BRITISH CAT MAGAZINES AND EARLY NORTH AMERICAN CAT MAGAZINES - A HISTORY
Since the beginning of the organised cat fancy, Britain has seen a number of magazines aimed at cat fanciers or pet cat owners or both at once. The fortunes of these periodicals has fluctuated depending on competition with other titles and on external events such as the World Wars, economic events and paper shortages. Some have being going for over 25 years and others barely lasted a year.
This page is restricted to the magazines available on news-stands and in newsagents, plus The Cat (Cats Protection) and the Feline Advisory Bureau (International Cat Care) quarterly journal as these are often available at cat shows.
FUR & FEATHER
In the 1800s, Fur & Feather was the main magazine of the organised animal fancy. As its name suggests, at that time it covered all the different fancy animals being bred and exhibited. It was informative, authoritative and full of the latest news, views and show reports. As time went on, species-specific magazines appeared and show reports appeared in those specialist publications instead. Cat fanciers got their dedicated publication in the form of Our Cats towards the end of 1899; a periodical that was deliberately given the same title as Harrison Weir's book.
With much time on their hands, breeders and exhibitors wrote at length and carried on conversations and disagreements from issue to issue. I find it fascinating to read some of these lengthy treatises from privileged ladies and step back into the Victorian and Edwardian eras.
Fur & Feather was published by JE Watmough of Idle, Bradford from 1890 to 1981. It ceased publication in that form in early 1981 and split into two new magazines "Cats" and "Rabbits". For many years, Fur & Feather was THE magazine for animal fanciers and though there were other fanciers' magazines available, they were very much minor players. Fur & Feather exhibited a rather superior attitude which did not appeal to all fanciers. In 1898, "The Show Reporter", published by George A Townsend of Leeds, appeared and began to attract many of the top fanciers of the period as contributors. Townsend was the editor and appears to have paid his correspondents a small fee for their regular columns and news updates. Although it was only published for a year, "The Show Reporter" was very successful and this shook up Fur & Feather who were losing readers to the new magazine. Fur & Feather changed its policies and won back some of the readers who had defected. After 18 months, Townsend decided to discontinue "The Show Reporter" due to falling sales. He was a businessman and decided that his magazine was no longer viable. It ceased publication on 21st December 1899. Fur & Feather's other rivals were "Our Cats" (November 1899 until July 1913) and "The Bazaar" (1920s).
By the end of the 20th century, Fur & Feather had become dedicated to the breeding and exhibiting of small caged mammals. Although its focus has changed, it is good to see the Fur & Feather name still continues.
THE LADIES FIELD
The Ladies' Field began in 1898 and was published by George Newnes. In 1928, it was absorbed by "The Home Magazine" (founded in 1893 as "The Woman at Home"). The name suggests a female-oriented sporting magazine equivalent to "The Field" with articles such as "The Irish Hunting Season." It was a middle-class-oriented magazine and in addition there were pages on fashion/clothing, e.g. tweed jackets, and gossip such as celebrity news and events. The magzine had several pages devoted to dogs and to prizewinning cats; breeding and showing these were acceptable pursuits for women.
Here is a sample of "Cat Gossip" from "The Ladies' Field" in 1910. It's very useful for tracking changes in ownership of cats and deaths of notable cats and communicating to stud cat owners the birth of kittens to queens sent to their stud cats. The column was penned by "Dick Whittington" (Miss (or Mrs?) Higgins) whose work is overshadowed by that of Frances Simpson, but who deserves to be better known. Mr W. Summerfield has just purchased from Miss Alianora Chevers the pale blue Persian kitten, Ulster Blue Bellairs, a son of Kew Blue Peter and Ulster Blue Bellarina. This kitten is of a beautiful pale blue colour, with lovely orange eyes and good coat. Mrs Campbell Fraser's Withdean Blue Pearl his six pure blue kittens by owner's Blue Peru of Hessie, born October 7. Miss Miller's Cindy has six kitten's by Miss H. Lea's Ruckholt Blue Laddie. Mrs Dougan's Falls Fairy has three kittens by Mr J. Flitt's Silvester. Mrs Chilcott has just had the misfortune to lose her Siamese cat, Hiraja, from pneumonia.
The Ladies Field Club was described in an article from The Chicago Tribune, November 29, 1903: LONDON has a score of woman’s clubs as elaborate and complete in their appointments as any of the masculine clubs in Chicago [. . .] The Lady Decies Chief Organizer of The Ladies Field Club. [. . .] Rooms for Cats and Dogs. Next in size and Importance [after the Empress Club] comes the Ladies' Field, also in Dover street. Its membership is about 500, being of women who are or profess to be interested in some athletic and out-door exercise. To quote its prospectus, "The Ladies' Field club has been established for the use and benefit of country gentlemen’s wives and daughters, and of ladies Interested in all kinds of country sports, pursuits, and pastimes." The committee is formed almost entirely of titled women, of whom Lady Decies is the moving spirit. Its most striking feature and its most ridiculous consists In the apportioning off of two rooms tastefully furnished and beautifully upholstered "for the convenience of members' cats and dogs respectively." For them "board and lodging" is charged at the rate of 2d (4 cents) per two hours and 1 shilling (24 cents) a day. It Is of course an absurd concession to the fanciful craze of the moment which makes it a necessity for a woman of fashion to be always burdened with one or the other of these "pampered pets." A more useful specialty is a room devoted to fencing, where an expert master is always prepared, but seldom called upon, to give the members lessons. Billiard rooms are also in evidence.
OUR CATS & CATS
Since 1899, there has been more than one publication using the name Our Cats and though they are not directly related, they are all detailed in this section. "Our Cats" was the title of Harrison Weir's book that recorded the first breed standards, so it;s not surprising that the name has been used several times by cat fancier magazines.
The first magazine to bear the name "Our Cats" was published at the very end of the nineteenth century. The first issue of the weekly magazine Our Cats was published November 1st 1899 and this issue through to the July 13 1900 issue are in the British Newspaper Library collection. Its content at that time was devoted to reporting on cat shows and associated mattered (breeding, exhibiting etc) and contained many letters to the editor and articles debating issues of the time. The cat fancy at that time was mainly the preserve of the well-off, and numerous aristocratic ladies took up the genteel hobby of cat fancying. Judging, however, was often a male preserve. Compared to the succinct content modern letters pages, the letters at that time were often long treatises.
Our Cats was initially published in London, later moving to Manchester and then to Cheshire where the editor and owner was Mrs Herbert Ransome. Printed on pink paper, it began as a small square journal and then grew to a tabloid. As well as show results and reviews, there were reports about cat rescue work and advice on cat care. The children's page had to be dropped because children inevitably read the more adult sections of the magazine - i.e. breeding, neutering (or rather the resistance to it) and euthanasia.
In February 1903, "Our Cats" increased in size and the price increased to twopence. In the following month, the colour of its pages changed from pink to white. In 1909, "Our Cats" was still a two-penny weekly and was edited by Miss Sansome of Bowden, Altrincham.
Somewhat later, Our Cats became a monthly publication, but still reported on cat shows and specific cats. It began to include more articles about breeding practices, veterinary advances and a focus on scientific breeding (early genetics), but never lost the feel of being a "club magazine". In July 1913, the deadline for advertising was printed as normal, but the magazine was not published.
In 1949, a new incarnation of "Our Cats" appeared, this time edited by Arthur Cowlishaw. This magazine was a pocket-sized paper and among its contents were celebrities and their cats; veterinary advice columns, and articles by contributors in North America, Europe and Australia. It also covered the arrival of a number of new breeds being developed in Britain or arriving from the USA. Our Cats was available to American readers, with yearly subscriptions of $3.50 being handled by Charles A Kenny of "Cats Magazine". Subscribers were reminded to clearly indicate that the remittance was for the English magazine "Our Cats". In return, English readers were invited to subscribe to "Cats Magazine". To reduce costs, especially the cost of producing unsold issues returned by newsagents, it became a subscription-only magazine after 1956 (as a result, there was noticeable drop-off in advertising from Chappie Ltd who produced Kit-E-Kat). It survived 17 years, ending in 1966 when Arthur Cowlishaw died.
"Cats" (not to be confused with a now-discontinued US monthly of the same name) was a weekly magazine that also served as the official journal of the UK's main cat registry, the GCCF. It started in 1981 when Fur & Feather split into two magazines: "Cats" and "Rabbits". "Cats" described itself as a specialist magazine for owners, breeders and exhibitors and much of it was devoted to show results, judges' reports, show dates, registry news and club news. As such, it was a niche publication and usually of little interest to cat owners that didn't breed or exhibit. Its December "Annuals" carried more articles.
Early in the 2000s, the ailing Cats re-branded and re-launched as "Our Cats", resurrecting the title of that earliest cat fancy magazine. However it was still aiming at the existing breeder-exhibitor audience and carried nothing to widen its appeal beyond that audience. During 2009, Our Cats (produced by Axis Cook Media) ceased being published and is no longer the GCCF's official journal. As a small, niche publication facing competition from the internet (which could supply show results much faster), it could not survive on subscriptions alone. Although the GCCF served a Breach of Contract on the publisher in March 2009, they did not get sufficient advertising revenue to maintain production and received little (if any) GCCF funding despite devoting 28 of its 32 pages to the GCCF. It was unable to sustain these losses and publication ended.
Very few newsagents carried Cats or the Cats Annual. I used to pick up the Annual and some magazine copies at the National and Supreme Cat Shows. It was intermittently available at larger WH Smith stores; I sometimes found it as an uncollected subscription copy being sold off by my local branch.
Cat Gossip began on December 8th 1926 as a 6-page privately produced weekly edited by H C Brooke. As the title indicates, it was mostly snippets and contributions from correspondents. It reported interesting developments and discoveries as well as the sometimes unusual theories and opinions of its correspondents.
Its editor, HC Brooke, was involved with a number of animal fancies and seemed to collect rare or unusual breeds.
CATS AND KITTENS
This title has also been used for several magazines and I believe there is currently a "Cats and Kittens" magazine published in North America.
In the 1930s (1937?), the 48-page monthly Cats and Kittens appeared. It was edited by Arthur A Prestwich and based in Horsham, Sussex. Topics included the Paris Show; the problem of infectious diseases and the usefulness of vaccinating cats against those diseases. Welfare and cruelty were of concern to the readers. Another interesting topic was cats owned by celebrities, especially by film stars (incidentally, film star James Mason would later write a cat care book). Within a few years, Cats and Kittens was absorbed by the weekly Cat World and for a while was titled "Cat World and Cats and Kittens".
In 1944, a new monthly Cats and Kittens magazine "The Magazine For Every Cat Lover" appeared and was published by Mr and Mrs Sydney France. Though breeding was a always a popular topic, it also catered for a more general audience. It had a monthly feature from the USA. The Cats Protection League also featured in its pages. It ceased publication with the July 1956 issue. It appears that the illness of Mr. France in 1954 made him contemplate the magazine's long-term future. The ever rising costs of production and distribution made it "a labour of love," so regretfully he decided to call time on the publication.
THE CAT FANCY
Launched in 1947, "The Cat Fancy" was a monthly journal devoted entirely to pedigree cats. it included judges' full reports from cat shows, breeders' news, club reports and meeting dates and articles about the cat fancy overseas. Naturally it advertised studs and sales. It cost 7d for a single issue or 7 shillings for a year's subscription and was obtainable only from The Editor, Kit Wilson, based in Kensington, London.
THE CAT LOVER'S JOURNAL
The annual Cat Lovers’ Journal (circulation around 12,000) began in 1966 and described itself as the Year Book of the British Cat World. It was published in the summer by Cats Accessories Limited, 1 Newnham Street, Bedford MK40 3JR, England, and was printed by Reliance Printing Works, Birmingham Street, Halesowen, Worcs. This annual magazine carried a mix of breed articles, stories, poems, show reports, photos, general interest articles and advertising. In the 1960s and 1970s, when few people travelled abroad for their summer holidays, summer annuals/summer specials were printed. It was also available in North America, but not in New Zealand or Australia.
The Cat Lovers’ Journal claimed to be the best medium in the country in which to advertise Breeder’s Stock and Commercial Products for or about Cats. If a breeder had a very successful cat on the Show bench at any particular Show, s/he was invited to write in and tell the Show reporters, who tried to cover the whole scene but could not always visit every Show during the season. They also tried to feature one or two Cat Charities in each issue. They did not confine their articles and stories to Great Britain. Editions also featured a Cat Sanctuary on the Canals in Amsterdam.
In 1973, the "Boarding Cattery" section was been made into a new annual publication, "Cat Boarding" and it was planned to publish this in the spring, ready for the summer holiday season. The Journal was published later in the year owing to the difficulty of getting in the Show reports at the end of each Show season. There's little information available on this publication; its start date was gleaned from a comment in the editorial section of the 1971 edition.
Though now associated with a glossy monthly, there was previously a much earlier weekly of that name. In the 1930s, there was a weekly magazine called Cat World (or The Cat's World?). It cost two pence and absorbed the the monthly Cats and Kittens magazine. It provided a forum for complaints about the organised cat fancy and a platform for animals charities. The PDSA's first Animal Day was featured in its pages. Many of its articles were reproduced from other cat journals. As war approached, the magazine covered caring for cats in war-time and air-raid precautions. During the war, Cat World vanished, though the name would later be used for a magazine still in circulation.
The monthly Cat World is Britain's oldest cat magazine and now caters for breeders, exhibitors, rescuers and for general cat lovers. It began in the early 1980s as a weekly, but became a monthly. Issues during the mid 1980s (where my collection begins) tended to have rather lightweight articles, but in the latter half of the 1980s, content increased and became decidedly meatier with more in-depth articles on health and behaviour, breed profiles and the dates of major shows. There were also plenty of articles submitted by readers. Up until 1997 it also produced a winter annual.
During the late 1980s and early 1990s, it had a slimmer sister publication called "Show World", later renamed "Show Cats". This carried cat show results and commentaries, especially the non-GCCF shows (GCCF shows being amply covered by Cats at that time). Both were produced by Cat World Ltd.
In the early 1990s Cat World contained a quarterly pull-out section called Paws that contained lighter-hearted articles and almost no advertising. In the mid 1990s it suffered a decline in an increasingly competitive market and was updated and reformatted. Show Cats ceased being a separate publication and was incorporated as a pull-out section of Cat World. At the end of 1996 it was apparently in dire straits, issues were not appearing on time and its stand was missing from the 1996 Supreme Show (October). It was bought by Ashdown Publishing and a December issue finally appeared, though the January 1997 issue was never produced. The absence of the Jan 1997 issue continues to perplex collectors who subscribed after that date!
The following message (a re-posted email from Ashdown Publishing) appeared on rec.pets.cats on Dec 16th 1996
"Thank you for coming to speak to us [Cat World] at our stand at Olympia on Saturday. I would be grateful if you could post the following information to the newsgroups rec.pets.cats and alt.animals.felines.
Cat World has just been taken over by Ashdown Publishing. Ashdown are a thriving independent publishing company with more than 16 years experience in producing specialist magazines. Our stable of titles includes Dolls House World, Teddy Bear Times and Doll Magazine. They are all leading magazines in their field, and sell throughout the UK as well as all over the world.
As a company we are committed to the long-term development of Cat World, and will ensure it retains its well-deserved reputation as 'Britain's best-loved Cat magazine.' The presses have been rolling throughout the night to ensure the latest issue was produced in time for the Olympia Show. Shops and subscribers will be receiving the December issue during the course of the coming week. The next issue is already well underway and will be out early January ."
Though perhaps no longer Britain's biggest selling cat magazine (that honour may have gone to Your Cat) it is the longest-established.
ALL ABOUT CATS
First published in March 1994, this was the British version of the French Atout Chats/ German Geliebte Katze magazine and was initially edited by former Cat World editor Grace McHattie (1994/5). It was aimed at a more general audience, but was launched at almost the same time as Your Cat. It was quite obvious that (too) much of its content had originated from the French or German versions.
In 1996 it produced its one and only annual, following the tradition of the longer established Cat World magazine.
At the start of its life, its less-than-glossy appearance, thinner paper and often poor-quality images gave it a more down-market look compared to Cat World and Your Cat. After a couple of years, competitions that were supposed to spread over several months tended to be halted and left unfinished (perhaps due to lack of interest or lack of sponsorship revenue) - as friends and I discovered from personal experiences. It changed from monthly to bi-monthly and revamped its image with better quality paper, but the change of image came too late and it ultimately vanished after the June/July 2001 issue.
It is not to be confused with the South African glossy bi-monthly of the same name.
This glossy full-colour monthly magazine was launched as a bi-monthly in May/June 1994, around the same timeframe as All About Cats. In March 1995 it went monthly. After All About Cats ceased publication, it went head-to-head with older rival Cat World and covers similar ground with the addition of a larger "Ask the Experts" section and a monthly fiction spread. So far, it hasn't suffered the ups and downs that have beset its main rival.
This short-lived glossy bi-monthly began in Oct/Nov 2000 and aimed to be a non-cutesy magazine that would appeal to both genders. This was a refreshing take on cat magazines. However, the Dec 2001/Jan 2002 issue, though promoted in the Oct/Nov 2001 issue, did not appear and it ceased publication after only a year.Although it aimed at a different niche from other news-stand cat magazines, that sector could not sustain 4 titles. Cats Today, along with All About Cats, were the two casualties.
"The Cat" is published by the charity Cats Protection. In 1927, this charity was founded under the name "The Cats Protection League" and set out to be set out to be an educational body, rather than a rescue society. In 1931, it began publishing The Cats' Mews Sheet (price 1d), a four-page, black-and-white A5 newsletter edited by Miss Jessey Wade. This membership magazine originally aimed to educate and provide a forum for suggestions, questions and answers, and also to gain the co-operation of other animal societies of the time. The Cats Protection League’s news-sheet was born during the 1930’s Depression and increasing tensions in Europe that would lead to the Second World War. The first 51 issues of The Cats Mews Sheet were edited by Cats Protection founder Jessey Wade, but by 1934 it was running at a loss, forcing its first significant changes. It was successfully relaunched in January 1934, with its name shortened to "The Cat", and expanded to eight A5 pages (i.e. 2 sheets folded A4) to include a cover image, more articles and advertising. The first advert (Feb 1934) was for Spratt’s New Ready-For-Use Cat Food. The price was raised to 2d. Jessey Wade remained the editor until March 1935. By early wartime in 1939, The Cat followed the nation’s motto to "Keep Calm and Carry On" albeit at a reduced size and with no photographs in order to minimise printing costs. Instead of photos, it carried a few line drawings to break up the text. It was edited by Mrs Avery. During wartime, it didn’t miss a single issue and it carried advice for cat owners on feeding and caring for cats during the rationing and shortages. At the end of this period, The Cat carried an account of its achievements – done by a skeleton staff of three people - during wartime. In 1945, The Cat reinstated its cover image and the celebratory heading of ‘The Victory Cat’. Due to ongoing shortages, it continued to be an A5 publication illustrated with a few black-and-white photos and line drawings (it would remain in this form until the end of 1974). In 1951, to further reduce printing costs it cut back to 10 issues per year instead of being monthly.
In 1955, The Cat, now edited by Osyth Sherratt, celebrated its 21st anniversary and included excerpts from the writings of cat-loving film star James Mason. It also carried an article from a cat rescue in Victoria, British Columbia. Celebrity articles and overseas rescue articles would become regular features half a century later! In 1962, Albert Steward took over as editor and in 1967, the Cats Protection League celebrated its 40th Anniversary and the June issue of The Cat, edited by Albert Steward, was its celebration issue. By then, many other cat magazines had gone out of print and The Cat proudly referred to itself as "The oldest magazine devoted entirely to cats and their welfare". In that issue Steward wrote of the other publications "Other cat magazines have come and gone, creating considerable impressions and advocating the cause of our feline friends in their respective ways. We recall ‘Our Cats’ and ‘Cat Gossip’ early in 1900 period. 'Cats and Kittens' and ‘The Cats World’ 1930’s and ‘Our Cats’ of recent years but now alas out of circulation."
In 1969, The Cat expanded in size, but cut its frequency to 6 issues per year to prevent the annual subscription being increased. Albert Steward retired as editor after the March/April 1972 issue. The Jan/Feb 1972 issue was the first A4 issue and the first to have a colour cover. Its circulation also increased and at the end of the 1970s, members’ cats were featured on the cover. In the 1980s, it introduced a page for younger supporters.
In the mid-1990s, the magazine reintroduced general features. General features had not been widely included since before Second World War. It still carried news from Cats Protection branches and adoption centres, but instead of including branch news from every branch in every issue, each issue concentrated on one region only (plus homing appeals from other regions). The mix of articles included feline welfare in other countries, and regular articles about cat-themed postage stamps. It also introduced regular articles about medical conditions and cat behaviour issues contributed by experts. In Spring 2008, The Cat became a glossy-covered magazine and was, by now, a quarterly. In 2011, it celebrated its eightieth birthday and introduced regular interviews with cat-owning celebrities, reflecting the public’s insatiable interest in the lives of celebs.
FAB / CAT CARE
The Feline Advisory Bureau was founded in 1958 to gather information about medical and behaviour aspects of cats. The information was published in the FAB Bulletin. In 1992, this expanded and became the Feline Advisory Bureau Journal. Over the years this moved away from specialised subjects and became more of a magazine. In 1996, it spawned a sister publication for the more specialised feline surgery and medicine content. In 2008, the FAB Journal became "Cat Care". During the 21st century, the Feline Advisory Bureau had become an international entity and changed its name, and that of its journal, to International Cat Care.
EARLY NORTH AMERICAN MAGAZINES IN BRIEF
In North America, a cat magazine called "The American Cat News" was founded in Chicago in December 1900, pre-dating the first national Cat Associations there.
CAT MAGAZINE OUT. The American Cat News is the title of a new magazine, the initial number of which has just appeared. The prospectus of the magazine, signed by C.F. Whitemarsh and F.C. Goudy, the publishers, states that it is issued for cat lovers and its news will be devoted exclusively to cats and catteries. The December number contains half-tone cuts of a number of famous Chicago cats and cats of other cities. The portrait of an unnamed cat adorns the cover, and Teddy Roosevelt, owned by Mrs. L C. Kemp of Huron, S.D., is the subject of the first illustration. There are also cuts of cats of high degree belonging to Mrs. Clinton Locke, Mrs. Leland T. Norton, and other well-known Chicagoans. Most of the news space is devoted to cat gossip. There are personals regarding many furry animals, and a touching obituary of Argent Moonbeam, whose sudden death is said to have “cast a real gloom” over the ninth grand show of the National Cat club. In chronicling the death of White Tsar, the obituary reads: “We feel the greatest sympathy for Mrs. Champion and her daughters. It must have been a keen grief to learn of White Tsar’s death. He was bred in their cattery, and these ladles are tenderly attached to all their cats." Among the contributors to the first number are Mrs. Clinton Locke, Mrs. Leland T. Norton, and Blanche Winslow Robinson. The magazine is handsome in appearance. - The Inter Ocean, 16th December, 1900
A national cat magazine called The Cat Journal was founded in 1901 and published in Palmyra, New York, by Mr C.H. Jones, a great cat lover who had brown tabbies of "the Maine stock." In addition to The Cat Journal, he started an eight-page paper, “The Weekly Cat News” on October 21, 1911. Due to Mr Jones' illness, The Cat Journal suspended publication after the February 1913 issue. It was not re-started, because Mr Jones died in April 1915. Since 1901, there has always been at least one cat magazine in North America, and sometimes as many as five magazines at once (the size of the country and time to cross it meant the cat fancy and the magazines were quite regionalised). Other early specialist cat fancy magazines were "The Fortnightly Cattarian" and "The Cat Review", both launched in June 1903. In 1903, The Cat Review was owned and published by Mr & Mrs Oliver L. Dosch of Dayton, Ohio; its first issue appearing on 25th June 25, 1903. In 1907, The Cat Review moved to Elizabeth, New Jersey. In the earliest part of the 20th Century, the main voices of the American cat fancy seemed to be "The Cat Journal", "The American Cat News" and "Field & Fancy".
JOURNAL DEVOTED TO CATS OF HIGH DEGREE. "The Western Cat Review," a Journal devoted to the doings of pedigreed cats and, incidentally, their owners, has made its initial appearance under the editorial direction of H. C. Hinds of 1672 Haight street. The paper is intended to encourage cat fancying on the Pacific coast and it thoroughly covers the subject. The success of the cat show held here in February indicated that there was a decided interest in the furry felines, and the Cat Review aims to appeal to all who are cat fanciers. Editorially, the paper says: "The cat fancy has passed the stage of ‘faddism’ on the Pacific coast, and in donning the garb of commercialism there comes the natural demand for a paper in which the many high bred cats of the west may voice their claims to superiority and attract to themselves that public attention which they so richly deserve. Hence the reason for the Western Cat Review.” The Review is unique In one feature as it records punctiliously the social diversions of the cats of high degree. - Various, April, 1909. San Francisco.
On 3rd September, 1906, The Indianapolis News gave this answer to a reader query: You can get books on cats at the book stores. Magazines devoted to the interests of cats are The Cat Review, Dayton, O., and The Cat Journal, Palmyra, N.Y. But almost all periodicals devoted to dogs and pet stock include cats.
In July 1912, Mrs E. Brace contacted Mr C. H. Jones, formerly editor of the Cat Journal, before launching her own magazine. Mr Jones had given up his work as editor/publisher because of a long illness. Since he appeared unlikely to resume that role (and indeed, The Cat Journal ceased publication in ealy 1913), he gave Mrs Brace his blessing for her new magazine.
The monthly "Western Cat Fancier" (a new name for "The Western Cat Review"?) was published in San Francisco. Costing one dollar per year's subscription, it was published by G. Elwyn Willats Willats and edited by Miss Jane Marvin. It carried news and articles for cat lovers. I don't know its dates, but there are references to it in cat show articles during 1915 and 1916.
THE CAT COURIER
"The Cat Courier", began publication in the Great Lakes region in 1912. It was originally edited by Mrs Elizabeth L Brace of Rochester, New York. In 1918, Mrs Brace died and was succeeded as editor by Mrs. Gertrude Taylor (aka Taylor-Ruddy and Taylor-Sweeney) of Detroit, MI.
PERIODICAL TO GIVE CAT NEWS. First Number Will Be Issued on July 27th. A new periodical is to be launched, the Cat Courier. The first number will come out Saturday, July 27th. The editor. Mrs. Elizabeth Brace, has long studied the care of cats and is well known as an authority. The journal will be published weekly. Among the contributors to the first number is Mrs. Pauline Quirk, wife of a man of letters, Leslie W. Quirk. A department of the Courier will be devoted to the interests of Western fanciers. One corner will be devoted to dogs. There will be news notes every week and correspondence from different persons. Among the advertisers are prominent fanciers. - Democrat and Chronicle, 19th July, 1912
CAT COURIER COMES OUT. New Publication Edited and Published by Rochester Woman. Fanciers are reading with interest thin week the first number of the Cat Courier, a weekly edited and published by Mrs. Elizabeth L. Brace, president of^ the* Lockehaven Cat Club. The little paper starts out with one hundred subscribers, an excellent beginning in view of the short time that has elapsed between the editor's decision to publish the Courier and the date of its first appearance. Valuable information about the American cat and her imported cousins is found in this paper. As Mrs. Brace is president of the Nationsl Short haired Society of America, the everyday puss of obscure birth may look for a share of publicity in this attractive periodical.
C. H. Jones, formerly editor of the Cat Journal, who has given up work for the present because of a long illness, has a courteous contribution in which he writes: “Mrs Brace consulted me before she made the first move, and said that if it was going to have any bad effect on my future plans she would not start her paper. I told her that my plans were so indefinite on account of my health that she need not think of me at all, but, go ahead, and I wished her all the good fortune in the world. She cannot run a paper without advertising support any more than I could. This support must not be for one week, but for all the time and it must be liberal.”
One of the evidences of Mrs. Brace’s ability as an editor is seen in her arrangement of news. For Instance, there are “notes” about the Washington Cat Club and the Lockehaven Club, a department headed "Correspondence” and another devoted to cat lovers and their pets living beyond the Mississippi. One part, entitled "Barks from Dogland,” is devoted to the interests of dogs. A contributor to the paper whose articles will be of interest to readers is Mrs. C. S. McGuire, of Grand Rapids, Mich., who has been a breeder for years. - Democrat and Chronicle, 31st July, 1912
SECOND NUMBER OF CAT COURIER. New Periodical for Fanciers Continues Interesting. The second number of the Cat Courier has been printed, and, like the first, has various points of interest. In addition to the departments of news, this number has news about the doings of fanciers, their journeys, etc. That part of the Courier devoted to news west of the Mississippi is entitled “Fancy of the Occident.” There is an article on “Suggestions for Elevating the Stud Book.” In the department “Barks from Dog-land” is the information that Miss Christian Loebs, of this city, owner of the Christo Kennels, is a notable young breeder. The English bull Lucky Strip, of those kennels, has recently presented her owner with seven puppies sired by te famous Gotham Magna, his only offspring in America. Mrs Elizabeth L. brace, editor and publisher, urges suggestions as to the improvement of her publication. - Democrat and Chronicle, 5th August, 1912
QUERY COLUMN IN CAT COURIER. Fanciers May Gain Practical Information Through It. With the November number of the Cat Courier the editor, Mrs Elizabeth L. Brace, begins a “Query” column. Any question asked through this department will be answered as soon as the information can be obtained. Persons wishing to know about perfect markings, feeding and different points connected with cat raising will profit by this column. In a short time the Courier will have a series of articles by Joshua Cowpland entitled “recollections.” The series will be illustrated with pictures of celebrated cats of the past. - Democrat and Chronicle, 29th November, 1912
CAT COURIER APPEARS. Fanciers who have missed the Cat Courier for some weeks are again getting their copies, owing to the partial recovery from a long illness of the editor, Mrs. Elizabeth L. Brace. Mrs Brace has mailed a number dated November 1st and 8th, in which an editorial explains the cause of many issues not being received. - Democrat and Chronicle, 9th January, 1914
FRIEND OF CATS IS DEAD. Mrs. Elizabeth Brace Was Publisher of Cat Courier. Churchville. Nov. 27. The death of Mrs. Elizabeth Louise Lewis, wife of William Wilder Brace, occurred at her home, “The Willows,” just north of this village, at an early hour yesterday morning. She was born in Rome, Oneida county, 61 years ago and was the only daughter of the late Howland S. and Martha Wood Lewis. She resided in Oneida county until 21 years of age, when she moved with her parents to Castile, Wyoming county, where she was united in marriage to William Wilder Brace, who survives her. She has been engaged as owner, publisher and editor of the “Cat Courier,” a journal devoted to the interest of the cat. - Democrat and Chronicle, 28th November, 1918
Mrs Brace’s successor as editor of Cat Courier was Gertrude E. Taylor-Ruddy and her role as editor was often mentioned when she was a judge at shows during the 1920s. The Cat Courier ran for 26 years without interruption until May 1938, when it merged with The Cat Gazette. Shortly after the merger, in December, 1939, The Cat Gazette was merged into All-Pets Magazine, published by Lightner Publishing Company, Chicago, Illinois (this had the knock-on effect that the CFA began printing Stud Books stating from with Volume XXII). Cat Gazette had started out in 1934 in New Jersey, and was the official journal of the Cat Fanciers Association. Publication moved to Dearborn, Michigan in 1934. CFA stud books (Volumes XVI - XXI) were not printed as separate volumes while The Cat Gazette was in publication because the Gazette included a monthly listing of new registrations.
OTHER EARLY MAGAZINES
In 1926, a magazine called “Catdom” was being published in Baltimore, Maryland,but I have no information about its start and end dates. (Source – Wilkes-Barre Times Leader, 24th May 1926). Also in 1926, a magazine called “Pacific Cat Journal” was being published in San Francisco, California, again I have no information about its start and end dates. (Source – Wilkes-Barre Times Leader, 24th May 1926)
In December 1938, a magazine called "Our Cats" began publication; founded by Alice Graydon Phillips and not to be confused with the British magazines of that name founded in 1899 and again in 1949. "The Cat Digest," founded by Dorothy Grubler of Cincinnati, was first published in 1940, but this was discontinued after only a few years. I can find very little about this magazine and only a little more about Mrs Grubler: "NIFTY KITTY FIRST DONOR TO WAR CHEST (The Cincinnati Enquirer, January 1, 1942) In 1942 Tabby Digest, a Cincinnati cat which is reported to be the most traveled cat in the country, acquired an added distinction yesterday when her contribution to the Red Cross War Fund was entered on the books us the first for the year 1942. The Red Cross books for 1941 had just been closed when Tabby, doing a little more traveling, arrived at the chapter house, 2343 Auburn Avenue, with her donation. Mrs. Dorothy Grubler, 2701 Cleinview Avenue, publisher of the Cat Digest, is Tabby's owner. Tabby has received a medal from the New York port authorities for having traveled 15,000 miles by train, plane, and automobile in the last year and a half."
"All-Pets" carried a cat section from 1939 until its demise. "Meow," a pocket-size publication, existed for a few issues in the mid 1950s. "International Cat Fancy" was a beautiful and elaborate publication first published in 1965 as a bi-monthly by a company of the same name. Leslie Slawson Smith was the first editor-publisher and president of the company in Studio City, Calif. CAT FANCY cover topics such as spay and neuter, indoors-only, animal rights and responsible ownership. From March/April 1968 issue, CAT FANCY was published by Pet Magazine Inc. in New York and Smith remained its editor. In the September/October 1971 issue, they announced a return to the West Coast and by April 1972 issue, CAT FANCY was published by Slawson Communications Inc. of San Diego.
In January 1945 Cats Magazine first appeared and was the only periodical of its type at that time in North America. Alice Graydon Phillips' Our Cats merged with Cats Magazine in 1949, continuing as Cats Magazine until it suddenly ceased publication in 2001. The British Our Cats magazine was available from the same distributor as Cats Magazine from 1949, and Cats Magazine advertised in Our Cats as being available to British readers.
CATS MAGAZINE AND CAT FANCY
Charles A. Kenny founded CATS Magazine in 1945. He and Rita Swenson devised the All-American cats which played such a tremendous part in the development of the Fancy and the cat show world. He also created America’s National Cat Week which gained favourable publicity for all cats during the 1950’s under the direction of its president, Guy Bogart. By 1951 CATS’ circulation had failed to climb above the 2,000 mark, so Kenny turned CATS over to a former newspaper man who had spent seventeen years with Esso Standard Oil in New York, and whose only connection with CATS magazine was his review of Bell, Book and Candle in the February 1951 issue. Under new management, circulation soared to 30,000 thanks to trust and co-operation between the magazine and the individuals, clubs and associations that made up the cat fancy in North America. In 1996, the family-owned CATS Magazine was sold to PriMedia, and its offices relocated "halfway across the USA" with an entirely new – and less knowledgeable - staff. A few years later, PriMedia sold CATS Magazine to BowTie, who already owned Cat Fancy. The two magazines now appealed to largely the same audience so CATS Magazine ceased publication with the August 2001 issue and annual subscribers got Cat Fancy for the remainder of their subscription period. CATS magazine’s sister publication, Dog World, held on for another decade.
Cat Fancy became a victim of cat culture and could not adapt to a fast-moving, internet-oriented culture of memes, lolcats and amusing video clips, not to mentioned its deformed celebrity felines (Grumpy Cat and Lil Bub). Founded in 1965, its origins were rooted in the more highbrow world of "the cat fancy" with its cat shows, breeder directories and emphasis on pedigree cats. It was informational rather than entertaining. These modern cat-lovers would rather rescue a shelter cat (moggy or pedigree) than buy from a breeder. In 2003, Cat Fancy (owned by BowTie Inc) included more articles about rescues and mixed-breed cats to reflect this change. Cat Fancy never quite made the shift to modern cat enthusiasm which is about fun and lifestyle rather than pedigrees and prizes. It also retained a loyal audience of people (including "serious" cat fanciers) that didn’t own a computer, which meant the magazine became a compromise – breed and health features alongside shelter/rescue/feral articles and something more light-hearted. But even the cat show listings were moving online where information was updated faster.
BowTie was badly hit by recession and falling revenues. California-based I-5 Publishing LLC, formed in 2013, bought up BowTie’s animal-oriented magazines and some of their book contracts, but none of their debts (hence I was never paid for co-authoring "The Original Cat Bible"). As its readership’s cat-loving style changed, Cat Fancy’s circulation decreased. Its annual circulation was around 160,000 copies. Around the same time as they acquired BowTie's magazines, I-5 noticed the audience appeal of the more light-hearted Catster and Dogster websites, so in 2014 it bought them. A few weeks later, it decided to replace the out-dated Cat Fancy (and Dog Fancy) magazines with two new print magazines named after the websites. Hence, at the end of 2014, after 49 years (making it America’s longest-running cat magazine) Cat Fancy was cancelled. I-5 also reduced the frequency of its cat and dog magazines, making them bi-monthly - Catster one month, Dogster the next. This allowed improvements in production quality and increased content. The covers changed from pedigree portraits to cute kitties and the content became "fluffier" to appeal to "kitty parents" and their "fur babies" as well as to cat rescuers. It also embraced the celeb-culture by featuring cat-owning celebrities. Some of Cat Fancy’s original audience felt alienated by the new format – fluff rather than serious features - and complained of dumbing down or of chasing the lowest common denominator.
CAT WORLD (INTERNATIONAL) AND OTHERS
Pauline Thompson and her husband originated CAT WORLD Magazine in Denver, CO, back in 1973. Pauline edited it and her husband published it. It continued in that form for seven years and then the British couple Richard and Daphne Negus, took it over and moved it to Phoenix, AZ. Later they merged CAT WORLD into the center of issues of American CATS Magazine published by Ray Smith. That arrangement lasted a few years until Ray Smith died, after which it may have been absorbed completely by CATS or simply dropped. The Neguses have since passed away. Many thanks to Pauline Thompson for this information in 2016 while clearing some back issues of CAT WORLD Magazine.
The Canadian Cat Association used to publish a bilingual English/French quarterly called "Cats Canada Chats" but this name is now used by a Feline Canadian Association that defends the rights of Canadian cat breeder (due to different legal systems in the USA and Canada).
Cover images are copyright of their respective publisher and reproduced for the purpose of review and education only.