LONGHAIRS OF THE 19TH CENTURY - BROWN TABBY, SABLE TABBY AND ANY OTHER COLOUR PERSIANS
Brown Tabby Persians (Frances Simpson)
Of all the feline race (blues not excepted) the warmest corner in my heart has always been kept for the brown tabbies. There is something so comfortable and homely [in the UK homely means home-oriented] about these dear brownies - they seem to have more intelligent and expressive countenances than any other cats, and I am firmly of opinion that no Persian cats are so healthy and strong as brown tabbies. They are a hardy race, and as such I have frequently recommended novices in the fancy to start with a good brown queen, and with ordinary care they may reasonably expect to rear litter after litter without the difficulties and disasters that one hears of in connection with the bringing up of Persian kittens in general.
I know there is a kind of idea that brown tabbies are a common sort of cat, and this breed is often spoken of in a most disparaging way. Then, again, the ignorant in the cat world have an extraordinary notion that tabbies are always females! Perhaps because we sometimes hear a meddlesome or gossiping woman called a "tabby" - and I had a dear old friend who always bade me beware of "tabby bipeds" among catty communities!
The word "tabby" is supposed to have had its origin in a certain street in Baghdad called "Atab," which was chiefly inhabited by weavers of a particular kind of material called "Atabi." This is what Harrison Weir says on the subject:- "The word 'tabby' was derived from a kind of taffeta, or ribbed silk, which when calendered, or what is now termed 'watered,' is by that process covered with wavy lines. This stuff in bygone times was often called 'tabby,' hence the cat with lines or markings on its fur was called a tabby cat. Certain it is that the word 'tabby' only referred to the marking or stripes, not to the absolute colour, for in 'Wit and drollery' is the following:-
Her petticoat of satin,
Her gown of crimson tabby.
Be that as it may, I think there is little doubt that the foregoing was the origin of the term. Yet it was also called the brindled cat, or the tiger cat, and with some the grey cat - 'graymalkin.'"
We are told also by the same authority that tabby cat in Norfolk and Suffolk were called cyprus cats, cyprus being a reddish-yellow colour, so that the term may have applied to orange as well as brown tabbies. The term "tiger cat" is, I believe, often used in America, and it well describes the true type of a brown tabby. The groundwork should be of a bright tawny shade, with a dash of burnt sienna, the markings a dark seal brown - almost black. As regards the colour of eyes in brown tabbies, I prefer the golden or orange; but some of the finest cats in this variety have possessed the green eye, and some fanciers are disposed to prefer this colour, which I think should be the speciality of the silvers. Anyhow, a good brilliant green is preferable to a washed-out undecided yellow.
There are two distinct types of brown tabbies - the splashed or heavily marked, and the barred or ticked. I think the former the handsomer breed, with the well-defined and evenly balanced side markings, the dark spine line (not too wide), the clear rings round the chest (commonly called the "Lord Mayor's chain"), the paws ringed in graduated bars to the foot. On the head and face the markings should be very clear and distinct, the narrow dark head lines running symmetrically till they join the broad spine-line. The ruff should be of the light shade, and ears of the same tone lend great distinction to this cat. As in the other tabby breeds, the browns are terribly addicted to white chines, in fact I think it is certainly rarer to find a brown tabby without this blemish than an orange; more pains having been taken to eradicate the evil in orange tabbies. There is no denying the fact that brown tabbies are a very neglected breed, and at present the only one, except tortoiseshell-and-white, that is not taken up by a specialist society. This is a crying shame, and it remains for some ardent admirer of the dear brown tabbies to form a club and to try to breed really good specimens of the golden-brown order; not the drab or grey animals that are so frequently seen at our shows, and which are very far removed from the genuine article.
I do not think that any breed can produce such fascinating kittens. They have such remarkably intelligent expressions, and, as a rule, the sturdy cobby shape and broad heads of brown tabbies are very conspicuous. This breed should distinctly be massive in build, with plenty of bone and muscle; in fact, with brown tabbies the larger the better, if well proportioned. With the sterner sex brown tabbies are decided favourites, and I cannot help noticing that the very few fanciers who have taken up this breed amongst the gentler sex are what might be termed strong-minded.
I have also remarked that when once fanciers start breeding brown tabbies they continue, and this cannot be truly said of other breeds - silvers, for instance; but I would fain see a steady increase to the ranks of breeders of brown tabby Persians, and more encouragement given at shows. I know that as matters now stand fanciers complain they cannot get any market for their tabby kittens, and that classification is poor at shows and prizes scarce. It is all too true, but surely it is a "long lane that has no turning," and as every dog has its day, so perhaps in the future, whether near or distant, this beautiful breed will gain all the admiration and attention that it deserves. There is a distinct kind of brown tabby, which may better be described as sable [probably golden series since silver tabbies were so popular]. These cats have not the regular tabby markings, but the two colours are blended one with another, the lighter sable tone predominating. At the Crystal Palace Cat Show of 1902 the class was for brown tabby or sable. I was judging, and, considering the mixed entries, I felt that markings must not be of the first importance, and so awarded first and second to Miss Whitney's beautiful sable females, the third going to a well-marked though out of condition brown tabby.
These sable marked cats are rare, but still more beautiful would be a cat entirely of the one tawny colour - a self sable, without markings. "The most suitable factors to obtain this colour," so writes Mrs Balding, "would probably be tortoiseshell-and-sable tabby, as free from marking and as red in ground colour as possible. A cross of orange, bright coloured and as nearly as obtainable from unmarked ancestors, would be useful. Some nine years ago I purchased a dimly marked bright sable coloured cat, 'Molly,' shown by Mrs Davies at the Crystal Palace, with a view to producing a self-coloured sable cat; but 'Molly' unfortunately died, and I abandoned the idea." The nearest approach to a self-sable I have ever come across was a cat I obtained for the Viscountess Esher, which had, alas! been neutered. He was almost unmarked, and of the colour of Canadian sable, with golden eyes - a most uncommon specimen.
Another species is the spotted tabby, but I have never seen a true specimen in Persians. Some brown tabbies are ticked or spotted on the sides, but they have the spine line and rings on neck, head, and tail. Very few and far between have been good brown tabbies in the history of the fancy. Amongst the males two names may be said to stand out conspicuously - Miss Southam's "Birkdale Ruffie" and my own "Persimmon." Both these cats, of quite different types, have gone to their rest. As regards the famous Birkdale strain, the following account, kindly supplied to me by Miss Southam, will be of interest:-
"There is no doubt that, until quite recently, our old friend the tabby has been deliberately placed in the background, and regarded in the show world with an indifference which has proved an unmistakable stumbling block to the improvement of this particular breed. Nor is this very much to be wondered at, when we take into consideration the hideous combination of the drab, colourless brown, dowdy greys, and indistinct markings which had hitherto constituted the chief charms of the typical tabby. Instead, it would appear that the commonplace and unattractive grey was openly encouraged, rather than otherwise; for, although the silver tabby was provided with a classification of his own, only one class was relegated to "brown and grey tabbies," either colour being considered equally worthy of carrying off premier honours!
It was at this period when the nondescript tabby was reigning supreme, that Champion 'Birkdale Ruffie' made his debut in the show world, my sister, Miss Emily Southam, being the first to bring the sable tabby into prominence. Whether, however, it was that the public was not sufficiently up-to-date to appreciate the sudden departure from the usual sombre colours with which it had hitherto been satisfied to a brilliant sable, or whether he was particularly unfortunate in his choice of judges, it is difficult to say; at any rate, it was not until four years after his first appearance in the show pen that he met with the justice that his many beautiful points so richly deserved. In fact, after exhibiting him at several shows, where he was deliberately passed over for other and most inferior cats, he being in the pink of condition, my sister was so annoyed at the treatment he received that she simply burnt the schedules which poured in upon her and kept him at home, determined he should not be further insulted by such flagrant injustice!
It was at the West of England Cat Show in 1894 that 'Birkdale Ruffie' scored his first real success winning two first prizes in the open and novice classes and two specials. Here at last his beautiful sable colouring, his dense black markings, and wonderful expressive face were appreciated. The year 1896 was the occasion of his sensational win at the Crystal Palace show. He simply swept the board, carrying everything before him - first prize, championship, several specials, and the special given by the King (then Prince of Wales) - for the best rough-coated cat in the show. Again, in 1897, h e was shown with great success at the Crystal Palace, winning first prize, championship and special. This was the occasion of 'Birkdale Ruffie's' last appearance before the public, as it was during the following month my sister was taken dangerously ill, and for this reason his pen at the Brighton show was empty. After her death we determined to subject him no more to the trials and discomforts of the show pen so 'Ruffie,' who was now seven years old and a great pet, both for his own sake and that of his mistress, only too gladly retired […] watching his facsimile, his little son 'master Ruffie,' growing up more beautiful each day and ready to take up the thread of his father's famous career in the exhibition world.
Into the latter 'Master Ruffie' made his debut without any of the numerous anxieties encountered by his celebrated parent. The way was paved for him, and when he appeared at the Crystal Palace show in 1899, in all the full glory of his youth and beauty, it was difficult for the judges to realise that it was not their old favourite who was now confronting them through the wires. 'Master Ruffie' has only been shown on two occasions - in 1897 as a kitten, and in 1899 at the Crystal Palace, when he returned home with his box literally filled with cards, his winnings including three first prizes, four specials, and a championship.
I am sorry we can manage to get no really good photo of 'Master Ruffie' … steadfastly refuses the face the camera. Again and again the button is pressed in vain, and only the glimpse of a vanishing tail upon the negative is all we have to show as 'Ruffie's' portrait! [Master Ruffie] is a very cobby little fellow, being perhaps shorter in the legs, which makes him appear to be a somewhat smaller cat than his father.
'Birkdale Ruffie' was noted for the extreme beauty of his expression; he had certainly one of the most characteristic faces ever seen in a cat, and his son inherits the same. The former was constantly the subject of sketches in the illustrated papers, those by Mr Louis Wain being especially lifelike. Some of 'master Ruffie's' descendants are, I believe, in the possession of Miss Witney, and have met with great success in the show pen."
[Simpson writes of her own "Persimmon"] I have never seen such a wonderful head as that which made "Persimmon's" chief glory. His face was very round, and his nose quite a snub, and he was blessed with tiny ears and short tail. His shape was perfect, heavy, and alas! he had a white under-lip. But, taking him all round, he was grand specimen, and a most lovable puss. He fretted himself to death when a change of residence from the country to London obliged me to board him out. "Persimmon" sired some splendid kittens, which whenever shown proved themselves worthy of their sire's long prize-winning record […] "Persimmon" was a great loss, for good brown tabbies are rare. I hope, however, to purchase a fine some of my dear old "Simmy," and as "Persimmon II," I trust it may be a case of "like father like son," and that by and by we may find quite a long list of brown tabby Persians "at stud" in the columns of the catty papers.
I think I may with truth assert that brown tabbies are more appreciated, and that better specimens are produced in the North than in the South of England. […] Mrs Gregory, of Bath, started breeding brown tabbies in 1899. Her female (a black) she mated to her stud cat "Azor" and curiously enough, all the litters have consisted of brown tabbies, [note: not at all curious as black is recessive!] the kittens numbering sixteen. When, however, Queen Caterpillar" [the black queen] was mated to Mrs Gregory's blue Persian, her kittens were all black [note: which is what a modern breeder would expect to see!].
Mrs Drury, of Graffham, is very faithful to the brownies […] "'Mrs Wiggs' [brown tabby female] came from a blue father and a silver mother, but has, with one exception, always had brown tabbies, even when mated to a silver [note: not at all curious, blue is recessive to black, silver is recessive to non-silver]. The varied beauties of blues, silvers, whites, and blacks have never taken such a hold upon me as compared with the fascination of the browns, and it is quite a wonder to me more fanciers do not breed them. Nothing looks handsomer, to my mind, than a rich brown, tabby male with tawny markings, like a young lion, and judging from my experience they amply repay any trouble taken by their loving ways and robust health. I have a son of 'Mrs Wiggs' and poor old ' Persimmon' now […] Perhaps financially, blues or silver may be greater successes, but brownies have been my first love and will always remain so. I am only sorry I cannot show what a lovely head and sweet dear face 'Mrs Wiggs' has, but she absolutely declines to be photographed. In time I hope more fanciers may realise how rich in colour and markings a good brown tabby is, and then we may hope to see this beautiful breed brought more to the fore at all the leading shows.
As 'Mrs Wiggs' has been the foundress of my cattery, perhaps short description of her would not be amiss. She is a ticked tabby - that is to say, she has not the broad, dark stripes with tawny splashes; her ground colour is a beautiful golden brown, and down the back and sides are pencilled stripes, more like the markings on a silver [note: suggests she was indeed a golden series tabby]. Round her face, nose, and ears she has most lovely golden brown shades; eyes are green - they used to be amber; her head is very broad and well shaped; and her expression is very sweet. When mated to a silver, as she has been twice, the litters have been equally divided - two silvers and two brownies; but both silvers and browns in that case had broad dark and light markings, in no way resembling the mother. But when mated to poor old 'Persimmon' the kittens have been equally divided, always two resembling the maternal side exactly, and two following out 'Persimmon's' beautiful splashes. When mated to a brown tabby all the kittens were brown. She has never thrown a black; but her daughter, whose father was 'Abdul Zaphir,' and who I also mated to 'persimmon,' had two blacks and two very dark tabbies in her litter. 'Wiggs' has in all her five litters had only two females. Her average is four or five kittens; she looks after them entirely herself, and has never been the worse for so doing; but I do not allow her more than one family a year, and until the kittens can lap she is fed every two hours."
The best-marked brown tabby I have ever seen was Lady Marcus Beresford's' "Bassorah," who was unfortunately given away and lost. Her markings looked like oil painting, they stood out in such distinct relief. Another specimen of a different type was imported by Lady Marcus Beresford, namely "Kismet." She was of the ticked order, with small pencilled markings, very compact and cobby in shape. Mrs Herring has always possessed good brown tabbies. To begin with "Adolphe," who used formerly to win everything till his son, "Prince Tawny Boy," stepped into his shoes, to be displaced later by his own son, "Prince Adolphe," and his exquisite daughter, "Floriana," now in America. [others are listed]
For sables we, of course, go to the Birkdale strain. I remember the incomparable "Birkdale Ruffie" in his full glory at the Crystal Palace - a mass of red-brown fur, of the style of "Persimmon Laddie," but with more distinct markings and a very keen, almost fierce expression; in fact, he looked like a wild animal! Then "Master Ruffie" appeared as a kitten, and later as a mild edition of his sire. From this celebrated strain Miss Whitney's lovely sables are descended. This enthusiastic fancier has kindly written some notes on her favourite breed. Miss Whitney says:-
"I am pleased to see that brown tabbies are coming to the front again, after being such a long time in the background. It now rests with fanciers of this charming variety of the feline species to improve them in all points. We hear often that they should be a rich tan in ground colour, clear and dense in markings, profuse in coat, ruff and frill, large round head, small ears, and no white lip. I should consider this a perfect specimen; but where is such to be had? I do not say it will not be obtained, but up to this I have never seen it. Now what we are to endeavour is to breed up to this high standard. This will take time, no doubt, but above all, do not let us give up everything for markings, though they are very essential.
My idea of a brown tabby is that it must be of a rich tawny ground colour. How could a brown tabby be called a brown if it is only a greyish drab? I should prefer to do without such perfect markings, but to have the more desirable rich colour, and, above all, plenty of coat, ruff, and frill; if it has not these latter qualities, it could not be called a Persian, which must have an abundance of fine soft-textured coat. If we only breed for marking, why not mate to a 'short-hair,' which is more likely to be perfect in that point? Now as to white lip, I have never seen a good brown tabby without it, but I hear that there are such, though they fail in colour. I would prefer the well-coated cat with good colour and markings and a white lip to one that failed in these other points and had no white lip (I do not mean when it extends to a white throat). Now if we happen to breed a good kitten without a white lip, and should strive to mate her to a really well-marked stud cat, even should he fail in colour - perhaps we might get even one kitten nearly reaching perfection as the result. It would reward the patience, expense and time; but we need never expect a profusely coated cat to show as distinct markings as an inferiorly coated one. I breed nothing but brown tabbies, but cannot say I have yet obtained perfection. I have, however, secured coat and colour, and expect to attain the other desirable points in the near future, as we must all persevere, but always let us breed up to the standard of the true Persian.
I first became interested in cats by being given a nice brown tabby Persian kitten, which I called 'Ruffle,' and got very fond of him; but as he seemed lonely I thought of getting another kitten as a companion for him, so I then purchased a pretty little silver tabby from Miss Cochran; but after some time, of all the varieties I saw, none pleased me so well as the brown tabbies. The breed I have gone in for altogether during the past few years, and I feel sure I shall remain faithful to them to the end of my career as a cat fancier. At present I have not a cat of any other colour in my cattery.
I still have 'Ruffle,' who is now a very large neuter, splendidly marked, but perhaps not quite up to the standard in other points for the English show bench. 'Brayfort Fina' is, I may say, a sable tabby, being particularly rich in colour all throughout - indeed, more often of an auburn tan than brown. She is very profuse in coat carrying a long body-coat and a big ruff and frill. She is a very large cat, with plenty of bone, and well made, with a fine-shaped head. She was once mistaken for a male by a well-known judge. 'Fina' was bred by Miss G Southam, and is by 'Master Ruffie' ex 'Bluette,' her sire being a son of the famous 'Champion Birkdale Ruffie.' [In 1902 'Fina' took first] at the Bath Specialist Show in the same year, where her gorgeous colouring was called in question and an unsupported protest was made that she was dyed!
I have found mating to a good brown tabby much the most successful. I tried mating to an orange, but did not like the results. I always mated to the late 'Champion Persimmon,' and never had fewer than six kittens in a litter - sometimes eight - all strong and healthy. Twice only have I lost any, and on these occasions the fault lay with the foster mothers."
In America brown tabbies are beginning to find favour, and several good specimens have been exported […] and in Field and Fancy of December 1902, the following notice appears: "Miss Lucy Johnstone is the fortunate owner of 'Persimmon Squirrel,' a son of the noted brown tabby 'Persimmon,' who lately died. Good brown tabbies are very scarce." The most famous brown tabby, however, over the herring pond was Mr E N Barker's wonderful "King Humbert." This cat arrived in America in 1885, and made a considerable stir in catty circles. Mr Barker is said to have refused a thousand dollars for him from a New York millionaire. Mr Barker, writing of this breed, says:-
"If I were asked suddenly why I admire brown tabby Persians, the liking must be partly attributed to face markings and colour, and to one who grows accustomed to these they are fascinating and add to the general beauty of the cat, and seem natural and as though they ought to be there, and one is not so overweighted with a sense of continual sameness as may be apparent in a whole colour. I must confess, personally speaking, I have become used to bars and stripes. I miss them when I contemplate a self-coloured Persian.
I once had a good many brown tabby Persians, and people did not fancy them, as they said 'They are so like ordinary cats' - a great mistake; but by gentle persuasion I managed to get one or two adopted. One lady some time afterwards candidly confessed, 'I could not now be satisfied with any other kind, I should miss the stripes so much on the face.' That is just it; in a tabby you have a little more than your neighbours, who go in for self-coloured cats, and though for the time being they are not quite so fashionable, you can chuckle to yourself if you own one, and feel quietly superior to fashion and the common herd, and hold your tabby still closer to your heart, and purr softly to yourself with satisfaction at its possession; for I think one may say that for good all-round, everyday, reliable qualities, the brown tabby stands pre-eminent.
His constitution being good, he is not peevish; he stands cold and heat, change of climate and surroundings, better on an average than any. Brown tabbies should have the under-coat a good golden hue, the markings black, clear, and distinct, rather too many than too few. A good-shaped body, lots of bone, a bold head, red nose, golden eyes, well marked on the chest, and no light colour on the lips and chin. These cats may with advantage be a good size. With care, the under colour may be bred to a grand copper colour; a grey hue in brown tabbies is most undesirable."
And now a few remarks as regards to mating of brown tabbies. I have tried several experiments, but if I were wishing to breed fine specimens I should continue to mate brown tabbies with brown tabbies. Such mating frequently results in a black or two, and these are generally good ones. The orange cross is sometimes successful in introducing a brighter tone, but I confess I have not had very good results from these attempts. I have on several occasions mated blues to my brown tabby stud, and although blue tabbies have appeared in the litters, I have also obtained blues with very grand heads, plenty of bone and massive build. I have been told by silver breeders that a brown tabby cross with chinchillas has often proved advantageous. It might be imagined that the silvers would be tinged with brown or streaked, but I have been assured this is by no means usual, and that the litters consist of good brown tabbies and equally pure silvers.
A well-known breeder of silvers says: "Although it may be incorrect to cross silvers and browns, it is often most successful. My first tom was a brown tabby with a white chin, and being mated with a silver queen the kittens were good browns and exquisite silvers, and there were lots of winners amongst them."
Before closing my article, I would remark that the brown tabby and sable, though often classed together, must not be confounded. The brown tabby is supposed to be the common ancestor of all our cats, and hence the tendency to revert to that colour. This being the case, surely we should have brown tabby cats more nearly approaching perfection than any other colours. They appear in very unexpected places - in a litter of chinchillas or blacks, or among our oranges, and sometimes where no brown ancestor can be traced. In the brown tabby there seems to be little or no inclination to lose the markings, as in other tabbies; rather the contrary, for they overdo themselves sometimes, and form into solid black patches, thus causing the dark saddle, which is a serious fault in this breed. Query: Would generations of inbreeding produce a self brown, as with oranges and chinchillas? I rather doubt it, as I think the common ancestor would, so to speak, "chip in" and assert himself.
As regards the sables, I may remark that they are late in maturing and do not acquire their marvellous colouring till about the second year […] I hope that in time this breed of Persians may find more admirers, and that with patience and perseverance a really good strain of grand-coloured, dark-chinned and above all splendidly marked brown tabby cats may be seen at our shows. In America, as will be seen from the following extract from Field and Fancy, the brownies are making good headway:
"Brown Tabbies in America. The brown tabby cat, whose fate seemed to hang in the balance for some time, is now, in America, on the road to social prominence, and daily we hear of the progress of the breed, so that the classes next winter seem to promise greater results than ever. From all over we hear of brown tabbies being bred and reared, and, what is more, finding homes at remunerative prices. In looking for the reasons for the popularity of the browns we do not have far to seek, for when once well tried, these cats wheedle their way into your affections by the strength and vitality they display, as a rule; and the general average being level in their temper, with plenty of common sense, as well as bold, lovable cats, are very satisfactory to deal with. Besides these attributes, when bred properly, their colour is most fascinating, and has a faculty of growing upon one, and weaker colours seem tame by comparison.
So far as we can say, that as regards the brown tabbies, the whites and orange, there have been more concentrated efforts to breed good ones by design than in any of the colours, though the silver breeders are now coming up. Taking a general look at our cats of this colour, have little to be ashamed of, and the stock is good enough to make the nucleus of a fine lot of show cats, for they inherit their goodness from several generations of the colour, which is much to the point.
Our breeders will find that to breed good tabbies they will have to keep to blood lines, select the best-marked ones and not switch about in search of all sorts of blood crosses; for the way to breed tabbies is to keep to the colour and get the marks, which too many crosses with solid coloured cats are liable to spoil. After a time the purely bred and carefully bred strains will stand out and perpetuate themselves and the chance-breds will go to the wall.
It has been surmised that the reason why the browns are so hardy is that possibly they more nearly approach the natural colour of cats in a wild state, and are perhaps not so artificial; but the number that will be bred of superlative colouring to fill the standard from a show point of view will never be too numerous to command high prices, and the greater the competition the greater the value of the variety, as we see in our dogs. For it is in the popular breeds that the prices rule the highest, and the scarce ones seldom realise the same figures because there is not the same keen competition to get the best. When we look back we can call to mind quite a few good brown tabbies in the last seven years, and not very many bad ones, and for uniform quality our browns have been the equal of any colour.
Breeders should be careful to select those with the brown or red body colour, and with the stripes as distinct as possible. In our own experience with the colour we have found three varieties, and these are best described as they appear at birth. No 1 is the cat with a narrow band down the centre of the back, and thin narrow lines radiating therefrom. These marks may be very distinct when the cat is young, but are not strong enough for a long-haired cat, and the marks are lost when the coat grows. Though these cats are not the best of exhibition cats, they are very useful to breed to those too heavily marked. No 2 is the cat that is heavily marked and carries too much black, and is often too grey in his body colour, but these, be being carefully bred to other colours, may throw the desired cat; or No 3, the cat with the orange body colour and the distinct black marks covering about a third of the surface of the cat. This latter we hope to see in greater numbers now that an organised effort is being made to breed the colour true.
A great many of our browns are clear of one great fault, which is the light chin and throat, and it is to be hoped that this will be continued. Another fault that wants improving, and which is the prevailing fault in one of our prominent strains, is a rather sour green eye, and this has been the cause of some of them having to take a back seat on occasions. Last year was fortunately a great educator for some of our best breeders, and they are now experimenting along the right lines, and are aware, when they lose, why it is so. As the years roll on those who do learn will not expect to win over better cats just because they think they ought."
"Any Other Colour" Persians (Frances Simpson)
I find this one of the most interesting sections as it discusses varieties which later came to be recognised, but which faced prejudice or contempt in 1903, for example the "dun smoke" in this registry record.
In the early days of the fancy all sorts and conditions of cats were entered in this class. Blacks, whites, and tabbies were considered important enough to have classes assigned to them; then the rest were all huddled and muddled together in the "any other variety" class. Even in these days it is no easy matter to place the awards in a mixed class; but formerly the judge must have felt puzzled over the prizes, and probably finally gave the highest awards to the breed ["breed" meaning "colour"] of cat which he most admired. I do not mean anything personal; but, as I write, I recollect a very large class in 1887 at the Crystal Palace, two years before a class for blues was instituted. Mr A A Clarke was judging, and a female blue, "Fanny," which I had given to Mrs W M Hunt as a birthday present, was awarded first. She was a beautiful specimen, and but for her green eyes would have been a remarkable cat even in these up-to-date day of the fancy.
Whereas, therefore, for many years this "any other variety" class was the largest in the show, it has gradually become beautifully less - and rightly so, for by degrees the various breeds have been improved, and the number of specimens have increased, and the executives of shows have gone with the times and provided separate classes for each breed as occasion seemed to arise. So orange and cream cats are no longer relegated to what we now call the "any other colour" class, and tortoiseshells and tortoiseshell-and-whites are separately dealt with; therefore it is only tabby-and-whites, nondescript smokes, blue tabbies, and black-and-whites that are received into the fold of the somewhat despised "any other colour" class. Blues and blacks with white spots used to be entered in this class, but of recent years both cat clubs have wisely decided that such cats must be entered in their own classes, for a blue is a blue and a black is a black, and having a blemish does not alter their breed, but takes so many points away from them; and, of course, their chances of success even with every other quality is very small indeed when in competition with pure self-coloured cats.
I am of opinion that ere long the "any other colour" class, at least at our principal shows, will cease to exist, and mismarked cats, white-spotted cats, and doubtful smokes will no longer be considered worth entering, and fanciers owning such specimens will make up their own mind to keep their pets at home.
For instance, Mrs Boutcher, a silver breeder, owned a magnificent cat, a son of "Lord Argent." He was a superbly shaped and grandly coated animal, and was neither a silver nor a smoke - in fact, what might be termed a silver smoke [modern day shaded silver]. His face was dark, and tail and paws, and his body was a pale silver-grey, shaded to almost white at the roots. His owner entered him in the "any other colour" class one year, and he was disqualified by the judge; then he was next located in the smoke class, but as a different judge was making the awards he was again marked "wrong class." This noble "Lord Sylvester" was the cause of much correspondence in the cat papers, and discussion ran high as to what manner of cat he was. One of our ablest judges - now alas! no longer in our midst - wrote thus in Our Cats of December 1900:-
"Sir, In your issue of 24th I notice at the meeting of the Silver Society Mr Boutcher asked the opinion re the decision of myself at the Palace as against that or Mr House at Brighton. In defence of my own award, I unhesitatingly say that, in the same classification as at the Palace, "Lord Sylvester's" class was that AOC in which I fearlessly awarded him first prize. Of course, Mr House has just as much right to his opinion as i have to mine; but whether right or wrong, I do know "Lord Sylvester" is not a smoke, both on my own knowledge of colour and of that set forth in the standards. E Welburn."
Surely this is the common-sense view to take. A year later, "Lord Sylvester" was purchased by Mrs Champion, and travelled out with her to America, where, no doubt, this splendid animal receives all the admiration he deserves, in whatever class he is entered on the other side of the herring pond. Since writing these lines I have read an article in Field and Fancy on the New York Cat Show of January, 1903, and the following mention is made: "In the 'any other colour' 'Lord Sylvester' was to the front, looking splendid." [Britain lagged behind the USA in recognising Shaded Silvers]
As regarding the advisability of doing away with the "any other colour" class, I will quote from a letter written by that well-known fancier Mr W R Hawkins:- "Why should one class or another in a show be given up to the bad specimens or mismarked cats of each colour? Surely the intended use of the 'any other colour' class was that when any definite colour had no class of its own it should not be excluded from the show, but take refuge in the 'any other colour' class; for instance, at the Brighton show (1900) we had no class for cream, orange, or tortoiseshell. They were, therefore, shown in the 'any other colour' class, and being good cats of definite breeds were a credit to the class, and in no way a disgrace. But what do we often see? A blue with a white spot or some other freak winning. I say this is absolutely wrong, and that a blue with a white spot is in reality a bad blue, and should not be encouraged. In the same way, a tabby-and-white is bad tabby, and ought not to go to a show at all, but even if shown has no right in the 'any other colour' class, according to my ideas."
There is one cat that is fast vanishing from our midst. I mean the black-and-white Persian, and yet I confess and evenly marked specimen is a handsome animal. By black and white I mean the ground should be black, dense and glossy; the feet, chest, and nose white, with a blaze of white coming to a point up the centre of the face. The eyes of such a cat should be orange. Another type is the white-and-black cat, but unless the black patches are evenly balance, especially in the face, the effect is not pleasing. Harrison Weir gives particulars of some curiously marked cats coming under his notice - "one entirely white with black ears; another white with a black tail only; another had the two front feet black, all else being white".
I cannot say I have any leaning towards tabby-and-white cats, or orange-and-white, these being the least attractive of any in the fancy. Blue-and-whites are seldom seen. Blue tabbies, so common fifteen or twenty years ago, are no longer to be seen, at least only here and there at shows, and they have really no value beyond being pretty pets. A cat that has done some winning and has sired some lovely kittens, but must, strictly speaking, be considered and "any other colour" cat, is "Blue Robin," formerly the property of Miss H Cochran, and now in the possession of Mr C W Witt. This is a blue cat with a tabby-marked head. He was bred from blues and silvers, and his chin, ear tufts, and eyebrows are silver, and his nose pink. He has a grand head and beautiful expression. I am indebted to Miss Hester Cochran for the following notes on "any other coloured" cats:-
"The cats known as 'AOC's' or 'any other colour,' because they are of a colour for which no class is provided, are hard to write about, because they have no history. They are not bred from AOCs, and AOCs are not bred from them. They are either pedigreeless or, more commonly, the result of indiscreet crossing of two definite colours, as, for example, when the owner of a white queen wishes to breed a litter of blue kittens. More rarely they result from a cross which has been resorted to to fix some special point, as when a white and a blue with particularly massive heads or wonderful orange eyes have been mated with a view to producing a strain noted for their eyes. Years ago the classes were interesting, as they introduced all new colours.
I remember an AOC class at the Crystal Palace not many years ago containing seven entries, all good smokes; soon after smoke classes were given, and then chinchillas began to appear in the class. These cats being specially provided for, creams were the most noticeable AOCs; but now the blue tabbies and broke-coloured cats - that is some colour and white usually occupy the AOC. Notable instances of cats with white spots were 'Cain,' 'Nankipoo,' and 'Kingfisher,' all grand blues with this blemish. In 1892, Mrs pattison's exquisitely shaped and coated orange-and-white 'Chicot' (pedigreeless), then shown as tabby with or without white, established a record by winning as best in show at the Crystal Palace. Other tabby-and-white cats have done well. Miss Maloney used to show some good ones; the best 'Lindfield Sweet William,' was a blue tabby-and-white, very massive and heavily coated, son of the smoke 'Lindfield Bogie.' Mrs Pearce, of New Barnet, also used to win with tabby-and-white cats, and Mr Law's 'Buffer' was a celebrity in his day, but whether he was a brown tabby or an AOC is doubtful; he was later known as 'Leopoold.' The Hon Mrs McLaren Morrison had a really good silver tabby with white feet in 'Kepwick Silver King'; and later Miss Snell's grand-headed 'Wonderland' made a small sensation.
Another good cat which won in an AOC class is Lady Maitland's 'Cheeky Blue,' a lovely blue with a sprinkling of white hairs on her body. Blue and smoke tortoiseshells are freaks and not really exhibition cats at all, but are by some people considered useful for breeding. Personally, I do not think they are capable of producing anything which a definitely coloured cat of proper ancestry cannot produce as well or better. When cream queens were unavailable they had to be used, but now they are becoming unnecessary. Perhaps the best is Miss W Beal's 'R Fluffie.' Mrs D'Arcy Hildyard's 'Sengo of the Durhams' was another. Miss Taylor's 'Tawney' began life as a blue with a few yellow marks, and wound up as a good tortoiseshell, though a trifle too red. Mrs Cunliffe Lee's 'Tiger,' a kind of yellow-brown, more ticked than marked, and principally distinguished by his great coat, made his mark in the AOC classes.
Of blue tabby cats which have won well (mostly bred from blues and silver tabbies) there is a long list. They became common through the craze for blues, as silver queens were sent to blue toms. Later the desire for chinchillas started them afresh, as blue queens were sent to chinchilla toms. [Of the blue tabbies from chinchilla matings] some of these have thrown beautiful kittens, both blues and chinchillas; and as a makeshift, when a correctly coloured cat of the required pedigree is unavailable, they may, when judiciously mated, be found useful; but good breeders will part with all mismarked kittens for pets. The best and most definitely coloured AOC I ever saw was Mrs Davies' 'Sin Li,' a deep self-coloured chocolate-brown cat. He was supposed to be one of three Swiss mountain cats imported to this country, and he was a most handsome and interesting animal. Unfortunately, he died young, leaving no progeny. Another AOC cat I have seen was a short-haired neuter, red, with black stripes and white paws and chest [Note: I can find no modern equivalent]. In the future I hope to see a variety of strange cats in the AOC classes, but at present they are very uninteresting. Good suggestions for future colours are red, orange, blue or white with black stripes, chestnut-brown self-coloured, and black with white tips to the fur [Note: now seen in Chausies]. So far as I can see, it should be possible by crossing with various foreign breeds to produce in a few years' time cats of all these colours."
As a sign of the times, I may mention that at the Westminster show in 1903 the three "any other colour" classes for males, females, and kittens had to be cancelled, no entries having been made.
Speculative, but I must add, persevering fanciers might derive interest and amusement from trying to breed out-of-the common specimens. A black-and-white, spotted like a Dalmatian hound, or a cat marked with zebra stripes, could doubtless be produced in time by careful and judicious selection.