The Way We Were:
Excerpts from the 1963 CFA Yearbook, Part 5

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The Incomparable Domestic Shorthair, Part 2

by Mrs. Kay McQuillen

Mrs. McQuillen is a CFA judge, well known for her work with the Domestic Short Hair. Her cattery, Silver Quest, was established in 1938 and she bred Domestic Shorthairs for over 36 years.

In the earliest shows the most common Domestic entries were the Whites with various eye colors, the Blacks, the Torties and Calicos, the Brown Tabby, and the Silver Tabby. Occasionally there was a Masked Silver, which is no longer seen, and sometimes a rare unmarked Cream, a solid Red, a Smoke, or a Shaded or Chinchilla Silver. Even today some of these are rarely seen, and the Shaded and Chinchilla are still not plentiful. Some experimental breeding has been done, crossing to the Longhair and to the Aby, but it will take time to perfect the color and tipping and rebuild the pedigree to eliminate this hybrid background.

One of the earliest breeders in Silvers, and one of the real pioneers in breeding Domestics, was Mrs. C. F. Kunkler of Columbus, Ohio. Mrs. Kunkler has worked with the Silvers since 1940 when she and Nell Stewart pioneered in breeding this color. The first pair was born March 14, 1940. According to the registration the pair came from a blue-and-white female named Arlington Tippy and a white male named Arlington Twinkle. Mrs. Kunkler outcrossed to blacks, to blues, and to whites. Finding the black outcross the most satisfactory for her purposes, she then bred back to the silver line. She followed this program for many generations, finally establishing a beautiful line of Chins and Shaded Silvers, exemplified by her CH Springbrook Illimani (pictured).

One of the biggest problems in this particular breeding is the persistence of the tabby markings, usually showing up as bars on the forelegs or rings on the tail – a fault that is extremely difficult to eliminate. We must remember, though, that the original cats had these markings, and there are thousands of generations of tabby-marked cats behind our non-tabby show cats today, so we cannot expect perfect results right away.

The Silver Tabby in the past five years has become extremely popular and we see large entries in this class in today’s shows. The public has taken to them, which has encouraged the breeders. The Brown Tabby was at one time quite popular, but now the Silver Tabby has overtaken it in popularity, probably because of the more striking markings. However, we still find that the Brown Tabby generally has the better type of the two.

The early breeders of the Silver Tabby found that outcrosses were needed to strengthen the type, and black was introduced into the lines, as well as smoke. However in many cases this darkened the coat too much, as did blue when it was used. Outcrosses to white were tried to eliminate the darker coat, but often the resulting ground color was white instead of silver, or the tipping was lost. Some said that the smoke with a white undercoat would help. We are still working hard to get the perfect bulls-eye, the perfect spinals, the perfect M on the forehead, and we still need to work to eliminate the white feet, lack of tipping, lockets, or too-white throat area. Crosses to the Brown or Red Tabby often brought a yellow or brown tinge to the color while helping to improve the pattern or type. This cross brought an eye-color problem, though, that still needs much work. In our breeding we want to perfect the striking tabby markings, “clearly defined and broad markings, not pencil-thin stripes”.

The Smoke Domestic has never been extremely common, as it has not bred true in the past. One or two would crop up at the various shows and often the owners would not know they had a Smoke until they were told to look down through the coat to the undercoat. As a judge I rarely handled a Smoke Domestic, and it was quite an occasion when we had a really good one at a show.

One of the rarest solid colors both in the past and today is the solid Cream. It is very hard to breed the mackerel markings out, and it requires more work than many are willing to give it. The most perfect Creams in color that I have ever seen were shown by Mrs. V. Blaurock in Cincinnati, although they lacked the type that is expected today.

I cannot begin to list all the breeders who pioneered in the development of the Domestic or who have carried on their work, nor could I list all the outstanding show cats, but I will mention some that I especially remember for one reason or another. High on my list would be Aztec (pictured), one of the first top Silver Tabbies, who appears in many of today’s pedigrees. Aztec was owned by Dr. and Mrs. Charles Foulk of Columbus, Ohio. Another outstanding early day Silver Tabby was Silver Boy Brutus, bred in early 1940, and owned by one of our pioneer breeders, Mrs. Helen M. Picciano of New York. Another early breeder in this color was Mrs. Frank Freudenthal of Connecticut, and her Benmost Bore Sheila was a top show winner. Another pioneer was Dr. Francis McCracken, who bred and exhibited Domestics 25 years ago, and cats coming from her Torchlight Cattery, the Cobourg cats of Roy Hilyers’, and the cats of Grace Hinchcliffe of Ontario are all behind many of today’s top show winners.

Among the more recent outstanding Silver Tabbies I would include my own GC Gray Horse Farm’s Jentleman, bred by Whitney Abt, and his daughter Silver Quest Swirl Tide. There is the well-known GC Lavender Silver Pattern, bred by Elsie Hydon, and GC Ormai Babette II of Aberdeen, bred by Jeanette Pratt and owned by Mrs. H. M. Cole. The Shawnee Cattery ahs come up with some beautiful Silver Tabbies in GC Shawnee Startler and GC Shawnee Marksman. Marksman was sired by my Jentleman, as was Shawnee Jentle Spark. Going further west, there is Navajo’s Moonlight Gambler, bred by Mrs. E. B. Myrick of Phoenix, and GC Ramayana Jenna of Gray Horse Farms, bred by Mrs. J. D. Elliott of Austin, Texas, and owned by Mrs. Abt.

One of the pioneers in Red Tabbies was Mrs. Stanley Gibson in the East. Mrs. Rose Cooper’s magnificent Eric The Red is well remembered, as is his son GC Solon Red Emburr, bred in 1957by Mrs. Ernest Miller. Another outstanding Red Tabby was Dr. Nancy Riser’s GC Vikiri Red Kelley.

Among the Brown Tabbies, one of the best was from California, Mrs. Ralph McDonald’s female Barefoot Contessa. In the males, I especially remember Flo-Mar Firecracker, who was known for the fact that he had no ticking in his ground-coat. Another lovely Brown Tabby was Liz Kollmorgen Bailey’s Cool Morning Sequin, who had excellent type and needed only a slightly more tawny ground-color.

As I mentioned, Smokes of outstanding quality have been few, but among the best I would place Dr. and Mrs. H. E. Billig’s Billig’s Patina, who placed in the national ratings from 1951 through 1958 – quite a record. Mrs. Bailey’s Cool Morning Smokie Joe was an outstanding male Smoke.

Mrs. John Hunter pioneered in the Whites, one of her early successes being Rockridge White Hunter, a blue-eyed white. In the 40’s Mrs. Bryan Shine’s blue-eyed Mystery Marvel swept the shows, and in the 1950-51 season Mrs. Hoag’s blue-eyed Nor-Mont Angelique became one of the earliest domestic CFA Grand Champions. One of the odd-eyed whites that stands out is Shawnee Narcissus, and I am proud of Narcissus’ copper-eyed offspring, Silver Quest Morning Star, who was sired by Silver Quest Vagabond King, a copper-eyed white known for his huge build and well-developed muscle.

Mrs. Lee Carnahan of Norfolk, Virginia, was one of the pioneers in Blue breeding, and her GC Miss Hogan was one of the best. Among the more recent good Blues I would put GC Solon’s Blue Piper, bred by Mrs. Ernest Miller and owned by Mrs. Bailey. In the South, one of the consistent show winners has been the blue female Clover Ridge Ivette (see picture), bred and shown by Mrs. Charles Beyer of Houston.

There have been many outstanding Blacks, and it especially hard to single out just a few. Mildred Avery was one of the early breeders in this color. More recently we have seen Mrs. Perlie McKnight’s GC McKnight’s Tar Baby become a consistent show winner, as has the equally outstanding GC Karabee Black Knight, bred by the Bjerkengs’ of Minneapolis. In the East there have been two very good females, GC Ebony Queen of Nor-Mont and GC Barlyn’s Ebony Duchess of Nor-Mont.

In the Torties there are two especially that stand out: GC Karabee Tiger Lily, owned by David Bjerkeng, and Mrs. D. R. Blaney’s GC Toby II of Scioto (see picture).

I know there are many more outstanding cats and breeders that I should mention, but these serve to show the great progress that has been made in Domestic breeding. Breeders starting today have the advantage of many wonderful bloodlines to work with, but there is still much to be done. As time goes on there will be less of a problem of the so-called “alley cat” being any real competition for the purebred Domestic, for more and more the free-running Domestic is breeding with the free-running Foreign Shorthair, and the result is a cat far removed from the original Domestic that we want to preserve, and this will make it easier to explain to the public the advantages of the purebred Domestic. It gives us, however, a great responsibility to protect and pass on the wonderrul characteristics of our present show-type Domestics – the sturdy body, the stregth, the good muscle – and at the saem time to improve the type, the coat and the markings. We must be very careful not to allow the Domestic to become a hothouse variety; we don’t want to make a weakling out of our strongest breed!

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