MIM (1860)


Photo: 'Prize Cats' - The Animal World December 1873. Drawn by Harrison Weir. Courtesy of The Harrison Weir Collection.


The story of 'Mim' or 'Mimie' as she was also known, is pivotal; as it is a prime example of a longhaired cat, being described originally as an 'Angora', and then later, also as a 'Persian', at a time when the two breed names and their descriptions were beginning to vie for dominance in England. The Angora as it was then known, already had an immense foothold throughout Europe and was establishing strong ground in the United States. But in truth, it had undergone its own metamorphosis in the two and a half centuries since the arrival of the 'Persian' long-hair into Italy in the early seventeenth century. This was, in all probability, due to the admixing of some Persian bloodlines into a proportion of the existing Turkish stock, already so well established across the European continent.

In England, Angora's had also largely been the better-known description of a long-haired cat, but during the preceding 100 years, more cats of Persian ancestry were being imported from middle Asian cities, near and around the greater Khorasan Province, to the United Kingdom. By the time of the first Crystal Palace Cat Show in London, in July 1871, both breed names were in common use and well known to the public; although often confused by anyone with but a rudimentary knowledge of the marginalised differences between the two.
THE ANGORA CAT - Illustration by Harrison Weir
Image: Our Cats and All About Them (1889)
Image courtesy of The Harrison Weir Collection

Those differences were more clearly defined by their head shape and ear set and a longer elegant frame. From Harrison Weir's description of the Angora we take these quotes: - (Editors bolding and underlining)

"The Angora cat, as its name indicates, comes from Angora, in Western Asia, a province that is also celebrated for its goats with long hair, which is of extremely fine quality.

"The Angora cats, I am told are great favourites with the Turks and Armenians, and the best are of high value, a pure white, with blue eyes, being thought the perfection of cats, and all other points being good, and its hearing by no means defective. The points are a small head, with not too long a nose, large full eyes of a colour in harmony with that of its fur, ears rather large than small and pointed, with a tuft of hair at the apex, the size not showing as they are deeply set in the long hair on the forehead, with a very full flowing mane about the head and neck; this latter should not be short, neither the body, which should be long, graceful, and elegant, and covered with long, silky hair, with a slight admixture of woolliness; in this it differs from the Persian, and the longer the better."

THE (BLUE) PERSIAN CAT - Illustration by Harrison Weir
Image: Our Cats and All About Them (1889)
Image courtesy of The Harrison Weir Collection

If we then compare this portion of his description of the Angora to that he gives for the Persian, we find: - (again with Editors bolding and underlining)

"The head is rather larger, with less pointed ears, although these should not be devoid of tuft at the apex, and also well furnished with long hair within, and of moderate size. The eyes should be large, full, and round, with a soft expression; the hair on the forehead is generally rather short in comparison to the other parts of the body, which ought to be clothed with long silky hair, very long about the neck, giving the appearance of the mane of the lion. The legs, feet, and toes should be well clothed with long hair and have well developed fringes on the toes, assuming the character of tufts between them. It is larger in the body, and generally broader in the loins, and apparently stronger made than the foregoing variety"

From a contemporary writer, John Jennings, when describing the Angora in more detail, he draws a comparison to the Persian as follows:

"THE ANGORA - differs from the Persian chiefly in type of coat, head, ears, and tail; for whereas the hair of the Persian is evenly balanced all over, that of the Angora is softer in texture, exceeding glossy, and hangs in clusters, so to speak, of great length, nearly touching the floor, the interstices being of a more woolly character.

"The shape of the head of the Angora is more angular, compared with the Persian roundness, while an important point is well-tufted ears, making them appear larger than they actually are." >

In his opening description of the Persian, his words already hint at the rising popularity of the Persian Longhair over the Angora in Great Britain; written only three to four years after the descriptions notated by Harrison Weir:

"THE PERSIAN - With the great majority of cat fanciers, as well as visitors to exhibitions, the Persian is held in great admiration, and is generally considered the Prince of Eastern cats."

It is interesting to note, that this comment dates from a little over twenty years after the foundation of cat shows in Britain, and only five years after the founding of the National Cat Club, and simultaneously with the establishment of the first National Registry for cats. So, it appears that the Persian, both in style and name, benefited hugely from these changes, prefaced by the preceding twenty years of public exposure at shows and selective breeding by and small but dedicated band of Persian cat fanciers.


    |   Unknown
Mim, Apr-07-1860, black Longhair/Angora, F
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For 'MIM' we have more early information on her background and birth and place of residence, than for any other early Angora/Persian in the Fancy, and any such information from cats born pre 1880, is exceedingly rare; especially so when you consider that they are 'Unregistered Cats'. But for 'Mim' we have alternative sources, from the writings of Harrison Weir, but also from her owner, and from show reports published in the popular press.

'Mim' or 'Mimie' as she was also called, was owned by Mr. Edward Lloyd, the gentleman famous for his expertise with the setting up and maintenance of Aquariums. Although initially based in London, he from time to time lived abroad acting as an advisor to other institutions or academies setting up aquariums of their own. This took him to France, to Paris, where he acquired 'Mim' and later to Hamburg, before returning to settle again in London. He gives a lengthy epistle on his favourite feline in The Animal World, (December, 1873) where there was also published, a full page image of the 'Prizeholders - at the late Crystal Palace Cat Show', (including Mim) - drawn by Harrison Weir. From this we have drawn the following intriguing extracts about Mimi, who was by this time already thirteen years old:

"This is our pet Angora cat - a female, born in Paris, April 7th, 1860. She was once jet-black, but is now much embrowned by age, and she has lost many of the pretty little white teeth of the front of her mouth, but she can as well as ever play with a cork, and is just as loving and just as savage as ever, loudly purring and viciously scolding, all in one breath."

"Mim's residence in Paris was a period of happy kittenhood, spent in an hotel, where she was the favourite of everyone, and she used to go begging from table to table. She was brought to London in a large empty fish-can, and the servant who undid it and let her out fainted away at the sight of her - she looked so fierce and uncat-like, and had such a big tail and great yellow eyes."

From a secondary source, we know that her arrival in London took place on November 18th, 1861. But this was not to be the end of her adventures. Returning to the original article, Mr. Lloyd explains:

"On 20th December, 1862, she went with me to Hamburg, and being much petted by us as a living thing brought from our native land, she became very knowing, and so, acting on the spirit of contrariness which caused Robin Hood's retainer to be called 'Little John,' we gave Mim the nickname of 'Old Fool'. A friend of ours in Vienna, when he writes, never says 'how is Mim?', but 'how is the Old Fool?' Another of our pet names for her is 'The Darling'."


Mim's career as a show cat, did not take place until she had returned with Mr. Lloyd and his family to London, in late 1870. Her successes between then, beginning with the first Crystal Palace Cat Show in July, 1871 (by which time she was already eleven years old) and the fifth Crystal Palace Show of September, 1873 (when she was thirteen); included all those identified by Mr. Lloyd in this further extract:

"On the 10th November, 1870, she returned to England with me to do Aquarium work at the Crystal Palace. Soon afterwards the first Cat Show there was held, and Mim of course was shown, and of course, won a prize - such a beauty could not fail to do so. She has since won prizes in four other shows - five in all - and when the money so gained came to a respectable sum, it was spent in her life-size portrait - framed and glazed (all at her own cost), and this was exhibited with her at the show of last September. It hangs now before me at home - very artistically done by Norris & Co, - and in it Mim is seen gracefully reclining on the top of a pedestal, and she looks as Mr. G. A. Sala said of another cat, 'as solemn and wise as all the twelve judges of England, rolled into one.' Of this, some unknown poet has thus written:
"This is the cat that won the prize,
And paid for her portrait being life-size,
She's been to Paris and Hamburg too,
Now lives with her master at Norwood, who
Is Lloyd , of our Aquarium."

Seemingly incredulous about her subsequent fame, Mr. Lloyd adds for our amusement:

"Since this has been written, a letter of congratulations has reached Mim from a lady in Sacramento, California, and it is the only post letter known to me which has been delivered to an animal without the name of its proprietor being written on the envelope."

But that was not to be the end of her fame, as in 1889, long after her show career and charmed life had ended, Mr. Harrison Weir, when writing about the first cat shows and the representative breeds in Our Cats - and All About Them; chose to include an anecdote about her under the name 'Mimie' - but surprisingly using her as an example of the one of the best Black PERSIAN cats he had seen to date:

"The best I have hitherto seen was one that belonged to Mr. Edward Lloyd, the great authority on all matters related to aquariums. It was called Mimie, and it was a very fine specimen, usually carrying off the first prize wherever shown. It generally wore a handsome collar, on which was inscribed its name and victories. The collar, as Mr. Lloyd used jocosely to observe, really belonged to it, as it was bought out of its winnings; and, according to the accounts kept, was proved also to have paid for its food for some considerable period. It was, as its owner laughingly said, 'his friend, and not his dependant,' and generally used to sit on the table by his side while he was writing either his letters, articles, or planning those improvements regarding aquariums , for which he was so justly celebrated."

It is thanks to Harrison Weir, who then provided a second drawing of 'Mimie' from memory, that we have today, two images of her to refer to!


Not surprisingly, as an entire female, Mim did have progeny, but whether these were from a planned mating or one that happened through circumstance is unclear, but this amusing anecdote from Mr. Lloyd, provides the evidence that she did in fact reproduce:

"In Germany Mim had a rival pet - a canary bird. Mim liked to be in the same room as the bird, it being warm, but the canary did not relish Mim's society, and so used to call its mistress, (my wife or daughter) to turn the cat out of the room, and as this was always done, Mim got to hate Dick immensely. In time Mim had two kittens, little black and white ones, and these their mamma used to tease the bird in her absence, and wild was the commotion caused."


Cropped image from 'Prizeholders at the late Crystal Palace Cat Show' - Drawn by Harrison Weir. 'Mim' at bottom left. /b>
Image: The Animal World December 1st, 1873.
Image courtesy of The Harrison Weir Collection

'Mimie' as drawn by Harrison Weir from memory, in 1889.
Image: Our Cats and All About Them (1889)
Image courtesy of The Harrison Weir Collection



In Summary:

Mim lived at a time when the relative positions of the Angora and the Persian were being redefined in England, and which over time, did lead ultimately to a redefinition across the known world for those cats which would be called 'Persian'. In this respect, she is an ideal example of the confusion that existed in attempting to more clearly understand those traits were to signify a Persian cat, as opposed to an Angora cat. The word 'Angora', had vicariously become a 'generic' term, well separated from the roots of its own true foundation in and around Ankhara, where, as the 'Turkish Angora' it was a truly unique longhair. Mixing with other domestic cats in throughout Europe, plus the addition of early Persian lines had muddled and amended the physical traits in what some were unilaterally still describing as an Angora cats, but which were a far cry from the treasured cats of the Turks and Armenians.

That Mr. Lloyd was obviously besotted with 'Mim' from the time he first laid eyes on her and became more-so as time passed, as is obviated by his many whimsical and touching anecdotes, of which only a select few have been quoted here. He tells of how she shared the habit, common to cats, of seeking out a warm bed in linen-drawers, and no matter in what part of the house she may have been in at the time, would trot towards the room where her sharp ears had alerted her to a drawer that had just been opened. He similarly tells of another habit, that of lifting-up the mat and letting it drop at the closed door of a room, as a signal of her wish to enter therein. So, perhaps it is best that we leave the last words to him, which so eloquently express this affection:

"We take much pride in our tender care of her and in having got her (a delicate cat with not a strong constitution, and having always an obstinate cough) through eight rigorous North German winters, and when in the fullness of time she will have to go the way of all cats, we shall have the pleasant remembrance of her refining influences, and of the solace she has been to us during much illness and other trouble, and shall always say of her that she brought much love into the world, and took none out of it with her."


  1. Our Cats and All About Them (1889) by Harrison Weir
  2. The Animal World, December 1873.
  3. Daily News, September 20th, 1873.
  4. Domestic and Fancy Cats (1893) by John Jennings.
  5. Text © 2019 by John G. Smithson
  6. Photos and Quotations as per credits noted

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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