|Tiny tiger, little emperor without an orb: the well-pampered house cat.|
"[The cat] is a visible part of our household, and is both useful, quiet, affectionate, and ornamental."
Weir explained in the beginning of his book, Our Cats and All About Them, that his desire in creating cat shows was to elevate the status and treatment of all cats.
"I conceived the idea that it would be well to hold "Cat Shows," so that the different breeds, colours, markings, etc., might be more carefully attended to, and the domestic cat, sitting in front of the fire, would then possess a beauty and an attractiveness to its owner unobserved and unknown because uncultivated heretofore."
Weir's goal was realized in England, in America, in Europe, and gradually wherever the industrialization and modern life has touched the globe. He realized his dream in England hardly more than a generation after the cat was still being declared to be nothing but an unfriendly though necessary barn animal.
In Animals, Their Nature and Their Uses, Charles Baker writes in 1857, "The Cat must be considered as a faithless friend, brought to oppose a still more insidious enemy. The domestic cat is the only animal of the tribe to which it belongs, whose services can more than recompense the trouble of its education, and whose strength is not sufficient to make its anger formidable. Supple, insinuating, and artful, it has the art of concealing its intentions till it can put them into execution. Whatever animal is much weaker than itself is an indiscriminate object of slaughter, - birds, bats, moles, young rabbits, rats, and mice, - the last named being its favourite game." To Baker, the cat's value is that it preys on agricultural pests, while being small enough not to be a threat to humans.
The Reverend J.G. Wood complained in the same decade that the cat was unjustly maligned. "In the eyes of any one who has really examined, and can support the character of the Domestic Cat, she must appear to be a sadly calumniated creature. She is generally contrasted with the dog, much to her disfavour...The Cat is held up to reprobation as a selfish animal, seeking her own comfort and disregardful of others; attached only to localities, and bearing no real affection for her owners. She is said to be sly and treacherous, hiding her talons in her velvety paws as long as she is in a good temper, but ready to use them upon her best friends if she is crossed in her humours" (Illustrated Natural History).
Charles Darwin opined that the cat's "nocturnal rambling habits" (Origin of the Species, 1859) made long-term cat breeding impossible. He said that only women and children valued cats--insulting cats, women, and children all in the same sentence!