80 To celebrate 80 years of The Cat magazine, we sent Tom Briggsto rummage through our top-secret archive facility upstairs in the warehouse at the National Cat Centre to bring you this report
1930s As the Great Depression took a vice-like grip and with the Second World War ominously brewing, the 1930s were bleak. Recognising that cats were affected by the economic downturn too, the recently-formed Cats Protection League – as the charity was then known – launched The Cats’ Mews Sheet in 1931. The first 51 issues of the publication were edited, fittingly enough, by Cats Protection’s founding member, Jessey Wade. Its stated aim was to create a medium for suggestions and enquiries; to obtain the co-operation of the other animal societies and to educate the public. The importance of the magazine, which went on sale priced 1d, was that it not only helped the charity to become better known, but it also gave a sense of unity to members. In 1934, the fledgling newsletter was running at a loss, so some bold measures were taken; it was renamed The Cat and expanded to accommodate more articles and advertising – the first, for the record, was for Spratt’s New Cat Food in the February issue – and doubled its cover price. In 1939 and with the early effects of World War Two being felt, The Cat kept calm and carried on although it was reduced in size and no pictures were included to keep printing costs to a minimum. The need for illustration was recognised, however, with the occasional line drawing included.
36 The Cat Spring 2011
not out! T
his year marks the eightieth anniversary of The Cat magazine and although it’s been well thumbed and had more facelifts than some former Hollywood stars over its eight decades, we think it’s looking great for its age! First printed in 1931 under the name The Cats Mews Sheet; the publication that you hold in your hands now started life modestly as a four-page, black-and-white newsletter for supporters of Cats Protection. There have been 659 issues of Cats Protection’s official publication printed to date, with a total of 13,668 pages so please forgive me for not including all of the highlights in what follows!
1940s World War Two was, of course, the dominant news in this decade as the Allied forces battled the evil of Adolf Hitler. The atrocities of the war were followed by better news after its conclusion in 1945 with the foundation of both the United Nations and the Welfare State. There was also a baby boom and an economic boom as the future started, at long last, to look brighter. During the first half of this decade and with Britain experiencing the inevitable financial hardship that accompanied the war, the provision of food for cats was a major problem, but The Cat – which, impressively, didn’t miss a single issue during the conflict – included advice for concerned readers, featuring regular recipes and tips. As the war approached its conclusion, The Cat included an account of the charity’s achievements between September 1939 and June 1944. It reported that there had been 27,090 requests for advice from the general public while there had been 5,958 cases in which first aid or minor operations had been carried out and 3,849 baskets had been loaned out. Editor, Mrs Avery, pointed out that all of this work had amazingly been done by only three people. In 1945, the cover image on the magazine was reinstated alongside the heading: ‘The Victory Cat’.