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to Persian & Exotic Shorthair Cats

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Excerpts from the 1959 CFA Yearbook, Part 2

The History of CFA
Our Early Years, 1906-1919

To continue with our report of the Cat Fancy in its infancy – Our present CFA was not in existence, and the only National Association was the ACA. It was stated in the 1958 yearbook that the American Cat Association was founded in 1906, but further research shows that it was incorporated May 11, 1904, in the State of Illinois. Member Clubs were: Atlantic Cat Club (New York), Beresford Cat Club (Chicago), Connecticut Cat Club (Stamford), Lockehaven Cat Club (Rochester), Michigan Cat Club (Detroit), and the Washington Cat Club.

Mrs. Clinton Locke, of Chicago, was the first President and Mrs. William Hofstra, of New York, the Vice-President.

All was peaceful until the Annual Meeting of ACA held January 17 and 18, 1906. At the time Mrs. Hofstra was replaced as Vice-President by Mrs. Charles Hampton Lane, Chicago. The February “Cat Journal” comments editorially – “A difference of opinion regarding some of the rules now used by the American Association has resulted in a break in the ranks and this will undoubtedly result in the formation of a new Association, national in character. The country is large, no doubt there is room for two associations, but it is a matter of regret that harmony could not have been brought about and all have lived and done business together as one family. Let us hope that this difference will not result in any serious break in the pleasant relations that have existed and that the two associations will work together in harmony.”

Because of these differences of opinion, there was a rift and the Cat Fanciers Association was formed in February. The first advertisement for the new Association appeared in the March issue of the “Cat Journal”. The following officers were listed: President, Mrs. W. A. Hofstra; Vice-President, Mrs. A. Jackson (Rochester); Secretary, Mrs. W. B. Frye (Buffalo) and Recorder, Miss Ethel B. Champion (New York). There were five original member clubs: Buffalo Cat Club, Connecticut Cat Club, Washington Cat Club, Lockehaven Cat Club and the Atlantic Cat Club. Of these, all but one, Buffalo, had resigned from ACA.

Mrs. Locke, the President of ACA, was greatly upset and indignantly wrote a letter to Mr. C. H. Jones, Editor and Publisher of “The Cat Journal”, which was printed in the March issue.

“Dear Mr. Jones:

It is my wish to let the Cat Fancy know through The Cat Journal that I have resigned my membership in the Atlantic, Lockehaven, and Washington clubs, as I cannot consistently work with clubs who would strike at the very foundations of influence and success by dividing our strength and weakening our colors. I consider the movement as harmful and ill advised. One strong Association for the government of our shows and club conduct is all we need and can digest. The American Cat Association needs and should have the loyalty and cooperation of all the clubs. Feeling greatly surprised and disappointed, I remain.

Most Cordially,
Adele G. D. Locke
President B.C.C. of A. and Member of Board of Directors of the American Cat Association”

Two more clubs joined CFA in September, 1906 – the Bay State and Danbury Agricultural Societies – and in November, two more – the Royal Canadian Cat Club and the Short Haired Cat Society were added.

The first show held under CFA rules mentioned in “The Cat Journal” was put on by the Buffalo Cat Club on December 4-5-6, 1906, with 168 cats. The judges were Mr. Joshua Cowpland, Jr., and Mr. A. E. Field-Marshall. Mr. Field-Marshall judged a second CFA show a week later in Toronto. There were 183 cats present, and it was a two point show.

In addition to the above mentioned judges, Mrs. H. G. Dykhouse, Mr. A. Burland, Dr. H. O. Walters, Miss E. B. Champion, Miss Dorothy Champion, Mr. H. F. Vidal and Mr. T. Farrar Rackham are all mentioned several times in the early show reports.

The first Long Hair Specialty Club was organized in Buffalo, December 5, 1906 – the Blue Cat Society of America, and functioned most successfully for many years. The Society and individual members have done much fine work in furthering the interest in the Blue Persian. Actually, the first Specialty Club in the United States was the Short Haired Cat Society, but intensive research has not revealed the exact date of its founding.

At the end of 1906, CFA started publishing a Stud Book and Register in the “Cat Journal”. There were to be 25 entries each month. In 1909, Volume I of the CFA Stud Book and Register was published in book form. The December 1909 “Cat Review” commented: “In establishing this studbook and register, with departmental recognition, the CFA has rendered the greatest service to the fancy that has ever been accomplished by any association”. Number 1 in the Stud Book is a Long Hair Kitten named Peter. However, since the Kitten Register was not included in the Stud Book proper, the first cat actually listed is a Long Hair Tortoiseshell Female, Molly Bond, number 5. Molly Bond is undoubtedly Peter’s dam, since both were registered at the same time, along with three other kittens, by the owner, Mrs. Ricker. 19 Champions were listed, but there is no way of ascertaining which was the first as they are listed alphabetically. There were 11 Cattery names, the first being KENILWORTH, which belonged to Mrs. Frye.

Volume II was authorized in 1910 at the Annual Meeting, but was not printed until 1912. In this volume, 19 Champions and 17 Cattery Names were listed.

Volume III was published in 1913 with 8 new Champions and 12 Cattery Names. Volume IV made its appearance in 1915 in which 9 Champions and 6 Cattery Names were listed.

Volume V came in 1917, with 33 Champions and 29 Cattery Names. It is interesting to note the strides CFA has made through the intervening years. Hundreds of Champions are now listed in each Volume, and there is a total of 3054 Cattery Names through Volume 86. It was in Volume V that the Barbe Bleue Cattery Name, registered to Mrs. Eva T. Harris of Los Angeles, first appeared. Many famous Long Hairs have had Barbe Bleue as a part of their name.

In 1907, CFA held its first Annual Meeting in Madison Square Garden in conjunction with the Atlantic Cat Club show January 3, 4, and 5. Delegates were present at the meeting from the Lockehaven, Buffalo, Washington, Connecticut, Atlantic, and Short Hair Clubs.

The Treasurer reported a cash balance of $41.50. “This was considered a very satisfactory showing for the young organization.” The fundamental principal of the C.F.A. is “home rule!”. The registration fee for kittens was 25 cents. A winner of a CFA championship was eligible for registration, regardless of ancestry – “It was provided that the judgement of the judges must be final”.

The next Long Hair club to be organized was The Silver Society. It began in Toronto, September 3, 1909, and belonged to both CFA and ACA. Their first Show was held in New York, December 16, 1912, and was the first Specialty ever held by the Fancy, either in the United States or England. There were two separate shows with separate entries, prizes, etc. The CFA judge was Mrs. Elbert Bess, Secretary of CFA; the ACA judge Miss J. R. Kroeh, Secretary of ACA. The president of The Silver Society, Mrs. Mitchelson, was also president of CFA. This double show was repeated December 10-11, 1913.

It is interesting to note that the Standard for Chinchillas, Shaded Silvers and Smokes adopted by The Silver Society on January 9, 1913, is practically the same as we have today.

During these years, many new clubs were accepted by CFA, and some resigned. The Lockehaven Cat Club left CFA in April 1908, and the Rochester Cat Club was organized June 15th of that same year to take its place.

The Empire Cat Club has remained faithful through the years and is the oldest Club now in CFA. It was organized December 5, 1913, and was admitted to membership in CFA at the Annual Meeting December 30th. The next oldest is the Westchester Cat Club. This club joined CFA at the September 3rd, 1915 meeting of the Executive Board.

From its beginning, CFA relied heavily on the current Cat periodicals. The first was the “Cat Journal”, founded in 1901 by Mr. C. H. Jones. He was a great cat lover, a splendid writer, and deeply interested in the Fancy. In addition to his “Cat Journal”, he started an eight-page paper, “The Weekly Cat News”, October 21, 1911.

Due to the illness of the Editor, the “Cat Journal” unfortunately suspended publication after the February 1913 issue and, in April 1915, the Cat Fancy lost a great and good friend through Mr. Jones’ death.

The second periodical entirely devoted to Cats was the “Cat Review”, started by Mr. and Mrs. Oliver L Dosch of Dayton, Ohio. This magazine appeared successfully for many years.

“The Cat Courier” first appeared July 12, 1912, as a weekly, with a paid subscription list of 100. It was launched by Mrs. Elizabeth L. Brace of Rochester, New York. When Mrs. Brace passed away, Gertrude E. Taylor (later President of CFA) assumed charge and transferred the publication to Kalamazoo, Michigan, in March 1917.

Had all the early records of CFA, including the Minutes of the Executive Board Meetings and the Annual Meetings, not been destroyed by fire, we could know more of the business transacted and the problems, large and small, which the early Meetings dealt with. All we have are brief notices published in the cat magazines of the day. However, we do know that at the Annual Meeting held December 30th, 1910, in conjunction with the Atlantic Cat Club show, Australian Cats were formally recognized as a breed. Silver breeders will be interested to know that although Masked Silvers, up to that time a recognized breed, were dropped, and no mention is ever made of them again. Apparently finances were sound, for the Treasurer reported a balance on hand of $144.65, a fabulous sum at that time.

The report of the February 17, 1912 Annual Meeting shows Mrs. J. C. Mitchelson elected President, replacing Mrs. Hofstra who had served for the first 6 years. The fee for registration in the CFA Stud Book was one dollar.

The reason for a change of Presidents in juts a year is obscure, but in 1913, Mrs. G. C. Gillespie replaced Mrs. Mitchelson at the Annual Meeting in December. “The subject of a descriptive standard for each color and breed was discussed, and several delegates were requested by the President to submit drafts to the executive board”.

Sketchy announcements of Executive Board Meetings were made frequently, but there was little or no mention of business transacted. The first detailed account was that of a special Board Meeting held May 19th 1914, at which an amendment to the Show Rules was passed which stated that “Show Managers should announce the names of all judges before soliciting Specials.” Also, at this meeting, the first official Long Hair standard was adopted and it is practically the same as that of today. It is a mystery why no Standard was set at that time for Chinchillas, Shaded Silver, Smokes or Blue-Creams, but only for Whites, Blacks, Blues, Oranges (exactly the same wording as our Reds), Creams, Brown Tabbies, Silver Tabbies, Orange Tabbies and Tortoiseshells. It may be noted that the Silver Tabbies were not placed in the Silver Division, but were definitely in the Tabby and Tortie Division.

The 1914 Annual Meeting was held December 4th at 3:00 P.M. at Grand Central Palace in conjunction with the Empire Cat Show. Mrs. J. Edgar Davis was elected President, the third in three years, but unlike her predecessors, she held the office for several years.

Again, the next Annual Meeting was held with the Empire Cat Club show, December 10, 1915, and mysteriously enough, promptly adjourned.

However, it was only a prelude to a very busy 1916 – the Annual Meeting, three regular Executive Board Meetings, one Special Executive Board Meeting and Special General Meeting. Then, on June 27th, at an Adjourned Special General Meeting, with Delegates present from all Clubs, the Constitution, etc, as altered in part by the Executive Board, and partly by the Association itself, was unanimously adopted.

There is no report of an Annual Meeting in 1918, probably due to World War I.

From 1906 through 1919, various shows were held throughout the Country and reported in the “Cat Journal” and “Cat Review”. Four day shows were common, and none were less than three. It is amusing to note that Male cats were often referred to as “Kings” rather than “Studs’ , and the catalogue of the first show held in Madison Square Garden in 1895 lists “He Cats” and “She Cats”. Many shows were held at County Fairs in conjunction with poultry exhibits.

It will be of special interest to Western exhibitors to know that shows were held in Los Angeles and Santa Barbara in 1909 and 1910, and one in San Diego in 1911. One that we all might envy was in Portland, Oregon, January 19-20-21, 1911. It was located in the city’s largest department store, Meier and Frank’s, and attracted 21,000 visitors. There were 170 entries, 65 were turned down due to lack of space. A Long Hair Blue Maine Cat, owned by Mrs. Hiller, was Best In Show.

Shows flourished despite the War, although some clubs had to cancel meetings during 1917 and 1918 because of Spanish Influenza.

As there was war in Europe in 1918, so war and rumors of war broke out in the Cat Fancy. There were dissatisfactions!

Miss Ethel Champion, who had served as CFA Recorder for more than 12 years, resigned and refused to allow her name to be mentioned for election in any office of the Cat Fanciers’ Association! Miss Laura Gould Hopkins was elected to succeed her.

The Silver Society resigned from CFA! It seems that on January 6th and 7th, 1919, they had given a Specialty Show and had committed so many sins that the Executive Board objected – and with good reason. There was a most peculiar premium list, no CFA Show Rules were sent to the exhibitors, neither with the premium list nor with the entry blanks. The Society didn’t bother to ask for a sanction for the Show, and point blank refused to do so when reminded by the Recorder that it was mandatory. The Executive Board retaliated by withholding Championship points from the Show at its meeting January 24th. Exit Silver Society!

The Atlantic Cat Club resigned from CFA in February to form the United Cat Fanciers Association. This name was changed in a few months to Cat Fanciers Federation. Miss Ethel Champion was the first Secretary-Treasurer of the new Association.

Thus, there were now three National Associations: ACA, CFA, and CFF.

The “Cat Review” of December 1919 sternly shakes its editorial finger at such goings on and scolds: “What is the American fancy coming to? Will the next few years find us splitting up still further, till all the clubs become little independent associations? There is no recourse to a popular vote, but the beaten side sometimes ‘gets even’ by withdrawing and forming a new governing body. This, I am aware, has long been considered the ‘feminine mode of attack’, but it is not business and the cat fancy is a business and is worthy of being run in a business-like manner.”

At last, CFA decided to incorporate! The decision came at a meeting of the Executive Board, June 6, 1919, and must have been reached unanimously and with nor argument, for the meeting lasted but 45 minutes. On September 18th, Articles of Incorporation were drawn up under the laws of the State of New York. The Articles provided that at least one meeting of the Executive Board be held in New York each year, and that one member of the Executive Board be a resident of the State of New York. The clubs whose representatives signed the Articles of Incorporation were given the honor of being charter members in CFA. These clubs were: Cleveland Persian Society, Empire Cat Club, New Rochelle Cat Club and McKeesport Persian Club.

The first Executive Board meeting after incorporation was held October 9th.

Thus CFA entered a new and successful era –

… To be continued in the 1960 yearbook …

Related Articles

  • Excerpts from the 1959 CFA Yearbook, Part 1 (Overview and Grand Parade)
  • Excerpts from the 1959 CFA Yearbook, Part 2 (CFA’s Early Years 1906-1919)
  • Excerpts from the 1959 CFA Yearbook, Part 3 (So You Want To Put on a Show!, part 1)
  • Excerpts from the 1959 CFA Yearbook, Part 4 (So You Want To Put on a Show!, part 2)
  • Excerpts from the 1959 CFA Yearbook, Part 5 (Cats of Yesteryear: The Masked Silver)
  • Excerpts from the 1959 CFA Yearbook, Part 6 (Cats of Yesteryear: The Angora)

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“Cats’ hearing apparatus is built to allow the human voice to easily go in one ear and out the other.”
*Author Stephen Baker (animal behaviorist)