Rewind: A Look at Cats (July, 1974)

Written by Sophia Joyce.

Cat memes may rule the internet nowadays, but their influence on conversation - and even unionism - predates the interwebs. Our inaugural Rewind takes a look at the lighter side of union-journalism as we revisit an article printed in the CSA Journal in July, 1974; an entire page dedicated to the friendly domestic feline.

The cat has occupied a place of honour in the domestic life of man for several thousand years.

At the height of the Egyptian civilisation about 4,000 years ago the cat was highly regarded and was declared sacred.

The City of Bubastis located just north of the present day town of Benel-Asi was dedicated to its race; bodies of cats were frequently mummified and anyone found guilty of killing a cat was severely punished.

Both the Greeks and the Romans had a high regard for the cat, especially after the introduction of the rat (Mus rattus) from Asia. Several religions including those of the Egyptians and Norse, contained cat like Gods.

Gradually the glory of the cat tarnished; black cats became regarded as evil doers in Europe, being used for witchcraft and other weird customs. In the Flemish town of Ypres it was the custom for about 900 years to fling cats from any tower on the “Wednesday of the Cat” which occurred annually.

The actual domestication of the cat is obscure because no wild cat still in existence resembles the domestic variety. Although wild cats, which are larger than domestic cats, were common throughout Europe until the early nineteenth century they were not domesticated.

A species of cat living in northern Africa, the Nubian cat, bears the closest resemblance to the ancient Egyptian cat and thus it is thought to be the ancestor of the domestic cat.

Today there are many varieties of domestic cat, mostly the result of selective breeding by cat lovers.

The Manx cat, a tailless variety, is said to have had its tail cut off by Noah when he slammed the door of the Ark as it scampered up the gang plank. Its true origin is unknown.

Besides the usual domestic cats, the two most common types are the Persians, a longhair variety, and the orientals, short hair types such as the Siamese and Burmese.

Siamese cats were much favoured by the royalty of Siam, where they lived in the Palace. IN 1884 a pair was presented to the Consul-General in Bangkok by the King of Siam. Today’s Siamese have been bred from this paid with the introduction of new blood from Siam from time to time.

The original Siamese cats had the seal point colouring; the other colours and the Burmese variety being bred from these.

Interbreeding of the Persian cats with other varieties has now produced all colour types including the Siamese colourpoint longhair cat.

In 1950 in Cornwall a curly haired cat appeared in a litter. The cat was bred back to its mother and through selective breeding a breed of curly haired cats, called the Rex Cats, has been produced. All hair on their bodies is curly, including the whiskers.

White cats, especially those with blue eyes are inclined to deafness. In order to produce normal white cats, odd-eyed cats – with one blue and one yellow eye- have been bred.

Even a variety of hairless cats have been bred and is a recognised breed.

Cats today still enjoy a privileged life since they are not restrainable by law as dogs are. This is not the case in all parts of the world, because in one State in the U.S.A an old law requiring all cats allowed out at night must have a lantern attached to their tails has never been repealed.

Many of the breeds popular today, including the Rex type, may be seen at the Annual Championship Show of the Feline All Breeds Society, in the Cat Pavilion at the Claremont Showgrounds on Saturday and Sunday, 3rd and 4th August, 1974.

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