Who are the GCCF?

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09 May 2022
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We go behind the scenes at one of the most important feline organisations in the UK.

The GCCF has long been synonymous with pedigree cats and the show world, but that’s not all it does. The organisation helps to influence pet policy, educates owners on how best to buy cats, and supports rescue pets and moggies through shows and education too. Here we find out how the GCCF works and is evolving to be a more modern and accessible organisation…

Judging of pedigree cats is done against a standard of points.

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The origins 

The initials GCCF stand for Governing Council of the Cat Fancy, and the simplest way to describe GCCF is to say that it is the feline equivalent of the Kennel Club in the UK.  

The origins of the GCCF go back to the very first cat show which was held in July 1871. The success of this first show led to others quickly being organised and the formation of the National Cat Club in 1887. The National was set up to further the aims of pedigree cat breeding and to keep proper records, as well as promoting shows. For some years, the National kept breed registers of pedigree cats and issued the first ever cat stud book in 1893 which contained records of some 200 cats and 50 individual owners.  

During the same period, other clubs sprang up, some were regional clubs and others catered for a specific colour or breed of cat. Both the National Cat Club and The Cat Club set up the first registers of cats and this led to some rivalry, as cats registered with one club could not be registered with the other. The obvious, and sensible, conclusion was that there should be one registry for pedigree cats, and at a preliminary meeting on May 17, 1910 at the Inns of Court Hotel, Holborn, London the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy was formed by the alliance of the National Cat Club and 16 other clubs, some of which are still in existence today, to form a single registry for pedigree cats. A Chairman, Russell Biggs, was appointed together with officers and a committee, and a constitution and rules drafted; the first official meeting was October 11, 1910. Since those far off days as an amalgamation of a few cat clubs, the GCCF now has over 140 member clubs and in March 2011 it became a limited company.

The GCCF promotes well-bred kittens.

Registering cats 

During 2021, GCCF registered 26,481 pedigree kittens — so what is meant by a registered kitten, and why is it important if you are purchasing a pedigree kitten? In today’s online world, you can type in ‘Burmese kittens for sale’ for example, and you will be confronted with pages of kittens available via various different online websites. However, how can you be sure that the pedigree accompanying your new kitten is correct? If the kitten is registered with GCCF, then the pedigree background is held on GCCF’s database and can be verified. It will also conform to a laid down Registration Policy that sets out the recommended way in which each pedigree breed should be bred as far as its background breeds, colours, and patterns are concerned, and also any health checks that should be carried out, and which may be necessary before a kitten is registered with GCCF. There are strict rules that GCCF breeders must comply with about the paperwork that must accompany a new kitten when it goes to its new home. 

This includes:

● A pedigree certificate signed by the breeder showing at least three generations. It will show the cats’ registered names, their registration numbers, and their GEMS codes (shorthand code for their breed).

● A registration document for the kitten showing the pedigree name, registration number, GEMS code, parents’ names, and other information. This is emailed to the breeder at the time of registration.

● A vaccination card for the kitten showing the record for the full course of vaccinations, usually given at nine and 12 weeks.

● Insurance for the initial first few weeks of new ownership are also recommended to be provided by the breeder. GCCF also commissioned a short video to advise new owners what to look for when purchasing a kitten called ‘A Kitten’s Guide to Good Breeders’ which can be viewed on the home page of the website.

The GCCF is not the only registration body operating in the UK at present, there is also FIFe (Fédération Internationale Féline), a federation of 41 national members in 39 countries; it was formed in 1949 and is based in Luxembourg. There is also TICA (The International Cat Association) with headquarters in Harlingen, Texas and members in Latin America, Northern America, Asia, and Europe. All three registration bodies are members of The World Cat Congress, the object of which is to work together in a spirit of co-operation to improve the health and welfare of all cats. 

Read the rest of the feature in the ‘June 2022’ issue, available to read instantly on our digital edition HERE or purchase the print edition HERE.


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