The Way We Were:
Excerpts from the 1961 CFA Yearbook, Part 4

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History of the Siamese Cat, Part 2
by Carlon Boren, with collaboration

The most marked expansion during this period came in the West and Northwest where many new catteries were established in the late thirties.

In 1936 Mrs. Dorothy K. Yates (Yates-de-Airy Cattery) formerly of Philadelphia, moved to Van Nuys, California, bringing much-needed English blood and the chocolate gene into the West. Her stock was based on Glenville, Saigon, Ming Kwong, Lanfine, and of course, Siamese Star blood, as well as (Imported) Kimi of Yates-de-Airy, a typey female from Paris.

Another breeder of this era deserves special mention for her significant, though practically anonymous, contribution to the breed. Unlike most newcomers to the breed, Jean Girard Meunier began her quest for Siamese by reading the show standard and visualizing with remarkable clarity the attributes of the cat it described. Thanks to her sharp-eyed and uncompromising quest for living examples of that image, she managed to obtain outstanding specimens from some of the finest bloodlines of her time.

Her chief stud, King Kambus (born 1936; not to be confused with King Kambu II, an unrelated cat of a later era) combined Ming Kwong blood - Tzu-An, Ch. Wen boa, and Bonzo II - with Ch. Saigon's Coo Coo, and Sadko of Stonehedge, linebred back to his glorious dam, Ch. Siamese Star Mee Zee of Saline (born 1925). This cat was so beautiful in wedge head, general type and color contrast that she would have been formidable competition for today's top show winners. Another stud, The Pagoda's Hu Wen (brother of Mrs. Helen Etherton's top winning Tzu-Zarra) carried much of the same blood as King Kambus; and a female, Naga of Yates-de-Airy was descended from Ch. Lanfine Sing Po of Ming Po of Ming Kwong and various Siamese Star lines.

Since Jean Girard Meunier did not exhibit or advertise her cats, she was unknown to the cat fancy for a long time, but the quality of her cats was so outstanding that once the news of them reached the breeders, it spread by word of mouth and gradually the cat world began to beat a path to her door. Mrs. George H. Livingston bought Ghengis Khan; Mrs. Frederic Hokin came seeking a mate for imported Prestwick Polka, fell in love with Pushkara, Jean Girard's favorite, and would not take "no" for an answer.

Mrs. Helen Fairchild chose Nyima and made a champion of her. Mr. Roy Easterly bought Chen Risi; Mrs. Lowell Beers bought Yang-Kui-Fei, a chocolate with a superb cinnamon tone to her points and also Queen Lalla, whose mating to Prestwick Polka produced Lita Mita, distaff-side grand dam of the famous Ch. Pukka Rajah, which, as a popular stud, did much to improve type of California Siamese. Another of Pukka's grandparents was Vasuki, which was also from Jean Girard's stock.

It is a fairly conservative estimate that well over half of today's winners in the West, largely or in part owe their eye color and slant, their long bodies and fine bone, their smooth wedge heads and even their pale body color, to their repeated descent from this nameless family of magnificent cats. A note on the back of the accompanying portrait of Pushkara reads: "A poor picture of her, taken when fat." Any experienced breeder of Siamese knows that fat distorts the head and the proportion of the ears to it, as gravely as it distorts the body. Deducting a little on the sides for fat, we see an excellent wedge head.

Dr. and Mrs. Harold L. Fairchild (Fairchild Cattery, Carlsbad, California) started their strain with Manchu Kagan Ssu, a cat of very bold color contrast. Later, to improve type, they brought in Eastern blood by adding Fairchild's Sy-Ki, a son of Ch. Sy Mingo of Newton ex Ch. Ki-Ku-Ko (Glenville and Siamese Star blood) bred by Mr. Max Hainert. The Fairchilds also bought Aditi of Newton, in kitten to Ch. Oriental Nanki Poo of Newton (Imp). This mating produced, among others, Fairchild's Chang-An of Newton and Fairchild's Pang Yo of Newton, which, bred to Ch. Fairchild's Nyima, produced Fairchild's Mei Lan of Mei Li, and was part of the stock on which June and Charles Williams based their Mei Li Cattery.

Both Dr. and Mrs. Fairchild were active in the fancy. Mrs. Fairchild became a CFA judge in 1948, making her debut by judging the first show for the National Siamese Cat Club, at the Golden Gate Cat Club in Oakland, California. The Fairchild's book, "Cats and All About Them," became a best seller about the year 1942 and is still much read by breeders.

Mrs. Fairchild deserves special credit for having sought out Mrs. George Martyn's lovely (Imported) Paletta Rob, and having had the good luck and good taste to breed a cat to him. Rob and his mate, Cremit, a daughter of Ch. Angus Silky, had been selected for Dr. and Mrs. Martyn by Mrs. Phyl Wade (Bedale Cattery, England), one of the leading authorities on the Siamese cat in her time, and the author of a book on the breed. Although neither Rob nor Cremist lived long, their offspring, Kiora, Roberta, Princess Jawe, Cremit II, and Paletta Peter, survived them and left descendants. Shamshu, a son of Roberta, mated to Ch. Amdos Plu-Padi, produced Padishah of Dark Gauntlets; Wee Wendy, a daughter of Peter ex his sister, Cremist II, became the dam of Ch. Pukka Rajah. Via these cats and others the Martyn strain had had a wide influence on Siamese in the West.

Mrs. Helen Etherton became the partner of Mr. Roy Easterly in breeding Siamese. Beside Jean Girard's Chen Risi and the famous Tzu-Zarra, they owned Samite Madam Butterfly (born 1935), a cat of predominantly Siamese Star and Yates-de-airy background, which they bred to Fairchild's Sy-Ki. Mr. Easterly and Mrs. Etherton wrote a useful book on "How to Judge Siamese". They were early advocates of the scoring system in judging and are both present-day CFA judges.

The Knight Cattery in Oswego, Oregon, started with a blue point from Mrs. Warren's Casa Gatos Cattery, and later added a kitten from the Fairchild Cattery, plus some Newton and San Gabriel (no Quinn's) stock. They also purchased two males from Mr. Davis of Denver, Colorado. They raised some very fine Siamese, and became well-known for their blue points. Mrs. Knight became a show judge and was prominent in the fancy in the Northwest for a number of years.

An early booster of "tan points", as chocolate points were then called in the West, was Mrs. Ruth Fisher. She was one of the first breeders there to call attention to the fact that their coloring was a consistently recurring genetic characteristic and as such, should have a color class of its own. Her Siamese stem, on their distaff side, from her grand old matriarch cat, Psymee Ma How, "Sammy", as she was affectionately known to the local fancy. From Mrs. G.Y. Henderson (Watermead Cattery, Eureka, California) Mrs. Fisher obtained three beautiful males, sired by Sintram's Valentine of Watermead ex Chez Minet Tika of Watermead, both predominantly Siamese Star in background. They brought the blue point and pastel factors into her strain. Her well-known chocolate stud, Ailourous, which fathered so large a number of the chocolate points of Central and Northern California, is descended from these two very diverse sources, line-bred to the chocolate carrying Watermead side, with Psymee Ma How as the distaff granddam. It is said of Ailourous that he used to ride all over San Francisco by taxi to keep his dates with his intended mates. Somehow this conjures up an image of a dapper-whiskered cat-of-the-world sitting casually on the back seat, languidly rubbing out a catnip cigarette or murmuring his intended's address to the driver in carefully modulated, pear-shaped meows.

Mrs. Fisher became a show judge in 1941, and is gratefully remembered (with Pauline Bearden Kelsey, Jess Adair, Alice Graydon Phillips and a few others) as a pioneer in the movement to give due consideration to type, in an era when Siamese were too often judged on color alone, especially by judges who were not breeders of Siamese. Ruth Fisher is an active show judge at the present time.


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