1972 to 1977
mid-1970s were an exciting time to be showing American
Shorthairs. Many new and veteran breeders enthusiastically
took their cats to the shows, which often featured 20 to 30
Americans won big, sometimes dominating the finals with
three or four in the Top 5. For a number of years, two ASHs
annually made CFA’s national Top 10.
the fun were numerous colors and patterns — solid whites,
solid blacks, torties, calicos, tabbies in various colors
and both classic and mackerel patterns.
ASH breeders had a club, American West, but there was no
active club in the Midwest or East. Three Midwest breeders
talked about starting an ASH club and a newsletter to get
the breed news out to people in their region. Adam
Frecowski of Adam’s Rib cattery in Chicago was a CFA judge
and breeder of top-winning cream tabbies, red tabbies and
torties. Mary McIntyre of Saren-Del cattery in Mequon,
Wis., was specializing in silver mackerel tabbies. Rosemary
Kendrick of Silver Myne cattery in Madison, Wis., was
beginning to breed and show silver classic tabbies. Other
breeders in the region became interested and soon the group
included Mary Jo Mersol, Kay McQuillen, Ellin Dunsworth,
Virginia (Ginny) Wolfe and Fonny Miller.
application for the American Shorthair Mid-West Cat Club,
Inc. was submitted to CFA on June 10, 1972,
was accepted at CFA’s June 15, 1972 annual meeting.
from around the country began petitioning for club
membership. In 1974 a new constitution, removing Midwest
residency requirements, was written and accepted. Alayne
Poeltl of Apache cattery in New York state was showing the
glorious GC, NW Apache Chief Mateo and was a high-profile
new member of the club. During this time Mateo was shown
nationwide as were Adam Frecowski’s GC, NW Rococo Ruby
Petunia of Adam’s Rib and Mary McIntyre’s GC, NW Jellia Jamb
of Saren-Del. These three cats often were in the same Top 5
the club voted to award a breed rosette in one allbreed ring
per show. The first was won by Ruby Petunia, the second by
GC Saren-Del’s Toma. In 1976, under club President Mary
McIntyre, “state coordinators” were appointed to facilitate
more contributions to the newsletter.
Kendrick became the new editor of the American Shorthair
Mid-West newsletter in 1976, taking over from Linda Seals.
She sent out her first issue on January 1, 1977. In the
words of Mary Jo Mersol-Barg of Sol-Mer cattery, writing in
the July 1992 issue, “Rosemary brought her experience in
journalism to the newsletter and turned it into one of the
most admired and appreciated newsletters in CFA.”
addressed controversial breed questions. In the July 1977
issue, for example, breeders weighed in on a hot topic —
their interpretation of the proper ASH profile. At the
time, the standard was open to broad interpretation. Alayne
Poeltl wrote that “ASH breeders have to be careful not to
breed to the extreme. The standard calls for a ‘gentle
curve’ — we are getting almost a nose break in some cases.”
members nationwide called for a change in the name of the
club. Rosemary sent out a questionnaire on the topic.
February 1978 meeting of club officers and members, the name
was changed to National American Shorthair Club, in accord
with members’ wishes as expressed in returned
newsletter was renamed The American Connection, and the
first edition under that name was published on May 20,
1978. It was only one sheet, with masthead art created by
Allan Kienzle and a drawing of a cat in a window created by
his partner, Dan Simon.
American Connection announced the show year’s club winners
and also addressed a tragedy that had occurred in April —
the unexpected death of club President Adam Frecowski at age
37. Allan Kienzle, of Alkia cattery in Chicago, became club
president during this sad time. In a bittersweet follow-up,
Adam’s cameo tabby male, GC, NW Adam’s Rib Chicago Fire, DM,
was named CFA’s national 3rd Best Cat in June.
rosettes given at each show had become quite expensive.
Rosemary suggested a breed scoring system with end-of-year
awards. The club would send breed ribbons to every show for
each ring and recipients would fill out an attached form and
return it to the club’s awards chairperson. But soon this
also proved costly and unwieldy. So the club asked members
to keep track of their own breed wins and report them. The
money saved was applied to the club’s CFA Yearbook ad, a
club brochure, and rosettes for the annual winners.
following newsletters, the ASH show standard was a major
topic. The Breed Council in 1978 had proposed that “deep”
be deleted from the first sentence of the disqualify
section, so that a “nose break” of any kind would be grounds
for disqualification. The vote was 35-33. The CFA Board
took no action. A serious debate followed among the club’s
82 members via the newsletter, with considerable input.
Also, Breed Council Secretary Margot Mellies of Miribu
cattery posed a discussion on the pros and cons of the
existing open ASH registration.
1979, club members hosted a banquet in honor of newsletter
editor Rosemary Kendrick. It was a gala affair held in
conjunction with the Windy City show in Chicago.
hitches. Rosemary’s banquet dress was stolen from her room
before the dinner, so she wore a nightgown lent to her by
Mary McIntyre. Allan Kienzle’s cats got locked in the show
hall while he was busy with the party plans. However, the
wine flowed freely and everyone had such a good time that a
yearly club banquet was proposed.
following year in November, a get-together was held in
Milwaukee. The club honored outstanding ASH breeder
Virginia Wolfe (Fongin cattery), and it was indeed a night
to remember. Twenty-six people attended from all over the
United States, as well as Canada.
1981, club members gathered to pay a surprise tribute to
Mrs. Mary McIntyre with a banquet at a Milwaukee
restaurant. The guest of honor, who was 78, was amazed when
Allan revealed the real purpose of the gathering. Mrs.
McIntyre and her daughter, Mary, had been breeding ASHs
since 1965, including many top winners.
wide variety in color and pattern characterized the NASC’s
Top 10 cats — not only silver tabby and brown tabby but
patched tabby, red mackerel tabby, cameo tabby, calico,
bi-color and so forth. The newsletter ran a series of
articles about the challenges and joys of working with some
of the “minority” colors.
Kienzle was honored at a Chicago area banquet in early
1983. He was launching his new career as a CFA judge and
had stepped down as NASC president. Like all of the club
dinners, this event was a rather dressy affair in keeping
with the tradition of CFA regional and annual banquets.
Bradshaw, an ASH breeder (Fesenbrad cattery) and judge from
Chicago, succeeded Allan as club president — a post Bob
would hold for 10 years.
with the 1983-84 show season, the NASC annual awards program
followed CFA’s system by basing awards on total show
points. The totals now came directly from CFA’s computer.
1984 newsletter brought news that the ASH Breed Council had
voted 27-12 to close registration, and the CFA Board had
approved this proposal. So after May 1 of the following
year, only pedigreed Americans of known, registered parents
would be allowed to be registered.
June 1984, American Shorthair fans were thrilled when GC, NW
Hedgewood’s Greatest American Hero was named CFA’s Cat of the
Year! He was a silver tabby male bred and owned by Gar and Ande DeGeer of Georgia. “Mr. H” became a Distinguished
people congregated in August 1984 in Zion, Ill., to honor
the younger Mary McIntyre for her important contributions to
the breed and club. Allan organized the event and Bob was
master of ceremonies. The banquet took place in a beautiful
room with a stunning view of Lake Michigan.
dinners were also held in or near Chicago in November 1985
and November 1986. At both events, popular breeder Mary
Bruesch of Timari cattery was applauded for her wonderful
efforts in connection with the club’s prize-winning breed
club project at the time was the creation of flashy red,
white and blue laminated signs promoting the breed and the
club. Each member received several of these cards, made for
placing on the front of their American Shorthairs’ cages at
shows. NASC member Jasmine (Tucker Kihn) Holt, who had
donated rosettes for the club awards program for several
years, printed and laminated 600 signs at no cost to the
club was publishing attractive fliers — both one-sided and
two-sided versions — with breed information and
1985, the CFA Board upheld closed ASH registration despite a
new 24-15 vote by the Breed Council
in favor of open registration — a dramatic reversal of the
council’s previous stand. During 1985, Mary McIntyre wrote
a series of newsletter articles discussing this topic. In
October, Mary reported on the results of questionnaires she
had sent out to ASH people. While the majority of the 74
respondents favored some form of open registration, a
compromise was sought to address the possible negative
results of open registration without safeguards. Later in
1985, Breed Council members approved, 38-9, a compromise
draft to reopen ASH registration with several stringent
conditions. As a result, in February 1986 the CFA Board
approved the proposal, and ASH registration was again
ASH breakfast was organized by Breed Council Secretary Gar
DeGeer in conjunction with the June 1986 CFA Annual. In
following years the breakfast would become an annual
tradition — a meeting of NASC and ASH Breed Council members
to honor winners of the club’s annual awards and discuss
the ASH show standard became a topic of lively discussion.
The standard had been written in the late 1960s by CFA Board
member and judge Jane Martinke. The standard’s author was
not an American Shorthair breeder and its generalities
allowed judges vast leeway in their choices. Consequently,
winning ASHs varied from extreme hybrid-appearing cats to
those with plain type. In the late 1970s, a more
breed-specific standard had been proposed by breed authority
Valerie Anne Edwards (Crown E cattery), but it was rejected
by the CFA Board.
questionnaire was sent to club and Breed Council members in
August 1986, under Mary McIntyre’s leadership.
Seventy-seven percent of respondents favored reorganizing
and tightening the standard. Even more opinions were
sought, and letters pro and con flooded the newsletter.
Valerie reworked her 1970s standard, taking people’s
comments into serious consideration, for placement on that
fall’s Breed Council ballot.
Council members approved the proposed new standard 50-10,
and the CFA Board adopted it in February 1987. Thus the
efforts of Mary, Valerie, and the many other people who
participated in the discussions, point by detailed point,
there was a movement to return to the previous standard, but
a mailed-out survey showed 84 percent support for the new
standard. It was reported that a CFA Board member said the
ASH breeders should take pride in the fact that the new ASH
standard was being used as a model for revisions of other
sponsored a two-ring ASH specialty show — the brainchild of
club President Bob Bradshaw — in August 1988. It was held
in conjunction with the Abyssinian Midwest Breeders show in
Elgin, Ill. The judges were Allan Kienzle and Olen Wilford,
another well-known ASH breeder (Soledad cattery). The show
was a tremendous success and was followed by a banquet.
Kendrick’s newsletters, besides club business, breeder
profiles and many photos, posed questions to readers — and
the response was enthusiastic. Often 30 or more replies
would come in to questions such as: Should we bathe our
ASHs before a show? Does inbreeding ASHs work out? Do you
give FeLV shots? Club membership rose to almost 200.
1989, the CFA Annual Convention was held in Milwaukee — and
60 American Shorthair people from around the country
gathered at the McIntyre home in nearby rural Mequon for a
festive tent party and meeting. After a delicious supper
hosted by the McIntyres and Joan Ehlert of Silvrleaf cattery
in nearby Germantown, club awards were presented.
CFA Invitational Show held in St. Louis in November 1990 was
another fantastic event for the NASC and the entire American
Shorthair breed. GC Sarouk’s Satellite of KC Dancers,
a silver tabby male owned by Craig and Kathy Miller, was
Best of the Best in championship and GC Toraneko Don Juan of
Sol-Mer, a brown tabby male owned by Mary Jo and Michael
Mersol-Barg, was 2nd Best of the Best in championship — out
of 384 cats.
Satellite and Don Juan went on to become national winners
and Distinguished Merit sires. Don Juan was CFA’s national
2nd Best Cat that show year, and Satellite was 5th Best
Kienzle, longtime club member and club president from 1978
to 1983, passed away in February 1991. He was remembered as
a very kind, charming friend to all who knew him. His
beautiful shaded silvers were admired by both judges and ASH
breeders. Allan’s masthead drawing, signed “AK ’78,”
remains at the top of The American Connection’s front page.
summer of 1992, Rosemary Kendrick announced that after 16
years as secretary-treasurer and newsletter editor,
beginning with the club that was the forerunner to the NASC,
she would be passing the torch at the end of the year.
of Biamerikitty cattery in California was elected
secretary-treasurer in early 1993 and then was appointed
newsletter editor. Her first issue included a message from
new President Olen Wilford, an article on the pewter tabby,
a draft proposal of a revised club constitution (later
approved), an article on cat genetics and a tongue-in-cheek
importantly, it was reported that various colors of tabby
and white had finally won approval from the ASH Breed
Council and the CFA Board — a triumph for breeders who had
spent many years of effort on this cause. And as a result,
a superstar quickly arose: GC, NW Hedgewood’s Last Action
Hero, a silver tabby and white male bred and owned by Ande
and Gar DeGeer, was named CFA’s 6th Best Kitten in 1994 and
CFA’s 12th Best Cat in 1995.
1993 issue included a new emphasis on regional reports, with
news from the United States and Japan, where ASHs were
becoming increasingly popular. Subsequent newsletters in
1994 addressed issues such as failure to conceive in the
American Shorthair, eye color genetics, and the pros and
cons of recognizing the ticked tabby.
Gayle wrote of the suddenly occurring problem of
hypertrophic cardiomyopathy in an article titled “The Sudden
Death of Young American Shorthairs from Several Different
Catteries Is a Cause for Concern.” A plea was made for
testing and for the pooling of information. Also, parts of
Valerie Anne Edwards’ unpublished book on the ASH were
International Cat Show in November 1995 saw Mary Jo and
Michael Mersol-Barg’s GC Sol-Mer Sharif, a brown tabby male,
named overall Best in Show, while Dawn Skupin and Eve
Russell’s Stedam’s All-American, a brown tabby male, earned
Best of the Best Kitten.
bigger honors awaited. Sharif became CFA’s Cat of the Year
for 1995-96 — a culmination of Mary Jo’s long and successful
involvement with ASHs. And All-American (“Rocky”) became a
national winner and Distinguished Merit sire, helping launch
Dawn’s Stedam cattery on an amazing run of grands, DM
producers, and breed, regional and national wins.
great cat, a silver tabby, also came on the scene from
Carolyn Lyons’ Placer cattery in California. GC, NW
Placer’s Purrfect Salute, DM, became CFA’s highest producing
ASH sire of grand champions and grand premiers. Top wins
and DMs multiplied. GC Sarouk's Sundi of Placer, DM,
holds the record of most grands for any female of any breed.
early 1997, the positions of club secretary-treasurer and
editor were separated. When Gayle Hand stepped down, Wayne
Crabbs of Rainbo Rebel cattery in California was elected
secretary-treasurer and Paul Patton of Luvlypurr cattery in
Illinois was appointed editor. Joan Pocica of Chanti
cattery in Illinois became club president.
Summer 1998 newsletter announced that Rosemary Kendrick
would be returning as editor. Joan appointed a committee to
review membership rules, and recommendations were
subsequently made for changes in the constitution and bylaws
to clarify club membership policies.
With the January 1999 newsletter, Rosemary re-introduced a
forum feature that drew comments from club members. Among
topics that year: What bloodlines are you working with, and
why? How do you keep a campaigned cat from becoming bored
and/or grumpy? How do you keep your cat numbers down?
Also, feature articles about individual ASH breeders and
their cats became a strong focus of the newsletter. And
more attention was paid to the club's growing number of
Japanese members (who also established an ASH club in Japan)
and their cats, with some newsletter greetings being printed
in the Japanese language.
DeGeer of Georgia was elected club president in 1999. She
announced the expansion of a website for the club and the
ASH Breed Council. Through the years Ande has continued to
expand and improve the site (www.ashclub.org).
reported that to celebrate CFA's registration of the first
American Shorthair in 1900, club officers were making plans
for a special event — co-sponsorship of the August 2000
Hotlanta cat show in Macon, Ga.
Wrestling with rising costs, the NASC officers found a
corporate co-sponsor. The Iams Company pledged $500 for the
Macon show, plus considerably larger contributions toward
the club’s June breakfasts and club awards. The company's
generous assistance to the NASC continued for a number of
years, and it allowed the club to present top-quality
The Macon show proved to be an outstanding success, with 46
ASHs entered. In championship alone, 21 out of the 60 final
placings (six rings x 10) went to American Shorthairs. Each
Top 10 final included between three and five Americans.
Each of the four allbreed rings had an ASH as Best Cat —
four different cats! One of the shorthair rings also had an
ASH as Best Cat, and the other had an ASH as 2nd Best Cat.
In July 2002, Rosemary notified the club officers that she
would be stepping down as newsletter editor at the end of
the year. In her resignation letter, she wrote that at age
62, she was aware that a person's "time isn't endless, as it
once seemed," and she wanted to try some new things.
Rosemary had been newsletter editor in two phases for a
total of 20 years, plus an additional year (1977) before
there was a National American Shorthair Club and American
2003 to 2008
Ditzler of Taz-n-Toonce cattery in Austin, Texas, stepped in
as the new editor. In her capable hands, the newsletter
continued to be the glue that binds American Shorthair
silver tabby breeder, put new emphasis on ASH winners and
exhibitors at the major shows. She also added quarterly
updates of ASH national point standings. A new regular
column was introduced: the Rescue Connection, with club
members’ touching personal stories about cats less fortunate
than our pampered purebreds.
2005, the Rescue Connection featured a dramatic story in
which Erin Russell (Russellers cattery) told how she and her
family and animals fled as Hurricane Katrina barreled down
on them in New Orleans. They made it to Alabama, leaving
behind a ruined home. Erin wrote with gratitude about “all
the support I got from the ASH people! Many people have
offered to take in cats and have asked me if I needed
anything over and over again.”
developments in recent years:
American Shorthair Historical Archives Project, led by Dawn
Skupin with assistance from Valerie Anne Edwards, collected
pedigrees of ASH national winners and DMs.
August 2005 the club co-sponsored the Mo-Kan “All-American”
Attractive, colorful club pins became available for $5.
* The Iams
Company’s sponsorship of club awards ended after 2006.
Subsequently the NASC board voted to raise dues to $25 per
year ($35 outside U.S. and Canada) beginning in 2008.
longtime, well-known ASH breeders passed away, including Bob
Bradshaw, Wayne Park (Norpark cattery), Robert Kreft (Kaarja),
Joann Elwyn Sneed Landers (Joelwyn), Jean Belvel Richter (Avanti),
Margot Williams (Portrait) and Alayne Poeltl Tyldsley
McIntyre announced in late 2006 that she would not seek
re-election to the NASC board. She had served as an
officer/board member since the club’s founding.
Johnson of Melodygarden cattery succeeded Bob Zenda (Tsu-Kee-Ah-Kee)
as ASH Breed Council secretary in 2007.
2007, Ande and Rosemary began work on a massive project to
scan all past newsletters and post them on the NASC Web site
so our club and breed’s detailed history will be preserved.
have been lively, educational, fun, occasionally
contentious, never boring. Many friendships formed and
endured. Triumphs were cheered, tragedies were mourned,
support was generously given.
Through it all, club members’ beautiful, loving and
unforgettable cats always held center stage.
The above article was prepared by Mary McIntyre and Rosemary
Kendrick with help from the writings of Valerie Anne Edwards
and Mary Jo Mersol-Barg — and three decades of newsletters.