The Ocean Blue: By the time Columbus sailed the ocean blue, cats had spread to most of the known world. They had traveled from the Temples of ancient Egypt to Asia and Europe. On their way, they were at various times worshipped, maligned, persecuted, begrudgingly respected and finally praised. By the time Europeans set out for a New World cats were viewed as efficient exterminators and faithful companions. As they journeyed across the Atlantic, the adventurous travelers brought with them their favorite cats.
The Mayflower Cat-pact: Cats arrived in the New World with the Mayflower, and quickly established themselves in the America. On the great open plains and farm lands they ridded barns of pesky rodents and soon became essential to American life. A new breed - the American Shorthair - was established. There is even some indication that it was their ancestors that had ridden on board the Mayflower. They were (and still are) hardy, tough, and athletic cats, skilled hunters but they also have a pleasant disposition and beautiful appearance. These cats became typical on the American plains. Originally, the cats stayed outside or in barns, but it wasn’t long before they found themselves inside and members of the family.
Other breeds were imported to the U.S. as well as mixed breeds. By the 19th Century they were no longer seen as just farms aids, but were considered close and reliable companions.
Internationally Famous: Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, their popularity rose across the globe. In both Europe and North America Cat Fancier clubs were established. In 1906, the Cat Fanciers' Association was founded in the United States, dedicated to preserving the integrity of each breed as well as protecting the health of every cat. They had their first licensed cat shows in the same year – one in Buffalo and one in Detroit. It remains the world’s largest registry of purebred cats with the intention “to preserve and promote the pedigreed breeds of cats and to enhance the
of all cats.”
Today, cats are the most popular pets in the US, with about 70 million, outpacing dogs by about 10 million, although dogs are in more individual homes. Their popularity however has lead to large feral cat problems in the U.S. particularly in cities. Cat lovers are working to alleviate it and all cats continue to rise in popularity.