The breeding of cats to a set breed standard began in earnest in the late 1800ís in England. The exhibiting of cats at shows, where judges compared and awarded the
various examples of newly evolving breeds, started with a show at the Crystal Palace in London, England in December of 1871 under the management of well-known British cat fancier, Dr. Harrison Weir.
While breeders and the emerging cat fancy started on a path that would lead them to the more than 40 CFA recognized breeds and over 300 CFA licensed cat shows world-wide, accurate record keeping was also important. Registering bodies and clebs were started, often breaking off from parent organizations, and they annually published a Stud Book listing all cats registered during a single year. Breeders wrote letters to magazines telling about their successes, and failures, with the breeding programs. Thus, books and magazines from that era form the historical foundation of the cat fancy.
The CFA Foundation has recognized the need to preserve the historical documents of the cat fancy, and their research library has a full set of the CFA Studbooks, along with stud books from various other organications - GCCF, ACA, and CFF. The library also contains a copy of the original US Register and Studbook for Cats and the 1900-1905 Studbook and Register of the Beresford Cat Club of America (Chicago, IL).
There is a very active group of linechasers around the world - dedicated to preserving the registration records and pedigrees of the various associations. Using studbooks and other printed references allows linechasers to collect this important data, and share it with others through mailing lists. We are currently scanning show catalogs from the early 1900's and sharing them with a linechaser's list.
Located in Alliance, Ohio, the Feline Historical Museum has an important non-lending research library, available for on-site viewing.
Text: ©Karen Lawrence