The Cat Fancy Is Born
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Winners of a 1890 English Cat Show
Drawing by Louis Wain
More than 400 years ago, in the late 1500s, enthusiastic cat owners gathered in the town of Winchester, England and held a "show" to compare their cats.
Of course, this exhibition at a local fair was nothing like our modern cat shows.
The first contemporary cat show complete with benching cages was not recorded until almost 300 years later in 1871 in England.
The organizer of this milestone was a gentleman named Harrison Weir, who is now considered the father of the cat fancy.
It was Harrison who first conceived of the idea of a modern benched cat show. Once he got his idea, he swiftly arranged for classes, costs, prizes and a schedule . . . and the modern cat show was born!
The winner of the competition in 1598 at the St. Giles Fair in Winchester, England was not awarded best of breed. They were awarded best of mouser!
160 felines attended this first grand cat exhibition.
Four years later, a cat show in Scotland attracted 560 entries!
Two years after that, in 1887, the first cat registry in the world was formed. The National Cat Club was created to register cats, maintain stud books, and record and produce cat shows. Weir was President. Harrison also developed the concept and form of our first breed Standards.
"it would be well to hold Cat Shows , so that different breeds, colors, markings, etc., might be more carefully attended to, and the domestic cat sitting in front of the fire would possess a beauty and attractiveness unimagined."
Harrison Weir, 1871
The GCCF is now the governing body of the Cat Fancy in the United Kingdom and is the feline equivalent of the Kennel Club. The GCCF was established as an independent body in 1910 and was formed from the three or four cat clubs who were registering cats at that time.
"Across the pond", the cat fancy held its first official cat show in Madison Square Garden, New York City, in 1895.
in 1928, the The Governing Council of the Cat Fancy Australia and Victoria, became the third cat registry in the world at the time and continues to this day.
In Europe, the largest cat registry is FIFE. FIFe is the United Nations of Cat Federations - a federation of national members representing forty countries. Member organizations follow the same rules with regard to the breed standards, cattery names, shows, judges and student judges.
In North America, there are now several main cat registries including:
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