National Geographic : 1964 Apr
world today. First, there is a vast upsurge of interest in cats. Ten years ago our lady very likely would have continued down the board walk in search of salt-water taffy without giv ing a cat show a second thought. Even today she is not an aficionado-but give her time. Secondly, people are discovering that the common, ordinary, everyday pussycat has some spectacular and aristocratic relatives. There is a fascinating variety of breeds and an extraordinary and increasing range of shapes, colors, and temperaments. Feline Population Skyrockets Acting together, these two factors have pro duced a new boom in cat popularity and pop ulation. "The fancy" (made up of exhibitors, devotees, and professional breeders) detected the first stirrings about 1953 or 1954, but the full impact has been felt in the past four years. The result has been feverish activity in the cat markets of America. Consider these statistics: The Cat Fanciers' Association, the largest of six national organ izations of cat clubs, breeders, cattery owners, and individual exhibitors in the United States, reports that it is registering pedigreed cats at the rate of 10,000 a year. During all the years from 1900 to 1957, the C.F.A. had registered only 100,000 cats. From 1957 to the present it has added 60,000 more. In New York City, pedigreed Siamese cats are reportedly outselling poodles, currently the most popular dog, three to one. This means 750 Siamese cats per month. The upswing is not confined to the well bred cat. A 1961 national cat census, con ducted by the Pet Food Institute, found an estimated total of nearly 22 million family owned cats. About one American family in every four was in possession of, or possessed by, one or more cats. These figures don't count farm cats and strays, several million strong. Though such statistics must be taken with "Curiosity killed the cat," an old saying, merely exaggerates the natural curiosity demonstrated by the pair at the window. Some are more curious than others, as T. S. Eliot indicated when he wrote: "Cats are much like you and me and other people whom we find possessed of various types of mind." Like a Pied Piper, Hank Chandoha, the photographer's son, uses the promise of a feast to lure his troupe on a New Jersey farm. Though the cat lives peaceably enough with other cats, she reserves true friendship for man-but only on her own terms, as Swinburne recognized in addressing his cat: "Stately, kindly, lordly friend, condescend here to sit by me." Streaking through autumn leaves, a kitten shows a burst of speed. But running is not its specialty. The cat hunts by stalk ing her prey, then attacking with a lightning pounce.