This is a story from the early days of the cat fancy when things were not quite so sophisticated. At the Crystal Palace cat show of 1900 the ‘Madagascar Cat’ was exhibited in the foreign class. I guess the ‘foreign class’ meant domestic cats from countries other than England. It means something different today: slender cats because cats from hot climates i.e. foreign lands, are more slender.
A show judge, Miss H Cochran, decided that she was looking at a cat when she was actually judging a ring-tailed lemur, a fruit-eating primate. They do look somewhat different to domestic cats 🙂 ! Below is a photograph of a ring-tailed lemur.
The mistake was reported in the news media. Miss Cochran defended herself by simply saying: “A lemur is a lemur, but a Madagascar cat is a Madagascar cat”. Yes, I agree but you were judging a primate, an animal in the same order of species as monkeys.
It seems that in those days the attitude to the type of cat that was allowed to compete was much wider as a number of what appears to have been wild cat hybrids or hybrids from cross-species mattings such as a marten and cat were exhibited. This matting is impossible.
Perhaps this lack of fundamental knowledge opened the door to the farcical mistake made by Miss Cochrane. Crystal Palace was the venue for the first cat show in England in 1897. Crystal Palace was an amazing construction; a cast iron and plate glass structure.
My thanks to Sarah Hartwell and her website messybeast.com.