LOST BREEDS OF THE LATE 1800S AND EARLY 1900S
While the Victorian and Edwardian exhibitor would be astounded (or even horrified) at the variety of breeds and colours on the modern show-bench, what about the breeds we missed? A number of unusual breeds are mentioned in early cat fancy literature. Some failed to attract sufficient interest from early cat fanciers. Others were based on hearsay and travellers tales and may never have existed in the form reported in early cat literature. Yet others were cases of mistaken identity (The Madagascar cat) or were mutations that were not perpetuated. Some of these "lost breeds" are known today by a different name although the early descriptions make it difficult to be certain. And yet other varieties, such as the British Tick, were absorbed into breeds that existed at the time.
One of the more amusing cases of mistaken identity was that of the "Madagascar Cat" which won the Foreign class at Crystal Palace (around 1900), but which turned out to be a Ringtailed Lemur. At the time, sailors sometimes brought back tame lemurs and called these little primates Madagascar Cats. The farce was reported in general newspapers as well as in the cat magazines of the time - surely a cat judge could tell the difference between a cat and a fruit-eating primate? Defending the decision, the judge (Miss H Cochran) reportedly stated "A lemur is a lemur, but a Madagascar cat is a Madagascar cat". A number of hybrids were also reported, including ones now known to be impossible such as the Civet/Cat hybrid and the Marten/Cat hybrid (the Civet referred to the Viverrine Civet, although the name has sometimes been used for the African Wildcat). There was also ongoing debate about the origins of the Siamese cats, with some enthusiasts insisting that it was descended from a cross between the Bay Cat and a viverrine. There were even early reports of Leopard Cat hybrids, decades before the Bengal was bred.
Although livestock breeders understood how to "fix" mutations by crossing to a more common type and then back-crossing the offspring to the mutant parent, cat fanciers seemed to hold out in the hope of finding a mate of the same type. The most famous loss was probably the original Mexican Hairless Cat, a breed that could have been saved. It would be some 60 years, and several missed opportunities, before the hairless type was re-established. Although we associate Peke-faced cats with the American Peke-faced Red Persian of the 1980s, a similar mutation was reported much earlier.
Lemurs and civets notwithstanding, imagine what might be on the modern show-bench had the following varieties attracted enough serious interest!
These had been bred by Sir William Cooke, of Newbury, but in 1927 his last male died, thus ending a very remarkable strain of blue-eyed albinistic Abyssinians. HC Brooke noted that a lady in Yorkshire owned a pair of these cats, but had never shown them and that she was contemplating having the male neutered. It was suggested that the strain derived from a cross with Siamese cat, but Sir William was confident that this was not the case and that the colouration did not bear out this theory. These cats were creamy white, with rabbit-coloured fur on their ears and an "eelstripe" or dorsal line down the back. Their eyes were blue suggesting a form of albinism, though otherwise they sound similar to silver Abyssinians. Lady Mary Barnard of County Durham also had several of these cats. In the conservative early days of the cat fancy, new colours turning up in an established breed were considered freaks or a sign of mis-mating.
Helen Winslow wrote in "Concerning Cats" (1900): "Dr. H. L. Hammond, of Killingly, Ct, makes a speciality of the rare Australian cats, and has taken numerous prizes with them at every cat show in this country, where they are universally admired. His Columbia is valued at six hundred dollars, and his Tricksey at five hundred dollars. They are, indeed, beautiful creatures, though somewhat unique in the cat world, as we see it. They are very sleek cats, with fur so short, glossy, and fine that it looks like the finest satin. Their heads are small and narrow, with noses that seem pointed when compared with other cats. They are very intelligent and affectionate little creatures, and make the loveliest of pets. Dr. and Mrs. Hammond are extremely fond of their unusual and valuable cat family, and tell the most interesting tales of their antics and habits. His Columbia was an imported cat, and the doctor has reason to believe that she with her mate are originally from the Siamese cat imported from Siam to Australia. They are all very delicate as kittens, the mother rarely having more than one at a time. With two exceptions, these cats have never had more than two kittens at a litter. They are very partial to heat, but cannot stand cold weather. They have spells of sleeping when nothing has power to disturb them, but when they do wake up they have a "high time," running and playing. They are affectionate, being very fond of their owner, but rather shy with strangers. They are uncommonly intelligent, too, and are very teachable when young. They are such beautiful creatures, besides being rare in this part of the world, that it is altogether probable that they will be much sought after as pets." A photo of Tricksey also appeared in “Angora Cats” by Robert Kent James, 1898.
Australian Cat (1900) (Tricksey, male)
Australian Cat (1902)
Australian Cat (circa 1920) (short-legged female)
Australian Male "Amee"
In March 1902, another description of the "Australian cat" appeared in the magazine "Our Cats": "An interesting little spotted cat from Australia. This animal's peculiarity is a triple-kinked tail and very curious hindquarters. We don't know if it would be right to describe this as kangaroo-like, but certainly we never saw a cat so well furnished for a squatting position, the curve from the heels going deep into the fleshy part of the hind-legs, and suggesting a long, leaping gait. The kinks are knots in the joints on which it might rest at different angles if employed, and as you pass the hand along the tail it is as if it had been broken and set again."
In “Animal Life and the World of Nature” (Vol 1, 1902-1903), a contributor wrote "There is, of course, no breed of cats indigenous to Australia, but, amongst others, a strain of cats has formed itself exhibiting very marked characteristics which. however, lead us to agree with an American author who asserts the probability that they are derived from imported cats of Eastern origin, possibly Siamese. Very curious is the little grey spotted cat here shown, though unhappily the position does not bring out his great length of hind leg nor his peculiar rather long and tiger-shaped nose, which, seen sideways, gives him a queer expression. He has, like his mother and his brothers and sisters, a triple kink in his tail."
In Frances Simpson's 1903 "Book of the Cat" H C Brooke wrote "There are, of course, no cats indigenous to Australia. An American writer gives it as his opinion that a certain strain of Australian cats is derived from imported Siamese cats. A specimen we possessed last year, which was born on a ship during the passage from Australia, and which exactly resembled its dam, certainly had every appearance of being of Eastern origin. It had the marten-shaped head, and a triple kink in the tail; its voice also resembled that of the Siamese. In colour it was grey with dark spots." In the same book, in the chapter "Cats in America" Simpson wrote that the first authentic Australian Cats were believed to have made their appearance in the USA in about 1900 or 1901 (this is inaccurate since they were described or depicted in 2 American books published in 1898 and 1900). Her American correspondent wrote “On one or two occasions we have had Australian Cats exhibited and they were funny little beasts, sitting up like a squirrel, and with much the same shape of head.”
The Australian cat was recognized as a breed in the USA at CFA’s AGM in December 1910. They were described as being very small cats with velvet-like fur, resembling moleskin. Their whiskers were extremely short and they had no ear tufts. The first Australian Cat registered in the Stud Book was Champion Amee, born August 1909, bred by Mrs Grisley and owned by Mrs FY Mathis, of Greenwich, Connecticut (CFA Yearbook 1959). Amee was described as tabby-and-white with yellow eyes. His parents were Australie (sire) and Stella (dam). Amee went on to win quite a few prizes including Firsts in 1911 at Empire, Philadephia and Atlanta shows. Another cat, also called Australie, was a tortie-and-white owned by Mrs Mitchelson. Mitchelson had several other Australian cats including Kangaroo (tabby/white female), Opossum (tabby female), Orama (an odd eyed white female), Sealskin (seal brown female) and Lady Grey (tabby-and-white with yellow eyes) who is also claimed to be the first in the register, predating Amee.
Another early breeder was Miss J McIntosh who owned Sidney (blue tabby male with green eyes) and Victoria I (blue female with orange eyes). The first appearance of an Australian Cat at a show (excepting that mentioned by Winslow in 1900) was in January 1906, when James Anderson's male Australian, Teddy Roosevelt, was exhibited. Miss AK Richards exhibited her Australian Cats for many years, beginning in 1909, and had a consistent winner in a female called Budget.
In December 1909, the New York Times published the following article (with possible journalistic licence): "Aristocratic Cats at Poultry Show. Nicely groomed felines look their best at Madison Square Garden. Australian Kitten Nobby. Kept late hours once, but has reformed and is now considered a classy prize pet. The aristocracy among cats, lying on soft pillows of yellow satin in silk-lined cages, are taking life easy at the Atlantic Cat Show in Madison Square Garden, where the lazy looking, handsomely groomed felines are an added attraction to the Poultry Show. These are not the kind of cats you see on the back fence, but are sleek and have pink noses and soft fur. There is one kitten from Australia, homely and small, which one may purchase for $500. It is the only Australian kitten in this country and has a distinguished pedigree [...] It belongs to Mrs FY Mathis of Noroton Heights, Conn, who is manager of the show. The kitten is named Aimee Amos and was brought from the Antipodes by a missionary who didn't like it because it was so homely and insisted on meowing at any hour of the night. But Aimee Amos has reformed and taken on cultured manners and a distinguished air."
Miss Richard’s article in Cat Review, April 1910, notes the alternative name of Kangaroo Cat which "evidently comes from the peculiarity of the tail, which was long and close-coated, and when the cat jumped or leaped, it curved in a peculiar way suggestive of a kangaroo.” In December 1910 at the Madison Square Garden show was “The only white Australian kitten ever shown in this country is “Orama”, owned by Mrs JC Mitchelson of Tarrifville, Conn. There are nine valuable Australians benched this year; the largest number ever brought together at a show here.”. A few years later, in December 1913 at the Atlantic Cat Club, Astor Hotel was “Another rare species of cat which is seldom shown was the Australian pair owned by Mrs Clifford B Harmon of Greenwich and shown by Mrs FY Mathis. They are George Washington and Martha Washington. Like the Siamese cats, this breed never changes, and its colour is a brownish blue.” This latter comment was inaccurate as white, tabby-and-white, tortie-and-white and tabby were also recorded; in fact the seal-brown cat Sealskin sounds and looks like an early Burmese type cat. In January 1914 at Madison Square Garden was “Two playful little kittens, Sapphire Grace, a blue female, and George Washington, an Australian grey, earned their spurs with victories in the “Best Kitten”. Sapphire Grace, a winner in an earlier class on the opening day, scored in the class for the best shorthaired, and George Washington won in the longhaired division.” A longhaired Australian seems unlikely unless there had been a mismating with a longhaired stud.
An absence of information after 1914 may be explainable by World War I. The story resumes in 1921. According to The Cat Review, the 16th Championship show of the Boston Cat Club at Hotel Vendome, Boston, Massachussetts in Jan 1921 had an Australian female class judged by Miss J R Kroeh. It was won by “Bronda” owned by Mrs Elma A Burns while the Australian kitten class was won by “Cherzo” owned by Mrs Annie S Greeley. Then in January 1922 at the Atlantic Cat Club & The Silver Society show at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York judged by Mrs Warriel and Mrs Sidney R Kelf the winning female Australian cat was “Greenwich Phoebe Snow” owned by Mrs F Y Mathis.
By 1925, a lack of males saw the breed in rapid decline in the USA and it became extinct. It is possible this was due to inbreeding depressing having reduced male viability/fertility especially as the breed does not seem to have been very numerous to begin with. Also the photo of the deformed female cat, from around 1920, could indicate health issues in the breed. The Australian breed was still hanging on (just) in September 1926. At the Michigan State Fair and Detroit Persian Society, the Boston Cat Club Challenge Cups include: “209 Blue Australian Trophy. Donated by Miss Richards. Four wins. Two in Boston.”
The story then crosses to England. H C Brooke commented in "Cat Gossip" in December 1926 "The white Australian SH [Shorthair]. cats which, it is said, will be seen at the Southern Counties, will no doubt arouse much interest. From the description of them given me by the owner of the original specimens, they would seem to be of a decidedly Oriental type, slender legged, long in build, with big ears, arched noses, and rather pointed face. In Helen K. Winslow’s book, Concerning Cats (1900), there is a very good photo of an Australian cat (of course, no cat species is native to Australia), owned by Dr. H. L Hammond of Killingly, Connecticut. This was apparently a very fine-coated cat, beautifully “mackerel-striped,” with very big ears and arched face. It says there: “Some authorities claim that the cats known in this country (America) as Australian cats are of Siamese origin,” About 1900 or 1901, 1 think, I owned a cat brought by a sailor from Australia. I fancy I exhibited him once or twice. He was a small cat of decidedly Oriental type, a grey, “spotted tabby,” thin legged, with large ears, arched forehead, pointed small face, and a tail of normal length, but with three kinks or breaks equidistant down its length."
Brooke then continued "Quite by chance I came across a reference to this Australian Cat in Our Cats for March, 1902. I cannot now be sure by whom written, but I fancy by my old friend Mrs. Leuty Collins. “An interesting little spotted cat from Australia. This animal’s peculiarity is a triple-kinked tail and very curious hindquarters. We don’t know if it would be right to describe this as kangaroo-like” (No, it wouldn’t—Ed.) “but certainly we never saw a cat so well furnished for a squatting position, the curve from the heels going deep into the fleshy part of the hind-legs, and suggesting a long, leaping gait. The kinks are knots in the joints on which it might rest at different angles if employed, and as you pass the hand along the tail it is as if it had been broken and set again." This is the same description printed in Winslow's book.
In a January 1927 edition of Cat Gossip, Brooke continues: We are indebted to Miss Katharine Wilson for some highly interesting information about the white Australian Cats to which we referred last week. Miss Wilson writes:- “ Our original cat was given us by a sailor who brought her over, and we are told these eats are known as Australian Squirrel Cats, Soon after arrival she presented us with three kittens, only one of which, a male, survived. In due course she mated again with her son, and had male and female kittens, both of which, with the original queen, are still alive. Since then several more have been bred. All these cats are very long in body, ears and tail, of decidedly Oriental type, and with the exception of two, have amber eyes. Of these two the male has blue eyes. the female one blue and one amber. They have a peculiar cry, akin to that of the Siamese. They are excellent climbers, and, in fact, seem happier when at a height than on the ground. This very morning one climbed to the top of our wireless aerial pole. When kittening the queens make their own nest in some dark corner, and if the kits are touched before their eyes are open. in all probability the queens will desert them altogether. They sit up on their back legs and hold their food between their front paws and eat it in much the same manner as a squirrel eats a nut. They are most affectionate, except with each other at feeding time, when they grab for their food and use horrible language to each other. They are most hardy, provided they get their liberty, and are wonderful hunters. We find that they prefer to eat raw meat given in lumps which they tear. When the meat comes for the dogs there is generally a wild. scramble of white cats and kittens, and it is with difficulty that we get the meat to a place of safety as they all fight for it tooth and claw.” From these remarks it is evident these cats, like the Siamese. possess considerable personality. They would appear in some respects to resemble my own Australian Cat described last week, and it would seem that the authorities mentioned in Concerning Cats. who attribute a Siamese (or possibly ‘Malay?) origin to these Australians. are probably correct in their views. At any rate, they should form an interesting feature at the SCCC [Southern Counties Cat Club] Show, . though on what lines any judge is to judge them - for what judge knows anything about them ? - is somewhat of a mystery.(or possibly Malay) origin for the Australian cat. (The "Malay Cat" was another variety attracting considerable interest at the time.)
The SCCC Show was held Jan 26th, 1927 in Kentish Town and the Shorthairs were judged by Mrs Ambrose. The results simply read "AUSTRALIANS (3). All same owner." In the AC Novice class, 3rd place is awarded to "an Australian". Sadly no names are given for any of the cats. However, after this, the trail of the Australian Cat in Britain appears to go cold. (Information about the Australian as a breed in the USA was researched by Lesley Morgan Blythe)
Though often confused nowadays with the Abyssinian, the Bunny Cat was a distinct British variety. Early cat show judge Louis Wain described them as very big cats, both shorthaired and longhaired, who were born black and later lightened to an unbarred agouti coat. These ticked cats of early British Shorthair conformation would have been used in developing the Abyssinian. Since they also produced longhairs, they are implicated in the origin of the Somali. Recently. the British Tick has achieved preliminary recognition and recreates the shorthaired form of the Bunny Cat.
BURMESE (1900S STYLE)
The "Burmese" cat, which appeared in this photograph in Frances Simpson's 1903 "Book of the Cat", appears to be an Oriental ticked tabby, rather than the breed known today as the Burmese. Golden-eyed brown Temple cats from Thailand were described alongside the blue-eyed, seal-point "Royal Siamese," Simpson's book also described yellow-eyed brown Siamese cats, but were apparently not sufficiently interesting to the early cat fancier and the type was lost. They were probably forerunners of the modern Havanas, Burmese or Tonkinese - these modern breeds are western refinements of multiple naturally occurring varieties imported from Thailand in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The type depicted here is probably represented by the modern Oriental.
CANON GIRDLESTONE'S BREED
Mrs Carew-Cox, an early breeder of Russian Blues, noted that short-haired blues existed in the north of Norway, in Iceland and in some parts of the US. "Many years ago, some blues (with faint tabby markings) were imported from the north of Norway; these were called 'Canon Girdlestone's breed'. I owned two very pretty soft-looking creatures." and also "In 1890 I owned a very pretty soft-looking blue female - she was, in fact, a blue tabby (one of Canon Girdlestone's breed); also a male of the same variety. They had evidently been victims of tapeworm for a considerable period, and finally succumbed owing to the presence of these odious parasites in overwhelming numbers."
The Chinese Lop-Eared cat, known also as the Sumxu, is now regarded as extinct, but was allegedly found in the area around Peking, China. It was described as a longhaired cat with a glossy black or yellow coat and pendulous ears. The Sumxu was described in early 1700s as a curiosity, and again in 1796 when a droop-eared cat was brought back from China. In his book "Variation of Animals and Plants Under Domestication" Charles Darwin referred briefly to a drooping eared race of cats in China. In "The Cat" by Lady Cust (1870) it states "Bosman relates that in the province of Pe-chily, in China, there are cats with long hair and drooping ears, which are in great favour with the Chinese ladies; others say this is not a cat but an animal called 'Samxces'"
This engraving is from Athanasii Kircheri's book "China Monumentis, Qua Sacris qua Profanis" (1666). The book is written in Latin and describes the Sumxu as being like a cat. The engravings would have been done from descriptions or rough sketches rather than from life. It does not look very feline and is much larger than the domestic cat! Later authorities refer to droop-eared cats.
In volume 4 of his "Histoire Naturelle" (?1767), Georges Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon, wrote "The Natural History of The Cat". This was translated into English in 1781 by William Smellie. According to Buffon, "Our domestic cats, though they differ in colour, form no distinct races. The climates of Spain and Syria have alone produced permanent varieties: To these may be added the climate of Pe-chi-ly in China, where the cats have long hair and pendulous ears, and are the favourites of the ladies [Hist. gen. des voyages, par M. l'Abbé Prevot, tom. 6, p10 ]. These domestic cats with pendulous ears, of which we have full descriptions, are still farther removed from the wild and primitive race, than those whose ears are erect. "
In a supplement, Buffon added "I formerly remarked, that, in China, there were cats with pendulous ears. This variety is not found any where else, and perhaps it is an animal of a different species; for travellers, when mentioning an animal called Sumxu, which is entirely domestic, say, that they can compare it to nothing but the cat, with which it has a great resemblance. Its colour is black or yellow, and its hair very bright and glittering. The Chinese put silver collars about the necks of these animals, and render them extremely familiar. As they are not common, they give a high price, both on account of their beauty, and because they destroy rats [Journal des Savana, tom. 1. p261]."
Though reports refer to the Chinese Lop having pendent or pendulous ears (suggesting abnormally long or floppy ears e.g. like a Labrador dog) this was probably an exaggeration and, in the absence of any current examples or pictorial evidence, the ears were probably folded in a manner similar to the modern Scottish Fold.
The Chinese, or Hanging Ear, Cat according to "Die Hauskatze, ihre Rassen und Varietäten" (Housecats, Their Races and Varieties) from "Illustriertes Katzenbuch" (An Illustrated Book of Cats) written and illustrated by Jean Bungartz, published in Berlin in 1896 (There is no published English translation of this book, this gives the gist of the text)
The Chinese or Hanging-Ear cat is most interesting, because it provides proof that by continual disuse of an organ, the organ atrophies. So with the Chinese cat the hearing and/or the ears have deteriorated. Michel says the Chinese, not only admire the cat in porcelain, but also value it for culinary reasons. The cats are regarded as special titbits and enjoyed particularly with chains (noodles?), with rice". This cat is bred particularly for the purpose of meat production, and is a preferred Chinese titbit; this is not unusual if one considers that the Chinese consume much the sight of which turns the stomachs of Europeans. The poor creature is locked up in small bamboo cages and much like a kind of geese fattened with plentiful portions. Extensive trade is carried on with other parts of Asia and the Chinese allow no tomcats to be exported so there is no interference in this lucrative source of income.
Due to the restrictive conditions that have deprived the cat of its actual use, its hearing decreased because it was no longer needed as for hunting its own food. With no need for watchfulness, it was useless to have sharp hearing to listen for hidden things so the hearing became blunt and in natural consequence the ear lost its upright nature, gradually become lower and becoming the hanging ear that is the characteristic feature of the Chinese cat. At first impression this is a surprising and amusing look, but is impression is lost with closer examination. If one ignores the characteristic of the ears, one sees a beauty similar to the Angora cat: a long, close coat of hair, albeit less rich, covers the body. The hair is silky-soft and shining and the colour is usually a light yellow (isabelline) or a dirty white yellow, although some have the usual colouring of the common house-cat. In size it considerably exceeds house-cats and is stronger. The ears hang completely, as with our hunting dogs and are large in relation to cats.
Although the Chinese cat is found in considerable numbers in its homeland, it rarely arrives at European animal markets. Only one such cat has reached us in the flesh; we acquired this years ago when a sailor returning from China brought it into Hamburg. The accompanying illustration is based on this. In character it is like the Angora cat and somewhat inactive. It also prefer to live by a warm fire, is a little sensitive to attention, hears badly and is at its most animated when it sees the milk or food. Apart from its unusual ears, it does not have any really attractive characteristics and is a strange representative of the house cat.
In Frances Simpson's "Book of the Cat", Mr H C Brooke described the Chinese lop-eared cat: "There is said to be a variety of Chinese cat which is remarkable for its pendent ears. We have never been able to ascertain anything definite with regard to this variety. Some years back a class was provided for them at a certain Continental cat show, and we went across in the hope of seeing, and if possible acquiring, some specimens; but alas the class was empty! We have seen a stuffed specimen in a Continental museum, which was a half long-haired cat, the ears being pendent down the sides of the head instead of erect; but do not attach much value to this."
In 1926, Brooke wrote that "for donkey's years" Continental cat shows had offered prizes for the Drop-eared Chinese Cat. On each occasion, the cat failed to materialise and Brooke considered it to be mythical. Other writers suggested it was the result of haematomas causing the ears to fold or crumple. Brooke noted that although no-one ever saw the cat itself, one always met "someone who knows someone whose friends has often seen them". In an April 1927 issue of Cat Gossip, he wrote: "The mystery of the Chinese Drop-eared eats will, we fear, never be solved. We are beginning to think that the Chinese gentleman whom we met once and who assured us ‘with a smile that was childlike and bland,’ that he knew them well, was indulging in “terminological inexactitudes.” […] On the face of, a cat with hanging ears seems most unlikely. Yet when we consider the extraordinary modification domestication has effected in the dog and the rabbit the wonder seems rather that the cat has remained for thousands of years unaltered. We have inquired of naturalists all over the globe; of the Chinese Embassy, of Hagenbeck’s the great Hamburg animal dealers; of a certain well known author who has lived for years in China and knows that country well; The American Express Cohave very kindly instructed their representatives at Shanghai and Peking to make inquiries, without result. Animal dealers in Shanghai, they say, do not believe in the existence of such a cat. None of our wild animal dealers know it. Against this we have the detailed description given by the German naturalist, Brehm, last century - and he was usually very accurate - and the fact that forty-five years ago we saw a stuffed specimen, half coated with yellowish white fur in a Continental museum! This, however, we have always thought might be a fake or a cat with its ears deformed by canker and possibly presented in all good faith. At any rate, we are afraid the Drop-eared cat, if ever existed, is now extinct. This fate has overtaken many interesting local races, usually from their characteristics being bred out by mixing with common strains. For instance, we doubt if any pure specimens now exist of the remarkable Phu-Qoc or Fu-Oc Dog the hair on whose hack grew pointing towards the head [possibly now represented by the Thai Ridgeback]. Whilst of the New Mexican Hairless Cat, specimens of which were yet alive in 1900, absolutely no record seems to exist, here or in New Mexico, except the photo and description we were fortunate enough to secure for science."
The last reported sighting of the Chinese Lop seems to have been in 1938 when a droop-eared cat was imported from China. On that last occasion the mutation was thought to be restricted to white longhaired cats. It is hard say for certain whether these were isolated cases or whether the Chinese Lop was a genuine variety. It cannot even be said with certainty that the trait was an inherited one.
The exact conformation of the Chinese Lop cannot be established, but the general type is probably represented by the Scottish Fold and its derivative breeds.
In 1896, Jean Bungartz wrote is his "Illustrated Book of Cats" (in German only): The Cyprus cat is yellow grey with black stripes and appears to have been carefully bred on the island of Cyprus. Michel Villamont wrote of the Cap della Gatte (cat cape) on Cyprus where a monastery was destroyed by the Turks and where there were cats that very effectively made war on the large numbers of snakes. Michel said of the snakes "they are long, black and white and around 6-8 inches thick on this island and are hunted and killed by the monastery cats. At noon the monastery bell calls these bold hunters to the meal, but as soon as they finish their food they resume anew their pursuit of their enemies."
In all probability the Cyprus cat was kept and bred in its original colouring and form. But not all yellow-grey, black cats are genuine Cyprus cats, unless their ancestors come from this island.
A blue or grey cat was described by HC Brooke (writing in 1927) as being found almost exclusively on the Isle of Cyprus. The fur was short and light grey. The paw pads were black and the ears were short and erect.
THE MOOR-HEADED CAT
In 1896, Jean Bungartz wrote is his "Illustrated Book of Cats" (in German only): The black-headed or Mohrenkopf (Moorish-headed) cat must be clean white, with contrasting colour on the head and tail. Consistent specimens of this variety are extremely rare and it can probably be regarded as one of the most peculiar colour patterns of the domestic cat. The colour of the head and tail can be either black, grey, blue or yellow with no white hairs except those regularly showing up on the head. A previously mentioned, cats with good and correct markings are highly valued.
At the Kentish Town show in 1927, Mrs J H Richardson showed a huge (16.5 lbs) black and white cat "from the burning sands of Africa". This apparently caused quite a stir at the show. The cat had been imported from Egypt in 1925 and was entered in the short-hair neuter class at Kentish Town in 1927. As far as she knew he was the only specimen of his type in Britain (and being a neuter he was destined to remain so!). The type to which the cat belonged were the half-wild cats found near Bedouin encampments or on the outskirts of civilisation. They were largely nocturnal, hiding in the daytime and hunting or scavenging at night. In conformation the cats were large, very powerful, long-legged and had short necks. The small ears were set wide apart on a broad square-looking head. The eyes were rather oblique and generally wide open, "blazing contempt and defiance at their many enemies". Mrs Richardson explained that this breed was in no way related to the real Egyptian - or Caffre - cat.
Mrs Richardson found her cat near a Bedouin encampment outside Alexandria. He was skinny, ugly, half-grown and had a string-like tail. Armed with thick riding gloves, she caught the cat and set out to tame him. At first he remained wild, but at the end of a fortnight, he would eat meat from her hand. When he was tame and she allowed him his freedom, he did not roam away and became very devoted to his owner. Fed on raw meat and water he grew in size, but not in beauty and many people said he was hideous. He had short hair, a "hopeless irregular" black and white coat and a black patch covering one eye.
On the journey to England, he was allowed his freedom in hotels, ships and trains and he was well-behaved on these occasions, returning to his mistress and frequently spending the time asleep once he had explored his surroundings. While living at Norfolk he did good duty as a ratter, but during a stay in Hampshire he poached small rabbits and baby chickens. While in Hampshire he had to be tied up on a 20 ft string to prevent him poaching. He apparently bore this with good grace. In his next home he enjoyed complete freedom though he rarely wandered far afield. He also enjoyed evening walks with his mistress - often as much as five miles!
Brian Vesey-Fitzgerald "Cats" (1958) mentioned that there were many other varieties of short-haired cats, some of which occasionally appear in the 'Any Other Variety' classes at the big shows. He wrote that "the Grey Cat (the Grimalkin of folk-lore) does not seem to occur in Britain, for some inexplicable reason, and only very occasionally in the United States (and there apparently only in the states of New England) whereas it is by no means uncommon on the Spanish side of the Pyrenees. The Grey Cat is a striped tabby from which the stripes have altogether disappeared except for two broad bands on the forelegs and a black tip to the tail. Since this is the true cat of witchcraft, it would seem that it must once have been much more widespread than it is to-day." This Grey Cat sounds like Canon Girdlestone's Breed.
Today, “Himalayan” refers to a colourpoint Persian, but huge, strong, blue-eyed pure white longhaired “Himalayan cats” were found in the high forest regions of Northern India, bordering Tibet, by English travellers. Its ancestry supposedly dated back thousands of years. Some of those pure white Himalayans were imported to Europe and were exhibited in London by Mrs McLaren Morrison (who seemed to collect all sorts of obscure varieties). Unfortunately most died, apparently due to homesickness or the British climate, and left no purebred offspring. Himalayan males were used to improve the eye colour and coat texture in white longhairs. (Van Gink “Katten: Verzorging, teelt en rassen”)
Indian Cat (1903)
Indian Cat (1902)
Animal Life and the World of Nature (1902-1903) wrote: "Some of the varieties of the domestic cat of India of India are evidently derived from the smaller wild breeds of that country. From what variety is derived the peculiar cat whose photograph we give (lent us by Messrs. Harmsworth) it is hard to say. The colour of this cat above is a beautiful light chestnut red, fading through various shades of golden yellow to white underneath. On the sides he is beautifully pencilled, and faintly striped on the legs. The forehead is wrinkled like that of a Chow dog; head, long, shallow and pointed, legs very long and slender, the tail of great length and tapering like that of a pointer. The coat is extremely short; ears thin, large and mobile; eyes, piercing in expression, of clear amber colour. His calls are varied, and somewhat resemble the raucous voice of the Siamese cat. The most careless observer will at once note certain structural features in which this cat differs from the common cat. He has won many first prizes, and is the property of Mrs. H.C. Brooke, of Welling."
HC Brooke's own wife owned an "Indian cat" and in 1903, Brooke wrote, "Very curious and handsome is the Indian cat 'Indischer Fürst' exhibited by Mrs H C Brooke. His most striking peculiarities are the length and slenderness of his limbs, the extreme shortness of his coat, and his thin and tapering tail [...] His ears are small, but as a kitten they were of enormous size, and with his long and pointed head gave him a most weird experience. The voice of this cat is very variable, and far more resembles the raucous call of the Siamese than the voice of any European cat." This cat, and his sister, were apparently stolen from a hotel in Bombay by an English sailor. He was given to a shoemaker in Leytonstone and later sold to Mrs Brooke for a considerable sum plus part-exchange of a kitten with seven toes on each of its paws (these being lucky mascots for sailors). In retrospect it seems that the cat was probably an Oriental (of the older style), but in Brooke's times only the Siamese was known. The Siamese of that time being far less extreme than the modern variety; this painting in Frances Simpson's "Book of the Cat" (1903) indicates it to be similar to the Abyssinian in pattern, but sandy red in colour. It may have been assimilated into the Abyssinian breed along with another vanished shorthair of the time, the British Tick (a ticked tabby of British Short-hair conformation). The "sandy red" may well be the origin of the cinnamon gene since all cinnamon Abyssinians can be traced back to Brooke's cattery.
As a footnote on the cinnamon Abyssinians, these may also trace to an "Imported African Wild Cat" mated to Claude Alexander's Abyssinian "Red Rust" and producing a female called "Goldtick"; Goldtick was mated to Brooke's red self "Ras Brouke" in the 1920s and produced "Tim the Harvester" (registered as ruddy, but also described as chocolate) who may have introduced cinnamon into Abyssinian lines in Britain and the USA.
Bunny Cat or British Tick (1902)
Brian Vesey-Fitzgerald "Cats" (1958) mentioned that there were many other varieties of short-haired cats, some of which occasionally appear in the 'Any Other Variety' classes at the big shows. The Magpie is described as a b1ack-and-white cat marked like a Dutch rabbit and "seems now entirely to have disappeared - a great pity for it was a fascinating creature to look at."
In 1783, Willian Marsden, Fellow of the Royal Society and late Secretary to the President and Council of Fort Marlborough wrote in "The History of Sumatra" of the Malay Cat: "All their tails imperfect and knobbed at the end."
In 'The Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication", Darwin wrote "throughout an immense area, namely, the Malayan Archipelago, Siam, Pequan, and Burmah, all the cats have truncated tails about half the proper length, often with a sort of knob at the end. [...] The Madagascar cat is said to have a twisted tail." (The latter comment may be due to the use of "Madagascar Cat" to mean the Ringtailed Lemur) Mivart had corroborated the statement regarding the Malay cat, of which he said the tail "is only half the ordinary length, and often contorted into a sort of knot, so that it cannot be straightened [...] Its contortion is due to deformity of the bones of the tail," and added that there was a tailless breed of cats in the Crimea.
Miss Lowndes, daughter of writer Mrs Belloc Lowndes, described a Malay kitten recently acquired, along with its mother, from the Straits Settlements. "It has a triple-kinked tail. It is, unfortunately, not of the spotted kind, but these seem to be very rare nowadays." More information was provided by the Director of the Raffles Museum and Library at Singapore "The tail which distinguishes these cats may be clubbed or kinked, very short or of medium length, and the animals themselves of many colours - plain, piebald, or patterned."
The cat fancier and prolific author, H C Brooke, wrote a widely published paper called "The Malay Cat" in 1927. He wrote that the peculiar variety of domestic cat was very little known in Britain and was becoming scarcer in its native habitats, probably due to crossing with long-tailed cats. He noted the possibility that Manx cats were descended from it, citing the Spanish Rock (shipwreck) theory and the prevalence of spotted tabby Manx. Both the Malay cat and the Manx were companionable and "doggy" and a resident in Sumatra had reported to Brooke that it was quite common to see the natives going about their business followed by their cats. "About a quarter of a century ago [1880s] I saw in Holland three beautiful Malay cats, of a sort of drab colour, spotted all over with very clear cut dark brown spots, much resembling those found in some of the Palm Civets. At about the same period, too, some very similar specimens were at the Jardin d'Acclimatation in Paris. The tails of these cats, about three or four inches long, were tightly screwed, or at least the tail formed three complete revolutions. The 'screw' tail, as also the spotted type of colouration, appear to be becoming very rare."
A photograph of a young Malay cat was supplied to Brooke by Mr Boden Kloss, Director of the Raffles Museum in Singapore. Brooke noted that it resembled the Australian cat he had once owned, except that the Malay cat's tail was kinked upwards, while the Australia cat's triple-kinked tail was carried downwards. Mr Boden Kloss was familiar with this type of cat and wrote "A fair proportion of the cats of Singapore seen in native villages are short-tailed animals with a kinked tail. There would [be], I should say, three or four kinks. In colour they may be tabby, or boldly black and white. As a point of interest it may be noted that Felis planiceps [Flat-Headed Cat], one of the wild species of the peninsula, tends to resemble the domestic Malay cat in the matter of tail." Brooke commented that F planiceps was unlikely to be inter-fertile with domestic cats. He reported other sources as commenting that pure Malay cats (that had not been allowed to interbreed with ordinary cats) were said to have a "wild animal odour" most unlike the ordinary domestic cat.
R Shelford, former Curator of the Sarawak Museum wrote in his book "A Naturalist in Borneo" "It may be mentioned here that the domestic cat of the Malays is quite a distinct variety [...] it is a very small tabby with large ears and a body and hindlegs so long that it lacks all grace. The tail is either an absurd twisted knot or else very short and terminating in a knob; this knotting of the tail is caused by a natural dislocation of the vertebrae so that they join onto each other at all sorts of angles." Brooke added that the length of hindleg was a trait shared by the Manx.
Mr H O Forbes had exhibited a Malay cat to the Liverpool Biological Society and showed the cause of the knotting to be the development of wedge-shaped cartilages between the tail vertebrae. Forbes wrote "My remarks referred to the interest I had in exhibiting the creature's skin from the occurrence in the East of what I had noted as extremely common in the cats of Portugal when I lived there about 1876. The kink, I was told was then believed to have become hereditary, from a custom long practised by the Portuguese of pinching or breaking the tails of the new-born kittens, and it would be of special interest if it could be established that the kink in the Malayan cats' tails had been communicated to them through those imported by the early Portuguese into the East. If I can trust my memory the tail of this cat, though short and kinked had the full number of vertebrae, some of them reduced and wedge shaped." Brooke commented that no amount of tail-pinching would cause the trait to become hereditary and that the trait had been present in the Malay cat since at least 1783.
The general type of the Malay Cat reported in the Malaysian peninsula between 1881 and the 1930s, described by HC Brooke and others, and found throughout Malaysia is represented on today's show-bench by the Japanese Bobtail. The colour photo here is of a cat at Lake Chini, near Kuantan, Malaysia. Bobtailed cats in all colours, and with varying degrees of tail-kink, can be found throughout Malaysia and Singapore.
The Mexican Hairless was described in Frances Simpson's "Book of the Cat" (1903), in the form of a letter written by E J Shinick to Mr H C Brooke regarding a pair of hairless cats which had come into Mr Shinick's possession. Being brother and sister, Shinick had not allowed the pair to breed. The male was killed by dogs and the writer was, at the time of the letter, seeking another specimen to mate with the surviving female and also hoping to sell the female to Mr Brooke. Unfortunately no other specimen was available and, lamentably, the breed was lost.
"In answer would say my hairless cats are brother and sister. I got them from the Indians a few miles from this place. The old Jesuit Fathers tell me they are the last of the Aztec breed known only in New Mexico. I have found them the most intelligent and affectionate family pets I have ever met in the cat line; they are the quickest in action and smartest cats I have ever seen. They are fond of a warm bath, and love to sleep under the clothes at night with our little girl. They seem to understand nearly everything that is said to them; but I have never had time to train them. They are marked exactly alike - with mouse coloured backs; with neck, stomach and legs a delicate flesh tint. Their bodies are always warm and soft as a child's. They love to be fondled and caressed, and are very playful; will run up and down your body and around your waist like a flash.
"Nellie" weighs about eight pounds, and "Dick" weighed ten pounds; but I am sorry to say we have lost "Dick". We have never allowed them to go out of the house, as the dogs would be after them. They were very fond of our water spaniel, and would sleep with her. "Dick" was a sly rascal, and would steal out. One night last year he stole out, and the dogs finished him. His loss was very great, as I may never replace him. The Chicago Cat Club valued them at 1,000 dollars each. They were very anxious for me to come on with them for their cat shows, but I could not go. They were never on exhibition; as this is a small city, I feared they would be stolen. I have made every endeavour to get another mate for "Nellie", but have not been successful. I never allowed them to mate, as they were brother and sister, and I thought it might alter "Nellie's" beautiful form, which is round and handsome, with body rather long. In winter they have a light fur on back and ridge of tail, which falls off in warm weather. They stand the cold weather the same as other cats. They are not like the hairless dogs, whose hide is solid and tough; they are soft and delicate, with very loose skin.
"Nellie" has a very small head, large amber eyes, extra long moustache and eyebrows; her voice now is a good baritone, when young it sounded exactly like a child's. They have great appetites, and are quite dainty eaters - fried chicken and good steak is their choice. Have never been sick an hour. The enclosed faded picture is the only one I have at present - it is very lifelike, as it shows the wrinkles in its fine, soft skin. "Dick" was a very powerful cat; could whip any dog alone; his courage, no doubt, was the cause of his death. He always was the boss over our dogs. I have priced "Nellie" at 300 dollars. She is too valuable for me to keep in a small town. Many wealthy ladies would value her at her weight in gold if they knew what a very rare pet she is. I think in your position she would be a very good investment to exhibit at cat shows and other select events, as she doubtless is the only hairless cat now known. I have written to Old Mexico and all over this country without finding another. I would like to have her in some large museum where she would interest and be appreciated by thousands of people." E J Shinick, Albuquerque, New Mexico, February 3rd, 1902
In “Animal Life and the World of Nature” (Vol 1, 1902-1903), Shinick was quoted "Dick was a very powerful cat, and could whip any dog alone; his courage no doubt was the cause of his death. He was a sly rascal and would steal out, and one night he got out and several dogs killed him. His loss was very great and I may never replace him. The Chicago Cat Club valued him at 1,000 dollars. I have sent all over the country and endeavoured to get a mate for 'Nellie,' but I fear the breed is extinct."
The illustration, from Charles Henry Lane's book "Rabbits, Cats and Cavies" (1903) is a portrait of a Mexican Hairless Cat called "Jesuit" that belonged to the Hon. Mrs McLaren Morrison. It was the only specimen the author had been shown and he believed it to be the only one ever exhibited in England. Most likely this was Nellie, bought as a pet after the death of Dick, and exhibited under a different name.
In 1927, HC Brooke lamented "Of the New Mexico Hairless Cat, specimens of which were yet alive in 1900, absolutely no record seems to exist, either here or in New Mexico, except the photo and description we were fortunate enough to secure for science."
The hairless mutation has occurred several times since 1902 and is represented on the modern show-bench by the Canadian Sphynx, the Donskoy Sphynx and the Peterbald.
In Frances Simpson's "Book of the Cat", Mr H C Brooke described the Mombassa cat: "A cat called the Mombassa cat, from the East of Africa, is said to have a short coat of wiry texture." In 1926, Brooke attempted to find out more about the Mombassa cat through discussion with wildlife photographer Mr Cherry Kearton and his wife, South African singer Ada Forrest. The wire-haired Mombassa cat had been referred to in old Natural History works, but the Keartons could not remember seeing any domestic cats in Mombassa. Brooke therefore dismissed the Mombassa cat as the work of imaginative or gullible writers.
The Mombassa cat may have been an isolated mutation or a traveller's tale. The general type would appear to be represented today by the American Wirehair or one of Rex breeds.
In his "Book of Cats" (1867), C H Ross wrote of a litter of Peke-faced kittens which he attributed to maternal impression (a prevailing theory of the time): "I once had in my possession a very life-like picture of a remarkably ugly bulldog, which hung in a frame over a piano in the drawing-room. With some surprise I noticed that a favourite cat would climb upon the piano and sitting close under the picture fix its eyes on the dog's face, and putting back its ears, remain thus with a wild and terrified expression for as long as an hour at a time. [...] During the time that we noted this conduct on the cat's part, she was with kitten, and when the four kittens were born they were dead, and one of them, strange to say, had a bulldog shaped head, marked almost exactly like the picture."
This was described by H C Brooke in 1926: "The 'Peke-faced cat,' which some of our breeders produce now and then, is not confined to this country. My friend Herr Joe Lesti of Vienna recently obtained a short-haired kitten, with protruding underjaw, nose pushed well back, bandy forelegs and slight cowhocked hind legs. He thinks, as do I, that this is a ricketty formation and nothing else, but said of his specimen that did none not know such a cross to be impossible, one might imagine the presence of Bulldog blood." Brooke suggested that one of the Peke-faced cats would only develop drooping ears then the mystery of the Chinese Lop would be solved!
This type is no longer represented on the show-bench although the flat-faced ultra-typed Persians and Exotics are coming close.
PITTSBURGH REFRIGERATOR CAT
The tale of the longhaired Pittsburgh "Refrigerator Cat" of the 19th Century has been repeated in many cat books including those with well-known authors such as Lydekker and Desmond Morris. Ida M Mellen debunked the story in the late 1940s and Brian Vesey-Fitzgerald also debunked it in his book "Cats" (1958). Lydekker wrote the following in his Handbook to the Carnivora, Part I:
It appears that in the cold-storage warehouses of Pittsburg there were originally no Cats or Rats. The temperature in the cold room was too low. The keepers soon found, however, that the Rat is an animal of remarkable adaptability. After some of these houses had been in operation for a few months, the attendant found that Rats were at work in the rooms where the temperature was constantly kept below the freezing point. They were found to be clothed in wonderfully long and thick fur, even their tapering, snake-like tails being covered by a thick growth of hair. Rats whose coats have adapted themselves to the conditions under which they live have thus become domesticated in the storage warehouses in Pittsburg. The prevalence of Rats in these places led to the introduction of Cats. Now, it is well known that Pussy is a lover of warmth and comfort. Cats, too, have a great adaptability to conditions. When Cats were turned loose in the cold rooms they pined and died because of the excessive cold. One Cat was finally introduced into the rooms of the Pennsylvania Storage Company which was able to withstand the low temperature. She was a cat of unusually thick fur, and she thrived and grew fat in quarters where the temperature was below 30 degrees [Fahrenheit]. By careful nursing, a brood of seven kittens was developed in the warehouse into sturdy, thick-furred Cats that love an Icelandic climate. They have been distributed among the other cold-storage warehouses of Pittsburg, and have created a peculiar breed of Cats, adapted to the conditions under which they must exist to find their prey. These Cats are short-tailed, chubby pussies, with hair as thick and full of underfur as the Wild Cats of the Canadian woods. One of the remarkable things about them is the development of their ‘feelers’. Those long, stiff hairs that protrude from a Cat’s nose and eyebrows are, in the ordinary domestic feline, about three inches long. In the Cats cultivated in the cold warehouses the feelers grow to a length of five and six inches. This is probably because the light is dim in these places, and all movements must be the result of the feeling sense. The storage people say that if one of these furry Cats be taken into the open air, particularly during the hot season, it will die in a few hours. It cannot endure a high temperature, and an introduction to a stove would send it into fits.
Mrs Ida M Mellen, investigated the Refrigerator Cat story very thoroughly, interviewing people who had known those cats and showing clearly that Lydekker’s story was based on a highly inaccurate newspaper report. There was no attempt to establish cats in the Pittsburgh cold-storage warehouse to combat rats – there had never been any rats in there. In reality, a cat belonging to one of the employees had given birth to a litter of kittens in one of the cold rooms, and had raised them. However those kittens (which were pink-eyed albinos) were not distributed around the other cold-storage warehouses, because at that time there were no other cold-storage warehouses in the city. Far from the rise of a peculiar race of cats, adapted to withstand great cold, the family eventually died out. Apart from having thick white fur and pink eyes the supposedly lost breed of "Refrigerator Cats" of 19th Century Pittsburgh were ordinary domestic cats.
RUSSIAN LONGHAIR, CARTHUSIAN, TOBOLSK, KAZAN & CRIMEAN CATS
In 1896, Jean Bungartz wrote is his "Illustrated Book of Cats" (in German only): The Carthusian cat is a self-coloured blue variety with long fine hair, black lips and soles. The blue colour varies from bluish ash-grey to bluish. If the colour is pure and the hair is in good care, then the Carthusian is considered a most magnificent animal, but its character is somewhat phlegmatic, a characteristic it shares with other longhair cats: the Angora, the Persian and the Chinese cat. Iceland or Kumani cat and similar designations are, are almost identical to the previous variety. The Iceland cat is characterised by beautiful bluish grey colouring of the skin; the Kumani cat, originating from the Caucasus, however have thick hair of white, black or rust-red color; lips and soles are flesh colour ...The following cats may be so similar to the common housecat that they differ only by colouring. For example, the cat of Iceland is beautifully bluish gray, the Tobolsk cat from Siberia is red or fox-colored, those from the Cape of Good Hope are blue or red."
In 1926, Dr Jumaud's book "Les Races des Chats" (The Breeds of Cats), which was based largely on the works of Professor Cornevin of Lyons, described the Carthusian cat (felis catus carthusianorum) as rare in England and France, but common in the United States under the name "Maltese cat". Jumaud wrote "It is found in Russia where it forms the sub-varieties of Tobolsk, Korassan, or Caucasus. It is one of the races which can live in the low temperatures of high mountain districts. […] During the brief Russian summer they wander in the woods infested with venomous insects; in winter they are imprisoned between the four walls of a snow-covered cabin, constrained to domestic life until the thaw comes. Many of the furs which reach us from Russia are really made from the skins of these cats. The Carthusian cat has a tendency to laziness; it is, however, a good hunter. Head large, with large and full eyes, small and erect ears, short nose. Coat, half long and woolly, and it is this woolly consistency which forms the principal characteristic of the breed, and is found even in specimens whose fur is not long. Colour uniform grey, with bluish reflections, in the proper Carthusian breed, reddish in the Tobolsk variety."
In his book “Just Cats” (1957), French cat-fancier Fernand Mery reported Jumaud thus: "Only twenty-five years ago Dr. Jumaud, in his inaugural lecture before the Faculty of Medicine of Lyons, gave the names of American cat and Maltese cat to the Chartreux cat (catus Carthusianorum): “They are also found in Russia,” he said, “where they form the sub-breeds of Morossan and Caucasian.” So the confusion was extreme, even among the greatest specialists of the time. Today, Blues are distinctly classified, although their description and the scale of points of each is based on the classic Chartreux." He added that the thick, soft, close fur of the Russian Blue and Chartreux was exploited by the fur industry.
Of the Tobolsk cat, Jumaud wrote, "This variety, described by Gmelin, exists in Siberia, and is sometimes called the Tobolsk cat. It is larger than our common cat, and somewhat resembles the Carthusian in shape. The head is large, with big eyes, short nose, and small erect ears. Coat: as is fitting for an animal of a cold country, the Tobolsk cat has long fur, longer than that of the Chartreuse cat. Its texture is woolly, and in colour, uniformly reddish." In his book “Just Cats” (1957), French cat-fancier Fernand Mery described the grey-blue Russian cat as having "nothing in common with the so-called Tobolskan" cat with its medium-long reddish hair".
In 1927, HC Brooke noted "In America, the blue short-hair is commonly known as the Maltese cat; whilst many older English writers call it the Carthusian." However, Signor de Southoff, from Florence, wrote of beautiful long-haired red cats he had seen at Viege, above Aigle, Canton Vaud, in Switzerland, claiming these to be Carthusian cats with beautiful heads and furs.
Then there was the Kazan cat which had either a black coat or silvery blue coat with blue extremities (black or blue smoke) and resembled the Turkish Angora. It supposedly shared its ancestry with the Angora as Kazan was an independent Tartar empire that traded with the Turcoman people from Khorassan.
The Crimean cat was pure white with a coat is shorter than that of an Angora. Van der Werff believed this was due to hybridization with cats from Rumania and Poland. The Crimean was already extremely rare between 1853 and 1856, and was probably extinct by the time of the organised cat fancy.
The Russian Longhair type is represented on the modern show-bench by the Siberian, while the Carthusian is represented by the Blue Shorthair, rather than the modern Russian Blue.
In 1926, Cat Gossip editor H C Brooke noted that at a cat show in Lille there were classes for "Short-hair Persians" (chats persans a poil ras) as well as the normal Long-hair classes. Brooke wondered how "Short-hair Persians" were distinguished from ordinary Short-hairs. In those days, the Persian had not yet become the flat-faced creature we see today and might have been termed a "British Longhair".
The "Short-haired Persian" of the 1920s would have been similar to the British Short-hair of that time. Today, the Persian conformation has changed so greatly that the short-haired form is represented by the Exotic Shorthair.
In 1903, Frances Simpson wrote of the Swiss Mountain Cat in "The Book of the Cat" in the section of shorthairs, but in the section on any other colour Persians: "The best and most definitely coloured AOC I ever saw was Mrs Davies' "Sin Li", a deep self-coloured chocolate-brown cat. He was supposed to be one of three Swiss mountain cats imported to this country, and he was a most handsome and interesting animal. Unfortunately, he died young, leaving no progeny.." These brown cats were probably from South East Asia as a branch of the Royal Cats of Siam. The Encyclopaedia Britannica (11th Edition) refers to a "wholly chocolate-coloured strain of Siamese. Master Timkey Brown and his dam, Granny Grumps, were cats shown in London in 1894". They were described as "Siamese with coats of burnished chestnut with greeny-blue eyes." These self-brown Siamese, known as Swiss Mountain Cat, lost favour and the breed was abandoned after the 1920s following a statement from the Siamese Cat Club of Britain that "The club much regrets it is unable to encourage the breeding of any but blue-eyed Siamese."
In addition to Master Timkey Brown, Granny Grumps (sometimes just known as "Grumps"), who was of unknown parentage, had many kittens, most of whom were Siamese-patterned. These included Champion Dido. Oddly enough, Granny Grumps' pedigree line is thought to be represented today by Abyssinian cats due to her great-granddaughter, Melodious Venture, being used as an outcross for the Abyssinian breed. This type of cat (as opposed to actual descendents) is probably represented by the modern Havana or Chestnut Brown Oriental, or even by one of the aqua-eyed Tonkinese colours, however the modern cats are far more extreme in type than the Swiss Mountain Cats would have been in 1903.