CATS AND CAT CARE - 1940s - 1960s: SHORTHAIR BREEDS
Copyright 1996 - 2004 Sarah Hartwell

This article is part of a series looking about cats and cat care in Britain from the late 1800s through to the 1970s.

MAJOR SOURCES:

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" (1966) (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.

INTRODUCTION

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.

ABYSSINIAN CATS IN THE 1940s and 1950s

TWO RARE CATS FROM ETHIOPIA ARE IN TUCSON< – Tucson Daily Citizen, 1st March, 1948
Names as exotic as Has Hailu Sagad and Wazero Ayesha of Wijiji bring to mind visions of foreign potentates, draped In silks and jewels. In Tucson, however, the names belong to two cats - uncommon creatures, but members of the feline family, just the same. The animals, owned by Mrs. Robert Richardson, 1010 North Park avenue, have royal blood In their veins. They are Abyssinian cats, descendants of a breed which was held in high esteem In its native Ethiopia. Ancestors of Mrs. Richardson’s pets probably sat on embroidered cushions, for their position wan similar to that of the sacred cow In India. [This was all cat fancier hype as cats were not esteemed in Ethiopia!]

Abyssinian cats were first brought from Ethiopia to England then imported to this country in the early 1930’s. Ras Seyum, grandfather of Ras Hailu Sagad, was one of the first importations. Today there are only 50 Abyssinian cats in the country, Mrs Richardson said. Their life span is only five or six years, and they have been particularly “shy breeders," she added. In addition, many of the cats are troubled with sinus conditions in America. Mrs. Richardson exhibited her two cats for the first time this year. In shows at Long Beach, Los Angeles, San Diego and Denver, they accumulated 16 ribbons between them. More than once they were selected as best of breed, and both won points towards championship.

Ras, four years old, is extremely valuable as a show cat because of his five-ticked coat, Mrs. Richardson said. Each of his hairs has five gradings of color, running from black, gray and fawn at the outer fur to pure white next to the skin. His eyes are fawn-colored. Ayesha, with bright green eyes, has a three-ticked coat. She is three years old. Both cats appear slightly drab at first glance, but the delicate colorings of their fur are revealed on closer inspection. Mrs. Richardson, offering stiff competition with her foreign prize winners, is now attempting to rouse interest in a Tucson Cat club.

RARE CAT DISPLAY TO BE SEEN SUNDAY AT LOCAL FAIRGROUNDS– Freeport Journal Standard, 7th September, 1956
Several rare cats will be on display Sunday at the Stephenson County Fairgrounds, south of Freeport, at the Rock Valley Cat Club exhibit from 1-5 p.m. (DST). A ruddy-brown, almond-eyed Abyssinian will be shown by Mrs.) F. R. Steiger of Peru, Ill.

SEARLE & JUDE ON THE REX CATS IN 1956

The Rex cat must have come as a surprise to cat fanciers in the 1950s. Until then, cats came in two types - longhair and shorthair (plus the unrecognised "intermediates" or "fluffy cats"), all with straight hair. The Mexican Hairless was extinct and considered merely an anomaly. In 1953, cat geneticist Albert C Jude published "A 'Rex' Mutant In The Cat" (Nature, Lond., 172, pages 81-2) in 1953. Three years later, in 1956, A G Searle and A C Jude published a scientific paper "The 'Rex' Type of Coat in the Domestic Cat" in the Journal of Genetics, 1956 (Vol. 54, No. 3, pages.506-513). At the time only two types of Rex had occurred - the Cornish Rex (as it is now known) and the German Rex. The Cornish Rex was therefore known simply as the "English Rex" - a more specific name would not be needed until the arrival of the Devon Rex in 1960.

Searle and Jude noted that it was more than 30 years since the first description of a 'rex' mutant, this being the Castorrex rabbit described by E Kohler in 1925. In 1929, H Nachtsheim demonstrated that the Castorrex was due to recessive mutation affecting all hair types and it was known as rex-1. Later on, rex-2 and rex-3 appeared in the rabbit. No fewer than 7 rex types (2 dominant, 5 recessive) were then described in mice. Searle and Jude noted that 2 rex types had been found in the cat - one in England (described in 1953 by Jude) and the other in Germany. Unfortunately, poor photographs led to them reaching some erroneous conclusions.

They described the English Rex as having a short plush-like wavy coat like that of the Astrex rabbit. The hair felt much finer and silkier to the touch than the coat of a normal cat, the tail looks thin and the inner surface of the ear pinna was furred in kittens, but abnormally bare in the adult; some of these effects were due to the reduction or absence of guard hairs. The whiskers were curled from birth. The owner of the English Rex reported that when the woolly juvenile coat was shed, the tail was left bare for a time. The authors knew the German Rex from photographs only and from the owner's description; neither had inspected a German Rex. The described the juvenile coat as wavy, but the adult coat as short, plush-like and non-wavy while the ears, whiskers and tail were similar to the English Rex. This was due to a poor quality photograph of the German Rex cat "Lammchen" and Phyllis Lauder wrote in her book "The Rex Cat" (1974): "The picture does not show the waved fur clearly". [The photo here is of the German Rex]

The authors compared the hairs from normal shorthaired cats with those from both the English Rex and German Rex. They found no guard hairs in the two rex cats. About 1-2% of the English Rex hairs were decidedly thicker than the rest and somewhat less crimped, but were not considered guard hairs and were classed as atypical down hairs. The English Rex had no awn-hairs or awned down-hairs while the German Rex had both types present. The German Rex had atypical awn hairs. Both Rexes had thin down hairs that were no more wavy than normal down hairs.

Kalli (short for Kallibunker), the first English Rex cat to be recognized, had 3 normal-coated siblings and probably came from a brother-sister mating. He was mated with his own mother and subsequently with his non-Rex daughters; the females were also bred to a Rex-coated son of Kallibunker. Searle and Jude noted that 35 out of 64 offspring were Rex-coated, meaning that the gene could be either dominant or recessive. When Kallibunker was outcrossed to unrelated cats, all 20 offspring were straight-coated, indicating a recessive gene. Searle and Jude observed that no records had been kept of the matings and that the paternity of the kittens could not be proven. However, 16 offspring produced through Rex-to-Rex matings produced only Rex-coated kittens and they noted that the gene had to be recessive. At the time of their paper (1956), the original German Rex cat, a female, was the only one known of that type and had not been systematically bred. Searle and Jude, therefore, could not conclude whether the trait was recessive, dominant or non-inherited. Their other conclusions on the German Rex were marred by the belief that the adult German Rexes lacked wavy fur and that it was a temporary trait found only in juveniles.

In their 1956 paper, Searle and Jude reached the following conclusions about Rex cats: (1) Two types of Rex coat are described, one ('English Rex') with a wavy coat throughout life, the other ('German Rex') with a straight adult coat, but a wavy juvenile one [note: this was incorrect]. (2) Both lack guard-hairs; other hairs are about half the normal length. In the English Rex, awn-hairs and awned down-hairs are also absent; only the down-hairs of the underfur remain, with a few atypical thicker hairs. Down-hairs are much thinner than usual in both types of Rex. (3) The English Rex character is due to a single fully penetrant recessive gene, for which the symbol r is proposed. (4) A comparison of Rex cats and 'crinkled' mice suggests that in the former there is a complete suppression of the missing hair-types rather than a change into those hair-types which remain. (5) Similarities between a number of genes affecting hair in the mouse, rabbit and cat are discussed, and listed [in the scientific paper].

CLYDE E KEELER ON THE FUTURE OF SIAMESE CATS (1946)

Developing New Varieties of Siamese (Cats Magazine (UK), December 1946)
The treasure of any science is its predictive value; the power to imagine new things unknown and often undreamed of, combined with the power to provide the quickest and most accurate method of producing those new combinations. Thus, in 1935, we predicted the appearance of new varieties namely, White-face Siamese, Chinese White Siamese, Piebald Siamese, Red Point Siamese, Siamese-Persian. At that time we said that in fifteen years Siamese-Persians and Red Point Siamese would be winning prizes. We said that Dr. Thompson’s Burmese would become well known and popular. Eleven years have passed. I do not like to pose as a clairvoyant; but Siamese Persians have appeared in the shows; Dr. Thompson’s Burmese is a registered breed, and are found in many shows. Red Point Siamese are developed in San Francisco unless they have been disposed of, because Dr. Thompson had a San Francisco veterinarian working on the production of them in 1936 when I visited him.

White-face Siamese could be a splendid, weird breed with the suggestion of the badger in its face and bearing a kinky tail. I would like to see it established, and a stock inbred through four generations so that fanciers would have to accept it. Of course, it would vary in coat pattern somewhat and only about a quarter of the kittens would have good markings for some time, because the ordinary white face characteristic is produced by a white-face gene plus a solid-color gene and hence all well marked white-face cats are hybrids.

Piebald Siamese will crop out in White-face Siamese stock. Nobody will want them save the wise White-face Siamese breeder. He will keep Piebald Siamese females that are not attractive and mate them to Seal Point Siamese males. The results should be 100% White-face Siamese kittens.

Chinese White has not come on the market. It is raised exclusively by a few elite Chinese families that are jealous of their monopoly. I visited Peking in 1936 and learned that they have a slightly yellowish coat with pink eyes. If they ever get into the fancy, I predict that somebody will make a very beautiful breed by combining the Chinese white gene with Brown tabby.

I would be happy to hear from anybody who has obtained any of these combinations with Siamese that I have de¬scribed, or any other. There is no reason why Siamese lovers should not exploit the possibility of using the Siamese coat pattern in combina¬tion with other genes to create new, lovely and interesting Cats of the Future.

COX-IFE & FRANCE ON THE SHORTHAIRED BREEDS OF THE 1940S 

Cox-Ife listed the various breed sections of 1947 as Persians and Shorthairs; the Shorthairs being of two types, British and Foreign. Each section is subdivided into colour varieties making a grand total of 28 recognised breeds. Apart from Persians and British Shorthairs, she lists Manx, Siamese (seal-point and blue-point only), the Foreign Blue (sometimes called Russian) and Abyssinian (rather on the small side and have long, pointed heads with rather large ears). Among British Shorthairs, the blue-eyed white, but not the orange-eyed white, was recognised (although the text indicates "at present") alongside Black, Blue, Silver Tabby, Red Tabby, Brown Tabby, Tortoiseshell, Tortoiseshell-and-White.

When asked is a Manx was just an ordinary short-haired cat without tail, Cox-Ife replied, "There are several points about a Manx that make it anything but ordinary. The chief one is, of course, its taillessness; but this is not quite the whole story. Not only must a Manx have no tail but it should really be a further joint or more short on the spinal column; that is to say there should be a hollow where the tail would normally begin. Then there is the gait - a rabbity hop rather than a walk- which is caused by the height of the hindquarters: according to the Manx Cat Club these "cannot be too high, and the back cannot be too short, while there must be great depth of flank. The head should be round and large, but not of the snubby or Persian type."

In 1949, Kit Wilson (Vice-Chairman of GCCF) who wrote the preface to France's book "Siamese Cats" wrote:-

"A few years before World War 2, interest was beginning to be shown in Blue Pointed Siamese. These had caused some considerable controversy among breeders, many of whom were of the opinion that they were "sports" and therefore could not be bred true, but a few, whose convictions based on research refuted these opinions, and "The Blue Pointed Siamese Cat Club" was formed.

Lately particular interest is being taken by some breeders in Chocolate Pointed Siamese. [...] For those who have never seen a Chocolate they are often smaller in build than the seal or blue point, and their points are of a rich milk chocolate colour. Blue points are very popular in the U.S.A. many of them winning high awards at shows over there, but, although I am open to correction, I have not heard of any chocolates."

Although amenable to chocolate points, which had arisen naturally, Wilson clearly disapproved of cross-breeding of Siamese to produce new varieties:

"From America we have heard of the Black Siamese with orange eyes but to my knowledge no specimen has ever been seen in this country. Then there have been long haired specimens, described as Burmese, they have the same colouring as the seal point, and long fur, which although in no way comparable with the Persian yet is definitely more long than short. Experiments however have proved that in breeding Siamese to other species - varied forms can be made - this practise is not to be encouraged, as it may lead to definite malpractices as have occurred in other livestock."

Her comments suggest confusion between Burmese and Birman. The "Black Siamese" is probably the Foreign (or Oriental) Black; essentially a Seal Point Siamese without the colourpointing gene. At the time, there was also debate over whether the Siamese cat was indeed the "Royal Cat of Siam" with France writing that the first Siamese cats had been procured from the King's Palace, Bangkok in 1886: "There is no doubt that at that time the true Siamese were kept in the Royal Palaces and Temples, and that few of them ever found their way from there except as gifts, which were then considered as of great worth."

In direct contradiction, Ida M. Mellen, well-known American authority on cats, in her "Practical Cat Book" (1939) had written "Although this cat generally is referred to as the Royal, and even as the Sacred Siamese, it is the common cat of Siam, just as the Manx, equally an aristocrat, is the common cat of the Isle of Man." In other words, any Royal Palace can have stray cats!

Dr. Hugh M. Smith, Adviser in Fisheries to His Siamese Majesty's Government between 1923 and 1934 wrote in a letter to Mellen: "There are no "palace" cats in Siam. There are no "royal" cats, although the strikingly marked creatures would be the natural ones to be kept in palaces. Any person can have a Siamese cat, and as a matter of fact there are many people outside the palaces and many foreigners who keep such cats as household pets. There are no "temple" cats. The Buddhist priests, who do not live in the temples but in special buildings in the temple grounds, may keep cats, as they do dogs. A Siamese prince whom I know very well was visiting in London and was interviewed by one of the thousands of Siamese cat fanciers there. He told her there were more Siamese cats in London than in all Siam."

In 1948 or 1949, "Cats and Kittens" magazine of which France was then editor published a letter from Mr. A. N. M. Garry of Minehead, Somerset. Garry had lived in Borneo and wrote

" When I was in Siam in 1930, I was told that there were two distinct types of Siamese cats [...]. The first is the one we see in England, but I think its points are a shade different, [chocolate] brown instead of seal. The second, which was said to be peculiar to the Royal family and palaces, had the body colour of the first - but not the points; and hazel eyes. Having been a contemporary at Eton with the then King, I got a special permit to see the Bangkok Palace more thoroughly than the usual tourist does, and I saw one or two of these "Royal" cats, whose appearance was (to the best of my recollection after so long) as I have described. At that time, the export of the first type, except neuter ones, was absolutely forbidden, owing to the fear that they might become extinct in Siam, because so many had been exported. The second type was absolutely unobtainable, far less exportable, for it was not to be seen outside the royal palaces."

France briefly mentioned the "curious experiments" of crossing of Siamese cats with Persians and even with tabbies as detailed in "Siamese-Persian Cats" by Clyde E. Keeler and Virginia Cobb, "Journal of Heredity" v. 27. No. 9. Sept. 1936, and "Crosses with Siamese Cats" by K. Tjebbes, Journal of Genetics, V. 14. p. 335, 1924. He noted that in 1939 when Ida M. Mellen reported these facts in her "Practical Cat Book" the experiments were still proceeding.

[Note: Tabby Point Siamese had been mentioned as early as 1902 in Britain. Between 1944 and 1949, they were bred in Scotland and known as Silverpoint Siamese. They were introduced to the cat fancy at a London cat show in the 1960s and recognised by the GCCF in 1966]

HELEN & SIDNEY DENHAM ON THE ABYSSINIAN CAT (1951)

The Denhams noted ("Child of the Gods", 1951) that An article on the Olympia Crystal Cat Show, 1950, said "[Abyssinians] do not take kindly to captivity and perhaps that is why there are still comparatively few in this country."

In their assumption that the Abyssinian could be traced back to Egyptian cats, Helen & Sidney Denham wrote "It is certainly interesting to note that the Ancient Egyptian drawings show the Abyssinians' ancestors retrieving and putting up water fowl. Where the Egyptians found their first cats to domesticate is a mystery we are never likely to solve. Mr HC Brooke went into this question in some detail and in the illustrations in his pamphlet showed what he believed had been the process of the development of the African Wild Cat from the faintly spotted form to the faintly mottled, well ticked, modern Abyssinian type. He had at one time an Egyptian or African Wild Cat and the similarity to the modern Abyssinian is unmistakable. That is was the Caffre or Kaffir cat which the Egyptians domesticated seems probable from the similarity between the skulls of the Caffre cat and the skulls of the 'sacred' cats excavated in Egypt. The British Museum painting shows a tiger-striped cat, but a papyrus painting shows a brown cat with only slight bars on legs and tail of the Abyssinian type. Incidentally, this cat is shown climbing papyrus to 'put up' water fowl, so that it must have been small and lithe of the type Abyssinian breeders to-day seek to produce. [...] Other authors have confidently stated that hair from cat mummies is of the same colour as that of the wild cat of N.E. Africa."

Of its importation they said, "The breed is probably called 'Abyssinian' because the first specimen exhibited in England was imported from Abyssinia and not because that country was its original home. Rosita Forbes, writing between the wars, stated she had never seen a domestic cat in Abyssinia, and when the Countess of Liverpool recently had enquiries made there with a view to importing a cat, she was told there had been no pure-bred cats in Ethiopia since the Italian invasion, although whether due to the Italians eating them or to some other reason is a matter of speculation. At the same time it was stated that a hunter who had been commissioned from the U.S.A. to obtain an Abyssinian had been unsuccessful in finding one. On the other hand I understand 'Abyssinians' have been imported to the U.S.A. from Egypt. Some years ago we saw a fine specimen of the breed, without any white or barring, amongst the innumerable half-wild cats that prowl the streets of Ajaccio in Corsica. In considering whether the Abbyssinian is really 'Abyssinian' or 'Egyptian', it is worth noting that fifty years ago when there was still uncertainty amongst judges about the 'standard' for the Abyssinian, Mrs Brooke wrote: 'Those who have to judge these cats could do worse than devote half-an-hour to studying the Egyptians at the Zoo. The colour is almost identical; we find the same stamp of head, the slightly marked legs and head, the same colouring of tail'."

Of breeding Abyssinian cats they wrote, "HC Brooke used a cat he described as a 'Red self' which nevertheless was of the right type. Captain Powell described the cat as 'more like a chocolate than anything else I can think of'. We have not been able to trace this cat. It has been suggested it might have been a 'Burmese', but this seems unlikely, and Mr AC Jude, who has made a special study of colour inherintance in cats, points out to us that anyone considering a cross with the Burmese to get colour should remember that Burmese, like their close relations the Siamese, carry the silver gene [note: this was based on the misconception that silver was related to the colourpoint gene]. A cross with a Red Tabby in an effort to get colour carries the certainty of tabby markings being reintroduced, and by the time these had been bred out again it is probable the colour would also have gone. The Brown Tabby, Mr Jude suggests, especially one tinged with red, has less definite markings and we understand some work has been done with this cross in France recently. But with the possibility of loss of 'type', especially in the shape of the head, involved in a cross, the most satisfactory method of improvement may be selective breeding. The confusion which undoubtedly existed in the early days about Abyssinians probably arose from the fact that ticked cats of various kinds seems to have been native to Britain. These 'British Ticks' or 'Bunny Cats' were apparently commoner in some parts of the country than they are now. One of the results of the quarrel between the Cat Club and the National Cat Club was that the former dropped the title 'Abyssinian' from its Register and inserted instead 'Ticks' with resultant confusion."

And added "At the 1951 meeting of the Abyssinian Cat Club the standard of points was amended to make the white chin 'permissible' although not desirable, and there is no doubt that all breeders are anxious to eliminate this blemish. The white patch on the chin in Abyssinians is 'dominant'. It is therefore not only very difficult to eliminate but likely to reappear unless there is very careful breeding. Probably the only way in which the patch can be bred out is by selecting cats showing the least white. This may be a long process if the 'type' and other characteristics are to be retained, but should be successful eventually, as it has been with other breeds of self-colours. Absence of white undoubtedly enhances the beauty of the cat."

SIAMESE CATS MOURNED – Valley Morning Star, March 23, 1949

Bangkok – The Siamese cat ain’t what it used to be. A Siamese cat show held recently at Lumphini Park revealed what happens when proper attention is not paid to improvement of the breed – it’s difficult to find a true Siamese cat anymore in Siam. Too much mixed breeding and the absence of a good local cat send where pedigreed felines can be bred were put forth as major causes of the situation. In fact, one expert said sadly, exhibitors themselves apparently forgot how to distinguish between the true Siamese and just any cat born in Siam.

SOME AUSTRALIAN NOTES ON THE SIAMESE

The Age (Melbourne), 9th November, 1953: "

The secretary of the club (Mr. D. J. C. Chandler) said the Australian Siamese had a high standing in the world, and there was a growing demand from the United States for these Australian-bred cats. Each cat sent to America was insured for to £85 through Lloyd’s of London. The Siamese was one of the world’s most ferocious cats, and was capable of killing an Airedale dog. Originally they were palace watchdogs in Siam, where they attacked marauders.

PRAISE FOR THE SIAMESE CAT. DEVOTION and INTELLIGENCE - The Age (Melbourne), 9th July, 1949

Spectators at a recent Melbourne cat show seemed very interested in the lovely Siamese cats, but, judging from the comments, were very ignorant of their characteristics. Most of them appeared to think Siamese cats were fierce, but this is quite wrong. —By M.D.

Anyone in search of an ideal pet should obtain a Siamese cat. They are easily the most distinctive, and in England, the most popular of all breeds of cats. They combine a unique appearance, with intelligence of a very high order. “Cat-and-Dog in one” is an epithet often applied to Siamese cats — for they have a doglike devotion and intelligence which make them delightful pets.

The origin of the Siamese cat is wrapped in obscurity, despite a good deal of conjecture and controversy on the subject. It would seem that the breed is a domesticated and semi- albinistic form of the Malay Jungle cat [note: this was not correct]. It is known that a pair of Siamese cats was imported into England from Bangkok in 1884.

Devotees of the breed dwell proudly on the legend “that Mrs. Siamese guarded the golden chalices in the temple by crooking her whiplash tail around the handle, and was discovered several days later, still in that same position, with a row of minute kittens, all with ‘kinks’ in the end of their tiny tails." They also dwell with amusement on the theory that “in the Ark, the lion mated with the monkey,” accounting for the monkey-like agility and lion hearts of Siamese cats.

Possessing charming characteristics and great affection, the Siamese cat has great beauty. Its head is much longer than the British cat, its eyes almond-shaped and of a brilliant blue. The body is long and graceful, the legs slender, the feet oval, and the tail tapering and whip-like. In the Seal-pointed variety (I do not think there are any Blue or Chocolate points in Australia), the coat is close lying of soft texture and a uniform deep cream, with “points" (i.e., mask, ears, tail and legs), a dark and well defined seal brown. The only “kink" tolerated in the show pen is very slight, and at the extreme end of the tail.

On the Continent separate classes are sometimes provided for straight and kink-tailed specimens. Another characteristic which appears from time to time is a squint; but there is absolutely no record of its being an ancestral feature. It is ugly, and is not permitted in show specimens. Cats with a decided squint should not be used for breeding.

Siamese cats are reasonably hardy, and if given the same care given a child, will thrive in most climates — playing and hunting out of doors in all weathers, and running in for warmth in much the same way as children. Their only fault, if fault it be, is a strident voice. At mating times this seems powerful enough to evoke a response from the distant jungle. However, they "converse freely" and softly with their owners, and will continue to “answer back" in a most amusing way. They are fascinating to the highest degree, and it is safe to predict that, having once been “adopted" by a Siamese cat, you will kowtow at its feet like a palace servitor. People who have been known to dislike cats intensely, have succumbed to the charm of a Siamese.

SIAMESE/RUSSIAN CROSSES - A 1950S EXPERIMENT

These excerpts from "A Breeding Experiment" by A. Hargreaves, F.Z.S. in "Our Cats" of October 1951 show why the colourpoint pattern occasionally cropped up in Russian Blues after the Second World War.

Early in 1948 I decided to carry out some breeding experiments with my Siamese cats, the principal object being to establish a strain possessing a high degree of stamina, disease resistance and those desirable qualities which go to make up the ideal household pet. There is a prevailing opinion among the public that Siamese kittens are not as strong as others, and certainly many are reported as not reaching maturity.

As hardiness may be established in animal breeding by using a good outcross, I decided to adopt that method ; but in order to breed Siamese conforming to type I had to choose the outcross very carefully. White or tabby markings, round heads or long hair must not be introduced. A Shorthair Self was the obvious cat ; Whites were, of course, ruled out, so were Blacks as at that time I could not find a Black Shorthair stud, and to use a cat whose pedigree could not be checked might mean -incorporating those undesirable factors already mentioned.

The stud of my choice was a Russian Blue, and forthwith I sent my Siamese queen, Laurentide Ludo; whose kittens had made good pets, to be mated to Champion Silvershoen Blue Peter. Ludo gave birth to 8 black Shorthair kittens, and I let her rear 6 of these, 2 males and 4 females, all strong and healthy and with good digestions These hybrid Siamese all carry the recessive Siamese restriction factor inherited from their dam, and the Blue recessive factor from their sire. When they are mated back to Siamese the resultant litters on the average should contain half Black and half Siamese, and Black and Blue in the same proportion if backcrossed to a Russian Blue.

I then proceeded with my experiment. One black male, Laurentide Eclipse, was mated in turn to two of his sisters, and three of these were backcrossed to Siamese. The table shows the matings and the number and breed of the kittens born. Of these a few have been Siamese in colour but not in build. On the other hand, I certainly have not lost type. The photographs of Jade, and the fact that she has several awards, prove this ; while the Russian Blue, Sene, has gained two Firsts in Open Classes and Best in Show (ex Siamese) as a kitten. Later litters now from Siamese parents of my own breeding look very promising.

It is interesting to note that since starting this experiment no kittens have been born with kinks in their tails. All the Siamese kittens sold last year have been followed up and are reported as hardy. The normal voices of the first cross black females are much softer than Siamese, except when they call. The voices of their progeny vary considerably. Most are not as garrulous as ordinary Siamese, and one or two have a much softer timbre. As yet I do not know whether I have attained my aims: but results so far are promising and I am developing the Seal Pointed, Blue Pointed Siamese, and Russian Blue strains I now possess.

Follow-up remarks excerpted from The Problems of Cross-Breeding by A Hargreaves F.Z.S in June 1952

There is at present a good deal of interest in breeding experiments among certain members of the Cat Fancy. Cross-breeding is being undertaken with various aims in view. it may be with the desire to produce new colour varieties, to increase stamina, to improve show quality, or merely to satisfy curiosity.

This seems to be causing an uneasiness in certain quarters. There is a feeling that pedigree kittens of mixed breeding are being let loose on the market, and will produce all sorts of unexpected progeny to the surprise and distress of the purchaser and the detriment of the fancy. For instance, all the kittens from a pure Russian Blue mated to a Blue Pointed Siamese will be Russian Blues. But these kittens if mated back to a Blue Pointed Siamese are able to produce Blue Points as well as Russian. [Messybeast note: the author uses the term "Russian" when he means "solid colour"]

Several breeders are at present trying to improve the show quality of the Russian Blue cat. To accomplish this they are outcrossing with Blue Point and Seal Point Siamese. Does this mean that the Russian Blue of the future is going to have Siamese qualities that may be very undesirable? Are Russian Blues wanted or "Blue Siamese"? Is the raucous voice of the latter a pleasing feature when confined to its own breed? Is it wanted in the Russian?

With little or know knowledge about the heredity of voice, what is to be done about it? The Siamese voice could be either dominant of recessive to the small voice of other domestic cats whose cries vary considerably in tone and volume. Has the effect of the Siamese's desire to "talk" on the almost silent Russian Blue been considered, or the possibility of females of that breed calling like a Siamese in season? To record accurately the loudness of softness of sound together with the tone etc, would be very difficult outside a laboratory. But if those who own or breed Russian Blue kittens possessing one Siamese parent could make notes about their voices it would be of great value. It would be especially useful if records containing exactly the same information about each kitten could be sent to someone who would keep them and report on the results. I would suggest the following:

Sex:
Talkativeness: (1) Voice seldom used. (2) Voice used moderately. (3) Very talkative.
Loudness: (1) Russian voice. (2) Moderately loud voice. (3) Siamese voice.

There are at least two ways of dealing with a Russian Blue cat possessing a Siamese voice if such a voice is considered undesirable. One is, or course, to have it neutered. The other, if the cat is in all other respects a credit to the breed, is to eliminate the voice again by backcrossing to pure Russian. But to do this and still maintain the improvement in type, might take considerable understanding and patience.

SODERBERG ON THE SHORTHAIR CAT BREEDS OF THE 1950s

In 1951, the British Shorthairs were eclipsed by the more glamourous Persians. Soderberg noted that there were societies catering for breeders of shorthairs but does not bother to describe the varieties in any detail. The few colour variations are dealt with in a few sentences!

Soderberg has this to say on the British Shorthair, still very much the poor relation of the aristocratic Persians. He acknowledges that there are those who would turn the utilitarian moggy into pedigree breeds! "The British cat is kept because of its usefulness, and did it not exist the ravages of vermin on our food would be far more serious than they are at present. These losses are so serious that the law now demands that occupiers shall keep theft premises free from vermin. Friendly by disposition and possessing intelligence of a high order, the ordinary house cat can hold its own against any of the aristocrats of the feline world on the score of popularity.

There are some breeders who try to separate the different colour types of the British breeds, and by mating like to like in the end produce true breeding varieties which can then boast a pedigree because theft ancestors are known. For anyone who is interested in the breeding of cats, this can become a fascinating hobby and one well worth the effort entailed. Pure breeds could be produced of the various colours of tabby cats and also of cats of whole colours such as Black, White, Blue and Cream. In fact, there are pedigree cats to-day among the British short-hairs. There is a society which caters for breeders of British short-hairs and its officials will be most willing to help any cat lovers who are interested in these breeds."

The Manx fares better, being more of a curiosity, although there was speculation that it was related to the bobtailed cats found in the East (those now recognised as Japanese Bobtails):

"The Manx has been native to these islands so long, and especially to the Isle of Man, that it must almost be qualified to be regarded as a British cat. It is indeed a strange creature both in appearance and habit, yet it is nevertheless capable of evoking a very remarkable devotion from its owners. At some time in the past cats of this breed may have been brought to these shores from the East by sailors, but when or how no one seems to know. The normal gait of the Manx is different from that of the ordinary cat, and in some respects is similar to that of the rabbit, but there is no truth in the statement sometimes made that this breed was originally the result of a cross between a rabbit and a cat. That is sheer nonsense."

The effects of the war on cat breeding are obvious from Soderberg's writing. The Abyssinian breed had become rare during the war, "Many people believe that these cats are the descendants of the ancient Egyptian cat, but whether that is true or not, there can be no mistaking the physical resemblance to the drawings of cats in contemporary illustrations of that early period. Distinguished in appearance and attractive in character, the Abyssinian has a small band of devoted followers who, although numbers have never been large in this country, have by their devotion kept the breed alive. A number of these stalwarts for several reasons had to fall out during the war years, but since the end of hostilities new breeders have come along and in a short time this breed should again be numerically safe. The Abyssinian possesses a gait all its own which indicates almost in itself the skill of the hunter."

Another author suggested, in an article on the Olympia Crystal Cat Show, 1950, a more fanciful reason for the low numbers of Abyssinian; that they "do not take kindly to captivity and perhaps that is why there are still comparatively few in this country."

Rarer still was the Russian Blue: "For a time these Russian Blues seemed to have disappeared, but recently several have been at the shows, and it is obvious that a number of breeders are trying to rehabilitate the breed. Russians which, as the name in this case implies, originally came from that country, show several marked differences from the British short-hair of the same colour. The Russian is longer in the body than its British counterpart and also stands higher on the leg. Whereas the British cat possesses a head which is round on top with considerable width between eyes and ears, the Russian is narrower in skull and face. Although most British cats have short coats, they do not possess the seal-like texture and sheen of the Russian. Type of coat is perhaps its most marked characteristic. British Blues have eyes which are orange or yellow. but the eye of the Russian must be a brilliant green. This is a very handsome cat, but few of you who read this book will have ever seen a Russian Blue. It would be most satisfactory if a few of you were sufficiently interested to go to see one of these cats. You might then be so attracted that you would want to become one of its breeders in the future."

The Siamese were found in seal, blue and chocolate. Chocolate was relatively recent, turning up as sports in Siamese breeding programs. Soderberg noted that he could not even hazard a guess as to what other colours would turn up! He noted that the Siamese found in the 1950s cat fancy was very different from the cats originally seen in the 1885 at the Crystal Palace: "Siamese cats are now rare in their own country, and that those which have developed in this country after nearly seventy years of selective breeding are very different from the original importations."

"There was a time when Siamese were considered to be delicate, as was only natural since they came to a climate much more rigorous than that to which they were accustomed, but to-day they are the hardiest of creatures. This statement does not imply that all Siamese are hardy and produce and rear kittens without trouble. Even until comparatively recently some breeders believed that artificial heat was essential during the winter, but the necessity of war years proved that theory to be entirely false. Faults this cat certainly has, for it is an arrant thief and unless well trained will pay too much claw attention to cherished furniture."

MERY ON THE SHORTHAIR 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. As a matter of fact, of the other breeds apart from these two only the grey Chartreux and the white-gloved Burmese [now known as the Birman] were known, and just barely, at that time. This was very inadequate. Moreover, there were too few examples of these known breeds to ensure enough participants in the subsequent shows. So the common cat was given his patent of nobility. As well be hanged for a sheep as a lamb: he became the “European cat” […]In less than a quarter of a century fanciers have agreed and acknowledged officially that there are long-haired and short-haired cats. The second group, short-haired cats, comprises: Chartreux (blue-grey), Russian blues, Abyssinians, Manx cats, Burmese, Siamese, and the ever-increasing range of Europeans (which he described as common cats that had been raised up): white, cream-coloured, tortoise-shell and white, mottled, striped and ringed. In fifty years’ time, what will remain of this eclectic register? Will breeds like the Kmer, bred from Siameses and Persians, revert to one or other original breed? And will the pseudo-Burmese cat, which comes of a Siamese father and an unknown mother, succeed in establishing itself? Not that it is of much consequence. These two breeds are bound to have stirred up a number of controversies all the same, and the most important result - to arouse interest on behalf of all cats -will have been achieved." he describes the grey-blue Russian cat as having "nothing in common with the so-called Tobolskan" cat with its medium-long reddish hair".

He also noted the near collapse of the Manx breed (due to breeding rumpy-to-rumpy) "The export demand for [Manx] cats having trebled and quadrupled before the war, the people of the Isle of Man were disturbed to realize one day that the breed was regressing. The litters were becoming rarer; and in such or such a line the third generation of young would be rickety, and the fourth, 80 per cent of the time, born dead. A rival then came to the fore: an absurd “Stumpy” which, with all the qualities of a real Manx cat, had - as yet imperceptible, but there beyond a doubt - the pretentious tip of a tail. The breeders got together, forming an association at once. This defence syndicate took up arms, and since then all the shows and national markets have displayed genuine, self-respecting Manxes - black, white, grey, striped, streaked or tabby, with the tail as it should be (that is, completely non-existent)."

Of hairless cats (in addition to the lost Mexican hairless, these had occurred through mutation in France) "It is true that completely naked cats also exist: cats without fur, among which we have succeeded in determining a strange mutation linked to a recessive gene. Did the race of hairless cats actually exist in Mexico? Did it originate from the short-haired cats of Paraguay? This is not beyond the realms of possibility, as these hairless cats are not initially bare; they do not come into the world so, as Andre Sécat has pointed out. Initially they have a covering of down, which falls out after the first week. Afterwards there is another growth of down, which lasts for two months: time for the kittens to be weaned and sufficiently developed to survive. In its turn, this thin coat falls out during the next few weeks. When the cats have attained the age of six months, they are then, but then only, hairless cats, perfectly smooth-skinned. Are they beautiful? That is a different matter. But should you be tempted to possess one, it would be useless to look for it on the market. There are no hairless cats professionally bred. They are simply a curiosity of creation."

“Now we come to something new in France: the so-called Abyssinian cat which actually comes from England. Why this name? The Abyssinian Embassy is able to shed no light on the matter. There are no Abyssinian cats on the shores of the Negus. But this is of no consequence. The breed so-called has so many qualities, so much beauty, such gentleness and charm, that it represents, in my humble opinion, the perfect cat […] a cat such as every household would want to own, if only the present-day breeders could succeed in producing them in large numbers, at reasonable prices.” Mery remarked upon the similarity of the Abyssinian to cats depicted in ancient Egyptian art and adds “The very coat that he has adopted for his reincarnation is not a cat’s Coat: he has a rabbit’s fur. As a matter of fact, he is sometimes called “Cunny” or “ cat-bunny “. The English describe him as “ticked” or “flecked “; and this chief characteristic also taking the genus-name “agouti“ (and being rather prevalent among other wild animals) might well denote a return to what we like to regard as the true cat of our ancestors, the original of the domestic cat. What if the Abyssinian did come to England straight from Africa in 1868? Or what if he is really the offspring of a female cat of Kaffraria and a common alley-tom? What if this fact was established by Mr. Brooke in 1920? Whether this newcomer in the feline firmament is the result of chance or of exceptional selection is of little importance. What is significant is that this cat revives forgotten characteristics, a combination of felicitous points that make of him, genuinely or accidentally, a kind of masterpiece. We do know that it is impossible to predict, without the definite approval of experts as sincere as they are knowledgeable, if a male and female apparently belonging to this breed will definitely produce Abyssinian offspring. We know that, though this beautiful “rediscovered” cat is extremely delicate, he could become one of the hardiest cats tomorrow. If only the breeders can resist the desire to breed him carelessly, just to meet the immediate demand, and so injuring the breed in commercializing it at short notice.”

SODERBERG ON SHORTHAIRED BREEDS (1958)

The information for the "British Short-Hairs" section of Soderberg's "Pedigree Cats" was provided by the Rev Basil Rees, an expert on British Shorthairs.

Soderberg noted that the history of the British Shorthair could not be traced and that it was once believed to be the result of taming the once numerous indigenous wild cat [now called the Scottish Wildcat]. By 1958 it was generally accepted that the Romans had introduced the domestic cat and that it had interbred with the wild cat. In the Middle Ages, the British domestic cat was comparatively rare and highly valued, while the wild cat was much more numerous at that time. The wildcats were killed off [Soderberg did not mention the mongrelization of wildcats with the introduced domestic cat] and domestic shorthairs became more common though an interest in pedigree cats did not appear until the beginning of cat shows in the 19th Century.

The British Shorthair was considered a good animal for exhibition as it was placid, rarely perturbed by being penned or handled by a strange and easier to groom and prepare for exhibition than were Longhairs. In spite of this, British Shorthairs were less popular than other breeds (meaning showy Longhairs and exotic-looking Siamese) and less valuable. Soderberg wrote that this was firstly because the British Shorthair was not being bred near to perfection, with breeders seeming content to go only so far to establish numerous different varieties, but not developing the varieties to an ideal form. Secondly, many breeders were disinclined to keep studs and without a number of good quality studs in each breed, progress was difficult or impossible. In the 1950s there was also the erroneous idea that there were no pedigree British cats and that there were so few British cats of good quality that there was no point in new breeders taking up the breeding of British Shorthairs. Soderberg refuted these beliefs by stating that the word ‘pedigree’ meant ‘a line of ancestors’ and "any cat, a record of whose ancestral line exists, is a ‘pedigree cat’" but went on to state that within the Cat Fancy a 'pedigree cat' meant one with a sound pedigree; meaning that the animal had been bred from parents and grandparents of the same type.

"Now what about British Short-hairs? There are some which are literally only pedigree cats in the sense that they have been produced by parents different in breed, but each parent has a known ancestry. They may have been crossed with long-hairs, or even foreign short-hairs, and while in such cases the pedigree is known and may be registered, it cannot be considered sound for the particular variety. On the other hand, there are some cats of good pedigree whose breeding has been ‘sound’ for many generations."

The lack of first-rate specimens of the different varieties of British Shorthair meant that the public considered British cats as "just ordinary" cats, however, the ‘ordinary’ cat was (according to Soderberg) a cross-bred Britisher which bore little similarity to the pure British Shorthair. "Most owners of household cats have little opportunity of seeing Blues with their marvellous coats and orange eyes, Blacks which are jet from nose to tip of tail, or Whites with their most attractive sapphire eyes and coats showing no signs of marking or even shading, or the more rare Torties with their brilliant patches of black and red, to say nothing of the several breeds of Tabbies with their clear markings standing out upon the ground colour required for the respective breeds - Brown, Red or Silver." The lack of good quality specimens in 1958 meant also that breeders had to build up their own pedigrees by finding "chance-bred" cats that met the British Shorthair standard in "some essential qualities" and was prepared for the occasional throw-backs. The GCCF had a Supplementary Register for the registration of non-pedigree stock that could be used in such breeding programmes. A "reasonably good" queen should be mated to a stud of the same variety and which had been bred from sound stock. The best offspring should then be bred to other good studs of the same variety.

"It is generally unwise to seek an outcross outside the breed, and many breeds have been spoiled in the past, and are still being spoiled, by such crossing with different varieties. It stands to reason that if one breed is crossed with another, it is very likely that the resulting kittens may not be typical of either breed, and this fact is particularly apparent in the crossing of the short-haired and long-haired breeds. A short-hair cat should be a real short-hair and a long-hair cat a long-hair for both type and coat, and a combination of the two will not produce results which are satisfactory unless the fancier is prepared to undertake a great deal of experimental breeding over a period of years."

"It cannot be denied that occasionally it may be possible to find a good specimen in a cross-bred litter, and it may even win on the show bench, but it is afterwards, when breeding starts with such a winner, that the trouble may become apparent. The fancier who adopts this cross-breeding will undoubtedly get ‘throw-backs’ which should mean that such a kitten is not retained as a breeding queen or stud. Furthermore, he will not know what progress has been made, and when such an animal is sold, the buyer may later be dissatisfied, which will do a disservice to the breed, for it may be handicapping another breeder who is trying to raise good stock. The crossing of two breeds in some cases may occasionally be justified, but when it does take place it must always be regarded as experimental breeding, and this type of breeding is always best left to the fancier of long experience."

Soderberg went on to describe the British Shorthair as neither long-bodied like Siamese nor cobby like Longhairs. One of the chief failings was a head and nose that was too long. The coat was described as ‘hard’ (not woolly) and really short, since a semi-short coat would spoil an otherwise sound specimen. Coat type was evidently another failing at that time. Compared to the detailed descriptions of Longhairs, the descriptions of British Shorthairs were terse.

Black Shorthair

"The short-hair Black is a popular cat, for apart from its attractive appearance, there is also the fact that black cats are even now considered to be lucky." However, breeding a perfect black was difficult as the coat must be jet black from root to tip with no rustiness and no white hairs. Kittens tended to be brownish, making it hard to assess their quality. Even when the correct coat colour was achieved, many blacks failed in eye colour, having green eyes rather than the mandated deep copper or orange.

White Shorthair

The short-hair White was comparatively rare in spite of being no harder to breed than the other colours. The probable reasons for its comparative lack of popularity were deafness and the difficulty in keeping the coat clean. "However, most cats are careful about keeping themselves clean, and the White knows how to look after itself in this respect." The coat must not show the slightest shade of yellow and the only acceptable eye colour was blue, preferably sapphire blue.

Blue Shorthair

"The British Short-hair Blue is definitely popular, and also one of the most beautiful cats in this group, and there have been people who have described it as the aristocrat of British Short-hairs." Although Soderberg consider this generalization a matter of opinion, he noted that some were definitely beautiful creatures and that they were popular household pets - making it surprising that British Blues were not seen more commonly at cat shows.

"For a number of years there has been a tendency to cross the short-hair Blue with the Russian Blue, which has been to the detriment of both varieties, for their physical characteristics and also their type of coat are essentially different. This British Short-hair Blue has also been crossed from time to time with the Siamese, which is another cat of foreign type, and here again the results have not been satisfactory. The Russian Blue has a wedge-shaped head and green eyes, while the Siamese, which also has the wedge, has blue eyes. On the other hand, some breeders have crossed the British Short-hair Blue with the Blue Long-hair; a cross which is not to the disadvantage of head shape or eye colour of the short-hair, but there is a very great disadvantage in that the progeny carry a coat which is far too long. It is most important that the British Short-hair should have a coat which is, in fact, short."

A medium blue, with no unevenness or signs of markings, was required since extremes of shade detracted from the general appearance. "Even a white hair should count against a cat of this variety, but it has to be admitted that a few white hairs are often found distributed over the coat. Why this should be seems beyond any simple explanation." The required eye colour for British Blues was orange or copper, hence the warnings against crossing it with green-eyed or blue-eyed cats.

Cream Shorthair

"The history of the British Short-hair Cream has been a chequered one, for from year to year the number of these cats in existence varies very considerably. Years ago there were a considerable number of Creams, but the time came when it was almost impossible to find a eat of this variety at all. During recent years, however, a determined attempt has been made by a few breeders to produce this variety in greater numbers." Breeding stock was scarce, though a Cream Shorthair sometimes appeared in the litter of a Tortoiseshell female; though this helped to increase numbers there was the risk of such Creams introducing undesirable faults. The main risk of cream offspring from a tortoiseshell female was barring on the legs and a ringed tail, though Soderberg admitted that the risk was worth taking.

The colour had to be a rich shade with no sign of redness, nor of white on any part of the coat. "Strangely enough, the official Standard permits eye colour to be either copper or hazel. The allowing of an alternative colour must be a relic of the latitude which was essential in the early days when it was very difficult to produce cats of this body colour at all."

Tortoiseshell Shorthair

This was a comparatively rare variety, but especially useful as they produced Black, Red and Tortie offspring. "Perhaps the most remarkable fact about this variety is that although males are occasionally born, they are very rare indeed, and generally these few are infertile, although at least one Tortoiseshell male has become the father of a family. It is obvious that there must be some lethal factor connected with this particular coat pattern, although at present there is no certainty as to what this factor really is."

"The Tortie coat is made up of three colours -black (or blue) and two distinct shades of red (dark and light). Black is, in fact, much more common than blue."

"From the point of view of breeding, the Tortoiseshell is a most interesting variety, for as there are no males available, it is essential that a stud of one of the colours displayed in the coat shall be chosen. From this it will follow that the resulting litter will probably contain kittens which are dissimilar in appearance with coats which may be broken for colour, or, on the other hand, they may be Selfs. In many cases there will not be a single Tortoiseshell in the family at all, and a litter exhibited a few years ago consisted of two Creams, one Blue and one Black, just, as it were, to prove this point."

"The Tortoiseshell is a patched cat, and not one in which the three different-coloured hairs are mingled as is the case with the Blue-Cream. Each patch must be distinct and of good size, and should contain no hairs of either of the other two colours, and certainly no white hairs. Any brindling of the colours, which often does occur, is a definite fault." The coat should be evenly patched, without one or other colour predominating. The eye colour could be either orange, copper or hazel.

Tortoiseshell-and-White Shorthair

"With this variety the same basic colours are demanded as for the Tortoiseshell, but white patches are added. In this variety also the patches must be solid, and no tabby markings should ever be seen on any part of the body."

Brown Tabby Shorthair

Apart from mentioning the importance of the correct pattern on a uniform background colour of rich sable or brown and lamenting the problem of scattered white hairs, the main comment on this variety was "the eye colour can be orange, hazel, deep yellow or even green. Were there more cats of this variety, it is likely that the Standard would demand one eye colour alone." Perhaps the brown tabby shorthair was too similar to the commonplace tabby housepet to attract many followers in the 1950s.

Red Tabby Shorthair

The Red Tabby was described as one of the most attractive short-hairs and "must not be confused with the light red-brown cat which is commonly seen and is called a ‘ginger’. The true Red Tabby is a variety in its own right, and for show purposes must display distinct markings as well as a definite background colour." The problems was of well defined darker red markings on a rich red background colour. "So many of the kittens which are bred do not show any marked distinction of colour. The required definition is more often than not spoiled by a blending of the shades so that the breeder who can produce a Red Tabby of real quality will have done something which is a great achievement. Eye colour is hazel or orange."

Silver Tabby Shorthair

This variety was more popular than the brown tabby and easier to produce specimens with well-defined markings than in the red tabby. "During the past few years a most praiseworthy attempt has been made to increase the popularity of the Silver Tabby by producing specimens which conform more closely to the official Standard, and although it must be admitted that real success has not yet been achieved, obvious strides have been made towards a cat of better type as well as markings. The real trouble is that so few breeders have taken up the Silver Tabby and have then persisted with it. ... Considerable success has been achieved with the shade and evenness of the ground colour, but most specimens still fail in both the density of markings and their correct placing. Very frequently indeed it will be found that an otherwise good specimen fails because of ugly ringing on the tail. As with all British Short-hairs, the eyes should be round and bold, but the colour in this variety must be green."

SODERBERG ON FOREIGN SHORTHAIRS (1958)

The author noted at the beginning of the chapter that the heading referred to a type of cat, and ‘foreign’ must be accepted in that sense.

Russian Blue

"The word ‘Russian’ here has a very definite connotation, but probably nowadays it should not be regarded as any indication that this particular breed of cat, in the form that it is at present exhibited, is or ever was a breed native to Russia. What is quite clear is that the first cats of this particular type which were definitely imported did, in fact, come from Russia. There is, however, not the slightest proof that they were ever bred deliberately in that country, or that they were ever anything other than just a Blue Short-hair, the result of natural breeding among household pets. Sometimes the name ‘Archangel’ has been applied to this breed instead of the word ‘Russian’, but the former name was only used in the early days, and to-day the term ‘Archangel Blue’ is no longer officially recognized. There is very good reason to believe that the word ‘Archangel’ signifies that the first blue cat of this particular type was brought home from Archangel by British sailors ; the fact that sailors are fond of cats on their ships is indisputable, as is also the fact that there was regular trade with the Baltic port of Archangel."

Whereas the Russian Blue had once been interbred with the British Blue (for generic "Blue Shorthair" show classes) to the detriment of both varieties, Soderberg noted that it was very different to the British shorthaired Blue. "The Russian has a long and sinuous body, and particularly is the difference from its British counterpart noticeable in the head, for in the Russian this is of the long and narrow type with a receding forehead so characteristic of several breeds which are known to be of foreign origin." It was also lighter-boned and should have a short, dense, plush-like coat "but unfortunately there are no Russian Blues in this country to-day which excel in this respect of coat quality. Undoubtedly very few cats of this particular type were ever imported, and those who were interested in them found it difficult to select suitable mates. The result was that short-haired British Blues were used for crossbreeding, and this crossing of two different types did much to spoil the characteristic appearance of the cat which was called ‘Russian’."

Even its distinctive conformation was in danger of being lost due to crossbreeding. "The Russian Blue is longer in the leg, but it would be very difficult to-day to distinguish the length of leg between so-called Russian Blues and British Short-hairs of the same colour. However, the breed does exist, at least by name, in this country, although it may have lost some of its essential characteristics, and there are a number of breeders who are doing their utmost to restore the true Russian type which is set out in the Standard, and which was established many years ago when the breed was much more typical."

Many Russian Blues still showed evidence of mixed ancestry in their eye colour which was too often tinged with yellow when it should have been pure green. Breeders were still trying to re-establish the original purity of eye colour. "On the Continent the Russian Blue has probably been kept more pure than has been the case in this country, and in several of the Scandinavian countries there are cats of this breed which show the real plush-like coat. Ever since 1945 these countries have been able to produce cats of better type than have been shown in Britain. There is here a solution for British breeders, although it would present considerable difficulties, largely due to the problem of quarantine. To import several of these typical Russians from the Continent would have the result of improving our own stock."

In fact the only point on which Russian Blue cats were satisfactory was in coat colour! In their attempts to improve the conformation, breeders were crossbreeding Russian blues to other cats with the desired type: "At the moment various experiments are being undertaken by crossing Russian Blues with other breeds of foreign type, including the Siamese, but the results have not always been entirely satisfactory. For the present, therefore, breeders will have to concentrate on selective breeding from the best Russian Blues available in this country as well as using any useful progeny from these foreign crosses. Anyone who really wishes to be successful would be most unwise to cross out again to the British Blue, as has been done so often in the past, for the result of this method of breeding would only be to make the task of improvement even more difficult." A drawback of crossing with Siamese cats was that Russian Blues were known to be very quiet cats while Siamese were quite the opposite.

Manx

"Although the Manx cat, because of its supposed eastern, is frequently placed in the group called ‘foreign cats’, it has been bred in these islands, and particularly in the Isle of Man, for so long that the time has perhaps come when it should be regarded as a British cat of unusual type. On the other hand, there is at least one characteristic, with another which is not so obvious, which together make this variety very different from the normal type of British Short-hair, so that it is difficult to know how it should really be classified." The supposed "eastern origin", now known to be erroneous, was due to similarities with the bobtailed cats of Japan and Thailand.

A Manx had a large, round head and, in comparison to the ordinary British Shorthair, the nose was longer and the cheeks more prominent, but the face should not tend to snipiness. Soderberg noted "a ‘foreign’ type of head, such as that of the Siamese, would have to be regarded as a most serious fault. Compared with the normal British cat, the ears of the Manx are wider at the base, and then taper upwards towards a point, but they should definitely not be rounded."

The outstanding feature of the Manx was its complete lack of tail and the hollow at the end of the spine where tail should have begun. "In a first-class specimen it will be found that a hollow is present in which the clenched fist can be placed." Its taillessness and the prominence of its hindquarters gained it the nickname of "Rumpy". Only the tailless cats were considered to be true Manx.

"Taillessness must be regarded in its origin as a deformity, and unfortunately it often seems to produce unsatisfactory consequences when two true Manx cats are bred together. If this practice is carried out generation after generation, the breeder will become convinced that this congenital lack of tail is also in some way allied to a lethal factor which causes many young kittens to die, some of them even before birth. It has been noticed that this breed has never been prolific, but more intelligent methods of breeding in the future may produce results which are more satisfactory with regard to size of litters. Even when true Manx pairs are mated together, it is most unlikely that the resultant litter will contain all kittens without any vestige of a tail. The breeder will often find that one kitten may have a short tail (such a kitten is known as a ‘Stumpy ‘), while another may have a very definite tail, even if by ordinary standards it must be regarded as short. Probably the best method to adopt in breeding Manx is to cross a true Manx with a Stumpy, for from this cross the litter is likely to be considerably larger as well as being more virile."

"In the good specimen the hindquarters will be perceptibly higher than the shoulders. It is from a point just behind the nape of the neck that the back starts to rise, and the fact that this is the case means that the hind legs are longer than those in front. From this difference in length of leg the peculiar gait of the breed arises, and it is as a result of this that the Manx has been called the ‘Rabbit cat’. On a number of occasions it has been stated with apparent seriousness that this variety was, in fact, first produced by crossing a rabbit with a cat, but any such statements can be regarded as sheer nonsense. ... Another peculiar feature of the Manx is the type of coat which is ‘double’. This means that it has a very thick but soft undercoat, and another thick coat of longer hairs as well. This’ double’ coat is also found in the rabbit, but it would be unwise to stress further this likeness or the old legend may be revived."

"Taillessness, height of hindquarters, shortness of back and depth of flank are essentials in a Manx cat, as only with them is combined the true rabbity or hopping gait. ... Finally, gait, arising from the combination referred to in the opening sentence, is of primary importance." The rabbity gait considered to be the most important characteristic in Soderberg's time has since been dropped from the standard as it was related to more serious spinal problems. These days it would be penalised.

Abyssinian

"If the name Abyssinian conveys the impression that this is a breed of cat native to Abyssinia, then the idea thus created is false, for as far as is known at present, there never has been any particular breed native to that country, and it is unlikely that one has ever existed. The name originated undoubtedly from the fact that the first cat of this type was imported into England after the Abyssinian War, and actually from Abyssinia, by the wife of a serving officer. Mrs Lennard ... brought the cat with her on her return to England in 1869. The appearance of this cat was unusual, and attempts were made to create from it a breed which would show the essential characteristics of such a cat which was so obviously foreign. Many of the steps which were taken to achieve this object are now unknown, but it seems to be almost a certainty that the Abyssinian which we know to-day is the result of cross-breeding with the cats native to this country. Such a breeding policy obviously has its disadvantages, for it must have been perfectly clear to those who saw the first Abyssinian that it was entirely different in type from the English native cat."

Although the breed was quite obviously not of British type, "How the so-called ‘Abyssinian’ type first emerged is anyone’s guess, and it would be quite impossible now to trace back the steps which produced the single cat which was imported in 1869, as would also be the case with other probable importations at a later date. One thing is certain, that the breed in its original form first came from the African continent, and one specimen at least from the Kingdom of Abyssinia. That is indeed very little information, but it will have to suffice. As there was no native breed in Abyssinia, this particular cat must have been one of the many varieties bound to occur among cats which breed indiscriminately among themselves, and when there is no attempt at scientific production of a particular shape or type. It is also clear from illustrations in the British Museum and elsewhere that the type of the Abyssinian of to-day, or rather the type for which modern breeders strive, is very similar to that of cats which were known and used for various domestic purposes in Egypt as long ago as the Middle Kingdom, which runs back to some fifteen hundred years before .the birth of Christ.

Since its introduction into this country, and from the time that attempts were made to turn it into a distinct breed, the Abyssinian cat has had a somewhat chequered history, for the simple reason that there were cats in existence in Britain which had ticked coats. There were also other British cats which possessed the red colour which is an essential characteristic of the Abyssinian. No doubt some of these ticked British cats, which were known as Ticks or Bunny cats, when crossed with the rufous-coloured Abyssinian, maintained these two qualities, but unfortunately introduced a different type of bone structure, and this meant that the Abyssinian type was lost. As ticking and the red colour were unusual in combination, it followed that there were also added to the coat colours which were undesirable, and others removed which were required."

Regardless of its origins, by the 1950s, the Abyssinian should not to show any sign of crossbreeding with cats of British type i.e. no cobbiness or round head. Its ticked colour was, however, its most prominent characteristic. "It has been said that the coat of the Abyssinian is similar to that of the rabbit but, in fact, the ground colour of the Abyssinian is much more red than the fur of any rabbit, and where in the case of the rabbit there is usually only single ticking, in the best Abyssinians double or even treble ticking can be found. Unfortunately, even to-day there are Abyssinians which show only single ticking, and when this is the case, it is almost certain that this type of hair is the result of a comparatively recent cross with some British cat in which there happened to be no ticking at all."

"It has also been said that this manufactured breed of Abyssinian which, nevertheless, originated from foreign stock, is shy and retiring, but those who make such remarks can have had little practical experience of the breed, for it is the most friendly of cats, and is prepared to accept at face value all whom it feels intuitively are worthy of appreciation." It was also described as dearly loving its freedom and resenting any restriction on this.

The Abyssinian had plenty of interesting character traits as well. "Nothing is more fascinating than to watch an Abyssinian retrieving a small object with almost as much skill as any dog. Its paws are expressive in that they are used in various ways to show its feelings. It will clasp the person who is holding it with its paws almost as if in an embrace. It will feel objects first with the paws, whereas many another cat would investigate the object with its nose first. With its paws, too, it has a most amusing habit of picking up small objects from the floor and conveying them to its mouth or nose for further, and much closer, investigation."

In spite of this it remained a minority breed. "In this country the Abyssinian cat has never come into the group which could be called ‘popular’, and at no time since its first introduction has there been a large number of specimens available, and the maximum at any one time would not have exceeded a hundred by any appreciable extent." This was partly due to small litter sizes and also to "the early days when indiscriminate crossing produced coats which were silver instead of red, or ‘rufous‘, to use the correct term, it was inevitable that there should be confusion as to what was either the correct type or precisely the right colour. For a time all ticked cats which had even the smallest drop of so-called Abyssinian blood in them seem to have been regarded as being Abyssinian and were shown as such. These must have been critical days, and it was only by the efforts of a few enthusiasts that eventually the Abyssinian stood on its own as a cat which combined particular type, colour and markings, all three of which were equally important."

By 1958, many Abyssinians fell far below the official Standard. The small number of studs available at any one time made it hard to improve the breed especially as most of the studs apparently showed the very faults that breeders wanted to eliminate. This resulted in extensive inbreeding (perhaps the cause of the small litter size), but still no great improvement. "There are to-day, in various parts of the world, breeders who are trying to eliminate the faults of the breed by the judicious use of out-crosses." Some used shorthiars native to their own country while others used cats with the required conformation albeit not the required colour or pattern.

"It is true to say that the Abyssinian as we know it to-day originated in England, and although it has achieved a considerable popularity in the United States, it has only been there for little more than a quarter of a century. Despite this fact, great progress has been made in the New World with British stock, and were it not for the fact that the quarantine laws make it so difficult to import stock from foreign countries into Britain, it would be possible to improve our own breed by using American-bred cats. As it is, probably many of the best cats produced in this country are, in fact, exported, but there is little possibility of new blood coming in. In the last two decades the countries of continental Europe have also become interested in the Abyssinian, and in several of them very creditable specimens have been shown from time to time."

The Standard demanded no bars or other markings except for a dark spine line permissible on otherwise good specimens. Unfortunately, outcrossing had introduced distinct tabby markings on the legs and tail. "The short-haired Red Tabby has been used in the past as an outcross, but unfortunately the barring here is so strong that it continues to turn up after several generations, and by the time that the markings have been removed, it is probable that the value of the cross will have been lost." The chief fault with 1950s Abyssinians was a white chin and the white necklace. Breeders had done everything that they could think of to get rid of the dominant white chin and though they sometimes produced cats with colour chins, they had not managed ruddy brown chins. There was no excuse for the white necklace, a narrow band or several bands, across the chest. "These bands now seem to have been bred into the Abyssinian, and immediate steps should be taken to remove them, as in time it will be almost impossible to do so."

"During the past ten years great progress has been made in improving the Abyssinian cat, and also in increasing its popularity, and there is every reason to believe that in the years ahead it will occupy a more prominent position than it has done in the past, except for one short period. Unfortunately breeders have found that amongst the kittens born there is normally a preponderance of males, and this means that progress may not be as rapid as those fanciers who are attached to the breed would desire."

Siamese

By 1958 there were three distinct recognised varieties of Siamese: the seal-point, the blue-point and the chocolate-point and several other colours were being developed. Soderberg noted that the distinctive Siamese, for a long time known as the Royal Cat of Siam, was actually from Siam, but "One point, however, must be made clear. It is that even in Siam this particular type was not common, and certainly could not in any way be regarded as the breed native to the country. To-day the position is just the same, and visitors to Siam who expect to see Siamese cats roaming the streets will be disappointed, for there are far fewer Siamese there than there are in many European countries. … it has been suggested on a number of occasions that cats of this pattern appeared in various countries. Nevertheless, from the evidence that is available at present, it is almost certain that this strange mutation did first occur in Siam, or somewhere very near by, and not in the eastern steppes of Russia, no matter how interesting such a theory might be. … It would be most interesting to know when this mutation first appeared, but it is probably impossible now to collect sufficient evidence to fix even an approximate date, but one early chronological fact is accepted, for it is known that the Siamese cat with its characteristic pattern was recognized as a distinct type in Siam as early as 1830, more than fifty years before it was first imported into this country." A poem of 1830 spoke of cats with dark masks and points.

Soderberg recounted the first importations into Britain in 1884 when Pho and Mia were obtained from the Royal Palace of Bangkok by Mr Owen Gould, a British Resident in Bangkok, as a present for his sister. They were first shown at the Crystal Palace in 1885 and attracted enough attention that more were imported. "So great was their early popularity that towards the end of the 1880s it was not at all unusual for nearly a dozen Siamese to appear in the two classes arranged for them at the Crystal Palace Show." The original imports were Seal-Point Siamese. Soderberg noted that Blue-Pointed Siamese, first bred in England in 1894, had appeared in Siam at a considerably earlier period, "although if reports which have been handed down [in England] can be believed, this colour was regarded as being not only unusual but also unworthy of being retained." Far more recently, the Chocolate-Pointed Siamese was recognize. "This rather unusual colour variation had been known in this country for a long time, but it was not accepted very readily here because so many fanciers regarded this new shade not as a mutation but rather the colour shown by a badly-coloured Seal. However, there was really no adequate reason for this situation, as a Siamese called Prince of Siam was imported from Siam itself in 1897, and it was undoubtedly this stud which had much to do with the appearance of the occasional Chocolate-Pointed variety in this country because he did, in fact, carry this colour modification." At that time, the Chocolate-Point was still rare because of early prejudice against it.

The conformation had changed greatly from the 1880s. "Those who see illustrations of the early imported cats, and take the trouble to compare them with the show specimens to-day, will be struck by the great change in overall appearance which has been produced by careful breeding. The early cats which came direct from Siam were much more round in head, and were certainly darker in coat. As far as one can find out from the reports made at the time, all these early Siamese had kinked tails, and a few of them had tails which were not only kinked but were definitely deformed, and sometimes so short that the tail could be regarded as being almost a corkscrew or a mere stump. Any Siamese which showed the same quality of tail to-day would stand no chance of winning prizes at shows, for although a kink, provided that it is small and at the very tip of the tail, does not count as a disqualification, the tail must still be long and tapering."

"It seems strange that after an initial popularity, immediately on its introduction into England, this breed seemed to decline, and if show catalogues are a true guide, the numbers fell away very rapidly." One reason was that early specimens were delicate. "Quite a number of the cats introduced in the last quarter of the nineteenth century died very shortly after their arrival. It was found that they were unable to stand up to the English climate with its characteristic cold and damp." They also produced small litters and breeders had problems rearing even those few kittens to maturity. Hindsight suggests that the real culprit was severe inbreeding from a small number of imports; this would account for delicacy, immune problems and small litters. As more were imported (and perhaps through some early outcrosses to short-hairs) the Siamese became much hardier so that Soderberg could write "The Siamese has become so thoroughly acclimatized that it has, in fact, almost become a British cat." The idea still lingered that the Siamese needed artificial heat during the winter, but this was not true although the cats certainly enjoyed basking in front of a fire, on radiators "almost too hot for the human hand to bear" and in the sun.

"The character of the Siamese is essentially different from that of almost any other breed. In many ways it gives the impression that it is much more highly strung, and it is for this reason that it is not unusual to use the word ‘temperamental’ when referring to its character." Its distinctive character - intelligent, companionable and chatty - made it extremely popular throughout the British Commonwealth and in the USA. "[Siamese cats] talk, sometimes far too much, in an endeavour to express their wishes by using their own peculiar form of speech. Those who have kept them may have found it difficult to understand the meaning of their many different tones and cadences, but they will know when they have fulfilled the cat’s desire, for then the talking will cease, at least temporarily … It is extremely difficult to live within earshot of a Siamese queen [on heat] chanting her love songs. Fortunately the lady often loses her voice after several days of continuous vocal effort."

On the negative side, Soderberg noted that the Siamese was a bad patient and apt to become overwhelmingly depressed when ill, though this should not lead anyone to believe that Siamese cats were essentially delicate. Extra warmth was needed while rearing Siamese kittens and Soderberg warned that Siamese cats were liable to catch feline infectious enteritis. "No cat could be more ashamed of being unwell than a Siamese, and if in times of illness it receives that little bit of extra encouragement from its owner, it will put up just as great a fight for life as a cat of any breed." Another drawback, accoring to Soderberg, was that Siamese cats often did not get along with long-haired cats and if the two types were kept together there was immediate and continuous friction. However, the assumption that Siamese cats could not get on well with other breeds was denied. The problem was that Siamese cats were much more likely to express their resentment of newcomers rather than sulk quietly! "Generally speaking, ‘their spit is worse than their scratch’ ". Once they had taken a dislike to another animal, they were not likely to change that attitude, but careful introductions could prevent such problems arising.

The Seal point Siamese had the best conformation though to some people "there seems to be a hint of quaintness". The head was to be wedge-shaped in profile and when viewed from the front, it should create an impression of a marten type of face. "It is not unusual to find that the contour of the face is spoilt because the sides of the cheeks are not straight enough, for the bone seems to curve in towards the muzzle to produce a pinched appearance, and very often a muzzle that looks too wide. This is a definite fault, and one which judges comment on frequently, so it is to be hoped that breeders will try to eradicate it. … There has been a tendency in modern times for Siamese to become heavier in bone than is really desirable, and the result of this development has been that on the show bench cats of this breed which give the appearance of coarseness are often seen. Coarseness and Siamese type should be almost a contradiction in terms."

White toes were also a problem in the breed and would result in disqualification on the show-bench. Another problem was a kinked tail or a tail that was too thick at the point where it joined the body. "A good deal of argument has been carried on over a great many years with regard to the kink at the tip of the Siamese tail, and it will no doubt continue for many more years. A kink is, in fact, characteristic of many cats which come from the Orient, and all the first importations of Siamese had tails which showed this skeletal deformity. To-day the majority of breeders prefer a tail which is straight to the very tip with not even the sllghtest hint of deformity. The official Standard, however, allows a slight kink, but it stipulates that this should only be at the very tip of the tail. Perhaps the best way of denoting a kink which can be regarded as permissible is that it should be one that can be felt but cannot be seen, but many a breeder would disagree with this easy definition."

Correct eye colour was another issue: "The concentration on [depth of eye colour] allows the introduction of other qualities which are not considered to be desirable. Thus, it sometimes happens that cats with the most brilliant eye colour have dark coats and even pinched faces which spoil the general appearance. It is unfortunate, but it must be accepted as a fact, that there is a definite connexion between eye colour, colour of points and body colour. Thus, brilliant eye colour is likely to accompany dense points, but there is also the possibility that the coat will be darker than is considered desirable."

The loss of correct setting of the eye was a worry in the 1950s: "The Siamese is an Oriental breed, and there is no doubt that the first cats of this breed which came to England had almond-shaped eyes, an appearance which was definitely due to the bone structures surrounding the eye. It was the conformation of the eye socket which produced the apparent slanting of the eye towards the nose. This Oriental type of eye is to-day much less commonly seen than was the case some twenty or thirty years ago, and it is definitely one of the physical characteristics upon which breeders should concentrate, for the bold, round-eyed Siamese loses its essentially foreign quality."

"Most Siamese are very pale on the underside, and here the colour may be as pale as an off-white, but some of them also have on the belly a dark spot of colour which is of the same shade as the points. Although this is certainly not a disqualification, it is a blemish, and should be regarded as a fault. On a number of occasions it has decided between two cats which in other respects were equally good." Soderberg warned that kittens were born creamy white with a greyish cast to the coat. The mask was first to develop, then the ears and tail became coloured. By eight weeks, all the points were coloured, but the colour was not the adult colour and the extent of colour was incomplete (especially on the head). The front legs were last to acquire full colour, resulting in show reports on young adult Siamese that the "stocking are still too pale". By 1958, the coat quality was often too coarse in texture and lacked the required sheen; this was a problem when the cats developed their winter coat and a good reason for keeping them inside in the warmth so that they did not grow such a thick winter coat.

"There are a number of breeders who say that the colour of the coat is affected by the conditions of temperature and humidity under which the animal is kept. They state that cats which are kept at the higher temperatures retain a lighter coat than those which are subjected to considerable cold. There may be some truth in this statement, but up to the present there seem to be no indisputable facts which could be regarded as real proof." It would later be found that the Siamese mutations really was temperature-sensitive! "The changing of coat colour would certainly appear to have a definite connexion with age, and some old Siamese are almost a solid dark brown all over. Naturally this darkness and lack of contrast spoils the general impression created by such cats, and it is difficult for them to achieve success on the show bench. … It is a most remarkable fact, however, that some Siamese which become particularly dark in their second or third year, at a later date again develop pale coats. The explanation for this, if it could be found, would be extremely interesting for those breeders who are also keen exhibitors, but this seems to be an individual idiosyncrasy which follows no known rule."

The Blue-Pointed Siamese were not as good in type as the Seal-Points. As a result, the two were bred together and though this improved the conformation of the Blue-Point, the required glacial white body gave way to a fawn body and "it is not unusual to find that the tail again shows clear indications of Seal-Pointed blood." The increasing numbers of good Blue-Points meant that outcrossing to Seal-Points was being discouraged. "A fault sometimes noticed in Blue-Points is that the tail is ringed, and those who know Siamese will realize that a ringed tail is not as attractive as one which is solid in colour from base to tip. How these rings first appeared is difficult to ascertain, but there is a distinct possibility that at some time in the history of this breed the Blue-Pointed Siamese may have been bred to a short-haired Blue cat with some tabby ancestry. The ringed tail is characteristic of cats which fall into the class of tabbies. Whether this theory is correct or not probably no one will ever know, but up to the present no one has been able to explain satisfactorily the original source of this unusual marking." (Possibly it came from colourpointed descendants of crosses between Siamese cats and Russian Blues; the Siamese had been used to improve the Russian Blue which had been extensively bred with British Blues)

The newly recognised Chocolate-Pointed Siamese existed in small numbers due to earlier prejudices against them as being "bad Seal-Points". The point colour was being standardised at ivory with milk-chocolate points though there was a problem of the ears being too dark and the body being "old ivory" i.e. too dark. Outcrossing to Seal-Points or Blue-Points was not recommended. Another new colour variety being developed at that time in America was the Red-Pointed Siamese, called Red Conchas by one breeder, although Soderberg wrote "it is almost certain that eventually the name Red-Pointed Siamese will be used for this variety". During the development of the Red-Point, the Tortoiseshell-Pointed Siamese was also produced, but very little work had been done with this colour, although some had been exhibited. "In America, too, there is another variety which is called the Frost-Pointed Siamese in which the markings, although clearly defined, are very pale, and according to the reports received from that country, the actual shade is a very pale blue-grey. Quite recently one breeder at least in Great Britain has produced cats of Siamese pattern in which the points are said to be lilac."

"Anyone who has any scientific knowledge at all knows that it is quite possible for the points of Siamese cats to assume a number of different colours, and experimental work along these lines is both interesting and valuable, but it is to be hoped that experimental breeders will not try to get such new breeds recognized too quickly. None of these new colours has so far received official recognition, and it is most important that any new colour should become firmly established, with a considerable number of specimens available, before official recognition is even sought. Most of the new colours have been produced by crossing Siamese with short-haired British cats, and as a consequence type has been lost and must be restored before any new variety can be seriously considered. A true Siamese cat has not only particular markings but also very definitely a characteristic type for both head and body."

The first Siamese Cat Club had been founded in 1901 and by 1958 was probably the largest specialist cat club in the world with a membership approaching 700. Some years after the formation of the first club, the Siamese Cat Club of the British Empire was formed. The 2 clubs worked harmoniously together. By 1958, specialist clubs existed for the Blue Points and for the Chocolate Points.

Burmese

The Burmese, a comparatively new breed in 1958, was another cat of foreign type which was the result of careful breeding though short-haired brown cats were known in Burma and also in the north of Siam, and Soderberg considered it more than probable that cats of that colour and type were used as part of the foundation stock. The brown cats of Burma were not bred intentionally, but were the result of natural mating though they were apparently not very common in their own country and no one in that part of the world had considered it worthwhile to breed them selectively. Soderberg omitted to mention that "Brown Siamese" with golden eyes had been known since the end of the 19th Century and had been documented by Frances Simpson in 1901. "However, one of these brown Burmese cats was taken to the United States, and it was at once considered to be attractive. It was foreign in type and very reminiscent in contour of the Siamese which had been popular in that country for a good many years. As, however, at the beginning there was only one of these brown Burmese cats available, it was decided that it should be crossed with a Siamese and then, by selective breeding, a strain should be produced which would conform to a definite Standard which, although similar in many respects to that of Siamese, was in others entirely different."

Burmese were first introduced into England by Mr and Mrs Sydney France of Derby (noted Siamese fanciers) whose perseverance resulted in its recognition by the GCCF. The earliest specimens, imported from America, had to endure 6 months of quarantine, a strain which did not make the task of acclimatization any easier. After a considerable amount of breeding in England, the Burmese bred true to type. Since those first importss from the USA, other Burmese had been imported, making it "a distinct prospect that the breed will be able to make further progress without too much in-breeding, a breeding method which in the case of cats has been found to be productive of unwelcome results, not the least of which is infertility."

Soderberg noted that English cat fanciers who had both Siamese and Burmese would notice distinct differences between them in temperament "a fact which must be due in no small measure to the original progenitor, which was a true Burmese cat, and did not possess the same highly-strung quality characteristic of so many Siamese." However other qualities of character Siamese and Burmese were very much alike, "but perhaps it is something of a blessing that on the whole Burmese are less vocal than Siamese. They do talk in characteristic Oriental fashion, and ‘calling’ queens can be something of a nuisance, but such females rarely display the same vocal powers as does a female Siamese when she is in season."

Some fanciers had commented on the essential gentleness of the Burmese and that Burmese females were exceptional mothers. A few years previously, there had been only one or two specimens in Britain, making it hard to generalize about their features, but by 1958 there well over a hundred Burmese in the British Isles and Soderberg felt able to comment on the breed characteristics, including its friendliness. "There was a belief which was widely held shortly after Burmese were introduced that they were much more delicate than other cats, but this was entirely false and based upon facts which were so unusual as to be unworthy of credence. The Burmese cat, although it is essentially of foreign type, is not really a cat imported from a tropical country as were both the original Burmese and Siamese. Those Burmese cats which were developed in America naturally became accustomed to a comparatively warm climate, certainly warmer than our own, but they were not accustomed to temperatures which were high all the year round, for even California can have its periods of cold and snow. It was the fact that these cats, when they first came to England, had to spend so long in quarantine, and had no opportunity of living the natural lives which would be afforded to them in private catteries, which led to some losses. This is a breed which is essentially healthy, and no more prone to disease than are cats which have been established in this country for many years."

"The Burmese is a brown cat, but the correct shade of brown should be a really dark seal, although it is inevitable that on the chest and belly the colour will tend to become paler. In this respect, of course, the colour contrast is similar, although very different from, that of the Siamese. The true history of the development of the Burmese cat as a distinct breed can be clearly seen in the coats of kittens, for when they are young, the overall coat colour is much paler, and it is then more easy to see the mask and the points which are so characteristic of Siamese. When the kitten grows older, the full depth of the colour of the coat develops, and the markings tend to disappear, although they never vanish completely. On close inspection it is always possible to see that the mask is slightly darker than the rest of the coat, but it should be regarded as a fault if this distinction can be too clearly seen. The shape of the body and the frame generally should conform closely to that of Siamese type … As is so common with cats which came originally from the Orient, the kinked tail is found in the Burmese as it is in the Siamese. Over a period of years since Siamese were first introduced in 1884, a very definite attempt has been made to breed out this kink, a policy which has not received universal approval, and it is probable that the kink which is now characteristic of the Burmese will tend to suffer the same fate in due course."

Some of the early Burmese which were exhibited were considered too blunt in head, and did not display the wedge which remains the desired type in Britain and Europe (American Burmese have blunt domed heads, much to the detriment of the breed because it resulted in the lethal "Burmese Head Defect" which is not found in the European Burmese). The blunt heads were a fault, though the head was on the whole shorter than that of the modern Siamese and "ought to approach much more closely to the head type of Siamese which were known in this country at the beginning of the present century."

"One really important quality is eye shape, or rather the formation of the bone structure surrounding the eye. This should be oval and of true Oriental type to produce what is officially known as the ‘almond eye’ which slants towards the nose. In this respect Burmese are far better than their cousins from Siam, for over the years the Oriental eye in Siamese has tended to disappear, and as a result one of the greatest charms of the breed has been lost." The only permissible eye colour was yellow.

Soderberg summed up by saying "It is impossible to say now what the future of the Burmese will be in this country because it is a breed of such recent development, but if one can judge from the interest which these cats arouse at the shows, over a period of years there should be a rapidly growing band of fanciers who appreciate the qualities of this new breed. Certainly it is most attractive to the eye with its close-lying, glossy coat and a colour which, when the cat is in good condition, is really beautiful. Undoubtedly as the years pass some breeders will try to introduce other types of body colour, and already Blue Burmese have been mentioned. Whether this is a good thing so early in the history of the breed is something which the club that looks after its interests will have to decide. When the Governing Council first recognized Burmese as a distinct breed and accepted an official Standard for it, this recognition was only granted for a period of two years, but during that time Burmese proved by their true breeding quality that they were worthy of a separate classification, and they are now here to stay. It is to be hoped that the experimental fervour of a few breeders will not try to alter this cat too much from its original shape and colour. Let it remain Burmese. It is recommended that only cats of true Burmese parentage be eligible for Championship status."

In a 1965 Burmese seminar in the USA, it was proposed that the Blue and Champagne Burmese be named "Caucasians" to separate them from the original sable brown Burmese. Apart from colour, they would be judged against the existing Burmese standard of points. This raised a complication because blue-to-blue breeds true and champagne-to-champagne breeds true, but blue-to-champagne produces sable brown. That would mean sable brown "Caucasians" that were identical to sable brown Burmese and were judged to exactly the same standard of points. Eventually common sense prevailed with the acceptance of the new colours as Burmese.

ROSE TENENT ON SHORTHAIRED BREEDS IN THE 1950s

No cat is better known than the British Short-hair. As with the Long-haired varieties, the most popular British Short-hair is the Blue. While breeders recommend the crossing of British Blues with Blacks, they are definitely opposed to mating them with Russian Blues or Blue Persians. This practice, much resorted to in the past, often resulted in progeny either with the wedge-shaped head and/or green eye-colour of the Foreign cat, or with the long coat of the Blue Persian. In the United States the British Blue is known as the Maltese cat, and recently has enjoyed much popularity there as a household pet. On the Continent, too, this cat is becoming increasingly popular, and there its name is the Chartreuse.

With the exception of colour and eye-colour, the Cream Short-hair should conform to the type already described for the British Blue. This is a very attractive cat, but extremely difficult to breed, which probably accounts for its rarity.

Nowadays it is unusual to find any pedigree tabby in the show-pen other than the familiar Silver, Brown, or Red. Some fifty years ago, however, there were many other striped varieties. For example, there was the Black-banded Tabby and the Blue-banded Tabby. There was the Chestnut Tabby and the Chocolate Tabby, as well as the Mackerel Tabby, upon which numerous narrow stripes ran vertically from the spine. But there were also Spotted Tabbies, or Leopard cats. The spotted tabby differed from the striped or banded tabby by having spots instead of pencilings, and the greater the number of spots the better the cat was considered to be. The best-known varieties probably were the Black-spotted Tabby and the Brown-spotted Tabby, but there were several other types, including the Yellow spotted Tabby, the Blue-spotted Tabby, the Red-spotted Tabby, and the Grey-spotted Tabby. All these spotted varieties were distinguished by the ground coloration upon which the spots appeared.

Black cats have always been popular, yet one sees very few really good specimens. In addition to the Black-and-White, or Magpie [...] at one time there was also a White-and-Black variety, a very ornamental creature with white ground coloration and black markings. Although there were never any definite rulings drawn up for this rare breed, uniformity of markings was desirable. For example, a cat might be entirely white with black ears, another specimen might be all white with just a black tail, yet a third perhaps would have black feet - all would be regarded as possible prize-winners. Probably the most attractive White-and-Black cat ever seen was a very rare specimen owned by a Mr. S. Lyon, of Crewe, and the late.Harrison Weir gave it the following description: "The head is white, with a black mark over the eyes and ears which, when looked at from above, presents the appearance of a fleur-de-lis. The body is white, with a distinct black cross on the right side, or rather, more on the back than side. The cross resembles that known as Maltese in form, and is clearly defined. The tail is black, the legs and feet white. Nor does the cat’s claim to notice entirely end here, for, marvellous to relate, it was born on Easter Sunday, AD 1886." A drawing of this unusual cat appears in Mr. Weir’s book Our Cats and All About Them (1889).

Both the Short-hair Tortoiseshell and the Tortoiseshell-and-White varieties are very handsome animals, and, like their Long-haired counterparts, most useful for breeding purposes. Both types consist almost entirely of females. In fact, the largest number of males which have ever been seen together was probably in 1871, when four were exhibited at the Crystal Palace Show. One of these was a Tortoiseshell, and the others were Tortoiseshell-and-White. During the next few years several Tortoiseshell-and-White males appeared at the various shows, including the famous prize-winning cat, Totty, which was valued at £100. Then, as now, however, most of the males were sterile.

No cat is more fascinating than the tailless Manx, with its rabbit-like hoppity gait. During the nineteenth century this breed was immensely popular, and some very good specimens appeared at the Crystal Palace and other important shows. Among them was a brindled tortoiseshell Manx of eight years old. A consistent prize-winner, it was exhibited on a collar and lead, after the manner of a dog.

Fashions come and go, and in the years immediately following the Second World War there was a grave danger of the Manx cat dying out. {...} Manx cats are good hunters, and will retrieve toys and ping-pong balls, running after them in their own fascinating hoppity manner, bringing them back to your feet, and putting them down and waiting for them to be thrown again. Their cry is slightly more shrill than that of other cats.

Early cat-books will tell you that the Manx cat should be tailless or nearly so. In point of fact, the true Manx is completely tailless, and there is a decided hollow at the end of the backbone, where, in an ordinary cat, the tail would begin. Other essential features are a very short back, and raised and prominent hindquarters. In a really good specimen the. rump is completeley round, like an orange, and there is great depth of flank. The hind legs are considerably longer than the front ones, thus giving the cat its peculiar hopping gait; incidentally, also the reason for the ridiculous theory held in some quarters that the Manx cat is the result of a cross-mating between a cat and a rabbit.

Because the Manx cat is a mutation and not a breed in the genetic sense [an interesting definition of breed and "genetic"!], it presents special problems to the breeder. Unfortunately, it has been proved that successive matings of true rumpies produces weak litters, and, if persisted with, result in whole litters being born dead, or at least surviving only a few days. In days gone by, when the Manx cat was so very fashionable, certain unscrupulous people on the Isle of Man were in the habit of docking the tails of ordinary cats and selling these animals for genuine rumpies. Nowadays purchasers of Manx kittens from the Island can, for a small fee, through the Isle of Man Manx Cat Association, obtain a veterinary certificate guaranteeing that the cat was born without a tail and was not a victim of injury by accident or design.

Miss G. K. Sladen, along with her friend, Miss Marjorie Bryce, successfully bred Manx cats for more than thirty years (when they supplied advice in 1955). "When we first came to live in our cottage, Cherry Orchard [near Stonor in the Chiltern Hills], in 1921, we were given two Manx cats by a very aged, local cottager, who had been breeding Manx for 40 years. Therefore, this breed has been known in our district of South Oxfordsbire certainly for 70 years, probably much longer. We named our two ancestral cats, Daphne and Diana. The Man strain is so strong, that although this breed has been constantly mated with tailed cats throughout the years, the taillessness continues and also the characteristic high, round rump, rabbit gait, and so on ... Manx cats have the sporting characteristics of dogs, and like dogs they will follow. So much so, that before going to Church or setting out on a walk to visit anyone whose dogs, and other livestock, we may not know, much time is lost in rounding up our cats, and literally dodging out while their attention is distracted. Many a time we have had to run in our efforts to hide the direction we have taken, and many a time, thinking we had escaped, we have tuned to see a little cavalcade of Man of all ages, leaping after us, with the air full of protesting adult wails, and thin, high cries of adolescent and small kittens. The whole cavalcade has then to be shepherded back and another escape made!"

In 1955, Tenent wrote that there could be few cat-lovers who did not know the Siamese cat, though fewer would be familiar with the Abyssinian, Russian Blue or the Burmese. She introduced the 'Foreign' breeds as being long and svelte with a long, wedge-shaped heads, larger ears, slanting eyes and tapering tails in contrast to the ‘rounded’ beauty of the British cats

Why the Abyssinian gets its name is something of a mystery, for certainly the breed was never prolific in that part of Africa. In fact, there is every reason to believe that the original Abyssinian cat was one and the same as the Nubian cat, which was domesticated by the Ancient Egyptians. This cat, a small tawny-coloured creature with lighter flanks and white stomach, came from North Africa. It had black markings similar to those our present-day tabby, and its tail, which was long and tapering, carried three black rings. The first Abyssinian cat to arrive in Britain, strangely enough, come from Abyssinia. It belonged to a Mrs. Barrett-Lennard and was called Zula. Dr. Gordon Staples described it thus: (Cats, their Points, etc., 1874): "This cat was brought from Abyssinia at the conclusion of the war, fed on the way home on raw beef and was very wild. She is now very fond of her mistress, but has a great many eccentricities which other cats have not, and is altogether a wonderful specimen of cat-kind."

"Like the Siamese, too, it is largely a one-person cat, lavishing great affection upon its owner and absolutely refusing to be ignored. It is a great retriever, and will bring back a ball of screwed-up paper to you time after time. Another appealing habit is the way it will sometimes convey food to its mouth from a paw, instead of putting its head down to the plate in true cat fashion."

Tenent noted the confusion regarding the Abyssinian cat and the great variety of names it had been given since Zula arrived: Russian, Spanish, Abyssinian, Hare cat, and Rabbit cat. There had been an Abyssinian Silver Grey cat, sometimes alluded to as the Chinchilla Abyssinian, with a silver ground colour instead of brown. She noted that the original Abyssinian was larger than the modern version and that it had been described by Harrison Weir in Our Cats And All About Them as ’a pretty and interesting variety’, but Tenent evidently felt that the "bunny cat" description was erroneous: "Because of a similarity of colouring to that of the wild rabbit, the Abyssinian cat is sometimes called the ‘Bunny’ cat. For several reasons, however, such a comparison is not strictly accurate, the chief of these being that the fur of the rabbit only shows single ticking, whereas that of the Abyssinian cat always shows double or treble ticking, Also, the individual hairs in the rabbit’s coat are grey at the base, but those of the Abyssinian cat reddish-brown; indeed, any tendency to greyness in the Abyssinian is regarded as a serious fault. In their very interesting notes on the Abyssinian cat entitled Child of the Gods (1951), Helen and Sidney Denham compare the colouring to that of a Belgian hare."

Tenent reported that the attractive Russian Blue was, apart from its colour, entirely different from the British Blue Short-hair. As with the Abyssinian and Siamese, it was apparently a natural retriever and easily trained to walk on a lead. It had once known as the Archangel cat it was a very ancient breed which could, according to her, be traced back to the days of the Vikings. In the years previous to the Revolution, the Russian Blue Cat was apparently worshipped by the Tsars and peasants alike, and a picture of one was to be seen adorning the walls of almost every Russian home. Even then (1954), in parts of Russia, a Russian Blue would be put into the cradle of every new-born baby as superstition claimed it would drive away evil spirits. She gave a translation of an old Russian prayer which mentioned the Russian Blue cat:

Hear our prayer, Lord, for all animals,
May they be well-fed and well-treated and happy:
Protect them from hunger and fear and suffering:
And, we pray, protect specially, dear Lord,
The little blue cat who is the companion of our home.
Keep her safe as she goes abroad
And bring her back to comfort us.

Tenent noted that the Russian Blue cat first appeared in Britain during the nineteenth century, arriving on ships trading between the Baltic ports and England. One fine specimen was exchanged by a docker with a Russian sailor for a leg of mutton while another had been a gift from a Russian Emperor. It was first shown as the ‘Blue Russian’, but caused much confusion in its early days especially as breeders persisted in crossing it with the British Blue and refused to believe that it was a new and separate variety. Tenent pointed out Harrison Weir’s contradictory statements in Our Cats And All About Them (1889): "If it is a foreign variety, I can only say that I see no distinction in form, temper or habit ... It is sometimes bred here in England from cats bearing no resemblance to the bluish-lilac colour, nor of foreign extraction or pedigree ... I feel bound to admit that those that come from Archangel were of a deeper, purer tint than the English cross-breeds; and on reference to my notes, I find that they had larger ears and eyes, and were larger and longer in the head." The solution was to classify all the Short-haired Blues together, with the qualifying distinction that the rare Russian type should be known as ‘The Foreign Blue Short-hair’. "And so continued this not-too-satisfactory state of affairs until 1948. Then, at the request of a loyal band of enthusiastic breeders, the term once more reverted to ‘Russian Blue’".

The Burmese cat was completely unknown in Britain before 1949 and Tenent confused it with the Birman on several occasions. She wrote that little was known of its origins except that it had been raised in the temples of its native country for hundreds of years and was known as the ‘ Rajah’ or the Best Cat. It was highly valued, fiercely guarded and "in ancient times the Burmese cat was considered sacred, and each animal had a special servant to look after it. If a cat was allowed to suffer in any way, the servant concerned was likely to be subject to torture, indeed was often put to death. Today the Burmese cat is the privileged pet of the Maharajahs, and the very wealthy. An animal is never sold, and the onIy way to get one is to have it given to you. Should you call to see a cat, it would be brought to you on silken cushions, and the story goes that when a young man seeks a bride he chooses a girl whose father owns a Burmese cat in preference to receiving a dowry [...] It greatly resembles the Siamese in appearance and character, having the same type of wedge-shaped head, long, svelte body, and slanting eyes. In colouring, however, it differs from the Siamese, for the coat is a rich, sable brown which shades to a slightly lighter colour on the chest and stomach. The ears and mask are slightly darker than the coat colour; the eyes are yellow."

"The Burmese cat was known in the USA for at least twenty years before it came to Britain. The first specimens were brought back by Dr. Joseph Thompson of San Francisco, from India, on his return from a visit there. Whether these cats were true Burmese, however, is very doubtful. Most probably they were hybrids, a long-haired variety with blue eyes and white toes [note: this refers to the Birman, not the Burmese!]. This type of cat also appeared at some of the early continental shows [note: meaning the French Khmer breed]. The first Burmese cats suitable for breeding were secured through the Harvard School of Genetics by the eminent American cat breeder, Mr. Donald Came. The standard drawn up by the Burmese Cat Society of America is a very stiff one, and has made it extremely difficult for a blue-eyed, light-coloured cat to be called a Burmese [note: more confusion with the Birman!]."

Tenent wrote that according to Mrs Warren, secretary of the Burmese Cat Society of America: "The Burmese cat is especially appreciated by invalids and blind people, as they seem to understand that it is up to them to love, comfort and entertain the patient. They often will sit for hours in a lap or bed and purr and sometimes raise up with a caress, then settle down again. While they are very playful and have lots of energy, they are not as destructive as some cats and can easily be taught to use their scratching post."

Tenent noted that in 1907 Mrs. Leslie Williams had written of the Siamese cat as follows: "This very distinct and handsome variety is, though favoured by many exhibitors, practically unknown to the general public." By 1955 it was one of the most popular varieties with no less than 4 specialist clubs. Tenent wrote "you never own a Siamese cat, so if you wish to live with one, prepare to be its slave" and commented on its tremendous conversational power, but considered them 'vocal' rather than 'noisy'. She noted that they were first imported in 1884 and caused a good deal of controversy, though most agreed that they were ‘docile and domestic’, as well as ‘loving and affectionate’. Her description of the 'marten face' is quite different from the modern extreme wedges. She continued:

"All manner of curious advice seems to have been put abroad on the best methods of rearing and feeding. For example, we hear of one unfortunate cat which was fed on little else but dry bread soaked in water. Another cat was confined to a room of 50 degrees temperature all the year round, while yet a third was given raw chicken heads with the feathers on as a possible cure for worms. Was it surprising that the creatures were said to have no stamina? In 1901 the Siamese Cat Club was formed ... it was urged that kittens should not be shown under four months old, ‘having regard for their delicate constitution’. Nowadays the hardiness of the Siamese compares most favourably with all other breeds [...] Today there are three recognized varieties of Siamese cat in Britain - namely, the Seal-pointed, the Blue-pointed, and the Chocolate-pointed types. [...] The Chocolate-pointed Siamese is a slightly smaller cat than the other two. The perfect Siamese cat has what is often termed a ‘Marten face’. Its head is long and well proportioned, with width between the eyes.

Easily the best-known Siamese cat is the Seal-pointed variety. ... Almost as popular as the Seal-pointed variety is the Bluepointed Siamese cat. The Blue-pointed Siamese has been known in Britain for a good many years now, but at first breeders were not very enthusiastic about it declaring that it was a ’sport’ (deviation from type which could not be accounted for). Also, as compared with the Seal-pointed type, they thought this cat was anaemic-looking and lacked character. ... The Chocolate-pointed Siamese is a fascinating little cat with a pale cream coat and points the colour of milk chocolate. Although it is generally accepted that this cat was first imported into Britain during the latter part of the nineteenth century, opinion differs as to its appearance at that time. Early cat-books state that the Chocolate Siamese was a very dark-coated animal with amber eyes. A conflicting theory, however, says that it was a cream-coloured cat with blue eyes and points the colour of milk chocolate; in fact, almost identical with the Chocolate-pointed Siamese of today. If this was so, then it is not unlikely that the dark-coated specimen with amber eyes was the cat we now know as the Burmese.

As yet (1954), the Frost-pointed Siamese has not appeared in Britain, although at least two complete litters have been bred in the USA. These cats, which have been accepted by the Siamese Cat Society of America, and officially recognized by the American Cat Association, are of glacial white colouring with very light silvery-blue points. There is a slight rosiness to the points which is a result of the blood showing through the light pigment, and on the ears this is particularly attractive, sometimes giving the impression of a ‘pink-eared’ cat."

Tenent wrote of the origins of the frost-points, now known as lilac points, a recent development in 1955. Her information came from Mrs. Tom Boothby, of Tacoma, Washington, who had set out to produce a white Siamese cat with ‘pussy-willow’ points. She began with a Blue-pointed male (Champion Zagazig’s Mr. Lom Den of Prajadhi) and a Blue-pointed female (Mrs. Mu Chee Pa of Prajadhi). In July 1951 they produced a Frost-pointed male kitten, a Frost-pointed female kitten (Prajadhi’s Mrs. Lon Chee Lee) and a Blue-pointed male. The Frost-pointed female was mated to Bograe’s Dhyabilo, a Frost-pointed male out of Blue-pointed parents and in May 1953 produced five Frost-pointed kittens, three males and two females.

Tenent was noted controversy about Red-pointed Siamese: Whether the Red-pointed cat can officially be termed Siamese has raised a certain amount of controversy among breeders. Very rare, as yet, in Britain, this fascinating creature was first introduced by Mrs. Alyce de Filippo of Brookfield, Illinois. It is a silvery-white cat with red-gold points and sapphire-blue eyes, and was produced as the ultimate result of cross-mating a Short-haired Red male to a Seal-pointed Siamese female.

VESEY-FITZGERALD ON SOME SHORTHAIR CAT BREEDS, 1958

Brian Vesey-Fitzgerald "Cats" (1958) described the rare Spotted Cat (and notes they are "broken-striped tabbies") as having a "ground colour that is usually white or a very pale grey, but the spots may be black, blue, or dark grey. Domestic short-haired cats with all these markings on white or grey grounds have been recorded here or in the United States. Yellow spots have also been recorded on one or two occasions."

Abyssinian: Vesey-Fitzgerald reports tht Dr Gordon Stables, in his book "Cats, Their Points, etc" (1874), mentions the first Abyssinian cat, Zula, brought to England from Abyssinia by a Mrs Barrett-Lennard at the close of the Abyssinian war in 1868. It was not explained what Mrs Barrett-Lennard was doing in Abyssinia, a country which was singularly unhealthy for white women at the time (significantly, the Barrett-Lennard family have no record of her or the cat). Stables' book's very fine drawing of Zula does not at all resemble the Abyssinian of the 1950s and this was generally attributed to a poor artist or an artist working from description, not from life rather than admitting the possibility that Zula was not an Abyssinian in the modern understanding! By the time of Simpson's 1903 "The Book of the Cat" the look of the Abyssinian is that we are familiar with today. Vesey-Fitzgerald wondered what had changed the cat so greatly between 1874 and 1903. Even HC Brooke, believer in the Abyssinian origin and author of a 1929 pamphlet on the breed, could not account for those 30 years. There were no records of further import from either Abyssinia or Egypt so Zula's blood must have been very much diluted over the 30 years. In addition, Rosita Forbes, a very observant explorer, stated that she never saw a domestic cat in Abyssinia.

Author Harrison Weir and artist Louis Wain, both cat show judge in the 1880s, did not regard the Abyssinian as a distinct breed and insisted it was the result of tabby matings. There is no mention of the Abyssinian cat in St George Mivart's book of 1881 or in Lydekker's book of 1896 (the latter were members of the Royal Society). Abyssinian-pattern kittens were born from time to time in randombred cats, but did not have the now familiar conformation. Even if there was an import called Zula, early on there would have been a great deal of crossing of Foreign ticked tabbies and British ticked tabbies (and also occasional crossings with Silverr tabbies resulting in "Silver Abyssinians" at early cat shows). There were only 2 Abyssinian cats, neither of them imports, listed in the Stud Book of the National Cat Club for 1896. Both were described as "pedigree unknown". One was Sedgemere Peaty, claimed to be the most perfect Abyssinian ever seen in England. She is also listed in the Stud Book for 1900-5 as "breeder and pedigree unknown". Twelve Abyssinians were listed in that volume, and 6 had one or both parents "unknown". These days, they would be consider "foundation cats". To modern researchers it is evident that the modern Abyssinian cat was bred from ticked cats of unknown parentage and Ethiopian (Abyssinian) or Egyptian origins are cat fancy folklore.

Vesey-Fitzgerald noted "It has been said that before the Revolution of 1917 [Russian Blue] cats were the Palace cats of the Imperial Tsars. And it is said that, nearly a hundred years ago, one of them, direct from the Palace of the Tsars, was given to the late Mrs Fosbery." He could find no proof of this, nor any explanation of how Mrs Fosbery (who must have been a small girl at the time) was on such friendly terms with the Tsar! He adds that in the mid 1800s it was known in England as the "Archangel" cat suggesting it was common cat in the Archangel area and this undermines any claim of it being the Palace cat of the Tsars.

With regard to the Siamese, he noted that the colourpoint pattern occurred in various animals, citing the "Himalayan" rabbit, mice, occasionally in the circus horse, and he had seen it in one or two terriers. He says it was a "common pattern in the now extinct, or nearly extinct, Hairless Cat of Mexico," but may have been confusing it with later bald cats born of Siamese parentage since the Mexican Hairless was extinct in the early 1900s.

He also notes there was no evidence that the Siamese cat originated from Siam and believes it was in Britain well before 1884 since there was a painting by Frederick Smallfield (a minor 19th century portrait painter who was fond of including cats into his pictures), which shows several cats, including one remarkably like a Siamese. Colourpoint cats were also portrayed by at least one of the Dutch and at least one of the Flemish masters. His investigations into cat fancy records found no evidence to support the claim that a pair of 1884 imports were exhibited in Britain for the first time at the Crystal Palace Show in 1885. The late Cyril Yeates, a Chairman of the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy, is usually quoted as the authority for this "fact", but what Yeates actually said was a much less definitive "It seems to be generally accepted that Siamese were first exhibited in this country at the Crystal Palace in 1885". The first definite record of an import was 1896 for a cat called Wankee from Hong Kong (his parents were said to have been stolen from the Palace at Bangkok).

Vesey-Fitzgerald "Cats" (1958) was evidently at the end of his tether regarding breeds that were supposedly palace cats and temple cats when he wrote this about the origins of the Havana breed. "Let it be placed upon record that the Havana cat has nothing whatever to do with Cuba: that the first one was not stolen from any palace; that it has never been the sacred cat of any temple anywhere; that it has no connexion at all with Voodooism or any other religion; that it is not kept by the natives to protect anything; that it is not the native cat of the cigar-box woods. Let it be placed on record that the first one was an accident in Reading, Berkshire. This is a purely British breed." He found it a great pity that the breeders did not follow the lead of the dog fancy in naming it for the region where it originated: "Could not we have given a British cat a British name? Might we not have commemorated the county, if not the town, where this. historic accident occurred with some such name as the Berkshire Brown?"

POND ON THE SHORTHAIR 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.

The Chartreux was mentioned in passing. There are a few Blue British in Europe, but the French have a breed called the Chartreux, said to have been brought to France from South Africa by the monks of that order. They are very like British Blues, which may cause some confusion. Their standard calls for a coat of any shade of grey or greyish blue, with a head not quite so round, and with a very powerful jaw.

RUSSIAN BLUE. They were known as the Archangel cats or the Blue Foreign Type, and it was not until after the last war that the name Russian was adopted. It must be appreciated that the Russian Blues seen in Britain today are the result of many years of selective breeding, and that the name ‘Russian’, like that of the ‘Abyssinian’, does not imply country of origin, but is merely the name given to this recognised breed… Unfortunately the tails frequently have faint rings from root to tip, which are most difficult to breed out, and are a bad fault. Apparently the Archangel cats had no trace of such markings, and were completely self-coloured cats of pure blue … Good Russian Blues have been bred in Denmark, and they are typical of the breed, with lustrous coats of good colour, well-shaped bodies, and excellent eye colour. Some have been sent to Sweden and exhibited there most successfully. It would be a good thing for British breeders if some of the Danish stock could be brought here and mated with the best of the breed.

SHORT-HAIRED - ANY OTHER VARIETY. Spotted cats are also shown under this heading. Apparently, years ago, there were quite a few shown; today they are quite rare … The Governing Council gives the following in its standards: In judging spotted cats the first desideratum is good and clear spottings, all other properties being only of secondary importance. Turning, for example, to the Spotted Wild Cats, in which this form of colouration reaches its acme, we find there are various kinds of spotting: some have a great many small spots, others fewer and larger; some have round spots, some oblong and some rosette-shaped. Any of these markings may be of equal merit, but the spots, however shaped or placed, shall be distinct and not running into each other. They may be of any colour as suitable to the ground colouration. The fewer markings in the nature of stripes, even on legs and chest, the better.

Of the recently discovered rex cat, Pond suggested the coat could be incorporated into other breeds. Later, a second type of Rex would be identified and these would be developed as new breeds in their own right. At one or two cat shows within the last year or two, cats with coats of a third type have been exhibited. In these, as with some other animals, the hairs of the coat are waved and it is this type of hair that is known as ‘rex’. The rex coat is considerably shorter than the normal short-haired type, and feels much finer and silkier. The coat is dense, and no guard hairs are visible, these being shortened to just below the top level of the coat. The rex-coated rabbits have no wave in their coats nowadays, even though they have been evolved from waved stock, and if so desired, the wave in the rex coat of the cat could be eliminated by selective breeding to give the same wonderfully attractive kind of coat. Rex hair type can be transferred to any breed, colour or type of cat. This means that any existing breed or variety will retain all the characteristics of its breed when ‘ rexed’, except only that its normal coat type will be changed to the rex type. It will be understood, therefore, that ‘rex’ is not a new breed of cat, and that should the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy accept this additional hair type, no new breed number would be necessary, but just a description in the book of standards of rex type of hair and coat.

MERY ON THE SHORTHAIR CAT BREEDS OF THE 1960s

For many years, shorthaired cat breeds were largely ignored in favour of their more eye-catching and unusual longhaired cousins unless they exhibited some noteworthy trait, as in the Manx and Rex cats.

With the Chartreux, Mery's national pride is evident; the breed gets twice as much column space as the British Blue with which it is "not to be confused". "The Chartreux is a cat of rural France. It has a stockier body line than the British Blue. It stands solidly on comparatively short, well-muscled legs. Its head is round, but set on a thick-set neck and having really full cheeks. It has a very powerful jaw, temptingly reminiscent of that of the European wild cat. Its ears are of medium size and set high on the rounded skull. Its fur is woollier than that of any breed described so far. Its colour can be any shade of greyish blue, though the preference is for the paler colours." Sadly the Chartreux is not recognised in the UK, being considered too similar to the British Blue. The Americans, however, give it due recognition, describing it as being "like a potato on matchstick legs". Is it really identical to the British Blue or do I detect an element of Francophobia in the British cat fancy?

The Manx has always been an enigma; its origins shrouded by folklore. Mery devotes much space to its supposed origins: a Spanish galleon from the Armada disgorged two tailless cats when wrecked off the Isle of Man; a wrecked Baltic ship from which three tailless cats were rescued and a wrecked East County ship which disgorged one tailless cat (according to an 1808 newspaper article). The problem of breeding good-quality Manxes was already well-known, although its genetics were poorly understood and there is some confusion of the Manx with the bobtailed cats of Asia.

"... as the attempt to breed Manxes like-to-like over many generations results eventually in litters where many of the kittens die, sometimes even before birth, it is possible that taillessness is genetically allied to some lethal factor in the make-up of the cat. ... Even when two perfectly tailless Manxes are mated, the resulting litter may contain a complete mixture of tailless kittens and kittens with any variety of short or stumpy tails. Litters produced by mating these vestigially tailed stumpy [Mery refers to these as "imperfect"] cats with pure Manxes are much healthier than those bred from purely tailless parents."

"It is claimed that rumpy cats were once widespread in Cornwall. There have always been Siamese with truncated or atrophied tails. There are numerous varieties of tailless cats in the Malay Archipelago. And a great many cats without tails appear in Japanese paintings. Auguste Pavie, the explorer, thought that the Manx was related to the Annamite cat; a small, graceful cat with a very small tail. These are believed to have been introduced into the East Indies from Britain by eighteenth-century trading expeditions. Wherever these cats came from ... why is their no evidence of their race anywhere else?"

Nowadays we understand that the Manx probably arose through mutation which was perpetuated in an isolated population. There is also far greater understanding of the lethal nature of the gene for taillessness. The Japanese Bobtail to which Mery alludes is a separate mutation. As for there being no evidence of Manx-type cats elsewhere, we now know of several breeds exhibiting either taillessness or bobtails. The American Bobtail (either a spontaneous mutation or the result of genes from imported Manxes re-emerging in the moggy population) produces rumpies (with Manx-type spinal problems), stumpies and longies, but it also produces cats with kinked tails. Although Mery mentions the bobtailed cats found Japanese art, the Japanese Bobtail itself was only "discovered" (by Americans) in 1963 and not developed as a breed until 1968 though cats of this type are widespread throughout Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore etc as he noted.

One of today's familiar breeds, the Burmese, or Zibeline, is described as a newcomer. He accompanies a photograph with the caption "A pair of Burmese, in whose artificial creation the Siamese played a part." The Abyssinian is mentioned and Mery laments "Because of cross-breeding made inevitably by the scarcity of Abyssinians in Britain, tabby markings such as bars on the legs or even ringing of the tail have been introduced into the breed. There also exists a breed of Red Abyssinian whose body colour is the rich copper red correctly called rufous. ... They are unfortunately the most susceptible of all breeds to disease." As regards the Red Abyssinian, we now have the Sorrel (non-sexlinked red) Abyssinian and sex-linked red Abyssinian as well as the usual (Ruddy). While the tabby markings have been all but eliminated, other breeders are working with a larger cat from Singapore, known as the Wild Abyssinian, which exhibits those very features that Mery found so lamentable in the Abyssinians of his time.

MERY ON EXTRAVAGANT EXPERIMENTS (1960s)

Most cat books covering breeds seem to have a short section on "novelty" breeds and the concept of "novelty" changes with the march of progress. The novelties of Mery's time were bald cats and Rex cats: "Two extravagant experiments in breeding have produced the bald cat on the one hand, and the curly-haired Rex on the other."

"Bald Cats: This breed of cats without fur has been resurrected by Professor Etienne Letard of the Ecole Nationale Veterinaire d'Alfort. There are a few examples in Europe and America. These cats are not born completely bald. The kittens have very light hairs which are scarcely thickened by the growth of a slight down during the first two months. After the kittens are weaned, this inadequate fur falls away. From then on they are completely smooth. Sensitive to cold, thin, unaesthetic and not much admired by cat-lovers, these bald cats have only a technical interest. They are a flirtation for the specialist. The mutations has been fixed, but the breeding of bald cats hardly seems to have a great future."

More hairless cats appeared in Ontario, Canada in the 1960s but genetic health complications did not allow it to continue as a breed, so at the time of writing Mery was correct in suggesting it did not have a great future. However, times change and the hairless cat was revitalised in the 1980s by US breeders who worked with the European Sphynx (Mery's hairless cats?), crossed with the US Devon Rex to produce the modern Sphynx (Canadian Hairless) which is attained popularity with some cat-lovers, while being despised by others. It isn't hard to work out which camp Mery would have fallen into!

"The Rex: Another novelty breed is that of the curly-haired cat, or the "poodle" cat, as it is sometimes called. These have been artificially bred and are still rare. There seem to be two types of coats according to the body type of the cat. Those with a foreign type have thinner but more curly coats. Where the type is like that of the British Shorthaired cat the coat is thicker and wavy. But Rex hair can be introduced into any breed including Persians. The kittens are born with curly hair from the start."

In those days the difference between the two rex types (Cornish/German and Devon) was poorly understood. Hardly surprising since the German Rex only appeared in 1946 but was not bred until 1951, while the Cornish Rex appeared round 1950 and the Devon appeared around 1960. The "foreign type" rex mentioned by Mery is probably the Devon Rex. The Cornish Rex has a more wavy coat type and at the time would probably have been represented in Europe by the now-rare German Rex whose conformation is closer to the European Shorthair than to the Cornish Rex. The American Wirehair appeared on the scene in 1966, too late for inclusion and further confusion.

If these novelties were the result of extravagant breeding then what would Mery have said about overseas breeding experiments. Many new breeds were being developed in the 1960s though Mery may well have been unaware of new breeds under development in the US during the early part of 1960s e.g. Scottish Fold, Cymric, Somali, Korat, Tonkinese ("Golden Siamese"), Bombay, Egyptian Mau, Ocicat and Ragdoll, nor the Oriental White/White Siamese which was much publicised in 1965. The Turkish Van (recognised 1955) and Norwegian Forest Cat (bred in a minor way since the 1930s) are also omitted.

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