The first cats shows at the Crystal Palace had one category for all long-haired cats. Harrison Weir, who initiated the first cat show at the Crystal Palace, acknowledged that most long-haired cats he saw were mixes of the original imports of Persian, Angora, and what he called Russian (see Weir's drawing, right).
The Russian cat was a dark tabby, resembling the British wild cat: the local subspecies of felis sylvestris, which is now well-established as the domesticated cat's ancestor. A domesticated long-haired relative came to America and became known as the Maine Coon Cat, which is still bred today. I read an amusing story about the supposed origin of the name, that it came from a sea captain named Coon. I have my own amusing story that reveals exactly where the name really came from.
|Hershey the coon cat?|
Weir preferred short-haired cats to long-haired ones. Despite the exotic. upper-class aura associated with Angoras and Persians, the extra effort involved in having a long-haired cat must have been off-putting. Nobody brushed cats back then (or gave them vaccines, or took them to an animal doctor). I wonder what the long-haired cats looked like in those early cat shows.