention is paid to the desirability of stud cats and queens being in good coat at the time of mating.
It is considered the correct thing to forward your fee for mating at the same time you send your queen. The usual rule in catty circles is to allow a second visit should the first prove unsuccessful, but this cannot be insisted upon, and therefore it is better for the sender to ask if this courtesy will be permitted when writing to announce the despatch of the queen.
I have often been asked if I consider that the litters of a Persian queen who has mismated previously with a common cat are in any way affected afterwards. I believe this question has never been satisfactorily answered, but I know a case in point, and certainly these kittens of a good Persian sire and dam are remarkably poor specimens and are what might be called half-breds. I can only attribute this to the blue female having twice strayed from the paths of virtue previous to the attentions of the prize-winning Persian.
If you are purchasing a self-coloured cat, be careful to examine whether it has a white spot or tuft of white hairs on throat or stomach. This is a decided blemish, and repeats itself in future generations. Our best judges consider a white spot should count as a point against a cat entered in a self-coloured class. This is much fairer to both exhibitor and judge than to relegate a good Blue or Black with the few offending white hairs to the "any other colour class."
One of the most difficult cats to breed is a pale Cream, uniform in colour, and having no markings on head and legs. A Tortoiseshell and a Blue often produce good Creams.
Mrs. W. Vidal's Orange Persian Male
Do not mate tabby-marked cats with self-coloured ones. For instance, a blue Persian queen should be sent to a stud cat of her own colour, or to a Black, not to a brown or orange Tabby. Breeders have lately been crossing Blues with Chinchillas, or Silvers, and some good results have followed, but this should not be attempted if the Silver is at all heavily marked with stripes. In this case the litter might consist of blue Tabbies, and although these are pretty cats for pets, they are useless for breeding or show purposes.
I have always considered that the mating of a good amber-eyed Black queen with a pale Blue male is most satisfactory in results. I have seen several examples. In one litter two almost perfect blues and two black, in the other, one blue gem and three blacks. The blues were particularly sound in colour and had the round orange eyes, which are so attractive in black cats.
It is not always that the best blue-eyed Whites or orange-eyed Blues are bred from parents who are both possessed of these desirable points, so don't distress yourself if you have an odd-eyed White queen, but send her to a good blue-eyed White stud, and some in your litter may yet have the correct-coloured eyes.
It is very seldom, if ever, that a Blue stud cat retains the deep tones of orange or yellow in his eyes. These get lighter with age and service. This fact does not, however, affect the progeny. Orange eyes are rarer in Blue cats of a pale tint than in those of darker colour, and it is more difficult to obtain absolute soundness of colour in light Blues than in those of a medium shade.
In order to obtain the nice rich tawny colour so desirable in brown Tabbies, one is tempted to try mating with an Orange. I have found, however, that the experiment has resulted in a description of tortoiseshell Tabby which is no good for breeding or showing purposes. If your Tabby queen is rather drab in tone, select a good sire of the golden brown order, and you will be rewarded.
I would never recommend fanciers to try and breed from a queen that has confirmed snuffles. There is no doubt that the kittens are affected by this complaint in the mother, and are weak and ailing. Snuffles can doubtless be cured in young cats, but when this distressing disease has been of long standing, it is really hopeless.
A good tortoiseshell female Persian is a splendid investment, but care should be taken to obtain a really fine specimen. There are several cats called tortoiseshell, which are really tortoiseshell Tabbies, others that have streaks of colour running into each other. A good Tortoiseshell is a combination of red, yellow, and black patches, without any white. A Tortoiseshell queen can be mated with advantage to almost any coloured sire, and her litters may, and probably will, be very varied. I think that even the rising generation in the cat world know how rare a thing is a Tortoiseshell Tom!
It is false economy to purchase cheap and indifferent queens, if you intend to go in for breeding and exhibiting. I am inclined to think that more depends on the quality of the dam than the sire. Certain it is that the kittens more frequently take after their mother as regards colour. A Black female mated to a Blue stud seldom has more than one like the father, and I have frequently known the whole litter to be of the mother's dusky hue.
It is always advisable before sending your queen to mate to find out the pedigree of the stud she is to visit, so that in-breeding may be avoided. I am not against one mating of father and daughter, or mother and son, for I have known excellent results from this arrangement, but the experiment must not be repeated. Avoid entirely the mating of brothers with sisters.
If your young queen has shown signs of wanting to mate more than twice, do not keep her back again, although she may be under a year old.
Any one possessing a well marked silver tabby Persian female ought to make a point of mating her with a silver Tabby male, avoiding Chinchillas and shaded Silvers, as such a cross weakens the markings, and kittens of the "wrong class" and "no class" descriptions are the result. There is certainly an opening for breeders of silver Tabbies.
It is a great mistake to breed Smokes with Blues, as in this case you lose the lovely white undercoat which is the chief glory of this handsome breed. Like to like should be the order of the day as regards Smokes.
Regarding the mating of Blues I would advise you to study soundness of colour in the first place, then shape of head. I like a massive frame in a male cat, with plenty of breadth and bone.
It is a great mistake to allow your male cat to mate until he is a year old. If he is used at stud earlier he will probably fail you later on.
In announcing the despatch of a queen on a visit to a stud cat be careful to write very distinctly. A hamper containing a lady visitor recently reached me, and I discovered a letter enclosed, but I could only make a vague guess at the signature, and the rather lengthy address was still more unintelligible.
Some cat fanciers imagine that the number of kittens in a litter depends on the length of time the queen remains with the stud. This is an erroneous idea. Nor do I believe in colour feeding in regard to cats and their offspring.
Some queens are of such a timid nature that the very fact of sending them by rail to a strange place will completely upset them, and the visit will have no satisfactory results. In such cases it may be best to try and come to some arrangement with the owner of the stud, and perhaps for the consideration of a kitten in addition to the fee, the male cat may be lent for a few days.
I think I am right in stating that as regards registering visits and births in the cat papers, it is the owner of the stud cat who sends the notice of the visit and the proprietor of the queen that announces the arrival of the family. It is just as well to have some such rule amongst fanciers, otherwise, as is sometimes the case, a duplicate advertisement appears in the same column.
When your queen returns from visiting a stud cat, it is well to keep her shut up safely for a few days. Cats are often very restless after their return home, and the impression is often given that the visit has been fruitless. It is generally at the end of a month that one is able to judge whether puss is intending to present us with a family or not.
I do not approve of specials being offered in the form of free visits to stud cats. This savours too much of self-advertisement, and does not certainly incur much sacrifice.
Try and avoid sending your queens away to mate on a Saturday, in case of delays, as poor puss may spend her Sabbath at a railway station.
It is well to keep a register of all the queens visiting your stud cats, filling in the date of arrival and departure. Such a record often comes in useful when wishing to purchase a kitten of a particular strain, or in answering inquiries from fanciers.
Senders of queens to stud cats should attach a label inside the hamper or box, stating the name and address of the owner, for should two or three visitors arrive in the same day, there is a fear of complication amongst the cats and their travelling trunks.
Shows and Exhibiting
If many cats are kept, and some are sent to shows, do not let these, on their return, mix with the others who have remained at home. It is a wise precaution to keep them apart for some days.
Miss Winifred Beale's Champion Cream
If you are allowed to provide your pussies with cushions at a Show, let the neck ribbon correspond in colour, as this will have a better effect. I recommend flannelette in preference to more costly materials. It is warmer and not so slippery as silk or sateen. Some exhibitors are able to afford velvet!
Exhibitors will find little slip rings convenient to put on metal tallies provided for the cats' necks at shows.
In sending your pussies to the show, if you pack them in hampers, whether lined or unlined, wrap the hamper in a large sheet of brown paper, leaving only a square space uncovered at the top round the handle. Fasten securely. If you padlock the box, don't forget to send the key to the secretary!
It is as well that exhibitors should understand that the labels and tallies sent by the show secretary are in themselves an acknowledgment of the money received for entries. Some impatient and unreasonable exhibitors write to the show secretary requesting their labels, etc, before the advertised time of closing entries. How would it be possible to place the pen number on the labels when all the entries had not been received?
Margarine baskets are cheap and handy for cats to travel in; but when they are sent to shows exhibitors should attach some straps, as in the hurry of packing up the pussies it is not easy to have recourse to a packing-needle and string.
It is the custom for exhibitors to delay forwarding their entries till just before the lists are closed. This unfortunate habit entails much extra worry for the show secretary, and causes a desperate rush at the last.
I would like to impress upon exhibitors the importance of writing very distinctly when filling in their entries for shows. This hint especially applies to the names of the cats, some of which are often of an out of-the-way character, and cannot even be guessed at.
I would most earnestly impress upon exhibitors the necessity of writing distinctly their full address on the reverse side of the labels supplied for the return journey by the show authorities. Try by every means in your power to lessen the risks and discomforts for your pussies during their transit to and from the shows.
When by any chance labels are not received in time to be used by exhibitors, or they are lost, then the hamper should be addressed to the secretary of the show, and a note of explanation enclosed. The entry form can then be looked up, and the pen number discovered.
Of course, if possible, it is always best to accompany your pussies to a show, but if you are unable to do this, then it is very important you should ensure each hamper of live stock. Do not use straps which are detached from the box or hamper, as these are so apt to get mislaid or lost.
If you make up your mind to enter your puss and kits in a litter class send the whole family, as in judging a litter class quantity, with a due regard to quality, has to be considered. Thus, a litter of five very fairly good and level kittens ought to score over a family of three, though these may be possessed of better points. It is, therefore, advisable to always send the whole litter, not to pick and choose.
If you are the owner of White cats and take them to a show, I strongly advise you to see that the pens are thoroughly well rubbed down before you pen your pussies.
It is not well to give your cats a heavy meal before starting them for a show. Hope and trust that they may have something given to them when they are penned.
Need I say, never make any attempt at "faking" your cats when sending them to shows. It is a risk, as well as a most undesirable operation.
Miss Kate Sangster's Champion
In sending specials for shows, be sure and state if they are for cats or kittens. For instance; "For the best Blue Male Cat" will mean that your prize will be awarded in the Cat Class, and only supposing a kitten were entered in that class, could it compete for your special. If you wish it to go to a kitten then don't omit to specify this. The limit age for kittens varies at shows, sometimes under eight months, and sometimes under six months.
A very good way of cleaning your cats previous to showing is to heat a good quantity of bran in the oven. Put it into a large bowl or foot-bath, and stand your puss in it. Rub the hot bran well amongst her fur for some minutes, and afterwards carefully brush it out. It is wonderful how soft and silky this process makes the coat. I do not advocate washing cats, even in summer weather, and certainly not in the winter.
When there is a class for pairs of kittens provided at a show, the two exhibits need not necessarily be of the same litter, but remember they are judged as a pair, so let their size and appearance be as alike as possible. It is no use to enter two kittens of different colours in a pair class.
When prize-money is sent to the winning exhibitors, they should acknowledge the sum to the show secretary, and don't forget to thank the donors of specials. The addresses are generally to be found in the catalogue index, or the secretary, if written to (with stamp for reply), will give the information required.
If your cats are not in good condition do not send them to shows. There is but one place for cats out of coat, and that is at home!
When cats are entered for shows in joint names it is advisable and desirable that the owners should let the secretary know to whom to send the labels and tallies. It is sometimes only possible to forward these a day or two before the show, and, if sent to the address of the owner who does not keep the cat, complications may arise from the delay.
It is always very important thoroughly to air and disinfect all hampers coming from a show. I place my pussy's travelling boxes or hampers outside for two or three days and nights, and let the sun, air and rain cleanse and purify them. Then I have them washed over with some disinfectant and water.
As regards pairs of kittens, which next to the litter class is, perhaps, the most difficult to judge, I would say, select two kittens as near alike as possible in colour, size and quality. It is as a pair that the awards should be given, and if one exhibit is much superior to its fellow, then the value of the pair is seriously diminished. If your kittens are different in colour and variety, say an Orange and a Tabby, then do not enter them in a pair class, but as single kittens, and they will stand a better chance.
I have noticed that many of our best show cats appear almost perfect in all points, save and except the ears, and these are wide at the base, tall and pointed. They should be just the opposite. Therefore if your queen has prominent ears, try to find a mate for her with these organs not in evidence. Ear tufts are great beautifiers.
Let me suggest to all winners of medals at shows that they should have them engraved with the name of their cat, the date of the show, and the place where the show was held. I think it is a pity that clubs do not undertake to have these inscriptions engraved, as they would greatly enhance the value of the prizes.
If your cat is timid and you want to exhibit him, I should advise you to obtain some pen or hutch and coax and encourage him to come up to the bars. In this way you will educate him to place himself in evidence instead of crouching at the back of the pen, and thus running the risk of being overlooked by the judge. Besides we all like our pets to show themselves off to the general public on these auspicious occasions.
I think it is only catty etiquette if one wins special prizes at one show that one should offer them for some other show. But not the same articles be it understood!
The tendency nowadays is to lower the standard of special prizes, and really some of the articles on show are often of very cheap manufacture. If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing well.
If you consider an injustice has been done to you or your cat at a show you have a perfect right to lay your complaint before the Committee of the Club under whose rules the show is held. Then your case will be looked into.
There are two distinct ways of finding out from a judge why your cat did not take a prize, viz., a nice way and a nasty way. I am sure all judges are pleased to give information to exhibitors for their satisfaction and profit if their inquiries are couched in courteous and reasonable terms. It is not pleasant to be attacked suddenly with this question, "Why have you not given my cat a prize?"
In calculating the age of a kitten when entering for exhibition the dates of the month and not the weeks should be taken. Thus from the 20th of July till 20th of October is three months.
It is very hard when you have entered your cat for a Show to find she is "wrong classed." If you are a novice in the fancy write and ask some reliable person, giving a full description of your puss, and ask advice as to the correct class to place her.
Certainly it is better to run a chance of starving your cat in the show pen rather than stuffing her. You can feed up your pet on her return home, and in a day or two she will be as plump as ever, but it is a different matter to remedy the ill effects of constipation, diarrhoea, and other troubles consequent on heavy feeding in close quarters.
Don't worry the secretary of a show with lots of questions, but read the rules and regulations set forth in the schedule with care and attention. They are always very comprehensive.
Special prizes call for special acknowledgment, and winners of the same should write and thank the donors. The secretary of the club giving the show should be addressed on receipt of a club badge or medal.
In sending your cats to shows it is a great help to the executive if you so arrange the label that it may be easily turned round and the address appear uppermost for the return journey. When you use a box, try and attach the label securely to a strap or fastening. Do not nail it down to the lid.
If you intend to fetch away your exhibits yourself on the morning after the show, be careful to write "To be called for," on reverse side of label.
Pink collar ribbons are the most becoming to Blue kittens until their eyes have changed, then orange or yellow will be found more suitable.
It is a mistake to tie very broad ribbons round your cats' necks when sending them to a show. I should choose a colour to match the eyes, about half an inch to three quarters in width. Tie it in a neat bow, and give a stitch in the centre, to prevent it coming untied. Don't leave two long ends. Orange is the most becoming colour for Blue cats.
It is a good plan to give your cat a gentle aperient on its return from a show. If a grown cat then half a Carter's little liver pill may be given with safety, and a smaller quantity for a kitten. It is, however, the elderly cats that have the greatest objection to the scant accommodation provided by the scratchings of earth at the back of the pen.
Miss Frances Simpson's Brown Tabby Champion "Persimmon"
They will persistently await their return to the old familiar pan of earth or sawdust that they have been accustomed to. A clever cat fancier has told me that she gives her cats returning from a show a few drops of whisky in a spoonful of hot water. She says it "sort of cheers them up!"
Nothing is so vexatious as when your puss starts scratching out her lovely ruff just a week or so before the show for which you have entered her. Have a look to her ears, for the irritation may be there, and a little Condy and water and boracic powder will soon set matters right.
I do not think that cat fanciers pay sufficient attention to the condition of their cats when sending them to shows. The most successful exhibitors are those whose cats have been shown in the best condition. Extra attention ought to be paid to the feeding, exercising, and grooming of our pets. I do not advocate washing cats, but a bran bath or a good rubbing with white fuller's earth will greatly improve the fur.
A defective eye, or a damaged tail, would count against a cat in the show pen, and therefore I should advise exhibitors to keep these blemished pussies at home.
It is very necessary for show secretaries to state the entries close on a certain date, but still this date is often of an elastic nature, and it is always worth while for an intending exhibitor to write requesting that, if possible, their entry may be received, although it is forwarded after the advertised date.
The prize cards are placed in the hampers when sent back to exhibitors. If these are soiled or broken on their arrival write to the secretary asking for fresh ones to be kindly forwarded.
The metal tallies sent for the cats at show time will hang much more gracefully round the neck if a slip ring, such as is used for fastening on buttons, is run through the hole of the tally and then the ribbon is put through the ring. Let me advise narrow ribbon, or if a broad bow is thought more stylish fold the ribbon half the width round the neck and then tie. In this way pussie's ruff will not be interfered with.
Many exhibitors are not aware that by paying an extra shilling they can obtain a double pen for their cats at shows. Of course if space in the hall or tent is limited this provision cannot be always arranged for.
It is very necessary to make positively sure of the sex of your kittens before sending to a show, also previous to disposing of them. A purchaser, who is a novice, desiring a male, and discovering only on the arrival of a family of "gutter" kits, that a mistake has been made, is naturally rather annoyed.
No doubt a one day's show is best for cats and kittens; but if you send your pets to a two days' show, I do not think it is advisable to remove them at night. You run a risk of exposing them to cold, and the carrying to and fro is really more trying for pussy than being in her pen; and if you know that she will be covered up at night, then probably your pet will sleep comfortably and forget her troubles.
In former days there used to be classes at our shows in which cats were judged according to their weight, and no matter what points the cat possessed or did not possess, the heaviest took the prize. The most weighty cat I ever handled turned the scale at 20 lbs. I do not think, however, that our pets should be fattened up like prize pigs for shows, and, therefore, these weight classes have been wisely done away with.