Cameos are a comparatively recent variety of the Persians since intentional breeding of Cameos was not commenced until the early 1950’s in America. Prior to this in Dr Rachel Salisbury’s Vanaki Cattery in Wisconsin, USA “pink” male kittens regularly appeared in litters resulting from tortie and smoke matings. Dr Salisbury quickly saw the beauty and potential of these hitherto unappreciated kittens and set up a breeding programme to produce Cameos using creams, reds, silvers, smokes and tortoiseshells.
This and parallel breeding programmes by other American breeders including Barbara Naviaux, Barbara Simmonds, Barbara Fergus and others resulted in the Cameo enjoying the most rapid rise in popularity of any new Persian breed in the USA.
In Britain in the late 60’s the planned breeding of the Cameos was commenced by Miss Sellar under the Coylum prefix. Mesdames Britton and Ellis under their prefixes Peachy, Barrose and Mymmswood and Miss Everington of Lynette. They were followed by Mrs Hoyle of the well known Hardendale marque, Mrs White of Joyda, Mrs Emsley of Almondhill and Mrs White of Bianca. The early 1970’s featured Mrs Croysdill of Solento, Mrs Clarke of Emmerdale and Mrs Simms of Myzany but it must not be forgotten that other breeders were also pursuing the goal of perfection in the Cameo. Originally divergences of type did occur since some Cameos evolved from Chinchillas and others from Smokes but these early differences have now largely disappeared.
In consequence of the considerable interest aroused a meeting was held in London under the aegis of the Colourpoint, Rex coated and A.O.V. Club to whom a debt of gratitude is owed. The meeting was organised by Mrs Hoyle and Mrs Whyte; 12 Cameos were exhibited and over 60 visitors attended.
The foundation meeting of our Club was held on 12th April 1975 under the chairmanship of Mrs Croysdill and the meeting was attended by twenty seven breeders. Originally named The Cameo and Associated Varieties Cat Club it was decided we should cater for both long and shorthaired Cameos, Shaded Silvers as well as Tortie and Blue-cream Cameos; all shown under breed No 13a.
In 1978, the Club name was changed to The Cameo Pewter and Smoke Society (Inc. Ass. Varieties) and in that year we became affiliated to the G.C.C.F. On the Show bench the Cameo’s, Pewter’s, Shaded Silver’s, Chocolates and Lilacs all went through assessment classes and could gain a merit certificate if considered to be of the right quality. The Smoke Cats had already gained Championship status prior to the formation of the club.
In 1980, provisional status was granted to the Cameo series and then two years later they won full Championship status. Our Pewters had to wait until 1986 before the Black Pewters were granted full recognition. Lengthy negotiations took place before the Blue Pewters became recognised and this was eventually achieved by including them in the same class as the Black Pewters.
The Club’s very first exemption Show was held in 1981 and after three successful shows we held our first Sanction Show in 1984. Three more successful shows and our first full Championship show was held in 1988 at The Plungington Community Centre, Preston. Lorraine and Robert Allen were the highly esteemed show managers until in December 1991 Robert very sadly died. This threw Pat Parrish into the deep end and January of every year since then has seen another great show run by our excellent show manager. During that time the show grew in popularity and a bigger venue was required. We moved to Fleetwood which was a very popular venue by the seafront until in recent years we have been less well supported and the venue became just too expensive. Our move in 2006 to a smaller venue in Gnosall has worked well and we have continued to enjoy well run shows in a relaxed and friendly environment.
We hope our Society will continue to flourish and that there will be growing interest in our beautiful cats. Over the years members of the club have achieved tremendous progress in developing the quality of our breeds and in refining our standards of points as well as winning full recognition for more colour varieties of our breeds. More new colours are on the horizon and we look forward to maintaining the momentum established by our predecessors. We are a friendly club always willing to help new members and we welcome new interest whenever we can find it.
Des Leigh & Willy Burrows.