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by Valerie Anne Edwards

Although informal cat shows were held at county fairs as early as 1598, the formal cat fancy began as the brainchild of Harrison F. Weir in England. The first formal show was held July 13, 1871 at the Crystal Palace in England. Mr. Weir was an ardent fan of the Shorthair as a breed. He also admired their working qualities and hoped that the good health, intelligence, and hunting instinct would be preserved as breeders endeavored to enhance and perpetuate their physical beauty. [11]

In 1873, two shows were held - one in Alexandria, the other in Birmingham. In 1875 one was sponsored in Edinburgh. The National Cat Club (started in 1887) held shows at the Crystal Palace every year until it burned down in 1936. This club also began the first registry in 1890.[12]

During the first Championship Cat Show, held by The National Cat Club at The Crystal Palace in 1896, a particularly striking and massive silver classic tabby male, named Ch. Jimmy, was valued at 2,000 pounds sterling.[13][14] Since the pound was worth five U. S. dollars at the time, Eng. Ch. Jimmy was valued at $10,000 American dollars. Mrs. Herring's magnificent silver tabby, sired by Mr.Thomas Sugden's famous Eng. Ch. King of the Fancy out of Mr. Herbert Young's Tibbee [15] and registered in the NCC as number 1131, can be found behind all 21st century registered American Shorthairs. Eng. Ch. Jimmy was purchased as a young cat from his breeder, the renowned Mr. Herbert Young of Harrogate by Mrs. Louise Herring of Lestock House. What was so special about this cat, born October 18, 1890? Could any cat really deserve such a price (an incredible mansion could be purchased for this sum)? The author considers Eng. Ch. Jimmy to be very close to the ideal American - massive, muscular, dignified and flashy with a broad head and sweet expression. Modern judges would penalize him for ears set a bit high on his head. His muzzle could also have been a bit broader and more square in shape, but what a cat! He was by far the most glamorous cat of ANY breed at that time.

Ch. Jimmy - sold for 2,000 pounds at the turn of 1900, progenitor of the American Shorthair breed

Eng. Ch. Jimmy

All independent silver tabby bloodlines were crossed with Jimmy, his sire or descendants, so that today ALL silver tabby American Shorthairs (and most other colors) claim him as an ancestor. Most modern British Shorthair silver tabbies and European Shorthairs also trace back to Eng.Ch. Jimmy. The Europeans trace to him mostly through American Shorthair exports, but a few British Shorthair exports delivered additional linebreeding to Eng.Ch. Jimmy's descendants.

The author loves to use Jimmy as an example for those who think that "real" Americans had no type prior to the 1950s and that silver tabby was a color created in the 1950's by crossing a Shorthair with a chinchilla Persian. In the earliest English studbooks, there were lots of silver classic tabby "Shorthairs" and NO silver tabby longhairs, so the silver tabby gene originated in the Shorthair breed. There is also a Hogarth painting from 1742, prior to the beginning of the cat show fancy, depicting a family cat as a shorthaired silver tabby with gold eyes, American Shorthair head type, eye shape, ear set and square muzzle - so this IS the natural look for this breed.

Another important early silver tabby Shorthair stud was Mr. Alfred Park's Eng.Ch.Silver Mine, born 12/5.1895, sired by Mr. Park's Jack [Liverpool Beau out of Kate] out of Eng.Ch. Silver Dot [CCR} [Mr.Park's Jack out of Liverpool Belle]. Eng,CH. Silver Mine was registered in NCC as # 3295. Linechasing of 21st century American Shorthair pedigrees will reveal Eng,Ch, Silver Mine, in addition to Eng.Ch. Jimmy.


Eng.CH Silver Mine


In the United States, Mr. James T. Hyde organized the first formal cat show, the First National Cat Show at Madison Square Garden in 1895. Mr.& Mrs. Buchanan's seven year old neuter, Grover B., a particolor, was listed for sale at $1,000 in this catalog. Forty-six (American) Shorthair adults and twenty-five (American) Shorthair kittens were entered in this show. Many of these had higher prices than the Siamese and Persian entries.[16]

In 1896, thirty-five Shorthairs were entered in the Second Annual show at Madison Square Garden. A three year old brown tabby male, named Nicodemus, was listed for sale at $2,500. In the same show, two three year old particolor neuters were listed for sale at $1,000 each.[17]

The first (American) Shorthair registered in the Cat Fancier's Association (CFA) was Ch. Belle of Bradford (Imp.), an orange tabby male born June 1, 1900 in England. Belle, named "Bell of Bradford" in the English studbook, was sired by Ch. Bradford Perfection out of Ballochmyle No Fool.[15],[18] He was bred by Mr. R.R. Kuhnel and owned by Miss Jane Cathcart, a major promoter of the breed in the early twentieth century. During his nine year show career in the United States, he was defeated only once by another orange tabby.



This event was considered so momentous that a photograph of Mrs. J. C. Mitchelson's triumphant nine month old male, Connie, was placed on page 105 of the April 1906 Cat Journal along with an article detailing his background and win. Connie does not appear on modern pedigrees since he died at 10 months of age from a virus contracted at his only show. After this tragedy, Mrs. Mitchelson purchased Connie's half-brother, Billy, from Mrs. La Salle to augment her breeding program


The first (American) Shorthair CFA Champion was Ch. Belle of Bradford (Imp.), the first CFA registered American, despite later claims that Mrs. Mitchelson's silver tabby stud, Ch. The Buzzing Silver, CFA #312 Vol-I, was first for the breed. The author verified Belle's FIRST CHAMPION status by comparing dates when winners ribbons were earned for all Americans on the "CFA list of Championships awarded" for Studbook [1.] CFA Ch. The Buzzing Silver WAS the first silver tabby Shorthair CFA champion, beating out another stud of Mrs. Mitchelson's, Ch.Silver Boy, CFA # 468 Vol-II and Jane Cathcart's Ch. Pretty Correct, Imp., CFA #18 Vol-I.. Ch. The Buzzing Silver, ailver tabby male American Shorthair, was registered as CFA #312,as ACA # 410 and back in England as NCC # 5260, born 6/9/1906, sired by Eng.Ch. James II [son of Eng.Ch. Jimmy x Mrs. Newland's Rose} amd Sally Ugly Mug {Rambling Jim x Sedge,mere Dorothy[1], [18]


CFA Ch.The Buzzing Silver

The Black Shorthaired Cattery was started in France by Miss Jane R. Cathcart's French Poodle named "Black or Blackie" who brought home a stray cat as his special friend. Later Miss Cathcart secured other cats, moved to America, and named her cattery "Black's Shorthair Cattery", later known as "The Black Shorthaired Cattery". Located on Oradell Stock Farm in Oradell, New Jersey, she specialized in the Shorthair breed, importing many colors (top stock only) and carefully blending these with selected local farm-bred bloodlines.[19] [20] Miss Cathcart's white male, Ch. Kombo, an American bred, won "Best Shorthair" at the Hartford show in 1909.[20] According to an advertisement in the February 1906 issue of The Cat Journal, Kombo's sire, Jumbo was undefeated in the blue color class during his two year show career.

ACA Ch. Silver Stripes (Imp.), one of Miss Cathcart's silver tabbies won "Best Shorthaired Male" in London in 1909, "Best Male in Show", and "Best Shorthaired Cat" in Lockhaven-Rochester in 1909. He also won "Best Shorthaired Cat" several other times.[20] The award of "Best Shorthair" was in essence "Best of Breed", while the award "Best Shorthaired Cat" was earned by defeating all of the Siamese, Manx, Abyssinian, Australian and Russian Blue entries in addition to any "(American) Shorthairs".

Miss Cathcart's best known queen, Ch. Dame Fortune II, Imp.,a silver tabby, won "Best Shorthaired Cat" in Pittsburgh in 1909, "Best Shorthaired Cat" in New York in 1909, "Best Shorthaired Cat" in Columbus in 1910, and "Best Shorthaired Cat" in Beresford-Chicago in 1910.Dame Fortune II, registered as CFA #313, ACA # 501 and NCC#5504, by Eng.Ch.Sweet William {Eng.Ch. Bengal Tiger x Trilby II} was out of  Eng.Ch.Dame Fortune [Eng.Ch.James II x Eng.Ch. Heather Belle] was born 4/19/1905. . [20]

In addition to the above, Miss Cathcart imported the first blue-cream Shorthair, a beauty named Moumouette, whose dam was the French blue-cream, Bebe Bleue. Bebe Bleue was bred to Eng.Ch. Ballochmyle Brother Bump in England to produce Moumouette [[21] Moumouette won prizes in many shows in the "Any Other Color" class., set up for competition of all colors that had not yet been granted championship recognition, including blue toroiseshell aka blue-cream Shorthair. Moumouette was bred to CFA & ACA Ch.Belle of Bradford, Imp, producing CFA #19, a blue tortoiseshell (aka blue-cream), named Missy and CFA #23, a tortoiseshell, named Mixte. Mixte and Missy were the first American Shorthairs registered in the CFA Kitten Register. Mixte was sold to Mrs. Rita Don, who bred her to the brown classic tabby, Ch.Tabrum, Imp.,producing CFF Ch. Beauty and Topsy, brown tabby queens, born 9/10/1917. Brauty was bred to the black import,Eng.Ch.Rajah of Coryton, producing CFA & ACA Ch.Tige, an important brown tabby show cat and sire in the 1930's. Topsy was bred to the silver tabby stud, CFF Ch. Glendale Prince,producing the brown tabby queen, CFA Ch.Miss Muffet, dam of the black stud, UCCA Ch. Billy-Bob, sire of the black stud, CFA Ch.Djer-Kits Cricket and the top-winning black queen,CFA Ch. Sweet Meadow Eventide. born 3/1/1949. Mixte's sister, Missy.,was exported to England by the Misses Sally and Jennifer White, who bred her to the red tabby stud,Rombaldsmoor Rufus, producing the top winning red tabby stud, Eng.Ch.Aldeboran.NCC # 4427, born 4/18/1906. The author followed descendants of seven of his offspring, which are represented in modern gene pools of American and British Shorthair breeds. See pictures of early solid blues  mentioned above, in Frances Simpson's " The Book of the Cat " [11A] at The PawPads website

Mrs. J. See Bain's Blue Jacket Cattery produced many fine solid color Shorthairs in black, blue, and white that were exhibited in both ACA and CFA from 1900 through at least 1915. The author finds it very puzzling that she appears to have only registered ACA Ch. Blue Jacket Malta and his littersister ACA Ch. Blue Jacket Queen of Spades, whose parents were both English imports with CCR registration and pedigrees. Malta sired solid blue CFA Ch. Thomas Fence and a green-eyed white named Chico, but only Thomas Fence carried the line forward in North America, while Malta was exported to England, siring Fulmer Blue Queen, Donna Roma, Blair Athol and White Tibby. The English appreciated solid blue Shorthairs much more than Americans did, since "Maltese" hunting cats, the name assigned to blue Shorthairs by USA farmers, were much more common here than in England.Whether these "Maltese" actually originated in Malta, we do not know, but that name stuck until the fifties outside the cat fancy, where they were always simply called blue Shorthairs.

 Additional history 3

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