SI Vault
October 06, 1958
Restrained Cheers
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October 06, 1958

Events & Discoveries

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It was a suggestion that not even local ailurophobes could tolerate for an instant. "No cotton-picking Tennessee Tom can be allowed to outdo an Alberta grain-fed cat at the ancient and honorable pursuit of catching mice," thundered the proud Calgary Herald. "We must win!"

Cat fanciers and civic boosters all over the province rallied to the call. The Herald itself began training a mouser named Headline. Trans-Canada Airlines entered their own Super-Connie-Kitty in the match. Radio station CFAC put up Cfacat, an unsavory lady of the evening with a sound reputation for tracking down her prey. One fancier came up with a cat named Pretzel, which boasted six toes on one foot—a fact that local handicappers found confusing.

In a field which seemed characterized largely by disreputability and the taint of the bar sinister, the Calgary cat deemed least likely to succeed against the Tennessee interloper was a sleek, well-mannered, purebred Siamese with the unlikely name Ferdinand Leo.

At last, after an official civic reception for the challenger, Chisca Shanghai, and a milktail party for all entries, the great day dawned. Some 900 Calgarians thronged the Cat Club to see the contest and inspect the elaborate maze through which each entry must thread his way against time to find the quarry—a carefully protected white mouse tucked away in the last compartment.

The stage was set; the cats were ready; the onlookers were tense. What happened? Well, what happened in the days of glittering calm off Newport, R.I. early last week during another great international competition? The answer: practically nothing. The Tennessee challenger poked his head in the maze and, after gazing purposefully about for two minutes, quit cold. Cat after cat followed suit, until at last, cool, calm and aristocratic, the Siamese purebred Leo strode through without hesitation to pin the quarry (completely protected) in a neat and unhurried one minute 24 seconds.

Calgary, like the American yachtsmen, had won in a walk with a plainly superior weapon. The only difficulty the Canada catmen had experienced throughout the contest concerned not cats but mice. Until the moment for the contest arrived not a single suitable mouse had been found to lure the cats. The impasse was solved only when a kindly donor came through with two small, white personal pets.

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