THE ARISTOCRATIC PERSIAN CAT
ONE of the most beautiful, and at the same time one of the most affectionate and intelligent household pets to be found in American homes is the long-haired Persian cat. So great is the interest taken in these magnificent animals, and so pronounced is their popularity, that breeding them for show purposes, as well as for the general market, is now an absorbing fad with some, and a business enterprise of no inconsiderable magnitude with others.As its name denotes, this strain of cats had its origin in Persia, but it is in England and America, where the greatest care has been taken to develop and perpetuate the type, that the finest specimens are to be found. In both England and America splendid catteries are maintained for the sole purpose of breeding long-haired Persians. Large clubs are conducted in the interest of the fancy. Stud books, which have been sanctioned by the government, are kept, and annually great cat shows are held, such as the show of the Atlantic Cat Club of New York, at Madison Square Garden, the Lockhaven Cat Club, at Rochester, and the Beresford Cat Club, at Chicago.
Persian cats, like ordinary house cats, are of all colors, and are classified by those breeding and showing them according to color, or combinations of color. It is often the case that specimens almost perfect in type are forced into the “any other color” class by a few “off-colored” hairs, which could in many cases easily be removed, but the removal of them would surely bring the owner into bad repute with the fancy.
Carefully selected, healthy females should produce two litters of kittens each year, which, at from three to eight months of age will bring anywhere from $50 to $500 per kitten for show specimens, and from $25 to $50 per kitten for those of good type and color, which, owing to some slight defect, cannot be classed as show animals. The market for long-haired Persian cats of high quality, for pets, is largely confined to people of means, but is not restricted to any particular part of the country. New York City is probably the best market that we have for very high- class cats, but Boston, Washington, Chicago, and many other large cities are almost equally as good. The popularity of the Persian cat in the homes of the wealthy is due to its almost unequaled beauty, cleanliness, intelligence, and affection. Their popularity with those engaged in breeding them for market purposes is due to the pleasure derived from developing and exhibiting them, coupled with the pecuniary benefit to be realized from the industry. There are many women in this country who are entensively [sic] engaged in breeding these cats for the market, and with but few exceptions they are realizing handsomely upon the venture.
Many instances illustrating the possibilities of cat breeding as a business for ladies could be given, but I shall confine myself to briefly reciting the experience of one lady in New Jersey, as showing what intelligent breeding, hard work, and fair dealing will accomplish. When but a girl in her teens, this young lady made up her mind to take up long-haired Persians, but was not in a position to put up the necessary money to start, so keeping her own counsel, and biding her time, she patiently waited for an opportunity to offer itself. Finally, in looking over the “For Sale” ads. in a New York paper, she saw a litter of long-haired Persian kittens advertised at a very low price, and noting the name and address, she started for New York the next morning, ostensibly for the purpose of purchasing a spring hat with certain money her father had given her. That evening she returned home with a kitten, but without the hat. Her next step was to sell a finely educated parrot which she had raised, and invest the proceeds in a female cat or two. This gave her a start, from which, unaided, she has built up a reputation second to that of no other fancier in America or England, and is now sole owner of a large and successful cattery.
There are three things absolutely essential to success in the cat fancy: First, a love for pets in general, and cats in particular; second, a thorough knowledge, or the determination to acquire a thorough knowledge, of how to care for and rear them; third, a superabundance of energy, patience, and perseverance, for the life of a cat fancier is not all that might be supposed by those attending the cat shows, or visiting casually a well-regulated cattery.
The amount of inbreeding which has been indulged in process of development of the various classes of Persians has had a tendency to perfect the type and color at the expense of the rugged constitution of the proverbial cat with nine lives, and again, the confinement of the cats, in order to guarantee the purity of their breeding, and as a protection from loss by theft and otherwise, makes it very hard to rear sound, healthy specimens, without the exercise of the greatest care. But if you love your cats, have, or are willing to acquire, a full knowledge of their wants, and are willing to persevere faithfully with your work, you can make a success of the cat business, provided of course that your stock cats have been properly selected from reliable fanciers.
Long-haired Persian cats may be classified as blacks, blues, whites, silvers, oranges, cream or fawn, tortoise-shell, tortoise-shell and white, brown tabbies, any other color. The silvers are sub-divided into minor classes, as follows: chinchillas, shaded silvers, silver tabbies, masked silvers, smokes.
The coat of the long-haired Persian cat should be long and thick, its texture fine and soft. There should be tufts of hair projecting from the inside of the ears, also around the jaws. There should be a frill of long hair around the throat, extending back to the shoulders, and down the chest to where the front legs join the body. There should be tufts of hair growing upwards from between the toes. The head should be massive, but round, with great width of skull between the ears; the ears should be small, and set low. From the forehead to the nose the line should be slightly concave, the nose itself being short. The back should be broad and level, but not too short; legs short; paws round; brush or tail of medium length, wide, and carried low. The eyes should be large, round, luminous, and set level. The expression of the face, taken as a whole, should be gentle and sweet. The general appearance of the animal should be cobby, and its movements easy and graceful. In disposition the Persian cat is naturally inclined to be loving and gentle, but as they are very high strung, it is an easy matter to spoil their dispositions entirely by rough or unkind treatment.
The coat of the black Persian should be rich jet-black, free from any tinge of brown or gray. There should be no white or “off-colored” hairs in any part of the coat, which should be perfectly uniform throughout. The eyes should be of a deep, rich orange color; the deeper the orange and the more uniform its shade, the better the eye.
The cat commonly known as Maltese is known to the fancy as a blue. Some fanciers prefer a light shade of blue, some a dark, and some a medium. Personally, I prefer the medium shade of blue. It is less apt to look ashy than the light, and has the advantage of being a more decided blue than the very dark, which in some lights will look almost black. As with the blacks, the coat of a blue cat should be free from “off-colored” hairs, and uniform throughout. In passing upon the quality of a blue cat, always examine the coat thoroughly, to see that there are no white hairs in it, and be sure that the legs and tail are free from tabby markings, no matter how faint. The eyes should be of a deep, rich orange, or copper color.
The coat of a white Persian cat should be clear, snowy white, from tip to tip. The eyes may be either blue, golden, or odd, that is, one blue and one golden. All other things being equal, a blue-eyed white will win over an orange, or odd-eyed white. The great trouble with blue-eyed whites is that they are predisposed to deafness.
Before taking up the silver classes, a few remarks upon silvers as a whole will serve as a guide to those trying to make an intelligent selection. All silvers come from the silver tabby, and yet the silver tabby class is the only silver class in which the tabby markings are not a blemish, so unless you intend to go in for tabbies, carefully examine all pedigrees, and keep as far away from the tabbies as possible. When examining a silver, especially one belonging to a light class, always do so in broad daylight, and be sure that the light is good. By taking this precaution you will be able to detect the slightest shade of cream, which so often mars otherwise splendid specimens. This cream will be most likely to show itself around the mouth, chin, or throat of a light silver, and a cat showing cream, no matter how slightly, should be avoided in selecting a mate for a silver. Some silvers are very hard to classify, so if your intention is to get one of any special class, be sure that you fully understand all the points necessary to bring the cat into the desired class, and should it fail in a single point, reject it.
Although all our big shows provide for. numerous classes in silvers, there are to my mind so few silver cats that can be properly classed by the standard that it would be far better to put the smokes and silver tabbies into distinct classes, and throw all other silvers into one class to be known simply as “silvers,” and let them fight it out on type. The present practice leads to improper classification and poor judging. Only an expert can properly classify his or her cats, and it so happens that an expert may sometimes class a cat wrongly in order to avoid meeting a better cat in the proper class.
The chinchilla, an unmarked silver, should be a clear light silver throughout. 1 here should be no shading of any kind, and there should be no markings upon any part of the coat. In order to produce a perfect cat of this class, the coat should be as uniform in color, and as free from shading or markings as the coat of a white, black, or blue cat; the color of the coat should incline slightly towards lavender. Where the chinchillas of the present time fail is in purity of color and freedom from slight markings. The standard provides for green or orange eyes, but there can be little question that an emerald green eye is best. The slightest tinge of cream in the coat of a chinchilla should bar it from the show pen or the stud.
The coat of a shaded silver should be light, clear silver, but not so light by several shades as the chinchilla. The back, face, and legs should be shaded to a darker color than the rest of the coat, but not dark enough to be termed smoky. The entire coat of a shaded silver should be as free from tabby markings as the coat of a chinchilla. A shaded silver, free from tabby markings, would be a splendid animal, but I have never seen one. The eyes, as with the chinchilla, may be either green or orange, preferably the former, especially if of a rich emerald color. The tendency has been to fill the shaded silver classes with poor chinchillas, but our judges have at last awakened to the fact that the ideal shaded silver should be a darker cat than was at first supposed to be correct. Care should be taken in selecting shaded silvers, to avoid cream, or a bluish undercoat.
The tabby markings upon the coat of a silver tabby may be either broad or narrow, but in either case must be black, and clear cut, extending over the entire body. The coat between the tabby markings should be a clear silver, the lighter the better, as the contrast is greater, where the tabby markings are very dark and the rest of the coat quite light, than where they are nearer the same color. If the markings are clean-cut and well defined, the silver tabby is indeed a handsome animal. The eyes may be hazel or nut-brown, emerald green, or orange. Where the coat is good in color, and markings well defined, the hazel or nut- brown eye is to be preferred. Next I prefer the emerald green. The silver tabby is a well defined class, but in their eagerness to produce unmarked silvers, fanciers have gotten so far away from the pure tabby that it is now seldom that a really good specimen is seen.
The masked silver is what may be properly termed a nondescript, the class having been created in order to get several very fine specimens out of the “any other color” class. Under the standard provided, the face, legs, feet, and tail of a masked silver should be a dark smoke, almost black. The rest of the coat should be clear silver, free from markings, and the lighter the better. The eyes should be deep orange. There can be no doubt of the fact that a good masked silver is one of the handsomest of Persian cats, but the trouble is that the variety has not been perfected to such an extent that it can be reproduced with any degree of certainty. Matings of the best masked silvers will produce ten kittens which will not class with their parents to one that will, so that the variety may more properly be termed one in process of development than an established strain.
The coat of a smoke Persian should show black, shading; to a dark cinder color on the surface, and the under-coat should be a silvery white. The fur of a smoke should be very full and light silver in color; the ear tufts should be heavy and light in color. The eye should be deep orange, and, as with the blacks, the deeper and more uniform the color, the better the type. There is no handsomer cat known to the fancy than a good smoke. When carefully bred they will reproduce themselves, and as they are as a rule strong and healthy, they make very desirable as well as satisfactory pets.
The coat of an orange cat may be either a deep, rich orange of one shade, or of alternate shades of light and dark orange, giving the appearance of an orange tabby. The richer the shade of orange, the better the coat. The eye may be either deep rich orange or hazel.
In color, the coat of a cream or fawn cat must be solid, without shadings or markings of any kind. The color may be either a rich fawn, a light cream, or an intermediate shade. The chief point is to get a coat of uniform color throughout. There is a tendency to run to dullness of coat, or whiteness in light cream cats, which should be avoided. The color being delicate, it is of the utmost importance to preserve its purity and lustre. The eye, as with the orange, should be deep rich orange or hazel.
The coat of a tortoise-shell Persian shows three distinct colors thoroughly intermingled and yet showing no stripes. The colors are black, orange, and yellow. The colors should be bright and well defined, and the entire coat should be free from tabby markings or white. The eye should be clear orange or hazel. A very peculiar thing about the tortoise-shell cat is that, according to the best authority, a male of this variety has never been bred. The females as a rule are good producers, and highly prized by breeders of many other varieties.
The tortoise-shell and white is the cat with a coat of many colors. The colors are black, orange, yellow, and white, well distributed, and in about equal proportions. The three dark colors should completely cover the back, head, and tail of the animal, and there should be well mingled patches of the same colors upon either side of its face. The face should be white in the centre, and the white should extend down between the eyes over the whole mouth and nose. The throat, chest, jaws, and part of the hind quarters should also be white. The eyes should be orange or hazel.
In the brown tabbies, as with the silver tabbies, the tabby markings may be either broad or narrow. The coat proper is light brown, and the tabby markings almost black. The tabby markings should be well defined and uniform, extending over the entire body, as well as the face and legs. The frill should be full and light. The ear tufts should also be light. There should be no white markings on the body, legs, feet, face, or throat. The eye should be emerald green, or amber.
Under the classification “any other color” all long-haired Persian cats, not eligible to one or another of the above classes, are shown, and there is no class in which a cat must depend so much upon its individuality and type when placed upon the show bench. No one would think of entering a cat in the “any other color” class in one of our large shows that was not a perfect individual, of almost perfect type, for this class, of all others, is almost invariably well filled, and the competition is the keenest in our shows.
The most popular cats in America are the silvers . This is due to two things. A breeder can produce from a few silvers a greater variety of show cats, owing to the number of recognized silver classes, than can be produced from any other variety, and again, a really high class silver will bring a larger price, and be more easily disposed of at a large price than any other variety upon the American market. Next to the silver, the blue is in greatest favor. Their appearance is good. They are easily kept clean, easily conditioned, and being very robust are more easily reared and developed than most of the other varieties. Then comes the blue-eyed white, which, but for the trouble incident to cleansing its coat, and preparing it for the show pen, would probably forge further to the front, in point of popularity.
The most satisfactory house pet is a neuter. Neuters grow to be very large, are easily kept within doors, and retain their coats much better than either females or studs. In the home the female, or queen, comes next to the neuter as a pet, but all females should be al-lowed to raise at least one litter of kittens each year. They will not be satisfied nor contented if not allowed to perform the duties of a mother once a year.
Females intended for show purposes should not be allowed to raise more than one litter of kittens in any year in which you are going to show them. If more are raised, your queens will not make a good coat during the fall and early winter. Should you intend showing a female, mate her in January, February, or March, and when she has weaned her kittens, let her rest until after the shows of the following winter are over. Females should not be mated until they are a year old, and it is best to let males fully mature before putting them in stud.
When kittens are born, they should be kept in a subdued light until they' have had their eyes open for several days. If allowed in a strong light sooner, they are very apt to get sore eyes, in which event they will be a source of great worry for weeks, if not for months to come. Avoid draughts with both kittens and cats, as they are very susceptible to colds. Kittens should not be littered in or kept in boxes. A large basket, with a cover thrown over one end is better, as it allows free circulation of the air.
Look out for fleas, and when they have once made their appearance, don’t stop until you have gotten rid of them. They will kill your kittens, and ruin the coats of your old cats. Keep the coats of your cats well brushed, using a little white fuller’s earth to clean the fur. Sprinkle the fuller's earth on the fur, and then brush it out thoroughly. Always brush the fur from tail to head, rather than from head to tail.
A pan of sand or sawdust should always be kept where the cats can have free access to it. This will insure cleanliness.
Feed your cats twice daily. In the morning, use oatmeal or some other cereal, and at night raw meat chopped fine. Be very careful not to overfeed. It is far better that you feed scantily than too much. A raw egg once daily will improve the coat of a cat that you are getting ready for the show pen. Feed very little milk, if you want to avoid worms. Provide each cat with a cosy place free from draughts, in which to sleep.
If you want your cats to be gentle and behave well in the show pen, treat them kindly, and be as much with them as you possibly can. They will soon learn to love you, and you will become more and more attached to them. Remember that it is harder to get a cat’s full confidence than a dog’s, but once having gotten it, you can take almost unlimited liberties with your pets.