CHULA (c1902)


Photo: Miss L.Payne, from 'The Ladies Field', August 19031. Courtesy of The Harrison Weir Collection


The name 'Chula' appears to have been a very popular one among fanciers of Siamese. There are at least three early 'Chula's' listed in the famous Siamese Cat Register of 1924, produced by Major Sydney Woodiwiss3. They date from 1906 through to 1913. But this 'Chula' who was born in the United States, and her dam, who was named 'Chula the Elder' are two examples that pre-date all three in that Register. The photo of Miss Payne's 'Chula' and her story, appear in the August 1903 edition of The Ladies Field.

One legend of a Siamese cat named 'Chula' is preserved for us in Vera M. Nelson's Siamese Cat Book published by T.F.H.(Great Britain) Ltd, in 1970, from which we quote the below:

"Many stories are told to account for the peculiarities of the breed, the kinked tail and the squinted or crossed eyes. My favourite is the one about the two cats who lived in a remote temple with an old priest. The elderly gentleman passed to his reward, and the cats were left without a guardian for the temple. Chula the female, discussed the matter with her mate, Tien, and they decided that she should stay to watch over the one treasure of the temple, a jewelled cup, while Tien went in search of a young priest to take over the duties of the temple. Tien was gone for some weeks and poor Chula found her duties burdensome, so she solved the dilemma by curling her tail tightly about the stem of the cup, so that she could sleep, knowing that nobody could steal the chalice without waking her. During her waking hours, she stared fixedly at the cup, assuring herself that it was truly safe.

'Tien returned, finally, with a young priest, and they found Chula still guarding the treasure faithfully, while her new kittens played about in the sunshine before her. They all had kinks in their tails and crossed eyes, due to prenatal influence. A rapid development of congenital deformity , I'd say! To this day, kinked tails are common, though considered a fault if noticeable, and crossed eyes are still seen occasionally."2


    |   Unknown
Chula, c1902, Seal Point Siamese, F
    |   Unknown
    Chula The Elder

Miss Louise Payne's "The Maizee" cattery, which was originated in 1900, was based in Los Angeles, and was one of the largest at that time in far-off California, the "land of oranges and sunshine". Her family of felines grew to number 18, by 1903 when an article about her cats was published in The Ladies Field. She had both Persian (Angora) and Siamese cats, and proffers the following information about her cats and cattery:

Both parents were imported from Siam, by Hong Kong to San Francisco.

"In my kennels I have stock from some of the best in America. I have a blue kitten from Mrs Clinton Locke's Beadle, also Royal Norton stock (Editor: Whites),and the famous Mrs Johnston stock, of San Francisco. Mrs Johnson, when she died, left 4,000 for the care of her pet cats, which she had imported from all over the world. Then last, but not least, I have a pair of Royal Siamese cats - Chula, whose picture I enclose, and Frisco, who has never yet permitted anyone to take his portrait."1

"Chula is a daughter of Sikh and Chula the elder. Both parents were imported from Siam, by Hong Kong to San Francisco, and are still living."1 (Editor: presumably imported by Mrs. Johnson, noting that Miss Payne's male is named Frisco, where Mrs. Johnson was based.)


No siblings or show results can be found, but Miss Payne has the following to say about 'Chula':

"Chula is one of the finest Siamese cats in Western America, and it is a thousand pities she is located so far without the range of cat shows, for otherwise she would, doubtless, carry everything before her."1


Although there is no evidence of progeny, Chula's amazing personality is clearly portrayed in this anecdote of her character supplied by Miss Payne:

"she will never allow anyone to whistle"

"Chula is my constant companion; she does everything but talk in our language. I say 'our', for I know she holds long conversations in her own tongue, and I am getting to understand her very well. She can retrieve just like a dog, but with this exception. The only thing she will fetch is a roll of paper tied with a red string; she has always turned up her nose at any other colour.

"She has another peculiarity, and that is she will never allow anyone to whistle; if you do so, she will run up and place her paw on your lips, and, unless you stop, there will be trouble, for, though she is gentle at first, she will bite if you do not take the hint she gives you."1


Siamese female owned by Miss Louise Payne of 'The Maizee' cattery, Los Angeles.
Photo: Miss L.Payne, from 'The Ladies Field', August, 1903.1
Image courtesy of The Harrison Weir Collection


None currently available.


  1. The Ladies Field, August, 1903
  2. Siamese Cat Book by Vera M. Nelson, 1970
  3. Register of Siamese Cats compiled by Major Sydney Woodiwiss, 1924
  4. Photos and quotations as per sources quoted.

Registers associated with this article include The Incorporated Cat Fanciers Association of Great Britain (TICFAGB), National Cat Club (NCC), The Cat Club (CCR), Beresford Cat Club (BCC), Feline Federation Francaise (FFF), Siamese Cat Registry (SCR), US Register & Studbook for Cats (USR)including Supplement(USRS), The Studbook of the American Cat Association (ACA), and the Studbook & Register of the Cat Fanciers' Association (CFA).


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