In 1928, cat collector, breeder and judge HC Brooke reported an unusual red self shorthair. Because of the way the red gene and non-agouti gene interact, cats that are genetically solid red still show tabby markings. Brooke was familiar with red tabbies and he bred Abyssinians, so when he reported a solid red shorthair cat it is worth taking note. He alluded to his Red Self Shorthair in "Cat Gossip,"5th December: "Mr House created a mild sensation at the Palace when he 'wrong classed' the Red Self Amberette which took the challenge certificate as a Red Self at Newbury." Evidently Amberette had visible tabby markings. Brooke then went on to say "We own what we think is the only existing Red Self without the tiniest vestige of "tabby"even on legs and tail." He doesn't describe it as an Abyssinian, and the photo does not look like an Abyssinian.

Taunton Courier, and Western Advertiser, Wednesday 24th October, 1928: Mr. H.C. Brooke, of Bishop’s Hull, has just acquired a most remarkable cat. It is, in fact, an absolutely unique specimen as far as this country is concerned. It is a self-red short-haired cat, much the colour of a squirrel without any markings. Unfortunately, it has not been possible to obtain any data as to how it was bred, but no red unmarked short-haired cat has ever been seen in this country, with the exception of some specimens owned and exhibited about 30 years ago by Mr. Brooke. These cats came from India, and excited much interest among both fanciers and naturalists. Their coats were as short as that of a newly-clipped horse, and the very long tails almost whip-like in thinness. The portrait of one of these cats with its cattery mate, an Abyssinian, forms one of the coloured plates in “Cassell’s Book of the Cat,” now in print.

Brooke expanded on his comment in "Cat Gossip" on 19th December 1928, "We forgot to mention that our Self-Red, referred to last week [actually 2 weeks ago], is a S.H. Mahogany red all through, not the vestige of shading or striping, not a white hair; but oh! what a heart-breaking cat; will anything on this earth ever get him into condition?"

red self shorthair cat

In "Cat Gossip," 6th February 1929, Brooke wrote "We mentioned recently that we had a dark red or squirrel-coloured S.H. cat, without one white hair, and not showing the very slightest trace of tabby markings anywhere. If any S.H. breeder would like to experiment with this cat we will allow him to be used for a fee of 12s. 6d., plus carriage. The cat is an absolutely unique specimen. When his coat dies it fades to a rich cream or straw colour. Possibly, suitably mated, he might breed creams?"

Then, in "Cat Gossip," 1th May 1929,we learn "Mr. Brooke is looking forward with interest to the shortly expected litter of a tortoise queen by his extraordinary red S.H. cat, which appears to be an absolutely unique specimen, for inquiries in many countries have failed to elicit tidings of the existence of such a cat. Were it not for the quarantine it had been intended to exhibit him at a Continental Show to see if any scientist could account for his origin. Although a full-grown tom, he barely weighs 6lbs; his legs and paws are very delicate and slender. His colour is exactly that of a squirrel, a dark sorrel red all over, oven to his whiskers. In his ways he is unlike any ordinary cat; for hours at a time he paces to and fro in his enclosure at a quick trot, just as do some of the animals at the Zoo. All naturalists are puzzled by him."

On October 23rd, 1929, Brooke reported "I once mated a tortoiseshell S.H. queen to my self red S.H. male, and obtained one black male, one tortoise[shell] female, and one tortoise[shell] male - that is unless the last named proves to be a hermaphrodite, as to which I am not yet quite clear."

This cat was exhibited at Crystal Palace and "Cat Gossip" (20th November 1929) reported "Even the Press reporters were duly impressed by Mr. Brooke’s unique cat, and there were several notes about him in the papers next morning. He attracted a great deal of attention, and his pen was visited by nearly everyone who came to the Show."

Western Morning News, 9th November, 1929: The Championship Show of the Croydon Cat Club, which will open on November 13, will reveal the mystery of the red, short-haired cat owned by Mr. H.C. Brooke, of Taunton, who himself is one of the greatest authorities on foreign cats as well as a naturalist. No-one knows anything about this mysterious cat except that it is the first one to be seen in Great Britain.

And in "Cat Gossip," 13th November, 1929 (no longer edited by HC Brooke, under the title "The Unique Red S.H." it is reported "Is it exaggeration to call this the most remarkable Cat in existence? Perhaps not, for it would appear to be the only one on record. Enquiries all over the world have not shown that such a cat has ever been recorded. Many, it is hoped, have by now seen him at Croydon. For those who have not — he is all over, from and including whiskers to tail tip, a dark red colour, without any lighter shades, even on chin, and with no sign of tabby stripes even on legs, tail, or cheeks. His legs are very slender and graceful; an adult male, he only scales 7lbs. In the autumn the old hair becomes straw-yellow, the tail being always last to moult. He does not look such a “Struwwelpeter” as in the photo, when he was bristling at sight of a stranger, also the loose old hair was coming through. Possibly he would be useful to breed S.H. Creams. He rarely “sits about” as do most cats, but paces or trots continually to and fro, and must walk miles daily. Nature appears in one step here to have produced what years of Fancy breeding have not yet obtained in L.H. — a perfectly sound unmarked Red Self. It is remarkable that the only other recorded Red S.H. were shown thirty years ago by his owner, Mr. H. Brooke, but as can be seen from the coloured plate in Cassell's “Hook of the Cat,” these Indians were not nearly so sound in colour, though they created much sensation at the time."

Hull Daily Mail, 9th April 1930: A cat which is claimed to be unique in type and colouring is owned by H. C. Brooke, of Taunton. It has short hair which, from whiskers tail tip, is dark red, without any lighter shades or signs of tabby stripes. It rarely sits about like the everyday cat, but paces or trots to and fro continually.

Hartlepool Northern Daily Mail, 10th April 1931: CAT RESEARCH. Coffee-Coloured & Pink-Eyed Strains. White cats with pink eyes, and Cats the colour of ground coffee are the latest ambition of the zoological department of the University of Liverpool. One cat of each of these new types in the possession of the University . . . The second cat was shown by the late Mr. H. C. Brooke as a “self-red” at the Crystal Palace. But it is pointed out by the workers at Liverpool that its colour is entirely different from anything found on a normal “red” cat; in fact, that is a true dark brown without markings. Nothing is known of the origin of this cat, nor of how its colour can have been transmitted.

The Self Red is known by line-chasers as "Brooke's Self Red" (aka Ras Brouk?) and can’t have been an Abyssinian because he was solid in colour, totally unmarked and had red whiskers. This indicates a non-agouti cat, and non-agouti cats did turn up in early Abyssinian lines. It had no vestige of tabby marking, even on legs and head, which would have been exceptional for an Aby in the 1920s and the photo and descriptions indicate a non-agouti cat because it is evenly coloured. The "fading to straw colour" at moulting time makes me think of "rusting" but diluted. Ras Brouk was mated to Claude Alexander's Goldtick, producing the influential sire Tim the Harvester, a Usual (Ruddy) Abyssinian who is behind sorrel and cinnamon lines.

Red kittens appeared occasionally in Abyssinian litters but were viewed the probable descendants of a red tabby used some time in the past, or as descendants of “Mr Brooke’s Self Red,” a chocolate-coloured cat (according to cat breeder May Eustace) that appeared in many post-war pedigrees. However, Mr Brooke’s Self Red’s colour always disappeared two to three generations down the line, never to reappear. (Note: About the year 1887, a red kitten appeared in a litter born to one of the first pairs of Abyssinians imported into Britain. He was bred by Sir Joshua (or John) Dunze – but the apricot-coloured kitten and its usual-coloured brother were given away as pets to a little girl. This is the first recorded Red Abyssinian.)


By Cyril Yeates
Fur and Feather, Rabbits and Rabbit Keeping, April 18, 1947.

Before dealing with the two breeds (No. 4 Red Self and No. 9 Red Tabby) separately I think it will simplify matters if I trace the history of the Red or Orange cat from the early days of the Fancy, as far back as the Crystal Palace show of 1889, which is the earliest catalogue I possess. I find there was a class for “Brown or Red Tabbies,” which attracted nine entries, including Rufus, owned by Mrs. Warner – now the Hon. Mrs. McLaren Morrison. By 1894 the classification had changed to “Brown, Dark Grey or Red Tabby without White.” In 1896, at the first Crystal Palace show to be run by the National Cat Club, there were no classes for Red Tabbies, but there were two for "Orange or Creams.” The cat club gave classes for ”Orange or Red without markings” at its show held at Westminster 1902; by 1909 the N.C.C. was providing classes for “Orange Tabbies” and ” Orange Self or Shaded.” and in 1912 the classes were for "Orange or Red Tabbies” and “Orange or Red Self or Shaded.” Newbury 1912 was the first show to declare boldly for “Red Tabbies” and “Red Self or Shaded.”

At the time that Miss Frances Simpson wrote ”The Book of the Cat” for Cassells in the year 1903, fanciers were striving after a self-coloured Red, and the following extract gives an idea of the position at that time. Miss Simpson wrote: ”I have left out the term tabby from the heading of this chapter (Orange Persians), and I think advisedly, for in the Persian varieties the markings are gradually but surely 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 or 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 to-day 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.”

In 1900 the Orange, Cream, Fawn and Tortoiseshell Society was started, with the well-known Cream and Red breeder, Miss Mildred Beal, as hon. secretary. The club had only one standard of points for “Orange Self or Tabby.” “Colour to be as bright as possible and either self or markings to be as distinct as can be got.” Miss Simpson foresaw the possibility of Orange Tabbies becoming extinct, just as Blue Tabbies had when the Blue Self was established, but for once this very clever woman was wrong, for both tabbies, selfs or shadeds continued to be bred and shown for many years, and in the end it was the tabbies that stayed while the selfs faded

Vol. III of the stud book covering the years 1923-1927 contained 37 tabbies and 27 self or shaded, but in the year 1925 there were sensational happenings in the Red Fancy. At the Crystal Palace show Mr. F.W. Western wrong classed five exhibits, including Garboldisham Red Lahri, Lancashire Evening Sunset and Ch. Princess Salyana, and at the next show (Newcastle) Mr. C. A. House wrong classed three out of the four exhibits, and as two of the victims were full champions (Ch. Rutland Reddy and Ch. Shazada) it created something of a stir. To complicate matters Lancashire Evening Sunset, wrong classed at the Palace when entered as a tabby, was wrong classed at Newcastle when entered in the self or shaded class. The Red, Cream or Tortoiseshell Society called a general meeting, at which it was unanimously decided to bring a resolution before the Governing Council requesting that the word “shaded” be deleted from Breed No. 4 and that henceforth Breed No. 4 should be for “Red Self.”

Commenting on the season's Reds in “Fur and Feather,” in February, 1926, I wrote: “The drastic action of Mr. Western and Mr. House in wrong classing the Red Tabbies and Selfs wholesale, while naturally causing annoyance to the owners of the cats involved was a blessing in disguise. It has spurred the R.C. and T. Society into action and it is setting its house in order. I feel sure it has hastened the coming of the Red Self by many years, and it win be interesting to see winch of the many keen Red breeders will first produce a perfect specimen."

How wrong I was! In vol. IV of the Stud Book Selfs and Shadeds dropped from 27 to 11. Vol. V contained four; vol. VI two and vols. VII and VIII none. The truth of the matter was that the Red Self was a myth. Mr. House in his book, “Our Cats and all About Them,” under the heading Red Sells says:

”Why a chapter on Red Selfs? I can imagine the question being asked, because at the moment we have not a cat that can be truly styled a Red Self. A number have won as such. Some have won both as Red Selfs and as Red Tabbies, and there are some which have been disqualified in both classes. This state of affairs, which has seemed very contradictory, has arisen because when short of coat these cats have shown tabby markings, and later, when in full coat, these markings have been almost imperceptible.” (To be continued)


Fur and Feather, Rabbits and Rabbit Keeping, May 30, 1947.
(Continued from page 219.)
Mr. C. A. House in his book “Our Cats and All About Them,” says: "The fancier who would secure a big niche in the temple of fame might endeavour to breed a sound, even-coloured Red Self. I would advise mating the richest coloured Cream male that could be found to a sound coloured Red queen carrying as little marking as possible. The first cross male kittens would be of little use for breeding, and I should advise that they be not used, but the young queens might be paired to as even a Red male as possible. The kittens from this mating could be used by mating brother to sister, and a male from this mating could also be used with one of the first cross queens. Tortoiseshell queens also should be useful in the production of Self Reds, especially those that are known as Blue Tortoiseshells.

“It is a curious thing, but forty years ago fanciers were breeding for selfs only in the Reds or Oranges as they were then called, and it was not a question of one or two doing so, but all. The Oranges and Creams were bred together as Selfs, and to keep them so were bred with Blacks, Whites, Blues and Tortoiseshells, and kept right away from the Tabbies, yet the markings would come.

“This was when the Cat Fancy was in its infancy and the Oranges were being built up with the Creams. They were then the babes of the Fancy. The guiding principle in selecting for breeding would have to be evenness of colour. This should govern all matings for a year or two and then, when colour had been attained, attention could be given to the other properties.”

In an article on Red Selfs which Mrs. Neate contributed to “Cat Gossip” in 1927 she wrote: “Thirty years have passed since I owned my first pedigree cat! When visiting Boscombe Show in 1897 I succumbed to the charms of the winning Orange in a class of 26 kittens and on the advice of the judge (the late T. J. Mason) I purchased my afterwards well-known King’s Own. This cat had a very successful show career and was considered as self-coloured an Orange as was at that period to be seen in the show pen. Although great strides have been made since those days in the improvement of colour in Oranges – or Reds as we know them now – it cannot be said that much success has attended the breeding of Self Reds, and no certain method of producing a really self-coloured Red cat has been evolved. I have always advocated the mating of Creams with Oranges as the surest way to obtain good specimens of each colour; and when King’s Own was mated to Josephine of the Durhams by Romaldkirk Admiral (Cream), he sired the rich coloured unmarked Orange queen, Mehitabel of the Durhams. This cat had sound lips and chin, which in those early days of showing were not often seen, and she proved a grand breeder of Oranges. Her owner, Mrs. D'Arcy Hildyard, once showed her with a litter of eight deep Orange kittens of both sexes – the females being somewhat rare in those days.”

In more recent times Mrs. Neate considered the late Mr Western’s Ch. Wynnstay Ruddiman did most to improve the Red Self. She is a firm believer in pedigree, and says; “Before mating up a queen I carefully study the individuals figuring in her pedigree and all that is known of their show careers. I then select a line-bred male most suited to her in points. The many failures one sees in Red Self breeding are due to the haphazard system of mating queens to any stud that takes one’s fancy because he happens to be near, or yet worse, because his services are available at a low fee.”

Sound advice which applies equally to all breeds and which cannot be repeated too often.

In addition to the above-mentioned, the following cats figured prominently in the first years of this century: Mrs. Vidal’s Torrington Sunnysides, Lady Decies’ Fulmer William of Orange, and Miss Beal’s Jael and Romaldkirk Minotaur. Let us hope some enthusiasts will try again to produce a real Red Self, for a cat the colour of a Red Setter all over would be a very beautiful animal and this, to my mind, is the shade of red to be aimed at.


By Cyril Yeates
Fur and Feather, Rabbits and Rabbit Keeping, July 11, 1947.

Many people think It was wrong to change the name from Orange to Red, arguing that all other tabbies – Silver, Brown, and Blue - take their name from the ground colour and not the colour of the stripes. Others say that a good Red Tabby should be two shades of red, and so to call them orange would be wrong. This is true of the Eastbury strain of reds, but few others could claim to have a red ground colour. However, the G.C.C.F. decided that breed No. 9 is to be Red Tabby, so Red Tabby it is.

As I pointed out when writing on Red Selfs in the early stud books, Self and Shaded Reds and Red Tabbies were entered under the general term Reds or Orange, and as at the shows, the classes were also for Reds or Oranges, it is difficult to say with any certainty, which cats were Self or Shaded, and which Tabby. It wasn’t until 1909 that the National Cat Club gave separate classes for Orange Tabbies and Orange Seif or Shaded. The winning cats that day were Mrs. Slingsby’s Aquila of Thorpe (by Ch. Red Eagle of Thorpe ex Donna Roma), and Mrs. Forsythe Forrest's Orange Marmalade (by Ch. Kew Red Spider ex Goldie).

In the early years of the present century two names stand out. Ch. Kew Red Comyn, and Ch. Kew Red Spider, litter brothers by Ch. Blue San Toy ex Kew Gipsy, born in 1905, and owned and bred by Mr. Frank Norris, who was judging at the N.C.C. show last January, and is one of the oldest members of the Cat Fancy. When Miss Frances Simpson judged these two cats in 1910, she wrote of Red Comyn, “grand shape, size, bone and eye, extra rich in colour well marked, in grand form,” and of Red Spider “richer in colour, A.1. markings; nice coat and bone, loses in head. Two beautiful cats which appear to get better almost with age.” Of Mrs. Corner’s Zia of Eversley (a daughter of Ch. Kew Red Comyn), who won in females at that same Palace Show, Miss Simpson wrote, “big heavily coated queen, rare bone, nice head and eye, fails a bit in colour.”

To go back a year, two other famous cats were first and second in males. They were Mrs. Slingsby’s Aquila of Thorpe, and Ch. Red Eagle of Thorpe. Of Aquila, Mr. Mason wrote, “Best eye markings and coat, nice brush and frill,” and of his sire, Red Eagle, “Shade richer in colour, fine head and limbs, beaten eye end brush." Of the latter’s, daughter, Marmalade, who also won that day, the judge wrote, “Very level and sound in colour, but a shade pale, good in head and shape, nice frill.”

Ch. Red Eagle of Thorpe was a fine cat and a very successful sire. He was by Squire of Benwell ex Benwell Queen and bred by Mr. Hall. Other successful cats of that period were Aigrette of Thorpe by Ch Red Eagle of Thorpe, out of the lovely tortie-and-white Ch. Rosette of Thorpe, Swinton Tally Ho, Kew Sunbeam, a son of Ch. Kew Red Spider, and Mrs. Forsythe Forrest’s pair, Ch. Torchlight and Lovelight by Sandy Dandy ex Orange Marmalade.

Mrs. Moore’s Ch. Holmfield Mandarina (Ch. Medo Infinite ex Dally), Ronaldkirk Jackal (Ch. Ronaldkirk Admiral ex Pearlina), and the Hon. Mrs. McLaren Morrison’s Silverdale Turbine (Puck ex Honey), and Wynnstay Blazer by Ch. Kew Red Comyn, were all big winners but I have no means or telling whether they were Tabbies Shaded or Selfs.




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