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History

The history of the Allbreeds cat Club (ABCC) stretches as far back as 1968. As committees come and go, the history has not always been recorded to the same level of detail. We will over time try and collect as much as possible as we can. We also include some other history of the SA Cat fancy in order to give better context of the fancy in which the ABCC exists.

If you find any inaccuracies or have more info, please send the info per email to the club.

The sub-pages below can be downloaded as printable versions of the history.

When the All Breeds Cat Club was started in 1968, founder member Stella Slabber requested her artist friend, Rosa Anderson, to design a logo for the club. 

Stella and co-founders wanted the club to be a friendly club where all cats, domestics included, would be welcomed on their shows.  

They chose the slogan "To Cherish and Protect" and requested Rosa to reflect this message in the logo.

Rosa Anderson, who lived in Hout Bay, had ten cats. One of them was a black and white domestic cat called Abie. 

Rosa drew up a cute black and white sketch of Abie. 

Rosa's distinctive sketch of Abie was accepted as club logo in 1969.

Abie's name also found permanent remembrance when the club newsletter was named “Abie Chats”. 

The photo on the left shows Miss Anderson with Cherie Dear Nikky, a cat bred by Stella Slabber.


1945

The cat fancy in South Africa became organized in 1945 with the establishment of the Governing Council of the Associated Cat Clubs of South Africa (GC ACC SA).

Note: later in history (October 1996), the members overhauled the organization's structure and constitution, and adopted the name Southern African Cat Council (SACC).








1946

A pedigreed, hand-written Cat Register was started around 1946 by Lynda Emery in Johannesburg. 

A cat show was held by a few cat enthusiast in Johannesburg on a tennis court.

Source: Alida Delport recollecting from stories told by older cat fanciers. Needs verification.

1948

Three cat clubs were founded in South Africa:
  • Western Province Cat Club (WPCC) was founded on 27 February 1948. It is the oldest cat club in South Africa.  
    Source: WPCC website
  • In July 1948, the Natal Cat Club (NCC) made its appearance.  Source: WPCC website
  • In September 1948, the Siamese Cat Society, forerunner to Transvaal Cat Society (TCS), came into being.  Source: WPCC website
    //*Verification needed. Contradiction found in a 1956 show catalogue of the Siamese Cat Society to state the year as 1949 - see below.

    The following was published in a 1956 show catalogue and reprinted in the SACC newsletter in 1997 and June 2012:
  • The Society was founded in 1949, when a small group of enthusiasts, particularly interested in the Siamese Cat, met and discussed the idea of laying down a standard for the breed, based on that existing overseas, and the holding of shows to encourage breeders to improve local standards and foster a better understanding of the care and management of cats in general.
    • The founder members of the Society were Gladys Haswell, Rosemary Harte and the Rev. and Mrs. Oliver. 
    • A stimulus was given to the activities of the Society when the late Mrs. Stewart and Dr. F.G. Stewart joined the committee and their intimate knowledge of show procedure was made available to the Society.
    • The Siamese Cat Society of SA changed its name on 27 February 1984 to become the Transvaal Cat Society. 
    • Their first show was held in the Norwegian Hall in de Villiers Street, Johannesburg, in 1950 and apparently attracted “long queues of people”.
    • Dr and Mrs Stewart, who had not long since immigrated from England where they were very involved with the cat fancy, were essential to the show, as they were the “only people in Johannesburg… who knew anything about shows or how to run them.” (RCC newsletter, reprinted in Cats Calling August 1961). 
    • Both were judges, but on this occasion, Dr Stewart had to run the show, so Mrs Stewart judged every exhibit. 

    • These two also undertook the judges’ training in Johannesburg. 
    • At the time of the Society’s establishment, Siamese were by far the most popular breed in South Africa, with some 1 400 being registered countrywide by 1955. 
    • The Siamese Cat Society was one of the first members of the Associated Cat Clubs of SA, the forerunner of SACC, along with the Rand Cat Club, Natal Cat Club, and Western Province Cat Club. 
    • Rosemary Harte moved to Cape Town, where she was very well known for many years. Mr John Oliver remained a Siamese enthusiast and passed away only recently.

1968 - ABCC

Source: Stella Slabber

The first All Breeds Cat Club (hereafter to be referred to as ABCC version 1) was started in 1968 by cat breeders who were disillusioned by the hierarchy of the Western Province Cat Club (WPCC) in Cape Town [1]. The Chairman was Mike Barrett.

Unfortunately, the ABCC version 1 club soon disintegrated due the attitude of Chairman Mike Barrett, who tended to force his own opinions on the rest of the committee and members. Many perceived that he was in it only for the glory and money. Eventually, all the founding breeders withdrew from Mike's club. Mike, not deterred, continued with people who were more amiable, rather naïve and who would not disagree with him (ABCC version 2).

Stella Slabber joined the ABCC version 2 club. She felt comfortable with the informal and relaxed atmosphere and was impressed by everyone’s enthusiasm. After many meetings, it was decided that ABCC version 2 should hold its first show.

The local WPCC judges refused to judge at the ABCC version 2 show. It was then hastily decided to obtain the help of Sister Francis Bradford, the first Cat Judge in this country and an exceptional person, who was ostracized by WPCC, to train judges for ABCC. Those who wanted to train as judges each paid a nominal fee and those who wanted to train as stewards a lesser fee. The students then started an intensive daily training routine on each breed with an examination after every training session.

The course lasted for a grueling three months after which students wrote an examination set up by Eunice Gluckman, an independent judge of WPCC. Sister Bradford, in all fairness, insisted that she could not be the teacher and set up the examination. Thanks to Sister Bradford’s excellent teaching method, the pass rate was 100%!

The first show (Winter 1969) for ABCC version 2 was arranged. Stella Slabber remember how they walked up and down streets and where they saw cats; they would chat to the owners to persuade them to join the club and show their cats, anything to add to the number of approximately forty pedigreed cats.

The club obtained the Old Mutual Hall for free. Stella Slabber managed to get the firm she was working for (National Screenprint) to print all the relevant forms and certificates for free. Everyone scrounged around for donations from different firms and people. The donations took many forms i.e., trophies, clothes, books, catering and anything we could lay our hands on.

The show was a great success. Mike Barrett was show manager. Prior to the show, he put an "Admission Reserved" notice up at the entry. When the public was allowed in it was noticed with great consternation that Marjory Simpson, secretary of the Western Province Club, and her husband were lurking around, percieved to spy if the club was doing anything illegal.

Backed by his "Admission Reserved" notice, Mike Barrett had the SAP forcibly remove the protesting Simpson’s from the premises. They went and sat in the car and sent in two unknown members to ‘case the joint!’ They were Yvonne Akersten, (who reminded me of this incident recently and still laughs about it!) and Gill Birman. 

The real battle (according to Stella Slabber it was all-out war) started. Everyone who worked so hard towards the success of the show wanted a report from Barrett as what profits were made. The comment received from him was that the show broke even.

The members all knew that that was not possible as everything was donated. En masse, they went to see him, as trying to pin him down for an appointment was impossible. Upon getting to his house, they found him locked in his bedroom and refusing to see them!

References:

[1] Stella Slabber wrote: "Through my work and customers I, for the first time, met and saw a half-breed Chinchilla, with whom I fell in love. Off I went to a cat show in search of a pure-bred. What I saw was not what I had in my mind’s eye. Neither did I like the atmosphere at the show where everyone looked at you with dread and suspicion. I learned that this show was held by the WPCC, and that they were the only club in Cape Town that held cat shows.

1969 - SA Cat Fancy

In 1969 the late Marjorie Simpson of WPCC attended a meeting in Bloemfontein of delegates from all cat clubs in South Africa to discuss a constitution for the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy of South Africa (GCCF SA), the inaugural meeting of which was held in January 1970. 

Based on the historic data that an organization named the Associated cat Clubs of SA that was formed in 1945, the conclusion is that GCCF SA replaced ACC SA.
Source: to be verified.

1969 - ABCC

Source: Stella Slabber

After the withholding of show proceeds information by Mike Barrett (see 1968), an Annual General Meeting (AGM) for ABCC version 2 was held in Rosebank where members again found unsatisfactory excuses. All members, as well as some followers of Barrett, attended this meeting. It was discovered that Mike Barrett had cleared the club's account and retained all the club's property. The ABCC version 2 was left with nothing. Everything that was donated, like the show cages, stands and trophies were controlled and kept by him.

Attending the 1969 ABCC AGM in Rosebank was the late John Cullen, an affluent executive and his secretary Phillis Wilson, who up to then was also beguiled by Mike Barrett. After hearing all the valid information, he realized that things were seriously wrong. Stella Slabber remembered John asking her: "Who would you have as Chairman if you break away?" Stella Slabber replied: "Even you, if you can prove your sincerity and loyalty!" Right there and then, the decision was made to start anew. 

Regular meetings where held at John Cullen's home in Sea Point by the Steering Committee of 25 members with John as Chairman, Phillis as Secretary, Mavis Etheridge as Treasurer and Nick Slabber as Vice-Chairman.

These are the names of the new Steering Committee of 1969 that Stella Slabber could recall:
  • John Cullen; 
  • Phillis Wilson; 
  • Iniz Howard; 
  • Mr. & Mrs. Etheridge; 
  • Mr. & Mrs. Kerchoff; 
  • Nick & Stella Slabber; 
  • Peter & Mrs. Tapscott; 
  • Mr. Fred George and his wife.
The slow and painful building of version 3 of the club started with daily meetings. There was no way that the club could be run a club without money. One evening sitting at John's large dining room table, Stella Slabber wrote out a cheque for R 50.00. Silently, each member got up and placed their R50.00 next to it. The Chairman was stunned at our determination, no way were the committee going to give up!

The frantic scramble for extra funds started. Club members baked and held cake sales to be able to buy two table trestles. Everyone started collecting for rummage sales, which were held each Saturday at 7am at Retreat Station for several months. During the following months of 1969 work continuoued to increase the club's funds. Soon the funds were nearly R1000.00.

1973: First ABCC show

The Drill Hall, Cape Town. Source: Google Maps Street View.

A snippet of page 6 of The Cape Times, Saturday, July 21, 1973, featured a news article about the first  championship show of the All Breeds Cat Club.  The show was held in the Drill Hall, Cape Town.  

The show started at noon. Admission was 25 cents for adults and 10 cents for children. 

"It's not only the exclusive pedigree cats that will be on show today. There will be classes for domestic cats, veterans and children's pets. A cup goes to the best cat on show", reported the Cape Times. "Twelve Western Province judges will be casting a trained eye over 270 entries in 104 different classes. Forty-two visiting cats from other centres in the Republic arrived at D.F. Malan Airport yesterday, and were boarded out for the night."

The article covered a cat named TAI PANS PRAHA MIKLUE, of Pinelands, owned by Mrs E.N. Denby. He was the only Birman cat in the Western Cape at that stage. Miklue was imported from the UK in 1972.  Mrs Denby was negotiating for two more Birmans at that stage. She knew of only four others in the country. "Birman kittens will fetch around R60 to R70 in the Republic", reported the article. Miklue's beauty routine for the show was a good brush and cleaning of ears. His diet consisted of fish in the morning, meat at night - either steak or chicken and rice. "We eat the left-overs," said Mrs Denby." There was a photo of Miklue in the paper, which will be uploaded in the future.

The snippet reported on an Abyssinian named Sambo.  Sadly, parts of the article is missing from the snippet, but his diet was noted as whale mince, chicken and dried foods.

The article also featured Mrs J.N. Slabber, or Stella Slabber, as she was more readily known by club members. The photo below appeared in the article. It showed Stella with Champion Cherie Dearheart Alexander and Cherie Dearheart Jennifer, who originally came from Long Beach, California.  Stella is quoted to have said: "Of all the lines I like long-haired Chinchillas the best. They (the pair in the photo) are the only pair in South Africa from a famous American line, which have been purebred for 80 generations."
Stella Slabber with Alexander and Jennifer

2006: WCC; S Slabber


2006: SACC becomes a WCC member. 

2006: Stella Slabber died.


Stella Slabber Eulogy – Huldeblyk – 14 Augustus 2006

Liewe vriende,

Ons is vandag hier om die heengaan van 'n wonderlike vriendin en familie lid te gedenk. Dit is vir my 'n voorreg om 'n kort huldeblyk te kan doen. Ek het Stella vir 25 jaar vanuit die hoek van die katwereld geken en daarom sal hierdie huldeblyk sterk daarop gebaseer wees. Ek vra dus verskoning aan die familie en vriende, wat nie 'n deel van die katwereld is nie, as dit eensydig klink. Stella se heengaan is natuurlik 'n groot verlies vir almal van ons hier teenwoordig, maar ons vind troos in die wete dat daar geen pyn, ongemak en ongelukkigheid meer is nie en dat sy in vrede haar Skepper ontmoet het.

Seven years ago, Stella Slabber wrote the following in an article reminiscing about the history of the All Breeds Cat Club: "I can now, with a satisfied heart and mind, retire from all these past struggles and I am thankful that I was able to prevail through all our trials and tribulations."

"Tannie Stella", as she was affectionately known to those who loved and respected her, was until fairly recently still going strong, although a little smaller and a little slower than before. She judged at the SAC@TS show only six months ago, still fulfilling her passion - judging cats.

Stella was born on 22 June 1922 on the farm Enkeldoorn, 7 miles outside the town Goedgegun, Swaziland. She always had a soft spot for animals and especially cats. When she saw a cross bred Chinchilla for the first time during the 1960's she was hooked. Her first pure bred Chinchilla was imported from Jeanne Ramsdale in the USA and so started a long standing friendship, resulting in many of the Champion, Grand Champion and Supreme Champion Cherie Chinchillas from the Dearheart lines. She was a founder of the All Breeds Cat Club at that time and 38 years later was still President, as well as serving on the committee. She helped to steer the club through many troubled waters and saw many changes in the South African cat fancy, always keeping up and meeting positive change with more enthusiasm than many younger members. Stella was the one who started starting each committee meeting with a prayer, a tradition still upheld today.

Stella qualified as an all breeds judge after completing a course put together in the 1960's by the first cat judge in South Africa, Sister Bradford. She passed two formal exams - one set up by the All Breeds Cat Club and a second one set up by the Western Province Cat Club. She saw the formation of the first official governing body, the Governing Council of the Associated Cat Clubs of South Africa. Since then she had been involved in the training and examination of many a local judge and was always one of the best judges to introduce a young, nervous steward to the intricacies of cat shows. One can say many things about this formidable lady to whom a short obituary like this cannot do justice.

Anyone who knew her well would agree that Stella did not let go once she believed in something and she never forgot. Until the end she had a remarkable memory and a genuine interest in things around her. She showed an enthusiastic interest in the many new breeds introduced to the country during latter years and saw it as a challenge to learn about them and judge them - always according to the standard. Stella did not like ultra- or overtyped cats of any breed, but always gave every cat she judged a fair evaluation and exhibitors could always expect a comprehensive show report dictated to her scribe.

Stella lived with her son and daughter, Andre and Juanita in their family home of many years in Southfield, Cape Town, where she was well looked after by Juanita when her health started failing. The well-known Cherie cattery amalgamated with the Finesse cattery of her dear friend, Alida Delport during latter years. Although she did not actively breed anymore, many Cherie-Finesse kittens were still delighting their new owners on a regular basis and graced many an international cat food product label and starred in many an advertisement, as we can see on the slides.


The Chinchilla Longhair as a unique and pure breed, preserving the traditional "look" and type of the "original" Chinchillas and Shaded Silvers, as well as the unique translucent coat, is in existence largely due to her perseverance. The breed is gaining popularity both locally and internationally, where it is sometimes known as the Sterling Silver. One cannot mention Stella without thinking of Grace - her long time domestic worker/cook/groomer/kitten carer/show associate or whatever else one could call her - a formidable person, larger than life in stature and personality and a well known face and voice at cat shows. (Heaven help you if you "withheld" on one of "Grace's" cats - she would take any judge to task there and then before the show day was over!) Grace was the first black Honorary Life member of the ABCC long before the advent of the New South Africa. She was loved and respected by all and her absence at shows and during tea times at committee meetings is missed with sadness since she passed away a few years ago.

Wanneer ek aan Stella dink, is daar soveel dinge wat deur my gedagtes gaan en omdat ek weet dat sy ons nie hartseer uitmekaar sou wou sien gaan nie, 'n paar anekdotes om ook 'n glimlag te bring. Ek onthou hoe lief sy vir haar stukkie vleis was, veral skaapvleis en meer as een maal was ek en Thea, my vrou, as jong getroudes genooi vir 'n heerlike skaapboud, braai aartappels en stowe patats Sondagmaal. Sy was baie lief vir musiek, iets wat nie almal geweet het nie. Die wonderlikste musiekstukke het uit daardie klavierstoeltjie in die sitkamer gekom. Niemand kan aan Stella dink sonder haar sigaret nie. Jare gelede het sy my entoesiasties vertel van 'n nuwe kuur wat sy bestel het - by die bottel vol - dit sou die chroniese hoes genees. By nadere ondersoek was dit toe dagga ekstrak! Ek dink nie sy het verder as die tweede bottle gekom nie.

Tot op 'n ryp ouderdom het sy steeds haar Ierse linne verkoop aan almal wat dit nodig en nie nodig gehad het nie. Ek onthou hoe ek moes gaan help met 'n moeilike geboorte van een van die katte - ek dink dit was Chrystal. Daar was die wasbak vol Dettolwater en handoeke gereed, die verwagtende moederkat in die middel van die dubbelbed al kreunende. Ek moes die eerste baba help verlos en tot my skok kom daar 'n klein donker tabby katjie uit - sowaar 'n bastertjie. Maar Stella was opgewonde oor die pragtige dingetjie, en het onmiddelik van die brandewynwater en eier mengsel, waarin sy en Grace geglo het, begin ingee vir moeder en baba. Gelukkig se ek niks, totdat ek later tot my skande uitvind dat Chinchillas wel soos klein korthaar strepieskatte lyk as hulle gebore word! Chrystal het my nooit vergewe vir die ongemak wat ek haar moes aangedoen het tydens daardie geboorte nie. Wanneer ek by haar hok op 'n skou verbygestap het, het sy begin grom en selfs wanneer ek by Stella se huis ingestap het, kon jy haar diep onder die rusbank oor brom. Ek dra nog die littekens van 'n onbesonne, oorentoesiastiese poging om haar uit 'n skouhok te haal, sodat Marjorie Simpson haar kon beoordeel - die bloed het geloop, maar sy het darem daardie dag 'n kampioen geword. (dit was my bloed, natuurlik...)
Stella often told the anecdote about Doreen Paitaki bringing one of her Black Persians for a mating to her imported stud - I think it was Nicki. He wanted nothing to do with her and almost killed the poor queen. When Mrs Pat phoned after a while and Grace answered the phone, she said: "No madam, he does not want a black wife - he only wants a white one!"

Stella Slabber, we salute you and although we sadly look at the end of an era, we know that you will rest in peace and that you will be an inspiration for many of us still in the years to come.

Johan Lamprecht 
14 August 2006

After considerable discussions, it was decided to register as an authentic club with the Cat Registrar and the Cat Fancy. In order to gain full club status, ABCC version 3 was informed that it would have to comply and hold three match shows. Only one match show was allowed per year.

Mike Barrett, realizing that he could not break the spirit of the new ABCC, started a personal vendetta against Marjory Simpson and the WPCC in the newspapers. The WPCC started supporting the ABCC out of self-defense, even to the extent of having a combined Committee meeting to discuss mutual problems.

At this stage Mike Barrett’s attack on Marjorie Simpson and the WPCC became so violent in the press that the ABCC was approached by Marjorie who requested ABCC to instigate a court case against Mike Barrett to demand the return of the club's property. Stella Slabber said to Marjorie Simpson that this would take all the club's money to do and that the club would rather buy cages with their hard-earned money. Marjory Simpson then agreed that the ABCC could borrow the WPCC cages.

1970

Author: Stella Slabber

When we decided to go to court (early 1970), I said that we cannot. After a stunned silence John Cullen asked ‘why not?’ I said: ‘because we do not have a constitution!'. This was drawn up frantically within 1 week with the help of the WPCC and then started a frantic business of arranging an extra-ordinary meeting to have this passed and notices were sent out. It was a race against Mike Barrett’s AGM and ours. We pipped him by one week. Many of the WPCC members joined so that they could have a vote at the AGM. This hurdle was passed safely and so to the procedure of the court case.

The court case was then started and set in Bellville High Court. We all proceeded and met there. Mike Barrett arrived with his attorney. We saw them conferring and his attorney came to consult us and inform us that Barrett had capitulated and would officially sign over the property, which were cages and judges' tables. However, the money was not available; presumably he had spent it all.

We then had to get permission from the hierarchy for a date to hold our first match show. Iniz Howard was appointed as show manager and you can imagine the frantic effort involved in sending entry forms and scrounging for entries for this show, which was booked for the Mowbray Town Hall. Caterers from our own members were arranged, food donations were scrounged from companies and our own members who volunteered to run the catering for free so that the club could benefit from the funds.

The first match show (1970) show was held with great enthusiasm and effort by all and had to be overseen and approved by WPCC committee members. We had to wait a whole year for the next show and after that another year for the final match show. My first imported Chinchilla stud, Dearheart Alexander, was best cat in show.

1971

Author: Stella Slabber

At this stage opposition suddenly started again through the influence of Marjorie Simpson. We received an official letter from the WPCC stating that their cages would no longer be available for us, either to borrow or for hire. There was great indignation when we discussed this at our committee meeting. We replied to the WPCC, reminding them about encouraging us into the court case with Mike Barrett because of their own dilemma and their promises of supporting us with their cages. We informed them that our planned 2nd match show of 1971, to be held in the old Drill Hall in Cape Town, would take place, even if each cat would have to be shown in the hall in their own personal carriers. Nothing was going to stop us.

Through the influence of Rosa Anderson and other members of the WPCC committee, they were shamed into withdrawing their objections. At this stage Rosa Anderson joined our committee and served on both committees as intermediary. She even donated a painting of a Chinchilla to raffle for funds.

1972

Author: Stella Slabber

The last match show was finally held successfully in 1972 old Drill Hall in Cape Town and we officially became a member club of the South African Cat Association. We used the old Drill Hall for shows for many years to come.

Even after ABCC's affiliation with the South African Cat Association, the bitter rivalry continued from the WPCC. We were informed that our judges who had been trained by Sister Bradford would have to go through a training course with their own trainee judges.

I said that on no account would we be re-trained, as we had been properly trained. However, we would be prepared to go through with their trainees for the verbal and practical examinations for assessment, providing they would also accept Sister Francis Bradford back into the Cat Fancy. There would be no compromise to this. We went through these examinations and outstripped their candidates by far where the results were concerned, as confidentially reported by Rosa Anderson on the examination panel.

1973

Author: Stella Slabber

In 1973 we were joined on our committee by a businessman par excellence and his wife, Ken and Daphne Theron. Ken became our Treasurer and immediately arranged a competition to raffle a television set (TV at this stage had just become available in this country). We all sold tickets with great enthusiasm. This project brought in enough funds to enable us to buy our own cages and judges’ tables.

The cages and judges' tables were designed by Ken and me. I recall how we sat on the floor, building prototypes with shoe boxes. They were much easier to erect than those used by WPCC. Later WPCC copied our designs for their own convenience and time-saving.

1974 - 1999

Author: Stella Slabber

Ken Theron later became our Chairman and Show Manager. He did much to improve the relationship between ABCC and WPCC, to the extent that the two clubs combined for one show a year.

All exhibitors and members were full of praise for the friendly atmosphere at our shows and the helpfulness of the committee members with queries and problems experienced by members. Since those days, the club has gone from strength to strength and still the relaxed and friendly atmosphere prevails. I personally welcome this and thank all the club members for the love and participation in the past.

A lot of our founder members have already passed away, i.e. Iniz Howard, John Cullen, Phyllis Wilson, Rosa Anderson, Nick Slabber, Rita Hickfang, as well as Ella and Arthur Emmery. When Ella died, she left an amount of R22 000, 00 to the club - now invested as the Ella Emmery Fund.

2000

Author: Stella Slabber

Today, in the year 2000, the ABCC has become a strong club to be reckoned with, largely through the valuable and appreciated leadership of Dr Johan Lamprecht. We were the first club in the country to computerize our shows. We were also the first club in the country who had a website and a newsgroup on the internet.

I can now, with a satisfied heart and mind, retire from all these past struggles and I am thankful that I was able to prevail through all our trials and tribulations.