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THE BOOK OF THE CAT

United Silver Fanciers
Francis Simpson and Louis Wain Judging a Cat in England, Circa Early 1900s

THE BOOK OF THE CAT
By Francis Simpson

Originally published in 1903 by Cassell and Company, Limited
London, Paris, New York and Melbourne

CHAPTER XII
SILVER OR CHINCHILLA PERSIANS

Page Five

Colour in chinchillas is the most important point. It should be of palest silver lavender tint and lighter, in fact practically white at the roots. There should be no dark blotches or stripes or brown tint on the back or about the nose. A rusty hue is however sometimes caused by the action of the sun or wind. As regards bars or stripes on head, these should be as few and light in colour as possible, with a view to breeding them out altogether in the future.

The coat should be long and thick, of fine soft texture, much thicker and longer round the neck, forming a decided frill and mane, the latter reaching well down the fore legs. It should also be longer on the hinder part of the thighs forming culotte, and very bushy on the tail, which should be short and wide. The legs should be slightly feathered with tufts of hair between the toes. There should also be tufts in the ears, which should be very small and set low. The head should be wide at the forehead and short in the muzzle, well filled up below the eyes giving it a round appearance. The eyes large and luminous, in colour emerald green with black lids. Green and yellow mixture is permissible, but not so picturesque as the green-yellow in the eyes is not desirable. In shape the chinchilla should have a level back, and be only slightly long in the couplings. The legs should be short with round paws, the latter well padded. When in full coat the hair should nearly reach the ground and the frill envelop the back of the head making a very fascinating whole.

The following is the standard of points as drawn up by the Chinchilla Cat Club. It is also used in America as a basis for criticism:

  • Colour of Coat: Palest silver, lavender tint preferred, nearly white at roots. No dark stripes. blotches or brown tint. Darker tips to the long hairs, give the coat an appearance of being lightly peppered with a darker shade. The whole appearance of the cat to be very pale... 30 [points.]
  • Coat: Long and thick ... 20 [points]
  • Texture of Coat: Fine and soft ... 10 [points.]
  • Tufts of hair: inside and round the ears and between the toes ... 10 [points.]
  • Head: Broad and round, forehead wide, ears small, and set low, nose short ... 25 [points.]
  • Shape: Back level, not too short, legs short, paws round, brush short, wide and carried low ... 20 [points.]
  • Eyes: Large, luminous, and green in colour, (if green mixed with yellow 5 points only allowed) ... 10 [points.]
United Silver and Golden Fanciers SILVER BLOSSOM'S TWO BUDS
Photo by Mrs. G.H. Walker

To breeders of silver Persian cats, an article by Mrs. Neild will be valuable and instructive. Mrs. Neild has made so to speak, a speciality of silvers, and owns two noted silver studs, the The Absent Minded Beggar and Lord Hampton. There are always some good silver queens, and very frequently, some choice kits disporting themselves, in the well arranged catteries at Hart Hill, Bowdon, where Mrs Neild has a kennel of Borzois, and a cattery of silvers. This is what Mrs. Neild says regarding the breeding and rearing of silver Persian cats.

"Perhaps of the many varieties of Persian cats, and indeed, they are a goodly number, as they now appear on our show catalogues and schedules, the silvers may claim their owners to be the most sporting of cat breeders. Certainly to breed successfully, it is essential that one should possess, the not too common virtues, of unlimited patience and perseverance. Also experience is necessary. A common occurrence among even old hands, is to assign a kitten one of a new litter under inspection, as being of little good, except as a pet, to be sold at a small sum, to a good home and a few weeks later, discover this same kitten to be the pick of the litter. In short, the old old story of the ugly duckling incessantly repeats itself in our catteries, certainly in those devoted to silver cats. Therefore, I suspect fanciers who have succeeded, all honour to the few and those who mean to succeed, in breeding silver Persian cats, of possessing a larger stock of patience and of having acquired a larger experience than their brothers and sisters, whose love has turned towards the blue, black or white pussies."

"With these last three, one may be tolerably sure, always taking for granted, some knowledge of fairly pure coat colour and at a very early age, the best kittens of the litter may be picked out, those having greatest breadth of skull, smallest ears, etc. But the silver litters are a veritable surprise packet and remain so, for an irritatingly long period. Personally, I have found that those kittens, which when born have very pale almost white unbarred faces and fore legs are ultimately those which grow palest. I take no notice of the colour of the coat on the back, sides, hind legs or tail, even if striped, as frequently happens, for all these markings generally vanish, if as I before said, the face and fore legs are unbarred I must however own to one kitten who was born jet black. She was by Mrs Champion's Lord Argent and a shaded silver queen of my own breeding. When a month old, I dubbed her a very bad smoke, at three months, she was coatless, a most indecent little person having shed her coat more completely than I had ever seen in cat or kitten. When after a provokingly long period, she again consented to appear clothed her dress was of palest silver, unadorned by any markings, except a very faint smudge on her forehead and which alas, spoilt her for show a darker tinge on her broken tail. How is it that to our best, some accident always happens. So as I could not exhibit her, I sold her to a delightful home in the North of England and her enthusiastic owner wrote to me a few weeks since, that her big babies by Lord Hampton, were as pale as the mother who herself grew steadily of a fainter silver."

"Unfortunately silvers, more than any other breed of cats, lack bone caused of course by the unavoidable inbreeding practised when this variety of cat was first introduced and so enthusiastically welcomed, and when but one or two fanciers owned a cat of such shade. Another article on this subject by a lady who may really claim to have established this breed, will explain to the reader more than it is in my power or province to declare. To go back to the subject of our small silvers inbred to delicacy. We should now remember how many good sires absolutely unrelated, and within easy reach, are placed at our disposal. Therefore surely there can be no possible excuse, if in a comparatively short time we do not manage to own silvers big in bone and limb and owning happy accompaniment, greater constitutional vigour."

United Silver and Golden Fanciers WILD TOM
Silver Bred by Mrs. G.H. Walker
Photo by Mrs. G.H. Walker

"We are, I believe, too apt, if owning a pale queen to mate her with the palest known stud, disregarding other very important considerations, in the all absorbing wish to breed the wonderful dirty white king or queen of silvers. Sometimes this atom, verily so, of perfection does make its appearance and is enthusiastically greeted. But what of the mite itself? A tiny sickly scrap of a kitten, constantly ailing, refusing to grow or to weigh except at a rate of less than half the average blue kitten, of its own age. But extraordinary care keeps the mite alive, until one day some chance draught or a maid's carelessness, ends our careful nursing and the poor owner of that lovely dirty white kit, at last realises that this other good bye means, it may be wiser to mate that same pale queen, to the strongest hardiest biggest boned stud possible, to be found among our silver studs, even if he is rather barred. Now mark From the result of this mating keep the best of the female kittens, and marry her if possible, not before she is eighteen at any rate fifteen months old, to a stud unrelated, sturdy of undoubtedly splendid health, for preference paler than herself and boasting grand head and the essential tiny ears and short nose. Then you may dream your dreams with a chance of their resulting in a golden reality."

"If breeders would but spend rather more thought when they select husbands for their pussies they would be indeed repaid. I am not speaking of course to the fortunate few, who have won their laurels and of whom I would I might learn, although I rather suspect their secret of success, is but the result of continual study, coupled with extreme care. Would not an enormous increase of size and weight soon become evident, in the occupants of our catteries, if when a queen was about to be mated, her owner would first carefully study the list of points provided by the Silver and Smoke Persian Cat Society, previously quoted in this work, jotting down those good qualities, to which she believes her queen may lay claim, and then selecting that sire possessing the points most wanting in her own cat, of course never forgetting relationship. The old rule about in breeding is once in, twice out, as all old fanciers know, but where silver Persian cats are in question, I would most strongly urge that this adage be disregarded and as a rule, avoid in breeding entirely until a stronger race of silver cats is established, cats with frames equal to those big blue beauties, we see at our shows. I think that in a comparatively short time of course always avoiding tabby blood breeding chiefly for bone our silver cats may be very different to those of today, those who own too fairylike limbs to be beautiful."

"A word about our famous sires, and by the way, we may congratulate ourselves on having within reach, so many beauties. Often I have letters asking for advice, as to which stud, such and such a queen shall visit and in addition to the above suggestions, I would remind the owner that length of journey should be taken into consideration, and the fact that, if the chosen sire is extremely popular, it may be that a better result may be gained, if the queen is sent to one not so much in request, especially if the owner of the stud cat has not been warned before of the visit of your pussie. However most owners of stud cats are extremely careful in limiting the number of visitors, and few object to keeping Sir Thomas free for a week beforehand, if given due notice."

United Silver and Golden Fanciers FUR AND FEATHER
Photo by Mrs. S.F. Clarke

"Do let me urge all whom it may concern, to keep Madame in close confinement for several days after her return home. Indeed in the interest of the owner of both stud and queen, this is of vast importance, and many a disappointment is due to this seemingly small neglect. Puss does not always return as one would wish, however great the care given her whilst away on her holiday and may take her matrimonial affairs into her own paws, with results most unsatisfactory to everyone, but herself When the kits arrive, do not if you have reason to expect valuable kittens, as a result of the mating leave more than two or three with the mother. I am of course speaking of silver kittens for reasons I shall directly state. By far the best plan is to procure some time before the birth of both litters a good big English cat as foster mother one known to have brought up a previous litter not an old cat The usual method of substituting her foster for her own babies, is to take away the mother cat for a few minutes of course out of sight, and removing one of her own kittens rub the little silver baby with the hay of the nest, and against the other kittens, so that the strange smell sense of all others so wonderfully developed in animals, may not raise suspicion in the foster mother. Then the next day remove one or two more. May I at this point plead that the little kittens taken from their mother, for your benefit should not be drowned. [Horror!] If they must be sent along the silent road to the Quiet City, let it be done mercifully and by chloroform. Such wee things may rest easily in a big biscuit box, the lids of which usually close tightly and about I oz of chloroform poured on a piece of flannel or sponge laid on a small saucer by their side, will send them painlessly to sleep."

"The reason I strongly advise that the English foster, should nurse the best of the litter, is but an echo of the old cry Want of bone. Fed by the sturdy British puss the delicate tiny balls of silver fluff will gain greater strength, and be mothered for a longer period, than would be possible with their real parent."

"It is necessary to remember, that although the foster mother needs extra food when nursing, just as in the case of the silver mother, more caution must be exercised when beginning the more liberal diet, for very probably if this is forgotten a liver attack, which will also affect the precious kits will be the result of her unusually liberal fare. Remember also to inquire of the owner of your foster, as to how she has been fed With this knowledge common sense and careful watching of cat and kittens will quickly show if it would be better to increase or diminish her meals either in quantity or quality. It is of enormous value to bespeak the foster mother if possible, four or five weeks before the birth of the kittens for then it will not hurt to give her what is almost certain to be necessary, i.e. a worm powder."

"I always allow my mother pussies as much milk as they like, although as a rule, my cats drink water, but it should be boiled and one tablespoonful of lime water added, to each half pint. When I once urged this care of the foster mother to a friend who owned two kittens, she was extremely anxious to rear I was laughed to scorn and assured that such fussiness about a strong English cat was more than foolish. Yet I would remind breeders who are inclined to agree with the above opinion, that on the perfect health of your head nurse rests the future of your much prized litter. On her depends their growth, their first chance of throwing off their natural delicacy. Mr House in one of his articles lately published in Fur and Feather, advises that kittens should be kept with, and fed by their mothers, as long as sixteen weeks. In my humble opinion this is too great a strain on any Persian cat, but there may be great wisdom in keeping the kits with the mother or foster for as long as it is possible, without overtaxing the cat. The same authority speaks of a relay of foster mothers. I confess this puzzles me, for I should imagine that the food supplied by the second mother would be too weak in quality, as Nature provides, it shall be of different quality to suit the age of all and every kind of baby, for the big kits after that of the first foster, and I should have also imagined the second foster, would refuse to nurse kits, so much bigger than those she had just left. When my kits are four weeks old, I give them raw lean beef, scraped not chopped, beginning with half a teaspoonful daily, then the same quantity twice daily. then three times a day, and at the same time teach them to lap using a plate, which being shallower than a saucer, causes less choking and fear, to the little things." [End of Mrs. Neld's comments]




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