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America's Interest in Cats

American interest in the cat is often said to have originated within the 20th century, since the advent of exhibitions and the taking up of the cat-cult by the public. This impression is not borne out by facts. The first cat-shows were held in Maine between 1860 and 1870, even before the great exhibition instituted in London in 1871 by the well-known animal painter, Harrison Weir. But cat-shows in America were not known outside of Maine until one was held in the Madison Square Garden, New York, in 1895.

The exhibitions in England have gone on from Mr. Weir's first show up to the present time, so that the marking epochs in modern cat history may be dated from the Crystal Palace show in 1871, and the New York show in April 1895. From these shows has arisen what may be described as a cult, or in some ways an industry. Numbers of individuals, principally women, have taken up the cat as a partial means of livelihood, selling those they rear by exhibiting them to the public. The outcome of these ventures has been the production of different colors, strains and families. Clubs have arisen for the care and maintenance of exhibitions and registries and stud-books have been started.

The varieties or breeds recognized in shows are the Persian, Siamese, Abyssinian and ordinary domestic short-haired cats. The Persian and Angora may be said to be the same cat, though distinctions were drawn in old days; but these were very indefinite. At the present time we draw up rules and regulations for two large groups which are the long-haired cats and the short-haired cats. These are judged by points and classified by color distinctions. Angora is a small place, and comparatively few cats could have come from there, but many have come from other parts of Asia.

Taking the long-haired division first, because commercially it is the most prominent, the judge requires that the cat shall be short in body with a short tail and short legs, the latter shorter in front than behind. The chest should be wide, the loin square and firm, the bones of the legs well developed and the frame sturdy. The head that corresponds with this formation and is required is a broad, round head with short, wide nose, eyes large and round and set well apart. The ears, a most important feature, should be as small as possible and placed on the side of the head, the base of the ear being narrow, not gaping wide open, with a tuft of hair at the apex. This standard is more or less based upon original imported specimens from Asia.

The colors most valuable and most approved are the light silvers, smokes, blues (or slate color) white, black, orange, cream and tortoise-shells; and the tabbies of different colors are also favorites. The tabby cat is a cat that has a light ground-color and is spotted, barred or striped with darker color, and the word "tabby" has no reference to the sex of the animal.

The great feature required in tabby cats is that the ground-color should afford as distinct a contrast to the stripes, bars or spots as possible; the colors should be vivid and the marks very plain. There are spotted tabbies, and in these the spots must be round, clear and distinct; but we seldom see a good one of this variety unless it come from India, the home of the best spotted tabbies. The solid-colored cats are the whites, blues, blacks and smokes; although recently the silvers, creams and oranges have in a few instances almost attained perfection in being without marks or foreign color.

The color of eyes required may be briefly summed up as blue (as deep as possible) for a white cat; emerald-green for light silver or chinchillas, as they have been called; and yellow to orange, as deep as possible, for all other varieties. The color and beauty of the cat's eyes vary according to the state of health, the light and the time of day.

NOTE: This article is for information only. See your veterinarian for medical advise.

We plan to post articles that are informative and helpful to other cat lovers. Having been "owned" by cats for years, we know they can be demanding, but also be very entertaining and fun.

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