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Mouse Hunts Banned

Did you know there was a time when some cat clubs considered including mouse hunting trials along with their regular cat show?

The Connecticut Cat Club, 1903

In 1903, a local socialite, Mrs. Cummings, proposed holding a “mouse-baiting” contest in conjunction with The Connecticut Cat Club show in Stamford, Connecticut. The plan was to release several mice in a pen along with the feline entries. The cat that exhibited the greatest skill at killing the mice would be declared the winner. The mayor of Stamford was outraged at the idea and vowed to stop the competition. As word about the proposed rodent slaughter spread, local SPCA’s from across the US denounced the competition as brutal AND illegal. Not unexpectedly, the members of the cat club took umbrage at the criticism. Their response was that any objections to the hunt were unAmerican.

Eventually, it was revealed that the only cat entered in the mouse hunt was a wind-up toy kitty. The only mice to be hunted were made of chocolate. The entire thing had been a publicity stunt… and it worked. Attendance at the show was the largest it had ever been.

Chicago Cat Show, 1906

A few years later, several judges of the National Cat Club show being held in a casino in Chicago were serious about creating a test of a cat’s ability to catch rodents. Each cat would be timed to see how long it took to catch and kill three rats! Fortunately (for the rodents), Mrs. Copeland-Schumann, director of the local SPCA and vice president of the National Cat Club threatened she would withdraw from the club if the plan was not abandoned.

Two judges resigned with the comment, “What in the dickens is a cat for if not to catch rats?

Warrenton Cat Club, 1971

Sixty-five years later, in 1971, The CFA Warrenton Cat Club proposed conducting a “Mouse Hunting Trial” at their regular July show. The idea was to time how fast individual cats could follow the scent of three mice. The mice involved would not be harmed.

At the CFA Board meeting, Doris Springer criticized the proposed Mouse Hunting Trial saying it constituted an act of gross cruelty and was a complete misrepresentation of what CFA stands for. She moved that since CFA is an organization devoted to the showing and judging and scoring of cats that conform to a standard, such exhibitions as field trials and mouse hunting be precluded from CFA Cat Shows. The motion passed unanimously. And so, to this day, mouse trials are banned at cat shows.

Of course, this does not stop the average house cat from catching “his” own mouse.

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“You see, wire telegraph is a kind of a very, very long cat. You pull his tail in New York and his head is meowing in Los Angeles. Do you understand this? And radio operates exactly the same way: you send signals here, they receive them there. The only difference is that there is no cat.”
*Albert Einstein (Physicist)

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