THE EMPIRE CAT CLUB (USA, 1913)
Organizing pet shows in New York City in the early 20th century was handled by the Empire Poultry Association. They began their pet shows, including cats, in 1910 at New York's Grand Central Palace. At a December 5, 1913 Empire Poultry Association show, a meeting of cat fanciers was held to form a cat club to be known as The Empire Cat Club1. The new club would be responsible for the support of the cat shows held in conjunction with the Empire Poultry Association shows.
The newly formed Empire Cat Club requested membership in the Cat Fanciers' Association at CFA's December 30th, 1913 meeting and was accepted unanimously2. The club began with 20 charter members, and had another 20 names on a waiting list for membership. The club had quickly gained sufficient prominence that the 1914 CFA annual meeting was held in conjunction with their New York City show, as was the 1915 meeting.
World War I interfered with show production for a couple of years, but Empire re-emerged in 1919. Over the ensuing years, the club hosted annual shows in New York City, often in conjunction with area specialty clubs. On November 20, 1950, Empire Cat Club was incorporated in the state of New York.
The CFA Showman's Club, formed to give recognition to outstanding cat shows that "glamorized" the cat, recognized Empire Cat Club's 1979 show as "Best Two Day National Show" and "Best Sweepstakes Show of the Year". Empire member, Betty Rabinowitz, was named "Best Show Manager of the Year".
Over the years, the club introduced many innovative ideas, including the establishment of 'LeSchin-Wieler Empire Cat Club Endowment Fund' in 1980. This was a scholarship award given to a first year veterinary student. Eberhardt E. LeSchin and John W. Wieler were respected members of Empire for many years, with Mr. Wieler serving as club president from 1963 until 1977.
In 2012, the club moved their show out of the New York city area into Pennsylvania. During 2013, they celebrated their centennial with a show in conjunction with the Garden State Cat Club of New Jersey, Inc.
While the Empire Cat Club is an All Breed club, it has worked with various other specialty clubs to produce shows. Among those are: National Siamese Cat Club, Solid Color Cat Club of the East, Eastern Tabby & Tortie Society, All Short Hair (except Siamese) Society, Siamese Cat Society of America, California Silver Fanciers, Westchester Cat Club, and the Burmilla Enthusiasts of America.
Today, the Empire Cat Club is the oldest member club in CFA and remains an active, show-producing club. The membership of the Empire Cat Club has grown and changed substantially over the years, with many of their members making significant contributions to CFA - among them are/were 18 CFA judges, 5 CFA Presidents, 3 CFA Vice-Presidents, 4 CFA Secretaries, 3 CFA Treasurers and 1 CFA Executive Director.
A complete chronological history of the Empire Cat Club can be found on The CFA Foundation's web site at http://www.felinehistoricalfoundation.org/article-empirecatclub.html.
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