Photo: E.Landor, The Book of The Cat, (1903) by Miss Frances Simpson. . Courtesy of The Harrison Weir Collection


The cats that today we refer to as 'Reds', were originally known as 'Oranges'. In fact, a description of the colour by Frances Simpson was:

"There is a dash of red in the orange cat, suggestive, perhaps, of the blood oranges with which at Christmastide we are so familiar."1

Writing in 1903, on the classification for 'orange' long-hairs at early shows, she then provides the following insight:

"In 1895, orange and cream cats were placed together in one class. A specialist society for orange, cream, fawn and tortoiseshell cats was founded in 1900, and although the number of members is small, yet have they proved a strong body of staunch supporters of these breeds, and a really astonishing amount of good work has been done by these few enthusiasts. The classification at the large shows has been greatly supplemented, and, whereas before the formation of the society the sexes were never separated, now this energetic little club asks for, obtains, and often guarantees extra classes. The result, therefore, to breeders of orange and cream cats is much more satisfactory, the males and females have their respective classes; and right well have they been filled.

"At the Richmond show of 1902, there were thirteen entries in male and thirteen in female orange and cream classes, the sexes but not the colours being divided. This was really a splendid testimony to the efforts of a specialist society of less than two year's standing. It is such a short time ago that orange, cream, and tortoiseshell cats were relegated to the 'any other colour' class, even at our largest shows; now it is often remarked by reporters in the cat papers that the well-filled cream and orange classes were the chief attractions of the show."1

Orange Self or Tabby

It is interesting to note that the original standard, adopted by the specialist society, included a description and points as follows:

"Colour and marking: - Colour to be as bright as possible, and either self or markings to be as distinct as can be got.25. Coat: To be silky, very long, and fluffy. 25. Size and Shape: - To be large, not coarse, but massive, with plenty of bone and substance; short legs. 20. Head: - To be round and broad, with short nose, ears small and well opened. 15. Eyes: - To be large and full, and bright orange or hazel. 5. Condition: - 10."

The following observations and comments are drawn from Frances Simpson numerous notes with specific regard to the standard:

"I incline towards a self-coloured orange in the Persian breeds, and a very handsome cat this would be - of just one tone of bright even colour, perhaps slightly lighter on the flanks and stomach, under the tail, and with a frill of paler tone....."

"At the Cat Club Shows, it has been customary to give the classification for orange cats marked or unmarked, so that then the judge may not have to take tabby markings into consideration, but give his awards according to colour and other points of excellence."1

Then, she muses, as if observing a scene from the future like a seer:

"Of course, it is possible that in time orang cats maybe bred to such perfection that two distinct classes will be given, namely 'orange' (selfs) and 'orange tabby'.

"As regards the eyes in orange Persians,....I should prefer the terms, 'golden bronze, or hazel,' as there is a special shade of gold with a dash of bronze or brown which seems to tone best with the bright coats of these cats."1

Also, from The Book of The Cat (1903), when Miss Frances Simpson was reviewing some of England's most notable catteries, and that especially of 'Bishopsgate', owned by Lady Marcus Beresford; she made specific mention of some of its former celebrated inmates, among them, 'Lifeguard', whom she described as "a grand orange of massive build".

This cat was almost unmarked, of a beautiful bright shade, and had an unusually round head and short face, with long silky coat."

Then, in another note within the chapter on 'Oranges', she observes:

"Coming down to the present day, I may remark that the number of orange cats placed at stud is very limited. A great loss to the ranks of male orange Persians was 'Lifeguard', formerly the property of Lady Marcus Beresford. This cat was almost unmarked, of a beautiful bright shade, and had an unusually round head and short face, with long silky coat."1

Hallmark 'red' Persians in England during this early period of the fancy, included cats such as 'Lifeguard', 'Puck', 'Benjamin of The Durhams', 'Fulmer Prince of Orange' ,'Torrington Rufus', 'Torrington Sunnysides', 'Golden Butterfly' and 'Orange Girl', while in the United States the march of the 'red' began with imports such as 'Napoleon the Great', 'Ravenswood Hamish' and 'Red Knight', followed by some of their respective sons, 'Bunch', 'Kephren' and 'Dandelion', as well as 'Prince of Orange' and 'Red Prince of Gladdisfenn'.


    |   Topsey
Windsor Lifeguard, Mar-1895, Orange (Red) Persian, M
    |   Unknown

'Lifeguard' was born in March, 1895, bred by Mrs. A. Spackman of Great Bedford St, Bath, by her orange male 'Puff' and out of 'Topsey' (aka Topsy). Although we have no indication of the colour or heritage of 'Topsey', she also appears to have been the dam of 'Lifeguard's' sire 'Puff'(born 21st March,1890), who is listed in The Cat Club Register (CCR) as sired by Mrs. Frost's 'Yankee' , and bred by Mrs. Spackman, out of Mrs. Spackman's 'Topsey'. So, the breeding which produced 'Lifeguard' was, in fact, that of a mother to son.

Lady Marcus Beresford
First owner of 'Windsor Lifeguard'

From a painting by Edward Hughes, The Book of The Cat (1903) by Frances Simpson1
Image courtesy of The Harrison Weir Collection

A little light is further thrown on the activities of Mrs. Spackman as a breeder and exhibitor from this quote, again from Miss Frances Simpson in her chapter on 'Orange Persians':

"Puff was exhibited by exhibited by Mrs. Spackman in 1894; this orange cat was not much marked, and 'Lifeguard' was bred from him. It was about this date, that unmarked orange Persians became more fashionable. Among females, 'Lifeguard's' sister, 'Goldilocks,' owned by Mrs. Marriot, was one of the very best queens ever shown."1

As to exactly when 'Lifeguard' became the property of Lady Marcus Beresford is unclear, but it is likely to have been when quite young. His was listed as her property in The Cat Club Register, Vols. 1 & II for 1898 and 1899, although it seems likely from the information available that he changed hands again, shortly after that, probably in the first quarter of 1899.

Mrs. Cartmell, appears to have been an admirer of 'Lifeguard' while he was standing at stud with Lady Marcus Beresford at Bishopsgate. She is listed as the owner of 'Richmond Al Roy' (CCR), an orange male sired by 'Lifeguard' and out of Mrs. Bagster's 'Pixie'. 'Richmond Al Roy' was born in July 1897. Nevertheless, we find some illuminating information with regard to the change of ownership of 'Lifeguard', plus a little insight into his photographic portrait by Landor, in this letter written by his next owner, Mrs. Cartmell, published in the Editorial columns of Our Cats on 4th January, 1902:

"I was greatly pleased to see photos of my two cats, Lifeguard and Sweetboy, among Mr. Landor's sheet of cat pictures in the Christmas Number of OUR CATS. That of Lifeguard was taken while he still belonged to Lady Marcus Beresford. I wonder whether you would mind just mentioning that he has been my property now for nearly three years, and is now known as Richmond Lifeguard. There being only one Lifeguard, I should not like there to be any mistake about him....

"Lifeguard sired a litter of five born last January, all are living now, all are prize winners. Two at the Crystal Palace, three in Paris. I think this is rather good. I never show myself, so my cats depend upon their children for fame in that way."7

Miss Simpson also confirms the change of ownership of 'Lifeguard' to Mrs. Cartmell, as well as her reluctance to exhibit:

"He was purchased by Mrs. Cartmell, who is well known as an enthusiastic breeder of orange Persians, but who never exhibits. This lady has been very successful, in breeding numerous fine female orange cats, and many a winner has been born to blush unseen in the Barham cattery, near Canterbury."1

'The Stud Quarters' of Lady Marcus Beresford's cattery at Bishopsgate.
The home of 'Lifeguard' between 1896 and 1899.
Note the long and spacious runs, segregated fully by solid walls and the fully covered exercise yard where the attendant is waiting on a female Persian cat.

Photo: Cassell & Company Ltd. The Book of The Cat (1903) by Frances Simpson 1
Image courtesy of The Harrison Weir Collection


The only full sibling to 'Lifeguard' appears to be an orange female named 'Goldy Locks of Heale', an older sister, born 13th February, 1894. (NCC:1780). She was bred of course by Mrs. Spackman of Bath, and owned and shown by Mrs. H.M. Marriott. She is credited with a 3rd prize, at the Crystal Palace in 1894.

From the National Cat Club Stud-book & Register, the show wins listed for 'Lifeguard' include:

1st and 3 Specials - Windsor,1895; Two 1sts - Holland Park, 1896, 1st, Crystal Palace, 1896; 2nd, Westminster, 1899.


Only a few progeny of record can be found for 'Lifeguard', and these are from a small selection of queens:

Out of 'PIXIE' a Tortie Persian female born in 1894, bred and owned by Mrs. Bagster.:
'BLUE PRINCE', a Blue Persian neutered male, born 25th July, 1897, owned by Miss Grace Shaw.
'RICHMOND AL ROY', an Orange Persian male, born 25th July, 1897, owned by Mrs. Cartmell.

Out of 'ZINGARA' a shorthaired female, owned by Mrs. Stennard Robinson:
'TOMMY DODD', a Red & White Bi-Color Shorthair neutered male, born in 1897, owned by Mrs. A. Kindall.
'PUSSINKAT', a Tortoisehell Shorthair female , born in 1897, owned by Miss R.Mortivals.

Out of 'TRILBY LINKWOOD' a Brown Tortie Tabby Persian female, born in 1898 and owned by Mrs. Fendale Charles:
'ROBERT ORANGE', an Orange Persian male, born 28th January, 1901. Owned by Mrs. G.E. Charles.
'TOM TIDDLER' a Brown Tabby Persian Male, born 28th January, 1901. Owned by Mrs. G.E. Charles.
'WYNNSTAY GUINEA GOLD' an Orange Persian male, born 28th January, 1901. Owned by Mrs. F.W. Western. (later owned by Miss M. Bellamy).

The most interesting point to note from the above list is Mrs. Stennard Robinson's decision to breed her Tortie Shorthair female to a Red Longhair. Whether it was usual to breed longhaired cats to shorthairs in order to produce more shorthairs and to register them with impunity is not clearly known, but the register speaks for itself. This is all the more interesting when you realise that Mrs. Stennard Robinson was the very capable Secretary of the National Cat Club at the time, as well as popular Secretary of The Ladies Kennel Association.

In Volume II of The Cat Fanciers' Association Stud-book, we also find an imported grandson of 'Lifeguard' registered as 'RED ADMIRAL'. His dam is a female dam 'Cinders', a daughter of 'Lifeguard' out of an unnamed Blue-cream.


Photo: E. Landor, Elaing. The Book of The Cat (1903) by Frances Simpson 1
Image courtesy of The Harrison Weir Collection

'Windsor Lifeguard'
An interpretative sketch by Louis Wain

The Illustrated London News, 24th October, 1896 6
Image courtesy of The Harrison Weir Collection


Cover Page of 'Our Cats', 8th February, 1902 featuring Miss Cartmell's Orange Persian, 'Richmond Lifeguard'
Photo: E. Landor. Our Cats, 8th February, 19025
Image courtesy of The Harrison Weir Collection

Cattery advertisement for Miss Cartmell's 'Richmond' stud, featuring her newest acquisition 'LIFEGUARD'
The Cat Club Register, Volume II, 1898. 2
Image courtesy of The Harrison Weir Collection

In Summary:

Fanciers of 'Orange' or 'Red' cats are usually conscientious devotees to their color. And although they will also be admirers of other colors and/or patterns, for them, the red retains a special place in the heart and they are very often passionate about preserving it. Whether this is because they love the warm hot tones, or as is the case with the tabbies, the depth of color and contrast of a rich mahogany red upon a warm but lighter red ground, or for some other factor, each will have a reason they can relate to explain their relentless passion for this truly beautiful hue. For a few it may be a genetic factor, like the noticeable predisposition for depth of eye color, or it will be something more intrinsic, such as their personalities, intelligence or their affectionate natures, or, even on occasion, their diffidence! Regardless of the reason, the lovers of Reds are loyal to their cause and very often specialists in their variety.

Today, Reds the world over are among the very typiest of Persians, being counted amongst the most celebrated Persians of all time.They often sport the deepest and most intense eye color. This is certainly not a new trait, and finding a red with intensely copper or even mahogany eye color is now very much the norm.

But it is easy to forget, that this development has taken over 130 years. Reds continue to have the 'wow' factor when presented in a full flowing coat, and it is important that we never lose sight of the wonderful work done within this variety, by the exceptionally passionate breeders who have 'lighted the pathway' making it possible for us to enjoy what we, in this day and age, so very often take for granted.


  1. The Book of The Cat , by Frances Simpson, 1903
  2. The Cat Club Register, Vols 1-5
  3. National Cat Club Stud-Book and Register, Vols 1-6
  4. Stud Book and Register of The Cat Fanciers' Association, Vol.2
  5. Our Cats Magazine, February, 1902
  6. The Illustrated London News, 24th October, 1896
  7. Our Cats Magazine, January, 1902
  8. Photos and quotations as 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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