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The Premier Online Magazine devoted
to Persian & Exotic Shorthair Cats

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Excerpts from the 1958 CFA Yearbook, Part 4

Red Tabbies and Tortoiseshells, Part 1

by Julia M. Hunter

Wouldn’t you like to have a patch of sunshine in your home on Winter’s gloomiest, darkest day, or a perfect “pansy face” in bloom the year around? Then select either of the colored cats in this article.

The Red Tabby today is a gorgeous creature. It is very hard to breed a good one because, due to the introduction of blue, black, red or cream to improve the length of the coat, as with all colors of Long Hair Tabbies, when the hair becomes too long, the tabby markings tend to become indistinct. 

Strange to say, a good cream cross helps to intensify the red color. Probably the best color to use is black, particularly from a solid red background. This can not be done too often as, while it tends to darken the color, after too much black, we do not have the clear, sparkling red color so much wanted, but a muddy, brownish shade. The color of a red setter dog is ideal. A Red Tabby queen bred to a black male: then these males bred to unrelated females that have been bred this same way tends to achieve this beautiful color.

Prior to World War I, there apparently were no famous Red Tabby cats in England. All good ones over there go back to a wonderful Cream male – CH Swinton Dinna Forget – owned and shown by Mrs. Behrens. A mating from this father and a Tortoiseshell mother – Leading Lady – produced a Red Tabby male, CH Red Leader, who appears in most all of the early pedigrees. Another male – CH Shazadar (CH Swinton Dinna Forget x Little Dorrit of Allington) – soon made his appearance and is in most early pedigrees.

At that time, there seem to have been few, if any, Red Tabby queens (one of Nature’s “quirks”, perhaps) and all of the females were torties.

To mention a few English Breeders and their famous cats that won in the Shows held there in the early nineteen-twenties – Mrs. Neete; Miss Hill (CH Princess Salyana and CH Galdorn); Mrs. Campbell-Fraser; Mr. and Mrs. Forsyth Forest; Mrs. Evelyn Soame; Mrs. Kennaway – all had famous Red Tabbies. And last, but not least, Mrs. Fosberry with her wonderful Eastbury strain, which included Red Leader, Rosemo, Sunbeam, Tuffin, Blenheim and many more – and Trigo, of whom we shall hear later on.

The general type of Red Tabbies has been much improved today, primarily by the introducton of the solid color cats into the line. Their faces have been greatly shortened, width of skull obtained, and eyes are most always a deep orange or brilliant copper color. Ears, too, are smaller and better placed. The so called “foxy face” (long nose, large stick-up ears, greenish-yellow eyes), poor type (high on legs, long tail, and extremely short coat for a long-haired cat) is a thing of the past, we hope.

Today, most all of the Red Tabbies have lost their beautiful “spine-lines” – the two bold stripes on the back – and have a practically solid red back. (Only by making a very careful selection in breeding can this bad fault be eliminated).

As a Tabby kitten is marked at birth and for a few days after, so will it be marked when adult; and if the spine lines are absent then, they will never come later. Marks then fade out for a while, but the permanent and markings begin to set when the kitten reaches six months of age.

The white-tipped tail and white chin, which were such bad faults in the days gone by, have, by selection, been practically bred out and one scarcely sees these defects in cats at Shows today.

Powder should never be used on Reds – Solid or Tabby, Blacks, Torties or Brown Tabbies. It is difficult to remove enough of it to procure the gloss needed for the show. Use a clean cloth dipped in a little warm ammonia water. This cleanses the coat. Nothing more, except endless brushing and finally polishing with a clean white cotton glove.

Red Tabbies are most beautiful when out of doors at liberty, walking on a green lawn, or sleeping in the sunshine and look very different than when one sees them in the Shows.

One of the first Red Tabby males, found in most pedigrees in America prior to 1930, was CH Sandy MacGregor, bred and owned by Miss Josephine Campbell. Some early strains were Pom Pom, Dreamerie, Chandos, Fox Valley, Presque Isle, Red Grange, Tumblebrook, Ovid and Sa-Ra-Cas.

Other early cats were CH Admiral Vermillon, CH Rubra Fox, CH Red Rock Rowdy, Chinese Aber, Mr. Sure Pop, Dreamerie Geisha Girl, Sunkist Sweet Face, CH Kilmorie Flashy-Man, CH Capt. Lindberg of Red Grange, and many, many more.

The next outstanding male seems to have been CH Red Toddy of Presque Isle, owned by Mrs. Katherine Riepel of Syracuse, NY. He was a very great winner in his day.

Red Tabbies seem to have never been too popular on the West Coast. The most well known Cattery being Miss Blanche Gilmore’s at La Crescenta, California – the Red Grange Cattery. Their greatest admirers have been, and still are, in the Middle West. It is not unusual at one time to find 20-30 entries in classes at Shows held in this area. Even today, we find larger classes there than anywhere else.

About the time of our entry in the fancy, around 1930, the phenomenal Red Tabby male Eastbury Trigo (bred in England by Mrs. Fosbury) was imported, and became the first Red Tabby to consistently win “Best Cat in Show” over the then existing outstanding Blues. His record – 12 times “Best Kitten” in England; 9 times “Best Cat in Show” – all of which were All-Breed Shows in this country before his retirement in 1933, and never was beaten for “Best of Color” in any Show, and was the first cat to win a CFA Grand Championship. He never sired a cat quite as good as himself, probably due to the fact that there were no females in this country his equal. His gorgeous head, round muzzle, brilliant color, marks and type, did more to improve the Red Tabbies than any one cat ever has, and even today one can still find traces of these characteristics in his progeny; particularly the muzzle.

His most worthy sons – GC Kopper Kettle Krusader of Rockridge (owned by us) and CH Kopper Kettle Kourdeleon (owned by Dr. and Mrs. H.K. Miller of Columbus, Ohio) were litter brothers bred by Arch Horn. Both were outstanding. Trigo’s finest daughters were CH Bobette of Vickery and CH Miss Dallas of Vickery, bre by Mrs. W. R. Crawford of Dallas, Texas. We purchased Miss Dallas and bred her back to her father. She had one outstanding female, CH Rockridge Doris Dallas. All were truly lovely. Trigo’s sister, CH Eastbury Tuffin, was the dam of the Vickery females and, we believe, there were never any more cats from this combination, due to the illness of Tuffin. Trigo also sired many beautiful Torties and splendid “show-type” Creams (probably a throw back to Swinton Dinna Forget), notably Mrs. Elsie Collins’ Denbeigh and Denbeigh II.

Trigo’s untimely death is still deplored and, as we said at the time of his passing, “he still lives on in our hearts”.

Mrs. Katherine Riepel of Syracuse, NY later imported a Red Tabby male – Eastbury Blenheim – same parents as Trigo from a subsequent mating – and he did some nice winning and soon made his Championship, but he was never considered by the judges quite as nice as Trigo.

And so the years rolled along. One can understand, with the volume of statistics available, it would be impossible to mention all of the Red Tabby cats bred and shown during the nineteen thirties and World War II in the space allotted this article.

After World War II, the Red Tabby seemed to lose its great popularity and, while some of the older breeders did carry on, very few new fanciers developed. Classes in Shows dwindled to one or two in a class and it became almost impossible to hold a “Tabby and Tortie Specialty”.

It was our pleasure to judge the Tabby and Tortie Specialty Show held in Cincinnati, Ohio, in January of this year [1958] and it was most gratifying to find an entry of seventy-one and to see the Red Tabby Classes, particularly the male and female champions, well filled. CH Quechee Kuchen, a female bred and owned by Mrs. Alice Grimes, Indianapolis, Indiana, was our Best Cat – a truly beautiful colored and well marked tabby. Kuchen should go far in the Shows. She was also “Best of Color” in the All-Bred Show and is quite the nicest Red Tabby we have seen in a long, long time.

It would now seem that interest in these striking colored cats is coming back, stronger than ever. Perhaps interest in our little feline friends since World War I has increased so steadily because men and women who suffered terrible losses during this period became interested in this hobby to occupy their minds and so to help to forget War’s tragedies. Since World War II, the Fancy has grown in leaps and bounds, as today CFA registers as many cats and kittens in three months as it did in a whole year previously. People, at last, have begun to realize that the cat is the ideal apartment-house pet – no having to be taken out several times a day and usually no excess noise. Certainly when one thinks of the word “Home”, no nicer picture can come to mind than, in winter, a cozy room with a fireplace filled with burning logs or coals and a cat sleeping on the hearth in front of it – a cat who lazily rises and stretches to greet its owner and, after rubbing against its loved one, soon settles back to sleep. Truly this is real contentment.

For men and women who are lonely – and there are so many of them today – cats are an ideal hobby and it need not be too expensive, for the purchase of one well-bred female kitten can start one off as a “Cat Fancier”. One is bound to make many enduring friendships amongst the exhibitors, and the Club Meetings and Cat Shows soon become of paramount importance. Soon the exchange of cat news and happenings is eagerly looked forward to.

Let us sincerely hope that our Fanciers will never allow our strikingly beautiful Red Tabbies to become a thing of the past.

Tortoiseshells, the conclusion to this article, will be published in the next issue…


  Mrs. Julia M. Hunter

Mrs. Julia M. Hunter was a noted breeder and CFA judge.

She bred Persians, Siamese, Abyssinians, and Domestic (American) Shorthairs with her Rockridge Cattery. She also had the distinction of being the first Fancier in the United States to own a Grand Champion, GC Eastbury Trigo, a red tabby male.

She was a judge for UCCA in 1934-35, a CFF judge in 1936, and a CFA judge starting in 1941. She was a CFA Board Member from 1939-1964, and was also the founder of Westchester Cat Club.

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“I gave my cat a bath the other day. He loved it. He sat quietly. He enjoyed it. It was fun for me.
The fur would stick to my tongue, but other than that… ”
*Steve Martin (comedian & actor)