CATS AND CAT CARE - 1940s - 1960s: LONGHAIR BREEDS
This article is part of a series looking about cats and cat care in Britain from the late 1800s through to the 1970s.
Cox-Ife, Grace; "Questions Answered About Cats" (1947)
France, Sydney W; "Siamese Cats" (1949)
Pond, Grace; "The Observer’s Book of Cats" (1959 Edn)
Soderbergh, P M; "Your Cat" (1951) (using 3rd edition; 1959)
Soderbergh, P M; "Pedigree Cats, Their Varieties, Breeding and Exhibition" (1958)
Tenent, Rose; "Pedigree Cats" (1955)
Jude, Albert Charles; "Cat Genetics" (1955) (reprinted 1967, 1977)
Mery, Fernand; "Just Cats" (1957) (originally published in French)
Mery, Fernand; "The Life, History and Magic of the Cat" (1957) (originally published in French)
Vesey-Fitzgerald, Brian "Cats" (1958)
Cats Protection League (various leaflets from 1960s & 1970s)
Other sources are as credited in the text with additional personal information and commentary.
Much has been written about cats over the years and it is interesting to consider past views in the light of modern developments. For instance, in "Origin of Species" (1859), Charles Darwin wrote "...cats from their nocturnal habits, cannot be so easily matched [bred] and although so much valued by women and children, we rarely see a distinct breed long kept up." By the 1940s, things were very different - there were a numbr of distinct breeds and the science of genetics was soon to play a part in the scientific breeding of cats.
1947 - THE RED LONGHAIR DEBATE
THE HISTORY OF THE RED CAT - A VARIETY WHICH THROWS OUT A CHALLENGE TO FANCIERS WHO WANT SOMETHING DIFFERENT AND DIFFICULT By Cyril Yeates, Fur and Feather, 18th April 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 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."
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 out.
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 will be interesting to see which 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 Selfs 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)
SELF RED CATS By CYRIL YEATES (Continued.) Fur and Feather, 30th May 1947
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.
COLOUR OF THE RED TABBY by Cyril Yeates, Fur and Feather, 11th July 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 Self 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. K. 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 or 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 and 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 Daily), Romaldkirk Jackal (Ch, R. 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 of telling whether they were Tabbies, Shaded or Sells.
COX-IFE & FRANCE ON THE LONGHAIRED BREEDS OF THE 1940S
The only longhaired breed formally recognised in Britain was the Persian, often known simply as "longhair" or even "British Longhair". An idiosyncrasy of the British cat fancy, and one which has persisted into modern times, means that each colour of Persian had its own breed number rather than being colour divisions of a single breed. The old Angora type had been supplanted by the "snubby" face Persian. The Persians were far less extreme in type, especially facially, than their modern counterparts. Longhaired mongrel cats also existed.
Cox-Ife mentions Persians in 1947 and lists the colours as Black, White (blue-eyed, orange-eyed), Blue, Red Self, Cream, Smoke, Silver Tabby, Brown Tabby, Red Tabby, Chinchilla, Tortoiseshell, Tortoiseshell-and-White and Blue-Cream.
Persians were favourite photographic subjects as France noted (with some dismay) in his book "Siamese Cats". He listed the colours of Persian depicted: "Take a look at any cat magazine, or at any cat photographs you may see in the papers or periodicals. Mostly of the long-haired cats, are they not? Chinchillas, Blue Persians, Biscuit, Smoke, White Persians." The "Biscuit" colour, not listed by Cox-Ife, sounds to be cream or fawn.
MERY ON THE LONGHAIR CAT BREEDS OF THE 1950s
In his book “Just Cats” (1957), French cat-fancier Fernand Mery described the principal breeds of his time prefaced with these general notes: “Thanks to the efforts of enlightened amateurs, such points as the eye-colour of Angora cats or the length of tail in a Siamese became matters of absorbing interest. […] In less than a quarter of a century fanciers have agreed and acknowledged officially that there are long-haired and short-haired cats. Among the former are Persians, which can be: blue, white (with either blue or orange eyes), black, cream-coloured, russet, bluish-cream, smoke-grey, tortoise-shell and white, red-brown tabby, brown tabby, silver tabby or chinchilla. Apart from Persians, this category includes Burmans and Kmers.
Mery stated the view of Dr E Dechambre in wanting to end the use of "angora" to describe longhair cats as they inherited the name from Angora goats and not through coming from Angora themselves: "doubtless it is to the fact that these goats exist in Angora that we owe the application of the term to Persian cats (which keep this other usurped name too, for all that they no longer come from Persia). The Persian was imported from Italy in 1551 by Pietro del Lavale. One hundred years later Menard smuggled the first long-haired cat across the French frontier. Today, the Persian is "made in England" and zootechnically speaking, we have to bow to this new success" after which he describes the Persian as proportioned like a horse. persians constituted nine-tenths of the long-hairs "since (apart from the Kmer, a very controversial type) the Burman is the only long-haired representative of other cats." The Burman, which Mery also called "Burmese", is the Birman known today. Although he gives the legend of priest Mun-Ha and the cat Sinh, Mery suggested the gloved Siamese (Siamese with white feet) played a large part in the breed: "One wonders how Mr Vanderbilt managed to acquire a couple of these vigilantly guarded cats just after the First World War, and how others - none of whom were struck dead - were able to achieve so large a posterity for the breed. We have had champion Burmans by the dozens, leading up to those successful intermarriages with the gloved Siamese, so starting the dynasty of “Arakans “, “Rangoons “, “Mandalayans”. There is a good deal of mystery here, but then mystery and legend are an essential part of the cult."
SODERBERG ON THE LONGHAIR CAT BREEDS OF THE 1950sIn "Your Cat", written in 1951, Soderberg describes a number of breeds and reflects on the problems being faced in the post-war period. The only longhairs listed are the Persians which are described as having "a wide skull, with small ears set almost outside the outer edge of the eye, will ensure a good top to the head, but the face must also be bold with a well-developed muzzle and chin." This is very different from the ultra-typed, almost muzzle-less creature being bred a half-century later. He notes that Persians are derived from Angoras and says, "As a race Persians are not prolific."
According to Soderberg, "Pedigree cats, for which a number of championship shows are held every year, can be divided into two types, long-hair and short-hair. The long-haired cats are now called Persians. Why the name Persian was ever applied to them no one seems to know, but after a number of years during which the word "Angora" was applied to long-hairs, this name was changed. One thing is certain, that none of our pedigree breeds to-day ever came from Persia. There are at present thirteen different breeds of Persians, and all of these have been produced from the original Angora which was almost certainly a white cat with only a small amount of coloration.
About a hundred years ago, when these early Angoras were mated together, kittens appeared in the litters of a colour which breeders thought worth developing. It was as a result of this method of selective breeding that the first Blue Persian was able to be exhibited about eighty years ago. Even now there are undoubtedly possibilities for producing other breeds of long-hairs, but most of the thirteen which exist now are so well established that it is unlikely that many breeders will experiment to produce something different."
"The Blue is the most popular of all Persians, and certainly a fine specimen is a creature of distinction. If you expect to see a real blue coat you will be disappointed, for that colour does not exist in cats, but you can find a pale lavender blue which to the majority of breeders is the most attractive of all possible shades. Reference must be made to the neck frill, for this adds much to the beauty of appearance of any of the longhaired varieties. The hairs of the frill should be long and of fine texture, and the whole, framing the head and shoulders, will show off to perfection the ideal cat.
At the present time there are not as many Black Persians as there were in pre-war days. Perhaps the reason for this is that to produce a Black which is really jet in colour is very difficult, and to retain a coat of perfect colour over the whole show season is more than difficult. Unfortunately Black kittens appear most disappointing from the point of view of colour, and the novice who went to buy a kitten of this breed might be so disappointed by the rusty tinge which he saw that he would not make a purchase. Usually a kitten is about seven months old before it shows what its colour as an adult is likely to be.
One disadvantage with some blue-eyed Whites is that they are deaf. Although a deficiency in one sense is usually compensated for by an extra acuteness in the others, for some cat-lovers a deaf cat would, nevertheless, be a source of anxiety if there could be a danger from traffic. For a number of years breeders have been attempting to breed out this obvious disadvantage, and they have achieved a very fair measure of success, but deaf cats of the breed do still exist, and there is no guarantee that parents with good hearing will produce kittens which are equally fortunate. There is no suitable outcross for this variety, and, although from time to time experiments have been made, results have usually been disappointing. Type and also quality of coat may be improved by an out-cross, but the blue eye which is the main characteristic of the breed is often spoiled.
Orange-eyed Whites are quite different when it is a question of introducing fresh blood, for there are several breeds which must have deep orange eyes according to the standard for the breed. At the present time, however, there are few orange-eyed Whites in this country."
The Chinchilla Persian was apparently held back by its unsuitability for living in grimy cities!
"The Chinchilla Persian is for many breeders the most beautiful of all the long-haired varieties, and it is perhaps somewhat surprising that there are not more fanciers who are concentrating on this breed. It is a light-coated cat which is perhaps hardly suitable to the soot and grime of large industrial towns, but it is doubtful whether it needs much more attention than its darker-coated fellows. Although the Chinchilla rarely has the quality of bone and the cobbiness which are so characteristic of the best Blues, it is certainly no weakling.
In origin the Chinchilla can be traced back to the Silver Tabbies of earlier days, but by much skill in selection the breeder has been able to get rid of all tabby markings. The novice would be very surprised to see a newly-born litter of this breed, for usually all the kittens without exception are heavily marked and also have tabby rings on the tail. As the kitten grows these markings gradually disappear. If they did not, the adult cat would be useless as a show specimen. Barred legs in a kitten rarely disappear completely and must be regarded as a serious fault.
The emerald green eye of the Chinchilla is most attractive, but it is a very difficult colour to secure and is rarely found in any but the best of specimens. The general colour impression presented by the Chinchilla should be that of newly-minted silver, for while the undercoat is pure white, the hairs on back, flanks, head, ears and tail must be tipped with black. It is this black tipping which produces a ticked effect that is so attractive. The ticking should be evenly distributed so that there are no patches of colour which seem more solid than the rest of the coat. Many modem exhibits are weak in ticking and thus from a distance appear to be white cats."
The growing popularity of the Chinchilla was at the expense of the silver tabbies, of which Soderberg writes:
"Silvers - this breed has almost disappeared, and at the present time there are only very few breeders who are attempting to bring it back to the popularity which it possessed at the beginning of the century. Admittedly it is a difficult breed, and the only specimens which one now sees are lacking in type. A really good specimen could expect to win premier honours at a show, and it is well worth attempting to produce such a "flyer". Although the Silver Tabby is definitely one of the neglected breeds, it would be a thousand pities if it were allowed to sink into oblivion."
Cream Persians had deteriorated during wartime:
"In the early days of this breed Reds were used, with the result that the colour of the cream became too "hot ". By the same cross tabby markings were also introduced. Before the war, however, these faults had been rectified, and the Creams of those days were of outstanding quality. After the war few good Creams were left, and much work will have to be done before this breed again returns to its eminent position. Some first-class exhibits are seen at the show, but there are not enough of them to-day. Blue-Cream males are extremely rare, although one does appear occasionally in a litter. Thus, to all intents and purposes, the Blue-Cream is a race of females.... The Red Persian cannot be considered popular, it is one which seems to attract the interest of male cat-lovers."
The note about occasional appearance of Blue-Cream males contrasts with Mery's words regarding longhaired breeds quoted later. Whether these males were genuinely blue-creams (dilute torties) is uncertain, possibly they were poorly cats of one of the then unrecognised colours.
ROSE TENENT ON LONGHAIRED BREEDS IN THE 1950s
If you want a fluffy bundle of beauty and mischief, then have a Long-haired kitten. It can be Blue, Black, White, Cream, Smoke, Red, or Tabby. It can be Tortoiseshell or Tortoiseshell-and-White. Perhaps you will favour a Blue-Cream, which means that its fur is blue and cream softly intermingled: or you may prefer a Chinchilla, which has a coat that resembles sparkling silver. These are the cats we commonly think of as Persians, although, in fact, they originated in various parts of the world, but notably in western Asia. First imported from the Continent more than a century ago, they were then known as French cats, and for the most part were pure white with long, silky hair [...] Some fifty years later we find them classified as Angoras. Persians, Russians, Indians, and so on, according to type.
Probably the most popular was the Angora, a docile creature with very pointed features and a long, woolly coat which fell in locks over its shoulders. [...] Angora cats were said to be great favourites of the Turks and Armenians, who chose them especially to tone in with the oriental furnishings. Certainly the choice was wide, for colours included the softest shades of blue and grey to deep tones of red, smoke, slate, black, black-and-white, and many mottled colourings. In his book Our Cats and All About Them, published towards the end of [19th] century, Harrison Weir tells of an Angora cat which was exhibited at Brighton. This cat had tinted fur,’ white with black tips’. The author describes it as ‘ a beauty’, and says that the white was scarcely visible unless the hair was parted.
The Persian cat was similar to the Angora, but it had a slightly larger head. Also the ears were not so pointed, and it had a longer and more bushy tail. The eyes were full, round, and very expressive; the fur was long and silky, especially about the neck, where it was so long that it resembled a lion’s mane. The legs and feet were covered with long hair, and there were fringe-like tufts of hair between the toes.
Slow and graceful in its movements, the Persian cat was incited to hold itself aloof. In fact, the mistaken idea still persists that Long-haired cats prefer places to people.
The Russian cat differed both from the Angora and the Persian by having a larger body and shorter legs. The coat was long and dense, but of a rather coarse texture, and the mane or frill over the shoulders was very woolly. It was usually of tabby colouring, and had bright orange eyes which were often tinged with green. As compared with other Long-haired cats, the ears were large, also there were long tufts of hair protruding from them, and at least in one specimen these were so pronounced that they gave the appearance of corkscrew curls. The tail was short and very woolly, all the hairs on it being of exactly the same length. In spite of its rather strange appearance, the Russian cat had some excellent qualities, the chief of which was undoubtedly a complete disinterest in either catching or killing birds. It was an excellent ratter, but although it got on well with other cats, it did not care much for the companionship of humans. Unlike most cats, sleeping by the fireside did not appear to attract it, and it much preferred to be out-of-doors, even in the coldest weather.
In those early days it was the Black Persian which was most sought-after [...] many of them having pale yellow or even green eyes instead of the much-coveted orange colour .... Next in order of popularity was the Blue Persian, first thought to be obtained by crossing an all-black cat with a pure white; Most in demand was the slate-blue colour [...] but it also ranged from light purple to much deeper tones. [...] There were also Blue-and-White Persian cats and Blue Tabby Persian cats, but the latter were not considered to be true Persian colours.
Another very fascinating and popular variety is the Cream, the origin of which is something of a mystery. At one time this cat was considered to be a’ sport’, or ‘freak’, a few of them appearing towards the end of the last century. One of these early specimens was a cat called Ripon, and it was said to be the progeny of two imported cats, a Blue Persian and an Orange Persian. [...] in a really good specimen this is a pale, rich cream, almost like Devonshire cream in appearance. [...] In days gone by Cream Persians were classified as ‘Cream or Fawn Persians’, the tendency being to breed them from Red Persians, or Tortoiseshells with Red parentage. The result of these matings often produced a reddish tint in the coat, a serious fault which would be described by a modem judge as ‘too hot’. Even nowadays, when Creams are usually bred from self colours, or from Blues and Creams, it is still rare to find a cat of the pale, even quality which is so desirable.
No cat is more beautiful than a White Persian [...] There are two types of White Persian: the Blue-eyed White and the Orange-eyed White. One also meets with odd-eyed Whites, and although these cats are no use for show purposes, they make quaint, and delightful, pets. [...] even with the most selective breeding, after two or three generations there is a tendency for these cats to revert to the more pointed features of the original Angora. To remedy this fault many breeders of White Persians suggest cross-mating them with Blues
For many cat lovers the Chinchilla Persian is easily the most beautiful of the Long-haired breeds, and with its sparkling silvery coat and emerald-green eyes there is little doubt that it is a creature to be admired. The story of the first Chinchilla goes back to a chance mating of a pedigree Blue Persian queen with a stray tom. In the resultant litter was a smoke-coloured kitten, which was eventually sold to a Mrs. Vallence, who called it Chinnie. Later on this cat was mated to a Silver Tabby, and it was one of the females from their progeny which gave birth to the first Chinchilla male. This cat was given the name of Silver Lambkin; it grew up to be very famous, and lived for seventeen years. Its stuffed body can still be seen at the Natural History Museum, South Kensington, London. Next we come to a cat of contrasts, the Smoke Persian. This fascinating variety has a jet-black head and face, surrounded by a long, silver frill. [...] Mention should also be made of the Blue Smoke, a beautiful variety still very much in the experimental stage.
Another attractive Long-hair is the Blue-Cream, which, as the name implies, was produced by mating a Blue Cat with a Cream [...] the colour of the fur is blue and cream softly intermingled. Many specimens, unfortunately, present a patched effect, rather like the better known Tortoiseshell cat. [...] You will find that the Blue-Cream is nearly always a female, and in that respect it really does resemble a Tortoiseshell cat. One of the most coveted possessions of a cat connoisseur is undoubtedly a Tortoiseshell Persian. [...] Not only is a Tortie a most attractive cat in itself, but, if mated wisely, a good queen usually can be relied upon to provide you with a very pleasant assortment of kittens. Tortoiseshell males are very rare indeed, and even when they do appear they are almost always sterile. [...] Almost as beautiful as the Tortoiseshell Persian is the Tortoiseshell-and-White, which, as the name implies, only differs by the addition of white patches to the tortoiseshell colours. As with most cats with white markings, unfortunately, there is all too often a tendency for these to appear where they are least wanted.
Nowadays the Black Persian appears to be more popular in America than in Britain. This is a pity, because certainly no cat is more striking in the show-pen. [...] if the fur is to remain dense black, as demanded by the Official Standard, then your pet must never be allowed to lie about for long periods in the sunshine, neither must it, even by accident, be allowed out in the rain. While on the subject of Black cats, mention should perhaps be made of the Black-and-White Persian, although the Governing Council does not recognize this variety as a separate breed. Often known as the Magpie Cat, the Black-and-White Persian can be very pretty when the markings are symmetrical.
Another very’ difficult variety to breed is the Red Persian. Not to be confused with the Red Tabby, which will be discussed later, the Red Self should have a long, silky coat, the colour of:, which is solid red without the slightest suspicion of bars or markings. Because there are so very few pedigree Red Persians in Britain at present (September 1954), I asked Mrs. Henry Bode, owner of the well-known ‘Cherubino Cattery’, of Massapequa, Long Island, New York, U.S.A., if she would kindly give me some details of this breed: I have tried many, many combinations, starting with solid Reds with very few, hardly discernible markings if any, and this is what I believe to be true—the most solid and the darkest reds come from matings of Red cats, no other colour will produce the solidity and the darkness. Creams and Blues give you light reds. Mrs. Bode claims that the most solid and the most typy reds were the colour-bred.
None of the tabby Persians has a particularly large following, probably because the public associates them with the very lovable, but ordinary, garden tabby. This is unfortunate, because no cat is more beautiful than a well-marked pedigree tabby [Tenent described several varieties as "nothing is more beautiful!]. Tabby Persians fall into three distinct varieties - namely, the Brown Tabby, the Silver Tabby, and the Red Tabby.
Tenent noted that there were some very clever Persian cats. An invalid friend had a Smoke Persian called Misty. Whenever her owner had visitors, the cat met them at the front door and conducted them to the bedroom. Should any of the guests outstay their welcome, Misty would arrive again and make it known by gentle mews that "her" patient must not be allowed to get over-excited. Finally, when the visitors were ready to depart, the feline nurse daintily led them off the premises. However, the greatest story concerned an Orange-eyed White Persian called Baby. Baby had been trained to lead its blind owner about in the manner of a Seeing Eye (guide) dog. Baby's owner, Mrs. Carolyn Swanson, of California, U.S.A., had lost her sight in 1945. Baby had been her devoted companion since the death of Mr Swanson some years previously. The cat quickly responded to the methods used to train guide-dogs and the sight of a beautiful White Persian leading her mistress through the crowded streets soon became very familiar!
SODERBERG ON LONGHAIRED CATS (1958)
"Still often referred to as Persians, a name which has been used in this country for certainly half a century, if not more. However, in the show classifications in the latter part of the last century, the distinction made between the two groups was definitely short-hair and long-hair, and that is the policy which is adopted at the present time. A long-haired cat is a very beautiful creature, and much of this beauty depends upon the length and fullness as well as on the quality of the coat. Naturally a long-haired cat will require more care and attention than one with a short coat, because long hair, unless it is carefully groomed and not infrequently powdered, will soon become knotted and tangled. Despite this slight disadvantage, there are very many fanciers in this country - and that means something more than just exhibitors - who have a marked preference for the long-haired breeds. Some of these are much more popular than others, and there can be no doubt that in this group the long-haired Blue holds pride of place, but there are several rival breeds which may, in the not too distant future, challenge this supremacy."
Soderberg noted that the long-haired Black was among the oldest of the pedigree breeds and had existed as a recognized breed it before many of the others which had only been developed during the past seventy or eighty years. There were classes for long-haired blacks listed in the catalogues of the very first shows held in this country and the classes usually attracted "a somewhat remarkable number of entries". In spite of this, he wrote "the fact has to be faced that this is a breed which has never been particularly popular, although there have been many outstanding specimens. There have been times during the past fifty years when quite strong classes of Blacks were to be seen at the shows, but for a variety of reasons there has never been a time when the Black could rival the long-haired Blue when once that breed had become established."
The problem was the very considerable difficulty in attaining outstanding coat quality - solid raven or jet black. "Unfortunately, however, black is a colour which fades comparatively easily from a variety of external causes. A black coat which is wet not only tends to become stained, but is often a rusty black colour when it has dried. Whether this fact implies that there is some possibility of the pigment being removed by moisture is something which only the scientist could decide, but it has been noticed on a number of occasions that Black cats which get their feet wet frequently, as a result of walking through wet grass, tend to develop a distinct rusty brown shade on both the paws and lower parts of the legs. This, in the eyes of a judge, is a definite fault. The coat of a Black cat may also be ruined unless the animal is protected from strong sunshine, which has a definitely bleaching effect."
"Another point which has undoubtedly played a very important part in the history of the breed is the fact that long-haired Black kittens are usually very poor in colour, and it is generally quite Impossible to assess the quality of any kitten from the colour point of view until it is at least six months old, and even then the choice may have been made too soon. Thus, the breeder of long-haired Blacks is faced with a very serious problem, particularly if he wishes to exhibit the kittens he has bred, and to make quite sure that he is choosing the best kittens for show at a later date he has to wait until they are well over six months old before he makes a final decision as to which he must keep and which he must discard. This means that he will probably be left with a number of kittens that are not up to show standard because they do not show that intense blackness of coat which is so desirable. Kittens of this age which show such a failing may be difficult to sell. Further, the breeder who wishes to sell his young stock at about ten weeks is also at a disadvantage.
It has often been stated by people with a great deal of practical experience that the best adults are very often those which were the most unpromising specimens from the point of view of colour when they were young. However, it is natural that a person who wants to buy a Black kitten will expect to see the coat entirely black, and when in actual fact he sees a kitten which may look an almost rusty brown, he is not attracted to it and may not be a purchaser. Unfortunately, perhaps, when Black kittens are displayed in colour on Christmas cards and chocolate boxes, they are shown to be an intense black, but this must very often be regarded as a case of artistic licence. As a consequence of these facts it has followed that for a long time the long-haired Black has been the cat of the real specialist, and this has resulted in the Blue attaining a greater popularity."
"There has always been a danger, and it is one which will remain, that a cross between a Black and a Blue may cause the coat to show a paler shade nearer the skin than it is at the tips of the hairs. In fact, it is not unusual to find, on opening the coat of a long-haired Black of this breed, that although the first impression from a distance was one which would suggest that the colour conforms with the Standard, the actual hair for the last inch down to the skin is a very distinct grey-black. This is a definite fault, for it can be honestly said in this case that the colour is not sound. Those who decide to use a Black cross with a Blue for improvement of quality should be very careful to retain only the females from this mating for future breeding. The males produced as a result of the cross are better sold as pets."
"It is possible, although there is no absolute proof of the fact, that the Blue-eyed White was first produced in the Middle East. There can certainly be no denying the fact that there are a number of historical references to white cats with long hair in that part of the world, and these records go back almost three hundred years. There is also definite evidence that white cats with long hair had arrived in France at least two hundred years ago. It is more than probable that these French cats were the source of the long-haired cats which are known to have existed in England during the early part of the last century. From the travellers’ records that exist, there seems to be little doubt that the first long-haired white cats were introduced into France from Persia, and it is thus rather remarkable that the first name used for these cats was that of Angora. It was only at a later date that the word Persian was introduced."
Soderberg added that other longhaired cats were the result of selective breeding from cats which were naturally short-haired, but which, from time to time, produced longer-haired kittens. The orange-eyed variety had resulted from crossing with other orange-eyed longhaired breeds in order to improve the conformation of the orange-eyed cats which had been bred for coat length rather than type. Blue-eyed Whites were not generally as good in type as those with orange eyes and Soderberg suggested that this was due to the Blue-eyed variety being bred from small numbers of cats imported from abroad. "Perhaps it is not surprising that the Blue-eyed White has never become a very popular cat, for almost all specimens of this breed are deaf, and most of them completely so. However, to say, as has often been done, that all are deaf, is untrue. A good deal of work has been carried out during comparatively recent times, in this country and abroad, to try to produce a strain of Blue-eyed Whites which have normal hearing. The task, however, has proved extremely difficult, and although some success has been achieved, deafness still appears even in litters which have been produced from two parents with good, if not perfect, hearing. It seems more than probable that this deafness has a distinct connexion with the genetic make-up of the cat, and the partial albinism which is obvious in this variety may be at the root of this physical defect. Nevertheless, if those who are interested in the breed will persevere with their experiments and with selection of breeding stock, there is no reason why at some time in the not too distant future most Blue-eyed Whites should not be able to hear, even if only imperfectly. Another consequence of this cross, or a similar one involving Orange-eyed cats, is that there are Whites to-day with odd eyes, and this means one orange and one blue. Even Odd-eyed Whites seem not to have perfect hearing, but they are never stone-deaf ... It will only be from more extensive [selective] breeding of the Blue-eyed variety that a reasonable proportion of the kittens will be born with a less impaired sense of hearing."
Contradicting his earlier words about orange-eyed whites resulting from attempts to improve the physical conformation of white longhairs, Soderberg went on to say "The crossing of this variety with cats possessing orange eyes was also undertaken in an attempt to remove this congenital defect of hearing, and in all probability that was how the Orange-eyed White first appeared as a distinct breed. What this original cross was, probably no one will ever know with certainty, but it is a remarkable fact that if an Orange-eyed Black is mated to an Orange-eyed White, the litter which is born as a result of this mating may produce some kittens which are all black and others which are all white. It may be that in the first instance a long-haired Black was used as an outcross for a deaf Blue-eyed White, but it is unfortunate that those fanciers who carried out these experiments did not publish their results."
The blue-eyed white was considered the most genetically pure, but prone to a longer, narrower face than desirable. The odd-eyed whites could not be exhibited, but were often useful for breeding. However, white cats were not very popular, especially in towns. This was attributed to the disability of deafness. Motor traffic had greatly increased and deaf cats were "much more likely to be run over by a swiftly-moving vehicle than one which has the ability to hear as well as to see [...] in the confused and congested state of the roads to-day, to keep a blue-eyed cat which is deaf in a thickly-populated area in which there is likely to be considerable traffic would be asking for tragedy unless the animal could be kept entirely off the roads." Back in the 1890s and 1900s, Frances Simpson had noted that pale coloured longhairs were less popular in towns, but in her day the drawbacks were to do with keeping the cats clean in the grimy, sooty environment.
Soderberg noted that "purity of colour" was another issue, both in producing and maintaining the desired white colour. It was difficult to produce white cats with no trace of colour or shading. We know today that white masks other colours, it does so imperfectly and sometimes there is a smudge of colour (often on the head). He wrote that white coats sometimes assumed a yellowish tinge "due to grease from the skin combining with dirt which has been collected from the air" in which case bathing would be necessary. The tail was especially prone to yellowing and might have to be washed weekly.
"The fancier who wishes to keep this breed is compelled to exercise a great deal of patience before he sells his surplus stock. It is true that those kittens which have very pale eyes at two months are unlikely ever to develop eyes of the deep shade required, but if eye colour is good but not outstanding at two months, it would definitely be unwise to make a final selection at this age for future exhibits at shows. The fancier who breeds this variety must keep the kittens with the best eye colour at two months, and only weed them out gradually as the months go by. The best kittens are generally those whose eye colour continues to grow deeper as the months go by, and never comes to a stage, except at teething time, when there is little or no progress. To have to keep a number of kittens until they are almost adult is something of a problem, for the selling of old kittens or young adults is not always easy." Soderberg also commented that litters of Blue-eyed Whites were usually smaller in number than those produced by Orange-eyed Whites; often only 2 kittens rather than 3 or 4. If a Blue-Eyed White surprisingly produced a large litter, some kittens would be weaklings and not worth the trouble of rearing.
Soderberg noted that the history of the self Blue on the show bench had been a comparatively short one, dating back to the Crystal Palace in 1889. Before that time, there were classes for "Blue Tabbies and Blues, ‘with or without white" and there were insufficient unmarked Blue Longhairs for them to be recognized as a distinct breed and given their own class. Being rare, some early Blue Longhairs were valued at £100. Some of the famous early Blue Longhairs were Champion Neila, Billy of Thorpe and Champion Wooloomooloo, all of whom were exhibited in 1895. The breed achieved instant popularity and there were more than 100 Blue Longhair cats and kittens at the Crystal Palace Show in 1899, only ten years after the first class for the breed. Soderberg noted how greatly the type had changed in only 50 years: the early Blue Longhairs had long, pricked ears and narrow, pointed faces and longer tails. Even in 1958, the ears were considered too large. Early breeders had considerable difficulty in producing a cat with no white markings (many had a single patch on the underside, by Soderberg's time a reason for disqualification) and the eye colour could be green or pale yellow rather than orange.
Judges often commented on the fact that although the cats which they were judging looked completely blue when observed from above, yet when the cat was turned over it was not unusual to find a white spot on the belly. To-day, of course, such a spot would be an adequate reason for disqualification. Miss Frances Simpson was a champion of the breed (her comments are in the Retrospective articles covering the 1890s). Soderberg also noted the American trend which was to become "ultra-typing": "Perhaps in recent times there has been a tendency to over-accentuate this type of short face, with the result that a few of the cats seen at shows have faces which present a peke-like appearance. This is a type of face which is definitely recognized in the United States, and helps to form a special group within the show classification for the breed. There are certainly disadvantages when the face has become too short, for this exaggeration of type is inclined to produce a deformity of the tear ducts, and running eyes may be the result. A cat with running eyes will never look at its best because in time the fur on each side of the nose becomes stained, and thus detracts from the general appearance."
By the 1950s, fanciers preferred a paler shade of blue, though there were problems with rustiness, with the ruff being paler than the rest of the coat and with a paler undercoat. "Over a period of years, not very long ago, there was a good deal of anxiety among breeders of Blues because so many queens were proving to be either infertile or were producing particularly small litters. The cause of this state of affairs was undoubtedly the fact that stamina and fertility had been lost through careless breeding, and probably mainly as a result of too close in-breeding to particular studs which had been highly successful on the show bench. To-day there are so many different and not too closely related studs that the fertility which was then apparently disappearing seems now to be returning."
Soderberg wrote that among ordinary household cats, tabbies were easily the most common group, although there were also many other patterns in which patches rather than stripes predominated. The number of tabbies was considered unsurprising as that pattern was closest to the wild type. He added that there were two distinct types of Tabbies, one of which was generally exhibited, although it was not the only one which has received official recognition. Very occasionally a cat was seen in which the lines of colour were so broken up that they formed irregular spots or small patches and this approached the coat pattern nearest to the wild cat. However the recognized exhibition Tabby he described was the one we now know as the "classic tabby" with its large, bold markings which were "uncharacteristic of any type of wild cat anywhere in the world". The spotted cats were recognized, but rarely exhibited and not very popular (very different from today when wild-looking spotted patterns are highly prized). There were 3 distinct breeds of Tabby - the Brown, the Red and the Silver - and these occurred in both Longhair and Shorthair divisions. Soderberg described the ideal classic tabby pattern and noted that a white tail tip was a serious fault.
Brown Tabby Longhair
"There was a time when there were Brown Tabbies in this country of excellent quality from the point of view both of type and the standard of markings, but unfortunately this is now a breed which has lost its former popularity, and to-day there are very few breeders, with the consequence that cats of real quality are few and far between. The great days of Brown Tabby long-hairs were at the beginning of the present century, but by 1920 the breed had almost disappeared, and from that time until now, although a few enthusiasts have worked extremely hard to keep it alive, its former popularity has never been regained, nor does it seem likely that this will happen in the foreseeable future. After the period during which the breed was popular, there was a very rapid decline in quality, and within a short time the specimens which were available were really poor. To-day, however, the story is different, for those cats of this breed which are exhibited are of much higher quality than most of the cats which were shown some thirty years ago."
The ground colour of the Brown Tabby was to be a rich, tawny sable (in the early 1900s, the Brown Tabby and the Sable Tabby were considered different types). One of the great faults of the Brown Tabby was the white chin, and it took breeders a long time to eradicate this; Soderberg noted that it was undoubtedly a dominant trait, with the result that it was far easier to breed it into a strain than to breed it out. By the 1950s, there were a few cats with pale chins, but the white chin had gone. In the early days, the eye colour could be hazel or green and Soderberg seemed astonished: "It was then possible to find Brown Tabbies exhibited which had green eyes. Not only were these cats exhibited, but sometimes they were actually winners in their class." By his time, the required eye colour was hazel or deep copper.
In type, Brown Tabbies fell considerably behind other long-haired breeds; the length of ear, width of skull and shortness of face compared unfavourably with Blue or Cream Longhairs. Mating Brown Tabbies to Black Longhairs was one solution and would also improve eye colour: "The progeny from this mating would have to be very carefully selected if there were to be distinctness of markings later as well as improvement in type, but at the time of these early experiments, ideas on scientific breeding were somewhat primitive ... Many years ago there was a cross made between the Brown Tabby and the Red Tabby, but as an experiment this proved to be a failure, for from such a mating there was little, if any, improvement in type. On the other hand, there was a very definite danger, as was seen in the progeny, that if this cross were continued, the distinctness of the markings would be lost."
Red Tabby Longhair
The most popular of the 1950s Tabby Longhairs was the Red Tabby in spite of being particularly difficult to produce excellent specimens. Soderberg wrote that Red Tabby Longhairs were very obviously lacking in type and might never achieve the same outstanding conformation as Blue Longhairs. In addition, the base and marking colours were so similar that the long hairs made the pattern indistinct. "There is a marked tendency for some of the kittens to have tabby markings which are so indistinct that for a time at least the breeder thinks that he may have that very elusive breed known as the Red Self. As the kitten grows older, however, markings always appear, even if they do not conform to the correct tabby pattern, and the tail is inevitably ringed so that the owner is forced to realize that his cat is not, in fact, a Red Self."
The majority of Red Tabbies were too long in the tail and "for some reason which cannot be explained, or at least has not been explained satisfactorily up to the present, a large proportion of Red Tabbies develop tails on which the hair is comparatively short" ruining the general impression of the whole cat. A white tail tip was also a common fault "very easily transmitted from one generation to the next, and a white tip to the tail should cause the owner of the cat to consider very seriously whether it is worth while using this particular specimen as a future breeder. Of course, a lot must depend on how much of the end of the tail is actually white. A few white hairs have no serious significance, but a real tuft of white hairs over a considerable length should cause serious doubt in the mind of the owner when he is considering his future breeding policy."
The ears were generally larger than desirable and the eyes were too often golden yellow rather than the required deep orange or copper shade. Outcrossing to Black Longhairs was again recommended to improve type and eye colour. "As far as is known, it is doubtful whether experimental breeding of this sort has ever been carried out sufficiently methodically for permanent results to be achieved, largely because the number of breeders has been too small to make this possible. It is probable that the best cross for a Red Tabby is a long-haired Black of perfect colour and of outstanding type, but this first cross would only be the beginning of the story. From the mating of Black to Red Tabby it would be wise to mate brother to sister among the progeny; although a policy of this kind would be regarded as almost heretical, yet if several breeders could be persuaded to carry out the cross and then mate the progeny together with stock which was not too closely related at the start of the experiment, they could, when the Red Tabby pattern had been satisfactorily restored, exchange kittens so that new blood would be introduced. If this were done, the unfortunate effects of close in-breeding could be eradicated. Were several breeders to carry out this cross at the same time, an exchange of young stock could prevent brother to sister matings. It has been suggested on more than one occasion that a cross with a long-haired Cream would produce similar results, but what scientific basis there can be for such a statement has never been proved by the results of the actual experiment itself. This somewhat cryptic remark means that even if this cross has been carried out, the kittens which have resulted from it have not been mated later in such a way as to establish the good points and remove the bad which an outcross of this kind would inevitably produce."
Soderberg noted, sceptically, the belief that the Red Tabby was a favourite with men because of their bold and robust appearance and because they were supposedly more independent than cats of other breeds. "This may well be merely wishful thinking, for taken all in all a cat’s habits develop largely according to the people who care for it. One would expect a cat which was the particular pet of a male to develop along different lines from one which was the essential friend of a woman. Few men, however, can be bothered to look after cats in a practical way, even if they do like them."
Silver Tabby Longhair
Soderberg wrote "In the first decade of the present century [the 1900s], there were a considerable number of Silver Tabbies exhibited at the various shows, and if one can judge from those fanciers who wrote on the subject of the breed at that time, their quality was of a very high order. It is essential always to bear in mind, however, that the type of all the long-hairs some fifty years ago was very far below present-day standards. Even the best of the breeds in those days were large of ear and rather narrow in face, which meant that their general appearance was very different from the short-faced and small-eared cats which are characteristic of most of the long-haired breeds of to-day." Some had well-defined jet-black tabby markings though "when it came to the tail, the distinctness and definition of the rings was somewhat spoiled in appearance by the length of the hair"
By the 1950s there were very few specimens of long-haired Silver Tabbies, and those that appeared at shows were disappointing in quality. There were also few silver tabby shorthairs of really high quality. One problem was the appearance of a yellow or brownish tinge to the silver base colour. "If such cats are used as breeders, it is inevitable that this fault will be passed on, but unfortunately there are so few cats of the breed available to-day that breeders cannot afford to be too selective, and faults as well as good points have to be carried on from one generation to the next." Some of the Silver Tabbies of the 1950s were of almost accidental origin, appearing in breeding programmes for other patterns and qualities. Improvement required more breeders to take up the Silver Tabby Longhair "When a breed has lost its popularity and its continued existence is in the hands of only a very few breeders, progress must inevitably be slow, and this progress can only be speeded up if there is a deliberate attempt on the part of a considerable number of breeders to bring back this cat to the show bench, with improved type over even the early specimens which were so popular. The first step must be to produce markings at least as good as those which were seen in the early part of the century."
Another difficulty was the fact that either a green or a hazel eye colour was still acceptable and Soderberg called for this to be standardized to a single shade. In the early cats of the breed, the eyes were hazel, and it was alleged that the deterioration of the breed started when the green eye was introduced as an alternative. Soderberg went on to note that one reason for the Silver Tabby's decline was the rising popularity of the Chinchilla, a breed that had developed from the Silver tabby Longhair and which had green eyes. Outcrossing to Chinchillas would improve the silver base colour, but probably make the marking indistict. Outcrossing to a Black Longhair would introduce orange eye colour. Soderberg's suggested tactic was to use both outcrosses simultaneously in a breeding prgramme.
"Whether or not the Silver Tabby will ever achieve an increased popularity it is impossible to foretell, but as to-day most experimental work seems to be undertaken with the idea of producing new breeds rather than restoring old ones, it seems most unlikely that those breeds of the past which have lost their public favour will ever again come back to real prominence."
Red Self Longhair
Although there was an official Standard for the Red Self Longhair, Soderberg found it extremely doubtful whether such a cat could be found in Britain in spite of claims that the breed did exist, and it was shown in the USA. Even in the USA, it was stated that some of the exhibits had red tabby markings on the tail. The true Red Self must be a cat of solid colour without no markings at all. "It is, of course, possible that from time to time a kitten of this colour and appearance will be seen in a litter of Red Tabbies. If such a kitten is found, it is most unlikely that when adult it will be entirely free from markings. It seems almost certain that if the bars on the legs and the pencillings on the face are lost, the rings will still remain on the tail. However, if there are any fanciers of an experimental turn of mind, such a kitten would be interesting to them in an attempt to produce a Red Self, but it would be useless to mate this cat back when it was adult to either a Red Tabby male or female, as the case might be. That method of breeding would undoubtedly re-introduce the markings which the breeder was trying to breed out. In the first instance it would be essential to cross this lightly-marked kitten with a Self, preferably a Black."
In his quest for the Self Red, Soderberg seemed unaware that the "non-agouti" gene mutation that produces self cats does not affect red pigment in the same way; the result is residual red tabby markings. Oddly enough, the fact that non-agouti has no effect on red (the gene was then called "yellow") was described in a chapter of Soderberg's book contributed by the geneticist AC Jude!
"Red Selfs have been shown in this country from time to time, and over the past fifty years some of them have won at the shows, but even the best have not been acceptable as Selfs to all judges, for some so-called Reds which were winners under some judges have been disqualified by others just because tabby markings were obvious on close scrutiny even if they were indistinct on first impression. The colour of this breed should be a very deep, rich shade of red, and if such an animal could be produced, with correct colour allied to really good type, it would do extremely well at the shows. Whether or not there are fanciers who will be sufficiently interested to try to produce such a cat is a question which cannot be answered, but it must be accepted as a fact that at the moment in this country there are no true Red Selfs."
The Cream Longhair, although more popular than many of the other long-hairs, had never been particularly numerous even during the period of its comparatively short heyday between 1920 and 1930. It was hard to produce solid colour Creams and though the Standard did not dictate any particular shade, breeders preferred the medium shades as these were more even in colour. Unknown to the 1950s breeder, the true self Cream was unobtainable for the same reason that self Reds were unobtainable - the non-agouti gene was not fully effective on red and cream. Early classes were for Creams or Fawns, but Fawns were dull in colour and the paler creams won out.
Soderberg wrote that the exact origin of the breed was unknown; "It seems extremely likely that the first Creams appeared in litters of kittens which had been produced by the crossing of the Red Tabby with the Tortoiseshell, for the Tortoiseshell shows three colours in its coat, black, red and cream. Probably a Red Tabby male was mated to a Tortoiseshell female, and some of the resulting kittens were almost solid in colour for cream, and had such indistinct markings that it was considered worth while to try to breed from these kittens in order to produce cats of one colour alone which would then be called Selfs. It has also been suggested that Whites may have been used to produce the breed, and that the cross of the Red Tabby with a White might lead to the appearance of fawn or even cream kittens. Although this may be a remote possibility, it seems a much less satisfactory way of trying to produce Creams, as solid kittens for colour would not have occurred frequently, and it would have taken a long time to make a real start with this new breed." Soderberg complained: "Occasionally even now a Cream is seen with a very dark streak of colour along the spine, and this must be regarded as a definite fault and one which ought not to be bred into any strain." (Again this was due to the non-agouti gene having no effect on red or cream - something noted elsewhere in Soderberg's book, but evidently not picked up on by Soderberg!)
"It is very difficult indeed to describe in words the exact shade of colour which is desirable, and it is only possible to limit the range of tones by ruling out shades which are either too pale or too red when the word ‘cream’ is employed. ... when Red Tabbies were used, it was likely that kittens more or less even in colour all over the coat would be produced, but they would certainly show too much red rather than the cream shade that was wanted. When this hint of red appears on the coat of a Cream, the colour is said to be ‘too hot’. On the other hand, if the colour is too pale, there is every possibility that it will lack brightness, and may appear almost mealy, and mealiness produces a colour tone which is far from being attractive."
The best outcross to improve type in Cream Longhairs was the Blue Longhair. "The solidness of colour of the Blue is equally important, for if a shaded Blue is used [i.e. one with an unsound undercoat] with a Cream which shows a very satisfactory uniformity of shade, it is more than probable that the shadiness of the Blue will be transmitted to the offspring, whatever their colour. Thus, when this cross is made, evenness of colour on both sides of the mating must be regarded as of the greatest importance. On the whole it seems wiser to use a Blue of a paler shade rather than one which is very dark. The kittens which will result from this mating, if they are Blue, will not show any sign of Cream, and, on the other hand, if a pale Blue has been used, it is most unlikely that any traces of blue will spoil the tone of the cream on any Self Cream kittens which may be produced. There is, however, a danger that if a dark Blue is used, there may be a duliness in any Cream kittens, and perhaps even on some of them there may be a hint of blue which might almost be called smuttiness." Soderberg noted else where that Blue was the dilute of Black, but did not mention that Cream was the dilute of Red (though A C Jude's contribution on genetics in the same book did note this).
Soderberg noted that mating Blues to Creams also produced Blue-Cream females which were very useful for mating back to Cream males. "No Blue-Cream males are likely to be available, for they are extremely rare, and it is theoretically impossible to produce them. ... The colour of the resulting kittens will be controlled by the colour of the male that is used, except in the case of the female kittens in which both colours will be combined in the coat. If a Cream male is used with a Blue female, the female kittens will be Blue-Creams and the male kittens will all be Blues, but if a Blue stud is used with a Cream female, the male kittens will all be Creams."
"A few years ago, when the number of Creams available in this country was comparatively small, colour generally seemed to have deteriorated from the great days of the Creams in the 1920’s, but a number of breeders got to work, and by selective breeding produced kittens of ideal quality both for type and colour. Many of these grew into cats worth a place in the breeding pen, and a few were so good that they achieved the highest honours at Championship Shows. This is certainly a breed which has repaid the care and labour which has been expended on it, and the enthusiasts who breed Creams to-day are still showing cats of outstanding quality."
"The Tortoiseshell is a most fascinating breed, and one which should be very attractive to the cat fancier who is of an experimental turn of mind. Tortoiseshells have been known to exist for a very long time, even before shows were ever thought of, but it is doubtful whether this is a breed which was produced intentionally in the first place. It is much more likely that cats showing tortoiseshell markings were the result of natural breeding by cats of the two but different solid colours. When cat owners became fanciers, this unusual colouring was noticed, and it was then decided to try to breed cats showing these colours, but with the markings more attractively arranged. It seems reasonable to suppose that the first Tortoiseshells were a result of natural breeding which had been brought about by mere chance. Ordinary household cats mated, and in some cases their colour background was such that some kittens appeared which showed in their coats the three colours which are now required on cats of the breed officially recognized as Tortoiseshell. In the first place, it is almost beyond doubt that these Tortoiseshells were short-haired, and one of these short-haired cats was eventually mated to a long-hair of pedigree showing one of the required colours, and thus in course of time the long-haired Tortoiseshell was produced."
Because the standard called for small well-mixed patches of colour in equal proportions (but at the same time not showing brindling), rather than large distinct patches with one colour predominating, cats showing the required markings were very difficult to produce and, as Soderberg noted, could not be "bred to order".
"To the uninitiated it may seem remarkable, but the fact remains that the genetic make-up of this breed is such that males with Tortoiseshell markings are almost an impossibility. Such males have appeared from time to time, and there are a number on record, but practically all have been sterile. Theoretically all of them should have been sterile, but there are records of at least two males which were capable not only of mating but also of fertilizing the females which were sent to them. This is a case of one of those remarkable freaks of Nature which is so unusual that it always calls for considerable comment and scientific discussion." Hence a breeder had to mate a tortoiseshell female to a Cream, Black or Blue stud. "Red cannot safely be chosen as the sire, for there are no Red Selfs, and a Red Tabby would almost certainly introduce markings which were not desired."
"Some novices seem to have the idea that if a Black is mated to a Cream, and then the offspring of this cross are later mated to a Red Tabby, Tortoiseshells will inevitably be found in the consequent litters. This fortunate event may take place, but there can be no guarantee about it; in fact, it is unlikely. The truth of the matter is that the mating of a Tortoiseshell female to any of the Self breeds whose colours are those of the Tortoiseshell will result in a very mixed litter for colour. Some of the kittens may be Selfs and one of them - it is unlikely that there will be more than one - may, in fact, be the desired Tortoiseshell. As this is the normal expectation, it must be quite clear that there can never be many Tortoisesbells available for beginners. From the various matings which have been suggested, Self-Blues, Self-Blacks, Self-Creams, Blue-Creams and Tortoiseshells are all possible, and there are even other combinations of colour which may appear. Some years ago it was reported that there was a litter of five kittens in which all these possibilities did actually occur."
"There can be no doubt at all that this is an extremely difficult breed to produce, and there are never many specimens in existence at any one time. It is a very fair assumption that the majority of the specimens which are seen from time to time were produced by crossing a Tortoiseshell with a domestic cat of no known pedigree, but which showed in its coat, in addition to white, both cream and black or red and black. Because of this supposition, it has been said that there are no true Tortoiseshell-and-White Long-hairs as a distinct breed, but that they are merely the result of crossing a long-haired cat with a short-haired household pet. Whether this was or was not the original method of production is of comparatively little significance, for the Tortoiseshell-and-White Long-hair does exist as a recognized breed, and if a cat of this breed has been registered, it can compete on the show bench. There are also normal methods of producing the Tortie-and-White by using a female of this breed, and then choosing a stud of one of the self-colours shown in the coat of the Tortie-and-White.
One of the great difficulties with the Tortoiseshell-and-White is that it often happens that the appearance of the cat is, in fact, spoiled because there is so much white on the body. It is most desirable that there should be some white on the breast as also on the legs, but even show exhibits often have very large patches of white, with the result that the areas showing the other colours are comparatively small in size. Probably there is nothing that can be done about this, for the simple reason that a colour pattern of this kind is quite beyond the power of selection to produce, and is, therefore, very largely a matter of chance."
Good Tortoiseshell-and-White Longhairs were rare. Many had white hairs in the coloured areas (a fault) or the red areas showed red tabby markings or they had too much white. "One remarkable characteristic which has been noticed with regard to the Tortoiseshell and also the Tortoiseshell-and-White breed is that, for some reason which has never been satisfactorily explained, the ears of both breeds are usually larger than those of the separate breeds which have been used to produce this particular variety. If one is perfectly honest, it must be stated that it is most unusual to find either a Tortoiseshell or a Tortoiseshell-and-White with small, neat ears such as those seen on either long-haired Blacks, Blues or Creams. A reasonable explanation for this fact may be that the longer and larger ear is a relic of the outcross, which must have been inevitable at some time, with the ordinary household cat whose ears are naturally considerably larger than those which have been bred for in the long-haired pedigree breeds."
The Blue-Cream resulted from the crossing of Blues to Creams. The ideal Blue-Cream was one in which the blue and cream hairs were so completely intermingled as to give a shot-silk effect, but this was extremely difficult to achieve. There should be no hint of patching. Breeders of the time saw no contradiction in regarding brindling as a fault in Black-Red Tortoiseshells while at the same time requiring brindling in Blue-Creams (Blue-Creams are dilute tortoiseshells).
"As in the case of Tortoiseshells, Blue-Cream males are extremely rare. It has been said that theoretically they cannot exist, but from time to time such males have appeared in litters, but have died at birth or shortly afterwards. There are, apparently, no records of a Blue-Cream male ever having been reared to become successful as a stud cat. It is extremely doubtful if a male of this breed has ever been reared even for a few weeks."
"Sometimes it is very difficult at birth to recognize a Blue-Cream female in which the colours are intermingled almost to perfection. This kitten may appear to be a pale Blue. ... it is very rare for a Blue male produced from them to be of outstanding quality when he is compared with those Blue males which have been produced by the normal mating of Blue to Blue. Here again, however, it is impossible to generalize, for occasionally an outstanding Blue male is produced from a Blue-Cream female. Up to the present time only one Blue male produced in this way, Ch. Bayhorne Ajax, has ever become a full champion, and this was in 1956".
Good Blue-Creams were hard to come by because of the requirements for intermingled colours. "Sometimes even an outstanding female, on whose coat there are no solid patches of colour, will produce kittens which fail in this respect, and there is no reason to suppose that even with the most careful selection, sooner or even later the mixing of the colours will become more complete. Patches which are too solid, although they may be broken up by many hairs of the other colour, are almost certain to be found on the coats of the large majority of Blue-Creams."
The Chinchilla was hugely popular in the 1950s and its popularity apparently resulted in the decline in Silver Tabby Longhairs. In spite of its popularity there was still a shortage of fanciers and of kittens for exhibition or as pets. Soderberg noted that the name was misleading as the colour did not resemble either the South American Chinchilla nor the chinchilla rabbit. The 1950s Chinchilla was different to the early cats of that name some fifty years previously. Early Chinchilla Longhairs had heavy barring on the legs and tail and tabby markings on the forehead. The first unmarked Chinchilla was not exhibited until 1902.
Chinchillas had been produced from the Silver Tabby Longhair popular 50 years earlier "What seems to have been the likely origin of the Chinchilla is that from the normal mating of Silver Tabbies, a kitten was produced in which by chance the barring and striping were almost absent. Some unknown breeder was attracted by the pattern of this kitten’s coat, and decided to experiment with it, with the result that in time a number of very lightly-marked cats came into existence. It was from these that the new breed of Chinchilla was finally evolved. This ‘hypothetical’ kitten, for it can now be no more than that, was grown on to maturity, and then its owner had to decide how to mate it to produce kittens which were much less heavily marked. It would have seemed quite useless to mate it back to a Silver Tabby, for the simple reason that this mating would almost certainly have re-introduced the distinct markings, and it thus seems logical, even if it cannot be stated as a fact, that one of the most popular breeds in existence at that time was, in fact, used for the cross. This breed would almost certainly have been a long-haired White. The first litters must have been a great disappointment, but in-breeding and line-breeding in the end proved successful."
Early Chinchillas also had eyes the same colour as the Silver Tabby: hazel or golden brown (inherited from Silver tabbies), but the 1950s standard called for emerald or blue-green, but there was a problem with yellow rims "it may require a good deal of careful breeding to restore the real emerald green which was so characteristic of some of the greatest show specimens of this breed which were being shown during the 1930’s". The "brick-red" nose leather had become a less attractive flesh-pink and the 1950s breeders also had to restore that trait. Another fault was ears: "It may sound somewhat heretical to the enthusiastic Chinchilla breeder, but in strict honesty it must be said that even the best Chinchillas are inclined to be a little long in ear."
By the 1950s, some of the Chinchillas had uneven ticking or were too pale. Some adults showed signs of rings on the tail or barring on the legs (kittens usually grew out of such markings). Others had a yellowish or creamy tinge to the undercoat. Some of the best specimens had hairs were tipped (Soderberg called it "ticked") ith a slate colour rather than with jet black. Soderberg noted that in the USA, heavily ticked cats were known as Shaded Silvers, but in Britain the heavily ticked cats were simply considered unsuitable for exhibition. Soderberg noted "Chinchillas are more attractive if they are slightly finer in bone [than Blue Longhairs], for this structure fits in better with their more ethereal appearance"
"During the 1930’s the Chinchilla was probably at the height of its popularity, and there were at that time a number of breeders who could be relied upon to produce outstanding specimens, but during the war years many of these breeders had to give up, and as a consequence breeding became more difficult, for fewer studs were available for general use. Probably due to this fact, if to no other, it happened that after the war, for a time at least, Chinchillas seemed lacking in both stamina and fecundity. When a breed suffers even a slight setback, there is always a tendency for this fact to be exaggerated ... it was true beyond the possibility of dispute that the breed had gone back during the war years, and that fertility was not as good as it had been. This, however, was a misfortune not confined to the Chinchilla, for many breeds suffered from the fact that so many fanciers had to give up."
To restore the breed after the war, it had been crossed with Blue Longhairs. This improved stamina and type, but "there was one serious drawback. The decided disadvantage resulting from the ‘cross’ was that the orange eye was introduced into the progeny, which were known as Blue-Chins, a breed which has never been officially recognized. If cats of this type are shown, they have to be put in classes which are provided for Any Other Variety." A Chinchilla stud had been imported from the USA though its impact had yet to be assessed and Soderberg warned that it might prove a mixed blessing.
The Smoke Longhair was common at shows of the 1900s and there were several outstanding Smokes in the 1920s. Since then, the Smoke as a breed had tended to disappear and had almost vanished by the end of the 1940s. "It is a great pity that this should be the case, but the position has now been reached where it seems doubtful whether Smokes will ever again achieve any real popularity. In fact, as far as anything can be certain, it looks as though it will never again be possible for them to be so outstanding in quality that they can rival the best Blues, Creams or Chinchillas ... no outstanding Smoke has been seen on the show bench since 1945." The Smokes which were exhibited in Soderberg's time rarely met the official standard. "It is just possible that at some time in the future an outstanding Smoke will again appear as a result of experimental breeding, when no definite attempt is being made actually to produce a cat of this breed."
They were recognized in two colours: Black and Blue. A major fault was a "smutty" coloured undercoat, but with so few Smokes available for breeding the smuttiness could not be bred out in the short term. Another problems was that the quality of colour could not be reliably assessed in kittens, certainly not before 6 months old. "There is, however, one definite piece of information which can be given to anyone who wants to breed Smokes. It is that he should look particularly for those kittens whose undercoat starts to pale early in life, for it is usually these kittens which are the ones which have that off-white but almost silver undercoat when they are adult, and these kittens will not show any trace of smuttiness at all in this undercoat."
Soderberg also wrote that the number of crosses with Black and Blue Longhairs meant the Smoke was "now very definitely a manufactured cat." A good deal had een written in the past about breeding Smokes, however "The few Smokes which exist to-day will have to be treated with the utmost care in the matter of breeding if progeny of good quality is to be produced from them... he suggestion which has been made on a number of occasions that a Smoke should be mated to a Silver Tabby is almost as impracticable as it is undesirable. It is impracticable because there are no long-haired Silver Tabbies to-day which are of sufficiently high quality to be used to produce the correct type. Furthermore, such a cross would be undesirable because it would introduce into the Smoke a characteristic which is not now present, and which ought never to appear, namely, tabby markings. A Smoke which carried tabby markings would be a very poor specimen, and breeding ‘out’ such markings is much more difficult than breeding them ‘in’." (In fact a Smoke is the combination of non-agouti with silver so Smokes could not have tabby markings. In Soderberg's day Smokes and Chinchillas were believed to be due to an albino gene).
Recommended crosses were Smoke females with either Black and Blue studs or a Blue-Chinchilla to a Smoke as that would produce a good pale undercoat. Soderberg suggested a degree of experimental breeding was required in order to restore the breed to its former excellence.
Soderberg's section on Colourpoint Longhairs was contributed by B A Stirling-Webb.
"My first introduction to this variety of cat dates back to the prewar period when I read in the cat press of a series of breeding experiments being carried out in America by a Mrs. Cobb with the object of producing ‘long-haired Siamese’. This lady mated together Siamese and Black Long-hairs, and the results, as one would expect, were all Black short-haired kittens. These kittens, however, when they were later mated to each other, produced a youngster which had both long hair and Siamese colouring. I have seen pictures of this kitten, and it certainly was a ‘long-haired Siamese’ in the sense that it possessed Siamese ‘type’.
At that time I was, as I still am, an ardent Siamese fancier, and I felt this experiment to be the worst possible thing for the breed, arguing that a very large part of the beauty of the Siamese cat lies in its svelte outline which, of course, would be completely obscured by a long coat. I was, therefore, delighted when Mrs. Cobb, having proved what she had set out to prove, abandoned her experiments, and I was also very pleased to learn from conversations that I had with prominent Siamese breeders in this country that such a variety would never be tolerated over here. I was told that if it was introduced, the Siamese Cat Club would protest to the Governing Council against its recognition, as being contrary to the best interests of the true breed of Siamese.
Gradually the whole matter receded from my mind, and I certainly never for a moment imagined that I myself would one day be engaged in similar experiments; similar, but with one important difference. Whereas the earlier experiments were concerned with the production of Siamese cats with long hair, I have never attempted to produce anything but Persian (or long-haired) cats which resembled Siamese only in the matter of colouring and marking. How I actually came to embark on these breeding experiments was pure chance.
At the Siamese Cat Club Show in 1947 a lady approached me to know if she might bring ‘her long-haired Siamese queen’ to be mated to one of my Siamese stud cats. She said she lived near me and was anxious to breed more long-haired Siamese from this cat, and added that they would be a great addition to the Cat Fancy. Of course, I disagreed with her, and I also explained that she could not expect any long-haired kittens from a mating with a true Siamese, owing to the fact that in cats short hair is ‘dominant’. ‘What shall I do?’ she then inquired, and I suggested that either she could have the queen spayed, or if this did not appeal to her, that she should mate the queen to a long-haired Black, subsequently mating the offspring together. She was averse to either course, and asked if she could bring the cat to show me at home, and this she did about a week later.
When I saw this queen, I was astonished at her beauty. Apart from her colouring, she possessed practically no Siamese characteristics, and was reasonably Persian in type. I was also amazed to learn that nothing was known of her origin due to the fact that she had been a stray living in a country churchyard for about six weeks before being adopted by this lady. The police had been informed of her adoption, and advertisements were inserted in the local papers in an attempt to contact the original owner, but without success. Unfortunately, this cat’s house manners were of the worst, probably due to her long spell as a homeless animal, and although her new owner persevered for some time, she eventually offered her to me as a ‘cattery cat’, as she was quite unfit to live in a civilized house. By this time I had worked up a good deal of enthusiasm and realized that there certainly was a place in the Fancy for such a variety, provided it was of long-hair type, and not in any way Siamese except in the matter of colouring."
Stirling-Webb already had experience with genetic breeding experiments and began by establishing some unrelated blodlines. He mated pure Siamese with pure long-hairs, and cross-mated the resulting offspring. His efforts were helped by the acquisition of a Black Longhair male that had one Siamese grandparent. When mated to the original stray female, the kittens were very close to Stirling-Webb's ideal. He required 3 generations of the breed in order to gain official recognition and by this time inbreeding was a concern. However the breed was recognised in 1955 and since then he had outcrossed nearly all of his breeding stock to combat inbreeding and improve type.
Stirling-Webb described the mode of inheritance of both long hair and the Siamese pattern; something established in the much earlier breeding experiments in the USA. Once longhaired colourpoint cats were achieved "the next stage is obviously to try to fix the Persian type by mating back to a good long-hair. Otherwise you may well have ‘long-haired Siamese’ rather than ‘ Colour-point Persians’. ... for every ‘wanted’ cat you produce, you will have at least three ‘unwanted’. The latter should be neutered and disposed of to good homes as soon as it is seen that they are of no use for breeding ... When making the original cross, only Siamese with outstanding eye colour should be used, because the crossing with self-coloured cats tends to dilute the eye pigment, and kittens with pale blue eyes are apt to result if this tendency is not watched. If you can find a ‘bad’ Siamese with good eye colour, use it, and by ‘bad’ I mean one with a square or round head, and with a rather short face which will, therefore, be unlikely to pass on the typical head and wedge of the show Siamese. All long-hairs used should be of outstanding type, irrespective of colour, though it is wisest to use either Blacks or Blues. The former give the best and densest Seal-Points, and the latter produce the best type. The admixture of blue, however, will lead to a small percentage of Blue-Pointed descendants. A good Colourpoint is an animal of quite spectacular beauty, and is worth any amount of trouble to produce."
VESEY-FITSGERALD ON SOME LESS COMMMON LONGHAIR CAT BREEDS, 1958
Brian Vesey-Fitzgerald "Cats" (1958) mentions cats found in the USA that were not found in Britain: "Among these are the Shaded silver Long-Hair (which; so far as I am able to judge from the Standard, appears to be a darker variety of the Chinchilla) and the Peke-Face Long-Hair, which is commonly known as the Peke-Face Persian. The Peke-Face Long-Hair is a Red or a Red Tabby with a particularly heavy jowl". He quoted the American Cat Association standard: "The Peke-Faced cat should conform in colour, markings, and general type to the standard set forth for long-haired cats. The head should resemble as much as possible that of the Pekingese dog from which it gets its name. The nose should be very short and depressed, or indented between the eyes. The eyes should be round, large, and full, set wide apart, prominent and brilliant." Decidedly wrinkled muzzles are, I understand, favoured. The standard is sufficient to show that this, for a cat, is an abnormality.
Brian Vesey-Fitzgerald "Cats" (1958) mentions an American breed, which was then not officially recognized: is the Maine cat which was also known as the "Coon" cat from its fancied resemblance to the racoon (something he disputes saying it didn't look at all like a racoon) and which was found mostly in the New England States. His description runs "The hair is long, but more like the hair of a long-haired dog than the hair of a show long-haired cat, and there is not the thick undercoat of the show long-hair. There is quite enough undercoat, however, to enable it to withstand very cold weather, though, with the additional advantage that this type of coat does not mat easily. Maine cats are big and solidly built, with broad, intelligent heads. The tail is bushy, but, unlike the show longhair's, ends in a point. The origin of this very distinctive breed is unknown. Leading American authorities suggest that it is descended from the old Angora. There seems to be little doubt that many led a completely feral life in the Maine woods, but came into barns and farmhouses during the really hard weather ...."
POND ON THE LONGHAIR CAT BREEDS, 1959
“The Observer’s Book of Cats” is a very concise work and most of Pond’s comments are already captured by other authors of the time. Here are a few of her comments on less common breeds.
On the cat now known as the Birman, she wrote: “THE SACRED CAT OF BURMA. British visitors to France and to the French Cat Shows may be puzzled by the sight of a very attractive cat which does not conform to any particular standard in this country. This is the Burman, a breed which has been known in France since 1931, but has not yet been seen in Britain. This variety has Siamese colourings, but is longhaired.
In Britain, the name Angora would be appropriated by an imposter, the Oriental and Foreign Longhairs. Pond wrote: TURKISH CATS. There are numberless cats in Turkey, of many colours, and with all lengths of fur. Bearing in mind the fact that one of the old names for longhaired cats was the ‘Angora’ or ‘ Ankara’ cat, it is interesting to note that there is one particular variety in Turkey today, which has an all white coat, and one green eye and one blue, known as the ‘Ankara’ cat. Another variety has a prolific long white coat, with a most distinctive auburn-coloured tail, ringed in light and dark shades. The head also bears auburn markings … A pair of these cats from two different districts in Turkey have been imported into Britain, and appear to breed absolutely true, the kittens all having the long white coats, and the distinctive auburn markings. It is possible that in time these Turkish cats may become a recognised breed in Britain.
MERY ON THE LONGHAIR CAT BREEDS OF THE 1960s
Fifteen years on and "The Life, History and Magic of the Cat" contains the almost obligatory section on cat breeds and I found this the most fascinating section since it highlights not only the way breeds were evolving (and have changed since 1966), but also Mery's personal opinions on a number of breeds. He blames the evolution of the Persian out of Angoras on English breeders, being a reflection of the English taste for chunky creatures! He also notes that the longhaired cat probably reached England from France, "White cats with long hair were probably present in France two hundred years ago at the least. And the cats that existed in England in the early nineteenth century were probably first brought from France. Certainly France has always maintained high standards in producing Long-haired Whites."
"The original long-haired eats in Europe used to be called angoras. Later they came to be known as Persians. Nowadays, for show-purposes, they are referred to as ‘longhaired’ to distinguish them from the short-haired varieties where necessary. There is some confusion as to where they originally came from. According to Buffon it was Asia Minor. There is good evidence that these cats existed in Persia several centuries ago. It is possible that the name angora is the place-name (corruption of ‘Ankara’, the Turkish city). But there exist other animals with long silky coats called angoras: angora rabbits, angora guinea-pigs, angora goats.
These long-haired cats were first introduced into Italy towards 1550 by Pietro della Velle. Then they were brought to France at the end of the sixteenth century by Claude Fabri de Peirese, a scientist of many interests at that time. The longhaired cat probably reached England from France. In 1856, M. Lottin de la Val wrote to the Société Impériale d’Acelimatation saying: ‘I have found this beautiful feline species on the great Armenian plateau at Erzerum, where the climate is conspicuously different from that of Angora.’ He noted that the angora was the dominant variety among the cats of Kurdistan. He had seen whites, greys and spotted orange ones. He also saw them in Baghdad though in smaller numbers ‘because the inhabitants’ he said, ‘reproach them above all with being carriers of the plague....’
The angora type of fur was probably the result of a sudden mutation that was fixed by the process of natural selection. An angora is simply a cat with extremely long hair. Sometimes in shows one sees complete monuments of fur, under which it is almost impossible to trace the harmonious anatomy and purity of line that make up the actual body of the cat. But it is in the body of the Persian that the process of artificial breeding by man has had its triumph. The modern long-haired cat is an animal that does not have much in common with the original angora. The latter had a much less round skull and a longer nose. The long-haired cat of today is characterized by its wide spherical skull and almost non-existent nose, as in a Pekinese dog.
The modern long-haired cat is the result of work by English breeders, who produced it within less than half a century. And it is interesting to note that they produced a very similar evolution in the chow-chow, the dog that came originally from Hong-Kong. Like the angora cat, this dog was to start with a loosely-built animal with harsh, half-length hair, a skull narrower than the now massive one, and long, slender limbs. We might possibly say that the parallel change in the two animals reflected English taste in these matters as much as English science. But two factors in the science of breeding probably contributed. The chow-chow, when taken over by breeders, was fed on a meat diet, poor in carbohydrates but rich in fat soluble vitamins and mineral salts. In addition to this change to a richer diet, it was subject to the cold, damp climate of Great Britain, so different from the warm dry climate from which it came. Was there at work here, influencing this evolution of both the chow-chow and the Persian, quite independently of diet, some mechanism of natural adaptation in these transplanted animals? We do not yet know the answer. But the same solid, thick-set body, wide skull, short nose, and thick, relatively short limbs were the result in both animals."
Even in 1967 the Longhair (Persian) was described as having an "almost non-existent nose" and Mery suggests that the evolution of the modern Persian from its "angora" ancestors was in part due to moving from a warm, dry climate to a cold damp climate (Great Britain) and a richer diet. Despite the description of an almost non-existent nose, most of the photos show longhairs with what today would be unacceptably long noses even among older-style Persians. Mery noted the trend towards an shorter noses in the Blue Persian:
"In the United States a shortening of the face even more than is normal for the long-haired face, giving a really Pekinese-like look, has resulted in a special group being formed within this breed for show purposes. ... Breeders should, as a rule, however, conform strictly to the standards. It is the striving after sensational effects in breeding that produces those Persians that are just flabby balls of fur, with cheeks invading their eyes, colour that is washed out and legs that are bandy or too furry."
One wonders what he would have said about Ultra-typed and Peke-faced Persians.
Of the Long-haired White, his criticism is concerned not with nose length, but with eye colour as he says "It has been claimed, with justification, that the blue-eyed variety is genetically the purer. It is probable that the orange-eyed variety was produced by artificial breeding in an attempt to counteract the deafness that is so characteristic of cats with blue eyes."
National pride colours Mery's description of the "Colourpoint" Longhair which he describes as being "remarkably like a breed recognised in France, the Khmer, which has its own standard in that country, though it is not recognised by La Federation Internationale Feline d'Europe" despite the fact that the term "Khmer" had been dropped in 1955 - eleven years before his book was published! Photos of the Khmer show it to be more like a rather fluffy Colourpoint British Shorthair in both conformation and fur length, with the "applehead" of a shorthair and a semi-longhaired coat rather than the flatter face and long fur of contemporary Colourpoint Persians.
Mery clearly disapproved of many Longhair varieties, especially the non-selfs, as he wrote "We come now to that group of unstable Long-haired breeds that I call 'adapted' because, in my opinion, they cannot be said to breed true. Cross-breeding with other varieties seems far too necessary in order to maintain the standards, and in some cases is the only method of reproducing the variety at all. This does not seem to me to be in accordance with the classic principles of breeding, which requires that a new breed should succeed in reproducing itself over a number of generation before this proposed breed can be claimed as fixed. Are we not threatening the principles on which the science of breeding is based in a desperate search after novelty and sensation. These unstable breeds are certainly beautiful to look at in shows or in the home, but their biological foundation seems quite uncertain."
"The Long-haired Blue-Cream ... was recognised by the GCCF in 1929-30. The decision still surprises some, including myself. ... My own argument against recognition of this breed does not lie only in the fact that its coat is merely a mixture of two colours rather than showing a genetically pure colouring. It lies also in the fact that there are no Blue-Cream males."
Although his comment on novelty is astute, his idea of an unstable breed is the Long-haired Tortoiseshell because it has to be cross-bred with males of other colours, there being no fertile tortie males. The Tortie Longhair was developed in the 1890s, long enough in most people's opinion for it to have become a "stable" breed in other respects.
The rise and wane of other Longhairs is documented by Mery although modern enthusiasts may disagree with his comments. For instance he says that the best period for Smokes in England was during the first twenty years of this century, but they had lost popularity and were tending to disappear. He claims that the Long-haired Brown Tabby was at its most popular at the beginning of this century, but was no longer so, with considerable work needing to be done by breeders if really excellent specimens were to appear again. Likewise the Long-haired Silver Tabby is said to have been more popular at the beginning of the century, but like the other Long-haired Tabbies, no longer so. The Lilac Tabby, in existence since the 1880s, did not even get a mention. A photo accompanying this section shows a "Long-haired Silver Tabby masked with black" which looks less like a Silver Tabby than a Shaded Silver, Pewter or possibly a poor quality Smoke Persian.
The entry on the Chinchilla indicates some confusion between it and the Shaded Silver. Mery tells us that the name is a surprising one and the origin seems to be unknown. Its colouring is said to be "not dissimilar" to that of the chinchilla native to the Andes though there is "certainly no likeness between the Chinchilla cat and the chinchilla rabbit". He remarks that the United States and the Commonwealth countries recognise two breeds where Britain recognises only one; the Shaded Silver having darker ticking and a pale silver undercoat compared with the Chinchilla's white undercoat and lighter ticking, the heavy ticking of the Shaded Silver not being acceptable in Britain. The Chinchillas and Long-haired Tabbies would, in Mery's opinion, be more correctly called 'Angoras'.
While Mery showed a degree of snobbery against "adapted" breeds, he wished the Longhaired Cream a long life, although he admitted it was close to the much maligned "adapted" Persians. Other sources say that the Cream Longhair is descended from Fawn Angora which could be why Mery found it acceptable! Bicolour and Tricolour Longhairs also existed at that time but did not gain a mention, presumably being too far removed from Mery's opinion of what constituted a true Persian i.e. a "genetically pure" self colour. In his quest for genetically pure colours, Mery comes a little unstuck when it came to the Red Persian.
"The Longhaired Red Self succeeded the Orange, a variety now no longer spoken of ... Although there are official standards for it in England it may almost be said that no true Red Selfs have been achieved by English breeders. ... However it is certainly possible to hope that ... there will be success in producing and fixing this pure red breed of cat, whose red colouring must certainly have existed originally as a self-coloured coat (in the same way as whites, blacks and blues), but has not persisted."
Despite his suggestion that red must have existed as a pure colour, modern day sources state that the non-agouti gene is inoperable on orange pigment so that all "self" red cats exhibit a tabby pattern. Unable to eliminate the tabby pattern, breeders have instead dissipated it by selective breeding and some have suggested that the introduction of genes from Abyssinian cats might go further towards producing red self longhairs. Interestingly, the problem of tabby markings on the Longhaired Cream (the dilute of red) so much admired by Mery does not arise.
A close relative of the Persian, the Exotic Shorthair, was being developed in the 1960s, but either Mery was unaware of these cats or, judging by his views on adapted Persians, he simply considered them unworthy of any mention as they are crossbreeds or novelties.