A New Variety of Persian-what Constitutes a Good Specimen-how the Variety is Obtainedthe Difficulty of Breeding Good Smoke Persians
Smoke Persians may be considered a comparatively new breed.
It is only within recent years that this charming variety has come into notice, and even now smokes are somewhat neglected in the fancy. It was not until the year 1893 that they were considered sufficiently popular to deserve a class to them-selves at our shows. They were formerly relegated to the "any other colour" class.
A really good smoke is indeed a thing of beauty. The definition drawn up by the Silver and Smoke Society is as follows: 'asmoke cat must be black, shading to smoke, with as light an under - coat as possible, and black points, light frill and ear-tufts; eyes to be orange."
These cats have been bred from crossing blues, blacks.and silvers. It is most important that the coat of a smoke should be full and long, otherwise the chief beauty of the contrast between the light under-coat and dark upper-coat is not seen to full advantage.
The chief failing in many otherwise good smokes is the appearance of tabby markings on the head. The tail, too, should be quite free from any rings of light and dark. Some smokes are so dense in the surface-coat as to be really black cats with white undercoats, having none of the modulated grades of dark and light grey. Then, again, there are light smokes, which might be called silver smokes, very beautiful cats to look at but useless for either breeding purposes or showing.
It is a curious fact that the kit tens, when first born, appear to be
Mrs. Sinkins Smoke Persian cat, Shaiton. A perfect specimen of this beautiful variety, a good example of which is difficult to breed
Photo.. T. Fall almost dead black, with no trace of a white under-coat. This appears gradually as the kittens grow, and at about three weeks old the lighter coat becomes visible.
If a smoke strain of good type is to be established, it is imperative that other colours should be kept out of this variety. In times past many owners of smoke queens have mated them with any coloured cat which took their fancy, in the hopes of getting something in the litter besides smokes. But, thanks to the careful mating of some of our breeders of smokes, these lovely cats are not the "flukes" they once were. A really good smoke may justly be considered one of the most beautiful of the many breeds of long-haired cats, and a bad smoke one of the plainest.
It is most undesirable to mate smokes with tabbies, neither is it advisable to select a blue as a cross. The blue tinge destroys the purity of the white under-coat, which is one of the glories of a perfect smoke. It is a case of " like to like " in breeding smokes. Failing this, a good black sire should be selected. This is especially advantageous if the queen is light in colour, but if she is too dark, a chinchilla may be used, avoiding a green-eyed specimen. It is more difficult to breed a really excellent female smoke than a male, and these latter generally predominate in a litter.
There is no question as to the colour of eyes in this breed, for they should be a deep orange. If beauty and a hardy constitution count for much, smokes should be more popular even than they are at present, but no doubt the extreme difficulty of breeding a good, unmarked, properly shaded specimen deters many breeders from taking up this variety. Litter after litter of kittens may appear, grand in shape and strong in limbs, but in a few months, when the kittens moult, their shadings will become a hopeless confusion of light and dark. Tabby markings also may develop, showing traces of the far-away silver tabby ancestors. It is only at about a year old that the type for good or bad in a smoke cat can be determined.
The chief failing of the majority of the smokes now being exhibited is the pale colour of their eyes.
Mrs. James, of Beckwell, Bristol, is an enthusiastic breeder of smokes. Mrs. Sinkins has always kept a fine stud, and Mr. Robert Little is one of the oldest fanciers of this charming variety.