It was in 1871, with cat popularity rising, that a Mr Harrison Weir had the great idea of running a cat show, so that people might see how beautiful cats could be. Thousands queued up to see them in the Crystal Palace, the magnificent exhibition centre in south London, later to be tragically destroyed by fire. And, thereafter, people began the selective breeding of cats, many of the famous, including Queen Victoria, owning unusual types.
It was rare in those days to know the names of a cat’s parents and grandparents. But it was soon discovered that, by mating cats of the same colour, or coat patterns, kittens could be produced resembling the torn cat and queen. Careful records were written out, giving details of each cat used for breeding, and before long pedigree certificates were being issued, and it was possible to trace back to a cat’s great-great-grandparents.
As more cat shows were held, visitors came from all over the world to admire the beautiful cats in Britain. Many bought prizewinners which they took back to their homelands. The USA started to hold cat shows and soon cats were just as popular there. Today there are shows in many other parts of the world, but the largest is held in Britain, with over 2,000 cats appearing in the National Cat Club Show at Olympia, west London.
The National Cat Club was established in 1887 with the aim of promoting the breeding of pure-bred cats and the running of cat shows. But in 1898, Lady Marcus Beresford formed a rival organization, The Cat Club, the aims of which were identical. For seven years The Cat Club bravely struggled on. It did not measure up to the task and The National Cat Club again reigned supreme. But there was more competition to come in the form of another newly formed group, this time calling themselves The Cat Fanciers’ Association, until, in 1910 following much squabbling between ‘ailurophiles’ (devotees of the domestic cat), a conference of interested parties was called at which agreement to form The Governing Council of The Cat Fancy was reached.
The first General Meeting of this august body was held at the Inns of Courts Hotel, London, on 11 October, 1910. Seventy years later it is still the powerful Governing Council of The Cat Fancy which provides for the registration of cats and cat pedigrees, classifies cat breeds, approves cat shows, and does all within its power to improve cat breeding and welfare.
The council has a large number of affiliated Cat Clubs, all of which may, when their membership totals one hundred persons, appoint a delegate to the council. They may appoint two delegates if membership reaches 150, but should it fall below the required figure, the club loses its right to representation. However, some historic, specialist clubs, like the Siamese Cat Club are allowed representation irrespective of membership level.
Over the past few years, cats have again enjoyed a rise in popularity. The pundits say it is because they are a ‘convenient’ pet. But I wonder!
True the cat may be an easier animal to keep than a dog – after all, you don’t have to take it for walks! But does anyone really own, or keep a pet cat? The cat decides whether it wishes to live with us. It enjoys an independence of life and spirit that most of us wish we could emulate, and we are enriched by its presence in our home.
He blinks upon the heart And yawns in deep conte ccepting all the comfort That Providence has sent Louder he purrs and lou( In one glad hymn of prai For all the night’s advent For quiet, restful days. Life will go on for ever With all that cat can wisl Warmth and the glad pro Of fish and milk and fish Only – the thought distur He’s noticed once or twii That times are somehow A nimbler race of mice.