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Somali Breed History

Early Breeders Personal Letters

Mrs. Virginia Daly
Mr. William Arnholt
Mr. Don Richings
Mary Bolles

Mrs. Virginia Daly
October 7, 1976

Note: Mrs. Virginia Daly (Dalai Cattery, registered CFA 1944) was the creator of the Ocicat. Unlike Evelyn Mague who early on was able to recruit enthusiastic young fanciers to her cause, Virginia struggled almost single handedly in her quest for recognition of the Ocicat. It took almost thirty years to gain CFA recognition of Virginia's beloved Ocicats.

Dear Mr. Del Pellegrino,

I thought you'd never ask!

For years I have held some vitally interesting information, that I thought someone would sometime like to have, but so long as I no longer raising my true love Abys, and I have almost no contact with Aby breeders other than my dear friend Alma Cowell (Du-Ro-Al), I surely thought I would pass on (now 67) and carry my thoughts on L.H. Abys away with me.

We are pretty careful giving out information that could offend others as so many breeders take any remarks as a personal affront, but I will try to give you what I feel about Somalis as no offense on any American breeders, as I think all the invasion of the Aby strain came from English breeders where it seems that the feeling is that any practice that could better a breed should be allowed and aired truthfully. Whether the Aby discretions were aired or not, I do not know, but in some other cases such as in the effort for multi-colored Burmese (perish the thought) information has been open.

No doubt my dear Deta Tim could have been the ancestor to Somalis. Deta Tim's sire, Raby Chuffa (import) is know to have sired a longhaired tortie in an Aby litter. I saw the cat and her owner. The cat being shown in the HHP classes in a Buffalo show.

Experimental breeder friends have told me of finding fantastic brown tabbies in some of their work with Abys. I now have one such in a litter of Ocicats also a gorgeous chestnut classic tabby. Both parents are dotted Ocicats. The chestnut is chocolate brown markings on the lightest cream.

I feel that there was some work done in England to improve the ruddiness of the Aby undercoat. It is too bad that the English did not in the past give the two generations in the background of those cats imported from there as they do now in our stud books.

I wouldn't want to be without my stud books. I have #'s 5, 10, 22, 24, then complete 27 up. By studying that pedigree you can see that by being aware of some of the cats sired by Raby Chuffa and Disston's Bengal Boy that it looks as though there was some hanky panky going on with the Raby cats as Raby Ashanto was in both lines. Be sure to not confuse any of these doings with the great Wohl-Rabe cats in this country.

Some of you may feel that I am a dog in the manger with my own breed and down talking others who do likewise but I have only worked on producing cats that are uniqe. We do not need other black shorthairs nor blue shorthairs. A solid brown in pale tan with gold eyes would be different as in the longhair. My Abyssinian Point has not a bar or a mark on her anywhere. Otherwise she resembles a Lynxpoint. I hope my thinking on Somali's beginnings has been of some help and thanks for asking.

Mr. William Arnholt
March 1, 1976

Note: Mr. Arnholt supplied us with our earliest complete Somali pedigree dating to 1965. It was a key pedigree in identifying the origins of the longhair Aby lines in North America.

Dear Mrs. Del Pellegrino,

I enjoyed seeing your longhaired Abys at the show and I was talking with one of your children, I believe, who was stewarding in Bill Eisenman's ring. Then I realized you were also a member of Empire and that you and your husband were handling the stewards for the show.

I am enclosing xerox copies of Puff's pedigree and certificate of transfer, and you can see it's over ten years ago when she was born. She was the product of a brother - sister mating, which may have caused the cleft palate. As I said, I don't think the Levy's have any cats at all now, and I'm not sure they even live in New York City. I haven't been in touch with them for years.

I told you Wohl-Rabe was on the pedigree, but it is not. Perhaps the Levy's said it was behind some of the cats shown on this pedigree.

As I said I know where there is a breeding female from their line in the Chicago area, she is shorthaired and ruddy. She is getting old though, and I don't know how often she comes into season. I know that she still does because the woman who owns her has contacted other people in that area who have longhaired Abys or some of these bloodlines and planning to breed her.

I hope you had a sucessful show. I wish I could be more active in Empire, but I do a lot of singing, and especially on weekends, plus I have a full time office job. Good luck with the Somalis.

Bill Arnholt

Neffi's Puff was registered in CFA as a ruddy Abyssinian female born on May 9, 1965. The breeder was Mr. and Mrs. Stanley Levy of New York. Puff's sire and dam, Neffi's Boy and Neffi's Maa were both longhaired Abyssinians who as Arnholt explained were littermates. The parents of Neffi's Boy and Neffi's Maa were Ch. Dalai Robin of Mehitabel and Ch. Mei-Len Princess Nefertiti. Both were CFA registered Abyssinians and the breeding proved beyond a doubt that both carried the longhair gene.

Mr. Don Richings
October 4, 1976

Note: Mr. Richings (Don-Al Cattery) is one of those quiet heroes in the struggle for Somali recognition. He, along with Evelyn Mague, was one of the first trail blazers to set out to have the Somali's existence acknowledged and its beauty appreciated. Rarely is his name printed in articles about the breeds' beginnings yet his contribution is immeasurable.

Dear Mr. Del Pellegrino,

Enclosed is a photo copy of May-Ling's Tutsieta's pedigree on a breeding certificate. It was a mother-son mating. There is only one Selene cat in her pedigree. There was a lot of line breeding, (Shermax Tish of May-Ling).

I have noticed on other original lines there has been a great deal of line breeding. I also heard these longhaired Abys have appeared in England and Europe. Enclosed are a couple of pictures of Flashette - she is a full sister to Leroy. Both carry the red gene. She has only had one red Somali male kitten. She has always been bred to an Aby and she produced more shorthair kittens than Somalis. She has had three more red kittens out of a total of about twenty. She now is 7 1/2 years old. We had her and Leroy for over two years as pets before I knew anyone wanted or was interested in longhair cats. They had two lots of kittens but one in each litter was deformed. I thought it was because there was too much line breeding. Both litters were in error. When I found there was an interest I had her bred to cats that were no relation. I only let her have kittens every eight to ten months. If you need more information I will try to help if I can.

Mary Bolles
February 11, 1977

Note: Mary Bolles (Si-Aby Cattery), one of the oldest and most respected breeders in the fancy was kind enough to offer her memories of her early encounters with the longhaired Abyssinian.

Dear Mr. Del Pellegrino,

I wish I could help you with facts. I can't. It was so long ago, nearly sixteen years (1961). I can tell you the female was purebred from Alma Cowell. It had English background. The male was from England. Owned by Ken McGill. Not all the kittens were longhaired. They were red. I called them "fox shorthairs" because of the ruff, tail britches. They were beautiful. At that time there was no market for them. Breeders were saying all kinds of uglies about me. But the kittens were born to two purebred Abys to the best of my knowledge. Pedigrees are only as good as the person who writes them.

I altered and placed all the cats in homes. Started over again with American and Swedish stock and I've not had a longhair kitten born since.

I am sure other breeders had some come up in their litters and just put them away. I have a big mouth so the whole world knew I had them.

I do feel sure it is not a mutation. It really doesn't matter. They are beautiful and to the best of my knowledge there is not a purebred cat in America. They, like man, came to be because of a gene pool. They have a place thanks to people like you with courage to promote something new. I fought the battle for recognition of the red Aby and for silver shorthairs and I know exactly how you feel.

I am honored you took the time to write me and I am very sorry I could not be of more help.

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