THE CAT FANCY
So unusual is it to find any one who avows an antipathy to the cat that one is rather apt to look upon it as a pose or, if convinced of its honesty to look for some extenuating cause - as, perhaps, some distressing incident in childhood which had left the descents of its mark in the sub-consciousness of the adult. One woman whom I knew was once badly frightened by a strange cat which had gained access to her room through an open window and had made a snug, warm nest upon her baby's chest. This incident caused her to hold an avowed antipathy to the whole feline race for many years, but later, coming accidentally into the possession of two handsome Persian cats, she took a strong bias in the opposite direction and to such an extent that it greatly amused her friends.
To the novice who has paid little attention to the growth of the "Cat Fancy" and has lived remote from contact with any but the common house and barn types, the cat shows and cat literature are startling revelations. And even to the initiated the cat fancy in America is still very young and undeveloped and offers big opportunities for development and improvement. Possibly the most crying need at present is for some definite standard of judging, such as obtains at the dog shows and especially at the poultry exhibits. Under the present arrangement so much is left to the humor of the judges, generally speaking, that few cats win or lose strictly on their merits, or demerits. Naturally, if a judge favors a certain type of cat of his own breeding, his preference will influence his decisions at the show. For instance, there is a decided preference just now for what is known as the "Cobby type of cat, the short, low body, with short, almost bow legs." Naturally a judge having this preference will discredit the long, rangy cat which the more conservative breeder considers the rational shaped cat. Again one judge may be taken by a fine shaped head (which should always be as nearly round as possible), with small, well set ears, and short nose, while another may make a fetich of the feature of a big bushy tail.
If, then, the "Fancy" would adopt a score card similar to that used for poultry, allotting a certain number of points to each point judged and making the award to the cat winning the largest number of points, then "Best cat in Show," Persian "Champion" and the like would mean something. Grand Mogul 96 would convey a definite guarantee of quality far superior would convey a definite guarantee of quality far superior to that of best cat in a show where there may not have been a 96 or even a 90.
Given this standard of judging, the amateur cat fancier would have something definite to go by in making an initial purchase for founding a cattery and a definite standard — quite comprehensible — towards which to breed. As it now is the best one can do is, having selected the color one wishes to specialize on, to buy as good a queen of that color as one can afford, always selecting one whose ancestors for at least five generations have been of the color without a break. And really, the fine breeding and pedigree is of more importance than the individual cat, for cats, like all animals revert, in marked degree, to their ancestors, and an inferior individual of unexceptional pedigree may produce some notable kits. Another point to be understood is that the descent is of more importance than the show record.
Another thing to avoid in starting a cattery is, in the writer's opinion, the Angora. The writer's advice would be to buy a straight Persian, if a long-haired cat is wanted or a good short haired, for I can assure you that the short haired is at last coming into his own; but not the Angora. As to color, that is really a matter of individual preference, and there is really no "latest style" in color, but it pays to select one color and stick to it, acquiring as fine specimens as possible and establishing a reputation for that color. It also pays to adopt a cattery name and use it as a prefix or suffix to the names of your best cats, and then having it registered
Most everyone has some definite idea of the standard colors — white, black, orange and blue, but the various graduations of the blues, chinchillas and smokes, are less well known but exceedingly beautiful animals and when bred to purity of color, correct eye color and marking - or even a freedom from marking as the case may be, they are things to strive for to win.
There is no question, however, about the supreme beauty of a fine specimen of the blue-eyed white Persian. Anyone who recalls a glimpse of a bit of blue sky through the blossom laden branches of a cherry tree in May time, can form some idea of the peculiar beauty of the large blue eyes of this class of cats. There is something peculiarly child-like and innocent, not seen in eyes of any other color. It is a pity that blue-eyed cats are so very often deaf. However, their peculiar sensitiveness to vibrations in a measure atones for this defect and one owner of a perfectly deaf cat told me that she called it by tapping on the floor — the jar reaching its inner consciousness just as the sound of her voice reached the perfect hearing of the other cats.
A perfectly colored black is, perhaps, one of the rarest and most handsome of cats; cats of this color so often showing a reddish or brownish tinge and more or less gray under color. A solid black, clear to the skin, with no white hairs, other points being satisfactory, counts up into big money very fast and one should not expect to get a really good bred kitten of this type for less than fifty dollars, while excellent oranges, browns and blues and whites may be had for from twenty-five up.
Where one merely wishes a fine cat as a pet, preference should, the writer thinks, always be given to the females as there is no comparison between them and males as household companions. They are quite certain to be more disciplinable in their habits, more affectionate and sweet-tempered and far less given to straying away.
The care of a fine Persian is considerably greater than is required by short-haired cats, as these can be trusted to look after their own coats and toilets. Persians, however, must be groomed daily if one would encourage a fine and silky coat. This is especially necessary during the late Summer and Fall when the old coat is shedding and the new starting up. The constant use of the comb removes the loose hair and prevents the cat swallowing it and suffering in consequence from troublesome "trouble-hair balls."
A properly fed cat is usually a healthy cat, but so many cats are not properly fed, especially the one pet cat where an excess of kindness makes its poor stomach the receptacle for all manner of rich and indigestible things — indigestible at least when fed in unhealthy combinations. Most cat fanciers pin their faith to raw meat, and there is no question that big bones and heavy coats result from such a diet. Raw meat should not, however, be fed recklessly nor more than once a day, and that preferably at night, letting the morning meal be of some good breakfast food and milk. Barley will give as good results as anything, but it may be varied often enough to prevent satiety and dislike. Raw beef should be clear beef, not fat and grizzle and should be put through a meat chopper, or better still, cut in small pieces, six days in the week, but fed in a chunk on the seventh, so that the chewing of it may clean the teeth and give them the needed exercise. Grown cats should not be fed oftener than twice a day, and then at regular hours. Kittens, after weaning, should be fed four times for the first month, three times from then on until growth is completed. Fresh water must always be available night and day, and green stuff of some sort — preferably grass or umbrella plant, must always be within reach. Its use means freedom from many intestinal troubles — gastritis, hair-balls and the like. Green grass may be provided in Winter by taking up a piece of sod and fitting it into a box or pot and placing it to grow in a light window where the cats can help themselves.
A cat at large always goes and eats a few blades of grass after eating' a mouse or other game, and straightway ejects from her stomach the fur and other indigestible part of her meal; denied this useful aid to digestion, the waste matter remains in the stomach and sets up gastritis and other somewhat serious intestinal troubles.
The more liberty a cat can be accorded the better for appearance, disposition and health of her offspring. If it is necessary to keep them confined during the day and night, they should be allowed to have one good run and play each day, preferably in the afternoon. There is nothing more pitiful than restriction.