CLUBS AND CAT FANCIERS (1880s - 1903)
Between the 1870s (when Weir arranged the first cat show) and 1903, when Frances Simpson's "The Book of the Cat" was published, a considerable number of cat clubs were formed and several catteries and cat fanciers (many aristocratic) came to prominence. It is often remarked that if you put 3 Englishmen together, they will form a club - this certainly seems to have been the case in the early days of the cat fancy! Some were based on regional lines and some championed particular breeds or colours. A peculiarity of the British cat fancy, still evident today, is that each colour was considered a separate breed, rather than being a subdivison of a breed. This article is concerned with the cat clubs, notable catteries and prominent cat fanciers of those days; as it is these catteries who have laid down some of the earliest bloodlines and those characters who shaped the early cat fancy in Britain and the USA. The following is drawn from France Simpson's work.
I will proceed to give a glance around at the Cat Fancy in general before mentioning particulars of Clubs and Cats of the present day. The question has often been asked whether the Cat Fancy will every become as popular and fashionable as the breeding of dogs, poultry, and birds? I think this question may be answered in the affirmative, when we consider that during last year a dozen and more large cat shows have been held in different parts of England and Scotland, to say noting of numerous mixed shows where a section for cats was provided. Every year the number of fanciers increases, and although this particular hobby is almost entirely confined to the gentler sex, yet it is really surprising to find how many more men are beginning to take an interest in the pussies, and are keenly excited in the winnings of the household pet or the king of the cattery. As a friend once said to me, "You know what men are; if only the cats win prizes, my husband does not mind, but it is a different matter if I return from a show with no award; then he declares we must get rid of all the cats!" I am afraid that cat fanciers must be looked upon as a rather quarrelsome set, and there is no doubt that petty jealousies and spiteful gossip retard in many ways the development and improvement of the fancy.
Another question that is often asked is whether cats can be made to pay - or, in other words, whether cat breeding is a profitable undertaking. From my own experience, which has extended over a number of years, I can unhesitatingly say I have derived not only much pleasure but a good deal of profit from keeping cats, and also I have started many friends in the fancy who have gone on a prospered [note: in those days pedigree cats were rare, cats lived for an average of 9 years, distemper regularly wiped out large numbers of cat and imperfect kittens were destroyed without a second thought]. Cat keeping on an extensive scale means a large outlay, followed by constant and untiring attention. I do not intend, however, in this chapter to enter into any details as to the care and management of cats, for this and other subjects connected with their interests will be fully dealt with later on.
In my preceding chapter I alluded to the first Cat Show held at the Crystal Palace in 1871. The exhibition of cats has become an annual fixture, and year by year greater interest has been manifested, better classification given, and a larger number of cats exhibited. It was, therefore, considered advisable to have some definite organisation, and the National Cat Club was instituted in 1887, with Mr Harrison Weir as president. I will now proceed to give a list, which I believe to be complete and correct, of the various other clubs and societies in England and America which have been organised and which are all at this present time in thoroughly good working order.
LIST OF CAT CLUBS AND SOCIETIES (1903)
Since the formation of the National Cat Club, many changes in its constitution have taken place. On the retirement of Mr Harrison Weir from the presidency, Mr Louis Wain was appointed, and still holds the office. The NCC is fortunate in having so energetic a Hon Sec and treasurer as Mrs Stennard Robinson, whose name is so well known in the "doggy" world. The following is a list of officers of the National Cat Club at the time of writing, and a summary of the objects for which the Club was organised:-
THE NATIONAL CAT CLUB
Patron:- HH, Princess Victoria of Schleswig Holstein.
President:- Her Grace the Duchess of Bedford.
Vice-Presidents:- The Right Hon the Countess of Warwick, The Viscountess Maitland, The Marchioness of Dufferin and Ava, The Countess of Aberdeen, The Lady Hothfield, Lady Willoughby, Lady Reid, The Hon Mrs McLaren Morrison, The Lady Granville Gordon, Lady Decies, The Hon Mrs Baillie, Madame Ronner, Mr Isaac Woodiwiss, Mr Sam Woodiwiss.
Committee:- Louis Wain (President), Lady Decies, Lady Alexander, The Hon Mrs McLaren Morrison, Mrs Vallance, Mrs Balding, Miss Hamilton, Dr Roper, Mrs Herring, Mrs Ransome, Mrs G H Walker.
Hon Sec and Treasurer:- Mrs A Stennard-Robinson, 13 Wyndham Place, Bryanstone Square, W (Telegraphic address - "Bow-wow, London).
The National Cat Club was organised (1) to promote honesty in the breeding of Cats, so as to ensure purity in each distinct breed or variety; (2) to determine the classification required, and to encourage the adoption of such classification by breeders, exhibitors, judges, and the committee of all Cat Shows; (3) to maintain and keep the National Register of Cats; (4) to assist the Showing and Breeding of Cats, by holding Cat Shows under the best sanitary conditions, giving Championship and other prizes, and otherwise doing all in its power to protect and advance the interests of Cats and their owners.
The National Cat Club is also a Court of Inquiry and Appeal in all matters relating to Cats, or affecting the ownership of Cats, and so saves the expense to its members of litigation.
The National Cat Club founded its Stud Book some twelve years ago, and it is the only reliable source of information concerning the pedigree of Cats. The Registration Fee is 1 shilling for the Register of Names, but for the Stud Book the fee is 5 shillings for Approved Cats exhibited under NCC Rules.
The two principal shows of the National Cat Club are held annually at the Botanical Gardens, in connection with the Ladies' Kennel Association in June, and at the Crystal Palace in October. In 1901 the total number of cats shown at the Palace was 601, and the entries numbered 1,021. There were 106 classes provided for long- and short-haired cats. The following is the definition of the classes:-
DEFINITION OF CLASSES
Open Classes - Open to all Cats, Prize-winners or Novices.
Limit Classes - For Cats of any age that have not won Three First Prizes.
Novice Classes - For Cats of any age that have never won a First Prize at any Show.
Special Novice Cats - For Cats or Kittens over 6 months that have never won a Prize of any sort at a Crystal Palace Show.
Neuter Classes - For Gelded Cats.
Stud Classes - For Male Cats that have sired Kittens which are entered an on exhibition in this Show.
Brood Queen Class - For Queen Cats whose Kittens are entered in this Show.
Selling Class - For Cats of any colour or Sex to be sold at a price not exceeding 3 guineas in Long-haired or 2 guineas in Short-haired and Foreign.
Ring Class - For Cats shown in collar, and lead.
Kitten Classes - Single entries to be over 3 months and under 8 months, unless otherwise stated.
Brace - For 2 Cats, age over 6 months.
Team - For three or more Cats, age over 6 months.
No Cats can be entered in brace or teams unless also entered in one other class.
The money prizes in each class are First, £1; Second, 10 shillings; Third, 5 shillings. The list of special prizes, including Challenge Trophies and medals, numbered 262 at the last Crystal Palace show in 1901. In addition to the two regular fixtures of the NCC, other cat shows are held in different places in connection with the Club and under its rules. [Note: the class definitions demonstrate that cat shows were modelled on agricultural/poultry shows]
The National Cat Club reigned alone until 1898, when Lady Marcus Beresford started and founded the Cat Club. This ardent cat lover has done more for pussy than anyone in the fancy. She is most lavish in her generosity and unwearying in her efforts to promote the welfare of the Club. It was Lady Marcus who first started the idea of holding cat shows in aid of charity. The Cat Club's first show, held at St Stephen's Hall, Westminster, in 1899, was in aid of the Children's Guild of the Deptford Fund. In 1900 the families of the soldiers and sailors who had fallen in the Transvaal were benefited to a large extent by the proceeds of the show. In 1901 the Children's Hospital, Great Ormond Street, was the charity selected to receive a handsome donation of £100. The Westminster shows have always been splendidly managed, a noticeable feature being the wonderful array of special prizes offered for competition. The following is the list of officials connected with the Cat Club:
THE CAT CLUB
(Founded by Lady Marcus Beresford)
The Objects of the Club are the general good of the Cat, the promoting of true breeding of Cats, the holding of a Winter Show, so that Cats may be exhibited at their best, and taking other steps that shall be for the welfare of the Cat. The annual Subscription is £1 1 shilling, payable on election, and on the 1st of January in each succeeding year. A Stud Book and a Register of Cats are kept by the Club.
Presidents - Lily, Duchess of Marlborough; Edith, Duchess of Wellington; Lord Marcus Beresford.
Vice-Presidents - Isabella, Countess Howe; Viscountess Maitland, Viscountess Esher, Lady Ridley, Lady de Trafford, The Hon Mrs Bampfylde, Lady Lister, Lady Gooch, Mrs Barnet, Mrs Alfred Bles, Mrs Walter Campbell, Mrs Chaine, Mrs George Dawkins, Mrs Cary Elwes, Mrs C Hill, Mrs King, Mrs Nicholay, Mrs Tottie, Mrs Peston Whyte, Lord Walter Gordon Lennox, A E Bateman Esq, Colonel Chaine, Henry King Esq.
Committee - Lady Marcus Beresford, Mrs Vary Campbell, Mrs Dean, Mrs Paul Hardy, Mrs C Hill, Mrs Anderson Leake, Mrs R Blair Maconochie, Mrs Neild, Mrs Simon, Mrs Mackenzie Stewart, Mrs L P C Astley, Mr Gambier Bolton, Rev P L Cosway, Mr R W Hawkins, Mr E W Witt.
Hon Treasurer - Lord Marcus Beresford.
Hon Secretary - Mrs C J Bagster, 15A, Paternoster Road, London, EC.
There is really ample room for two parent clubs, as the Fancy is making such rapid strides, and, no doubt, well-appointed shows with good classification do a great deal to benefit breeders and assist fanciers, Between the National Cat Club and the Cat Club there is one point of serious disagreement, namely, as regards registration. At present members are expected and required to register their cats in each club if they exhibit at the respective shows. It would be a great benefit to the cat world in general, and to the exhibitor in particular, if some arrangement could be made whereby one independent register should be kept, and that both clubs might work together and assist each other in endeavouring to scrutinise and verify all entries made in the joint register, so that inaccuracies should be detected and fraud prevented.
The Northern Counties Cat Club is affiliated with the NCC, and has quite a large number of members. This enterprising club holds two shows in Manchester every year, which hitherto have been capitally managed by the energetic Hon Sec. As a natural sequence a Midland Counties Club has lately been started, having its working centre at Birmingham. No doubt arrangements will be made for holding a cat show in this or some other equally central Midland town.
[Additional notes: The Midland Counties Cat Club was formed in Wolverhampton in 1901 with Lady Marcus Beresford as President, Mrs Geo Cadbury as Vice-President and Miss Cope as Hon Sec. In 1902, its committee comprised:
President:- Lady Marcus Beresford
Chairman:- Mr C W Witt
Hon Treasurer:- Mrs Witts
Hon Secretary:- Miss Cope
Committee:- Mrs Robinson, Mrs Deakin, Miss Gertrude Cope, Miss Parr, Mr F Howell, Mrs Collingwood, Miss Cartwright, Mrs Spafforth, Mr T Furry, Mrs Walters
Its first show was held at The Prince of Wales Assembly Rooms, Broad Street, Birmingham, on 2nd and 3rd December, 1902. 259 cats were penned and exhibitors complained that the Hall was too small such that some of the pens had to be "topped" (stacked). The Judges were Lady Marcus Beresford, Miss Beal, and Mr T B Mason. It was reported that over 2000 people paid for admission, and between 300 and 400 were left disappointed when the doors closed at 7 pm on the final day of the show. ]
The Scottish Cat Club is in a flourishing condition, and has been steadily working up members since 1894. A show is annually held in Edinburgh, and fanciers over the border are taking a much keener interest in cats.
In America the fancy has gone ahead in a wonderful way. It was in 1895 that the first cat show of general interest was held at Madison Square Gardens, New York. There had previously been some private attempts to have exhibitions of cats in connection with poultry and pigeon shows. In 1896 an American Cat Club was organised, which did some good work. Then Chicago started a Cat Club in January, 1899, and this was followed by a most successful enterprise on the part of Mrs Clinton Locke, who founded the Beresford Cat Club, called after Lady Marcus Beresford and now numbering about 200 members. In January, 1900, the club held its first big show. The classification was of a most comprehensive nature, and the list of special prizes a very liberal one. This show is now an annual fixture, and the Cat Club of England sends medals and prizes to be competed for. Many of the best cats exhibited at these shows have been exported from England, and Americans are very keen in trying to procure the very best possible stock - high prices in many cases being offered to induce English fanciers to part with prize-winning specimens.
The following is a list of officials of the BERESFORD CAT CLUB OF AMERICA
Officers: Mrs Clinton Locke, 2825 Indiana Ave, (President); Mrs Charles H Lane, 5323 Madison Ave, (First Vice-President); Mrs F A Howe, 3941 Grande Boulevard (Second Vice-President); Mrs A A Michelson, 220 E 60th Street (Corresponding Secretary); Miss L C Johnstone, 5323 Madison Ave (recording Secretary); Mrs Elwood H Tolman, 5403 Madison Ave (Treasurer).
Directors: Mrs J H Pratt, 5816 Rosalie Court; Mrs Lincoln Nicholson, Lee Centre, Illinois; Miss Louise Fergus, 3229 Sheridan Road; Mrs Blanch P Robinson, 6, Langley Place; Mrs Vincent E Gregg, 736 North Park Avenue.
At the Cat Show held in January, 1902, as many as 75 classes were provided, and it is plain to see from these that Americans have not the same antipathy for broken colours - that is, cats with white markings - as we have in England, as there are classes specially for orange and white, and black and white cats. In another part of this work I shall refer to varieties and breeds of cats existing in America which differ from those in England [note: the Maltese and the Maine Coon]. The Beresford Cat Club have an extremely well arranged stud book and register, which is published annually. I am sure that the Cat Fancy in America has a great future before it, and we cannot help being greatly struck with the earnestness, thoroughness, and enthusiasm with which Americans have taken up this hobby. When we consider the great distances in the States and the paucity of good stud cats, and the few opportunities of exhibiting at well organised shows, we cannot fail to admire the energy and enterprise displayed by our American fellow-fanciers.
Specialist clubs for Cats are of very recent growth. The first was started by an ardent breeder of silver Persians in 1900. It was then called the Silver Society, and it included smokes and silver tabbies. The title of this society has since been changed to the Silver and Smoke Persian Cat Society. In the following year Blue Persian Breeders bestirred themselves and formed a society for this most popular breed. In the same year the Orange, Cream, and Tortoiseshell Society, the Siamese Club, and the Chinchilla Club were inaugurated, also a Manx Club came into existence, and two clubs for Short-haired cats were started. Particulars concerning these specialist societies and their objects will be found in future chapters on the various breeds of cats. It will be noticed by the list of clubs given, that for brown tabby and black and white Persians no societies have as yet been formed, but doubtless ere long these varieties will be gathered into the fold of specialist clubs.
A good deal of discussion has taken place in catty circles as to the desirability of having specialist societies, but I am sure a vast and marked improvement has taken place in the different breeds since their formation, and the fact of publishing a standard of points has certainly assisted breeders in coming to a more correct idea of what constitutes a good cat of a particular breed. The number of challenge prizes, medals and specials offered by those societies at various shows act as an incentive to exhibitors, and thus entries increase and competition becomes keener. Specialist clubs are not altogether popular with the parent clubs, who regard them with rather a suspicious and jealous eye. They think that exhibitors may join these less expensive societies and yet continue to show and win prizes without subscribing to the club that holds the show. No doubt there is something in this, and specialist clubs should be ready and willing not only to offer prizes for which their members only can compete, but they ought also to guarantee classes and perhaps give a donation towards the expenses of the show.
There have been quite a number of catty cases in our courts of late years, and these generally seem to cause considerable amusement to the legal as well as to the public mind. At a recent trial, where a lady was wrongfully accused of starving a Persian cat, the magistrate, wishing for information, inquired of the witness (who was a veterinary surgeon) how long a cat could live without food. The reply was, "I am sure I could not say, sir, for cats are the funniest animals we have to deal with." And it is very true that these creatures, being so complex, require to be specially studied, and our principal veterinaries, who lead busy lives, are just a little superior to the many ailments and infirmities of these too often despised animals. It is therefore a subject of satisfaction of cat fanciers that two clever and kind animal-loving men have taken up the doctoring of cats, and by personal experience are learning "pretty pussy's ways" in sickness and in health. Mr Ward, of Manchester, and "Salvo," of Hertford Heath, are now two household names in the cat fancier's vocabulary. To the many excellent remedies prepared by these clever specialists I shall refer later on in my work. Suffice it here to say that when in doubt or difficulty about your pussy's state of health I would recommend you to write to either of these common-sense practitioners.
The cat literature of the present day has been steadily on the increase. The first paper to supply special cat columns was Fur and Feather, which as its title infers, treats besides of birds, rabbits, poultry, cavies, mice. This weekly paper has a large circulation amongst the various fanciers. In 1899 Our Cats was started, and is widely read by the ever-growing circle of cat lovers, and claims the unique distinction of being "The only newspaper in the world solely devoted to cats." In both these papers there are stud advertisements of cats and a register of visits of queens and births of kittens. In America the chief organs in the cat world are The Cat Journal, The Pet Stock News, and Field and Fancy.
[Additional notes: After much bickering between the National Cat Club and the Cat Club, the GCCF was founded in 1910 as the sole registering body and was based at 65 and 66 Chancery Lane, London and the Telegraphic address was "Doggrel, London". For interest her is a list of Officers of the GCCF for the year 1912 along with the Delegates and the Clubs they represented (some names will by now be familiar to the reader):
Chairman - Russell Biggs;
Honorary Treasurer - R Little;
Secretary - S Desborough.
Delegates For 1912 - 1913: Gertrude Lady Decies, National Cat Club; Mrs Ransome, National Cat Club; Mrs Valiance, National Cat Club; Mr R Little, National Cat Club; Mrs Mason, Southern Counties Cat Club; Mrs T Watson, Southern Counties Cat Club; Mrs Slingsby, Scottish Cat Club; Mrs Forsyth Forrest, Midland Counties Cat Club; Mrs Spofforth, Midland Counties Cat Club; Miss A M Burton, Northern Counties Cat Club; Mr H Walker, Northern Counties Cat Club; Miss KerswUll, Black and White Club; Miss Jay, Blue Persian Cat Society; Miss Simpson, Blue Persian Cat Society; Mr W H Powell, Brown Tabby Persian Cat Society; Miss Wood, Chinchilla & Silver Smoke Society; Miss Hill Shaw, Neuter Cat Society; Miss H M Lea, Orange, Cream and Tortoiseshell Society; Miss Hill Shaw, Shorthair Cat Society; Mrs Robinson, Siamese Cat Club; Mrs Fosbery, Newbury Cat Club; Mr E T Cox, Richmond Cat Club; Mr W J Wilson, Wilson’s Ltd. Cat Club.
In 1912 there were 72 Prefixes and Affixes registered with addresses ranging across the north and south of England, one in Wales and two or three in Scotland. The Prefixes/Affixes were mainly just the names of the houses, villages or towns in which the breeders lived (as suggested by Frances Simpson several years earlier) for example: "Kensington" (Miss Kerswill of West Kensington); "The Cottage" (Mrs Singleton, The Cottage, Melbourne, Derbyshire) or "Thorpe" (Mrs Slingsby, Thorpe.Underwood Hall, York).
GCCF News was published in the monthly "Our Cats" journal. This continued until 1919 when "Fur & Feather" was appointed as its Official Journal. Around 60 years later, "CATS" was launched, taking over from Fur & Feather and was recently renamed "Our Cats" (it being owned by Our Dogs Publishing Company Ltd), therefore coming full circle. GCCF fees in 1912 were: Registration 1 shilling Transfer 1 shilling, Prefix or Affix 1 shilling and sixpence, Annual Maintenance for same 1 shilling. Entry in Stud Book 5 shillings., Championship Show Licence 21shillings, Non-Championship Show Licence 2 shillings and sixpence per 100 Entries over 100, Licence for Show of not more than 10 Classes 2 shillings and sixpence, Copy of Pedigree 1 shilling, GCCF Stud Book, Vol. 1, 2 shillings and sixpence.]
THE MANX CLUB
"Dick Whittington" (Miss Higgins), a contributor to "The Ladies Field" wrote in 1903: "When the Manx Club was started, very determined efforts to belittle it were made in some quarters, and it was freely and publicly asserted, that it would 'do no good'. The club has now been established for nearly two years, and it has quite justified its existence. It has steadily worked on giving specials and guaranteeing classes, and otherwise inducing people to exhibit, until at the present time the Manx fancy may be said to be fairly on its legs, and is, at any rate, as strong as the Siamese. To no properly conducted show has the club refused its support, its guarantees and specials have all been paid up, and in every way the club has fairly refuted the aspersions cast upon it."
THE ENGLISHWOMAN'S YEAR BOOK AND DIRECTORY 1900
Second Year of New Issue
Edited by Emily Janes
Secretary to The National Union of Women Workers of Great Britain and Ireland
THE CAT CLUB.— Presidents : Lily, Duchess of Marlborough, the Duchess of Wellington, Lord Marcus Beresford.
Committee: Lady Marcus Beresford; Miss Hester Cochran ; Mrs. Dean ; Mrs. Hollis ; Miss Anderson Leake ; Miss Mary Lister ; Mrs. C. Hill ; Miss Marion Manley ; Miss Simpson ; Lady Alexander ; L. P. C. Astley, Esq. ; W. R. Hawkins, Esq. ; Gambier Bolton Esq. ; A. V. Rintoul Esq. Hon. Sec. : Mrs. Bagster, 15a St. Paul's Chambers, E.C. Hon. Treas. : W. R. Hawkins Esq., Shalimar, Harrington Road, Preston Park, Brighton.
Objects : To provide a one day's show in London and to improve as much as possible the position of the cat. Subscription 10s. 6d., non-exhibiting members; exhibiting members pay £1:10s. and have four pens allotted to them, which can either be claimed should a member resign, or be sold at valuation, to the club, the object being that clean and sanitary pens should be used as a preventative of distemper and other contagious diseases to which cats are liable.
THE NATIONAL CAT CLUB.— President : the Duchess of Bedford. Committee— President: Louis Wain, Esq. ; Miss Gertrude Willoughby ; Mrs. Blair Maconochie ; Miss Packham ; Miss Stisted ; Mrs. Vallence ; Mrs. Balding ; S. Woodiwiss, Esq. ; F. Gresham, Esq. Hon. Sec. and Hon. Treas. Mrs. A. Stennard - Robinson. Office, 6 Great James Street, Bedford Row, W.C. Shows held in October and June.
LADY JUDGES OF CATS.— Lady Marcus Beresford ; Mrs. Bridgewater ; Mrs. Balding ; Miss H. Cochran ; Mrs. Baillie ; Mrs. Dyer ; Mrs. Vallence; Miss Manley; Miss F. Simpson; Miss Forestier Walker ; Miss Creswell.
BOOKS ON CATS.— Our Cats, Harrison Wier. The Cat, past and present, Champfleury. Pet and Show Cats, Miss Taylor.
PAPERS WHICH GIVE CAT NEWS.— The Ladies' Field; Fur and Feather; The Stock keeper.
CONCERNING CATS IN ENGLAND - AN AMERICAN VIEWPOINT
Concerning Cats (1900, Helen Winslow)
American 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 hence her description of the cat fancy in England. Her book pre-dates Frances Simpson's "Book of the Cat" by 3 years. "High-bred" meant cats of recognised breeds and known ancestry, what would now be called purebreds and pedigrees.
IF the growing fancy for cats in this country is benefiting the feline race as a whole, they have to thank the English people for it. For certain cats in England are held at a value that seems preposterous to unsophisticated Americans. At one cat and bird show, held at the Crystal Palace, near London, some of the cats were valued at thirty-five hundred pounds sterling ($17,500) - as much as the price of a first-class race-horse. For more than a quarter of a century National Cat Shows have been held at Crystal Palace and the Westminster Aquarium, which have given great stimulus to the breeding of fine cats, and "catteries" where high-priced cats and kittens are raised are common throughout the country.
England was the first, too, to care for lost and deserted cats and dogs. At Battersea there is a Temporary Home for both these unfortunates, where between twenty and twenty-five thousand dogs and cats are sheltered and fed. The objects of this home, which is supported entirely by voluntary subscriptions, are to restore lost pets to their owners, to find suitable homes for unclaimed cats and dogs, and to painlessly destroy useless and diseased ones. There is a commodious cat’s house where pets may be boarded during their owner’s absence; and a separate house where lost and deserted felines are sheltered, fed, and kindly tended.
Cats in England […] have more really appreciating friends there than in any other country. The older we grow in the refinements of civilization, the more we value the finely bred cat, In England it has long been the custom to register the pedigree of cats as carefully as dog-fanciers in this country do with their fancy pets. Some account of the Cat Club Stud Book and Register will be found in the next chapter. Queen Victoria, and the Princess of Wales, and indeed many members of the nobility are cat-lovers, and doubtless this fact influences the general sentiment in England.
Among the most devoted of Pussy’s English admirers is the Hon. Mrs. McLaren Morrison, who is the happy possessor of some of the most perfect dogs and cats that have graced the bench. She lives at Kepwick Park, in her stately home in Yorkshire - a lovely spot, commanding a delightful view of picturesque Westmoreland on one side and on the other three surrounded and sheltered by hills and moors. Some of her pets go with her, however, to her flat in Queen Anne’s Mansions, and even to her residence in Calcutta. It is at Kepwick Park that Mrs. McLaren Morrison has her celebrated "catteries." Here there are magnificent blue, black and silver and red Persians; snowy white, blue-eyed beauties; grandly marked English tabbies; handsome blue Russians, with their gleaming yellow-topaz eyes; some Chinese cats, with their long, edge-shaped heads, bright golden eyes, and shiny, short-haired black fur; and a pair of Japanese pussies, pure white and absolutely without tails. One of the handsomest specimens of the feline race ever seen is her blue Persian, Champion Monarch, who, as a kitten in 1893, won the gold medal at the Crystal Palace given for the best pair of kittens in the show, and the next year the Beresford Challenge Cup at Cruft’s Show, for the best long-haired cat, besides taking many other honors. Among other well-known prize winners are the champions Snowball and Forget-me-not, both pure white, with lovely turquoise-blue eyes. Of Champion Nizam (now dead) that well-known English authority on cats, Mr. A. A. Clark, said his was the grandest head of any cat he had ever seen. Nizam was a perfect specimen of that rare and delicate breed of cats, a pure chinchilla. The numberless kittens sporting all day long are worthy of the art of Madame Henriette Ronner, and one could linger for hours in these delightful and most comfortable catteries watching their gambols. The gentle mistress of this fair and most interesting domain, the Hon. Mrs. McLaren Morrison herself, is one of the most attractive and fascinating women of the day - one who adds to great personal beauty all the charm of mental culture and much travel. She has made Kepwick Park a veritable House Beautiful with the rare curios and art treasures collected with her perfect taste in the many lands she has visited, and it is as interesting and enjoyable to a virtuoso as it is to an animal lover. Mrs. McLaren Morrison exhibits at all the cat shows, often entering as many as twenty-five cats.
Other English ladies who exhibit largely are Mrs. Herring, of Lestock House, and Miss Cockburn Dickinson, of Surrey. Mrs. Herring’s Champion Jimmy is very well known as a first prize-winner in many shows, He is a short-haired, exquisitely marked silver tabby valued at two thousand pounds ($10,000).
Another feline celebrity also well known to frequenters of English cat shows, is Madame L. Portier’s magnificent and colossal Blue Boy, whose first appearance into this world was made on the day sacred to St. Patrick, 1895. He has a fine pedigree, and was raised by Madame Portier herself. Blue Boy commenced his career as a show cat, or rather kitten, at three months old, when he was awarded a first prize, and when the judge told his mistress that if he fulfilled his early promise he would make a grand cat. This he has done, and is now one of the finest specimens of his kind in England. He weighs over seventeen pounds, and always has affixed to his cage on the show-bench this request, "Please do not lift this cat by the neck; he is too heavy." He has long dark blue fur, with a ruff of a lighter shade and brilliant topaz eyes. Already Blue Boy has taken many prizes. He is a gelded cat and one of the fortunate cats who have "Not for Sale" after their names in the show catalogues.
To Mrs. C. Hill’s beautiful long-haired Patrick Blue fell the honor, at the Crystal Palace Show in 1896, of a signed and framed photograph of the Prince of Wales, presented by his Royal Highness for the best long-haired cat in the show, irrespective of sex or nationality. Besides the prize given by the Prince, Patrick Blue was the proud winner of the Beresford Challenge Cup for the best blue longhaired cat, and the India Silver Bowl for the best Persian. He also was born on St. Patrick’s Day, hence his name. He was bred by Mrs. Blair Maconochie, his father, Blue Ruin I, being a celebrated gold medallist. His mother, Sylvia, who belongs to Mrs. Maconochie, has never been shown, her strong point being her lovely color, which is most happily reproduced in her perfect son. Patrick Blue has all the many charms of a petted cat, and was undoubtedly one of the prominent attractions of the first Championship Show of the National Cat Club in 1896.
Silver Lambkin is another very famous English cat, owned by Miss Gresham, of Surrey. Princess Ranee, owned by Miss Freeland, of Mottisfont, near Romney; Champion Southsea Hector, owned by Miss Sangster, at Southsea; champions Prince Victor and Shelly, of Kingswood (both of whom have taken no end of prizes), are other famous English cats. Topso, a magnificent silver tabby male, belonging to Miss Anderson Leake, of Dingley Hill, was at one time the best long-haired silver tabby in England, and took the prize on that account in 1887; his sons, daughters, grandsons, and granddaughters, have all taken prizes at Crystal Palace in the silver tabby classes, since that time.
Lady Marcus Beresford has for the last fifteen years made quite a business of the breeding and rearing of cats. At Bishopsgate, near Egham, she has what is without doubt the finest cattery. "I have applications from all parts of the world for my cats and kittens," said Lady Marcus, in a talk about her hobby, "and I may tell you that it is largely because of this that I founded the Cat Club, which has for its object the general welfare of the cat and the improvement of the breed. My catteries were established in 1890, and at one time I had as many as 150 cats and kittens. Some of my pets live in a pretty cottage covered with creepers, which might well be called Cat Cottage. No expense has been spared in the fittings of the rooms, and every provision is made for warmth and ventilation. One room is set apart for the girl who takes entire charge of and feeds the pussies. She has a boy who works with her and performs the rougher tasks. There is a small kitchen for cooking the meals for the cats, and this is fitted with every requisite. On the walls are racks to hold the white enamelled bowls and plates used for the food. There is a medicine chest, which contains everything that is needful for prompt and efficacious treatment in case pussy becomes sick. On the wall are a list of the names and a full description of all the inmates of the cattery, and a set of rules to be observed by both the cats and their attendants. These rules are not ignored, and it is a tribute to the intelligence of the cat to see how carefully pussy can become amenable to discipline, if once given to understand of what that discipline consists.
Then there is a garden cattery. I think this is the prettiest of all. It is covered with roses and ivy. In this there are three rooms, provided with shelves and all other conveniences which can add to the cats’ comfort and amusement. The residences of the male cats are most complete, for I have given them every attention possible. Each male cat has his separate sleeping apartments, closed with wire and with a ‘run’ attached. Close at hand is a large, square grass ‘run,’ and in this each gentleman takes his daily but solitary exercise. One of the stringent rules of the cattery is that no two males shall ever be left together, and I know that with my cats if this rule were not observed, both in letter and precept, it would be a case of ‘when Greek meets Greek.’
I vary the food for my cats as much as possible. One day we will have most appetizing bowls of fish and rice. At the proper time you can see these standing in the cat kitchen ready to be distributed. Another day these bowls will be filled with minced meat. In the very hot weather a good deal of vegetable matter is mixed with the food. Swiss milk is given, so there is no fear of its turning sour. For some time I have kept a goat on the premises, the milk from which is given to the delicate or younger kittens.
I have started many of my poorer friends in cat breeding, and they have proved conclusively how easily an addition to their income can be made, not only by breeding good Persian kittens and selling them, but by exhibiting them at the various shows and taking prizes. But of course there is a fashion in cats, as in everything else. When I started breeding blue Persians about fifteen years ago they were very scarce, and I could easily get twenty-five dollars apiece for my kittens. Now this variety is less sought after, and self-silvers, commonly called chinchillas, are in demand."
OTHER NOTABLE BREEDERS AND FANCIERS OF THE EARLY 1900s
THE LADIES FIELD CLUB
News from the cat fancy was also published in “The Ladies Field” magazine and it's worth mentioning this club. The Ladies Field was described in an article from The Chicago Tribune, November 29, 1903, where the rise in women’s clubs (meaning club premises rather than hobby groups) was seen as a threat to the moral fabric of society! I’ve included other excerpts to show the alarmist tone of the article.
LONDON has a score of woman’s clubs as elaborate and complete in their appointments as any of the masculine clubs in Chicago. Apparently they also have other features that are alarming the moralists, who see in the growth of these organizations a menace to the typical home life of the English woman. But whether they are desirable or undesirable they are firmly established institutions that indicate the social revolution that is being brought about by the new women. [. . .] the love of liquor and cigaret smoking taken a firm hold on English "smart set" life [. . .] Hardly a famous name but has not been bandied about in connection with some new club scandal.
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.
[. . .] Lastly, there is the Ladies' Kennel club, organized for the promoting and sustaining of pure bred [. . .] dogs and their breeding. [Because many members were also cat owners, this club was also involved in arranging cat shows]
A canon of Westminster abbey, who was induced to talk under a solemn promise of anonymity, said: "The increase in number of so-called society ladies' clubs, organized for purely selfish pleasures, are a threatening source of danger to our English home life. Women, even girls, nowadays seem to think their daily duty consists in spending their time and money loafing in luxurious clubs, more often than not in the company of men 'pals,' whose lack of serious occupation is In itself indication of their undesirability as associates. These organizations are a lively and increasing menace to society which the clergy and the church in general seem to regard with apathetic unconcern."