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( Originally Published 1936 )
In the autumn there begins a mighty grooming and conditioning of cats that have show possibilities, whether these be in fact or in the fancy of fond owners. For in November the cat-show season opens. Among the first shows in New York City are those held by the Cat Fanciers' Association, Inc., and the United Cat Clubs of America, Inc. Each of these organizations has many member clubs in the United States and Canada. There are other large societies, such as the Cat Fanciers' Federation and the American Cat Association, and all of these, and their member clubs, have shows through the autumn and winter. There are cat shows from the Atlantic to the Pacific, from Maine to Florida, and naturally (for cat people are very human) each show is the biggest and best of its kind.
Among the specialty clubs (those devoted to one breed) the Persian clubs far outnumber all others, and in exhibitions, except for those that are solely for other breeds, the long-hairs always predominate.
Shows are necessary to the cat fancy, as breeders in the aggregate are called, but I would not exhibit a pet cat. Old troupers may thrive on it, as movie stars do on the acclaim of the public; I knew one champion who when his traveling cage was put on the floor along with his trunk of trophies would step into it and settle down, ready for a journey to the far side of the continent perhaps. But a show is an ordeal for most home cats, and there is always the danger of infection where numbers of cats are gathered together. No matter how many precautions the show managers take, this peril does exist.
If, however, you wish to exhibit your cats, a necessary preliminary is to register them with some recognized cat club, procure the club's show rules, and study the classifications and standards. Select the club that is sponsoring the show you mean to enter, for rules differ. If your cats have been well cared for, special conditioning is not necessary. A cat that is properly groomed and fed and kept happy is ready for a show any time, except in the hot months, when no cat's coat is at its best.
To condition a neglected cat, valet it every day according to the directions in the chapters On Grooming a Cat, Diseases of the Ears, and Diseases of the Eyes. No judge would admit a cat with a hint of cots in the hair or canker in the ears. To clean white cats there is a white fuller's earth, but wellbaked flour will answer. Of course it must be thoroughly brushed out of the hair. Plenty of nourishing food, and a half teaspoonful daily of cod-liver oil if it seems needed, will put your pet into the right physical condition.
Cats should not be fed before a journey, even a short one by automobile. At shows there is a feeding committee, and chopped beef is taken to the cages at regular times, but you may take your own food if you prefer. It is wise to stay by your pet during the show, in order to give it confidence and guard it against any possible harm at the hands of some illadvised visitor.
There are special carriers and crates to be had if one is sending a cat to a distant show, but if you ship a cat by railway you risk a tragedy. Once a cat and two kittens were sent from California to New York, and when the crate was opened the kittens were dead and the mother so near death that she had to be killed. Somehow the trainmen had overlooked the instructions about food and water. Even on short journeys accidents may happen. I knew of a Persian kitten whose cage was crushed, with the kitten inside, by the fall of express packages insecurely piled above.
But if shows have their risks they undoubtedly have their delights and their advantages. It is gratifying if your pet makes a win, and even if it fails you learn something from what the judges say. But show managers are canny. There is generally something, if no more than a ribbon, for every cat. And you can avoid a too crushing defeat by conning the standards closely and not entering your pet in a class where it obviously has no chance of success.
The long-hair standard demands a body that is low on the legs, deep in the chest, and massive across the shoulders and rump, with a short, wellrounded middle piece. The head must be massive too, with a broad skull, and it must be well set on a neck that is not too long. The ears must be neat, round-tipped, and set well apart; the cheeks full and the jaws powerful; and the nose of the snub variety, and broad. The eyes must be large, full, round, very brilliant, and wide set, with that serene gaze which distinguishes the Persian cat.
The back must be level, the legs thick and strong (the forelegs perfectly straight), and the paws large and compact. The rather short tail is slightly lower than the back, and must not trail when the cat walks. The hair must be long and fine over the entire body, and full of life, standing out fluffily; and the ruff should be immense. The brush must be full, and the ear tufts and toe tufts long and feathery. A "button" or a "locket" under the chin disqualifies a cat.
In-the Persian gamut the colors and combinations of colors are fourteen. The great point in a solid color is that it shall be pure and even from the roots to the tip of the fur. Each has its right eye color. White cats must not have any colored hairs; the eyes are deep blue or deep orange. The blacks must be of a dense, coal black, with copper or orange eyes. The blues must be a real blue, and their eyes copper or orange. Red cats must be of a rich yet brilliant red, and the eyes copper or orange. A good chinchilla is of a pale, unshaded silver, with green eyes. Cream cats must be pure cream, free from markings; the eyes are copper or orange. The shaded silver cats are rather dark on the spine, shading gradually down the sides and face and tail to a very pale silver; the eyes are green. Smoke cats are black, shading to smoke ( a light undercoat and black points) with a silver frill and ear tufts; the eyes are copper or orange.
The body of a masked silver is chinchilla or shaded silver, with a black or dark silver face, and green eyes. Silver tabbies are a pale silver with broad black markings, and green eyes. The coat of the brown tabby has a tawny background, with broad black markings; the bars on the legs and tail are like rings, and on the chest they have the effect of necklaces. Copper eyes are best, but orange eyes are permitted. The red tabby has a coat with an even groundwork and markings of a deeper, richer red, patterned like those of the brown tabby; the eyes are copper, or a very deep orange.
Tortoise-shell cats sport three colors, black, orange, and cream, and the colors are not brindled but in clearly defined patches. They have amusing noses, half black and half orange. The eyes are copper or orange. Last of all there are the blue creams, who have these two colors in patches, and copper or orange eyes.
Both Manx cats and domestic short-haired cats have the same standards of color and eye color as have the long hairs. Only the Siamese have their own special coats. The standards of build and body required for the three different short-hairs are described in the chapters on these breeds.