This fantastic photograph of a ’60s cat fancier and two of her prizewinning felines may have appeared in the Valley Times, the newspaper of the San Fernando Valley between 1946 and 1970. It has editing marks on the back suggesting it appeared in the paper. Milt Fries, whose stamp is on the back of the photo, mostly took photographs of local sports. I’d love to get identities on both the owner and the cats. I”m not sure whose birthday is being celebrated here! There is a handwritten message on the lower right that says “Happy Birthday Sammy.”
The walls and shelves are bedecked with ribbons and trophies from the Cat Fanciers Federation, which was founded in 1919. The CFF and the Cat Fancier’s Association, which was founded in 1906, still run two separate breed registries and cat show circuits. I can read part of the text on the ribbon on the far right. It was awarded in competition at the “Land of the Verdugos” cat show in Glendale, California. (The Verdugos are a small chain of mountains completely surrounded by Los Angeles development.)
I believe that the cats are Birmans, a breed that had only been introduced to the U.S. in 1959. Notable for their blue eyes and gentle temperament, the most famous Birman these days is Karl Lagerfeld’s cat Choupette, who has been featured in ad campaigns, travels with the fashion designer on his private plane and even has her own book. If these two handsome creatures are Birmans, they would have been quite rare in the 1960s — and worthy of a newspaper “human interest” feature.