CATS AND THE CAT FANCY IN AMERICA 1880S TO 1903 (2)
The following is from Concerning Cats (1900, Helen Winslow). Fans of the Maine Coon breed will find it described in the Messybeast Retrospective on long-haired breeds (seeCats and Cat Care Retrospective).
CONCERNING HIGH BRED CATS IN AMERICAAmerican Helen M Winslow was the editor of "The Club Woman" and the author of "Concerning Cats" (published 1900), a book on cats and the cat fancy in America. At that time, the American cat fancy lagged greatly behind the British scene and her comments are less extensive than those of Frances Simpson a few years later. "High-bred" meant cats of recognised breeds and known ancestry, what would now be called purebreds and pedigrees. Her chapter "Concerning High Bred Cats In America" describes the leading catteries, breeders and cat fanciers in America up to 1900. At this time, many of the cats were direct imports from Britain or were descended from British stock. Two American breeds familiar to the modern reader were the Maine Coon and the Maltese (now the blue variety of American Shorthair).
One of the first American women to start a "cattery" in this Country was Mrs. Clinton Locke, wife of the rector of Grace Church, Chicago. As a clergyman’s wife she has done a great deal of good among the various charities of her city simply from the income derived from her kennels. She has been very generous in gifts of her kittens to other women who have made the raising of fine Cats a means to add to a slender income, and has sent beautiful cats all over the United States, to Mexico, and even to Germany. Under her hospitable roof at 2825 Indiana Avenue is a cat family of great distinction. First, there is The Beadle, a splendid blue male with amber eyes, whose long pedigree appears in the third volume of the N. C. C. S. B. [National Cat Club Stud Book] under the number 1872, sired by Glaucus, and his dam was Hawthorne Bounce. His pedigree is traced for many generations. He was bred by Mrs. Dean of Hawthornedene, Slough, England. The Beadle took first prize at the cat show held in Chicago in 1896. He also had honorable mention at two cat shows in England when a kitten, under the name of Bumble Bee. Lord Gwynne is a noble specimen, a long-haired white cat with wonderful blue eyes. He was bred from Champion Bundle, and his mother was out of The Masher, No. 1027, winner of many championships. His former owner was Mrs. Davies, of Upper Cattesham. Mrs. Locke purchased him from A. A. Clarke, one of the best judges of cats in England. Lord Gwynne took a prize at the Brighton Cat Show in England in 1895, as a kitten. The father of The Beadle’s mate, Rosalys, was the famous "Bluebeard."
Mrs. Locke’s chinchillas are the finest ones in this country. Atossa, the mother cat, has a wonderful litter of kittens. She was bred to Lord Argent, one of the three celebrated stud chinchillas in England. She arrived in this country in July, and ten days after gave birth to her foreign kittens. One of the kittens has been sold to Mrs. Dr. Forsheimer, of Cincinnati, and another to Mrs. W. E. Colburn, of South Chicago. The others Mrs. Locke will not part with at any price.
Smerdis, the grand chinchilla male brought over as a future mate for Atossa, is a royal cat. He looks as though he had run away from Bengal, but, like all of Mrs. Locke’s cats, he is gentle and loving. He is the son of Lord Southampton, the lightest chinchilla stud in England (N. C. C. S. B. 1690), and his mother is Silver Spray, No. 1542. His maternal grandparents are Silver King and Harebell, and his great-grandparents Perso and Beauty, - all registered cats. On his father’s side a pedigree of three generations can be traced. One of her more recent importations is Lord Gwynne’s mate, Lady Mertice, a beautiful long-haired cat with blue eyes. Other famous cats of hers have been Bettina, Nora, Do; Vashti, Marigold, Grover, and Wendell.
One of Mrs. Locke’s treasures is a bona fide cat mummy, brought by Mrs. Locke from Egypt. It has been verified at the Gizeh Museum to be four thousand years old.
It is fully twenty-five years since Mrs. Locke began to turn her attention to fine cats, and when she imported her first cat to Chicago there was only one other in the United States. That one was Mrs. Edwin Brainard’s Madam, a wonderful black, imported from Spain. Her first long-haired cat was Wendell, named for the friend who brought him from Persia, and his descendants are now in the Lockehaven Cattery. Queen Wendella is one of the most famous cats in America today, and mother of the beautiful Lockehaven Quartette. These are all descended from the first Wendell. The kittens in the Lockehaven Quartette went to Mrs. S. S. Leach, Bonny Lea, New London, Ct.; Miss Lucy Nichols, Ben Mahr Cattery, Waterbury, Ct.; Miss Olive Watson, Warrensburg, Pa.; and Mrs. B. M. Gladding, at Memphis, Tenn. Mrs. Locke’s Lord Argent, descended from Atossa and the famous Lord Argent, of England, is a magnificent cat, while her Smerdis is the son of the greatest chinchillas in the world. Rosalys II, now owned by Mr. C. H. Jones, of Palmyra, N. Y., was once her cat, and was the daughter of Rosalys (owned by Miss Nichols, of Waterbury, Ct.), who was a granddaughter of the famous Bluebeard, of England. These, with the beautiful brown tabby, Crystal, owned by Mr. Jones, have all been prize winners. Lucy Claire is a recent importation, who won second and third prizes in England under the name of Baby Flossie. She is the daughter of Duke of Kent and Topso, of Merevale. Her paternal grandparents are Mrs. Herring’s well-known champion, Blue Jack, and Marney. The maternal grandparents are King Harry, a prize winner at Clifton and Brighton, and Fluff.
Mrs. Locke’s cats are all imported. She has sometimes purchased cats from Maine or elsewhere for people who did not care to pay the price demanded for her fine kittens, but she has never had in her own cattery any cats of American origin. Her stock, therefore, is probably the choicest in America. She always has from twenty to twenty-five cats, and the cat-lover who obtains one of her kittens is fortunate indeed. A beautiful pair of blacks in Mrs. Locke’s cattery have the most desirable shade of amber eyes, and are named "Blackbird" and "St. Tudno"; she has also a choice pair of Siamese cats called "Siam" and "Sally Ward."
Mrs. Josiah Cratty, of Oak Park, has a cattery called the "Jungfrau Katterie," and her cats are remarkably beautiful. Her Bartimaeus and True Blue are magnificent white cats, sired by Mrs. Locke’s Lord Gwynne.
Miss L. C. Johnstone, of Chicago, has some of the handsomest cats in the country. Cherie is a wonderful blue shaded cat; Lord Humm is a splendid brown tabby; while Beauty Belle is an exceedingly handsome white cat. Miss Johnstone takes great pains with her cats, and is rewarded by having them rated among the best in America. Some of the beautiful cats which have been sent from Chicago to homes elsewhere are Teddy Roosevelt, a magnificent white, sired by Mrs. W. E. Colburn’s Paris, and belonging to Mrs. L. Kemp, of Huron, S. Dak.; Silver Dick, a gorgeous buff and white, whose grandmother was Mrs. Colburn’s Caprice, and who is owned by Mrs. Porter L. Evans, of East St. Louis; Toby, a pure white with green eyes, owned by Mrs. Elbert W. Shirk, of Indianapolis; and Amytis, a chinchilla belonging to Mrs. S. S. Leach, of New London, sired by Mrs. Locke’s Smerdis, and the daughter of Rosalys II.
Miss Cora Wallace, of East Brady, Pa., has Lord Ruffles, son of the first Rosalys and The Beadle, formerly Bumble Bee. Mrs. Fisk Greene, of Chicago, now owns a beautiful cat in Bumble Bee, and another in Miss Merrylegs, a blue with golden eyes, the daughter of Bumble Bee and Black Sapho. The Misses Peacock, of Topeka, have a pair of whites called Prince Hilo and Rosebud, the latter having blue eyes. Mrs. Frederick Monroe, of Riverside, Illinois., owns a remarkable specimen of a genuine Russian cat, a perfect blue of extraordinary size. Miss Elizabeth Knight, of Milwaukee, has a beautiful silver tabby, Winifred, the daughter of Whychwood, Miss Kate Loraine Gage’s celebrated silver tabby, of Brewster, N. Y. The most perfect "lavender blue" cat belongs to Miss Lucy E. Nichols, of Waterbury, Ct., and is named Roscal. He has beautiful long fur, with a splendid ruff and tail, and is a son of Rosalys and The Beadle.
Mrs. Leland Norton has a number of magnificent cats. It was she who adopted Miss Frances Willard’s "Tootsie," the famous cat which made two thousand dollars for the temperance cause. Miss Nella B. Wheatley has very fine kennels, and raises some beautiful cats. Her Taffy is a beautiful buff and white Angora, which has been very much admired. Her cats have been sold to go to many other cities. Speaking from her own experience Miss Wheatley says, "Raising Angoras is one of the most fascinating of employments, and I have found, when properly taken care of, they are among the most beautiful, strong, intelligent, and playful of all animals."
Mrs. W. E. Colburn is another very successful owner of cat kennels. She has had some of the handsomest cats in this country, among which are "Paris," a magnificent white cat with blue eyes, and his mother, "Caprice," who has borne a number of wonderfully fine pure white Angoras with the most approved shade of blue eyes. Her cattery is known as the "Calumet Kennel," and there is no better judge of cats in the country than Mrs. Colburn.
So much has been said of the cats which were "mascots" on the ships during the Cuban War that it is hardly necessary to speak of them. Tom, the mascot of the Maine, and Christobal have been shown in several cities of the Union since the war.
The most beautiful collection of brown tabbies is owned by Mr. C. H. Jones, of Palmyra, N. Y., who has the "Crystal Cattery." Crystal, the son of Mrs. E. M. Barker’s "King Humbert," is the champion brown tabby of America, and is a magnificent creature, of excellent disposition and greatly admired by cat fanciers everywhere. Mona Liza, his mate, and Goozie and Bubbles make up as handsome a quartet of this variety as one could wish to see. Goozie’s tail is now over twelve inches in circumference. Mr. Jones keeps about twenty fine cats in stock all the time.
The most highly valued cat in America is Napoleon the Great, whose owner has refused four thousand dollars for him. A magnificent fellow he is too, with his bushy orange fur and lionlike head. He is ten years old and weighs twenty-three pounds, which is a remarkable weight in a male cat, only gelded ones ordinarily running above fifteen pounds. Napoleon was bred by a French nobleman, and was born at the Château Fontainebleau, near Paris, in 1888. He is a pure French Angora, which is shown by his long crinkly hair - so long that it has to be frequently clipped to preserve the health and comfort of the beautiful creature. This clipping is what causes the uneven quality of fur which appears in his picture. His mother was a famous cat, and his grandmother was one of the grandest dams of France (no pun intended). The latter lived to be nineteen years old, and consequently Napoleon the Great is regarded by his owners as a mere youth. He has taken first prizes and medals wherever he has been exhibited, and at Boston, 1897, won the silver cup offered for the best cat in the exhibition.
Another fine cat belonging to Mrs. Weed, is Marguerite, mother of Le Noir, a beautiful black Angora, sired by Napoleon the Great and owned by Mrs. Weed. Juno is Napoleon’s daughter, born in 1894, and is valued at fifteen hundred dollars. When she was seven months old her owners refused two hundred dollars for her. She is a tortoise-shell and white French Angora, and a remarkably beautiful creature. All these cats are great pets, and are allowed the freedom of the house and barns, although when they run about the grounds there is always a man in attendance. Six or seven thousand dollars’ worth of cats sporting on the lawn together is a rich sight, but not altogether without risk.
Mrs. Fabius M. Clarke’s "Persia," a beautiful dark chinchilla, is one of the finest cats in this country. She began her career by taking special and first prizes at Fastmay’s Cat Show in England, as the best long-haired kitten. She also took the first prize as a kitten at Lancashire, and at the National Cat Show in New York in 1895. She was bred in England; sire, King of Uhn; dam, Brunette, of pure imported Persian stock. Mrs. Clarke brought her home in January, 1895, and she is still worshipped as a family pet at her New York home. "Sylvio" was also brought over at the same time. He was a beautiful long-haired male silver tabby, and bred by Mrs. A. F. Gardner. Sylvio was sired by the famous Topso of Dingley (owned by Miss Leake), famous as the best long-haired tabby in England. Sylvio’s mother was Mimidatzi, whose pedigree is given in the previous chapter. "Mimi’s" sire was the champion Blue Boy the Great, whose mother was Boots of Bridgeyate, whose pedigree is also given in the extract from the stud book. Sylvio took a first prize at the New York Show, 1895, but unfortunately was poisoned before he was a year old. This seems the greater pity, because he had a remarkably fine pedigree, and gave promise of being one of the best cats America has yet seen.
Persia is a handsome specimen of the fine blue chinchilla class. She is quiet, amiable, and shows her high breeding in her good manners and intelligence. Her tail is like a fox’s brush, and her ruff gladdens the heart of every cat fancier that beholds her. She is an aristocratic little creature, and seems to feel that she comes of famous foreign ancestry. Mrs. Clarke makes great pets of her beautiful cats, and trains them to do many a cunning trick.
Another cat which has won several prizes, and took the silver bowl offered for the best cat and litter of kittens in the 1895 cat show of New York is Ellen Terry, a handsome orange and white, exhibited by Mrs. Fabius M. Clarke. At that show she had seven beautiful kittens, and they all reposed in a dainty white and yellow basket with the mother, delighting the hearts of all beholders. She now belongs to Mrs. Brian Brown, of Brooklyn. She is a well-bred animal, with a pretty face and fine feathering. One of the kittens who won the silver bowl in 1895 took the second prize for long-haired white female in New York, in March, 1896. She is a beautiful creature, known as Princess Dinazarde, and belongs to Mrs. James S. H. Umsted, of New York.
Sylvia is still in Mrs. Clarke’s possession, and is a beautiful creature, dainty, refined, and very jealous of her mistress’s affection. Mrs. Clarke also owns a real Manx cat, brought from the Isle of Man by Captain McKenzie. It acts like a monkey, climbing up on mantels and throwing down pictures and other small objects, in the regular monkey spirit of mischief. It has many queer attributes, and hops about like a rabbit. She also owns Sapho, who was bred by Ella Wheeler Wilcox from her Madame Ref and Mr. Stevens’s Ajax, an uncommonly handsome white Angora.
The sire of Topso and Sylvia was Musjah, owned by Mr. Ferdinand Danton, a New York artist. He was a magnificent creature, imported from Algiers in 1894; a pure blue Persian of uncommon size and beautiful coloring. Musjah was valued at two hundred dollars, but has been stolen from Mr. Danton. Probably his present owner will not exhibit him at future cat shows.
Ajax is one of the finest white Angoras in this country. His owner, Mr. D. W. Stevens, of Westfield, Mass., has refused five hundred dollars for him, and would not consider one thousand dollars as a fair exchange for the majestic creature. He was born in 1893, and is valued, not only for his fine points, but because he is a family pet, with a fine disposition and uncommon intelligence. At the New York show in 1895, and at several other shows, he has won first prizes. One of his sons bids fair to be as fine a cat as Ajax. This is Sampson, bred by Ella Wheeler Wilcox, from Madame Ref, and owned by Mrs. Brian Brown. Mr. Stevens has a number of other high-bred cats, one of whom is Raby, a reddish black female, with a red ruff. Another is Lady, who is pure white; and then there are Monkey and Midget, who are black and white Angoras. All of these cats are kept in a pen, half of which is within the barn, and the other half out of doors and enclosed by wire netting. Ajax roams over the house at will, and the others pass some of the time there, but the entire collection, sometimes numbering twenty-five, is too valuable to be given the freedom of all outdoors. Both Mr. and Mrs. Stevens are very fond of cats, and have made a study of them in sickness and health. Some years ago, a malicious raid was made on the pen, and every cat poisoned with the exception of Raby, whose life was saved only by frequent and generous doses of skunk’s oil and milk.
At the first New York show, Miss Ethel Nesmith Anderson’s Chico, an imported Persian, took the second prize, after Ajax, in the pure white, longhaired class. The third prize was won by Snow, another imported Angora, belonging to Mr. George A. Rawson, of Newton, Mass. Snow had already taken a prize at Crystal Palace. He is a magnificent animal. Mr. Rawson owns a number of beautiful cats, which are the pride of his family, and bring visitors from all parts of the country. His orange-colored, long-haired Dandy won first prizes at the Boston shows of 1896 and 1897 in the gelded class. He is beautifully marked, and has a disposition as "childlike and bland" as the most exacting owner could wish. Miss Puff is also owned by Mr. Rawson, and presents him with beautiful white Angora kittens every year. The group of ten white kittens, raised by him in 1896, gives some idea of the beauty of these kittens: although the picture was taken with a high wind blowing in their faces, causing one white beauty to conceal all marks of identification except an ear, and another to hide completely behind his playmates.
Mustapha was entered by Dr. Huidekoper in the first New York show, but not for competition. He was a magnificent brindled Persian gelded cat, six years old, who enjoyed the plaudits of the multitude just as well as though he had taken first prize. He was very fond of his master, but very shy with strangers when at home. He slept on the library desk, or a cushion next his master’s bed whenever he could be alone with the doctor, but at other times preferred his own company or that of the cook.
Another cat that attracted a great deal of attention was Master Pettet’s Tommy, a white Persian, imported in 1889 and valued at five hundred dollars, although no money consideration could induce his owners to part with him. He was brought from the interior of Persia, where he was captured in a wild state. He was kept caged for over a year, and would not be tamed; but at last he became domesticated, and is now one of the dearest pets imaginable. His fur is extremely long and soft, without a colored hair. His tail is broad and carried proudly aloft, curling over toward his back when walking. His face is full of intelligence: his ears well-tipped and feathered, and his ruff a thing of beauty and a joy forever.
King Max, a long-haired, black male, weighing thirteen pounds at the age of one year, and valued at one thousand dollars, took first prizes in Boston in January, 1897, ‘98, and ‘99. He is owned by Mrs. E. R. Taylor, of Medford, Mass., and attracts constant attention during shows. His fur is without a single white hair and is a finger deep; his ruff encircles his head like a great aureole. He is not only one of the most beautiful cats I have ever seen, but one of the best-natured: as his reputation for beauty spreads among visitors at the show, everybody wants to see him, and he has no chance at all for naps. Generally he is brought forward and taken from his cage a hundred times a day; but not once does he show the least sign of ill-temper, and even on the last day of the show he keeps up a continual low purr of content and happiness. Perhaps he knows how handsome he is.
Grover B., the Mascotte, is a Philadelphia cat who took the twenty-five dollar gold medal in 1895, at the New York show, as the heaviest white cat exhibited. He belongs to Mr. and Mrs. W. P. Buchanan, and weighs over twenty pounds. He is a thoroughbred, and is valued at one thousand dollars, having been brought from the Isle of Malta, and he wears a one-hundred-dollar gold collar. He is a remarkable cat, noted particularly for his intelligence and amiability. He is very dainty in his choice of food, and prefers to eat his dinners in his high chair at the table. He has a fascinating habit of feeding himself with his paws. He is very talkative just before meal-times, and is versed in all the feline arts of making one’s self understood. He waits at the front door for his, master every night, and will not leave him all the evening. He sleeps in a bed of his own, snugly wrapped up in blankets, and he is admired by all who know him, not more for his beauty than for his excellent deportment. He furnishes one more proof that a properly trained and well-cared-for cat has a large amount of common sense and appreciation.
Mrs. Frances Hodgson Burnett’s tiger cat Dick attracted a great deal of attention at the first New York show. He weighs twenty-two pounds and is three feet long, with a girth of twenty-four inches; and he has attained some degree of prominence in her writings.
A trio of cats that were a centre of attraction at that first show belonged to Colonel Mann, of Town Topics. They were jet black, and rejoiced in the names of Taffy, The Laird, and Little Billee. They took a first prize, but two of them have since come to an untimely end. Colonel Mann is a devoted lover of animals, and has given a standing order that none of his employees shall, if they see a starving kitten on the street, leave it to suffer and die. Accordingly his office is a sort of refuge for unfortunate cats, and one may always see a number of happy-looking creatures there, who seem to appreciate the kindness which surrounds them. The office is in a fifth story overlooking Fifth Avenue: and the cats used to crawl out on the wide window-ledge in summer-time and enjoy the air and the view of Madison Square. But alas! The Laird and Little Billee came to their deaths by jumping from their high perch after sparrows and falling to the pavement below. Now there is a strong wire grating across the windows, and Taffy, a monstrous, shiny black fellow, is the leader in the "Town Topics Colony."
Dr. H. L. Hammond, of Killingly, Ct, makes a speciality of the rare Australian cats, and has taken numerous prizes with them at every cat show in this country, where they are universally admired. His Columbia is valued at six hundred dollars, and his Tricksey at five hundred dollars. They are, indeed, beautiful creatures, though somewhat unique in the cat world, as we see it. They are very sleek cats, with fur so short, glossy, and fine that it looks like the finest satin. Their heads are small and narrow, with noses that seem pointed when compared with other cats. They are very intelligent and affectionate little creatures, and make the loveliest of pets. Dr. and Mrs. Hammond are extremely fond of their unusual and valuable cat family, and tell the most interesting tales of their antics and habits. His Columbia was an imported cat, and the doctor has reason to believe that she with her mate are originally from the Siamese cat imported from Siam to Australia. They are all very delicate as kittens, the mother rarely having more than one at a time. With two exceptions, these cats have never had more than two kittens at a litter. They are very partial to heat, but cannot stand cold weather. They have spells of sleeping when nothing has power to disturb them, but when they do wake up they have a "high time," running and playing. They are affectionate, being very fond of their owner, but rather shy with strangers. They are uncommonly intelligent, too, and are very teachable when young. They are such beautiful creatures, besides being rare in this part of the world, that it is altogether probable that they will be much sought after as pets.