The annual cat shows in England, which have been held successively for more than a quarter of a century, led to the establishment in 1887 of a National Cat Club, which has steadily grown in membership and interest, and by the establishment of the National Stud Book and Register has greatly raised the standard of felines in the mother country. It has many well-known people as members, life members, or associates; and from time to time people distinguished in the cat world have been added as honorary members.
The officers of the National Cat Club of England, since its reconstruction in March, 1898, are as follows:—
Presidents.—Her Grace the Duchess of Bedford; Lord Marcus Beresford.
This club has a seal and a motto: "Beauty lives by kindness." It publishes a stud book in which are registered pedigrees and championship wins which are eligible for it. Only wins obtained from shows held under N.C.C. rules are recorded free of charge. The fee for ordinary registration is one shilling per cat, and the stud book is published annually. There are over two thousand cats now entered in this National Cat Club Stud Book, the form of entry being as follows (L.F. means long-haired female; C.P., Crystal Palace):—
No. 1593, Mimidatzi, L.F. Silver Tabby.
No. 1225, Boots of Bridgeyate. L.F. Silver Tabby.
Some of the cats entered have records of prizes covering nearly half a page of the book. The advantage of such a book to cat owners can be readily seen. A cat once entered never changes its number, no matter how many owners he may have, and his name cannot be changed after December 31 of the year in which he is registered.
The more important rules of the English National Cat Club are given in condensed form as follows:—
The name is "The National Cat Club."
Objects: To promote honesty in the breeding of cats, so as to insure purity in each distinct breed or variety; to determine the classification required, and to insure the adoption of such classification by breeders, exhibitors, judges, and the committees of all cat shows; to encourage showing and breeding by giving championship and other prizes, and otherwise doing all in its power to protect and advance the interest of cats and their owners. The National Cat Club shall frame a separate set of rules for cat shows to be called "National Cat Club Rules," and the committees of those cat shows to which the rules are given, shall be called upon to sign a guarantee to the National Cat Club binding them to provide good penning and effectual sanitation, also to the punctual payment of prize money and to the proper adjudication of prizes.
Stud Book: The National Cat Club shall keep a stud book.
The club shall consist of (1) patrons, (2) life mebers, (3) president, (4) vice-president, (5) exhibiting members and (6) non-exhibiting members, and unlimited number whose names and addresses shall be kept by the honorable secretary. Each candidate for election shall be proposed by one member and seconded by another, and the election shall be vested absolutely in the committee.
The fee for each member shall be one guinea. Life members may be elected on the cash payment of eight guineas. No member whose subscription is unpaid shall be entitled to complete for any special prize, vote at any meeting, or enjoy any of the privileges of membership, until his or her subscription be paid.
Every member shall strive to promote honorable dealing in feline matters by bringing to the notice of the club committe any anpparent dishonesty at cat shows, etc. Every member to report the carelessness of the club attendant, etc., and to use his or her best endeavors to promote the succes of the club by keeping "accuracy in pedigree and statements, and good faith in all his or her transactions."
The committe shall endeavor to found a Library of Kennel Reference for the National Cat Club, and all members are invited to contribute ifts of books relating to cats, etc.
The cat-show rules, under which all shows connected with the N.C.C. are given, provide that no cats shall be shown, except in "Local Classes" or for litters of kittens, except such as have been previously registered at the Cat Club offices.
Neuter (gelded) or spayed cats are allowed to compete for prizes, but are not eligible for entry on the stud book.
A duly qualified veterinary surgeon is appointed at every show to act as inspector, who examines every cat before it is benched, and rejects any that exhibit any sign of disease.
The N.C.C. keeps a "black list." People eligible for this have been guilty, as members or otherwise, of fraudulent or discreditable conduct in regard to cats and cat shows, and are not countenanced by the N.C.C. in any capacity.
All prizes won are recorded in the stud book. The other rules do not differ materially from the rules of cat shows in this country.
The offices of the National Cat Club are at 5 Great James Street, Bedford Row, London, W.C., and the annual and championship shows have so far been held at Crystal Palace. There is also a Lasies' Kennel Association, which holds shows of great interest, many of its members being connected with the N.C.C.
The definition of classes, both in England and America, is as follows:—
Open classes.—Open to cats, prize winners or novices.
In Paris, although cats have not been commonly appreciated as in England, there is an increasing interest in them, and cat shows are now a regular feature of the Jardin d'Acclimation. This suggests the subject of the cat's social position in France. Since the Revolution the animal has conquered in this country "toutes les liberties," excepting that of wearing an entire tail, for in many districts it is the fashion to cut the caudal appendage short.
In Paris cats are much cherished wherever they can be without causing too much unpleasantness with the landlord. The system of living in flats is not favorable to cat culture, for the animal, not having access either to the tiles above or to the gutter below, is apt to pine for fresh air, and the society of its congeners. Probably in no other city do these creatures lie in shop windows and on counters with such an arrogant air of proprietorship. In restaurants, a very large and fat cat is kept as an advertisement of the good feeding to be obtained on the premises. There is invariably a cat in a charbonnier's shop, and the animal is generally one that was originally white, but long ago came to the conclusion that all attempts to keep itself clean were hopeless. Its only consolation is that it is never blacker than its master. It is well known that the Persians and Angoras are much esteemed in Paris and are, to some extent, bred for sale. In the provinces, French cats are usually low-bred animals, with plebeian heads and tails, the stringlike appearance of the latter not being improved by cropping. Although not generally esteemed as an article of food in France, there are still many people scattered throughout the country who maintain that a civet de chat is as good, or better, than a civet de lievre.
M. François Coppée's fondness for cats as pets is so well known that there was great fitness in placing his name first upon the jury of awards at the 1896 cat show in Paris. Such other well-known men as Émile Zola, André Theuriet, and Catulle Mendes, also figured on the list. There is now an annual "Exposition Feline Internationale."
In this country the first cat show of general interest was held at Madison Square Garden, New York, in May, 1895. Some years before, there had been a cat show under the auspices of private parties in Boston, and several minor shows had been held at Newburgh, N.Y., and other places. But the New York shows were the first to attract general attention. One hundred and seventy-six cats were exhibited by one hundred and twenty-five owners, besides several ocelots, wild cats, and civets. For some reason the show at Madison Square Garden in March, 1896, catalogued only one hundred and thirty-two cats and eighty-two owners. Since that time there have been no large cat shows in New York.
There have been several cat shows in Boston since 1896, but these are so far only adjuncts to poultry and pigeon shows. Great interest has been manifest in them, however, and the entries have each year run above a hundred. Some magnificent cats are exhibited, although as a rule the animals shown are somewhat small, many kittens being placed there for sale by breeders.
Several attempts to start successful cat clubs in this country have been made. At the close of the New York show in 1896, an American Cat Club was organized for the purpose "of investigating, ascertaining, and keeping a record of the pedigrees of cats, and of instituting, maintaining, controlling, and publishing a stud book, or book of registry of such kind of domestic animals in the United States of America and Canada, and of promoting and holding exhibitions of such animals, and generally for the purpose of improving the breed thereof, and educating the public in its knowledge of the various breeds and varieties of cats."
The officers were as follows:—
President.—Rush S. Huidekoper, 154 E. 57th St., New York City.
More successful than this club, however, is the Beresford Cat Club formed in Chicago in the winter of 1899. The president is Mrs. Clinton Locke, who is a member of the English cat clubs, and whose kennel in Chicago contains some of the finest cats in America. The Beresford Cat Club has the sanction of John G. Shortall, of the American Humane Society, and on its honorary list are Miss Agnes Repplier, Madame Ronner, Lady Marcus Beresford, Miss Helen Winslow, and Mr. Louis Wain.
At their cat shows, which are held annually, prizes are offered for all classes of cats, from the common feline of the back alley up to the aristocratic resident of milady's boudoir.
1. Mrs. Clinton Locke, president of the Beresford Cat Club with
The Beresford Club Cat shows are the most successful of any yet given in America. One hundred and seventy-eight prizes were awarded in the show of January, 1900, and some magnificent cats were shown. It is said by those who are in a position to know that there are no better cats shown in England now than can be seen at the Beresford Show in Chicago. The exhibits cover short and long haired cats of all colors, sizes, and ages, with Siamese cats, Manx cats, and Russian cats. At the show in January, 1900, Mrs. Clinton Locke exhibited fourteen cats of one color, and Mrs. Josiah Cratty five white cats. This club numbers one hundred and seventy members and has a social position and consequent strength second to none in America. It is a fine, honorable club, which has for its objects the protection of the Humane Society and the caring for all cats reported as homeless or in distress. It aims also to establish straightforward and honest dealings among the catteries and to do away with the humbuggery which prevails in some quarters about the sales and valuation of high-bred cats. This club cannot fail to be of great benefit to such as want to carry on an honest industry by the raising and sale of fine cats. It will also improve the breeding of cats in this country, and thereby raise the standard and promote a more general intelligence among the people with regard to cats. Some of the best people in the United States belong to the Beresford Club, the membership of which is by no means confined to Chicago; on the contrary, the club is a national one and the officers and board of directors are:—
President.—Mrs. Clinton Locke.
The club is anxious to have members all over the United States, just as the English cat clubs do. The non-resident annual fees are only one dollar, and a member has to be proposed by one and endorsed by two other members. The register cats for the stud book are entered at one dollar each, and it is proposed to give shows once a year. The main objects of the club are to improve the breeds of fancy cats in America, to awaken a more general interest in them, and to secure better treatment for the ordinary common cat. The shows will be given for the benefit of the Humane Society.
The Chicago Cat Club has done excellent work also, having established a cat home, or refuge, for stray, homeless, or diseased cats, with a department for boarding pet cats during the absence of their owners. It is under the personal care and direction of Dr. C.A. White, 78 E. 26th Street. The first cat to be admitted there was one from Cleveland, Ohio, which was to be boarded for three months during the absence of its owner in Europe and also to be treated for disease. This club was incorporated under the state laws of Illinois, on January 26, 1899. In connection with it is a children's cat club, which has for its primary object the teaching of kindness to animals by awakening in the young people an appreciative love for cats. At the show of the Chicago Cat Club, small dogs and cavies are exhibited also, the Cavy Club and the Pet Dog Club having affiliated with the Chicago Cat Club.
The president of the Chicago Cat Club is Mrs. Leland Norton, of the Drexel Kennels, at 4011 Drexel Boulevard, Chicago. The corresponding secretary is Mrs. Laura Daunty Pelham, 315 Interocean Building, and the other officers are: Vice-president, Miss Gertrude Estabrooks; recording secretary, Miss Jennie Van Allen; and treasurer, Mrs. Ella B. Shepard. Membership is only one dollar a year, and the registration fee in the Chicago stud book fifty cents for each cat.
The cat shows already held and the flourishing state of our cat clubs have proved that America has as fine, if not finer, cats than can be found in England, and that interest in finely bred cats is on the increase in this country. The effect of the successful cat clubs and cat shows must be to train intelligent judges and to raise the standard of cats in this country. It will also tend to make the cat shows of such a character that kind-hearted owners need not hesitate to enter their choicest cats. As yet, however, the judging at cat shows is not so well managed as in England. It should be a rule that the judges of cats should not only understand their fine points, but should be in sympathy with the little pets.
Cat dealers who have a number of cats entered for competition, should not be allowed on the board of judges. In England, the cats to be judged are taken by classes into a tent for the purpose, and the door is fastened against all but the judges; whereas over here the cats are too often taken out of their cages in the presence of a crowd of spectators and judged on a table or some public place, thereby frightening the timid ones and bringing annoyance to the owners.
Again, there should be several judges. In England there are seven, including two or three women, and these are assigned to different classes: Mr. Harrison Weir, F.R.H.S., the well-known authority on cats, and Louis Wain, the well-known cat artist, are among them. In this country there are a number of women who are not dealers, but who are fully posted in the necessary qualifications for a high-bred cat. American cat shows should have at least three judges, one of whom, at least, should be a woman. A cat should be handled gently and kept as calm as possible during the judging. Women are naturally more gentle in their methods, and more tenderhearted. When my pets are entered for competition, may some wise, kind woman have the judging of them!
In judging a cat the quality and quantity of its fur is the first thing considered. In a long-haired cat this includes the "lord mayor's chain," or frill, the tail, and, most important of all, the ear-tufts. The tufts between the toes and the flexibility of the tail are other important points. The shape of head, eyes, and body are also carefully noted. A short-haired cat is judged first for color, then for eyes, head, symmetry, and ears.
In all cats the head should show breadth between the eyes. The eyes should be round and open. White cats to be really valuable should have blue eyes (without deafness); black cats should have yellow eyes; other cats should have pea-green eyes, or in some cases, as in the brown, self-colored eyes. The nose should be short and tapering. The teeth should be good, and the claws flat. The lower leg should be straight, and the upper hind leg lie at closed angles. The foot should be small and round (in the maltese, pointed). A good cat has a light frame, but a deep chest; a slim, graceful, and fine neck; medium-sized ears with rounded tips. The croup should be square and high; the tail of a short-haired cat long and tapering, and of a long-haired cat broad and bent over at the end.
The good results of a cat show are best told in a few words by one who has acted as judge at an American exhibition.
"One year," he said, "people have to learn that there is such a thing as a cat; the next they come to the show and learn to tell the different breeds; another year they learn the difference between a good cat and a poor one; and the next year they become exhibitors, and tell the judges how to award the premiums."