Joan Judd 1915–2013
We were sad to hear of the death of our founder, Joan Judd, who passed away in June following a short illness. She was 98.
Joan grew up in a world of animals but always had a special place in her heart for cats.
She was born in New Zealand in 1915 where her parents had emigrated six years previously. On returning to the UK in 1919, her family stayed in Gloucestershire with her grandparents who bred thoroughbred horses. Most of her early memories of that time were of the cats who were kept at the stables to control rodents. It was an era when cats themselves were often treated as vermin and she had horrific memories of the brutal disposal of unwanted kittens. A keen rider as a child, she instinctively hated hunting and grew up with the ambition to become a veterinary surgeon. Sadly, this ambition was never realised because of the financial slump in the 1920s and 30s would not allow it.
In 1946, following some years serving in the WAAF, Joan married a professional soldier, Eric Judd. They spent a few years of regimental soldering overseas and returned to settle down in Gloucestershire. Eric’s gift of two Siamese kittens led to Joan’s fascination with the breed and eventually established her as reputable breeder of Siamese and Havanna cats. Through her involvement with breeding,
Joan became very much aware of the need to develop a deeper understanding and treatment of feline diseases. During the 1940s and 50s she attempted to drum up interest in feline medicine and welfare from within the Cat Fancy, with little success. Feeling increasingly frustrated she formulated a plan to found a more scientific organisation and, encouraged in her efforts by the newly formed British Small Animal Veterinary Association, she founded the Feline Advisory Bureau.
She was subsequently branded a vivisectionist because of her close ties with the veterinary profession and received masses of hate mail from many within the cat world. The fact that FAB survived and developed as a charity is a testament to her determination and drive.
Under her direction FAB produced its first publication on feline infectious peritonitis (when virtually no other information was available to cat owners); held the first conference for cats owner and breeders in 1964 making national headlines; established its first research fellowship at Bristol University; and the charity’s contribution to the development of cattery standards became legendary.
Joan was forced to resign from FAB following a car accident in 1972, but she still retained a close interest in the development of the charity over the years. Despite being bed bound, and recently losing a great deal of weight, her mind remained sharp and active. She always had a comment on our work or a suggestion of new areas of interest. She understood where we wanted the charity to go and gave her blessing to the relaunch as International Cat Care in 2012.
Joan told us that FAB had gone far in fulfilling her dreams. Fate may have conspired to thwart her plans of becoming a veterinary surgeon but through her determination to generate and disseminate high quality scientific information to anyone involved with cats, be they vet or owner, she has touched and improved the lives of millions of cats worldwide.
Joan’s beloved little black moggie, Pusscat, has gone to live with International Cat Care’s Chair, Kim Horsford, who reports that she has settled in very well.
FAB has surpassed my wildest dreams. Its impact on feline health and wellbeing is immeasurable. Looking back to the time when cats were regarded in many places as pests, I find it truly amazing what has been achieved over the past 50 years! I think we can safely say that FAB has been instrumental, if not totally responsible for, putting them firmly on the map.
Joan Judd commenting on the Golden Anniversary of FAB in 2008 when she received her Golden Cat Award for contribution to cats