CFA Medal of Honor (1973-2015)

Classification Award
Category Medal
Artifact The Cat Fanciers' Association Medal of Honor
Date 1973-2015
Connection The Cat Fanciers' Association (CFA)
Collection The CFA Foundation
Description A stylized medal, engraved on the back with the name of the person honored
Brief History Awarded sparingly by unanimous vote of the CFA Board of Directors, in recognition of service to CFA and cats
Acquisition Donated by CFA

CFA Medal of Honor
Courtesy of The CFA Foundation

The CFA Medal of Honor, recognized throughout the cat world as being a highly prestigious award, was established in the early 1970's by the CFA Board of Directors to honor those people who have had a profound effect on the cat fancy, beit in the area of medical research, the humanities, or outstanding contributions to CFA and the Cat Fancy.

At the June 14, 1970 board meeting, President Richard Gebhardt established a new committee to handle all of the awards presented annually by CFA. Mr. Will Thompson was named as Chair of the newly formed CFA Awards Committee. At that same meeting, Mr. Gebhardt suggested that CFA initiate a new award, the 'CFA Medal of Merit':

"Mr. Gebhardt requested that in the interest of good will and distinguished recognition, CFA authorize a medal of its own, a medal that might well be ordered from the Jefferson Mint. This medal would constitute a high honor award for service to cats in the Fancy and at large, a medal to promote sound public relations. This subject did not go beyond the discussion stage."

Mr. Thompson, as Chair of the Awards Committee, was tasked with establishing the protocol for this new award. At the September 12, 1971 Board of Directors meeting, he reported:

"In looking into the CFA Award Medal for meritorious service, he had learned that the die for such a medal would cost from $250 to $300; the medals themselves would cost from $12 to $15, plus $3.00 for a presentation case. Mr. Will Thompson now moved that he be instructed to proceed and have a design ready for the Board at its next stated meeting. Carried unanimously.

"Mr. Thompson then moved after discussion to accommodate an earlier suggestion of Mr. Sanftner that the award be for outstanding service to CFA or to the feline world, above and beyond the call of duty. The question was now raised about the percentage of Board votes necessary to give the award - 90%. Dr. Peltz expressed the opinion that people in three (3) categories be considered worthy of this award: a person who had been an outstanding humanitarian; a person who had established a reputation in research, preferably feline; or a person who had been outstanding in his work for the Cat Fancy itself. The Secretary felt that the award should demand a 100% vote of the Board rather than the percentage mentioned earlier, 90%. There was general agreement."

The discussion about the medal was continued at the March 18-19, 1972 Board of Directors Meeting:

"Mr. Thompson stated that the CFA Medal of Honor was the sole subject of his report - he had a two dimensional rendering of a three dimensional medallion. The Board's task would be to accept or to reject the description of the design. If the rendering was accepted, then the next step would be a die. The design shows a cat on the medallion, said cat an interpretation of the ancient Egyptian cat - a likeness of which in bronze rests in the Louvre - it has prestige but represents no particular breed of cat.

"Mr. Will Thompson went on that the Board must decide, too, how recipients of this medallion were to be decided upon. He was suggesting that nominations be sent to the Central Office and then screened by the Executive Committee of the Board before being finally presented to the Board. Furthermore, anyone currently receiving a salary from CFA for any job should not be eligible for the medallion in question while he or she was on the payroll. Mr. Will Thompson so moved, and the Motion was accepted unanimously. "

Currently, there has only been one change to the original criteria - nominations come from members of the CFA Board only, rather than being open to all. A unanimous vote of the CFA Board of Directors is still required in order for a person to become a recipient. To date (April 2020), there have been only 17 recipients since the first medal was awarded in 1973. These deserving people are:

  • 1973, Christine Streetman (Service to CFA)
  • 1974, Lillias Bloem (Service to CFA)
  • 1974, Celia Heriot (Humanitarian Field)
  • 1974, Louise Sample (Service to CFA)
  • 1977, Pegeen Fitzgerald (Humanitarian Field)
  • 1978, Dr. Niels C. Pederson (Field of Science)
  • 1981, Richard Gebhardt (Service to CFA)
  • 1981, Jean B. Rose (Service to CFA)
  • 1982, Matil Rotter (Service to CFA)
  • 1982, Rita Swenson (Service to CFA)
  • 1993, Edna Field (Service to CFA)
  • 1993, Jeanie McPhee (Service to CFA)
  • 1998, Anne W. Waddington (Service to CFA)
  • 2002, Vaughn Barber (Service to CFA)
  • 2008, Kim Everett-Hirsch (Service to CFA)
  • 2010, Joan Miller (Service to CFA)
  • 2015, Betty White (Service to CFA)

1973, the first recipient of the CFA Medal of Honor Christine Streetman, honored for "her 10 years of distinuished service to the organization and to the Yearbok". She was editor of the CFA Yearbook from 1962 through 1972.
Photo: CFA Yearbook 1973
Courtesy of The CFA Foundation

1981 CFA Medal of Honor recipients, Richard H. Gebhardt(left) and Jean B. Rose(right)
Photo: CFA Yearbook 1981
Courtesy of The CFA Foundation

1982 CFA Medal of Honor recipients, Matil Rotter (left) and Rita Swenson (right), shown with CFA President Walter Friend (center).
Photo: CFA Yearbook 1982
Courtesy of The CFA Foundation

1993 receipient, Edna Field, honored for her efforts to promote CFA in Canada and for her dedication to cats throughout 30 years as a judge.

1993 receipient, Jeanie McPhee, honored for establishing CFA's first regional awards system and for her efforts to update and improve show rules and clerking procedures.
Photo: CFA Yearbook 1994
Courtesy of The CFA Foundation


  1. CFA Yearbook, 1970.
  2. CFA Yearbook, 1972.
  3. CFA Yearbook, 1973.
  4. CFA Yearbook, 1981.
  5. CFA Yearbook, 1982.
  6. CFA Yearbook, 1994.
  7. Text Karen Lawrence, 2020

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