How very easy it is, for cat fanciers to sit back and enjoy their hobby of cat breeding and exhibiting without doing due diligence on the work done by their forebearers in the fancy; those that have been pioneers in either a breed, a colour, or a club, or a society that has contributed immensely to the development of the cat fancy as a whole, worldwide.

Every individual is unique and brings an individual perspective that can enhance the hobby, and while some bring leadership, others bring experience in breeding and knowledge of history, or genetics, or in management of bloodlines, or enlightenment on history, health, grooming, handling, show management, judging, the management of studs and queens, and the raising of well-rounded kittens of good temperament, and great conformation.

Reading these individual stories of people who have contributed in one or more facets of our intriguing hobby, bringing the advantages gained from their experience from within their own home, or the society or clubs in which they participated and enriched, is a journey worth taking; and, it will make us all the wiser for having taken the time to consider what they really did bring to the table, and what we, as members of the fancy today, might consider leaving behind as OUR legacy for fanciers of the future.

Elizabeth Brace | Jane Cathcart | Walter Chandoha | Edna Field | Ed-Pegeen Fitzgerald
Richard Gebhardt | Nikki Horner | Julia Hunter | Elsie Hydon | Mrs. Clinton Locke | Joan Miller
Louise Sample | Vi Schuh | Blanche Smith | Connie Stewart | Gertrude Taylor | Wayne Trevathan
Louis Wain | Harrison Weir | Lois Weston | Edwin Sydney Woodiwiss | Samuel Woodiwiss


The agent for the Black Shorthaired Cattery, and partner in the Rochester, NY branch of the cattery, Mrs. Elizabeth Brace was extremely active in cat clubs in the western New York area. One of the earliest cat magazines in North America was published in CFA's Great Lakes Region. The "Cat Courier" began publication in 1912 with Mrs. Brace of Rochester, NY as the editor and publisher. By September 1922, the magazine had changed ownership to Mrs. Gertrude Taylor of Detroit, MI. On May 1, 1938 The "Cat Courier" was combined with "The Cat Gazette", which had started publication in October, 1934, as the "official" magazine of The Cat Fanciers' Association.


To simply call Miss Jane Cathcart an 'Icon of the Cat Fancy' is probably a gross understatement. This woman was responsible for the encouragement of the breeding of shorthairs in North America during the early 1900s, importing numerous “top quality” cats from abroad, and basically giving shorthair breeds an extremely sound footing in America. Her Black Short Haired cattery supplied Domestic Shorthair cats (the forerunners of the American Shorthair breed), Manx, and Siamese to breeders throughout the US east coast .. many of them winners at shows. During the early 1900s, she imported four of the first Abyssinians in the USA - Salt, Pepper, Aluminum II, and Brunette - two of which were exhibited at a Madison Square Garden show in 1909.

Complete biography ©Karen Lawrence, Felis Historica


Walter Chandoha was a freelance photographer, way back in the 1940s. At the time, it was often favorable to include a cat in advertisements, which were mostly print ads in those days. Cats promoted a variety of items, from electronics to bed sheets, jewelry, makeup, and even elevators. And don't forget pet food advertisements, where many of the photos were his work. According to CNN, "At one point around 90% of cat and dog food packaging in the US had a label featuring one of his pictures." With over 300 magazine covers to his credit and numerous cat photo books, Mr. Chandoha was indeed one of the foremost early cat photographers.


“Gracious” is probably the most-often used word to describe Edna Field. Edna emigrated from England to Toronto, Canada and began breeding Siamese in the mid-1950s. She added other breeds over the years – Manx, Russian Blue, Burmese, American Shorthair, Exotic and Persian – but her heart was totally immersed in her Abyssinian breeding program. And the Chota-Li Abyssinians were in demand as people sought out their foundation cats for their own breeding programs. Edna’s GC Chota-Li R.S.T., a ruddy male, had such an impact on the breed that he, himself, is legendary. Edna served on the CFA Board of Directors and helped establish the CFA International Division in the early 1990s when CFA was first considering expanding into other countries. It was as a judge that Edna excelled, becoming one of the most respected CFA judges worldwide, retiring in 2002. For her contributions to CFA, Edna was awarded their highest honor, the CFA Medal of Honor, in 1993.


For 45 years popular radio talk show hosts, Ed & Pegeen Fitzgerald broadcast on New York City’s airwaves, attracting as many as two million daily listeners in their heyday. Cats were often a topic of discussion! Mrs. Fitzgerald was a painter and, again, cats were a favorite subject. One of their pet projects was rehoming cats of owners who had entered nursing homes, and they maintained The Last Post, a cat sanctuary in Falls Village, Connecticut during their final years.


Richard Gebhardt began his journey in the cat fancy in 1945 while still in his mid-teen years. His show achievements include winning CFA Cat of the Year with two black Persians. As a member of the Garden State Cat Club of New Jersey, he became interested in the management of the Cat Fanciers’ Association and served as President for 12 years (1968-1980). A prolific and outstanding writer, Dick was an authority on the breeds of cats and their history, and generously shared his knowledge. As a judge, he was in demand at shows around the world, retiring after 50 years of evaluating and presenting cats in the show ring. Besides being a showman, Dick was a true visionary, and his tenure as President of CFA brought about many of the programs that are still in place in CFA today.

Complete biography ©Karen Lawrence, Felis Historica


From glamorous runway model to cat fancier – that was Nikki Horner of Kentucky. Nikki worked with a number of breeds, but is best known for three of them – American Shorthair, Persian, and Bombay. Nikki’s copper-eyed white Persian, GC, NW Shawnee Moonflight, was CFA’s Best Cat in 1960 and her silver tabby American Shorthair, GC, NW Shawnee Trademark, was CFA’s Best Cat in 1965. On the February 20, 1961 episode of the TV show 'To Tell The Truth', Nikki stumped the panel with her identification as a cat breeder -- look it up on YouTube. It even includes her beautiful Persian, Moonflight. Nikki also dabbled in Burmese, again with great success in the show ring. By outcrossing her Burmese and black American Shorthairs, she developed one of CFA’s most popular breeds, the Bombay – the “mini panther” of the cat fancy. Nikki passed away in 1995, leaving behind an amazing legacy that spans fantastic achievements across numerous breeds over several decades, plus the creation of an entirely new breed.

Complete biography ©Karen Lawrence, Felis Historica


Mrs. Julia Hunter was the first US cat fancier to own a Grand Champion, CFA GC Eastbury Trigo, an imported red tabby male Persian born on May 21, 1929. Mrs. Hunter was the founder of CFA's Westchester Cat Club, and a long-time member of the Empire Cat Club in New York City. She was a CFA Board member for a number of years, starting in 1939. She began judging for CFA in 1941, retiring in the early 1960s. In her honor, a Julia Hunter Memorial Trophy was established by both the Empire Cat Club and the Westchester Cat Club. The Westchester Cat Club silver bowl memorial trophy is in the collection of The CFA Foundation, at the Feline Historical Museum in Alliance, Ohio.


Miss Elsie Hydon was one of the longest-serving Officers of CFA, serving as Vice-President (1928-1932) and as President (1933-1950), overseeing a great deal of growth in the association. In 1957, in recognition of her service and that of Mrs. Goodwin, CFA's Treasurer, CFA renamed their annual Challenge Award program the Hydon-Goodwin Challenge Awards. Born in England, Miss Hydon emigrated to New Jersey circa 1906, bringing with her many magnificent Persians that went on to produce the gorgeous – and famous – blue LAVENDER cattery cats. Many Persian pedigrees will trace back to the magnificent GC Lavender Liberty (CFA Challenge Award Winner, 1939) and GC NW Lavender Liberty Beau (CFA Cat of the Year 1949-1950).

Mini biography ©The History Project


Mrs. Locke was a driving force in the Chicago area cat fancy during the 1890s and the early years of the 20th century. Known to have imported a Persian, named Wendell, from Persia in 1895, Mrs. Locke had great success in the show ring with her cats. For years, she was the President of the Beresford Cat Club, named after her British friend, Lady Marcus Beresford. The Beresford Club was responsible for compiling one of the first sets of stud books organized in North America. Four volumes were published between 1900 and 1905, containing valuable registration information on cats of that era.


Joan Miller's contributions to the cat fancy have been so numerous and we all - cats, too - have so much to thank her for. From her devotion to the breeding of Nepenthes Abyssinians, producing many National Winners, to her successful steerage of the Winn Feline Foundation as its President, to her amazing work with CFAs Legislative Committee, to her education program at shelters to assist them in correctly identifying breeds, colors and patterns, to her work as chair of CFAs Outreach and Education Committee, to her service as a Director-at-Large and Vice-President of CFA, to her wonderful 30+ years as a CFA judge …. so much devotion to cats and their welfare! CFA rightly recognized Joan for her service to CFA with the Medal of Honor in 2010.


Mrs. Louise Sample was a breeder of Burmese, Siamese, and Abyssinians under her SAMDUR cattery name. She was elected to the CFA Board of Directors in 1958, served as Vice-President 1960-1963, and as President 1966-1967. Beginning in 1958, Mrs. Sample was the Chair of CFA's Judging Program for years and was a director of the CFA Judging Schools that were established in 1964. The Show Manual, Clerking Schools, and the National Breed Council, the forerunner of CFA's Breed Councils of today, came into being under her leadership. Daphne Negus said, "Her enormous influence over the earlier formative years of CFA touched the lives of so many."


A very successful mid-20th century breeder in the Great Lakes Region was Vi Schuh of SKYWAY cattery. Based in the Buffalo, NY area, Mrs. Schuh had a collection of some very interesting and exciting lines in her Persians and shared offspring widely with other breeders. Lois Weston often said that the most important cat she had purchased was the copper-eyed white Persian male, CH Skyway Rajah of Simbelair, DM. If the SKYWAY cattery name sounds familiar to you, Mrs. Schuh was the mother-in-law of CFA Judge Don Williams, who inherited the use of her cattery name and continued to use it in his breeding program.


Mrs. Blanche Wolfram Smith obtained her first Persian cat in 1951 and began her journey in the cat fancy. In her Gallahad cattery, she blended together numerous lines from breeders across the country, eventually producing many outstanding blue-eyed whites of her own breeding.She was president of the Pittsburgh Cat Club and a columnist for several magazines. She and her second husband, Raymond D. Smith, became editors of the long-running and popular "Cats Magazine" in 1951. Mrs. Smith became a judge for CFA in 1959, with her goal to be "a well-respected judge and one who will always stand for fair dealing."


Connie Stewart left her mark on the cat fancy in the late 1990s and early 2000s. No-one can say it was unusual to see Connie accepting a National Winner award at the CFA annual award banquets … it wasn’t. She either bred a beautiful cat, or found the ideal cat to show, groomed it to perfection, traveled the world to cat shows, accumulated tons of points during the year, and received accolades at the end of the show season. For 25 years, Connie campaigned cats – it was simply what she did – and five of those cats were named CFA Cat of the Year.

Complete biography ©Karen Lawrence, Felis Historica


Mrs. Gertrude Taylor (Taylor-Sweenie or Taylor-Sweeney in some references), of Detroit, MI, was a very active person in the cat fancy in its early years in the USA. She was a CFA judge, and served as Vice-President of CFA in 1918 and again during 1922-1927. She was elected CFA President in 1928 and served in that position until 1933. She was active as editor and publisher of "The Cat Courier" from 1922, with the magazine celebrating its 25th year of publication under her leadership. In addition, she operated a very lucrative 'Cattery and Kennel Supplies' business in Detroit, concocting and home brewing many of the lotions and potions that she sold through ads in her magazines. Anectodal stories exist of the interesting smells emanating from "that" floor of her apartment building in Detroit.

Mini biography ©The History Project


His “down-under” accent always gave him away immediately … Wayne Trevathan was a New Zealand/Australian import, by way of Canada. First immersed in the Canadian Cat Association, Wayne served as a judge for that association prior to moving to the USA and becoming a CFA judge. His gentle manner with the cats, and superb knowledge of the various breeds, meant that he was constantly in demand as a judge in countries worldwide. Wayne’s TREBAR cattery was well-known for its black Persians, but it is for his work with the European Burmese that Wayne is best remembered. While the European Burmese was an established breed in Europe, it required acceptance in CFA, and needed someone like Wayne to steer it through the various levels necessary to create a breed standard. As a member of the CFA Board of Directors for several terms, Wayne also contributed his expertise to their various programs.


Louis Wain is best known as "The Man Who Drew Cats". An illustrator with a passion for cats, he produced an exceptionally large number of sketches during his lifetime. His first published illustration of a cat was in 1886. Until the day of his death in 1939, the man drew cats. In 1890, he was elected Chairman of the National Cat Club in England and served in that capacity well into the 20th century. Unfortunately, Wain was declared insane in 1920, but that didn't stop his drawing and painting - it just took a different turn and became typical of schizophrenic art in his latter years. These days, his artwork is very popular and highly collectible.

Mini biography ©The History Project


Often referred to as “the father of the cat fancy”, Harrison Weir was the author of some of the earliest classifying of individual cat breeds during the late 19th century. He literally wrote the standards for a variety of early recognized breeds and colors, published in his 1889 book “Our Cats and All About Them”. It was under his hand that the first organized cat show was held at the Crystal Palace in London, England in 1871. In addition, he was an illustrator and his artwork graces many, many books and magazines of the era and is highly collectible today.

Complete biography ©John Smithson, The History Project


If you’re a cat fancier and you breed Persians, some of the most desired cats in your pedigree will bear the cattery name SIMBELAIR. Over the 27-year span of the Simbelair cattery (1960-1987), Lois Weston produced 42 Grand Champions and 5 Grand Premiers, an amazing feat considering there were often as many as 60 solid color Persians competing at a show in those days. A Canadian, Lois traveled throughout North America showing her cats, and often exported her best kittens to others around the world. White was her absolute favorite color and she bred two white Persians that became CFA’s Best Cat 1980-1981 (GC, NW Simbelair Carla of Northbrook) and CFA’s Best Kitten 1983-1984 (GC, NW Simbelair Etcetera of Northbrook).

Complete biography © Karen Lawrence, Felis Historica


Major Edwin Sydney Woodiwiss was a British aristocrat, born in 1871. As a young man he, along with his brother Sam, were heavily into breeding cats, but also dogs and cattle. After a brief move to Canada during the early 1900s, he resettled in England and became one of the most respected breeders of Abyssinian cats, under his Woodrooffe cattery name. Exporting some of his best cats to Europe and North America gave breeders in those areas an extremely sound footing to begin development of another “line” of the Abyssinian breed. One of his most famous imported Abyssinians, the outstanding ruddy male, Woodrooffe Ras Seyum, was featured in a 1938 issue of National Geographic magazine.

Complete biography © Karen Lawrence, The History Project


Samuel Woodiwiss, of England, was the owner of Sedgemere cattery, way back in the late 1800s and early 1900s. He was most famously known for a brown tabby English Shorthair named Xenophon; English Shorthairs being the forerunners of our British Shorthair breed of today. Besides cats, he was also a breeder of Bulldogs, and was involved in various other fancies as a breeder/exhibitor and judge. There are records of Sam exhibiting in both the United Kingdom and the USA (back when the only way to get from the UK to the USA was by boat!). A gold medal won by Xenophon is in the collection at the CFA Foundation's Feline Historical Museum. The medal is engraved “Won by Mr. S. Woodiwiss’s Team” and is dated circa 1895.

Complete biography ©Karen Lawrence, The History Project

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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