The Sketch (18th December 1912)

Fashion has a great deal to say in the matter of colour in cats; her sway, indeed, is only limited by Nature. The National Cat Club does not permit any tampering with natural colouring. Colour-breeding in cats has been very successful, and many owners have gone in for it carefully and on scientific fines. The extraordinary range of beautiful hues which Mr. and Mrs. Mew wear is astonishing, and a visit to a cat show is a delight to a lover of beauty.

First in point of beauty, in many persons’ estimation, comes the white cat, an exquisite animal, whether short-haired or long. White cats have blue eyes, and when seen in perfection are of the snowiest white imaginable. Unluckily, as not infrequently happens where inbreeding is employed to get a pure white animal, many white cats are deaf. Fanciers are doing their best to eliminate the defect. Black cats are exceedingly handsome, and reputed lucky. The great thing is to get a black that is really jet black, with no rustiness, and no white or grey hairs. Black-and-white, a common colour in the ordinary pussy, is not a favoured colour at shows. We have all heard of that wonderful curiosity, the cherry-coloured cat with rose-coloured trimmings (most people have seen black cherries and white roses), but a cat show is a serious thing, and must not be jested about. Creams are also very lovely and as with dogs, the cream comes in usefully for breeding blues. The combination of a black and cream often produces a good blue. Chinchillas are exquisite creatures, silvery-grey, with the most delicate shadings on a clear undercoat, and this colour belongs to long haired cats only.

Smoke is a colour which attracts many, the point being that the black and grey shades which make up the smoked effect must melt into one another with no perceptible line; “smokes” are long-haired, too, and possess amber eyes. The tribe of Tabby numbers legion for show purposes there are brown tabbies, red tabbies, silver tabbies, orange tabbies, and all of surpassing beauty. The marking of a tabby must be clear and regular, the stripes dark on a lighter ground and in the case of a brown, a dark chin is desired, but seldom obtained. A perfect tabby has an M clearly marked on its forehead, and a dark line down the back, from which the stripes radiate. A fine colour is sandy, glorified as orange; blue eyes belong to this hue [note: surely a mistake by the reporter – blue-eyed orange is rare]. Orange tabbies are attractive, too. Show oranges should be of a good deep colour, and have as little white as possible. Orange-and-white is a class of its own, not very popular. Tortoiseshell is a grand colour, and a tortie has no white she is black and light tan, her patches as clearly defined as possible. I say “she” advisedly, as a tortoiseshell male is practically, if not absolutely, unknown. This does not apply to tortie-and-white namely, black and orange and white, which is often confused with real tortoiseshell.

Remains the cat which some consider the pride of the shows, the blue. Blues are the popular and handsome, amber-eyed, stately aristocrats always valuable, and usually intelligent. The colour is a slaty-grey, and is required to be as deep and sound as possible if it has to shade off, as frequently happens, it should do so regularly, with no line, towards the extremities, the same rule applying to creams, which shade to fawn. Patchiness is not permissible, and the back must be of one clear colour. Blue short-hairs, or Russian cats, are somewhat rare and most attractive. The colour is the same as in the long-hair, but patchiness and demarcation are even less desirable, as they show up more. About the most famous blue short-hair in England is Peter the Great, a veteran of ten years. Peter turned up smiling at the recent Crystal Palace Show, carrying his years and honours with ease and dignity.

And that reminds me. The National Cat Club Show, the show of the year, like the Kennel Club Show for dogs, this year took place on Dec. 10 and 11, and was a perfect feast of colour. Even Peter was eclipsed by the glorious kittens, and the tabbies were in their heyday, carrying off all the chief honours. And of all the lovely kittens, the Red Kitten was the loveliest. The Red Kitten was judged, by no less an expert than Louis Wain, the best cat in the show, and his proud owner is Mrs. H. Cook. The cat is perfectly red tabby, of course even stripes of two shades of red, not a speck of white, and its eyes are circles of fight and dark red. It is a thing of beauty, and if Nature does not allow of its being a “joy for ever," let us hope its descendants will carry on the lovely colour now it has been attained at last. The brown tabbies were exceptionally good, as well as the reds, and two of them, Mrs. Slingsby's long-hair and Lady Alexander's short-hair, won the prizes for best long-hair and best short-hair in the Show.

Every cat show has a good section of foreign and freak cats. The Manx is generally to the fore, his usual colouring being black, white, or tortoiseshell, or sometimes tabby. Siamese cats are cream or fawn in colour, with dark “points," and beautiful almond- shaped blue eyes. Abyssinians have pointed fur, reddish-brown with white tips. The Crystal Palace was not empty of these beauties. - Dorothy Walthall.