Photo by Fall. From Cats LH & Short by Evelyn Buckwoth-Herne-Somes (1933). Courtesy of The Harrison Weir Collection


It could be said that the breeders of Black Persians are usually made of hardy stuff, for it requires an extraordinary level of dedication to breed and perfect a colour variety, whose coat will always be subjected to intense criticism, requiring as it does, for the colour to be perfectly dense black and even from tip to the root. The coats of blacks are prone to being sensitive to changes in weather, and a black must never be allowed to roam free in strong sunlight, as this tends to bleach out the colour turning the tips of the hair rusty-coloured. Cats with unsound coats inevitably show a silvery or paler grey undercoat, which is also undesirable. Experienced breeders will also know that if a cat has been ill, the colour on the hair shaft is affected, coming through paler during the period of the illness, making it impossible for them to be shown without penalty by an experienced judge.

Over the years, the expectation that eye colour should also conform to a good strong or deep gold to copper, has also been challenging, some of the earliest blacks displaying a tendency to pale yellow, and in a few cases, even green! So, it takes a special type of dedication to produce a self or solid coloured black, that can be presented on show day in perfect coat and condition, and with blazingly intense eye colour.

Among the earliest breeders and admirers of blacks, was the Hon. Mrs. McLaren Morrison whose blacks date back to the 1880s, with memorable cats such as 'Satan', 'Zulu of Kepwick', 'Neptune' and 'Juno'. Other breeders began to pick up the baton, namely Dr. Roper (Fawe), Mr. Robert Little and Miss Kirkpatrick, in the new century; Mrs. Gretta Yeates and Mrs. L. Fraser (Hendon), between the two World Wars; and Miss Rodda (Chadhurst), and Marjorie Bull, (Deebank) after the Second World War.

In the United States, cats such as 'King Max' and 'Menelik III' were followed by 'Black Thorn' and 'Cyrus The Great' in the early years, and by 1950's and 1960's blacks were able to take Cat of the Year in CFA: 'GC Vel-Vene Voo Doo of Silva Whyte' in 1959, and 'GC Silva Whyte Trafari of J.B.' in 1967.


Mrs. Gretta Yeates holding her black queen 'Dawn' in 1920.
Courtesy of The Harrison Weir Collection

'Sally Cat', was born July 23rd, 1921, in a litter bred by Mrs. Fisher White, at Highgate. Her sire was 'Earlscourt Black Prince', himself a grandson of both 'Earlsfield Delta' and 'Barry Bluejohn' respectively; while her dam was 'Salammbo of Highgate', herself a granddaughter of 'Earlsfield Delta' via Ch. Dirty Dick'. She was sold to Mrs. Yeates and shown very successfully off and on over a period of 10 years. She was a much-loved pet of both Mr. & Mrs. Yeates, who were both extremely active in the Cat Fancy for many years, Mr. Cyril Yeates acting as Show Manager on several occasions for the National Cat Club's premier Show at the Crystal Palace.

Mr. Yeates was so popular in fact as both a judge and an organiser, that he was ultimately elected to the Chair of the Governing Council, a position he held for many years, earning for himself the moniker 'The Grand Old Man of the Fancy'. His wife, Gretta, was an eminent breeder of Persian cats, especially Blues and Blacks.

        CH Black Knight, black
    Earlscourt Black Prince, black
    |   Kelston Sen Sen, blue
Sally Cat, 23-Jul-1921, black Persian, F
    |   CH Dirty Dick, black
    Salammbo of Highgate, black
        Ophelia of Highgate, black

Three of Sally Cat's direct forebears.
Above left and centre: 'Earlsfield Delta' and 'Barry Bluejohn' respectively; who are her paternal Great- Grand-sires.
Above right, her maternal Grandsire, Ch. Dirty Dick.

Courtesy of The Harrison Weir Collection


Little 'Sally Cat' had at least one known litter sibling, a black male, named 'Prince Blackamoor' whom Mrs. Fisher White sold to a Miss Bowtell (SB:v2); as well as a dam-sibling, called 'Night Hawk', sired by Dark Knight. Excluding her litter brother, 'Prince Blackamoor' and herself, we can also account for at least fourteen additional sire siblings by 'Earlscourt Black Prince' out of various queens. Among them, are the males 'Bogie Boy' a black, owned by Miss V. Nichols; 'Dandy Lion', a red male owned by Mrs. Langdale; as well as the females 'Princess Flandria', a black queen owned by Mrs. Buckworth-Herne-Soames; and lastly 'Ch. Zulanda', a black female bred by Miss Bowtell and subsequently also owned by Mrs. Gretta Yeates.

It would be fair to say, that 'Sally Cat' was probably the best-known black Persian female cat in England during the 1922-1931 period. She gained her first Championship under the Hon. Mrs. Clive Behrens, at the Croydon Show of 1922, and was subsequently awarded Championships under Mrs. Fosbery, Mr. Norris, Miss Frances Simpson, Mrs. Slingsby, Mrs. Billet, Miss Lea, and Mr. Ambrose. She won her tenth and last Championship under Mrs. Wade at the Crystal Palace Show of 1931, in her tenth year.

From the GCCF Stud-Books, Volumes Three, Four, Five and Six, we can find some of the details of her wins at the various shows. Unfortunately, the Stud Books are unreliable on two notable counts, the first being that they are not a record of every cat registered. They merely are a record of any cat that took as first at a Show. So, although a cat may have been registered, if it did not compete successfully, you will be unable to find it in the Stud Book. Secondly, as each volume came out, not all the show records were updated, and in the listings for 'Champion Sally Cat' we can only find a record of 9 out of her 10 championship wins.

Those wins of record are:

1st and Ch. Croydon, 1922; 2nd NCC., 1922; 1st SCCC.,1923; 2nd Newbury., 1923; 1st and Ch. Croydon, 1923; 1st and Ch. NCC., 1923; 1st and Ch. MCCC.,1924; 1st and Ch. Newbury, 1924; 1st and Ch. N.C.C.,1924; 1st and Ch. MCCC.,1935; 3rd B.P.C.S.,1925; 1st Newbury., 1925; 3rd NCC., 1925; 2nd Northern., 1925; 2nd SCCC.,1926; 3rd, NCC.,1927; 3rd SCCC.,1928; 3rd Reading, 1929; 2nd, Croydon., 1929; 1st and Ch. NCC., 1929; 3rd NCC., 1930; 1st and Ch. NCC.,1931.*


'Sally Cat' produced only one kitten of note, a male named 'Black Douglas', under somewhat harrowing circumstances. Mr. Cyril Yeates provides the details:

"When three years old she had a miraculous escape, falling off the top of one of the lofty houses in Russell Square. She was in kitten to Ch. Nanook at the time, and in due course brought forth one male, which grew into a fine cat called Black Douglas, and at the first show held by the B.P.C.S., in a class of ten blacks under Mr. C.A. House, father, mother and son filled the first three places." *

"Once she was nearly lost at a Reading Show. Her pen door was left open, and she went for a walk, and was eventually found calmly seated on the counter of one of the shops in the arcade." *


Photo by Fall. From Cats Long-haired & Short by Evelyn Buckworth-Herne-Soames (1933)
Courtesy of The Harrison Weir Collection
In her 9th year, after winning her 9th Championship.

Photo by Fall. January 24th, 1930. Courtesy of The Harrison Weir Collection


Mr. & Mrs. Yeates' 'CHAMPION SALLY CAT' - Photo by Fall.
From: Hints to Cat Lovers published by A F Sherley & Co, 1927
Courtesy of The Harrison Weir Collection

In Summary:

We will leave the final words about 'Champion Sally Cat' to her former master, Mr. Cyril Yeates, from whom we have taken these excerpts that appeared in an obituary in her honour, published in Fur and Feather on June 5th, 1936:

"Many will regret to hear of the death this week of Mrs. Yeates well-known black queen Ch. Sally Cat, for she had many friends and admirers both in and outside the Fancy.

'Ch. Sally Cat,- or Cara as she was called at home - was always a spoilt beauty. She did not get on well with other cats, and for many years now has lived at Highgate with Mrs. Fisher White, who bred her and was devoted to her. She was one of the most beautiful queens ever shown. For type, shape, colour and texture of coat she was as near perfection as we are ever likely to get. She had beautiful large expressive eyes and was awarded more than one special for best eyes, but though sound, they lacked depth of colour - her only failing.

"About 10 years ago she was photographed for one of Messrs. Letts' calendars and has proved the best seller they ever had. This calendar has been reproduced year after year and many thousands have gone all over the world, Mrs. Yeates having had them sent to her by friends who have bought them as far afield as China, Australia and California.

"Cara had a very happy life. She was loved by everyone and died peacefully on May 27th, of old age."


Looking at 'Cara's' photos, it is apparent that she was of excellent overall moderate type, extremely cobby and with eyes that gave her a very sweet expression, all factors called for in the standard for the Persian cat. Accordingly, she will be remembered as one the most notable blacks in the history of the Cat Fancy.


  1. GCCF Studbook, Vol.2
  2. GCCF Studbook, Vol.3
  3. GCCF Studbook, Vol.4
  4. GCCF Studbook, Vol.5
  5. Fur and Feather, January 24th, 1930
  6. Fur and Feather, June 5th, 1936
  7. Fur and Feather, January 24th, 1913
  8. Fur and Feather, March 23rd, 1923
  9. Fur and Feather, February 6th, 1920
  10. Our Cats Magazine, December 16th, 1908
  11. Hints to Cat Lovers, published by A.F. Sherley & Co, 1927
  12. Cats: Long-haired and Short, by Evelyn Buckworth-Herne-Soames (1933)
  13. The Illustrated London News, January 1920.
  14. Text copyright John G. Smithson 2018
  15. 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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