Those Showgirls Sho' Know How to "Parti!"
by Lorraine Saunders and Susan Cook Henry
From Cat Fanciers' Yearbook, 2007
Moving past the late 20th century and to CFA’s present, we take another look at our favorite show-offs… those wonderful tortoiseshell and blue-cream Persians who comprise this unforgettable division of longhair cats and have contributed greatly to CFA’s first one hundred years. We write this with remembrance of a great lady and mentor, Lillias Bloem (CFA President in 1958 when the first CFA Yearbook was published) and her famous Bloemhill Persians. Her article, “A Cat May Look on a King,” celebrated the Parti-Color Persian forty years ago in the 1967 CFA Yearbook 10th Anniversary Edition!
A bit of history...
The tortoiseshell was recognized on May 19, 1914 by the CFA Board, with the blue-cream competing as AOC (any other color) until 1932. It is interesting to note that even though CFA established the title of Grand Champion in 1930, it was not until 1951 that a blue-cream achieved that title, and nine years later before the first tortoiseshell was a Grand Champion. As of the 1969 CFA Yearbook, Astra Cattery (Mr. and Mrs. John Bradley and Hazel Rand) was proud to claim it was the “only cattery in the history of CFA to breed three Grand Champion Tortie Persians!” We know that record has since been eclipsed, but it was certainly enviable in its day!
Some other earlier notable Grand Champions (alphabetically listed, with titles achieved by 1972) are shown in Table I. As you can see, this partial list is comprised of 31 blue-cream grands and 12 grand champion tortoiseshell Persians. Although recognized as a competitive color later than the tortoiseshell, the blue-cream was more popular in the show ring at the time. A debt of gratitude is owed to many of the breeders/exhibitors of the girls noted in Table I, including: Mr. and Mrs. Ben Ehrhardt (Ben-Mar), Peggy Otto (Chatalain), Florence Cox (Flo-Sher), Margret English (Stonybrook), Beula Biederman (Erman), Mrs. F.W. Clarendon (Glenorchy), Mrs. Verner Clum (Gaylands), Geraldine Merchant (Merchant), Charles Milwain and William Nix (Misty Mornin’), Marion and Dayle Hall (Tra-Mar), Gladys Morgan (Larks-Purr), Marcena Myers (Castilia), Maurine Hoag (Nor-Mont), Wilda Derouin (Dunhowa), Vi Schuh (Skyway), Zoe McEachern (Zoda), Nina Duff (Birch-Haven) and Mary Kate Carroll (Kohinoor). Most of these breeders not only worked well together in combining their lines, but were generous in mentoring and sharing their best with others who were new to the cat fancy. Several of these girls proved to be foundation females for many Persian lines, which gained success in the decades that followed. Some select photos of these ladies appear in this article, but do not let their looks deceive you – these cats were excellent representatives of their breed in their time, and several were top winners in CFA’s early Hydon-Goodwin Awards, the precursor to today’s National Winners.
TABLE I - Early Parti-Color Grand Champions
GC Ben-Mar Petunia
GC Bloemhill Brocade of Serendip
GC Bloemhill Fancy Free of Wynden
GC Bloemhill Miss Iowa (All-American Best Kitten, 1961)
GC Bloemhill Money Moon of Jeannel
GC Chatalain Nepeta
GC Erman Nyla of Shawnee
GC Flo-Sher Princess
GC Hadleigh Coquette of Kane-Kaha
GC Hayward Lolita of Misty Mornin’
GC Jan-Dam Sissie
GC Kirklea Kim of Misty Mornin’
GC Kohinoor Elfin of Kirklea
GC Larks-Purr Precious of Castilia
GC Mar-Geo Princess of Rangemore
GC Merchant’s Run Around Sue
GC Misty Mornin’ Be-Bop of Catspurr
GC Misty Mornin’ Mopsy of Tra-Mar (CFA’s Best Kitten, 1966)
GC Misty Mornin’ Motif of Arahn
GC Misty Mornin’ Maria of Jadon
GC Nor-Mont Bright Star
GC Nor-Mont Charm
GC Rosedere De Anne of Nor-Mont (first blue-cream GC, 1951)
GC Rulor Kandedol of Bloemhill
GC Show Me Blueberry Muffin
GC Skyway’s Bo-Peep of Dunhowa
GC Stonybrook Paige of Chatalain
GC Sweet Dream of Kohinoor
GC Widdington Rosebud of Gaylands (Imp)
GC Zoda Fleur-De Lys of Toireh
Cat of the Year for 1966, and the first Parti-Color to achieve the title: GC Larks-Purr Precious of Castilia
Ow: Marcena Myers and Mrs. Merald (Maurine) Hoag
GC Astra’s Firefly
GC Astra’s Gypsy
GC Astra’s Monita
GC Birch-Haven Blys of Misty Mornin’
GC Birch-Haven Pan-Z-Face of Catalot
GC Birch-Haven Tiki of Ben-Mar
GC Cherubino Twice Blessed
GC Glenorchy Merl
GC Kohinoor Kathleen of Moonfleet
GC Misty Mornin’ Meg
GC Nor-Mont’s Duchess (first Tortie GC – 1960)
GC Woodkiff Calypso of Castilia
Cat of the Year for 1969 and the second Parti-Color to achieve this award: GC Misty Mornin’ Meg
Br/Ow: Charles Milwain and William Nix
From the mid-1960s on, few other breeds or divisions (genetically driven as this “female gender” division has proven to be) have generated as much excitement in the ring when properly presented. They show well and not just because they are beautiful. Parti-Colors are natural “hams” and display personality plus, whether they are being judged at the shows or just relaxing at home!
As you will see below, the “favors” at the party are still unequally divided among those who love dominants and those who prefer their paler dilute sisters. There are also those who adore the chocolate tortie with their milk chocolate coats patched with red, and the gentle lilac-creams with their dove-grey coats and pastel cream patches.
A defining year for the Parti-Color Persian was 1995, when the color standard was revised to allow either patching or areas of intermingled colors on both tortoiseshells and blue-creams. Reference to the once-desirable blaze was removed. Unlike the bi-colors, it is nearly impossible to breed for a specific Parti-Color pattern. Further, as for the torties, references to cream in the standard were eliminated as it was noted that tortoiseshells are not black, red and cream, but genetically are black cats with darker and lighter shades of red.
This change in the standard has led to today’s torties, many of which are hotter in color with the inimitable black tortie being much harder to come by. Why? Many Persian breeding programs have opted away from color-breeding within the Parti-Color and Solid Color divisions and have mixed in genes from other divisions of the Persian breed. As a result, the color red (from bright to light) seems to have overtaken the black, with the Himalayan genes sometimes adding a “sherbet” glow rather than a true red.
With blue-creams, the reverse is often true. There is less cream and a darker, almost navy-blue color, both of which have combined to take away that soft and shimmering “clouds in the sky” effect. The plain fact is coat color has been distorted. This is in large part due to the increased use of dominants in dilute breeding programs, in addition to breeders who prefer to work with bi-colors and the pointed Persian (Himalayans) rather than using dilute solids and other Parti-Colors to protect sound coat color. It is interesting to note that there are no longer any color-bred blues, which from the 1940’s to the 1970’s were so instrumental in the evolution of the Persian cat as we know it today. Their prepotence for clear color and type was desirable then and a memorable dream in modern terms.