Gift Guide

The Complete Cat Book: The Official Publication of the Cat Fanciers' Association


The Cat Fanciers' Association Complete Cat Book provides both breeders and pet owners with an easy, authoritative, and engaging reference book on their beloved pet. Written by the associates of the CFA -- consummate experts in their field -- and edited by Mordecai Siegal, this compendium offers a thoroughly instructive and wholly entertaining resource by providing all the information necessary for knowing everything about the feline.

All forty-one breeds officially recognized by...

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The Cat Fanciers' Association Complete Cat Book provides both breeders and pet owners with an easy, authoritative, and engaging reference book on their beloved pet. Written by the associates of the CFA -- consummate experts in their field -- and edited by Mordecai Siegal, this compendium offers a thoroughly instructive and wholly entertaining resource by providing all the information necessary for knowing everything about the feline.

All forty-one breeds officially recognized by the CFA are here; detailed descriptions and official standards outline their history, physical features, and personality, and include show grooming requirements and special handling tips, whether you're at home or in the ring. In addition, you'll find a lively illustrated history of the CFA, the world's largest and most prestigious registry of pedigreed cats.

The book also includes a home veterinary guide as well as in-depth information on cat selection, grooming, behavior, and other essential topics. A major section is devoted to feline nutrition, as energy and nutrition requirements vary during the different stages of a cat's life. CFA veterinary experts offer advice from choosing the right cat food to keeping your beloved feline healthy and fit.

The Cat Fanciers' Association Complete Cat Book promises to become the standard reference in every cat lover's home.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Under the Cat Fanciers' Association (CFA) imprimatur, Siegal (Cornell Book of Cats) has edited a cross between an encyclopedia of cat breeds and a reference guide on the medical-nutritional care of cats. The opening chapters cover the history of the CFA and pedigreed cats, while the longest chapter (written by numerous cat breeders) details each of the 41 cat breeds recognized by the CFA, discussing physical description, personality, grooming requirements, origins, and history. The inclusion of the CFA show standards for each breed will be valuable for those considering a new pedigreed cat. Other chapters address how to choose a cat, cat shows, identifying coat colors and patterns, and feline behavior and misbehavior. Sections on feline nutrition and home veterinary care contain useful, in-depth information written by veterinarians. The biggest shortcoming is the scarcity of photographs and illustrations compared with Bruce Fogle's stunning The New Encyclopedia of the Cat. Still, this will be a useful work for cat fanciers, professionals, and pet owners; recommended for libraries needing to update their titles on cat care.--Eva Lautemann, Georgia Perimeter Coll. Lib., Clarkston Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780641697401
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 10/5/2004
  • Pages: 495
  • Product dimensions: 7.86 (w) x 9.24 (h) x 1.39 (d)

Meet the Author

Mordecai Siegal is the author of more than thirty pet books, including the best-selling Cornell Book of Cats, the UC Davis Book of Dogs, and the UC Davis Book of Horses. He has written monthly pet columns for House Beautiful, Good Housekeeping, and the CFA Almanac. Mr. Siegal has had a caller-interview radio show, Vets and Pets, on WNYC. He is a founding member of the Cat Writers' Association and president emeritus of the Dog Writers' Association of America. Mr. Siegal resides in New York City.

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First Chapter

The Cat Fanciers' Association Complete Cat Book

Chapter One

The Way We Were: A History of the Cat Fanciers' Association

By Judy Thomas

Imagine walking into your first cat show today, never having been to a show before. The number and variety of cats and the complexity of judging would probably overwhelm you. How did today's cat show develop? How long did it take to get where we are now? Even the most senior of current cat fanciers can only claim 50 or 60 years of participating in the wonderful hobby of showing cats. What was it like for the earlier exhibitors?

Cat shows in the United States started a little over 100 years ago. The first major cat show, the National Capital Cat Show, was held May 8, 1895, at Madison Square Garden in New York City. There were 176 cats entered. The categories in which they could be entered were Longhair (not differentiated by breed), Foreign Shorthair (which at that time included Siamese, Manx, and "Russians"), and Domestic Shorthair. No differentiation was made between intact cats and neutered cats, and there is no record of kittens having been entered. Each cat was judged once, and one cat was chosen as the overall best cat. Fortunately, there are photographs of Cosey, listed as a "brown tabby longhair neuter" owned by Mrs. Fred Brown. Today we would classify him as a Maine Coon Cat, but because no breed distinctions were made among longhairs at that time, he was recorded simply as being a Longhair. (Originally, the terms Persian and Angora were used interchangeably. Today the Persian and Turkish Angora are very different from each other, and from that first winner.) That scenario is a far cry from today's show. In the Cat Fanciers' Association today, cats are judged by six to eight judges at each show and more than 37 breeds are accepted for championship competition. Each cat is rigorously evaluated for health, grooming, and condition and then compared to the written standard of perfection for that breed. Let us see how some of those changes happened.

When the first major cat show was held, there were no cat clubs and no cat registering associations. Exhibitors declared what breed they were showing on the basis of their cat's looks. In 1899, the first cat club on record, the Beresford Cat Club, was founded in Chicago. By 1901, the members of this club realized that they needed a governing body to set rules for the growing cat fancy. Such an organization, they concluded, should also have the responsibility for registering and recording the pedigrees of cats according to breed. This first cat association was chartered, registered, and named the American Cat Association. Five years later, in 1906, because of a sharp difference of opinion over registration policies, some members split away and formed their own organization, which became the Cat Fanciers' Association (CFA).

When the CFA was founded, the Russian cat disappeared from the list of recognized breeds, and the Abyssinian and the Australian Shorthair were added. Longhairs were recognized in self (solid) colors and tabby coat patterns only. Manx cats were recognized in many colors, but only if shorthaired, and only the seal point Siamese was accepted. The cat once shown as the Domestic Shorthair was what we today call the American Shorthair.

The paucity of breeds did not deter cat enthusiasts. Cat shows continued to be held, growing in numbers.

Number of CFA Cat Shows by Show Season
May 1-April 30
1949-1950  81
1959-1960  96
1969-1970  92
1979-1980 237
1989-1990 363
1999-2000 404
2002-2003 394
2003-2004 386

At that time, and into the 1950s, showing cats was mainly a hobby for the leisure class. Shows were held on weekdays, and most of the exhibitors were women. A registrar kept records of the pedigrees of cats in volumes called stud books. However, in the early days of the cat fancy, cats did not necessarily need to have registered parents to be recognized as "apparent purebreds." Up until the 1960s, if a cat appeared to be of a recognized breed, it could be entered in a cat show, and if three judges agreed that it met the standards for the breed, it could then be registered as an example of that breed. In other words, if a cat walked up to your back door and met the criteria put forth at that time to be shown as one of the recognized breeds, it could be shown. If three judges certified that it was "apparently" a member of a specific recognized breed, then it could be registered as that breed. If bred, its offspring would be registerable in the stud book.

The CFA grew quietly, but not radically, for the next 50 years. More cat clubs began to appear around the country. Other breeds and colors joined the aristocracy of show cats (blue point Siamese in 1927, the Burmese in 1936), and the titles of Champion and Grand Champion were created to honor cats that were excellent examples of their breeds. The breeders and judges compiled written standards describing the desired physical attributes and recognized colors and coat patterns of perfect examples of each breed. By the early 1940s, the cat fancy had changed very little from the quiet, genteel hobby instituted at the turn of the nineteenth century. Shows were still social events. Most clubs had many activities in addition to shows, including dinners, parties, and unscored kitten competitions called kitten matches. Quality cats would be shown for several years in a row, and it was not uncommon to see 7- and 8-year-old unaltered cats competing in shows. In 1959, the titles of Premier and Grand Premier were introduced for cats achieving a certain level of excellence as neuters and spays.

The Cat Fanciers' Association Complete Cat Book. Copyright © by Mordecai Siegal. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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