Not only as a chinchilla, but when competing with all breeds of cats both long and short haired Champion Fulmer Zaida has proved her excellence and has on more than one occasion secured the cup at the Crystal Palace for the best cat in the whole show She was bred by Mrs Bluhm one of the pioneers of chinchillas and it is stated has now won 136 first and special prizes and that Lord Decies has refused 90 for her Zaida has also produced some first class kittens amongst which was Miss Stisted's Pearl the owner of the latter pretty queen being a most devoted admirer of the chinchilla and sparing no expense to further its interests Mrs Bluhm's strain of chinchillas are all very light in colour and show great quality which may also be said of those of Mrs Wellbye's, whose Silver Lotus and Veronica, daughters of Silver Squire and Dossie, did so much winning in their day.
Miss Meeson has also shown considerable enthusiasm in her endeavour to reach the ideal; her best efforts having resulted in Jupiter Duvals, of wide fame.
Two clubs have been formed in connection with the chinchilla cat; one the Silver Society, embraced other coloured cats, besides the chinchilla, this eventually becoming the Silver and Smoke Persian Cat Society. It was owing to this club encouraging shaded or marked silver cats and orange eyes that the Chinchilla Club was formed by Mrs Balding. This Club has the honour of having as patron H.S.H. Princess Victoria of Schleswig Holstein who owns and exhibits some beautiful chinchillas, and Lord Decies as vice president.
The Chinchilla Club gives its support and specials, besides guaranteeing classes at any show whose management apply. The conditions on which the specials are presented, is that the cats to which they are awarded must be the property of members of the club, prize winners in their respective classes and registered cats.
The club prizes usually consist of half a guinea in each class and the more coveted Special of the club's badge for the best chinchilla of either sex. Badges were selected in place of the ubiquitous medal because most of the dainty professional beauties very soon obtain a considerable number of the latter and smart little badges were more appreciated.
The club's present challenge trophy for chinchilla kittens is a solid silver model of Silver Lambkin, offered by the hon secretary for competition amongst its members, it is also open to members of the National Cat Club in acknowledgment of the compliment paid by the latter, to the original in choosing his statuette to surmount their challenge cup. The little history of the origin of this special has never appeared in print before, and as I was not present at the committee meeting referred to, "I tell the tale as 'twas told to me."
When the challenge cups of the National Cat Club were designed in 1897, it was decided that the beauty and interest attached to them should be enhanced by immortalising on each the most representative cat of the long haired and short haired varieties. For the latter, the great Xenophon was chosen without hesitation. Then came the more difficult task of deciding upon a recipient for the distinction, from the long haired ranks, which claim so much of the beauty and wealth of winnings of the cat world, as to render the singling out of one a matter of consideration. To hasten the termination of the discussion, Mrs. Stennard Robinson sent for a collection of cat photographs, which had been left to her, by the late Miss Portman, the well known Kara Avis of the Lady's Pictorial. Amongst these the hon secretary of the NCC pointed out one with no name attached, as the most beautiful photograph of the lot. This was recognised by most of the committee as being Silver Lambkin, so the honour fell to him.
By some error at the makers the longhaired cat was placed on both challenge cups and it was determined by the club that the superfluous model, which had to be removed and replaced by Xenophon, should be mounted as a letter weight and given as a challenge prize for kittens to be won three times before becoming the property of the winner. After some keen competition covering about half a dozen shows Mrs Martin won it outright in 1899 when it was replaced by the present exactly similar model.
The endeavour of the Chinchilla Cat Club, of which all the leading breeders and most successful exhibitors are members, is to continue the work that has been done to improve chinchillas, and to produce a new variety the colour of the palest shade of the fur dyed known as blue fox or a very light shade of pigeon blue. Without doubt such a result can be obtained by careful selection, and the little more Darwin's words on the subject of selection are attractive to all owners of live stock. He says Improvement is by no means due to crossing different breeds. All the best breeders are strongly opposed to this practice, except sometimes amongst closely allied sub breeds. And when a cross has been made the closest selection is far more indispensable even than in ordinary cases. If selection consisted merely in separating some very distinct variety and breeding from it the principle would be so obvious as to be hardly worth notice, but the importance consists in the great effect produced by the accumulation in one direction, during successive generations of differences absolutely unappreciable, by an uneducated eye. Not one man in a thousand has the accuracy of eye and judgment sufficient to become an eminent breeder. Few would readily believe in the natural capacity and years of practice requisite to become even a skillful pigeon fancier.
The Chinchilla Cat Club is also prepared to encourage cats of new colours, which should now be not so very difficult to produce, considering the points that have been brought out in those varieties, that were well known, the latter showing that it is possible to breed to a standard, if judgment is used in the endeavour to do so. Some of us remember the time when a blue cat either long or short haired now the largest classes was a rara avis when Mrs Lee's Meo was the only Siamese at the Crystal Palace show, smokes an equal oddity, blue eyes in a white cat, a comparatively unnoticed point, and cream coloured cats, entirely unknown.
The colour of the chinchilla has been bred in various ways. In bygone days, when chinchilla cats were flukes or freaks and few and far between, methods which would now be considered somewhat eccentric, were resorted to by the first breeders of the colour. The useful tortoiseshell from which black red cream or tabby cats can be got, was pressed into the service and paired with a silver or light blue tabby not too clearly marked would occasionally amid the multi coloured kittens for which tortoiseshells are proverbial throw, a medium chinchilla or light silver tabby, which with careful selection, might a generation or two later, develop into something approaching a good chinchilla.
But it is perhaps more difficult to foretell with cats than any other animal, what the result of pairing will be, with anything like certainty. This particularly applies to the ordinary English cat. as it is impossible to guess at the mixture of different coloured creatures, which have preceded it and any of which may influence the progeny of its descendants. A fancier who would produce any particular specimen must amongst other gifts, be equipped with the patience of biblical celebrities, and prepared to wait seven years, as one enthusiast actually did, before arriving at the fulfilment of his desires in the shape of a well marked tabby kitten.
With pedigree cats, of course the chances of unexpected traits reappearing in their progeny are considerably lessened and given desirable connections on both sides, of some years standing the personal attributes of a coming litter may be predicted more or less successfully. One of the loveliest of smokes, the correct black with white undercoat, without the shadow of a stripe was from a brown tabby queen from brown tabby parents and a chinchilla bred from a chinchilla dam, and smoke sire. Again a brown tabby with white paws whose appearance did not suggest the bluest of blood, mated with the same chinchilla sire, produced in a litter three chinchillas and two faintly marked silver tabbies, which would nowadays have been styled shaded silvers by followers of the dubious hue. Needless to say these instances are not given to encourage the idea of breeding chinchillas from brown tabbies, but as illustrations that just as the results of pairing a cat with one of nondescript pedigree cannot be guessed, so in an animal carefully bred for generations, so indelibly have the characteristics of the breed or variety been stamped upon it by past ancestors, that it is practically impossible for them to become obliterated or submerged.
Thus the type once fixed survives though it be by the aid of the most incongruous connection such as a brown tabby Had the latter been the patrician bred from progenitors of her colours and the chinchilla been the one of doubtful lineage the result must of course have been reversed and the kittens in all probability would have followed the brown tabby strain If neither parent cat when of distinct varieties can boast a particularly dominant strain the offspring naturally partakes of the peculiarities of both.
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