History of Cat Shows from 1871 and Supreme Cat Shows

01/10/2012 09:43

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Imbued in English culture is a love of animals of all kinds. British Cat Breeds have been bred over the centuries and shown at Cat shows up and down the British Isles. Below is the history of British Cat Shows and when they first appeared.


History of British Cat and Kitten Shows from 1871

The very first 'official' cat show was held at the Crystal Palace in London on the 13th July 1871, the first 'show manager' was Harrison Weir the well-known artist and writer. The show was held on a Thursday not the familiar Saturday we know today. There were 25 classes for Eastern and other Foreign breeds as well as native British varieties. The first shows to be held by any of the present day clubs was held by The National Cat Club in 1887 followed by The Scottish Cat Club in 1894.

Louis Wain 1860-1939 the anthropomorphic artist had a vision of the cat world, which soon brought him fame and as a result of his popularity and love of cats he was elected President of the British National Cat Club in 1891.

Shows had to be abandoned during the years of the First and Second World Wars so the National Cat Club's Centenary Show was held in December 1996.

When The Governing Council of the Cat Fancy was founded by the Cat Clubs in 1910 there were 16 cat clubs represented, including one - Wilson's Ltd. Cat Club - which seems to have been something of a business venture; not surprisingly it does not appear to have survived for very long. The first GCCF Stud Book lists winners from shows held from 1910 to 1912. The Longhairs appeared in black, white, blue, red or orange, cream, smoke, silver tabby, brown tabby, red tabby, Chinchillas, tortoiseshell and tortie and white. The British Shorthairs were represented by most of the same colours and patterns except red, smoke, Chinchilla and tortoiseshell. The other breeds were Abyssinians, Siamese and Manx. Today the number of breeds and colours has increased tremendously.

Conditions at cat shows have improved over the years, the cats are no longer penned on straw, the judges and stewards all wear white coats and hygiene is very much more evident. Judges now use trolleys on which to place the cats for judging and these can be wheeled from pen to pen but thirty years ago the stewards had to struggle with a card table moving it from pen to pen for the judge - this needed real stamina!

Important events have been celebrated with special shows, in 1953 The Coronation Cat Show was held at The Royal Horticultural Society's New Hall in Westminster. A quick glance at the first page of the catalogue tells us that one of the veterinary surgeons in attendance was Mrs Muriel Calder who was, until recently, our GCCF Veterinary Officer and was our Vice-President; surely an honour for a youthful Vet.

Sadly none of the judges are still alive but there are a few familiar names in the list of exhibitors. 388 cats attended the show and the catalogue cover pictures 'the cat that came to London to see the Queen'

1976 saw a new Cat Show enter the calendar, the Supreme Cat Show. The show was organised by the GCCF and all the cats had to qualify by winning open classes at other Championship Shows. Today the Supreme has developed into a large and prestigious show and is held at the National Exhibition Centre, Birmingham each November. A new method of judging was introduced - Ring Judging - all the cats are taken from their brilliantly decorated pens to the judging rings where the judges sit facing the public to judge the cats and often give a commentary on their judging. This show produces the country's top prize winners, the Supreme title holders.


I have a hobby website where I have on display various Cat Breeds and Funny Cats on fine art prints by Louis Wain 1860-1939 from 1880’s to 1930’s. https://www.fabprints. com


The Supreme Cat Show and its Iconic History


As an animal fan and an attendee of over 1000 shows of cats, dogs, birds, horses and country shows when I was self-employed and selling old fine art prints UK wide.


The Supreme Cat Show is the world's largest cat show and is comparable to Crufts. It is organised every year by the world's oldest cat registry, the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy, or GCCF and takes place each November at the National Exhibiting Centre in Birmingham. Special awards of UK Champion and Supreme Champion can be gained at this show only and the cat winning Best In Show has the accolade of becoming the supreme exhibit.


The first Supreme Cat Show took place in 1976. Until then the GCCF itself did not organise cat shows, but licensed shows put on by the breed clubs and area clubs affiliated to it. The Supreme Cat Show was devised as a special show, which would only be open to cats which had won an open class at another championship show under GCCF rules, much in the same way that Crufts is only open to winning dogs. The show grew in size each year until it became big enough to be held at the NEC, which has been its home ever since.


Unlike most other shows the GCCF’s Supreme Show has no miscellaneous or club classes; it does, however, have classes other shows do not have. There are four Adult Open classes for each championship status breed: Champion Male and Female classes for full Champions, the winners being eligible for Grand Challenge Certificates and Pre-Champion Male and Female classes for cats with one or two Certificates or who have qualified as kittens, competing for Challenge Certificates.


The same applies to the neuter classes which are split into Premier and Pre-Premier classes for males and females. Cats which are already Grand Champions do not compete in these classes but in special classes for Grand Champions, Imperial Grand Champions, UK Grand Champions and UK & Imperial Grand Champions only, the winner being eligible for a UK Grand Challenge Certificate. Grand Premiers, Imperial Grand Premiers, UK Grand Premiers and UK & Imperial Grand Premiers compete for a UK Grand Premier Certificate.


In these classes several breeds may compete together. UK Grand Certificates are only awarded at the Supreme Show; two such Certificates from different judges give the cat the title of UK Grand Champion/Premier or UK & Imperial Grand Champion/Premier if it has additionally gained that title. There is no Reserve UK Grand Challenge/Premier Certificate. Best of Breed winners at the Supreme Show do not get certificates but compete against the other BOB winners in their section for Best of Variety.


The seven Best of Variety Adults (Persian, Semi-Longhair, British, Foreign, Burmese, Oriental and Siamese) compete for Supreme Adult, the seven kittens for Supreme Kitten and the seven neuters for Supreme Neuter. The Supreme Adult and the Neuter can add the coveted word 'Supreme' to their title.


Finally, the Supreme Adult, Supreme Kitten and Supreme Neuter compete against each other for the honour of being judged Supreme Exhibit. Crufts the Iconic Dog Show and its History The Supreme Cat Show and its Iconic History.

I have a hobby website where I have on display various Cat Breeds and Funny Cats on fine art prints by Louis Wain 1860-1939 from 1880’s to 1930’s. https://www.fabprints. com