Photo: Miss L.S.Payne, from 'The Ladies Field' August, 19032. Courtesy of The Harrison Weir Collection


Establishing an erstwhile cattery in the West of the American continent was by no means made easy due to the long distances that cats had to travel to reach their port of destination. Most cats came either from the United Kingdom, where their port of entry was likely to be New York or Boston, so it was easier for Eastern American based catteries to acquire and import new stock. Cats imported from Europe all came via these routes. However, a good number of cats came from both Asia and the Middle East, (via India or Afghanistan for instance), crossing the Pacific on what can only be described as truly epic journeys.

One such Western cattery, based in Los Angeles, owned by Miss Louise Payne, gives her story of establishing a cattery in California, in an interesting letter published in the August edition of The Ladies Field, in 1903. She had begun breeding cats around 1899, well before many clubs were established on the West Coast. Her cattery is described by the editor, as 'one of the largest in the land of oranges and sunshine.' Miss Payne writes:

"I am sorry to be able to send only three photographs, but though I have had many pictures taken, there are but very few really good ones...

"I hardly know what to tell you about my kennels, but will try to give you a few facts. The name of my cattery is 'The Maizee', not in honour of the immortal Dick Swiveller, who was wont to use the expression, spelt differently, but after my first Angora, a Tortoiseshell and White, whose name was Maizee. From that time, three years ago, until now, my family has grown to number eighteen. The two kings of my kennels are Black Mascot and Toodles. I cannot send you a picture of Black Mascot, for he absolutely refuses to sit for his portrait, but I send you one of Toodles, taken before he left for Chicago. My Black Mascot was imported by Mrs. Leland Norton, from Persia, via the Pacific Ocean. He is a magnificent fellow, and won first and special in the Los Angeles Show a year ago. I have a fine mate for him in Black Bess.

Black Mascot was imported from Persia via the Pacific Ocean.

"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, 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 had never yet permitted anyone to take his portrait."2


Fortunately, Toodles is registered in Volume 2, of the Studbook of the Beresford Cat Club, from which we find that he was born on 3rd August, 1900. His sire is listed as 'Lord Snowball' who is shown as 'imported' and his dam is shown as 'Queen Bess' also shown as 'imported'. Bess is also registered in Volume 3, under the name 'Maizee Queen Bess', with the notation 'amber-eyed' and with sire and dam as unknown. We also discover from this registration that she was imported by Mr. Clifford Baker, of Pasadena, California. No further information exists on 'Lord Snowball'. So on the face of it, it appears that Miss Payne owned Queen Bess and may have taken her out to stud to Lord Snowball, possibly a male owned by either the late Mrs. Johnson, or Mrs. A.H. Hoag, both of San Francisco.

    Lord Snowball
    |   Unknown
Maizee Toodles, Aug-3-1900, BE White, M
    |   Unknown
    Queen Bess


Miss Payne informs us of one full sibling to 'Toodles':
"Teddy, a beautiful white, blue-eyed kitten, whose portrait we give, is a full brother to the somewhat sedate-looking Toodles."2

'Teddy' full sibling to 'Maizee Toodles' bred by Miss Louise Payne
Photo: Miss L.Payne, 'The Ladies Field' August, 19032
Image courtesy of The Harrison Weir Collection

She further comments on the difficulty of showing, at a time when West Coast clubs had not yet been established and could offer the same opportunities as with the East Coast and in Central America.

"Out here the Cat Fancy has only just started, so people are not very willing to pay big prices for animals, but from my own experience I can say I have never yet been able to meet the demand for my cats and kittens. There are several people out here who are cat fanciers, but very few regular kennels. However, what cats there are can hold their own with their Eastern friends, as was shown last year when I sent Toodles to the Chicago Cat Show, where he won first and two specials. I have several others in my kennels which I know would do me credit if they only had the chance, but to send cats from here to Chicago, is too long a distance."2


Although we cannot at this time trace any progeny of Toodles, we do have a little interesting information with regard to the kennels themselves direct from Miss Payne, as well as an interesting entry in the Beresford Cat Club Register, for another cat bred by Miss Payne.

Of the kennels we have the following description:

"As regards my kennels, I have a barn divided into three large rooms. These are all heated and lighted by gas. Then I have a large yard, enclosed with wire, and in it are two orange trees, two peach trees, and a fig tree, all fixed with boards, so that the animals can enjoy their sun baths. Besides this, there is a pretty grape arbour, where they can disport themselves when so inclined. Of course my kings do enjoy all this liberty, they are provided with nice-sized runs along the fence, and here they put in a pretty good time."2

From Volume two of the Beresford Cat Club register, we find a golden-eyed White female, owned by Miss Payne, named 'Maizee Tutsie', born 18th March, 1899. This cat was bred by a Mrs. A.H. Hoag of San Francisco. The sire is listed as 'Nilo', by 'William the Conqueror' (Imported) ex 'Amy Robsart' (Imported). The dam is listed as 'Persia', by name unknown (Imported) ex 'Trixy'. Then there is a notation about 'Trixy' which states: "Both sire and dam of 'Trixy' were imported by Mrs. Johnson of San Francisco, California, before her death, and their names are lost."1

Thus we have registry evidence to back up Miss Payne's claim to have imported lines direct from Mrs. Johnson's cattery.


''Maizee Toodles', Blue-eyed White
Winner of First and Two Specials, at Chicago 1902.
Breeder/Owner: Miss Louise Payne, Los Angeles

Photo: Miss L.Payne, 'The Ladies Field' August, 19032
Image courtesy of The Harrison Weir Collection


None currently available.


  1. Stud Book and Regiter of the Beresford Cat Club, Vols II and III
  2. The Ladies Field, August 1903
  3. 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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