Black Persians have never received the amount of admiration and attention which they deserve. As in other self-coloured cats, the chief point in a black is absolute uniformity of colour. The coat should be glossy, with no bands or bars in the full light. It should have no lighter shade in the undercoat, and, above all, no spot or tuft of white hairs at the throat. This latter is a very common fault amongst black cats. In most black litters, one kitten at least will have this blemish. Apparently, no precautions can prevent or eradicate this fault.
A really good specimen of the black Persian breed must have full round eyes of deep orange - and very attractive are these gleaming orbs, shining forth from their dense black surroundings.
When black cats are changing their coats they generally present a very rusty appearance. New-born kittens, also, are often like balls of brown fluff, and sometimes they do not become a good colour until about six or seven months old. Long-haired blacks, as a class, are not so heavily coated as some other breeds, but they are generally massively built cats, and are very strong and healthy.
A tortoiseshell female is a splendid mate for a black male, and some of the most noted blacks in the fancy have been bred in this way. Two brown tabbies will often produce one, if not more, good blacks in a litter. Breeders of silver tabbies and smokes have found a black cross occasionally very useful and satisfactory, as these two breeds require sometimes to have their markings and colourings intensified. A silver tabby with grey markings, and a smoke with an upper coat of cinder colour, are not true to type, and a black strain introduced will be of great advantage in these cases, To Keep their coats glossy and bright, black cats should be brushed regularly and frequently rubbed with a soft cloth. The application of brilliantine in small quantities is advisable when preparing for the show-pen.
Miss Frances Simpson judging a white kitten at the Crystal
Mrs. Comers black Persian, "Sweep of Eversley"
The entries in the black classes, even at the largest cat shows, are generally few in number, and often the sexes are amalgamated. In reports of shows, such remarks as the following frequently appear: "Good blacks with orange eyes were conspicuous by their absence," or, again, "The black classes, as usual, were poorly filled."
But, as "every dog has his day," so, perhaps, there is a good time coming for black Persian cats. Certainly novices in the fancy might do worse than provide themselves with a thoroughly good black "queen" (or female), for, in exhibiting, the chance of honours is very much greater than when competing in classes in which there are so many entries, as in the case of blues and silvers. There is truly not much demand for black kittens at the present time, and very high prices are seldom asked or given for specimens of this rather neglected breed. As everyone knows, a vast amount of superstition is connected with a black cat. But, although black cats are supposed to be the harbingers of evil under some conditions, yet cat fanciers and others are inclined to believe in the probable luck that a stray black cat may bring them.
These lovely cats, when seen in full coat, spotlessly clean, and with deep blue eyes, are certainly things of beauty. A great change has taken place in the quantity and quality of this fascinating breed of Persians.
Formerly, blue eyes were the exception, now they are the rule. It would be quite useless to exhibit a yellow-eyed white at one of our large shows.
There are two points peculiar to white cats, and the mystery of these particular traits has yet to be solved. One is that white cats with blue eyes are generally stone deaf, and the other is that this is the only variety in which odd eyes appear. These are usually yellow and blue, though, some-times, green and blue eyes appear. It would not be surprising if white cats, like human albinos, had pink eyes, but these are unknown in the feline race.
The correct eye colour for whites is a deep sapphire blue. The colour of kittens' eyes can be told earlier than in any other breed. The eyes are generally a bright blue from the beginning, without a shade of the grey which exists in the opening eyes of all other breeds. It frequently happens that white kittens are born with a patch of grey on the top of the head. This blemish, however, gradually disappears as the kitten grows its coat.
As regards breeding blue-eyed whites, it is not necessary or essential that both parents should be blue eyed. Experience proves that kittens by odd-eyed parents, or, at least, when one of the parents has different coloured eyes, have all proved blue-eyed. Again, a pair of blue-eyed whites may have odd-eyed kittens in the litter.
The difficulty of keeping white cats clean, especially in towns, no doubt deters fanciers from breeding them, and others from purchasing the kittens. A white cat soiled is a white cat spoiled. If a specimen of this breed is sent to a show with a dirty coat, he will assuredly be "put down" by the judge, although in other points he may excel. It is, therefore, most important to specially prepare white Persians for exhibition. All our best cat shows take place in the late autumn or during the winter months, and therefore it is extremely risky to wash long-haired cats, also such treatment tends to coarsen the soft silkiness of their coats. A process of dry cleaning is, therefore, advisable, and one of the dry shampoo preparations now so much used for the purpose is more satisfactory and suitable. The powder, which is quite harmless, is rubbed into the coat and brushed out briskly. This process cleanses the long fur beautifully. Exhibitors who accompany their white cats to shows should be careful to ascertain that the pens are perfectly clean, otherwise a grievous disappointment may await them, when they find their spotless puss a dirty grey, and no award cards on the pen that has damaged their beauty.
The Hon. Mrs. Clivc Behrcn's white Persian, " Ch. Swinton
Day Dream." This beautiful specimen frequently carries all before it at the great shows
Photo, Russell, Crystal Palace
There have been more white Persians imported into this country than any other breed. The most perfect type of a white long-haired cat is assuredly to be found amongst these. There is a certain beauty of form and silkiness of fur which is not frequently possessed by the specimens bred in this country. Imported whites are distinguished by unusually long coats, round heads, tiny ears, and wonderful toe tufts. Such a perfect type was to be found in "Nourmahal," which was owned and ex-hibited by Lady Marcus Beresford in 1900.
At the present time, we have some enthusiastic breeders of white Persians, and each year the entries in the white classes increase in number. In the north of England, and especially in Scotland, some of our best specimens are to bo seen.
The Hon. Mrs. Clive Behrens possesses a marvel of beauty in Swinton Day Dream, a cat that has frequently carried all before her at our largest shows. Lady Decies has a splendid team of whites, and is particularly partial to this fascinating breed. At recent shows, Master Currie, a youthful fancier, has been doing most of the winning with his lovely white cats and kittens, always exhibited in the pink of condition. In America, white Persians are prime favourites, and many fine cats have been exported to breeders over the water. One of the latest specialist societies to be formed is the Black and White Club, which interests itself in both long and short-haired cats of these two handsome varieties.