NINETEENTH CENTURY CAT HOARDERS
Collated by Sarah Hartwell

Animal hoarding has probably existed for as long as that animal has been domesticated, though documentary evidence only covers the last a few hundred years. Possibly some of the "witches" of the middle ages were "cat ladies" whose accusers were fed up with the dozens of feline "familiars." Women seem more likely than men to become animal hoarders, whereas men tend to collect objects or pursue "spotter" type hobbies. Perhaps an underlying compulsion to collect manifests differently in men and women. Unlike multi-animal households, hoarders don't recognise their limits; their living conditions become overcrowded, unsanitary and unhealthy and their hoarding affects their own, and their neighbours', wellbeing. Some have driven their spouse out of the home due to excessive animals. Some of these early cases are on the boundary between eccentricity and hoarder.

In London Labour and the London Poor, Vol. III by Henry Mayhew (1851), the author gave an account of similar eccentrics and hoarders that were mentioned to him in interviews with cats' meat men:- The carriers frequently serve as much as ten pennyworths to one person in a day. . . there was one woman - a black - who used to have as much as 16 pennyworths each day. This person used to go out on the roof of the house and throw it to the cats on the tiles. By this she brought so many stray cats round about the neighbourhood, that the parties in the vicinity complained; it was quite a nuisance. She would have the meat always brought to her before ten in the morning, or else she would send to a shop for it, and between ten and eleven in the morning the noise and cries of the hundreds of stray cats attracted to the spot was “terrible to hear.” When ‘the meat was thrown to the cats on the roof, the riot, and confusion, and fighting, was beyond description. “A beer-shop man,” I was told, “was obliged to keep five or six dogs to drive the cats from his walls.” There was also a mad woman in Islington, who used to have 14 lbs of meat a day. The party who supplied her had his money often at 2 pounds and 3 pounds (sterling) at a time. She had as many as thirty cats at times in her house. Every stray one that came she would take in and support. The stench was so great that she was obliged to be ejected.

Longer and more detailed accounts of notorious cat hoarders who were repeatedly taken to court:

The Case of Mary Chantrell (Mary E. Dear), a notorious 19th Century Animal Hoarder
The Countess de la Torre, another 19th Century Animal Hoarder
Rosalie Goodman (New York)
Mrs. Morley (Lea Brossard) (Montreal, Canada)
Elizabeth Ann Cottell (Chelsea, London)
Sophie Everson, the "Cat-mother" (Buffalo, New York)
Mrs. McLaren Morrison, Noted Cat Fancier Turned Animal Hoarder (Kent, England)

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MRS GRIGGS (GREGG)

Northampton Mercury, 11th February 1792 (and various other papers around the same date):
A lady of the name Griggs died lately an advanced age in Southampton-row. Her fortune was £30,000 at the time of her decease. Her executors found in her house 86 living, and 28 dead Cats. Her mode interring her favourites was, as they died, to place them different boxes, which were heaped one on another in closets. She had a black female servant—to her she has left £150 per annum to keep the favourites whom she alive.

Caledonian Mercury, 9th February 1792 says: “heaped one on another in closets, as are described by Pennant in the Church of St. Giles.” Some reports were titled "Cat Mania" or “Whimsical Character.”

This item from the Indianapolis Evening Journal, February 6, 1872 mentions her (but renders the name Mrs. Gregg) as one of two hoarders in its "ABOUT CATS" columns on Page 2: Died, in Southampton Row, Bloomsbury, Mrs. Gregg, a lady between fifty and sixty years of age, remarkable for her benevolence to cats, no fewer than eighty being entertained under her hospitable roof at the same. Her maids being frequently tired of their attendance on such numerous household, she was reduced at last to take a black woman to attend upon and feed them. She left this sable attendant an annuity, condition on the due care and sustenance of the cats. So said Sylvanus Urban, eight years ago. And there have been other cases nearly similar; such as that of a gentleman at Hackney, who earned for himself the soubriquet of Cat Norris, on account of the numerous cats which he cherished.

The New York Times, April 7, 1872 (reprinted from Chambers's Journal): ABOUT CATS. - MRS GRIGGS of Southampton Row, who died Jan 16 1792, left in her house eighty-six living, and twenty-eight dead cats. She left £150 a year to maintain her black servant and the cats. No-one could paint cats like GOTTFRIED MIND, who died at Berne in 1814. He actually had eight hundred live ones, but these were ordered to be killed, as some were believed to be mad.

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CAT NORRIS

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THE CAT LADY OF ISLINGTON

In London Labour and the London Poor, Vol. III by Henry Mayhew (1851), the author gave an account of a mad woman in Islington, who used to have 14 lbs of meat a day. The party who supplied her had his money often at 2 pounds and 3 pounds (sterling) at a time. She had as many as thirty cats at times in her house. Every stray one that came she would take in and support. The stench was so great that she was obliged to be ejected.

EXTRAORDINARY PROCEEDINGS OF A LADY - The Globe, 31st January 1843 (and many others during February 1843

For the last three or four years the extraordinary conduct of a lady who occupies a very handsome house in one of the most respectable terraces in Islington had excited a very considerable share of the attention, not only of her immediate neighbours, but also of the parishioners generally, and eventually that of the police and the parochial authorities. As already stated, the house in which she resides is a very respectable one. The rent of the other houses on the terrace in question is upwards of £150 a year. She holds her house under a long lease, the Marquis of Northampton being the ground landlord. Shortly after she obtained possession of it, she had the glass of all the windows in front covered with white paint, so as to prevent the possibility of any one seeing what was going on inside. In a short time several panes of glass were broken, but she would not suffer them to be mended. Her next step was to place a couple of brooms on the balcony of the drawing-room windows, on one of which was placed a man’s hat, and on the other a woman’s cap, and from the railings were suspended dirty rags of every possible size and colour. This extraordinary exhibition daily attracted a crowd of idle persons opposite the house, to the great annoyance of her respectable neighbours. Some of the mob thus assembled were induced to listen to what was going on within, when their ears were saluted with the barking of about a dozen dogs, and the mewing of twice as many cats; and at night it was a common thing to see chalked on the door, “A cat and dog concert held here every night at eight o’clock.”

To such a pitch did this nuisance arrive, that a reverend gentleman who resided next door to her was compelled to leave his house, and this gave rise to a report that the extraordinary conduct of the lady was adopted for the purpose of annoying him, coupled with a statement injurious to his character, and which is well known to be without foundation, the proof of which is, that although he has quitted his former residence upwards of 12 months, the lady still perseveres in the same line of conduct. At length she received a notice, that if the dirty rags, &c. were exhibited from her windows, or any other conduct adopted by her calculated to collect a crowd opposite her house, she would be indicted for a nuisance. The rags, brooms, &c. were then withdrawn, and shutter-blinds, painted of a dirty brick-dust colour, were put to each window and kept constantly closed, giving the house a most sombre appearance. The noise of the cats and dogs still continued, and a stench came from the house, which became at length a most intolerable nuisance.

Her next door neighbours complained to the parochial authorities again on the subject, and, armed with the powers of a recent act of Parliament, they demanded and gained admission to the house, the stench of which was so intolerable, that they were compelled to have all the doors and windows thrown open before they could proceed with their investigation. When they found the place sufficiently ventilated to enable them to do so, they proceeded to the drawing-room, where they found a quantity of cabbage leaves, and other vegetable matter, piled up in a state of decomposition, and emitting a most intolerable stench. In other rooms were piles of cats' and dogs' meat which had evidently been there a considerable time, in a state of putrefaction. The officers, aware of the dangerous consequences of suffering it to remain there, had the whole of the offensive matter taken away in carts, and had the rooms cleansed, and before they left the house cautioned the lady against the repetition of her former conduct, and warned her of the consequences. The only attention she paid to this was threatening them with an action for trespass, notice of which has since been served. The neighbours have forwarded a memorial to the Marquis of Northampton on the subject, pointing out to him how greatly the lady's conduct tends to depreciate the value of his property, and declaring that they must leave their houses if the nuisance is allowed to continue any longer. We understand the noble Marquis has referred the memorial to his solicitor, with instructions to take proceedings against the lady for a breach of the covenants of her lease. The lady in question is possessed of property of the value of £800 a year, and her sister is the wife of an eminent solicitor in the city, who is connected with one of the Government offices. — Sunday Paper.

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ANON, FRANCE

AN ECCENTRIC CHARACTER. - Evening Mail, 12th December 1849

An old lady, 60 years of age, of weak intellect, and who gave way to all sorts of extravagances, had long had very strong feeling of attachment for dogs and cats, of which she kept a large number; and when any of them died she had them stuffed, so that her apartment resembled the cabinet of a naturalist. In the midst of her collection she had had a handsome mausoleum erected to the memory of one her greatest favourites, and on the front of which were written the words, “Ci git Pompee.” She had old servant who resided with her, and who had imbibed most of the eccentricities of her mistress. The son of the lady, who occupies a rather high position in society, allowed his mother a suitable maintenance, but, finding that she denied herself the necessaries of life in order to indulge her whims, he solicited the proper authorization to place her in a mason de sante, where she would be taken proper care of. When the Commissaire of Police of the Palais National, in consequence of the application, went two days ago to the residence of the lady, he found her in the most wretched condition with scarcely any clothing on her, and in her attire resembling closely the appearance of one of the gypsies depicted Calot, and was not without considerable difficulty that he persuaded her to quit her menagerie and remove to the asylum provided for her.

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MRS. CUMMING

Mrs. Cumming had been found a lunatic by inquisition (a type of trial) in May 1846. In March 1847 she was found to have recovered from her lunacy. Being very elderly she probably had dementia. She died in 1856, leaving a knotty legal problem as to whether she had really recovered and whether she was feeble-minded at the time of bequeathing all her property to her solicitor instead of her daughters (the case was still not decided by the end of 1860 when the money appeared to run out). Her home fill into disrepair and she claimed her daughters were trying to poison her and her cats. Although she had only 4 or 5 cats, these were confined to her bedroom which was reportedly filthy as a result, although the cats themselves were well-fed.

CURIOUS COMMISSION OF LUNACY. - Dover Telegraph and Cinque Ports General Advertiser, 17th January 1852
She kept cats in her bedroom, and never allowed them to go out. The room became unbearable. Mrs. Cumming used to order fowls, and keep them so long that they were unfit for use, and then they were buried. She gave 8d. per lb. for meat for her cats, and it was served up on clean plates with clean knives and forks and towels. The captain [the late Mr. Cumming] used to have the liquor in which the meat was cooked. Once she sent in some uncooked mutton, which she said the doctor might cook. None of the cats used the knives and forks—(a laugh)—Mrs. Cumming cut up the meat for them.

CURIOUS COMMISSION OF LUNACY. - Sligo Champion, 26th January 1852
At the time of our going to press last week seven days of the inquiry into the state of mind of Mrs. Cumming, of St. John's Wood, London, had elapsed. The evidence before the commission was to the effect that Mrs. Cumming ill-treated her husband (an infirm man above eighty) before his death, was addicted to drinking and swearing, was filthy in her person, hated her children, Mrs. Ince and Mrs. Hooper, and gave all her care to five or six cats, kept constantly in her own room, and rendering the house offensive. They were all provided with napkins at their meals, with knives and forks, &c. It was stated also that Mrs. Cumming [. . .] declared that her family sought to poison her, and that Mrs. Ince had once endeavoured to strangle her, but there was no scrap of evidence to support such assertions. [. . .] On the ninth day four servants (two of them coachmen) deposed that they were in Mrs. Cumming's employment from 1848 to 1850; that her conduct was rational, her house and person neat, and her cats no great nuisance. [. . .] More servants represented Mrs. Cumming as sane, and her house as cleanly, although her own room was unpleasant from the cats. [. . .] Dr. Barnes, lecturer on forensic medicine, spoke confidently of Mrs. Cumming's sanity during five years he had known her. She was anything but dirty in her person. In October, 1841, she told him that one of her fowls had been found dead, and on the day following that her cats had refused to drink milk. She said she thought her family wished to annoy her by poisoning her fowls. Witness perceived some acetate lead which was found in the fowl-house; also took home some of the milk. Found epsom salts in the milk.

EXTRAORDINARY COMMISSION OF LUNACY — MRS. CUMMING. - Cheltenham Chronicle, 29th January 1852
She used to sleep in her boots, and keep her money in them during the night, and was dirty in her habits. The most prominent of her eccentricities, however, was that she kept and fed cats in her bed-room, and never allowed them to go out. The room consequently became very disagreeable and unbearable. The cats had meat which cost eight pence per pound, and always had clean knives and forks and towels to eat from. The servants dared not take dirty towels in for them. The captain had the liquor which the meat had been boiled in, but the cats had all the meat.

DEATH OF MRS. CATHERINE CUMMING.— Westmorland Gazette, 2nd July 1853
This lady, who was the object of the commission of lunacy [. . .] died last week at her residence, Gothic-cottage, Abbey-road. [. . .] . It will be remembered that one of her principal eccentricities was intense love of cats, many of which animals she kept in close a room [shut in her room], and ordered them to be fed with much ceremony off clean plates, with white napkins and knives and forks laid for each. This singular feeling never left the unfortunate lady, who constantly talked of her feline favourites.

CASE OF MRS. CUMMING – The Globe, 21st April 1857
Our readers will probably recollect that Mrs. Cumming was alleged to be insane on the following grounds:— 1st, on account of her eccentricity in keeping four cats in the house; 2d, because she was represented to entertain a morbid aversion to her relatives; 3d, because she was said to have some delusion respecting poison.

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MISS ELIZA RUSHTON

The Morning Chronicle and the Morning Post reported the case of “AN OLD MAID AND HER CATS.” The London Standard reported it the following day (A MENAGERIE OF CATS). The Westmorland Gazette reported the case on Saturday 29 March 1856 as “A MENAGERIE OF CATS” and the Reading Mercury reported it as “EXTRAORDINARY CAT NUISANCE.”

AN OLD MAID AND HER CATS.- Liverpool Mercury, 28th March, 1856

Eliza Rushton, a maiden lady who was said to possess some property, and who has for some years exhibited considerable eccentricity of manner, attended before Mr. Elliott, at the Lambeth Police Court, on Monday, to answer to a summons charging her with keeping her house in such a state as to be a nuisance, and to be injurious to the public health.

Mr. George Willman, the inspector of nuisances of the parish of St. George the Martyr, deposed that in consequence of a written complaint from some of the inhabitants, which had been forwarded to Mr. Martin, a member of the board of guardians, and sent to him by that gentleman, he (Mr. Willman) on the 13th instant visited the premises of the defendant. The house was in a very dilapidated state, the whole of the glass in the windows being for some years demolished, and the shutters were in consequence continually closed. By the aid of a next-door neighbour he was enabled to obtain an entrance into the defendant's house by the back way, and on going along the passage into the back room he perceived the most intolerable stench it was possible to imagine, and on reaching the back room itself he at once saw the cause. A number of half-starved cats, like so many hungry wolves, came purring towards him, but at the same time kept at a respectful distance from him.

Having previously learned the name of the defendant, he called out Eliza” once or twice, and the defendant made her appearance, and he asked her how many cats she had got? She replied that she had then only ten, but she used to keep as many as twenty. The floors of her back and front parlours, and the bedroom of the defendant, were deeply encrusted with the dung of the cats, und the stench was dreadful. The whole premises were in such a state as to be an intolerable nuisance, and dangerous to public health. He (Mr. Willman) reported the state of the place to the medical officer of the parish, and also to the authorities of the parish, and by directions of the latter he instituted the present proceedings.

Mr. William Rendle, of Bridgehouse-place, Newington causeway, medical officer to the parish of St. George-the-Martyr, deposed that, in consequence of information convened to him by the last witness, he, on the 13th instant, visited the house of the defendant, and found it in the disgusting state described by Mr. Willman. It was not only a nuisance; and injurious to public health, but wholly unfitted for the residence of a human being. On calling out for the defendant she approached with a cat under each of her arms, but he could not learn anything from her. She seemed disinclined to communicate anything to him, and it appeared to him that in addition to eccentricity her mind seemed to be affected. The cats, from apparent want of care or proper feeding, seemed to him (Mr. Rendle) to have a mangy appearance, and if affected with that disease it was most improper that their owner should continue to fondle and nurse them.

An attorney who attended on behalf of the unfortunate defendant said his first impression was that the present proceedings had originated with the landlord of the prisoner, who, he said, had been in the habit of treating his client with much harshness, notwithstanding she paid him her rent regularly; but after hearing the evidence adduced he was quite ready to admit that a case of nuisance had been made out, and should be remedied as soon as possible.

Mr. Elliott remarked that humanity towards the unfortunate defendant herself should lead to an immediate abatement of the nuisance complained of, and he should therefore make out an order that it be removed within a week. The unfortunate defendant, who appeared to be 50 years of age, and seemed so imbecile as to pay very little attention to the proceedings, left the court in company with a female friend who had come with her.

LAMBETH - London Evening Standard, 3 April 1856

Yesterday, Mr. Willman, the inspector of nuisances of the parish of St, George-the-Martyr, Southwark, attended before the Hon. G. C. Norton to complain of the continuance of the nuisance of Miss Elizabeth Rushton, a maiden lady, residing in Cross-street, in the parish. Mr. Willman said that on Monday week, he summoned Miss Rushton to this court to show cause why she should not be called on to remove a most intolerable nuisance, and the charge having been clearly established against her, the presiding magistrate, Mr. Elliott, directed that the nuisance should be removed within seven days. On that (yesterday) morning he (Mr. Wilman) visited the house to ascertain whether or not the magistrate's direction had been complied with, and found that though the filth on the floors of the parlours and bed-room had been removed, the cats still remained, and no doubt that while ten such animals were kept, the place would very soon be as bad as ever. The order to the removal of the nuisance was then made out, and placed in the hands of the proper officer for carrying out.

THE OLD MAID AND HER CATS. - News of the World, 6th April, 1856 in “The Police Courts” section. The reporters spelled the names differently in the two reports.

Mr Wilman, the inspector of nuisances, attended to complain of the continuance of the nuisance at the residence of Miss Elizabeth Rushton, a maiden lady residing in Cross-street in the parish. _ Mr Wilman said that last week he summoned Miss Rushton, to show cause why she should not be called on to remove a most intolerable nuisance, and, the charge having been clearly established against her, the presiding magistrate directed that the nuisance should be removed within seven days. On that morning he visited the house, and found that, though the filth on the floors of the parlours and bed-room had been removed, the cats still remained, and no doubt, while 10 such animals were kept, the place would very soon be as bad as ever. The real cause of the nuisance was the cats, and, as long as they were kept, it was hopeless to get rid of it. – Mr Norton observed that he should much prefer the applicant seeing his colleague, Mr Elliott, who had heard the case, on the subject, but as the nuisance was not removed he had better take the order. – The order for the removal of the nuisance was then made out, and placed in the hands of the officer.

The case was belatedly reported in the Devizes & Wiltshire Gazette on the 17th April as “A CAT PLAGUE,” but after this the public had stronger stories to follow: a series of poisonings in Leeds and an execution.

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PERTH CAT LADY

(TOO MANY CATS)Hereford Times, 1st August 1863

Scottish Law. — A lady was prosecuted at Perth last week for keeping too many cats. She was eventually confined - or rather, we should say restricted - to a kitten.

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MR. ROLDIN A. WATKINS AND MISS ELIZABETH WATKINS

This father and daughter became recluses who lived in squalor with their cats and chickens.

A WONDERFUL STORY. – The Enterprise and Vermonter, 4th September, 1868

The brisk little village of Turner, located at the junction of the Freeport Pacific Air Line and Burlington & Quincy Railroads, about thirty miles from Chicago, is at the present time in the throes of all absorbing sensation. The hero of this long-time story and present sensation is a Congregational clergyman named Roldin A. Watkins; the heroine is his accomplished daughter, Elizabeth. For the past twelve years these two people have lived in almost complete isolation and seclusion from the inhabitants of the world, on a farm within a mile of Turner Junction.

At the expiration of [1855] the wife and mother died, and from that moment [the minister and his daughter isolated themselves from society.] At first but little notice was taken of their conduct, and people attributed it to the result of grief at their bereavement, when several years had passed, and no change took place in their conduct, it became a matter of public interest. [. . .] Perhaps, once a month, the old man would come to the village, dispose of a quantity of butter and eggs, take back with him three pounds of sugar, a quarter of a pound of tea, and a pint of alcohol, and nothing else. Once only, he was known to buy a shirt. Upon each successive visit he would look worse, finally being covered with filth; and, no matter whether the weather was warm or cold, his head was always covered with large woolen shawl, which, as a turban, he has been known to wear for more than twelve years.

After this state of affairs had been going on for many years, no-one ever seeing the daughter, and only about once a month the father, the people of the village became somewhat excited over the matter, and after a number of meetings of prominent citizens had been held to take the case into consideration, a committee, consisting of Joel Weant, store-keeper, and William Turlack hard-ware merchant, were appointed and invested with full power to use all reasonable means to get into the house. [. . .] When the committee came to the gate, they were met by the old gentleman, who in the most amiable manner inquired their business. He was frankly informed [. . .] and consequently they desired admission to the house. At first it was peremptorily denied, he alleging that it would kill his daughter if any visitors were admitted, and he had not a particle of doubt it would also kill her cats. [The committee finally gained entrance.] The interior of the house presented a curious appearance. All was dirty, and filthy in the extreme. In one corner of the room on various rags lay about twenty cats, each, as the inmates informed their visitors, the possessor of a romantic name. In another corner of the room were about as many chickens, which, on the entrance of the men, flitted about in a very amazing manner. [The committee failed to persuade the father and daughter to give up their state of isolation.]

During the past two years, with the exception of the last two weeks, scarcely glimpse was caught of the old man, and his daughter was never seen. About two weeks ago, a lad, passing through a neighboring field, heard a call, and looking towards the house, saw the old man beckoning to him. Responding to the call he neared the house and was informed that all were sick and they required help. The lad at once aroused the village, and Dr. E. H. Gale, with number of citizens, instantly hurried to the rescue. The sight that met their gaze on entering the house is beyond description, and the stench that emanated from every part of the room was so overwhelming that the majority of the men retreated into the open air. Twenty-five cats, by actual count, occupied one corner of the room, all quiet and docile enough, and innumerable hens were scattered all over the apartment. The old man, a monument of sores, and covered by the filthiest of rags, lay on a vermin-eaten lounge, and his daughter, in a similar plight, lay on a bed reeking with filth. The first thing the men did was to throw the twenty- five cats out of the window, at which act there was much wailing on the part of the woman, and when the hens followed suit, the old man wept piteously over the fate of Socrates. The small room being thought the cleaner of the two, both the invalids were transferred thither.

For two days two men and three able-bodied women worked hard before the apartment was made habitable. The carpet had not been taken up for twelve years, and when removed it fell into mere shreds. Every particle of clothing, not excepting the wearing apparel, was burned. The bodily filth of these people was something horrible. The girl herself confessed that she had not washed her person for six years, as a matter of principle [she claimed washing was unnecessary work and God had made dirt so it should not washed off her person. Her father had suppurating sores and gangrene and was not expected to survive more than a month, the daughter was developing gangrene; they both had a form of scurvy due to a diet of nothing but corn-bread made with water.]

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MRS JOYTON

AN ECCENTRIC OLD LADY AND HER CATS - Illustrated Police News, October 1st, 1870.

A report has been forwarded to us from Newport, together with a sketch, from which the illustration in our front has been engraved. The facts of the case are summarized as follows:- In a small dilapidated cottage on the outskirts of the above-named town, a Mrs. Joyton—an old lady of eccentric habits – has resided for the last four years, she herself being the only occupant of the tenement. She chose to lead a life of such strict seclusion, ad was altogether so singular in her habits that the neighbours very naturally came to the conclusion that she was a little deranged. Sometimes she would condescend to exchange a word or two with one of more of those to whom she had become known, whilst at others she would pass them with an angry frown and a brusque manner; and when in this humour she would not vouchsafe a reply to any question. To the surprise of everybody, for some reason or other, Mrs. Joyton was no longer to be seen in her accustomed haunts. Days passed over, and the general impression was that the poor old lady must be either dead or seriously ill. No answer had been returned to those who were bold enough to knock at the dotage door of the recluse. On Monday last one neighbour more persistent that the rest gave a brief recital of the facts to the policeman on duty, who at once proceeded to the cottage and knocked most violently on the door. Its obstinate and eccentric occupant returned no answer; whereupon, his patience being exhausted, the policeman burst open the door. Upon his entering the back room he discovered Mrs. Joyton in bed. Surrounded by a number of cats of every conceivable variety – black, white, brindled, tortoiseshell, and tabby were there assembled. The feline family seemed to be a very large one. One cat was on the bed with several kittens; others were on the shelf, the drawers, chairs, and ground. One pugnacious pussy flew at the policeman, who was a little disconcerted at the attack made by so strange an assailant. The old lady, who had been ill kept her bed for some days, showered a torrent of abuse upon the head of the intruder and commanded him to leave her apartment in a most imperious manner. He strove as best he could to pacify her by telling her that he had effected an entrance for the purpose of seeing if she needed advice or assistance, and wound up his discourse by offering to go for the parish doctor. This exasperated the invalid still more. She called the policeman and impudent fellow, and finished by throwing a basin at his head, whereupon the officer deemed it advisable to beat a retreat, and hastened at once to report proceedings at the station-house. We are glad to say, after much exhortation, the visiting clergyman of the district has succeeded in getting Mrs. Joyton in a better frame of mind. She has consented to see the doctor, to have a nurse, if necessary; but will not brook any interference with her favourites. To be surrounded by her cats appears to be her greatest happiness.

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MR ADAMS

CLERKENWELL - Birmingham Daily Post, 30th May 1872

Are cats a nuisance ? Mr. COOKE, the stipendiary magistrate at Clerkenwell, was asked to decide this question yesterday, and as the feline race has so recently received honorary recognition by a special cat show at the Crystal Palace, he must, and evidently did, find it hard to decide as to the merits of poor pussy. The application was not made with reference to a single tabby, nor as to a brace of midnight "mol-rowers," but with respect to a small colony of cats which an enthusiastic admirer named ADAMS kept in the front room of a lodging-house. The Inspector of Nuisances said there were fifteen or sixteen, cats in this room, which was used as a living and sleeping room by ADAMS and his family. The effluvium arising from them was so offensive that the lodgers in the upper part of the house had complained to the Vestry, who had instituted the present application for a summons. The Stipendiary did not see that he could interfere with anyone for keeping cats, but he adjourned the case for the attendance of some of the biped lodgers.

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ANON. OHIO

CATS AND CRAZINESS. - The New York Times, August 11, 1872 alludes to cat hoarding, but is generally scornful of all cat lovers.

It is a curious fact that lunatics, especially those whose lunacy is of a mild and comparatively innocuous type, frequently evince a remarkable fondness for cats. The insane man or woman who lives in a garret, in the intimate society of three or four score cats, is perpetually coming to the knowledge of the public. The crazy lover of cats usually regards his attachment as a guilty one, or at all events, one which is to be kept, if possible from the knowledge of his human neighbors. With the proverbial cunning of the lunatic, he generally succeeds in attaining the object, and it is only when his corpse is discovered surrounded by riotous cats, evidently bent upon "waking" him after the most approved feline fashion, that his curious infatuation becomes known.

This sort of lunatic is often a person of considerable property. In such cases, he usually bequeaths his money in trust for the benefit of his pets. One of the most careful and thorough of such testamentary follies was that recently committed by a deceased resident of Ohio. This person not only provided for the luxurious lodging and feeding of his beloved associates, but he went still further, and insured, so far as a crazy testator could, a constant supply of healthy and attractive amusement for them. He instructed his executors to prepare a large quantity of eligible rat-holes in his Feline Retreat, and to stock them with a lavish supply of vigorous rats of the breed best adapted for the pleasures of the chase. He was also careful to secure for his cats abundant opportunity for the cultivation of their musical abilities, and with that view directed that they should at all times have free access to the roofs of an extensive series of outhouses, where they could warble midnight melodies, and, with their tuneful voices, bless the beneficent founder of the Feline Retreat. It is a little remarkable that he omitted to provide them with an unlimited supply of free catnip amnd gratuitous valerian; it is possible, however, that he looked upon the use of these weeds as a form of feline dissipation which he could not encourage with any proper regard for the morals or health of young and thoughtless cats.

As has been said, this lunatic was by no means exceptional in his excessive fondness for cats. What is the true reason for this infatuation on the part of unfortunate persons like himself no one has yet thought it worth while to inquire. It is certainly very remarkable that the lunatic never evinces any extravagant attachment to dogs, or to any other respectable and upright animal. The treacherous, selfish, and cunning cat alone is able to fascinate him. He places no value upon the honest, faithful attention of the large-hearted dog, and he never pines for the sympathetic wagging of a friendly tail. On the other hand, he delights to watch the luxurious selfishness with which the cat coldly accepts and thanklessly enjoys the fawns which he lavishes upon her, and he never seems to disapprove of the intense egotism with which she devotes her mind wholly to the pleasures of eating, and sleeping, and the vain adornment of her person. There is evidently a bond of union between the lunatic and the cat which does not exist between sane persons and that undesirable animal. Possibly this bond consists in the fact that in most cases the lunatic develops a stealthy, tortuous cunning which assimilates him in some degree to the cat. At all events, the student of lunacy might well occupy his time in investigating the cause of this curious and frequent feature of insanity.

* * * *

PHOEBE BROWN.

DEATH FROM STARVATION Western Mail - Thursday 01 February 1877
There is traditionally a strong bond of affection between old maids and cats. Some time ago a spinster named Fletcher*, living at Rottingdean, near Brighton, kept 200 of the feline tribe at her marine residence, and mother in Clerkenwell had a large number; and in both these cases they were indicted, with their cats, as a public nuisance. It is a wholesome plan to keep one’s cats down to the absolute needs required by the number of mice in a household. On Tuesday an inquest was held in London on a single woman, named Phoebe Brown, aged 68, who had absolutely starred herself to death in order to feed a dozen cat on the best batcher’s meat. Cats are proverbially dainty, and in the opinion of poor Phoebe Brown their delicate appetites ought to receive some consideration, even if the remit be starvation to herself. Phoebe Brown was living on the benevolence of her friends, and as she could not obtain enough money for her dozen cats and herself she resolved to go without, and even pawn her clothing, in order that Tom and Tabby might look sleek and fat. Self-denial is a Christian virtue in some cases, but there is no authority for exercising it in order that a dozen cats may sit and purr in cat-like majesty before the fire. If elderly spinsters want some object on which to expend their unsated affection there are plenty of poor children who would gladly receive it, although they might not possess the faculty of putting a mouse to death by slow torture.

[* I believe the reference to Fletcher of Rottingdean is a mis-remembering of the Mary Chantrell case.]

DEATHS FROM STARVATION. Reynolds's Newspaper - Sunday 04 February 1877
At the Coroner's Court, King's-road, St. Pancras, on Tuesday, the coroner for central Middlesex held an inquest as to the cause of death of Phoebe Brown, aged sixty-eight, a single woman, of 7, Church- way, Euston-road. The evidence showed that deceased had lived at the above address eighteen years. She had been supported by the benevolence of others; a Mr. Graham, of Ventnor, Isle of Wight, who was brought up with deceased, having contributed to her maintenance for many years. She was taken ill some days ago, but refused to have a doctor sent for. She was of singular habits, and kept about a dozen cats, which she fed on the table with "pieces" of fresh meat purchased at a butcher's shop in Ossulston-street, every morning. It was believed that she had spent her money in feeding her cats, and had deprived and neglected herself. Mr. Henry Orme Bailes, M.R.C.S., who was called in at three on Friday afternoon, found deceased in a dying state, evidently from exhaustion, brought on by privation and want of the common necessaries of life. She died the same evening. There was no food in the place, and hardly any clothing. He had made a post mortem examination, and found that exhaustion from want, no doubt accelerated by self-neglect, was the cause of death. The jury returned a verdict according to the medical evidence.

* * * *

MRS THOMAS

AN OLD WOMAN AND HER CATS, Pall Mall Gazette, 15 December 1877

An interesting story was told at a recent meeting of the Clerkenwell vestry, by the chairman, respecting an old woman and her cats. When the question of re-electing recipients to the vacancies for the Leverington Charity for aged people came under consideration the chairman paid a visit to an old woman named Thomas, who was on the list of those receiving relief from the funds. On approaching the room where Mrs. Thomas was living a strange spectacle met his eyes. Before he could gain admittance he saw Mrs. Thomas engaged in putting a number of cats out of sight. Some were being unceremoniously chucked out upon the tiles, while others were stuffed into a drawer. The room itself when he entered it was in a most filthy condition, and by the side of the fire was sitting a very old woman, almost a skeleton, shaking as with palsy. He was informed that Mrs. Thomas bought two quarts of milk every morning to feed her cats. There appeared to be a doubt as to how many of these animals she possessed. A parish officer who accompanied the chairman on the occasion of his visit accused her of having no fewer than twenty cats in the room. This statement was, however, indignantly denied by the old woman, who called the officer a liar, and said that she had only fifteen cats in all. The chairman, without splitting hairs as to the exact number of Mrs. Thomas's cats, thought she was not a proper person to be in the receipt of charity, and her name was accordingly struck out of the list. This may be a proper course to adopt, but it does not necessarily follow that because an old woman keeps an unreasonable number of cats she is an unfit object of charity. Many old women have a mania for cats, and will often starve themselves to find food for their pets. It ia very wrong and foolish ; but as " boys will be boys," so " old women will be old women " to the end of the world.

* * * *

ANON. HAMMERSMITH, LONDON

A COLLECTION OF CATS. - The Graphic, 10 January 1880
A curious dispute cropped up in the Hammersmith Police Court last week. On Friday a lady, who has a collection of cats which she values at £100, attended to complain of her landlady having refused to allow her to go in and feed them, and next day the landlady appealed for help in ejecting her lodger, whose pets, she alleges, were kept in such a filthy condition as to be a nuisance. The magistrate was unable to assist either of them, the amount of rent, £1 a week, placing it beyond his summary jurisdiction. The owner of the cats is thus left mistress of the situation unless the sanitary inspector can be prevailed upon to interfere.

* * * *

MME. CLAUDE BERNARD

Madame Claude Bernard’s husband was a vivisectionist whose cruelty deeply affected his animal-loving wife and she said that rescued animals in order to atone for his actions.

FORTY CATS AND FORTY DOGS. - The New York Times, July 13, 1884

Mme. Claude Bernard, widow of the great physiologist, is on bad terms with her neighbors at Colombes, who object to the nuisance caused by her keeping an asylum for cats and dogs, a whim which formerly brought her into conflict with the sanitary police in Paris. The motive for her tenderness for those animals is to redeem the wrong done to them by her husband as a vivisectionist. In May last, a number of inhabitants of Colombes presented a petition to the Mayor, showing that she had 40 cats and as many dogs in a villa in the Rue to Aubepines, and that the stench from them as a cause of danger of infection to the neighborhood. An officer of police was charged with an inquiry, the result of which was that in May she was condemned by the local tribunal to pay a fine of 5f and close her infirmary in a week. She now appealed against the sentence, pretending that the Mayor had exceeded his powers, but the court simply confirmed the sentence.

PROTECTING CATS AND DOGS - The Abilene Gazette, 29th August, 1884

The great vivisectionist, Dr. Claude Bernard, was married to a young woman who was exceedingly fond of dogs and cats. As may easily be imagined, the Doctor and his wife did not agree. Driven to a fall, the poor Doctor was obliged to choose between the wife and science. He chose the latter, and a separation from his wife followed. Thenceforward Mme. Bernard gathered together all the homeless and friendless dogs and cats that she could find. A singular idea moved the wife of the illustrious apostle of vivisection in this peculiarity. She wished to protect as many dogs and cats as her husband killed, so that when she would meet him in the other world, she could display the superiority of her work. After the death of her husband, Mme. Bernard continued her labor of love. She retired to Bois-Colombes, and sheltered in her house all the vagrant dogs and cats of the neighborhood. The neighbors were highly amused at first, but finally they began to think that the thing was a nuisance. They complained to the Mayor, who ordered the lady to close her establishment. This she refused to do. Then she was brought into a police court and fined five francs for a violation of a town ordinance. She appealed to a higher court, but the judgment of the court below was confirmed, and all her dogs and cats were turned out upon the cold and cruel world.

A VIVISECTIONIST’S WIDOW. - The Weekly Marysville Tribune, 10th September, 1884

Mme. Claude Bernard, the widow of one of the illustrious apostles of vivisection, is a zealous member of the “Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.” She considered her husband's experiments sinful, and she is afraid that, in the world to come, she will be always separated from him unless she manages to saves the lives of as many animals as were sacrificed by that obstinate vivisector. In pursuance of this idea, at her house in Colombes, she has a sort of asylum for dogs and cats, and she has already collected about eighty of these animals found in a state of destitution. The unsympathetic neighbors have complained of this refuge as a nuisance, and Mme. Bernard has been fined for keeping a dog infirmary without a license.

CATS AND DOGS IN THE ASCENDANT. - Dundee Evening Telegraph , 15 September 1884

If cats and dogs were but to know the importance they are assuming at the present day, their tails would no doubt stand on end with great pride and satisfaction. The interest shown in their homes and condition is little short of that taken in the homes and condition of the poor, and dogs without a master and cats without a cook have many and powerful friends. The female mind is rather inclined to extend its sympathies to the descendants of Egyptian deities, the Countess de la Torre is by no means the only lady martyred for her devotion to the friendly cat. A parallel to the Countess’s case occurred last month in France, where Claude Bernard, the widow of the well-known savant, was fined five francs for having disregarded the decree of the maire of Colombes, by which her “cat and dog infirmary” was ordered to be closed. Nothing daunted, however, Mdme. Bernard appealed to a higher Court, and succeeded in convincing the jury that the sentence of the maire was unjust. The result has been that not only is her “cat and dog infirmary” is as flourishing ever, but by legal decree such institutions, unless proof can be given that they constitute danger to the health of the neighbourhood, are future not to be interfered with either by maires or by the police.

AN ECCENTRIC WIDOW - The Evening Tribune, 27th October, 1884

[N. Y. Medical Journal.] From a certain piece of property in the French village of Colombes the howls of about forty dogs and the screeches of more than that number of cats are borne to the unwilling ears of the neighboring residents. These animals are described as by no means the choicest of their respective kinds, and it is alleged against them that, besides their unmelodious cries, they give forth odors; which make the quarter decidedly unpleasant. There are those, indeed, who aver that the premises on which the animals are kept constitute practically a sort of lazaretto, and that the effluvia arising therefrom are a source of danger to their health. On this account the occupant of the property has been proceeded against in the courts, and, as we learn from the “Progress Medical” has been condemned to pay a fine of five francs. The person thus mulcted is an old lady who makes it her business to gather in all the stray dogs and cats that she meets with on the streets.

This lady is no less a person than the widow of the great physiologist, the late M. Claude Bernard, and her eccentric behavior is accounted for in this wise: M. Bernard, as is well known, practised vivisection, but early in the course of his married life his wife became a violent opponent of the practice, and their disagreement in the matter is understood to have made their life anything but a happy one, and finally to have brought about their separation. M. Bernard having at length died, his relict’s old tenderness has risen from its ashes, and, as the story is told, she has gone to work systematically to expatiate his offences against the lower animals by showing kindness to as many stray dogs and cats as opportunity may allow; her idea being that, when at length she has succored as many distressed brutes as he was the means of slaying, his purgation will have been accomplished vicariously, and her soul and that of her late husband will be ready to meet in Paradise. How unfeeling it is of the people of Colombes to interfere with the prosecution of this scheme!

(CLAUDE BERNARD’S WIDOW) - Daily Honolulu Press, 15th November, 1884 (and others)

The widow of the famous naturalist, Claude Bernard, has a peculiar weakness for giving a home to stray and sick dogs and cats. At her house at Bois-Bolombes, near Paris, she has collected over forty animals of each kind, and their perpetual noise greatly disturbed the neighbors. They have often made complaints against her to the mayor, and finally brought an action against her which resulted recently in her being condemned to pay a fine of two francs and to leave her “home” for dogs and cats closed by the police. It appears that her mania for taking care of cats and dogs sprung up from her husband’s strong vivisection proclivities. They quarrelled over them and separated, M. Claude Bernard continued to experiment upon every stray cat be could lay his hand on, Mrs. Claude Bernard made it a point to provide a comfortable home for as many animals as her husband was destroying.

* * * *

JOHN SAMMONS.

ECCENTRIC JOHN SAMMONS - The Evening Tribune, Lawrence, Kansas, 3rd January, 1885

John S. Sammons, the eccentric old farmer who on Thanksgiving Day had a paralytic fit and, falling upon his red-hot stove, was found alone insensible with his face and head burned to a crisp, and who now lies in a critical condition, is known all over the county. He lives in the town of Crawford. Years ago he provided himself with a complete burial outfit. He also purchased coffins for the burial of his dogs and cats, his only companions. He bought his own coffin and set the day for his own funeral. . . . it was discovered that even a stone tomb had been built among the rocks by the hands of the old farmer. He had prepared the tomb both for himself and for his dogs and cats.

AN ECCENTRIC MAN’S WILL - The Boston Globe, 21st March, 1885

Eccentric John Sammons of Montgomery . . . Sammons had kept in his house for years a number of coffins, and his house was overrun with cats and dogs. Whenever a cat or dog died he had it placed in a coffin, and funeral services were held over it. It then had the same burial that a dead person would receive.

HE WAS A CRANK - The Watertown News (Wisconsin), 15th April, 1885

John S. Sammons, an eccentric citizen of the town of Montgomery, N. Y., died in December last, and left real and personal property valued at $11,000. He bequeathed the entire estate to the Montgomery M. E. Church. A condition is that tne church officials i shall keep his burial vault in good condition and have it visited at least once a month by a trustee, who is to receive $1 for each visitation. The probate of the will is opposed by Sammons’ relatives. Sammons took his meals in the cellar, eating from a board laid upon the top of a barrel. He kept a supply of coffins on hand, and when any of his relatives or friends called upon him and stayed all night, he insisted upon each having a coffin under his or her bed. His servants, when he could keep them, were retained on the same stipulation. His dogs and cats were put in coffins when they died, and, on one occasion he kept the coffined remains of a dog in the house till the authorities interfered and compelled him to bury them. He exhumed the bones of his mother, put them in a box and kept them in his wagon-house until he was compelled to re-inter them. At times he was very devout, but it was no uncommon thing for him to suddenly stop praying and curse vigorously.

A MISER'S WHIMS. - Bathurst Free Press and Mining Journal (NSW,Australia) , 29th August 1885

The facts elicited in the Sammons contested will case, now pending in the Surrogate's Court of Orange county, United States, reveal (says the New York Times) peculiarities in the life of the testator which would seem to strongly favour the theory of the contestants of his will that he was insane. John S. Sammons was a miserly man who lived in Montgomery, this country, all his life, and whose eccentricities gained for him more than local notoriety. He died a few months ago, leaving all his property, amounting to about £3000, to the Montgomery Methodist Episcopal Church on condition that the church should keep his burial vault in repair for ever. The eccentricity that gave Sammons widest notoriety was his keeping many dogs and cats. Upon the, death of any of his pets he always prepared them for burial the same as if they had been human beings. He did not bury them, however, but placed them in caskets, which he kept in various places about his house. Years ago he purchased a casket for himself, which he placed under his bed to be in readiness for use when he died. That Sammons had any purpose beyond the satisfying of an insane whim in preserving the remains of his dead cats and dogs was never given a thought by his neighbours. The testimony of a relative of his before the Surrogate establishes the fact that he was extremely desirous that his own body should be preserved, for ever, and, that the placing of the animals in caskets was to test the preserving qualities of the latter.

* * * *

MR. WILLIAM A. SIDES

A QUEER OLD RECLUSE. A Hermit of Four Score Years Whose Only Companions Are Cats. – The Courier-Journal, 30th August, 1885.

A Visit to the Strange Home on Jefferson Street of Wm. A. Sides.
“Do you know who that is?” asked Officer Frank Feeny of a reporter yesterday morning, pointing to the figure of an old man, who was slowly picking his way along Third street. “He is one of the most peculiar characters in Louisville, and although he lives in the most thickly settled part of the city, he is as much of a hermit as if he lived in a secluded spot twenty miles from any human habitation. That old man has led a solitary life for fifteen years, or more, in the most wretched quarters, and yet he was one of the most substantial citizens of this place before the war. His name is William A. Sides, and as near as I can learn he is over eighty years old. He came here a young man from Cincinnati, bringing with him a young and pretty wife. [The wife had died and when Mr. Sides investments failed he relied on charity.]

“Of late he has become very childish, and for the past five years he has been daft on the subject of dumb brutes. At one time he had over a score of cats and kittens living with him in the little room he made his home. They wore his pets and companions, and from the time he first began to gather them about him be grew reserved with human beings . . . At one time he had a regular happy family, but now he and his cats live alone. There be is returning home. Do you see that black can he has in his hand? He has been to the Jockey Club pool room, and some one has given him a few pennies, and he has bought milk for his pets. Come along with me and we will see a queer sight."

On the north side of Jefferson street, just above Third, is a row of low two-story buildings occupied as store-rooms on the ground floor and living apartments on the second story. At No. 255 a narrow stairway leads to a small hall running lengthwise across the building. Proceeding through this the policeman and reporter came onto a small court with a veranda running along the side and connecting the front building with a similar structure in the rear. A wide-open door just at hand disclosed the old man stooping over pouring the milk from the can into a half-dozen or more tin lids and cups. Sitting about in all sorts of expectancy was nearly a dozen cats and kittens. A glance about the apartment showed it to be very rudely furnished. A small bed in one corner, three or four chairs or stools, a small unpainted pine table, black wits dirt, a rusty little stove, a bucket and several kitchen utensils, was all that it could boast of. The old man’s pets looked to be well cared for excepting a soreness of the eyes which they all had. The reporter followed the “fly copper” into the room, when his nostrils were saluted with the most horrible and indescribable stench — a smell that would cause one to cough, his eyes to water, and a total loss of memory. Hazily getting on the outside and to the windward, the reporter gathered himself together and asked: “Where was the corpse?”

“There is nothing dead in there, and that stench is unaccountable.” said the policeman. “The authorities have had the place cleaned several times of late, but it does very little good. The old man and family of cats get it in the same condition in a little while. It doesn’t seem to affect him any, however, for he will set at that window with the door closed and read his Bible all day long. He seldom goes out now, unless for milk, and he has nothing to do with any one except the old colored woman who brings his meals.”

(MR. WILLIAM A. SIDES) - The Atlanta Constitution, 15th January, 1886

The death of old William Sides in Louisville brings out a strange history. Sides has lived in Louisville many years. He lost most of his money in speculation, and lived like a hermit in one room. In his old age he developed a fondness for cats. He kept as many as thirty at a time, and filled up his room with them. He never met a stray cat wandering about the streets that he did not carry it home. When he died the other day his cats were found mourning over the dead body of their benefactor. In the old man’s trunk were found a fine gold watch and chain and a valuable ring. The only counterpart to this singular hermit ever known was an Italian countess who had a great fancy for dogs. She gave up society and lived in a hut with her pets. Her title passed out of remembrance, and she became known as “the Countess of the Dogs."

* * * *

MARY MINOR/MINER/MILLER (1885/6)

CATS GO TO HER FOR COMFORT. - The New York Times, June 9, 1885

An invalid Irish lady, who said she was Mary Miller, of No. 4 Birmingham-street, called at Sanitary Headquarters yesterday and said she believed her neighbors were about to complain of cats which she sheltered. Her object was evidently to forestall a complaint, and she denounced the complainants in posse as "bad keracters." She went on to say that at present she harbored 18 cats and three kittens, and that cats "took" naturally to her, and come to her for comfort and protection. She pays $4 a month for two rooms on the top floor of the house, and her pets are not in any way a nuisance. She was told that when one was made it would be time enough to put in a defense and establish the character of the complainants.

EIGHTEEN CATS AND A WOMAN IN TWO ROOMS - The Atlanta Constitution, June 12, 1885 (reprinted from the New York Tribune)

Mary Minor, who lives at No. 4 Birmingham st., went to the office of the board of health yesterday and said that she had heard that her neighbors wanted the board to take away her cats. “You must not take them away,” she said to Deputy Secretary Goldeerman, “for they are my only associates in the house, and I should die if they were taken away.”

“How many cats do you keep?” Mr. Golderman asked.
“Eighteen, counting the kittens.”
“How many rooms do you occupy?” - “Only two, but my cats don’t harm anybody, and the floors are as clean as your desk.”
“How did you get so many cats?” - “They came to my door, homeless and hungry, and I took them in.”
“It must be expensive keeping so many cats?” - “Well, I feed them crackers and milk, and my brother in the country sends me money now and then. You must not take them away. If you do I shall die.”

Mr. Golderman said that he thought that she could keep the cats, and she went away happy.

BEGGAR MARY’S CAT FARM - The New York Sun, December 21, 1886

Her Family of Forty Evicted After They had Made a Fight for their Rooftree.

Mary Minor, a mendicant, has lived for six months in the back room on the first floor of the squalid two-storey tenement at 43 Hamilton street. On Friday she disappeared, and when on Sunday nothing had been seen of her, her room was broken open. There was a scrambling. Scurrying, and squalling of cats. The place was full of them. Policeman Cullen says that he counted twenty-five, and that there were perhaps half as many more of all sizes and kinds. They were well-enough fed as city cats go, but all bore evident traces of dissipation and a life of late hours and irregularities. They were, in short, a most disreputable collection of tramp cats, and they showed no disposition to leave their apartment, standing at bay and spitting spitefully at the intruders.

Five dead cats were found. In a closet was a dead cat done up in a newspaper, and on a shelf was a life-like cat, a late member of the gang, stuffed with tow and arsenic, and mounted on a board. A big dish of chopped meat stood on the floor. The four legs of an old table were paintless and rough, where the Toms and Tabbies had sharpened their claws after the manner of quarrelsome cats.

The neighbourhood had been amused by the news that Mary Miner’s well-known collection of cats was to be dispersed, and the street about the entrance to the house was crowded when Policemen Cullen set to work with a long stick to drive the animals out. They refused to go at first, and were got rid of by the most summary methods. When it became plain to the cats that they were to be evicted, they went out sullenly, and some of them climbed back in again through the windows. Cullen then made a determined charge, and the fur flew. As the mad and frightened cats made a rush for the street, the women who had collected there screamed and fled. Some of the neighbors recognized long lost pets which the queer old woman had kidnapped.

When the cats were all out, the windows of the room were barricaded, and disinfectants were scattered about. No tidings of Mrs. Miner have been received. She may be in some hospital.

MARY MINER'S CATS - The New York Times, December 21, 1886

Mary Miner, the professional mendicant, 50 years old, who disappeared from No. 43 Hamilton-street on Friday, is thought to be the woman who committed suicide, or was accidentally drowned, in the East River at a down-town pier that night, as a sailor heard a splash and tried to save a woman who fell in the water.

She was known as "Mary the Cat," because she was constantly bringing cats to, or taking them away from her squalid room. When, Sunday night, the yowling and odor from the cats she had left in her room became unbearable and the door was forced open, a number of cats, some say "more than 20" and others "at least 40," escaped from the room and scattered about the neighborhood. One or two were so emaciated and sickly that they were killed. Five cats that had recently died were found in a closet, and a large stuffed cat was in a trunk. The police theory is that someone wantonly poisoned the cats that were found dead and that grief over her bereavement drove the old woman to suicide.

A BEGGAR’S CATS. - 24th Feb, 1887 (various, reprinted from the New York Sun)

Fifty cats, 5,000,000 roaches and one old beggar woman were joint occupants of a mean little dingy room in the rear of No. 43 Hamilton street. The old woman went out - where, nobody knows. She left her cats at home and they had the busiest sort of a catawauling for a time. Hunger came among them and then there followed a struggle for life. The brutes became savage and the neighbors could not stand their noise. It was impossible to look through the grimy window. The door was locked, and through night not a person in the vicinity slept a wink. The police were called upon to act. This they did by beating in the door. A dozen cats rushed out, but the majority of the felines slunk into corners and prepared for a siege. In the centre of the room stood a big, dirty stove. Upon this a policeman flung a wad of burning paper which terrified the animals and they rushed out into the obscurity of the damp back yards. On the floor lay the remains of a dozen dead cats, upon whose carcasses the other felines had feasted. The strolling beggar had gone up and down the city streets, sorting over ash-bins and garbage barrels for tidbits for her cats. She threw down two rank pillows upon the floor and so made «p her bed. Her cats lay about her. The hovel was barely ten feet square, and for it the old woman had paid $5 per month rent.

* * *

MISS ANN LLOYD

A CONVOCATION OF CATS - Birmingham Daily Post, 27th September 1886

At the Solihull Police Court, on Saturday - before Messrs. H, H Chattock, A. E. Everitt, R. Ramsden, and Dr. Kimbell - Ann Lloyd, spinster, of Llandudno Villa, Warwick Road, Sparkhill, was charged with so keeping a number of cats as to cause a nuisance injurious to health. An unusual degree of interest was shown in the case, and was heightened by the somewhat eccentric appearance and manner of the defendant, who in answer to the charge muttered, “I am not guilty of any ill.” Harris, inspector of nuisances, said that having received complaints as to the stench arising from the defendant's house, he visited it on the 20th of August, and found the smell to be "most terrible." He was invited into the front room to remain there until the defendant and her two sisters should come, but the filthy state of the place was so offensive that he had to go out into the back yard for a breath of fresh air. In the garden there was a large number of cats.

"Mr. Chattock: How many?
Witness: I couldn’t count them. They were about in all directions.
Mr. Chattock: Did you try to count them?
Witness: I saw six or seven run by me into the back kitchen, where there were two pots of fish offal boiling for them. This added to the stench, which was plainly perceptible in the next house. There was a great deal of filth on the floors.
He served the defendant with a notice on August 22, and then,, having received another letter from a neighbour stating that the nuisance was not abated, he went again to the house on September 15. There had been an attempt to clean the floors, but the odour of the place was still very objectionable. He asked the ladies to get rid of the cats. They said they had only six then - (laughter) - because all the cats that came were not theirs, but only visitors to their cats. (Renewed laughter.) It seemed to him however, to be a sort of cats' hospital: the ladies had cats from boys who had been ill-treating them. The annoyance to the neighbours was made all the greater by the fact that the houses were jerry-built, and the stench easily penetrated the walls.
On paying a third visit, on Thursday last, he found that the ladies had just been scrubbing the floors again; but there were seven cats, and one was covered with sores.
Mr. Ramsden : What would you consider a fair number of cats? (Laughter.)
Witness: I don't know, but I think they should reduce the number.
Dr. Kimbell: Is there any garden that they can run in ?
Witness: A little patch.
Defendant (impetuously) Mr. Harris, how can you stand up and say such things as you have said? (Laughter.) You have gone past your duty. When you have come into our house you have seen nothing at all; but I admit having six eats, but no nuisance. I also ask the gentlemen, as you are a friend of Mr. Austin's (the next-door neighbour), if they would kindly adjourn the case, or have someone to inspect the house that would do his duty.
Defendant, having been silenced as out of order, Charles Austen, of Swansea Villa, Warwick Road, said that he lived in the house next to the defendant. The nuisance had prevailed ever since she and her maiden sisters entered their house, in July last. There had been the smell of cats all day and all night. He saw one of the sisters and told her that he had to sleep with the windows and doors open, and that still he could not get rid of the smell. She assured him they had no cats, as he suggested, but he counted four in the garden. He had had his wife bad for the last three weeks, and during her illness the smell had continued.
Defendant: How can you speak so falsely of us, when you put my sister out of the house, and hurt us very much indeed? And we have never had a cat in the house, I'll take my oath. (Laughter.) No one can ever say that they saw one.
Mr. Chattock: Don't make statements at present, or argue. Ask the witness a question-
Defendant: It's of no use arguing with a man whose mind is gone. (Laughter.) They all say in our neighbourhood that the man isn't responsible for his actions.
Mr. Chattock: Have you anything to ask him?
Defendant: A little patch I You'll want an American forest for the cats to range in next. {Much laughter,) Didn't you (turning to Mr. Austen) write to the landlord, and want us turned out because we were low people?
Witness: No, I complained to Grimley's, and that same night the three came into my house making a disturbance.
Defendant: It is impossible for a cat that has its liberty, and has never been in our house, to smell through your wall. But you are a most strange man to live by.
Harris: I must really say that I have had to go amongst many bad smells, but none so bad as this, While I remained in the front room the perspiration poured off me.
Defendant (hotly) : He's laid my sister up. He's given me chronic bronchitis. (Laughter.) And every time he comes to our house he goes into Mr. Austen's. And last time he came he actually had the audacity to take a pot off the fire when cabbage was cooking. He said it smelled. And I had some geraniums given me, and he called them vegetables. (Loud laughter) Moreover, he came to the house on purpose to ask if I would withdraw for paying the summons. I said, "No ! I will have justice done. I consider you have exceeded your duty. But perhaps it pays you " And you used very great threats towards us, and believed in a most unhandsome manner. (Laughter,)
Harris: I pointed out that to bring the case before the Court would only create a scandal, and that it would be better to get rid of the cats.
Mr, Chattock: Quite right,.
Defendant : I have never boiled anything but my dinner, and people have said how shameful it has been. (Laughter.) And those animals are kept clean, and there has nothing ever been in our house. (Renewed laughter.)
Mr. Everitt: How many cats have you?
Defendant: Six; but we keep them in a garden.
Mr. Chattack: Have you any witness?
Defendant: There's Mr. Whitener, (Laughter.) He has several times been in my house.
Police-constable White, the person indicated, stepped forward, and was asked from the Bench if he perceived any stench when he delivered the summons. He replied that he did perceive a smell of some sort, but that he did not know whether it was caused by uncleanliness of the person or uncleanliness of the house. (Laughter.) He did not see any cats, The defendant complained to him that children looked over the palings.
Defendant: Mr. Austen, I believe, set them on. He certainly sets his little girl on to call us names. He has also set a mob on to us, and I have had to appeal to the police; and because he can’t get his way he wants to spite the cats. (Laughter.)
Mr, Chattock (to the witness): You say there was an offensive smell?
Witness: There was, your worships, but I don't know what it came from, I have thought perhaps it was from the ladies' bodies, (Loud laughter, in which the justices joined.)
Defendant: How can you say so? (Renewed laughter.) Well, I deny it, I shall certainly see farther into it. They won't come into my house and do what they like.
The Bench at first proposed to adjourn the case till October 9, for the purpose of giving the defendant an opportunity of abating the nuisance, but she obstinately affirmed that she did not know what the nuisance was; and ultimately the Bench made a peremptory order for its abatement within ten days, She professed herself unable to pay the costs of the proceedings, and was told that unless they were paid by this morning a distraint would be levied on the furniture.

According to the Lichfield Mercury, 1st October 1886:

Ultimately the bench made an order that the nuisance should be abated in 10 days, and ordered the defendant to pay the costs.
Defendant: I can’t do so. I had to walk here this morning.

(The Misses Lloyd did not comply with the magistrate’s order within the time given and were back in court in December 1886.)

THE CATS' HOSPITAL AT SPARKHILL. - Birmingham Daily Post - Monday 06 December 1886

At the Solihull Police Court, on Saturday - before Mr. H. H. Chattock - Charles Austin, a clerk, living at Swansea Villa, Warwick Road, Sparkhill, was summoned at the instance of Inspector Ruane, of the Birmingham Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, for unlawfully beating and ill-treating a cat, belonging to Ann Lloyd, of Llandudno Villa, Sparkhill, on November 14. Mr. Tanner (Tyler and Tanner) appeared for the defence. Inspector Ruane was the first witness, and spoke to having seen the cat in question, which had entirely lost the sight of one eye. In consequence of what Miss Lloyd told him he felt justified in issuing a summons against the defendant.
Cross-examined by Mr. Tanner, witness said that he saw six cats at Miss Lloyd's house.
Did you have them in your arms? - Yes.
You nursed them? - Yes.
Were they all healthy? - All with the exception of one, which was suffering from some kind of complaint.
Do you know that the Miss Lloyds are in the habit of taking in cats, and keeping a kind of cats' hospital, or infirmary for cats? - Miss Lloyd told me that she took in cats which were cruelly treated, and that she was in the habit of keeping the cats until she could find a good home for them.
Did you see a cat there all covered with sores? - No.

Police-constable White stated that on the 15th ult. Miss Lloyd brought a cat for him to see, and complained that it had been struck the previous day by Mr. Austin. He found that the cat's eye was glazed, as though the sight was gone.

Mr. Tanner: You know that there has been a good deal of ill-feeling between Mr. Austin and the Misses Lloyd?
Witness: I believe so.
You know that he has been obliged to make a complaint against her for sanitary reasons? - Yes.
If the cat had been struck the day previous to that on which you saw it, you would have expected to see a wound? - Yes.
Ann Lloyd, the owner of the cat, was next called, and deposed that the animal in question was sitting on the corner of the ashpit, when the defendant struck it on the head, afterwards throwing over the wall the stick with which he had committed the act. The cat suffered great agony, and the defendant exulted in the fact.
Mr. Tanner: In what way did he show his exultation? - By laughing loudly.
Was anyone present at the time? - Only defendant's little daughter, and she reproved him for what he had done. (Laughter.)
Did he say anything when he struck the cat? - Only "Served it right." (Renewed laughter.)
Have you any ill-feeling against Mr. Austin? - I have no ill-feeling against him or any other man.
You have made allegations against him? - Yes, I have said he was an unjust and untruthful witness.
Yet you bear him no ill-feeling - you are a Christian, in fact? (Laughter.) - Yes.
Did you say after the last hearing that his mind was gone? - Yes. (Laughter.)
That he was mad? - Yes.
Do you say so now? - No, I think he is sane now.
Did you say he set people to besiege your house and beat your cats? - Yes, he wants to kill both me and the cats. (Laughter.)
When the policeman called at your house did you lock him in? - No, I did not; I shut the door to prevent the inspector of nuisances from coming in.
Witness, in reply to further questions, said that she did not speak to the defendant when he injured the cat, as he threw bricks at her.
Do you keep a kind of cats' hospital there? - No, but I take cats in.
Witness was shown a letter purporting to have been written by the Rev. Mr. Taplin, in which it was stated that the whole nuisance in connection with the case arose from the boiling of fish for cats' food. When the cat was injured it cried out a great deal, but at night went abroad.
Mr. Tanner: I suppose it went [for] a walk?
Witness: I don't know. (Laughter.) The cat was better the next morning./P>

For the defence, Mr. Tanner called evidence with a view to show that the defendant, who had been in the employ of the South Staffordshire Waterworks Company for the past fourteen years, was a most humane man, while one witness stated that had Austin acted as described by Miss Lloyd she would have seen it, as she was in and out of the garden all the morning. Mr. Chattock said the case was a very difficult one to decide, but there was no doubt the cat had been injured. Under the circumstances, however, the summons would be dismissed on the payment of costs, 14s.

Mr. Tanner : I take it that does not mean a conviction?
Mr. Chattock : Of course not.
Mr. Tanner: Well, we will have the grace to pay the costs to relieve the society from doing so.

* * * * *

MRS. NANCY VALENTINE

HOW MANY CATS MAKE A NUISANCE? - The New York Times, July 30, 1886

A complaint was made to the Board of Health yesterday that 30 cats, kept by Mrs. Nancy Valentine, at No. 319 East Twenty-fifth street, were a nuisance, and a sanitary inspector will perhaps investigate the matter by and by. Mrs Valentine admitted last night that her sister, who was tender-hearted, never passed a sick or homeless cat without succoring it, and that at present she had about 20 felines dependent on her bounty, but she did not consider them a nuisance.

ROSE DAMASK AND HER CATS

The following, rather romanticized, description of 70ish year old Miss Rose Damask portrays her as an eccentric rather than a cat hoarder. She doesn't sound impoverished, and her cats seem well-cared for, but I could find no descriptions of her living conditions. However, she was reticent to talk about her colony of cats.

MISS ROSE'S CATS
Titusville Herald: October 16, 1883 - Page 2
The News and Herald: 15 September 1883 - Page 1
The Times (Pennsylvania): 13 August 1883 - Page 4
And several others; reprinted from the New Haven (Conn.), Letter.

Down in a deep green valley that is fringed with elms and gnarled apple trees and fragrant with its wealth of wild flowers peeping forth from under a grove of old poplars at the foot of a steep rocky hill over which the highway above North Branford writhes like an uneasy serpent is the home of Damask Rose. It was the home of her father and of her father's father and it has weathered the scorching blasts and icy wiuds of 140 tough Now England years Damask does not live in it but in a little trim white cottage which looks askance at the passer from behind a wing of the old Rose residence. Her father's family was once the largest and most social in the roundabout country and the Rose mansion was then much resorted to by tho young belles and beaux. And now all are gone. All are dead save Damask. Damask and her cats alone remain. A New Haven gentleman told the reporter that this lonely old woman with the blush-rose name had 127 cats.

A romantic looking old lady is Damask. Fully as romantic as her name. Short and wrinkled and not far from 70 years, a pair of bright eyes gleamed through her golden bows from under the dirty brown foil rim of the man's hat upon her head. In one hand she canlull a bright case-knife while with the other she raised her calico skirt as she moved through the nodding clover with which tho old front yard was filled. A pair of diamonds glittered in her ears and a thick grayish growth of silken hair partially obscured her upper lip and chin. There was a black cat with bronze sides at her heels, a Maltese cat with a while breast lay dreaming on a flat stone in front of her, a gray and spotted leopard-like cat looked out from its nest of straw, in the entry of the old house there was a handsome young prince of feline in a luxurious robe of tawny gold suspiciously regarding the visitor from behind the leopard, and around the corner of the house was approaching a large and ugly looking tiger cat whose appearance left no doubt as to his capabilities as a fighter. These were all the cats seen at the first look.

When the reporter began to talk about the cats, Miss Rose eyed him suspiciously, but upon other subjects her conversation was cheery and entertaining. Very soon the advance guard of cats vanished into the green vines about the little valley and the places had been taken by other cats - ugly cats and wild-looking cats - some fat, some lean, and some of nondescript appearance, but none of them very pretty. It was a queer sight.

* * * *

MRS. EZRA LINCOLN

AN OLD WOMAN AND HER CATS.; THEY BECAME A NUISANCE AND FIFTY OF HER PETS WERE KILLED - New York Times, August 31, 1889

TAUNTON, Mass., Aug. 30.--An old woman and a plague of cats were unearthed here this week. The case is a parallel one with that of Damask Rose, the aged spinster of North Branford, Conn., who was discovered a year or two ago living in an isolated house, there surrounded by a troop of cats which was so large that they had begun to kill each other off. The Taunton cat fancier is Mrs Ezra A Lincoln, an elderly and wealthy widow, who for some unexplained reason has kept her little old house on Cohannet-street crowded full of cats for years. The family is an old one, and every year or two some of her relatives would die and leave her an addition to her fortune.

It now appears that all the money the old woman spent was lavished on her flock of half a hundred cats, her chosen and intimate friends. This was her only recreation. Taunton people are surprised now to find that there were so many cats. They were of all sizes, colors, and dispositions, and would follow the old woman about like a flock of chickens. She kept them supplied with the choicest meats and delicacies of the market. Her latchstring was always out for all kids of cats.

"The cat's paradise" grew to be a popular sobriquet for her house. She frequently bought $10 worth of meat at a time, and when it arrived threw it on the floor and let her pets gorge themselves upon it. The squabbles which resulted during the feast she watched with apparent pleasure. But the old woman became so absorbed in her cats that she neglected to observe the proper sanitary laws, and consequently her life's dream - of cats - has been rudely shattered by the Health Department. Whether her strange infatuation will continue to follow her is a matter that is involved in doubt. Her house became the abode of filth beyond description, and finally grew to be such a stench in the nostrils of the community that both it and the woman herself were complained of.

The Board of Health acted speedily, and Mrs Lincoln was sent to relatives in Middleborough to be cared for, while her cats were killed and her premises cleaned and disinfected. The work was done at the expense of Mrs Lincoln's estate.

* * * *

MISS LOUISA BRAGG (1889)

THE OLD MAID AND HER CATS. - Royal Cornwall Gazette, 25 July 1889
At the Westminster Police-court Miss Louisa Bragg, an elderly maiden lady, of small independent means, dressed in a very old-fashioned way, was charged with continuing to keep a number of cats so as to be nuisance and injurious to health, at 65, Marsham-street. Mr. Warrington Rogers, for the vestry, said every latitude and consideration bad been shown to the defendant, but she would not get rid of her cats. Since the proceedings had been taken in June four kittens had arrived, and there was an expectation of more—(laughter). Defendant kept a register of the births and deaths of the cats.—Mr. D’Enycourt: Is that so, Miss Bragg ?—Defendant: I do, sir, and I have lost several of the poor dear creatures since the summons ; and I beg to state that there has been no increase in the family (laughter). James Dee, sanitary inspector, said when he visited the defendant’s room he found a chain across the door, but he was able to see that there were five cats on the table. The smell throughout the house was very offensive. —Sergeant Edwards said the apartment occupied by the defendant was a small second-floor back room. Miss Bragg told him she never permitted the dear creatures to roam on the tiles—(laughter)—and he was satisfied they rarely had exercise out of the room. He saw the cats, old and young, tortoise-shell and tabby, rolling about on the floor and on the table. Defendant seemed very weak and ill, and he was not surprised at it, for she slept in the same room with all the cats.—Mr D’Enycourt said as previous cautions had had no good effect be must impose penalties amounting to £6 10s. The defendant must be kept in custody if she failed to get bail unless she consented to the immediate removal of the cats.—Defendant : You told me before that I must break up my little home—a happy family like we are. Oh dear! Oh dear ! After rearing the dear creatures I could never poison them- Give me more time and I will endeavour to place them with friends. I feel sure the Countess de la Torre, who has called on me, will help me. She is a friend to cats— (laughter) [Countess was a notorious hoard, often imprisoned].—Mr. D’Enycourt: Every assistance will be given you. I very sorry for you.—Mr. Rogers : And if she will only take the cats away the penalty will not be enforced. —Defendant was removed to the cells, but before the the rising of the Court the magistrate directed that her own recognisances should be taken to appear again Monday.

THE OLD LADY AND HER CATS - Illustrated Police News, 27 July 1889
Miss Louisa Bragg, an elderly maiden lady of small independent means, attired in a very old fashioned way, and wearing black mittens, was charged on a warrant for disobedience of summons with continuing to keep a number of cats, so as to be a nuisance and w injurious to health, at 65, Marsham-street, Westminster. [. . .] She seemed very weak and ill, doubtless because she slept in the same room with all the cats. Defendant said it was true her health had suffered, but that it was due to some evil-minded person filling her room with gas about three o'clock every morning. She could scarcely breathe owing to the noxious vapour, and it was all the worse because the chimney was stopped up. Mr. D'Eyncourt said he was afraid she was not quite right in her head over the cats. He very much regretted to do it, but as previous cautions and a small fine had had no good effect he mast impose penalties amounting to 6 10as. Defendant (clasping her hands): You told me before that I must break up my little home-a happy family like we are [. . .]

* * * *

MRS. JANE DUNCAN

CATS AND KITTENS.; TWO DOZEN FELINE PETS FOUND IN A CRAZY WOMAN'S ROOM. - The New York Times , March 26, 1890

Mrs. Jane Duncan, a widow of fifty-four years, was committed to the care of the Commissioners of Charities and Correction for examination as to her sanity by Justice White, in Jefferson Market Police Court, yesterday. Mrs. Duncan's mania is a strange one. It is alleged to have taken form in an antipathy for human beings, but a great fondness for cats. It was declared by Dr Thomas C Knox, who has a drug store on the corner of Carmine and Bedord streets that Mrs Duncan and her late husband had occupied rooms over his sotre for two years. Duncan died on March 17, and since that time his widow has remained alone with her cats, as no one had ever been able to induce her to go outdoors. Her insanity was of a harmless form, but since her husband's death there had been no one to provide for her. On being taken to court she seemed utterly dazed.

An officer was sent to Mrs Duncan's rooms to take charge of her effects, and the state of things that met his eyes when he entered was both pathetic and amusing. A troop of cats, great and small, young and old, of all colors and conditions came eagerly toward the door expecting to see, no doubt, their demented byt gentle mistress. A chorus of feline cries of every pitch was sent forth, and it was evident that the cats were very hungry. On a careful examination of the rooms the officer enumerated twenty-three adult cats and half a dozen kittens. Of this miscellaneous collection a large yellow tomcat, with a most winning expression of countenance and large, innocent, golden eyes seemed to be the "boss." The room was almost filled with boxes, in which the cats had had their habitations, and in a bandbox on the top of a wardrobe were half a dozen new kittens.

As might have been expected, the need of more thorough ventilation was apparent at once. The bewildered cats were ousted, their tender offspring consigned to a watery grave, and the rooms thoroughly aired and disinfected. The personal effects of Mrs Duncan will be held to await the discovery of any of her relatives.

CENTERED HER AFFECTIONS ON CATS. -The Montgomery Advertiser, 5th April, 1890

After the death of her twin children who lived but an hour, Mrs. Jane Duncan, of New York city, developed a mania for cats. Her husband, a journeyman carpenter, bore meekly and patiently with her weakness for eighteen years. Then he died, but beyond notifying a neighbor, his wife paid no attention to the event, Friends looked after the funeral arrangements, and subsequently had the demented woman taken to an asylum. When the apartments were cleaned up the other day for occupancy by a new tenant, twenty-seven full grown cats and a large number of kittens were evicted. They seemed to know that their friend had gone, for none of them has attempted to return since receiving notice to quit.

* * * *

MRS. KUNZLE / KINZELE

LIVED AND DIED WITH HER CATS - The Times, Philadelphia, 21st July, 1894

Hazleton. Mrs. Jacob Kunzie died here to-night from a paralytic stroke. She was 55 years of age and worth $65,000.
Mrs. Kunzie was an eccentric character. Her hobby was cats. At all times she had from six to a dozen of the animals about, her. Her only other companion through life was an old lady known as Madame Thumb. The latter occupied the upper floor of the house, while Mrs. Kunzie lived and slept on the first floor.

FILTH AND CATS Seemed to Have Been the Hobbies of Mrs. Jacob Kinzele. - Wilkes-Barre Times, 21st July, 1894

Gustave Hahn, Esq., of this city, has gone to Hazleton, being administrator in the estate of Mrs. Jacob Kinzele, who was found dead at her home in that place last night. The facts in connection with the death are simply revolting. Mrs. Kinzele had not been seen by her relatives since Thursday evening, and they suspicioning all was not as it should be, asked the assistance of officers to make a search of the house. On arriving there they found the doors locked and they pried open the shutters. On raising the window several cats bounded out and a stench came from the room which nearly suffocated the party. One of the officers crawled in the window and on going into a front room stumbled over the dead body of Mrs. Kinzele. On examination it was found badly decomposed and on inquiring into the facts later the coroner’s jury concluded death was due to apoplexy. The room in which she died presented a filthy appearance. A small table occupied the centre of the room on which were several dishes, a ladle containing some lard and a pound of meat literally alive with vermin. The kitchen was occupied by cats, old dishes, ashes and vermin, and a horrible stench arose from the same.

Mrs. Kinzele died as she had lived, amid squalor and filth, but strange to say she is possessed of considerable wealth independent of her estate which of itself is valued at $50,000. Filth and cats seems to have been her hobby.

* * * *

ANON. PARIS

A MANIA FOR CATS- Evening Express, January 18, 1897

Descent from a distinguished barrister, coupled with firm belief in the doctrine of metempsychosis or the transmigration of souls, has not prevented an elderly dame who had seen better days from assisting a gang of thieves in the conversion of their booty into money, for which offence she has just figured in the dock of the Seine Assizes Court. Acting under the conviction (says the "Daily Telegraph's" Paris Correspondent) that unhappy spirits eventually found their way into the bodies of cats, she had transformed the house which she inhabited in the neighbourhood of the Bois de Boulogne, with, its garden, into an asylum for members of the feline species, and had carried her zeal so far as to present everyone who brought her a fresh boarder with the sum of one franc. The small boys of the district, cognisant of this amiable weakness, took full advantage of it, and scoured the streets in search of some wandering tabby and of the promised reward. Quite an army of cats was at last assembled under the charitable banner of the old lady, for at the moment of her arrest the list had attained the formidable figure of 400.

While in custody awaiting the trial which has now come off, the eccentric dame exhibited much more concern for her favourites than for her own fate. "If I am not to see them again, I will kill myself," she cried, in her distress. "Every night I hear them. They talk to me, and came and purr round my couch. In the morning I take notes of all that they have told me." But she is not destined to hold a gala review of her feline army in honour of her liberation, for she has been sentenced to five years' imprisonment.

* * * *

VICTORIA CINQ-MARS

WENT TO JAIL FOR HER CATS. - The Gazette, 9th July, 1887

The love of her kittens has at last landed poor Victoire Cinq Mars in jail. This lady is a well known character in the East End of the city, where the was looked upon almost as a permanent feature seated at the door of the Chapel of Notre Dame de Lourdes, on St. Catherine street, begging for a living and for the maintenance of an extraordinary number of cats which she kept in her house. The health authorities have for years, been hunting the women and her cats, as they were literally besieged by complaints from neighbors of the offender, who alleged that the smell from her place was simply unbearable. Unfortunately, as soon as sued, Victoire would make default, move to another street and remain for some time invisible, until the complaints were renewed. A committment was at last issued against her for one month in default of payment of a fine of $6.50, and after a hunt that lasted several weeks, Bailiff Larochelle found her yesterday in Visitation street and tok her to jail. The commitment is for an offence committed in September last, but since then the prisoner had rendered two other houses uninhabitable. As she is now in jail, the other actions taken against her recently have been suspended.

ANOTHER CASE OF TOO MANY CATS. - The Gazette, 3rd September, 1896

The Board of Health has liken action in the Recorder’s Court against Victoria Cinq-Mars, a spinster, residing at 531 Beaudry street. She is very much attached to cats, of which she keeps a large number, and when she recently vacated 62 Visitation street, where she had been living, she left the house in a most filthy condition. Hence the present action.

OLD MAID AND HER CATS - Montreal Lady Goes to Jail for Keeping too Many Pets. - The Ottawa Journal, 8th November, 1902

Cinq-Mars, an aged spinster, who for years has been famous on account of the number of cat she keeps, has been sent to jail for fifteen days for refusing to comply with the order of the board of health. She was unable to pay her fine of $5, and so went to jail. In the meantime an officer got a key of her house and released her sixteen cats, which were allowed to scatter as they pleased. The woman lived at 1223 Demontigny street, and the neighborhood complained of the nuisance caused by the maintenance of so many cats, alleging the stench was unbearable. She has been in court on a similar charge many times.

LEAVES HER CATS BEHIND - The Gazette, 8th November, 1902

Aged Spinster Prefers Jail to Paying Small Fine.
Victoria Cinq-Mars, an aged spinster, known to the officers of the Board of Health, because of fondness for the feline species, and the worry she has caused its members during the past few years, has again got into trouble resulting in her landing in jail for fifteen days.

Miss Cinq-Mars lives at No. 1223 De-Montigny street, where she has always kept a large number of cats. Her house became so filthy recently that the neighbors called upon the Board of Health to interfere as the emanations from it were unbearable. Miss Cinq-Mars was as usual, notified to clean up her house or do away with her cats, and, upon her refusal to do so, summoned to court, but according to her custom, she neither complied with the orders of the Board of Health nor answered the summons of the count.

She was, therefore, condemned by default to $5 or fifteen days' imprisonment, and when threatened with the imprisonment, turned up yesterday, and decided that she would go to Jail, as she had done before, having no money to disburse for fines. She was went down, but before her departure, Lieut. Quinn, of the Board of Health, fearing that the cats would remain locked up in her house, secured the key and released the imprisoned felines. There were sixteen full grown cats and two kittens. They were allowed to scatter about the neighboring yards and were left to grow fat on what the neighbors will give them, pending the return of their mistress.

FOND OF THE PUSSIES. - The Gazette, 13th April, 1903

Mrs. V. Cinq-Mars, alias Samaur, 1225 De Montigny street, was before Mr. Recorder Weir Saturday morning. The charge against her was for keeping her house in an unsanitary condi-tion. Lieutenant Quinn, of the Health Department, said that it was one of the dirtiest houses he had ever been in. When the health officers visited the house they counted six cats in the yard and twenty inside the house. His Honor gave orders to have the place cleaned, and in order that Mrs. Cinq-Mars would not resist the health officers in their work of cleaning up the place, she was ordered to give a personal bond of $50 to appear for sentence when called.

A QUARTER A CAT - The Gazette, 23rd April, 1903

Miss Victoria Cinq-Mars, who was summoned by the health officers on April 15, for having her house in an insanitary condition and keeping over twenty cats, was fined $5 or fifteen days in jail by Mr. Recorder Poirier.

* * * *

ANON. MONTREAL (1897)

TOO MANY CATS AND DOGS. - The Gazette, 25th October, 1897

The officers of the Board of Health are the most curious people under the tan. They go about discovering things and then write out reports that catch one’s breath or make one’s eyes smart, on simple perusal. For instance, last week, they found, in the third storey of a house situated on Ropery street, a combination of dog kennel and cat house owned and cherished by a family living on the same flat. For some time past the neighbors had been grumbling seriously; there was not only music in the air especially at night, but perfume going to waste all around. The atmosphere grew gradually thicker until the third neighbor even was not able to escape the breezes. Matters became still worse; complications ensued from miniature floods which the family occupying the middle flat soon began to be treated to double-distilled liquid perfumery first trickled through the ceiling and fell on their heads which they declined to accept as a substitute for hair oil; then it came in small but frequent and sudden showers. Their life was miserable. The ceiling, like a cloudy, threatening sky, caused them a deal of anxiety and worry; it was an object of constant study; the actions of the members of the household recalled the last passage of Venus over the sun, when every one's attention was directed skywards; not a meal even could be had without the prospect of interruptions by a rush for cover; walking In zigzags in order to dodge the drops also became a torture. At last they made a loud appeal to the Board of Health, who wrote out the report above referred to, calling upon His Honor the Recorder to act as a committee of one on inundations and put a stop to these, at the same time reminding him that he had in the past succeeded in effectually scattering two menageries of cats kept by two very obstinate women, one of whom named Victoire Cinq-Mars had even gone to jail rather than pay the fine imposed. An action was consequently taken with the least possible delay and the owner of the cats and dogs complained of will appear tomorrow morning before His Honor.

* * * *

"LADY" MARGARET SCOTT (1898)

This hoarding account is rather different, because the individual hoarded the remains of cats she had killed, even moving their bodies with her when she was e victed from one address.

TWO HUNDRED CATS. CURIOUS DISCOVERY IN A CLERKENWELL "STUDIO." - Evening Express, September 1, 1898

There is an old woman who lives in Clerkenwell who has so many cats she doesn't know what to do with them. Rather she did live in Clerkenwell and didn't know what to do with them, for the police, doubting her sanity, have now handed her over to the City-road Work- house people for inquiry. The old lady is named Scott, and her habitation was in a little two-storey building at the back of No. 11, Wilmington-square, the entrance being down a narrow passage in St. John's-mews, Rosebery- avenue. Here she had fourteen boxes, containing 200 flayed cats packed like Ostend rabbits, and when the police made an entry they rescued fourteen cats from a like fate. What led the police to interfere were complaints of the sickening effluvia which came from the old woman's rooms. She seemed to have made no attempt to preserve the bodies of her victims, and the smell caused by the decaying animal matter was accentuated by rotten vegetables, and so on, which were strewn over the floors.

The real object of the old lady is somewhat of a mystery. The neighbours say that postal orders came to her by post frequently, but other circumstances show that she was not in want of money. She hails from "Aberdeen awa',” where she has, canny Scotswoman that site is, "baith siller and hooses." When the police took her to the station, and asked her what she was and what she did, she described herself as "a designer of cats." The police laughed, and she said. "Hoota awa, you're daft," and then she confided to them the information that she preserved the dead bodies in order to take the opinion of a specialist as to the cause of their death. She obtained the animals in a somewhat ingenious fashion. Describing herself as a painter of animals, she canvassed the district and obtained orders from various people to paint their cats. Once she obtained these household pets they, of course, were never returned. The only evidence that she could paint at all are some chalk sketches on the wall of her domicile, but these representations more resemble coffee pots than cats, and it is known she did not collect coffee pots. On her canvassing errands she carried a cat on canvas, but that was signed Louis Wain.

THE OLD LADY'S CATS - Evening Express, September 2, 1898

The London Institution for Lost and Starving Cats superintended the removal on Thursday from the yard of John's Mews, Rosebery-avenue, of the remaining cats which Miss Margaret Scott had, according to her own version, collected in the cause of art. Eight cats that had survived the systematic starvation with which they had been treated were at once secured by the employes of the home for conveyance to the lethal chamber of the institution in the Hampstead home. The proceedings were watched by a crowd, who hung about the approaches of the yard for some time after the "catch" had been effected. The incident, which attracted most curiosity on the part of the crowd was the removal of the dead cats and the fumigation of the artist's studio. There was nothing to hinder the crowd from personally watching the work from the very threshold of the room, but the stench was such that even the faces of intrepid dustmen wore an expression of surprise as they struck manfully to the work, and the accumulated remains were in due coure removed in dust carts to Lambeth to be dssroyed, while the "studio" itself was subjected to a thorough fumigation.

CLERKENWELL CATS. LADY MARGARET SCOTT AS A PAINTER. HER STUDIO RAIDED - South Wales Echo, September 1898

The Weights and Measures building of the London County Council in Rosebery-avenue is being enlarged, and some old premises in the immediate rear in Mount Pleasant are in course of demolition so that a structure may be erected suitable for the duties of those employed by the Council in this particular department. One of the house-breakers, pick in hand, was trying to bring down some bricks, when accidentally he broke into the chimney of the adjoining house. Immediately he noticed several wooden boxes in the smoke hole, but before curiosity bad tempted him to open them he perceived a smell. Information of the accident and of the discovery was conveyed to other authorities, and before many hours had passed a Clerkenwell sanitary inspector, Mr Green, was on the spot, or rather in the house, No. 39. The boxes were found to contain dead cats.

The occupant was always a mysterious individual, and before she, for it was a woman, had had notice to leave the house, owing to the workmen pulling down the adjoining premises, nothing was known about her. Sanitary inspectors had constantly been in the house and looked into every room except hers. She was nearly always away when he called, and none of the other residents in the place knew anything of her, for she was very quiet and uncommunicative.

A Den of Cats. The mysterious lady then rented a shed at the back of 11, Wilmington-square. She did not, however, enter it from the house. There is a side door in St. John's Mews, Rosebery-avenue, and it is here that the neighbours have seen this strange sharp-featured middle-aged lady playing with some cats. The manner in which she wore her hair first attracted their attention. She had long black tresses, some of which would be hanging down her back, and others would be rolled into ringlets. The lady spoke to two or three of the neighbours, and to them she is said to have stated that she was “Lady Margaret Scott," that she had a wealthy brother, and had property in Scotland.

None of the neighbours, however, had been invited to take afternoon tea in the shed. During the day she was believed to be away from the shed. At night time she would be seen moving about. On fine evenings she would walk round the mews and search for cats. She would crawl under the vans, and on seeing a tabby would persuasively exclaim, “Come along, my dear." This to the neighbours seemed rather peculiar, more especially as some of them had been losing their fireside pets. One or two ungenerously remarked that she was stealing them others, more charitable, said she was searching for her favourite.

However, the discovery accidentally made by the house-breaker induced the sanitary inspector on Tuesday to visit Lady Margaret Scott's dwelling. The visit was short but not sweet. In a few seconds he saw enough, not to speak of the smells, to convince him something was wrong. The place was a den of cats, dead and alive.

“Secret Cat Designer." Later in the day "Lady Margaret Scott" was walking down Rosebery-avenue when a constable, acting on instructions, politely asked her to accompany him to the Clerkenwell Police Station. Here, in giving an account of herself, she said she was a “secret designer of cats." The inspector gave her a sympathetic look, and thought she had better be sent to the City-road Workhouse. Needless to say, he regarded her as a wandering lunatic.

Officials were despatched to the abode of this “secret designer of cats," but they acknowledge it was one of the worst jobs they have ever had to undertake. The small building is of two floors, lighted by windows facing the backs of the houses in Wilmington-square. On the ground floor they found numerous wooden cases, similar to those discovered in the chimney, and inside were carcases of decomposed cats. On the floor above there were more cases with similar contents, but on the bare boards were cats which had only recently died. The stench was simply awful, and the officials were, in polite language, quite overcome. There were also 15 live cats in the place, but no bed or bedding was visible. There were in all 14 boxes, or about 120 cats, and these were taken to a wharf at Lambeth, to be burned with their contents. The live animals were given I milk and were let loose.

Some of Her Pictures. It is remarkable that no complaint has been officially received concerning the smell which arose from the den. How she lived is another strange feature in the story. She did occasionally get post office orders, but as for her pictures, or her work as an artist, no one seems to have seen them. On the walls there are a few crayon sketches, but they are extremely crude. One is a picture of the Saviour, and another is a childish drawing of a cat.

Lady Margaret Scott was sufficiently sane to be indignant at being sent to the workhouse, and there were threats or writing to her solicitors and to her relatives. Unfortunately, the sanitary officials cannot communicate with them, as she declines to state their names or addresses. She only declares that, like the proverbial old maid, she loves cats, and the more the merrier. But when decomposing animals are lying about, and are, in a sense, dangerous to the lives of the residents in the vicinity, the sanitary authorities will be pardoned if they take immediate measures to stop the nuisance without waiting for the serving of notices and orders.-Daity Chronicle.

SKINNING CATS ALIVE - The Cardiff Times, September 3, 1898

Extraordinary Allegation Against a Lady. On Tuesday night considerable sensation was caused in Clerkenwell by the arrest of an elderly maiden lady, who had posed in the eyes of the public as an animal painter, and who had her "studio" in the neighbourhood. The prisoner, who is about 60 years of age, and of ladylike appearance and manners, canvassed the local residents for commissions to paint their feline pets. Several handed over their animals, but none were returned, and the police on Tuesday night entered the studio, where they found the carcases of over 70 animals. The prisoner will be charged to-day (Wednesday) with cruelty - skinning the animals alive.

EXTRAORDINARY DISCOVERY. - The Exeter Flying Post, 3rd September, 1888

ECCENTRIC LADY WITH 200 DEAD CATS. On Wednesday the Sanitary Inspectors for the Holborn Board of Works paid a visit to a little building at the back of No. 11, Wilmington-square, Rosebery-avenue, which has for some time past been occupied by Miss Margaret Scott, an old and somewhat eccentric lady, who describes herself as an animal painter. The officers found a large collection of wooden boxes, containing the remains of nearly two hundred cats in all stages of decomposition. In addition there were fourteen cats still alive, which presented a half-starved appearance. The house was filled with an overpowering smell, arising, as it was soon discovered, not only from the dead bodies, but also from a filthy mess of putrid meat, half decayed paper, and vegetable matter which covered the floor. Miss Scott, who only occupied the Wilmington-square premises as a studio, is now in the City-road Workhouse, to which institution she was sent on Tuesday night by the police, who had arrested her as a wandering lunatic.

THOSE CLERKENWELL CATS - Evening Express, September 13, 1898

The medical officer of health of Clerkenwell (Dr. Glaister), in a report to the vestry on a seizure of a number of live and dead cats in the parish, adds that "the person named Scott, who owned the cats, and who was removed temporarily to the City-road Workhouse, has been seen by her brother, a gentleman in a good position in Birmingham, who has made arrangements for her removal to his home."

AN OLD WOMAN'S STRANGE MANIA FOR CATS.-Wairarapa Daily Times, November 11, 1898

The sanitary authorities of Clerkenwell, assisted by tho police, a few days ago brought fourteen boxes containing two hundred and sixty dead cats, out of a house in St, John's Mews, Rosebery Avenue, occupied by an eccentric old Scotswoman named Margaret Scott. The cats were in every case flayed, and it was supposed the old woman had eked out her income by selling the skins to furriers' providers. No skins were found about the place. The officers bad a shocking experience, several of them being seized with sickness in consequent of the fumes of putrefaction. They smoked strong cigars as disinfectants. About a dozen lean and hungry-looking tabbies walked about the house, and the officers had some milk brought, which they lapped up greedily. It was also strongly suspected that the mortuary included the remains of a skinned monkey. At Clerkenwell Police Station Margaret Scott described herself as a "secret designer of cats." Her singular behaviour disposed the police to doubt her sanity, and she was removed to tho City Road workhouse, where medical supervision will ascertain whether she may be hold accountable for her actions.

The story of this old woman's twelve years' stay in the district has a comic and gruesome side. She appears to have entertained the idea that she possessed artistic ability, making cats her special study. For several years Margaret canvassed the neighbourhood with a wretched little picture purporting to represent a cat, as a sample of ber workmanship. Unsuspecting persons used to let her have their pets to paint, but the cats did not come back, and Margaret long since lost her artistic reputation. In her dirty domicile were a number of mural chalk sketches, but they resembled coffee pots mora than cats, The theory that she sold the skins is supported by the fact that postal orders frequently came to her by post. Sometimes she showed the money orders to her neighbours, stating that they came from Scotland, where she owned property. Margaret claimed relationship with Sir Walter Scott, though her accent bespoke the far north. Her personal appearance was more striking than picturesque, with long black unkempt curly hair. Occasionally she purchased twopennyworth of bits of fish and meat, though whether for her own consumption or the support of her cattery nobody knows. It was no secret that she prowled about the streets and lanes half the night, the police having often seen her on these nocturnal peregrinations. Her quest was doubtless cats, though she appears to have contrived to do her cat-napping unobserved, During her stay in Mount Pleasant, a short distance from Rosebery Avenue, her cat mania became so great a nuisance that the authorities evicted her, pasting a placard on the door to the effect that the place was not intended for a cat home. Numbers of traders complain of having been mysteriously bereaved of cats recently. On the occasion of her flitting to St. John's Mews it is stated that her goods and chattels consisted solely of the soap boxes containing the remains of her feline victims. What the police want to know is, who were the people who encouraged this weird woman in her shocking practices ?

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EARLY TWENTIETH CENTURY CAT HOARDERS

MRS. MARY KROMMELIN

KEEPS TWENTY-FIVE CATS. -The New York Times, September 26, 1900

Mrs Krommelin's Landlord Objects and Begins Proceedings. - Albert Wagner of Hoboken yesterday applied to the Justice of Peace Seymour for a warrant for the arrest of Mrs Mary Krommelin of 709 First Street. While he was making his complaint Mrs Krommelin appeared and asked for a warrant for the arrest of Wagner. She alleged that he had stolen her eyeglasses. Wagner is Mrs Krommelin's landlord. He says that she constantly kept in her rooms twenty-five cats. When one died or strayed away Wagner said that Mrs Krommelin at once bought another. When he complained to her about her cats he says she assaulted him. He offered Mrs Krommelin a month's rent if she would move. This offer Mrs Krommelin refused. She said Wagner was possessed of the devil, and if she moved to oblige him the devil would follow her. Justice Seymour declined to grant a warrant to either, and Wagner began ejectment proceedings.

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ANON. (PARIS)

PARIS CONCIERGE WHO FOUGHT A STIFF BATTLE. - The World's News (Sydney, NSW), 2nd August, 1902

A certain Mme. Minet [a pseudonym - “minet” means “pussycat”], was very fond of cats. Not content, however, with one or two cats, to which no real objection could be taken, she actually harbored 30 in her apartments. Her fellow "locataires" did not share her enthusiasm. They were wont to speak disrespectfully of them, and refer sarcastically to the Jardin des Plantes (the Paris "Zoo"), where good little girls and boys are taken on Sundays by their parents. The concierge had stronger views on the subject, and thereby hangs this tale. The other day, when the whole of the happy family of 30 were in the back yard taking gentle exercise, the concierge bethought her of a plan. Taking a piece of meat, and holding it seductively up to their gaze, she attracted the regiment of pussies into her little lodge. There she fell upon them with a stout cudgel, and laid about her to such good purpose that the greater part of the cats were slaughtered. It was a terrible scene of carnage. The cats fought and bit and scratched and swore like any medical student, and such was the noise and confusion that all the neighbors came and extricated the woman avenger, who was in danger of being eaten up by a gallant remnant of her foes. She is in the hospital now covered with marks of the fray. Every cat sold each of its nine lives as early as possible. As to Mme. Minet, her grief is inexpressible, but the law courts will try to assuage it.

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MISS HENRIETTA TICE.

CATS ATTACK OFFICERS - The Inter Ocean, January 5, 1902
Constable Kruckstein and His Assistants Have Exciting Encounter.

Constable Kruckstein of Justice Severson's court was confronted by a small army of cats when he called at the home of Miss Henrietta Tice, 560 Fulton street, yesterday to eject Miss Tice from the premises for not paying her rent. The house was filled with kittens that were just beginning to be playful, huge Angoras, fierce-looking Tom cats, black cats, white cats, and tortoise-shell cats. On every chair and table rested a feline pet. Miss Tice refused to leave, and the constable proceeded to carry the contents of the house into the rear yard. Procuring a broom, he tried to sweep the animals out of the place, but several veterans of back-fence battles offered vigorous objections to being disturbed. A huge black Tom cat raised its back in defiance, and then sprang at Kruckstein. Half a dozen other animals joined in the attack, and for a time Kruckstein and his assistants had a fierce encounter with the animals. The cats leaped upon the backs and heads of the men, scratched their faces, and for a few minutes the room was an exciting scene of struggling, angry hump-backed pets.

Finally, after the last animal had been chased from the premises, the furniture and other belongings of the woman were piled in the yard and the doors and windows were nailed up. Upon emerging from the house Krucksteln came face to face with so many cats that he was unable to count them. He then returned to Justice Severson’s court, but an hour later he was again summoned to the house to find that Miss Tice and her family of cats had regained possession of the rooms. During his absence the woman is said to have forced the boards from the doors and windows and moved all her belongings back again. The result was that the tired and perspiring constable was compelled to perform the job over again, but this time an assistant was left behind to see that the persistent woman and her cat family did not again enter the house.

CHICAGO WOMAN AND FOUR DOZEN CATS FORCIBLY EVICTED - St Joseph Gazette-Herald (Missouri), 6th January, 1902

Miss Henrietta Tice and four dozen angry pet cats were sweptout of the home they occupied until yesterday at 500 Fulton street. Constable Kruckstein of Justice Severton’s court did the job with the help of several assistants, and they have scratches and torn clothes as reminders of a lively day's work. It seems Miss Tice dotes on cats, and her pets think the world of her. But she forgot to pay her house rent, so the landlord. D. Schofield, swore out a writ of restitution. The constable proceeded to do the rest. Entering the house he began reading the writ to Miss Tice. Then the constable jammed the writ in his pocket, seized a broom, called in his helpers and swept out all the cats in sight.

Next they started to carry out the furniture. Pets jumped out of the bureau drawers; they moved the stove, and the oven emptied out cats; in the pantry, cupboards, under the chairs and tables, in the beds, under the sofas, on the window sills - everywhere there were cats - intelligent, wide-eyed cats, ready to fight, bite and scratch, to protect their home and Miss Tice. There were Angora catss, Maltese cats, black cats, gray cats, striped cats, old cats and young cats, pretty cats and ugly cats, cats with tails and cats without them, two-eyed cats and one-eyed cats, proud cats and meek cats. Tom cats and other cats. Not less than fifty, the constable swears, and he was there and ought to know.

When he got all the cats and all the furniture out into the yard, some one pulled off the boards nailed over the windows and the cats went back. He drove them out a second time and left one of his friends on guard. It's the cats' next move.

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REBECCA FRENCH

BECOMES INSANE OVER CATS. Peculiar Mania Affects School Teacher - Evening Times-Republican (Marshalltown Iowa), 6th May 1902.
Marinette, Wis., May 6.—Miss Rebecca French, a teacher In the public schools for fifteen years, was committed to the insane asylum at Oshkosh yesterday. She went insane over cats, and had her house filled with the feline pets. She insisted on sleeping with them in her own bed, and had others in her room. Most of her time was devoted to lavishing affection on the felines, until neighbors called the attention of the authorities to her mania.

INSANE OVER CATS - The Akron Beacon Journal, 6th May, 1902
Marinette, Wis., - Miss Rebecca French was committed to the insane asylum. She went insane over cuts and had her house filled with the feline pets. She insisted on sleeping with them in her own bed, and others in her room. Most of her time was devoted to lavishing affection on the brutes, until her neighbors called the attention of the authorities to her condition. She has been a teacher in the public schools for 15 years past and her friends are unable to account for her strange fancy for cats. She will be taken to the Oshkosh asylum for treatment.

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MRS. BRUSH

TOO MANY CATS AND DOGS - The Brooklyn Citizen, 7th November, 1904

Noise Made by Mrs. Brush's Pets Annoys Mrs. Tucker’s Boarders – Former Arrested.
Numerous cats and dogs which Mrs. Elizabeth Brush is said to keep, in her home, No. 442 Tenth street, has caused a break in the friendly relations between Mrs. Brush and Mrs. Georgie E. Tucker of No. 440 Tenth street. Mrs. Tucker to-day had Mrs. Brush held for Special Sessions by Magistrate Tighe in Butler Street Court on the charge of making statements which reflected on the character of Mrs. Tucker. According to Mrs. Tucker, Mrs. Brush has nearly all the boys in the neighborhood running after stray cats and dogs, for which she pays them a small sum of money. She keeps the animals in the house. Mrs. Tucker says the noise disturbed her boarders.

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MRS. KEISER (NEW YORK)

WIFE HAD TOO MANY CATS. - The Washington Post, 15th March, 1905

Unsympathetic Court Orders Husband to Support Her, However.
Special to The Washington Post.
New York, March 14. — Hans Keiser, of 343 East Forty-seventh street, when arraigned in Yorkville Police Court to-day on a charge of abandonment and non-support made by his wife, Anna, gave as the reason for deserting her that she kept too many cats. He said she kept twenty or thirty. Mrs. Keiser admitted that she had a liking for cats.

“Before I was married I had fifty cats,” she said, “but my husband was so particular that I had to get rid of about twenty of them.”
“Well, you must support your wife,” said the magistrate to Keiser.
“She chased me away with her cats,” said Keiser; “let her live with them."
Magistrate Ommen ordered him to pay his wife $3 a week.

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FRANCES TUREK

The reports focus mainly on the battle between Mrs. Turek and the police after her theft of a particular cat, but she is also reported as seizing “every cat she could get” and having a mania that went beyond the ordinary fondness for cats. Although it doesn’t mention her living conditions she appears to be a hoarder who picked up cats and took them home.

FONDNESS FOR CATS MANIA – Evening Times-Republican (Marshalltown, Iowa), 13th July 1906
Iowa City – Mrs. Frances Turek was sent to the insane hospital at Independence yesterday afternoon. She has a mania for cats. It went beyond the proverbial fondness. Mrs. Turek was in the habit of seizing every cat she could get, and on one occasion she took a fall out of the owner of a fine Maltese pussy, using her finger nails in a decidedly feline manner on him and later on the sheriff, when he tried to arrest her.

CAT WAS CAUSE OF BATTLE. Insane Woman Attacks Three Officers to Save a Pet. - The Minneapolis Journal, 22nd Jun 1906.
Iowa City - An insane woman, Mrs. Frances Turek, armed with a sharp knife, made a desperate fight against arrest today, and imperiled Sheriff Rowland, Deputy Marshal Pudil and Ira Schindhelm. The latter was torn by the woman's claw-like nails, and when he stumbled she leaped upon him and beat him badly. While he was in her power she not use the knife, altho she repeatedly expressed her intention to do so before and after he escaped. The battle was the outgrowth of Schindhelm’s pursuit of a trained cat, which was found in the woman’s house, concealed under a bureau drawer. The cat responded with a mew when the young man whistled, and the battle followed. The animal, said to be the largest and most valuable Maltese in Iowa. was finally recovered and the woman may be sent to the asylum.

FIGHT FRENZIED WOMAN - Iowa City Sheriff Attacked by Frenzied Lunatic With Knife. - Evening Times-Republican (Marshalltown), 23rd June, 1906
Iowa City, June 23. - A thrilling battle with Mrs, Frances Turek an insane woman, was waged here yesterday by Sheriff Evan Rowland, Deputy Marshal George Pudl and Ira Schindheln, son of Secretary August Schindheln of the fire department. Mrs. Turek pursued Schindheln with a long, keen-bladed knife and endeavored to stab him in a fight. He stumbled downstairs and she overtook him. Leaping upon him she beat him and clawed his flesh until he bled freely, but strangely, failed to use the knife. Later, after he had broken away and had returned with officers, she resisted all three desperately. Upon the sheriff she made the chief attack, beating him with her clenched fists and endeavoring to lacerate him with her nails as If she were a catamount. The trouble arose over a graet trained Maltese cat, believed to be the largest in the state, stolen from Davis’ drug store. Schindheln, an employe, trailed the animal to the Turek home and discovered it concealed under a bureau drawer. The cat answered his whistle with a mew, giving the clue to its whereabouts. During the resultant efforts to regain possession of the animal the desperate battle began. The woman may be sent to the asylum.

USES KNIFE: ADJUDGED INSANE. Mrs. Frances Turek of Iowa City is Sent to Independence. - The Daily Times (Davenport, Iowa), 13th July, 1906
Mrs. Frances Turke was adjudged insane yesterday, and was taken to the state hospital in Independence. She recently made a desperate attack with a long knife upon Sheriff Rowland and Ira Schindhelm, while endeavouring to retain possession of the latter’s trained cat, which she had “borrowed.”

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MARIE WEISSHAPPEL (VIENNA)

TOO MANY CATS. - Evening News (Sydney, NSW), 9th January. 1909

Frau Marie Weisshappel and her 20 year old daughter, residing in a fashionable suburb of Vienna, have been ordered into an asylum, to have their mental condition inquired into, in consequence of their mania for collecting cats. The ladies bought cats from all parts of Vienna. The healthy animals were well looked alter, but the incurable cats were killed, and their dead bodies preserved in the house. The sanitary authorities visited the house, and discovered no fewer than 100 dead cats. Most of the animals' bodies were in an advanced state of decomposition.

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MRS. PIERCE

TOO MANY CATS FOR HIM - The Evening Sun, 1st June, 1910

Worcester, Mass., June 1. — Because his wife kept 32 cats and insisted that they be fed from saucers on the dining-room table Dr. Albert Pierce became peeved. He threw cups, saucers, plates and other utensils at the cats. His wife called him a “brute,” and went home to mother. Then she sued for divorce, alleging cruel treatment. Dr. Pierce admitted bombarding the cats, but pleaded justification. He offered to provide for his wife if she will limit her attentions to one cat, but she refused, and the case will go to trial.

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MRS. ODELL

TOO MANY CATS AND DOGS FOR HIM - The Monroe News Star, 21st December, 1911

Kansas City. Dec. 21. - Naming as co-respondent, not another man but thirty-five cats and two dogs, Samuel Pomeroy [actually Samuel Odell or Pomeroy], a Civil War Veteran. seventy-four years old,. of Bethel, Kas., filed suit for divorce. He asserts that the pets received more care than he did.

TOO MANY CATS - Grand Forks Herald, December 26th, 1911

Husband Could Not Stand Affection of Wife For Pets
Kansas City, Mo., Dec. 26 — Averring that thirty-five pet cats and two dogs had superceded him in his wife's affections and ranged higher than he in the household. Samuel W. Odell of Bethel. Kan., a civil war veteran, 74 years old, has sued Sarah L. Odell for divorce in the Wyandotte county district court. His experiences in Andersonville prison during the civil war were pleasant, he told Henry Meade, his attorney, compared with the life which his wife’s pets led him during the six weeks of their married life which began last April.

"We met at church,” he said, “and when we were married I wanted her to go to my home at Pomeroy. Kan. She refused and insisted that I go to live at her home at Bethel. I didn't know anything about the menagerie until I got there. Then I found why she wouldn't leave. She had thirty-five cats and two dogs. She allowed them to eat, sleep and drink in the house. She let the cats sleep in the beds and raise their kittens there. I couldn't move without stepping on one or sit down without moving one or two off a chair.

“She always cooked three times as much as would have been required for the two of us alone. When I brought home fresh meat or when a meal was cooked the cats had to be provided for first. I ate afterward, if I could; but as a rule I couldn't. They drank out of the dipper and were allowed to put their noses and feet, into practically everything that already had been cooked or was to be cooked.

“When I complained of the excessive number of pets and wanted to get rid of part of them, she said they had been there before I came, and were there to remain and if I didn’t like it I could get out.”

In his petition for divorce Odell made affidavit to the substance of the statements made in conversation with his attorney. Mrs. Odell is 44 years old. Odell has returned to Pomeroy to live with one of his three married daughters.

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DR. HALE

DR. HALE GUILTY; HAD TOO MANY CATS - The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 30th March, 1917
Officials Testify That His House "Was in a Most Filthy Condition.” “DIRT WAS SIX INCHES DEEP.” Court Reserves Sentence Until April 9 for Him to Clean Up Place.

"My wife insists upon keeping cats and they are ruining me. They have already eaten up more than the house has cost.”
With a wistful shake of his head, Dr. William H. Hale, superintendent of Publlc Baths of Brooklyn, spoke thus last night, after the Court of Special Sessions had found him guilty of maintaining his house, at 40 First Place, in a filthy condition. Dr. Hale was charged with the violation of the health laws, caused, according to the testimony, by the “large number of cats” kept in the house and the failure to clean up the premises.

Dr. Hale maintained that the offensive odors ascribed to coming from the interior of the dwelling was due to a chemical disinfectant kept in the hallways, and that the whole proceedings were caused because of animus displayed by a neighbor, whose small boys he had frequently chased out of
The yard because they were a nuisance.

“I deny that the premises ever were unclean,” spiritedly retorted the doctor, “and it is our business if we are kind-hearted to cats.”

Dr. Albert Morton and Inspector Harry J. Maloney of the Health Department, whose complaint resulted in the summons to court of the Superintendent of Baths, testified as to the interior of the premises. They said that they had found the hallways, and all of the rooms except one bedroom, which they had not visited, deep with filth, bones, empty bottles, litter and dirt. The same conditions, they said, applied to the roof and the front area-way.

“It was so deep that we couldn’t tell if there was any carpet on the floors or stairways,” testified Dr. Morton. “In some spots the filth was 6 inches deep.”

Dr. Hale, who is also an attorney, and who conducted his own case, snorted aloud in indignation at this statement. Inspector Maloney said that there were at least eight or ten cats in the house when he visited it and about six or more in the front area were drinking milk from pans. When he took the stand, Dr. Hale surprised the Court by stating that he hadn’t lived in the premises the last twenty months. Mrs. Hale, he said, made her home there now, and that he hadn’t even a key to the house.

Prior to that, he asserted, he and Mrs. Hale had occupied the house for twenty-nine years, and there had never been a death in it or a case of a contagious disease. This he said in a triumphant tone, in refutation to the charge, that the conditions of the dwelling were prejudicial to the health of the neighborhood.

"I refuse to state where I am living now, unless compelled to by the Court,” resolutely replied the doctor, when Assistant District Attorney Cooper insisted upon knowing where he was now living. “I will only be the victim of further tyranny in the form of investigations from officials.” Under direction of the Court he admitted that he was now living at another residence, owned by his wife, at 452 Prospect avenue.

”Dr. Hale, we find you guilty of this charge,” said Justice Salmon. “This evidence discloses that this house has been kept in a most filthy condition. We shall reserve sentence until April 9, to give you an opportunity to clean up the premises.”

* * * * *

GUSSIE RUBIN

BOSS WRANGLER OF BAR NONE CAT RANCH AND HER DOUBLE LIFE - Printed in the US press under several different titles in July 1922.

New York, July 11 [1922]. Gussie Rubin, the boss wrangler of the Bar None Cat Ranch, 2106 Second avenue is off the range today. Gussie is in jail and a neighbor is providing the daily pan of milk for the hordes of felines which swarm her fifth floor tenement animal ranch. Not only is Gussle a champion cat wrangler. Her talents are as diversified as a chapter from the Arabian Nights. She can act as society queen, religious devotee, or crippled, ragged beggar when she chooses. With an eye to business, she has visited half a dozen negro churches and three synagogues, receiving charity from all of them. One negro congregation has christened her "Child of God.” Every evening she donned crutch and ragged garments and sold newspapers. A few hours later she changed her disguise with a lace shawl and fresh wardrobe and enjoyed night life along Second avenue. Now Gussie is considering her varied career in confinement while officers investigate her business and zoological eccentricities.

BEGGAR WOMAN OF MANY DISGUISES IS A LOVER OF CATS - The Pittsburg Sun (Kansas), 6th August, 1922.

Arabian Nights are outclassed by the stories of Gussie Rubin, who is in Raymond Street Jail, Brooklyn, charged with, vagrancy. Gussie can look like a society queen, a religious devotee or a crippled, ragged beggar, as she chooses. One of Gussie’s hobbies is cats— big or small, black or white, with or without tails — any kind of cat, which she keeps at the “Bar None Ranch,” her apartment. But not even the variety of cats in her collection surpasses the diversity of characters assumed by the owner. In the early evening, so the story runs, in an old shawl, wearing a ragged apron and on crutches, Gussie begged or sold papers in Times Square. Later in the evening she put her crutches away, adorned herself in attractive Oriential garb, threw a lace shawl over her shoulders and glided into the night life of Second avenue. Sometime in the early morning she returned to her fifth floor apartment to be greeted by the cats that purred and spit and fought for her attention.

That was not the limit of Gussie's versatility. Divesting herself of Oriental atmosphere, it is said, she often withdrew to religious devotion. She is quoted as saying a negro congregation in Harlem christened her the “Child of God." At the same time she was known in at least three synagogues, and received aid from all of them. Officers of the negro church say Gussie is not a member, but neighbors say she included half a dozen negro churches in her itinerary, in every case becoming a subject of their charity.

Gussie has not forgotten her cats. From her jail retreat she wrote to a neighbor to feed them. The neighbor entered Gussie’s apartment, and before her two black and white kittens wabbled on unsteady legs. She placed a pan of milk on the floor and suddenly from under the table, the bed, from off the mantel, through a hole in the window, poured a torrent of cats. A shrill barking came from the next room, and aloft was heard the twittering of pigeons.

* * * * *

MRS. HESSELBACH (NEW YORK)

CATS BROKE UP HOME, HUSBAND TELLS COURT - The Philadelphia Inquirer, 1st October, 1922

Man, Sued by Wife, Says She Neglected Him for Her 12 Feline Pets
NEW YORK. Sept. 30,_There were too many cats in the home life of Henry Hesselbach, he explained to the Supreme Court today. He bore with them as long as he could, but at last, he says, “on Mar 22 I went away with a broken spirit, taking my clothes.” Now his wife wants a separation, allowance and
counsel fees. Henry says:

“After the first year my wife began to neglect her home and herself. She came down to make breakfast for me without being washed and her hair hanging down. Later she did not get up to make breakfast at all. I had to make my own breakfast. I became despondent and suffered great mental anguish. Later she developed a desire to keep a lot of cats in the house, having as many a« twelve at one time. The cats over-ran our rooms, leaving traces [spraying] on our furniture and carpet and even on our beds. In the morning the animals would be on the dining room table and the hair from their bodies would get into the food. The odor caused by the presence of these cats was unbearable. I pleaded with her, but she told me they were her pets and that she thought more of them than she did of me.

Then Henry left her. Justice Wasservogel granted $30 alimony and $200 for her counsel.

* * * * *

ANON (NEW YORK)

HELP MUST COME QUICK - The Decatur Herald, January 7, 1926

That story, now familiar, of the business opportunities in a cat ranch [see footnote] is in a fair way to be put to a practical test, providing that is, a certain French woman living in New York city will consent to the commercial use of her pets. Alone in a strange land, widowed, and unable to understand even the language of her neighbors, this woman turned to cats for companionship. She began in a small way, but the fecundity of her pets, so much counted upon by the promoters of the cat ranch, operated rapidly to increase her herd. Two cats, as black as midnight, presented her after a few weeks with two healthy litters of kittens. By the amazing operation of geometrical increase, the process continued until new litters of young were arriving every few days. Tender hearted, and having no other amusement, the woman kept all of her charges and tenderly cared for them.

A newspaper man found her the other day, all but crowded out of her two-room apartment by 43 cats, stalking about the floor, perched on every shelf, prowling over sink and cupboard. Four new litters of kittens had arrived in the two weeks preceding, and the prospects for additional multiplication, on a staggering scale, were plain. Unfortunately for the purposes of science, and for the vindication of those original souls who originated the intriguing financial proposal of a cat ranch, it appears that the New York woman neglected to begin simultaneously the production of rats for the sustenance of her pets. She fed them, instead, upon meat supplied at her own expense. It was a fatal error. Be they never so fecund, the rats could not catch up now. The enterprise has grown beyond the capacity of the lone widow. New blood in the firm; new management, and especially the genius of the promoters is called for if a rare and fascinating experiment is to be saved from disaster.”

The "Cat-Rat Ranch" was a widely circulate scam and hoax (depending on whether money was actually taken) “get rich quick scheme” involving a cat ranch next to a rat ranch where the cats ate the rats and the rats ate skinned cat carcasses, the theory being that their relative rates of reproduction created a perpetual cycle and produced $10,000 worth of cat pelts daily.

 

The stereotype of the female cat hoarder even made it into fiction in the nineteenth century.

QUEER PEOPLE: A VICAR'S LADY - The Graphic, 28 February 1880
"YES, Ma'am, Mrs. Motterling is at home. Will you walk in ? She will be down stairs presently." The visitor entered the large and richly furnished hall of A--n Rectory, and was just in time to see the figure of Mrs, Motterling retreating at the top of the broad oak staircase.

[. . .]"How did Mr. Motterling come to marry her ? "
“Oh, he married her for her money and her interest. Some of her relatives have great interest in the Church. She was a widow living in the parish where Mr. Motterling was curate. I forget now where it was - somewhere in the country."
"How curious ! He is such a meek, timid little man that I wonder how he ever had the courage to propose such a thing as marriage to her."
" Yes, and she has her own way in everything. He must be miserably weak-minded to tolerate those cats."
“'Cats? What cats?"
"Oh! Have you not heard that Mrs. Motterling--" Here the conversation was interrupted by the servant opening the door to announce another visitor, so the subject of Mrs. Motterling’s peculiarities was dropped.

There was grief and lamentation in the old Rectory to which Mr. Motterling had taken his elderly bride. But all the grief was felt and all the lamentation made by Mrs. Motterling herself. Fido, dear, darling Fido, was dead, and Fido's fond mistress was inconsolable. Everyone else in the house rejoiced, for Fido had been a petted, wheezing, overfed, long-haired nuisance. The unhappy dog's declining years had been made quite a burden to it by Mrs. Motterling's foolish pampering, and her utter ignorance of a lap dog's requirements in the way of daily nourishment. Fido might have been the apple of his mistress's eye for a much longer period if she had only been able to understand the language of dogs, and hear the pathetic complaints which Fido made day after day about his asthma and his miserable dyspepsia, but she could not so, of course. Fido had no option but to leave a world in which he was treated "not wisely, but too well." For some time Mrs. Motterling would not have the defunct Fido removed, but it was pointedly suggested to her that she must either have him stuffed or buried. But Mrs. Motterling received the suggestion about stuffing with the strongest indignation.

What have her darling pet cut and skinned and hacked about by an unfeeling taxidermist ! No ! Fido should never suffer such an indignity. However, she saw the necessity of having the dog buried, so fitting arrangements were made for Fido's funeral. Some days later she told the story of poor dear Fido's death and burial to a lady who came to visit her.

"We buried tile poor dear on Monday afternoon. It was a lovely day, and the sun was shining brightly as I silently carried my lost pet to its grave. I had the grave dug just under the churchyard wall in the garden. I will show you the place presently. All the servants came, and I told them to dress in black."

Her listener, who could hardly keep her countenance during the recital, here ventured to say: "And did they come in black ?"
" Yes," replied Mrs. Motterling, " they were all in deep mourning, and so we buried poor Fido in solenm silence, and, do you know, I believe the servants thought that Mr. Motterling would come and read the burial service !"

The story of Fido's burial “in solemn silence " was repeated, of course, but though everyone was amused, no one was at all surprised to hear it, for old Mrs. Motterling's peculiarities were well known.

[. . . Motterlings move to new location] So in due time the Motterlings prepared to remove their household gods to their new abode. There was no great difficulty about the furniture, but Mrs. Motterling was in despair about her pets, and well she might be. For once her husband was firm, and made her understand that they must be left behind. The cocks and hens could be sold, but Mrs. Motterling was loth to part with them. She was certain that they would not he treated by anyone else as they had been by her. She was quite right. Nothing was more unlikely than that her feathered pets would find similar quarters when they left her hospitable roof. People usually house their poultry in a suitable building erected out of doors. Mrs. Motterling had her own views on tile subject, and kept poultry indoors. One of the bedrooms of her house was converted into a hen-roost. [. . .] if Mrs. 'Motterling had stopped at turning a bedroom into a fowl-house it would not have been quite so bad [. . .] no one would hesitate to prefer a room full of poultry to a room full of cats !

Fancy a room full of cats in a dwelling-house ! Fancy the condition of a house in which one of the bedrooms was the dormitory of five-and-thirty cats ! Mrs. Motterling's love of cats was her weak point. She was partial to birds of any kind, she made a fool of herself about dogs, but cats she loved with an affection that amounted to a mania. Servant after servant left her house. They could not put up with the cats. They did not object to two, or even three, in the house, but a menagerie of them was too much even for the humblest "slavey's "toleration. So when Mrs. Motterling came to realise the fact that she and her darling cats had to be parted, her poor old wrinkled face was the picture of dismay. Her first thought was to try and find a good home for each cat ; so she went about and made very praiseworthy efforts to induce kindly people to adopt her pets.

But to find homes, and suitable homes, for such a goodly number of " toms and tabbies " was impossible in a country place. People had their own cats, and did not want other people's as well. The poor old lady got two or three adopted, and then she sat down and cried. Her cats were doomed. Nothing could save them, and Mrs. Motterling knew it perfectly well – hinc illa lacryme. To be poisoned, or to be drowned, that was the question. After a while she decided that death from "the cup of cold poisons was to be their fate. So a suitable person was sent for to carry out her resolution. Alas, poor Grimalkins !

''The state of the house, sir, was awful ; we should all have been laid up with fever in a week if I had taken my family into it as it was. That old woman must have been mad to have allowed the house to get into such a state. I've been obliged to have the papers off, the wainscoting removed, and the boards - all the boards - taken up in some of the rooms and burned. The place was pestilential."

The new Rector told his grievance to everyone he met [. . .]At last lie chanced to ask what had been done with the dead cats.
"' Ohl ! the old lady had a big grave made for ‘em all all out in the garden - she saw to it 'erself."
" I wonder where they were put; it would be just as well to know," thought the Rector. He accordingly made inquiries and found out. " I would have forgiven the state of the house and all the inconvenience it put me to," said the Rector afterwards ; "but I can't forgive her for burying all the carcases of those vile cats as close as she could put them to my drinking well.”

 

This last case doesn’t really fit in as a hoarder as there are only three cats in evidence, but it does share in terms of eccentricity, self-neglect and squalid living conditions. The woman in question was nicknamed “the catskinner” although there is no evidence of this activity in the newspaper reports. Hence I’ve left it as a footnote to my article.

A MISER STARVING HERSELF TO HEATH
Chelsea News and General Advertiser, 2nd February 1867
During the past week great excitement has prevailed in the neighbourhood of the New Cut, Lambeth, in consequence of a well-known eccentric female having been discovered lying dead in a state nudity in most wretched apartment in Harriett-street, Lower Marsh, Lambeth. From her singular and penurious habits, notwithstanding the apparent destitution, she was supposed to have been possessed of property; and accordingly Mr. Sheppard, the coroner’s officer, with police sergeant, proceeded to search. The body was on a board laid out, but quite naked, merely having a piece of an old nightgown thrown over her. Three black cats belonging to deceased were at the time lying upon the body. There was no wearing apparel or furniture in the room, which was in a most filthy and wretched condition, but it appears that the body had been stripped (robbed), and the things sold in a rag-shop, from the produce of which, and money believed to have been abstracted from her stays, the whole of the inmates the house, including the landlady, were supposed to have become in the frightful state intoxication in which they were found. With some difficulty possession was obtained of a book, showing that she was a depositor in the Southwark Savings Bank for upwards of £100. The deceased was well known in the southern districts of the metropolis, and from her singular attire, consisting of an immensely large beaver bonnet, ample, antiquated cloak, &c., formed during her rounds with a basket containing small tin articles, tapes, &c., an object of sport for gangs of rough boys, from whom she had gained the sobriquet of "Jenny the Catskinner,” and by these juveniles she was frequently mobbed and assailed, which she has sometimes resented with stones with such severity as to bring her before a police magistrate. She was, however, about eight nine years since sent to gaol for three months for felony, having been detected in stealing clothing from children. On that occasion a considerable sum was found in her stays, a portion which was applied to her support in prison, and the balance handed to her upon her discharge. To such extremes did she carry her penurious habits (although a depositor in the savings’ bank for years), that she has frequently not only begged for and accepted scraps of food from various parties, but has been known to eat cat’s meat and even scraps she picked from the streets.

On Saturday last Mr. W. Carter, the coroner for East Surrey, held an inquest at the Duke of Sussex, Gibson-street, Lambeth, ton he body of the above deceased. who bore the name of Hannah Henson, stated to be aged 75. Susannah Mary Hope, widow, of Havil-street, Southampton-street, Camberwell, said she had been intimate with deceased for twenty-five years. She last saw her alive on Monday three weeks [ago], when she called upon witness. Deceased was not an intemperate woman, but, the contrary, very abstemious. She was accustomed to carry a basket with small tinware, tapes. &c., which she sold about the streets. She was of very saving habits. Witness was not aware that she ever wanted food, or that she ever received parochial relief. Deceased could neither read nor write. She had placed a will in witness's possession, naming her executrix. The will here produced, and which was dated in 1862, bequeathed to “Maria Kate Broun, 234, Regent-street, St. James's, Middlesex, daughter of James Broun and Maria, his wife, late of Hatfield-street, Blackfriars-road, all money deposited and standing in my name in the Southwark Savings’ Bank."

Isaac Sheppard. the coroner’s officer, produced the bank-book, showing that deceased had deposited and that there was then standing in her name £111 2s. 9d., and stated that going to the house he found deceased in a state of nudity, and that her clothing had been taken and sold by the last witness and other persons in the house, and from what he could ascertain the stays had contained some amount of money. The witness (Hope) being re-examined said deceased told her the last time she saw her alive that she had £4 in the right comer of her stays and £7 in the left corner. Mr. Walter Menday, of Kensington-road, surgeon, saw deceased on the Wednesday after her death. Had some previous knowledge of her, having received an order from the parish to attend her on Saturday, 1st December. Her person was in a very dirty condition, and so was her room. Had made a post-mortem examination. Her hair and body were swarming with vermin. He should say the immediate cause of her death was exhaustion arising from want of proper nourishment.

The jury returned a verdict that death has arisen from deceased having by her penurious habits neglected to provide herself with proper nourishment. It is not known whether deceased had any relatives living, and Maria Kate Broun, to whom the money is left in the will, cannot at present be found.

MESSYBEAST : RESCUE & FERAL CONTROL