The Scottish Cat Club played a pivotal role in the founding of the UK cat fancy as we know it today, being the second formally-constituted cat club in the UK, holding some of the very earliest cat shows. The World's first official was staged at London's Crystal Palace on Thursday 13th of July 1871. It was the brainchild of writer, artist and noted ct lover Harrison Weir. His main objective in organising the first cat show was promoting their welfare rather than providing an arena for competitive cat owners. Our cat club overall aims very much reflected Mr Weir's desire to promote the welfare of cats. So successful was the show that other shows were held all over Great Britain, including a show in Glasgow later in 1871.
Early text also refers in passing to a show in Scotland in 1875 which attracted 570 exhibits. and annual shows of Scottish Rabbit, Cat and Cavy Club whose 1896 show was held in the Waterloo Rooms in Glasgow on 1-2 of January.
By 1887, Cat shows were regular events and the National Cat Club was founded in London. The Scottish Cat Club was the next cat club recorded, being formed in 1894. From the year it was founded the club ran many shows which were staged in Glasgow. Frances Simpson (1903) records the following information on the club:
[ The Scottish Cat Club, founded 1894. Hon sec J F Dewar , 2, St Patrick Square, Edinburgh, Annual subscription, 5 shillings. The Scottish Cat Club is in a flourishing condition,man has been steadily working up members since 1894. A show is annually held, and fanciers over the border are taking a much keener interest in cats.]
An example of an active Scottish cat breeder of the time was Mrs Mackenzie Stewart, who bred Persians, and clearly started the noble tradition of the Scottish-Bred cats who are more than hold their own down south:
[One of the largest catteries in Scotland, where the fancy grows apace, is owned by Mrs Mackenzie Stewart, of Seagate house, Irvine. Mrs Stewart has possessed several notable cats if different breeds. Her blue stud cat " Ronald" has made himself a name in the south of England as well and the north. Mrs Mackenzie Stewart is now the owner of the celebrated black stud cat "Dick Fawe," who has sired many winning kittens. Mrs Mackenzie Stewart is a most enthusiastic fancier, and often takes long journey down south to bring pets to the London shows. She has acted as a judge in Scotland and England, and a contingent from the Seagate cattery is generally to be seen and admired at most of our large shows.]
Both the National Cat Club and the Scottish Cat Club operated their own registries, with the McNish brothers, John and James, being the registrars for The Scottish Cat Club. When the Governing Council of The Cat Fancy was founded in 1910 there were 16 cat clubs represented, including the Scottish Cat Club. Both the Scottish and the National Cat Club handed over all their registration details to the GCCF. In 1911, the GCCF's constitution and rules were drawn up by Mrs Slingsby (who was also the Scottish Cat Club delegate), Mr Little and Mr Russell Biggs . That yer the clubs AGM was held in the Secretary's office, at the Scottish zoo, Glasgow on March 2nd. 17 members were present and the club officials.
In the 1930s Glasgow suffered severe unemployment. Ship building has been the major industry on the Clyde , but was of the industries hardest hit by the depression, although it revived with the coming of the Second World War. The Scottish Cat Club had been hit hard during this period of distress on the Clyde and had Dropped out as a member of the GCCF. It us never the less carried on with the shows and eventually rejoined the Council. Even in times of difficulty the true Scottish spirit remained indomitable:
I think there is a lot to be said to the following approach to show manager!
[The Scottish Cat Club show
This is held in Glasgow on December 15th, 1937. Mr peter forbes and his band of enthusiastic helpers were determined that it should be a sucess and nothing was left to chance. Attention was given to the most minute detail and the management was justified in feeling pleased at the success the show enjoyed. For my part i considered it was worth making the long journey for and have nothing but happy recollections of Scottish hospitality, ect. Incidentally, the show manager set a very commendable precedent by providing by a supply of native distilled "fire-water". This example could be following with advantage by Show Managers down south- or are all our show managers teetotal? i ha'e ma doots. Anyways i reckon judges and stewards at least deserve a very large drink at someone expense after they have finished their duties. But to continue with the remarks on its show itself. There were 145 entries which were sorted by Miss E Langston, consequently there was an entire absence of disgruntled exhibitors. The best exhibit in the show proved to be Mr Boltons Townfield monarch and the best kitten in show was Mr Waughs's Moormead BLACK BESS. The best short-haired cat was a Siamese, Mrs Alexander's Wivenhoe Titanya. Miss Wentworth-Fitzwilliam's siamese kitten. Fairy Fay De Listinoise was best short-haired kitten. Now the southerners, how about giving the show a helping hand next year.]
One of our oldest surviving trophies dates back to the same era: The Matthew (marilla) of Greengables cup for best chinchilla adult neuter. Matthew was a very well- known chinchilla nstud cat i the 1930s, with cats and kittens magazine in january 1938 reporting the following:
[Congratulations to Miss Adams for having the courage to express her convictions and awarding Mathews (Marilla) of Greengables a championship certificate at the national, thus entitling him to the coveted prefix champion. Previous certificate had been awarded by Mrs Slingsby and Miss Langston. It must be seldom that a cat of the eminence of Matthew passes his sixth birthday without becoming a champion. This state he would undoubtedly have attained some years since he had not been severely handicapped by a blemished eye- the legacy of an injury sustained at a show at the beginning of his career.]
Unfortunately there are gaps in our records again at this point- we would love to hear from anyone who can help fill in some details. on rejoining the GCCF we seem to have got back to holding shows again pretty quickly, and by 1950 we were running successful open shows in Glasgow area: our 1953 show was held on the 28th of November in Paisley and attracted 117 cats. At our AGM on the 11th of February 1954 the following were elected or re-elected to our committee:
[Hon president: Mr P P Connor, president: Miss M S Paton, vice chairman, Mrs McPhail, hon secretary; Mrs F M Richardson, members; Mrs B I Dinwiddie, Dumfries, Mrs S P Hamilton, Renfrew, Miss G B Philp, Bearsden, Mr W S Steele. After many years service Mr J McPhail resigned from the committee: he had been our GCCF delegate.
At the AGM of the GCCF in April 1954 the Scottish Cat Club was granted its original status as a founder member and permission to call the 1954 its diamond jubilee year. Th then chairman of the GCCF, Mrs Kathleen Yorke, wrote the following about our show that year:
["This is the Diamond Jubilee year of the Scottish cat club and they held a wonderful show on the 30th of October in Glasgow (in the McLellan Galleries). It was well patronised with over 1,400 people passing through the gates. Exhibits also numbered over 100, including the household pets. Mrs Richardson, show manager and honorary secretary of the club, and the committee must have felt very proud of their efforts. Miss Paton is the president and she was all smilies. Her mother of 92 years of age is one who has been a member of this club almost from its inception, also Mr Peter Connor, who had his first instruction in judging from the late Mrs Slingsby, who was one of the members attached to this club from the beginning and when affiliated to the GCCF , which was founded in 1910 became its delegate remaining so for many years.She took a great interest in this club to the end of her life. On this auspicious occasion i felt the if Mrs Slingsby had been alive she would have loved that i went to the show, so i travelled up on the Friday night and returned Saturday night after a very happy day. Mrs Cattermole judged the long hairs. She had a very long-delayed journey and was most courageous in commencing judging immediately she arrived hours later, owing to disorganisation of the trains. Miss Fitswilliam judged short hairs, Mr Connor the household pets, Mrs Spiers assisting with these. Congratulations to all responsible for such a lovely show and to exhibitors who supported as well."]
This recognition of the club served to reinvigorate it even further, with the clubs secretary noting in 1995 that"the sum of £75 has been set aside for the purchase of our own cages. This is a step in the right direction."
There was a lot of concern about the number of cat shows being held with the GCCF discussing over several meetings the possibility of limiting championship shows to a 10 a year, or only allowing clubs to hold shows on alternate. Fortunately, delegates voted down on the proposal and we were granted out championship show licence for the 1st of February 1958. By this time we were firmly settled in the McLellan Galleries with shows being held in early February .
[By 1965 our committee consisted of:
President: W S Steele, Vice President: Mrs M Bain, Members: Mrs Emslie, Mr Saunders, Miss Duff, Mrs McLeod and Mrs Lindsay. ]
one judge at our 1968 show commented as follows:
["Heartiest congratulations to the show manager, Mr A Saunders, Mrs Saunders and all the committee of the Scottish Cat Club on a really wonderful show held at Glasgow on february the 3rd. Everything was beautifully arranged. I was very pleased with the high quality of the exhibits. The show was followed by an excellent dinner at the Grosvenor Hotel and i am sure it must have been greatly enjoyed by everyone who attended. My sincere thanks to all for this delightful hospitality."(Mrs gwendolyn M Budd, 1968.)]
The clubs show was held for many yearat the McLellan Gallaries and a lot of us hold fond memories of those times, with abiding memories of the vetting-in queue snaking up a magnificent large curving staircase and an apparently never-ended crush of visitors in the afternoon. The highlight of the day was the best in show judging with a panel of three judges sitting up on sage as stewards passed each nominated cat down the table. The Club enjoyed its silver jubilee show there in 1982, when our committee consisted of:
[President: W S Steele, Chairman: Mr A C Saunders, Vice Chairman: Mr A L Bain, hon Secretary: Mrs Jean Cousins, Hon Treasurer: MR R J Whitelaw, Show Manger Mrs Irene Mcmillan, Members: Mr&Mrs Broadbent, MR A Chalmers, Mrs C Craik, Mr George Godfrey, Mrs J Saunders and Mr&Mrs Jamieson.]
Mr Steele was closely involved with the club for many years, having first joined the committee in January 1953 and serving as our president for 20 years. We still have a special W S Steel Memorial Classes at all our shows, with three magnificent trophies being awarded to the winning cats to be held for a year. As a mark of respect we also give special rosettes to every cat entered in these classes.
The McLellan Galleries was a beautiful venue in a great location but unfortunately in the 1980's the Galleries were ravaged by fire and when they re-opened in 1990 following a multi-million refurbishment they were no longer willing to accommodate our. We then spent a number of years at the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre courtesy of then-generous sponsorship of some major cat food companies. As the economic climate shifted again this support declined and we moved to The Braehead Arena, o the west of the city centre. As companies pulled out of sponsoring cat shows we had to make the hard decision to move the show again. and in 2004 we moved to the Clydebank Plat Drome a few miles north of Glasgow and have been delighted by the warm welcome we have recieved.