LONGHAIRS OF THE 19TH CENTURY - ORANGE/RED, CREAM/FAWN AND TORTOISESHELL PERSIANS
Orange Persians (Frances Simpson)
In the short-haired varieties, these cats are sometimes called red tabbies; but I do not think the term gives such a true idea of the correct tone of colour, which should be just that of a ripe orange when in perfection. As I write I have in my mind's eye the mass of bright colour presented by a pile of oranges in a greengrocer's shop, and this is the tone that is to be desired in our orange cats. There is a dash of red in the ideal orange cat, suggestive, perhaps, of the blood-oranges with which at Christmas tide ware are familiar. Anyhow, an orange cat should be as far removed as possible both from sandy or yellow or, as I have heard them called, lemon-coloured cats.
I have left out the term "tabby" from the heading of this chapter, and I think advisedly; for in the Persian varieties the markings are gradually but sure vanishing, and orange cats may be said to stand in the same relation to orange tabbies as shaded silvers do to silver tabbies. I mean that most of the orange Persians now exhibited have shaded bodies with tabby markings on head, face, and paws. The body markings, never very strong in Persian tabbies, are even less distinct in the orange than in the silver varieties. It may therefore be said that in judging this breed as they are represented in the show pen today, colour is taken into consideration first, and tabby markings are of less account. As regards other distinctive features of this breed, I may say that it is the exception, and not the rule, to find good round heads and short noses. The longest faces I have ever seen in any felines have been those possessed by orange Persian and short-haired cats [Simpson would have been very surprised at the Peke-faced mutation in orange Persians!]. I have really sometimes felt quite sorry for a magnificent puss of this colour whose nose was so self-assertive that every other point, however excellent, seemed to be lost sight of, and that nose with the accentuated terminus stood out with distressing prominence.
Until the year 1894 the classification at the Crystal Palace was "brown or red tabby, with or without white" and the descriptions given in the catalogue by some owners on entering their cats red "brown and red," "red-marked tabby," "spotted red tabby," "sandy Persian." In 1895 orange and cream cats were placed together in one class.
A specialist society for orange, cream, fawn, and tortoiseshell cats was founded in 1900 […] it was in 1900 that classes for creams were introduced at show. At the Richmond show in 1902 there were thirteen entries in male and thirteen in female orange and cream classes, the sexes but not the colours being divided. This was really a splendid testimony to the efforts of a specialist society of less than two years' standing. It is such a short time ago that orange, cream and tortoiseshell cats were relegated to the "any other colour" class, even at our largest shows; now it is often remarked by reporters in the cat papers that the well-filled cream and orange classes were the chief attractions of the show.
It will be noted that heading of these points [breed standard for Orange] is "orange self or tabby"; but, as I have pointed out, the cats exhibited as orange Persians are neither self-coloured nor can they be called tabby. So it remains to be seen which type of cat will in due course be the established one. I incline towards a self-coloured orange in the Persian breeds, and a very handsome cat this would be - of just one tone of bright even colour, perhaps slightly lighter on the flanks and stomach, under the tail, and with a frill of paler tone. In fact, very much the type of a smoke cat, in two shades of brilliant orange. At the same time, if real orange tabbies can be bred with the distinct body markings these should be encouraged.
At the Cat Club shows it has been customary to give the classification for orange cats marked or unmarked, so that then the judge may not have to take tabby markings into consideration, but give his awards according to colour and other points of excellence. It is the same when a class is given for sable or brown tabby, silver or shaded silver. In such classes it would be unfair to consider either the tabby markings in the one or the amount of shadings in the other. Of course, it is possible that in time orange cats may be bred to such perfection that two distinct classes will be given, namely "orange" (selfs) and "orange tabby." In former years blues (selfs) and blue tabbies were included in one class, but gradually blue tabbies have been disappearing from our midst. If, therefore, orange tabbies - I mean, of course, long-haired cats - should likewise become extinct, our browns and silvers would be the sole representatives of tabbies in the long-haired varieties.
As regards the eyes in orange Persians, the standard […] is "bright orange or hazel." I should prefer the terms "golden brown or hazel," as there is a special shade of gold with a dash of bronze or brown which seems to tone best with the bright coats of these cats. Certainly the pale yellow or greenish-yellow eye is not desirable - better a bright green eye. I often wonder if ever fanciers will be fortunate enough to breed and orange Persian with bright blue eyes, such as are seen in whites and Siamese. I have heard of a short-haired orange cat with blue eyes, and sometimes I have been told by a fancier of the Persian tribe that they had bred an orange, and its eyes had not turned from the deep kitten blue at four months, so they were fondly hoping they were going to astonish the cat world; but their hopes were dashed to the ground, for surely and sadly a change came o'er the colour of that cat's eyes, and it was a case of the blue that failed! I once noticed an advertisement in one of our cat papers which announced, "For sale - a unique orange Persian male with perfect deep blue eye"; but I also remarked that the age of this unique specimen was not given and I did not think it was worth while to write and inquire.
The kittens when born are usually dull in colour, and gradually brighten as they grow older. As is well known to cat fanciers, orange females are rarer than orange males, so their market value is higher. There is, therefore, always a flutter of excitement on the arrival of a litter, and too often fate has decreed that all are males!
Orange cats make a splendid foil for other varieties. This is especially the case as regards blues and blacks; the contrast in colour enhances the beauty of each. […] I think the largest cat I ever saw was an orange neuter that simply filled the show pen with a mass of bright colour - but alas he had a white shirt front and white gloves"
As regards mating orange cats, they make a good cross with blacks and tortoiseshells; and if a brown tabby lacks the admired tawny or golden tint, then an orange may assist to brighten and improve the general tone, and do away, perchance, with that drabbiness which is so undesirable in a brown tabby.
I do not think orange cats have ever been very popular, and I have remarked at shows that a certain number of people refuse to give anything but a passing contemptuous glance at the classes which contain what they call "those yellow cats".
A very common defect among orange Persian cats is the white or very light chin. Sometimes there is the still more damaging blemish of a white spot on the throat, spreading, perhaps, further down the chest. It is very rare to find an orange that has really a dark under-lip, and chin level in tone with the body colour. The white lip is a bugbear to breeders and exhibitors, for nature repeats itself […] a cat full of quality failing in one particular is too often a white elephant, if desired for anything more than a pet. I have observed that orange cats will sometimes develop a light or nearly white shin in their old age. I never consider a white spot or tuft of white hairs such a blemish to a cat if these are on the stomach as compared with the same defect on the throat. Such a spot would not be so likely to be handed down to successive generations; and of course, a blemish that has to be sought for in an obscure part of the body is not such an eyesore in a self or tabby cat. I have often observed orange cats with very light hair underneath which has almost approached white; but such defects are sometimes only temporary, whereas a white spot on the throat or a white chin remains once and for ever.
In the early days of the fancy, orange cats were decidedly more tabby marked than they are in the present day. A noted one of this type was "Cyrus the Elamite," born in 1889 and bred by Mrs Kinchant, an enthusiastic fancier at that and later periods. In 1893 and 1894 Mr Heap exhibited a handsome orange, "Prince Charlie," at the Crystal Palace. He also owned another, called "Prince Lyne," of the same breed, the celebrated tortoiseshell "Queen Elizabeth" being the mother of both these cats. "Puff" was exhibited by Mrs Spackman in 1894; this orange cat was not much marked, and "Lifeguard" was bred from him. It was about this date that unmarked orange Persians became more fashionable. […] "Trilby," litter sister to "Zoroaster," a famous cream, was one of the brightest and deepest coloured orange females - o, indeed, orange cats - that has ver been seen.
Coming down toe the present day, I may remark that the number of orange cats placed at stud is very limited. A great loss to the ranks of male orange Persians was "Lifeguard," formerly the property of Lady Marcus Beresford. This cat was almost unmarked, of a beautiful bright shade, and had an unusually round head and short face, with long silky coat.
A few notes on orange Persian cats by Mrs Vidal [breeder and fancier] will be interesting to my readers:-
"It is difficult to imagine a more gorgeous colour than a really good orange lying full length in the sun. There is, however, rather a prejudice against them, chiefly because some people persist in calling them 'sandy' or 'red,' both of which names are quite misleading. I have several times had people say to me when visiting my cattery, 'I have always thought I did not like sandy cats, but I have never before seen a cat of such a lovely colour as the one you have just shown me.'
There are two classes of oranges, one which has the ordinary tabby markings, more or less distinct, and the other which is 'flecked' all over the back in small patches, and which is usually not nearly so bright in colour as the so called 'tabby' markings. The correct thing is to breed a totally unmarked orange; and although many people claim this for their pets, it is very rarely seen. The absence of markings usually means absence of the rich orange colour so much admired. Any white on chin or bib is, of course, a blemish, and for breeding or show purposes such an animal is perfectly useless.
An orange stud cat is a very useful animal to have in a cattery, for crossing with him will improve many colours, viz. Tortoiseshell, brown, grey, and sable tabbies; while if he is mated to a blue queen the kittens, if orange, are beautiful in colour - brighter, I think, than if two orange cats are mated together. In mating with other colours it is a toss-up what colour will predominate, but the only way to ensure all orange kittens is to mate with orange queens, when, according to my experience with my stud cat ('Torrington Sunnysides'), the results are all orange [Note: this is now considered very basic cat genetics!]. mated with tortoiseshells the orange kittens are very good; but mated with blacks the strongest colour carries the day, and the kittens are mostly black or tortoiseshell, seldom orange. Silvers, chinchillas, and smokes should of course never be mated with oranges, as the result would be a horrible mixture! Orange queens were at one time very rare, and even now are not plentiful, being delicate and difficult to rear.
The time at which the kittens change the colour of their eyes from the baby blue to orange varies a great deal in individual animals, from seven to twelve weeks. When the eyes are very deep blue, they change to bright rich orange or hazel; but if of a pale blue, they change very quickly to a poor yellow and never get the rich dark orange which the deeper blue get. Therefore rejoice when you see your kittens with deep blue eyes. Some of our kittens have had the most lovely deep blue eyes and great has been our sorrow as we found the inevitable change coming on. If I could only manage to get some kittens with the permanent blue eyes that the best white cats have, I should indeed be proud; but thinking of the kittens with terrible white chins and under-coats, which would crop up in every litter and would have to be drowned, quite deters me from sending my orange queens to white studs with blue eyes!
Short-haired orange cats are often seen about our towns and villages, and are always called 'sandy,' but are not, I think, held in much account. They are distinct from the so-called 'red tabby,' which is a recognised colour at our shows."
Mrs Neate [breeder] has kindly supplied me with a few notes on orange Persian cats:-
"It was in 1897, at Boscombe show, that I claimed the winner in a class of twenty-six kittens, my now well-known orange Persian stud 'The King's Own.' The same year, at the Crystal Palace, I purchased a lovely orange female kitten sired by Mrs Pettit's 'Champion King of Pearls' and the tortoiseshell-and-white 'Dainty Doris.' From her I fondly hoped to establish a breed of blue-eyed oranges which feature would be charming in the variety; but alas! she came home to sicken and die, as do so many another valuable kitten has done, and I have never since been able to obtain an orange of either sex sired by a blue-eyed white. [Note: this would not have worked, the eye colour is linked to the white colour] It is most difficult to breed oranges without white lips and chins; the pink nose, too, is a feature in the breed that I do not like.
I have found crossing an orange male with a cream female the surest way to breed sound coloured specimens of both sexes and varieties, e.g. 'Mehitabel of the Durhams' (a really rich-coloured unmarked orange queen, and quite free from the objectionable light shading on lips and chin); she was bred by Mrs D'Arcy Hildyard from her cream female 'Josephine of the Durhams' and 'The King's Own.' Again, from a blue male and a tortoiseshell queen you are more certain of breeding good oranges (though seldom of the female sex) than from mating tortoiseshell and orange together; in the latter case more often than not black kittens predominate, and there is rarely, if ever, an orange female amongst them.
The best orange kittens I have bred were from my 'Wernham Titmouse,' a tortoiseshell-and-white who owns an orange dam, and 'The King's Own'; the whole litter were females and redder than any oranges I have seen. These never lived to see a show, and their death was one of the greatest disappointments I have experienced in my career. The demand for good orange and cream females is greater than the supply; in fact these colours are decidedly 'booming' […] At the Crystal Palace show of 1898 there were only four entries in the open class for orange and cream males, and four of the same varieties in the female class, compared to the ten entries in orange and cream male classes and the same number in the female classes at the Cat Club's show, held in Westminster, 1902. These facts speak for themselves of the increased interest now taken in these varieties.
Orange cats of both sexes are particularly sweet tempered, showing great attachment to their owners [this conflicted with other writers' contributions elsewhere in the book]. They are of strong constitution and attain to great size, being at present free from the in-breeding that is practised amongst many other varieties of our show cats. A small piece of sulphate of iron in the drinking water will enrich the colour of orange and tortoiseshells, beside being an excellent tonic, especially during the moulting season.
Orange Persian cats do not, as a rule, make good photographs, as they lack expression compared to the short-haired tabby varieties of this colour."
Another fancier of both orange and cream cats is Mrs D'Arcy-Hildyard, and to her I am indebted for the following notes on orange Persian cats:-
"Until comparatively lately I confined myself entirely to the [very successful] breeding of creams […] The births of the Orange and Tortoiseshell Society fired me with ambition to start breeding oranges. I was much fascinated with their colour, though I hate their being penned beside the creams at shows, as they completely take all colour out of the lighter animals and give them a washed out appearance. […] I wish, though, that a nice sprinkling of blues could always be placed between the two colours at shows. The colour of oranges is so excessively unbecoming to the creams, while when you see the three colours together they are especially lovely. To see cream and orange cats at their best they should be at large in the country and running about on the green grass.
Certainly creams and oranges cross well, and often I think produce a brighter and deeper tone of colour than is obtained from other shades. I have lately purchased an orange tom, and by crossing him with 'Hazeline,' one of my cream females, have got a splendid litter of seven pure oranges. This, I think, proves that the cream and orange cross is good, and that they breed very true. Oranges bred by crossing other colours seem to me rather spasmodic, if I may use the term. When breeders try crossing an orange and a tortoiseshell they very often get blacks and blues as well as oranges; on the other hand, from a blue and a tortoiseshell cross sometimes an orange is obtained.
Every year, I think, shows that the general world is becoming more alive to the beauties of orange and cream cats. […] It is a hard matter to say decisively what tint orange kittens should be when born. I have known them enter the world a bad cream, and gradually grow redder till they develop into the brilliant colour we all look to see in a cat of orange hue. Personally, I prefer them born a dark shade; they usually lighten and brighten a little, but on the whole I think that is the more satisfactory of the two. It is distinctly discouraging to see a washed-out looking kitten when you are expecting a bright orange one.
Fanciers differ about the eyes which are supposed to be correct in this breed. Hazel eyes are universally acknowledged to be the right thing. Personally, I admire green, or rather eau-de-nil eyes, as giving more contrast to the colour of the coat, but you do not often see them. I have always wished to breed a cream with blue eyes - I do not mean the baby blue, but the colour that Siamese have - and only the other day I sold a kitten three months old with brilliant blue eyes of this tint, and shall be anxious to know whether they change in time or not."
In 1902 an Orange and Cream Cat Club was started by a few enthusiastic breeders of these varieties over in America […] The following is an extract from Field and Fancy, the American weekly paper:-
"Orange Cats. There is very little doubt that this is a colour that has from the beginning of the fancy in America been very popular, and has had a very strong hold upon the American love for colour. But, of course, as is generally the case with the popular ones, the supply has never been too plentiful, and probably never will be as regards the queens, for they only appear once in a while, according to what seems to be one of Nature's rules, that the queens should be tortoiseshells [Note: genetically this observation is correct!]
The Orange and Cream Club is probably destined to do a great deal for the variety, which is one of the colours from which it takes its name. Breeding orange cats opens quite a field, for in attaining you end you can at the same time indulge in other colours, for undoubtedly a cross with a tortoiseshell will be found necessary to keep the colour sufficiently intense, and at other times it may be quite as well to throw in a little black. The tendency for the queens to be tortoiseshells may possibly be somewhat overcome in time, but these inherent traits in colours in animals and birds are often so strong that they have a knack of reappearing even after several generations. We occasionally see queens of the orange colour, and these are usually high quality ones, both in colour and type; but the orange queens are not destined to at present make heavy classes by themselves. Though the standard calls for orange eyes, it is a curious coincidence that the most consistently successful cat of recent times has been Miss Beal's 'Jael,' who had green eyes; but so good was her colour, so good her type, that she generally won when exhibited.
The struggle carried on in the British Isles for some years to breed these cats without marks has been hardly a success, and there have not been very many evolved of that colour that were really without marks, and it is a great question if in this craze for absence of marks they have not been passing by a lot of good cats. As far as we personally are concerned in the matter, we see little to be gained by the absence of marks in the orange cats [Note: another good observation! Genetics makes it impossible to eradicate tabby markings in orange cats]. If the colour had been very prolific in numbers it might have been a good idea to try and split up the classes, but they were never too well filled, and there is room still for plenty more, though we cannot complain so much at the representation that they have had in America last season, either in numbers or quality."
Cream (Fawn) Persians (Frances Simpson)
[Note: Creams were a by-product of breeding programmes for the popular blue-creams]
This may be said to be the very latest variety in Persian breeds, and one which bids fair to become very fashionable. The term cream describes exactly what is the desired tint of these cats, but few and far between are the specimens which are pale and even enough in colour to be correctly described as creams. No doubt, in times past now and again a cream cat would be seen exhibited in the "any variety" class, but then they might be designated as freaks or flukes. Now, however, fanciers of these cats have a system in their matings, and therefore, as a result, there is a breed of cats established which until late years were not recognised or classified.
It is true that the cream Persians seen in the show pens are often much darker than implied by the name, and, indeed, are really fawn-coloured. The great thing, however, is to obtain an even tint throughout, whether dark or light, and to avoid any patches, streaks, or tabby markings. I think the very pale creams are more dainty and fascinating than the darker cats, but the lighter the coat the more difficult it is to obtain perfect uniformity of colour. Of course, there will always be a certain amount of shading in cream cats - that is, the spine-line will be slightly darker, shading off on the sides and under the stomach and tail. I think that creams are making more rapid strides towards attaining the "almost unmarked" stage than are silvers. Certainly, good creams of to-day are very slightly barred on head or legs or tail, and this cannot be said as regards some of our best silver cats. This is probably to be accounted for by the cautious and wise discrimination used in mating creams by selecting blues or tortoiseshells, and thus avoiding tabby-marked cats. It is a peculiarity of cream cats that the eyes are generally almond-shaped, and are set rather slanting in the head. It is rare and a great treat to see bold, round, owl-like eyes in cream cats. These in colour should be golden or hazel, the brighter the colour the better.
Much has been done by this energetic specialist society to get a better classification for creams at our shows; and perhaps, as time goes on and a larger number of fanciers take up these breeds, a distinct classification will be given for creams and fawns. It may always be a little difficult to draw the line between the two; but such a division of colours would, I think, give satisfaction to the breeders of both creams and fawns, for at present judges are more inclined to give a preference to the palest-coloured cats, perhaps because more beautiful and more difficult to breed.
In the former breeds, more especially blues and silvers, that I have described in this work it would have been impossible to name all those cats that were noted in the fancy, for the simple reason that their name is legion; but is different in a breed like creams, for, as I mentioned in the beginning of this chapter, in times past it was a case of only here and there a cream Persian appearing on the scene, then vanishing perhaps to America, or else being purchased for a pet and retiring from public life. These "sports" in the fancy were not seriously taken up, and no one thought of trying to establish a strain; so that one can, as it were, put one's finger on the cats of this variety, if not so easily in the present day, certainly in the past.
The first recorded cream Persian in catalogues or studbooks is "Cupid Bassanio," born in 1890, bred by Mrs. Kinchant; no pedigree is given. He was a big, broad-headed, heavily coated cat, with a good many marks and shadings, and was sold to Mrs. Preston Whyte, and passed on to Miss Norman. In the same year Mrs. Kinchant exhibited cream kittens at Brighton. "Ripon" was another well-known cream of imported parents (a blue and an orange). This cat was purchased from Mrs. Foote by Lady Marcus Beresford, and eventually disappeared when in the possession of Miss Cockburn Dickinson. Mr. McLaren Morrison in 1893 owned a pale cat called "Devonshire Cream." In the following year Miss Taylor bred a splendid specimen from "Tawny," her noted tortoiseshell. This cat, called "Fawn," was an absolutely self-coloured fawn with brown eyes, and would do some winning if alive now to compete in our up-to-date classes for cream or fawn. It was in 1895 that Miss Beal first exhibited some of her creams, upon which at that time she did not set much store, more interested as she was in blues; but of her now celebrated strain more anon.
One of the best-known creams of later years is "Zoroaster," bred by Mrs. Bagster from her tortoiseshell "Pixie." This was a remarkably large pale cat with glorious eyes, but he was a good deal patched in colour when I saw him at Mrs. Mackenzie Stewart's cattery. Mrs. Cartwright bred a well-shaped light cream, "Upwood Junket," by "Timkins," a blue, and a daughter of "Cyrus the Elamite." Mrs. Davies, of Caterham, has often had creams in her possession, notably "Lord Cremorne," quite one of the palest seen in the show pen. Two noted creams now placed at stud are Mrs. Norris's "Kew Ronald" and Mrs. Western's "Matthew of the Durhams." Both these cats are bred from Miss Beal's famous "Heavenly Twins." Regarding "Matthew," a reporter in Our Cats thus writes after the Botanic show of 1901:- "Creams are, we prophesy, the coming cats. There seems to us great possibilities in this variety. 'Matthew of the Durhams' is one of the cats we would bring forward in support of this view. Eminently aristocratic, breathing an air of refinement, this cat might be the petted darling of a princess whose cats are all selected by a connoisseur." Mr. Western is justly proud of his purchase, for he claimed this fine cat at the Sandy show, 1901, when he was exhibited by Mrs. D'Arcy Hildyard. "Matthew" has on four separate occasions taken second to his father "Admiral's" first. He has sired some lovely creams, notably "Wynnstay Myrtle," also owned by Mrs. F. Western. This female is one of the best of her breed, and is sure to have some influence over the creams of the future. At the Crystal Palace show of 1902, where she was awarded first and many specials, she was the admired of all admirers.
As a rule, cream females have been very much behind the males in quantity and quality. Almost the first two were bred by Miss Hester Cochrane from "Cyrus the Elamite" and "Brunette." "Crême d'Or" is quite one of the best, and was owned by Mrs. Wellbye, who sold her to Mrs. Norris. This cat declined to enter into any matrimonial alliance for some time, but at last presented her owner with a family by "Darius," Mrs. Ransome's noted blue. Two of these cats, "Kew Laddie" and "Kew Ronald," are well known in their different spheres. "Kew Laddie" I purchased to send out to Mrs. Clinton Locke, in Chicago, and she presented him to the honorary secretary of the Beresford Club, Miss Johnstone. This lady exhibited "Laddie" at the big Chicago Cat Show, where he won high honours, and in a letter recieved from Miss Johnstone I learn he is growing a grand fellow and, in fact, is quite la crême de la crême in catty society over the water.
The picture of a perfect kitten on the opening page of this chapter represents a cream female, "Jessica Kew," bred by Mrs. Clinton Locke from "Lockhaven Daffodile," sired by Miss Johnstone's "Laddie Kew." Mrs. Clinton Locke is justly proud of this lovely kitten, and writes: "Jessica is the finest kitten I have ever seen; all her points are perfect. She was five weeks old when this photo was taken. Her grandfather was my 'Victor,' an orange, her great-grandmother a tortoiseshell-and-white."
I have mentioned Mr. F. Norris as a breeder of creams and the owner of the handsome pair of cats illustrated on this page. ["Kew Ronald" and "Kew Laddie."] He has kindly supplied me with the following notes:
"Cream cats are of a modern colour in Persians, but are now being more freely bred and finding numerous supporters. There are, however, very few good ones in the fancy, for size and colour are difficult to obtain. The great failing with them is that, although they are called cream cats, the best and soundest coloured ones are really of a fawn shade. So many show markings, patches, or shadings, whereas the colour should be one shade and sound throughout; better be a little dark in colour rather than a shade from cream to white, as is the case with so many specimens exhibited.
For one grand-headed and good-eyed cat you see a dozen snipy, long-faced ones with curious slit eyes, instead of a short, snub head, with glorious big round golden eyes. In my opinion, to get the short head, good eye, fine body shape, and short legs, it is best to mate a cream with a good cobby blue. From my experience nothing beats a blue, although you can mate them with a red, tortoiseshell, or black. Mating two creams together I do not advocate, unless one of them has a distinct out-cross in the first generation to totally different blood. All the creams shown are descended from Miss Beal's two brothers 'Romaldkirk Admiral' and 'Romaldkirk Midshipmite,' and to keep the colour, breeders have bred in and into them again; and that is why they have lost so much in type and character, which would have improved by using an out-cross.
I have heard people say, 'Cream females will not breed.' If they only studied the question a minute, they would know the reason well enough, which is that they have been too much in-bred. If breeders will only try the blue cross more, they will, I am sure, be pleased, and we shall see a better cat being shown. Breeding from blue you will get pure creams and some cream and blue mixed. Keep the blue and cream females, and when old enough mate them to a cream, and you will get some fine sound-coloured cream kits.
It is very curious that there has been nothing yet bred in males to beat the twin cats 'Admiral' and 'Midshipmite.' In females the best I have seen is 'Miriam of the Durhams,' who has a lovely body and coat, but is long in face and has those bad-shaped eyes. 'Crême d'Or' runs her close, as she has such a good head, with perfect eye, but is a wee bit long in the leg."
Miss Beal's females "Caliope" and "Mignonette" were both noted prize-winning cream females. Mrs. D'Arcy Hildyard has been most successful in her endeavours to breed creams from creams, and a letter from [Mrs D'arcy Hildyard] in Our Cats of April, 1901, will be interesting to breeders of this variety:-
Sir, - Being much interested in the breeding of creams, I should like to say a few words on the subject and state my experience. Though only a novice, I have up to date succeeded in breeding twenty creams - two in 1899, thirteen in 1900, and seven this year. I began by mating my mixed blue and cream queen "Senga" to a cream tom "D'Arcy," which I bought from Mr. Hutchinson, of Egglestone. From this pair I got four kittens, all females - two cream and two marked blues. I kept the creams "Josephine" and "Hazeline," winners at Westminster as kittens, first and second special and medal, 1900. Later on in the year I mated them, "Hazeline" to Miss Beal's "Midshipmite," "Josephine" to her "Admiral." Both litters were entirely cream, "Josephine" producing six kittens, "Hazeline" producing five, two of which I have kept. "Matthew" and "Miriam of the Durhams" both won as kittens at Manchester, and "Miriram" has since taken first and specials at Barnard Castle, Westminster, and Reading. "Matthew" is growing into a very handsome cat, and I hope to exhibit him at the Botanic. On Saturday last, April 13th, "Hazeline" again kittened and produced five creams, having again been mated to "Midshipmite." This I think distinctly proves that good creams can be got from a pair of the same colour. On April 14th "Senga" also presented me with two more creams, also two marked blues, this time the result of a mating with Miss Beale's "Romaldkirk Toza."
Mrs. Barton Collier has two good creams, "Bruin" and "Dolly of Brough." Again these cats are from Miss Beal's strain, the male being a fawn and the female quite one of the palest of creams.
Miss H. Cochran, who formerly took a great interest in this breed, writes:- "I should be inclined to mate a pale cream male or female with a white, and the progeny with an unmarked orange, or vice versâ. I had a litter from 'Buttercup' and 'Zoroaster,' consisting of two oranges, two fawns, and a cream. Thefawn and creams were females, but all died in their youth. I made other attempts with similar crosses, as I had been told it was impossible to breed cream queens, and in the first year all the creams were queens, and the males red! My idea was to select a male of the required colour, and mate a queen of suitable breeding with him, then to mate the resulting queens with their own father. I believe this plan would have been a success if I had followed it up. My idea is that the natural males are the fawns and oranges, and that their complementary queens are the blue tortoiseshells and the ordinary tortoiseshells. No harm is ever done to a cream or orange strain by crossing with black, and it may do much good to the latter by deepening the colour of the oranges, and promoting patchiness as opposed to streakiness in the tortoiseshells."
I have made frequent mention of Miss Beal's noted creams during my chapters on orange and cream cats. These two celebrated champions are commonly known in the fancy as the "Heavenly Twins," their registered names being "Romaldkirk Admiral" and Romaldkirk Midshipmite." They are really fawn Persian cats, very sound in colour, well made, big boned, and are always exhibited in the pink of condition, and at all seasons of the year are in marvellous coat. Certainly, the cold climate of the Romaldkirk cattery, which is situated 730 feet above the sea level, must, anyhow, suit this variety of Persian cat. I suppose the day will come when these well-tried and well-seasoned veterans will have to retire from public life and make way for some of their already noted offspring. In the north, south, east, and west these "Heavenly Twins" have reigned supreme, and Miss Beal must almost have lost count of the number of prizes won by them, which, I think I am safe in saying, would give an exact record of the number of times exhibited. In response to my request, Miss Beal has sent me some notes regarding her cattery arrangements, She says:-
"Most of the houses are old farm buildings round about our stable yard, and I have recently utilised an old granary which is over the coach-house. This is about 40 feet long, and has a room at one end, with five windows and good ventilation above. In addition I have three big cat houses and a loft, where most of the queens reside. 'Middy' and 'Admiral' (the 'Heavenly Twins') have small wooden houses, felted inside and out with wired runs and concrete floors. I have the use of two laundries and a tool-house fitted with fire-places, and these I reserve in case of illness."
There are no cats exhibited in better coat and condition than those that come from the Romaldkirk cattery, and the Misses Beal may be justly proud of their splendid specimens of creams, oranges, tortoiseshells, and blue Persians. Miss W. Beal has kindly supplied me with a short article on cream and fawn Persians:-
"The cream and fawn Persian was a few years ago looked upon as a 'sport,' and when cream kittens appeared in an orange strain they were considered spoilt oranges, and were either given away, sold for a few shillings, or in many cases destroyed as useless. Now, however, it is very different; there is a growing demand for cats and kittens of this colour, and at the big shows they usually have two classes, i.e. male and female, for them. They were certainly slow in coming into general favour, owing, I think, to the following facts: First, that the specimens formerly exhibited failed very noticably in head, being very narrow in face and long in nose; secondly, that cream females were practically unknown; and, thirdly, that a show, where they are generally seen, is emphatically the worst place to see cream Persians to advantage, as the journey and being in a town, etc., takes off the spotlessness of their coat and dulls their colour, and the dingy grey of the pens and the yellow of the straw combine to spoil the effect of their colour.
The place, without doubt, to see creams to perfection is the country, where against a background of vivid green lawn their pure, soft colouring is indeed a thing of beauty, and rarely fails to command admiration. The colour is rather difficult to describe, and there are two distinct tones of colour bred, the one which is generally seen and is so far most successful at shows being a cream rather deep in shade, almost buff, with a distinct pink tinge about it, which is very different from the washed-out orange or sandy colour some people imagine it to be. The other tone of cream colour is much paler in shade, but, instead of the pink, it inclines to a lemon tinge, and, though paler, it is, as a rule, more 'flaky' and uneven than the darker shades, and it is also very apt to fade into white underneath.
Nearly all the best-known creams are bred in the first place from orange and blue strains, though creams have appeared as freaks in many colours - silvers, tabbies, etc.; but I believe the present strains sprang from crossing blue and orange, and you can generally rely on getting some creams by crossing a tortoiseshell, cream, orange, or blue tortoiseshell queen with a blue sire. But, so far, reversing the mating, i.e. a blue queen with a cream or orange sire, is not successful from the cream breeders' point of view, though very good from that of those breeders who want blues, as the kittens generally excel in purity of colour. Cream females are now fairly common, and so in a few years there ought to be a well-established strain of cream-bred creams; but, as in all other breeding for colour, people are apt to get surprises - for instance, one strain of cream females mated to a cream sire invariably produces whole litters of creams, while another strain, more cream-bred than the first named, mated to the same sire produces equal numbers of creams and orange-and-creams. If people wish to start breeding creams, and cannot afford a cream female, it is a good plan to buy a well-bred nondescript coloured female, either blue-and-cream, tabby, tortoiseshell, or anything that has cream or orange about it, and if it is properly mated there are nearly sure to be one or two creams: thus a cream strain can be gradually built up.
There are several things to be remembered in trying to breed good creams. One point to be aimed at is to keep the colour as level as possible, whether it be of a dark or light shade, and to keep it pure, not tinged with blue or dull. Among other faults to be bred out are the light lip and chin, which are very common defects, and the long head, which is still seen sometimes, though creams have improved vastly in this respect in the last few years. Creams have been taken up greatly in America as well as oranges, and there they seem to be formidable rivals in popularity to the silvers, which have so far over here outdone them in that respect.
One great point in favour of creams is their hardiness, for they do not possess the delicate constitutions which seem to belong to most of the other very pale varieties of Persians. With other coloured cats - blues, silvers, etc. - creams make a splendid contrast, and with oranges add greatly to the effect of a group. They also cross well with several colours - blue, black, tortoiseshell, etc. - for breeding; and many breeders think the result of the growing fancy for these colours, i.e. cream and orange - for, though so different, they are hard to deal with separately - will be that they will be better catered for at shows as to classes, and more extensively bred than they are at present."
Cream (Fawn) Persians in the USA (Caro Smith-Senour)
Cream Persians in the USA were described by Caro Smith-Senour (California, USA) in "Captain Kidd Jr and Sinbad the Sailor" (1907/8): "Champion Kew Laddie [...] is a deep cream-colored cat, the rich Jersey cream that only real country-folks ever see. He came to America when only nine months old, and at ten months of age he entered the show given by the Beresford" Club, and won first prize in a class of seven. Each year he has gone on winning, until his prizes are innumerable. He is one of the finest cats in America, and his sunny disposition endears him to everyone. He has never been known to growl, scratch, or bite, and any one may handle him with safety; he is just as willing to lie on his back as to be 'right side up with care' [...] Jessica Kew, was 'Kew Laddie's' first little daughter, and you will notice from her tiny picture in the frame surrounded by her papa's prizes and cups, that she was a little beauty. This dear little puss met the same fate as many other darlings. Accidentally a door was closed upon her by the maid and her innocent life taken when she was still a little roll of cream-color loveliness. At her first and only show, where she appeared with her mama, Lady Daffodil, only the wires of the cage-front saved her from having her life lovingly squeezed out of her; for each one of her multitude of admirers 'just wanted to take her in their hands a minute.' She is still remembered well, and by those who know about 'points' and such things, her 'type', color, and wonderful coat are recalled as models of what a cream kitten should be." Dick Whittington (Miss Higgins) relayed details of the ill-fated Kew Jessica in The Ladies Field of 1903: "I [Mrs Locke] send you a photograph of a wonderful kitten I bred and presented to Miss Johnstone, - Jessica Kew, a perfect cream - sire, Kew Laddie, dam, my Daffodil. Jessica was her first kitten, and I have never seen anything finer in England. She was only five weeks old when the picture was taken, and I was very proud of her. I gave her away, as I did many of my cats, on account of prolonged absence from home and ill health."
Tortoiseshell Persians (Frances Simpson)
Many years ago, when I first took up the cat fancy, I used to think tortoiseshells ugly and commonplace, and I am afraid even now I have not that admiration for the breed which I feel a really good specimen of this variety ought to inspire. To begin with, it is seldom that a true type of long-haired tortoiseshell is seen or exhibited, and perhaps this may account for the breed being so much neglected. They are not taking-looking cats, and often make a poor show in the pen. I have often remarked, however, that this is a favourite breed with the sterner sex, and that out professional men judges will almost invariably pick out a tortoiseshell when judging an "any other colour" class . this may be accounted for by the fact that, of all varieties, a really good tortoiseshell is most difficult to breed, and therefore any specimen approaching perfection should be encouraged. There are splashed a sable tortoiseshells and tortoiseshell tabbies, all handsome cats of their kind, but not the genuine article. Real tortoiseshells may be called tricolour cats, for they should bear three colours like a tortoiseshell comb, on their bodies, namely black, red and yellow, in distinct patches or blotches, solid in colour and well broken up, with no trace of stripes, bars, or tabby markings. A brindling effect is to be avoided, and a white spot on chin is a great blemish. It is most undesirable that the black should predominate, in which case the specimen will lack brilliancy. The three colours should, if possible, be pretty evenly distributed over the body, legs, and tail, and should not run into each other. The red and yellow may preponderate over the black with good effect.
A blaze, so called, up the face is considered correct and this should be of the red or yellow and in a straight line from the nose upwards. This is a very distinctive feature in the breed, and one that judges will look for in a good show specimen. It is incorrect for the tail to be in any way ringed with the colours. The texture of the coat is often coarser and more hairy in this breed, and it is not usually so long and flowing as in other varieties of Persian cats. There is no difference on opinion as to the correct colour for the eyes of tortoiseshells. They should be a bright golden or orange, and these seem in perfect harmony with the colouring of the coat. Tortoiseshells never attain any great size and may be called a small breed of Persian cats.
They are quite one of the most interesting from which to breed, and experiments can be tried successfully in crossing a tortoiseshell queen with black, cream, orange, and blue cats. The litters will often be a study in variety. I have known one family to consist of a black, a white, a cream, an orange, and a blue! The owner of such a litter would have something to suit all comers. A really good tortoiseshell queen may, therefore, be considered a valuable property. And what of a tortoiseshell tom? A mine of wealth would such a possession be to any fancier. Among short-haired cats a tortoiseshell tom is a rare animal, but I do not think a long-haired specimen has ever been seen or heard of. Several experiments have been tried, but it remains for some skilful and scientific breeder to solve the problem of the manner and means to be employed to produce males of this breed. [Note: unknown to Simpson, tortie toms are a genetic aberration and cannot be deliberately bred]
The classification at our smaller shows for tortoiseshells is generally of a meagre and discouraging description. There are so few specimens that executives of shows fight shy of giving a class for even tortoiseshell and tortoiseshell-and-white together. So tortoiseshells are mixed up in the "any other colour" class, and therefore this breed can seldom, if ever, be really judged on its own merits, or comparisons made between the different specimens that are exhibited. At our largest shows there are classes provided, which, however, are poorly filled.
Tortoiseshells may be said to have had no past. There are no celebrities in feline history save and except "Queen Elizabeth," and not only was she the finest of her breed, but she also made herself famous by severely injuring Mr W R Hawkins, who was examining her when making his awards; and I have good reason - or rather bad reason - for recollecting her, on account of her fixing her teeth into my hand when I was removing her from her basket at the Westminster show in 1899. It seems that she had a great objection to travelling and resented making an appearance in public! […] I have failed to obtain a photograph of this celebrated cat; and, even had I succeeded, a tortoiseshell makes a terribly poor picture when reproduced in [black-and-white] photography.
Mrs Bignell [breeder] has kindly supplied me with particulars of [tortie cat] "Topsy's" litters when mated with different-coloured cats. "Topsy's" first litter in 1896, when mated to the "Duke of Kent" (a blue), was two creams and two smokes. When mated to "Johnnie Fawe" (a black) her kittens were all of the father's dusky hue. Again when crossed with another blue male her litter consisted of two orange males and a tortoiseshell female, and again to the same cat one black male and two orange males.
Miss Kate Sangster, who is a great admirer of this breed, writes: "My 'Champion Royal Yum Yum' was bred from a black and a tortoiseshell, and her grandsire was a cream. She is over seven years old, and has had twenty-two kittens, namely, five cream, five blue, five orange, four black, and three tortoiseshell."
We need a few more admirers of tortoiseshells like Miss M Beal to take up this rather despised breed and follow in her footsteps. Some notes by [Mrs Beal] will be of interest:-
"Even fanciers who will go into raptures over the blue, orange, cream or silver members of the establishment have no admiration to spare for a tortoiseshell, however striking its record of prizes may be; and yet to those who breed and understand them there is something very fascinating about these quaint creatures, though the taste for them is certainly an acquired one.
Among non-catty people great ignorance really prevails as to what colour a tortoiseshell cat really is. Many people, if asked to describe a tortoiseshell cat would say that it was a sort of sandy colour all over; others imagine that the 'chintz' cat, as it is called in the North - white with black and red patches - has a right to the name. So let it be said at once that three colours, namely, orange, yellow, and black, and these only, enter into the composition of the true tortoiseshell. There must be not white, neither should there be any trace of tabby markings, though this is very difficult to attain. The three colours should be patched or 'broken' all over the cat, and the more distinct each separate colour is in these patches the better. Brilliancy of colour is another point which breeders have to consider; many tortoiseshells have far too large a proportion of black in their colouring, which gives them a dingy and uninteresting appearance, and is sure to go against them in the show pen. The eyes should be orange, and in other points, such as shape, head and texture of coat, the standard is the same as for the other varieties of long-haired cats.
One curious fact in connection with long-haired tortoiseshells, which is well-known to fanciers, may be mentioned, namely, the non-existence of the male sex. Among short-haired tortoiseshells toms are exceedingly rare, though one or two do exist, but an adult long-haired male appears to be absolutely unheard of. The writer knows of one male kitten born some years ago, but it was either born dead or died in very early infancy. Darwin's theory that the orange tom and tortoiseshell queen were originally the male and female of the same variety is borne out by the fact that until recently orange females were also rare. Of late years a good many of these have been bred and reared, and therefore, if the Darwinian theory be correct, it seems hard to believe that the tortoiseshell tom must be regarded as unattainable. If the difficulty has been successfully overcome in the one case, why not in the other? Breeding with this object in view is very slow work, for some tortoiseshell queens will produce litter after litter without a single kitten of their own colour, and a family consisting entirely of tortoiseshells would be as welcome as it is rare. But it would be a pity to despair of breeding the long looked for tom; if he ever does make his appearance, he will be hailed with sufficient interest to gratify any quantity of feline vanity.
[Note for the modern reader: 1n 1903, Mrs Beal was not to know that orange and tortoiseshell are sex-linked colours carried on the X chromosome; this means that tortoiseshell tomcats are genetic aberrations.]
At present, breeders hardly seem to recognise the great value of a tortoiseshell queen for breeding almost any variety of self-coloured cat. If the queen is mated to an orange, a cream, or a blue tom, she will be very likely to produce at least one or two really good specimens of the same colour of the sire, and sometimes a far greater proportion of the litter will 'favour' him. [Note: not entirely true; cream and blue both depend on the sire and the dam carrying the gene for colour dilution, something accidentally touched upon in the next sentence!] Much, of course, depends upon how the queen herself is bred, and this no doubt accounts for disappointment in some cases.
Tortoiseshells compare very favourably with the other varieties of long-haired cats in the matter of intelligence. The writer knows one which enjoys the well-earned reputation of being the cleverest thief in the cattery. Nothing is safe from her nimble paws; she has often been known to remove the lid from the saucepan in which the meat for the cattery supper had been placed, and make off with the contents; and if the cook's back should be turned for only half a minute, woe to tomorrow's dinner or to anything else tempting which may chance to be within reach.
Though tortoiseshells may be distinguished for brains, some of them certainly fail considerably in temper. They seem to find it most difficult to keep the peace with the other members of the cattery."
Tortoiseshell-and-White Persians (Frances Simpson)
These cats, both long- and short-haired, have always had a great fascination for me. One of my first Persian pets was a tortoiseshell-and-white, with a gorgeous coat, stand-out frill, and wide-spreading tail. She was so stately and dignified that we called her "The Lady Mayoress." In those days cats were of no account, and shows were no-existent. My pretty pet roamed at will and made her own matrimonial arrangements: the kittens were consequently mostly consigned to the bucket.
With my present knowledge of the feline race, I realise that "The Lady Mayoress" was a grand specimen of what a tortoiseshell-and-white should be. She was not a white-and-tortoiseshell, as many now seen in the show pen might be called. In these cases the white predominates, and in reality the four colours should be about equally distributed. The patches of black, red, and yellow should cover the back, head, and tail, leaving the chest and paws and part of the hind-quarters white. There should be patches of the three colours on each side of the face, with a white blaze up the nose.
As in the tortoiseshells, so in this breed it is better for the brighter colours rather than the black to predominate. I believe an old fashioned name for this breed was chintz cats. I think they might also be called patchwork cats! There is also a great deal in the manner in which the colours are distributed on either side of the head, for expression in a cat goes a long way, and if the patches are badly placed and unevenly distributed the effect may be displeasing, and perhaps grotesque.
Harrison Weir, in writing of this breed, says: "In a good tortoiseshell-and-white there should be more white on the chest, belly, and hind legs than is allowable in the black-and-white cat. This I deem necessary for artistic beauty when the colour is laid on in patches, although it should be even, clear, and distinct in its outline; the larger space of white adds brilliancy to the red, yellow, and black colouring. The face is one of the parts which should have some uniformity of colour, and yet not so, but a mere balancing of colour; that is to say, there should be a relief in black, with the yellow and red on each side, and so in the body and tail. The nose should be white, the eyes orange, and the whole colouring rich and varies, without the least 'tabbiness,' either brown or grey, or an approach to it, such being highly detrimental to its beauty."
This is another of the breeds of long-haired cats that may be said to have no history in the fancy, and I doubt if tortoiseshell-and-whites will ever be taken up seriously. There will always remain the difficulty of obtaining good mates for the females, as males of this variety are almost as reare as in the tortoiseshells. It would seem that the corresponding males to tortoiseshells and tortoiseshell-and-whites are orange and fawns. I do not remember ever having seen or heard of a long-haired tortoiseshell-and-white tom cat; and as regards notable females, these have never at any time been numerous, and few really good specimens have been exhibited.
The most perfect type was lady Marcus Beresford's "Cora," and imported cat of great size and beautiful shape. Her colouring and markings were lovely, and her round snub face and short nose lent great charm to this unique specimen. It was a grievous loss to her owner and the fancy when poor "Cora" suddenly developed dropsy, and succumbed to this rather unusual complaint amongst cats [note: probably the wet form of FIP].
I have had a difficulty in obtaining any good photographs illustrative of these cats, for, as with tortoiseshells, the colouring cannot be successfully portrayed by any gradations in [monochrome photographs]. It is different in painting, when it may be generally noticed that artists choose to depict these broken-coloured cats in preference to the self-coloured ones. In Madame Ronner's lovely pictures, of which several adorn these pages, it will be remarked that almost all the fascinating fluffy kittens are patched in colour.
As I have remarked, one of the reasons why these cats have not been seriously taken up by fanciers is the difficulty experienced in selecting suitable mates that will be likely to perpetuate the breed. In fact, this is not possible with any degree of certainty. Tortoiseshell-and-whites may be crossed with black or orange cats, and it is a toss-up what the progeny may be. Creams are sometimes bred by mating with blues, but there is always the danger of white spots and white toes. I once mated a pretty tortoiseshell-and-white with my silver "Cambyses," and the result was a good pale silver and an almost unmarked cream. Considering all things, I cannot prophesy any future for this breed in the fancy; in fact, I think there is every chance of these really pretty pussies disappearing from our midst. At the Westminster show of 1903 there was only one solitary entry in the tortoiseshell-and-white class! This was Miss Yeoman's "Mary II".