NINETEENTH CENTURY SATIRICAL ARTICLES ABOUT CATS (1880 - 1899)
During the latter part of the Nineteenth, and early part of the Twentieth, centuries, some biting satires appeared in newspapers attacking such things as taxation, education, evolution and the foibles of certain humans. The following satires are those that use cats to put across the message.
The New York Times, November 10, 1875
Cats must he decidedly more popular in England than they are here. How else are we to account for the annual cat-shows at the Sydenham Palace? Our cat-shows are purely voluntary on the part of the cats, and, being held at unseemly hours on unlawful back fences, excite us to rage instead of admiration, and are the occasion of the distribution of boot-jacks instead of prizes. The English cat-show, with its committee sitting in judgment on an array of eats, and awarding silver cups and decorative medals with grave enthusiasm, is clearly an expression of a national interest in cats which is wholly wanting in thia country.
Looking at the matter dipassionately, it is impossible to avoid the conviction that the zeal of the promoters of cat-shows outruns their judgment. The influence of such an exhibition as that which recently assembled three hundred and thirteen cats at Sydenham cannot but be injurious to the moral nature of the cat. The qualities which ought to be encouraged in the cat are honesty in respect to the family milk, skill aud industry in pursuit of mice, and that graceful limpness of body which the humane aud generous cat exhibits when inverted or bent into abnormal geometrical figures by inconsiderate infants. Sleekness of fur, beauty of color, and grace of tail, constitute the merely outward cat, and are of little value in comparison with moral worth. A cat may be as faultless in external appearance as is a professional gambler, but he may also be as worthless and corrupt. There are cats with fur of the purest whiteness, whose interior is nevertheless habitually full of surreptitious chicken-bones; and there are cats whose lithe forms, clad in jet-black fur, suggest exceptional abilities in the rat arena, but who are too lazy to kill the smallest mouse, and who are secretly in league with the rodent banditti, permitting them to ply their profession without molestation on condition that they will not disturb the cat’s after-dinner nap. While beauty is always to be desired, and personal neatness to be encouraged, it is the gravest mistake to imagine that the exterior of a cat gives any clue to his moral qualities.
Now the committee which awards prizes at the cat-show looks only at the external cat. The most depraved cat in the United Kingdom may receive the highest praise if his coat is better than the coats of his rivals. What would be thought of a competitive examination for commissions in the Army if the candidates were judged exclusively by their clothes ? Would it not lead young men to regard dress as of more importance than intelligence, bravery, aud honesty ? The influence of a cat-show must be precisely similar. The cats are taught that fur is of more consequence than anything elge. Can it be expected that cats who have once attended so demoralizing an exhibition will return to the prosaic duty of rat-catching in dirty cellars, when they have seen the highest prize awarded to a dissolute reveler, who has for years spent his nights in riotous pleasures on wood-sheds of infamous reputation, and who has never done an honest day's work in his whole feline existence ?
We may congratulate ourselves that the cat-show has not yet become popular here. Our cats are bad enough as it is, but at all events they know that industry is a better passport to favor than debauchery ; and that the finest fur combined with habits of laziness, profanity, theft, and midnight singing, cannot safely invoke comparison with the dingy coat of the faithful hunter of the coal-cellar. It is perhaps a reproach to us that we make so few efforts to elevate the moral tone of the American cat, but we can at least boast that we have not openly thrown the influence of public exhibition and competitive examinations on the side of mere fur, and against faithfulness, honesty, and the mastery of mice.
The New York Times, April 5, 1876
The time has arrived when it is the duty of the Thoughtful Patriot to protest against the zoological showers which are occurring almost daily in one or other part of the country. When the first of these abnormal showers covered a Kentucky farm with flesh and blood, wise men felt that the rights of graziers and butchers had been unwarrantably infringed. nevertheless, inasmuch as no one supposed that the performance would be repeated, and as it had been the means of making a number of Chicago reports acquainted with the taste of meat, no one publicly found fault with it. In a week or two afterward, a shower of fish occurred in Illinois. it so happened that this shower took place at the beginning of Lent, and therefore discreet people abstained from expressing their indignation, lest they should unwarily be drawn into a theological discussion (there followed a satirical report of showers of mosquitoes).
But the recent mosquito shower (in Canada), bad as it was, has been eclipsed by a still more recent and objectionable shower which occurred in California. It was restricted to the narrow area of a single city lo on Van Ness street, San Francisco; but it was of unparalleled violence and malignity. Early one evening the Van Ness street family was quietly seated around the social centre-table, the father explaining to a casual Eastern visitor the unequaled beauties of the Californian climate, and the mother hushing her baby by reading in a monotonous murmur the report of the day's sale of mining stocks. Suddenly a loud pattering was heard on the roof, mingled with the last despairing cry of some strong tom-cat in his agony. The pattering and the cries increased, and a shower of heavy objects fell from the eaves and rattled on the pavement below. The whole family rushed to the front piazza, and by the increasing light of the full moon beheld scores of cats pouring from the roof. Cats of all sizes and colors were sliding over the shingles and turning wild somersaults in the air. At one moment a gigantic tom-cat would clutch at the pitiless gutter, and failing to break his fall, would shoot, meteor-like, with outstretched tail, through the astonished night, and impale himself on the iron spikes of the front fence. At another moment a staid tortoise-shell tabby, of untarnished reputation, would make the fatal plunge, uttering blasphemous and blood-curdling yells until she brained herself on the brick pavement. The horrified family fled to the cellar, where they passed the night in denouncing the Weather Bureau, in vainly attempting to convince their Eastern guest that occasional cat-showers in no way detracted from the unequaled excellence of the California climate, and in searching a pocket New Testament for the account of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. The shower did not last more than fifteen minutes, though it sprinkled cats at intervals until morning. When daylight came, every fence spike was ornamented with an impaled cat, and the yard was so thickly strewn with the dead and wounded that an experienced meteorologist, who subsequently investigated the affair, reported that at least eight inches of cats must have fallen during the night. The theory put forth by this skeptical man of science in order to account for the shower hardly needs to be refuted. he invented a small boy, whom he accused of greasing the roof with butter, which caused some hundreds of cats, assembled on the ridge-pole with a view to singing the praises of love and mice, to lose their footing. Inasmuch as he failed to produce either the boy of the butter, and also failed to explain how a boy could keep his footing on a greased roof, where the most skillful cat, even with the aid of four feet and a full set of claws, could not maintain a position, we can only pity the weakness and despise the effrontery of the scientific skeptic.
It is sufficiently evident that the Californian cat shower is the last of the kind which a free and proud people can permit. We have now had showers of flesh, fish, mosquitoes, and cats, and unless prompt measures are taken we shall presently be pelted with puppies and deluged with pitchforks. Men and brethren shall these things be? Are we to silently permit the hands of the weather-clock to be turned back, and out customary showers of water to be superseded by showers of undesirable animals? Delay is dangerous. While we are yet speaking a wave of atmospheric cats may be approaching us from the Gulf; light showers of wasps and mosquitoes may be about to descend upon the New-England and Middle States, and an area of cosmical pigs may be threatening the region of the lakes.
The New York Times, March 4, 1876
Those who are intimately acquainted with the domestic cat must sometimes wonder why no effort has been made to develop his intellectual powers. There is no doubt that the cat possesses a strong and subtle intellect, and the capacity to use it for the benefit of mankind. And yet this able beast is currently believed to waste his vast abilities in the frivolous pleasures of the chase, or in more questionable forms of dissipation. No animal has been more thoroughly misunderstood be the careless and prejudiced observers who constitute the majority of mankind. Because the cat is a beast of refined tastes, accustomed to wear neat and elegant fur, and preferring to sleep on cushions rather than door-mats, he has been constantly classed among useless and brainless dandies. His fondness for mice has been pointed out as a proof that low propensities may accompany luxurious habits, and his musical genius and romantic tendencies, which are so frequently displayed on the back fence, have actually been cited as evidence of his depraved and riotous courses. His accusers, with wonderful inconsistency, praise the terrier, who is quite as much addicted to rats and mice as is the cat; and they profess to be charmed with the robin, whose voice and method are vastly inferior to those of a cultivated tenor or soprano cat. The worst that can truly be said of the cat is that he is the Alcibiades of animals, and were half the pains taken with his education that were lavished upon that of the brilliant Greek, he would probably prove his native superiority to the ablest Newfoundland or mastiff Pericles.
The fortunate few who have broken through the disdainful cloak of cynicism, in which the unappreciated cat has wrapped himself, and who have learned that however heartless he may seem, there is always and angel in him as well as in the late Lord BYRON, will be pleased to learn that certain Belgians have formed a society for the mental and moral improvement of cats. Their first effort was been to train the cat to do the work now done by carrier pigeons. It has long been known that the cat cannot be intentionally mislaid. The most astute and accomplished scientific person would have his ideas of locality totally confused by being tied up in a meal bag, carried twenty miles from home, and let out with a loud request to “scat” in a strange neighborhood in the middle of the night. This experiment has, however, been repeatedly tried upon cats of only average abilities, and the invariable result has been that the deported animal has reappeared at his native kitchen door the next morning and calmly ignored the whole affair. This wonderful skill in travelling through unfamiliar regions without a guidebook or a compass has suggested the possibility of using cats as special messengers. recently the Belgian Society for the Elevation of the Domestic Cat invited thirty-seven cats residing in the city of Liege to take a social meal-bag trot into the country. The animals were liberated at 2 o’clock in the afternoon at a long distance from Liege and promptly proceed to “scat.” At 6.48 the same afternoon, one of them reached his home, and beyond hinting, though in a much more delicate way than employed by Mr Wegg that a saucer of milk would be peculiarly “mellering to the organ.” he did not make the slightest allusion to his long and troublesome journey. His feline companions arrived at Liege somewhat later, but it is understood that within twenty-four hours ever one had reached his home.
This result has greatly encourage the society, and it is proposed to establish at an early day a regular system of cat communication between Liege and the neighboring villages, messages are to be fastened in water-proof bags around the necks of the animals, and it is believed that, unless the criminal class of dogs undertakes to waylay and rob the mail-cats, the messages will be delivered with rapidity and safety. At first it is probably that the new method of letter-carrying will be patronized chiefly by domestic servants, since the kitchen is at present the usual habitat of the cat. Cooks and policemen will not, however, be long permitted to monopolize the services of so swift and discreet a messenger, and before long the lover will commit his daily vows to the safe keeping of his mistress’ Tabby, and the Plymouth people will attach to every stray cat that may come within their reach letters involving the most tremendous secrets, which they will implore the chance receiver to aid them in keeping inviolate. (Note - the Plymouth people being a religious group)
DOGS AND CATS
The New York Times, March 15, 1877
(The piece begins with proposals to catch stray dogs and take them to the pound) Cats, whether found running at large in the street or rehearsing popular feline melodies on their own back fences are to be treated in the same manner as dogs, and this sweeping plan for the imprisonment and death of dogs and cats, emanates from the man who has hitherto progressed to be the intimate and trusted friend of every style of animal.
What MR BERGH’S precise motive may be is, or course, a mere matter of surmise. There are those who insist that he wants to gratify his thirst for canine and feline society by collecting thousands of cats and dogs in some convenient locality where he can daily wallow in them. Those who maintain this theory point out the vague nature of his proposal to kill the impounded animals by a “noiseless process,” and, assuming that this noiseless process must necessarily be conducted in secret, boldly declare that MR BERGH does not intend to kill a single cat or dog, but that he will secrete his captives in his private house, and inform the Aldermen that they have been “disposed of.” This theory, however, implies a certain amount of deception on the part of MR BERGH which is wholly foreign to his character. There is no reason to suppose him capable of practicing a pious fraud even on behalf of animals, and when her offers to kill certain dogs and cats by a “noiseless process,” we have a right to believe that he means what he says, and that he will keep his word with all the fortitude of the Roman father who condemned his own sons to death.
That MR BERGH should be found consenting, in any circumstances, to the death of a dog is sufficiently surprising, but his offer to hunt cats as well as dogs admits of an interpretation that is still more surprising, it is true that he may argue that dogs when shut up in a pound require to be amused, and that it is solely with a view to their amusement that he proposes to supply them with cats. Undoubtedly, if bagfuls of cats were to be daily served out to the imprisoned dogs, the latter would be filled with almost unbarkable delight, but what would be fun for the dogs would be death of the cats. Can it be that MR BERGH’S admiration for dogs has gradually led him to adopt their simple but unjustifiable creed that cats were created merely to be shaken? or does he intend to imitate on a small scale the cruel sports of the Roman amphitheatre, and to amuse himself by witnessing combats between profession terrier gladiators and the fierce untamed street cats? Either supposition seems incredible, but then MR BERGH’S appearance in the character of a mighty hunter of cats and dogs leaves us no room for further astonishment no matter what he may do.
Whatever may be MR BERGH’S motive, there is little reason to suppose that he will be able to gratify to any great extent the depraved canine thirst for cats. There will not be much difficulty in capturing dogs with scoop-nets. Intelligent as the dog undoubtedly is, he can be lured within reach of the scoop net by a tempting display of raw beefsteak. The cat, on the contrary, is of a wary and suspicious nature. MR BERGH may think that all he has to do is lie in ambush behind a chimney, or in the shadow of a back fence, and scoop up the passing cat. he will find, however, that the experience cat can see through the entire row of chimneys and can detect an enemy no matter where he may be concealed. It’s equally vain to hope to lure a cat within reach by the display of appetizing food. Mr BERGH may sally forth at sunset, provided with the choicest mice, and the most attractive fish, but however lavishly the mice may be spread in the sight of the cat, that astute beast will detect the treacherous purpose of the hunter, and will blink contemptuously at him from a safe distance. perhaps Mr BERGH relies upon his fleetness of foot, and fancies he can run down an able-bodied cat. If so he will soon find out his error. To successfully chase a flying cat through the back yards in which the animal makes its lair is a physical impossibility. The dense growth of fences bound together with luxuriant clothes lines, with which nature has filed our back yards, presents obstacles through which no hunter can find his way except at a fearfully slow rate, and at the risk of incurring showers of boot-jacks and broken crockery.
The truth is, Mr BERGH can capture no cats, except an occasional young and foolish kitten. if he wants cats he must enlist the services of the small boy who, in some mysterious way, never fails to supply himself with unlimited cats whenever he has a terrier who can use them. If Mr BERGH is really resolved to rid us of superfluous dogs and cats, let him set about it in a way that will insure success, and if he does this the public will care very little about his motives and will owe him a new and vast debt of gratitude.
The New York Times, April 16, 1877
(A satirical piece attacking criticism of American colleges)
There is a great deal of unjust criticism of American colleges ... Situated within a short distance of Utica, Rome, and Syracuse, Hamilton College finds it easy to render its students proficient in Roman, Carthaginian, and Siculo-Grecian history, while the high hill on which the college is perched affords unequalled facilities for cultivating the mind by sliding down hill. Moreover, Hamilton has always been a staid, orthodox college, where infidelity and nailing up the tutor’s door were strictly forbidden. And yet it is this respectable college which has flown in the face of MOSES, by practically illustrating in a most reprehensible manner the heretical theory of development. A member of the Faculty - and in all probability the professor of physical sciences - has deliberately produced a breed of eight-footed cats!
Why did this misguided man undertake to double the number of feet in use among previous cats? There was certainly no call for eight-footed cats, and he cannot pretend that he developed his new cats in order to meet a great public want. It is only too obvious that he is a Darwinian, inspired by the usual Darwinian hunger for the scalp of MOSES. There can be no doubt in any devout mind that the cat was from the beginning a quadruped. Had an octopedal cat presented herself to NOAH, that astute mariner would unquestionably have refused to give her permission to enter the ark, out of a sense of duty to his confiding mice and birds. Neither NOAH nor MOSES ever heard of a cat with eight feet, and hence the sudden production of such an animal in the nineteenth century is clearly a blow at the Mosaic theory of creation, and an effort to prove that the theory of development is true. It was bad enough to thus attempt to undermine our faith, but when we reflect what a fearful amount of suffering will be entailed upon humanity by the introduction of eight-footed cats, the offense assumes gigantic proportions.
it needs no argument to show that on the back fence the new style of cat will be twice as efficacious as his predecessor. With his eight feet he can cling to fences that are too narrow to afford foothold to a four-footed cat, and can even climb gutter-pipes in order to sing over the highest window-ledges. No fall can hurt him, for were he to break even half of his legs, he would still have enough left wherewith to run home, or to seek some low feline resort where he could procure the unwholesome but exciting catnip. When he meets a rival on the green arena which the thoughtful householder reserves in his back yard for the settlement of feline disputes, he can tear out twice as much fur, and thus elicit twice as many yells of anguish, as any cat of the old style. It is well-known that the cat, if stroked gently when sleeping by the fire, will turn lazily on his back and delicately insert his entire complement of claws into the hand of his dismayed stroker. So long as the hand is held perfectly still, the cat inflicts no pain, but lies with closed eyes and a sweet, sad smile, as though dreaming of the vanished mice of his joyous youth; but if the slightest attempt is made to withdraw the hand, the remorseless claws sink steadily into the flesh, though the placid expression of the beast’s face never changes. Good men - even New-England college Professors - often have thus unintentionally ministered to the unholy passions of the family cat, have wildly apostrophized the local “gosh,” and called for the axe. But how shall we describe the scene which will ensue when the owner of an eight-footed cat tries to stroke the treacherous animal and is caught in the close embrace of thirty-six distinct claws - as per calculations made with the aid of a large double slate, with a place for the pencil in the frame, and a small sponge for reducing excessively large sums to a proper size.
The Hamiltonian cat should be boldly denounced as a needless addition to the horrors of the back fence, a new source of peril to the human kind, and a wanton assault upon MOSES. If the inventive Professor really meant to do goo, why did he not develop and entirely legless or an absolutely dumb cat? As it is, his malevolent purpose is only too apparent, and it remains to be seen whether the Trustees will continue to countenance him in his reprehensible practices.
JEREMIAH MUDFORD’S SPEC, OR, “GONE TO THE DOGS” AN UN-SANITARY STORY OF KILLING INTEREST by THE LOOKER ON. Chapter II (Continued).
Shoreditch Observer - Saturday 29 December 1877
[The protagonist, Jeremiah Mudford, has inherited a muddy wasteland – possibly in Essex – known as “No Man’s Land” where he builds a town he names after himself. Wet rot, rats and cholera are just some of the problems. A plague of cats is another.]
Strange sights soon began to manifest themselves in the deserted streets of Mudfordville. Hundreds of cats prowled about and made night hideous, and occasional sanguinary encounters between the cats and large sewer and house rats took place. The cats after a hard struggle for life got the upper hand, and the rats diminished in number, and then it was noticed that the cats went on increasing to an enormous extant. After another interval, it was perceived that the cats instead of being fat and sleek grew remarkably thin and weak upon their feet. The sight of some hundred starving caterwauling cats, large and small, tom-cats and tabbies, tortoiseshell and yellow cats, black cats and white cats, manx cats and wild cats was enough to appal the stoutest man or woman’s heart. The poor animals were walking skeletons, and a benevolent old gentleman who witnessed the spectacle was heard to say that it would be a consummation devoutly to be wished that the practice of the Kilkenny breed were introduced into Mudfordville, and that the cats there would end their suffering by mutually swallowing each other—tails and all. At this period in the doleful history of Mudfordville, an ingenious and speculative dog fancier and rabbit breeder of old Bethnal Green in conjunction with a well known cats'-meat man, organised a sport called the “Cat Hunt," which took place twice a week, and proved very successful. The colony of cats at Mudfordville was thinned down to reasonable number, and those that remained grew fat and sleek as the rats grew equal to the demand. [. . .] The houses were becoming dilapidated, and their foundations and rooms infested by rats and inhabited by ferocious cats which had become wild through the necessities of their position.
The Marion Star, January 24, 1878
Bringing His Tack Cat to the New York Cat Show — A Midnight Encounter in a Museum.
“I read in the papers,” said Mr. Tompkins to a New York Times reporter,” that there was to be a great cat show at a museum in New York, and that handsome prizes were to be given for the best cats. Now, I had a cat that would take the first prize. It was a very large Maltese, and its strong point was that it ate tacks. It lived on tacks. It ate two or three papers a day — eight-ounce, ten-ounce, no matter what size, it ate them all. I knew that cat would take the first prize, and I brought it down to New York. I had never been to New York before, but I went to a hotel and went to bed. On Monday morning before I went out I left word with the waiter to have the cat fed with tacks. He stared at first as if he thought I was crazy, but I happened to have two or three in my pocket, and when I gave them to the cat, and the waiter saw him eat them, he was satisfied. So then I came out to see the city. At dinner time, when I went back to the hotel, I went up to my room to see how the cat was getting along. How do you think he was? He was dead. Yes, sir, he lay stretched out on the floor, dead as a door-nail. There were two empty tack papers on the floor. I sent for the waiter, and asked him about the cat’s dinner, and he had said he had left him the two papers of tacks, just as I had told him. I picked up one of the papers off the floor, and then it was all clear enough. What do you think that careless waiter’d done? Yes, sir, he’d fed that cat tacks with leather heads. Of course, that killed him; it would kill any cat. You never saw a cat in your life could eat tacks with leather heads, nor no other live man. Well, it was all up with the cat, and there was nothing for it but to box him up and send him home.”
“Did you get all these cuts and bruises in a misunderstanding with the waiter ?” the reporter asked.
“No,” said Mr. Tompkins, “I was coming to that. It was late in the evening when I got the cat boxed and ready to go to the depot, and then I went down to the cat show. When I told the manager the tack cat was dead, he was the disappointedest man I ever see. I thought he was going to cry, and he says to me, as kind as could be: ‘Go right in, Mr. Tompkins, it shan't cost yon a cent. No man as has met such a loss as that shall pay me money. No, sir; walk right in.’ I went in, and looked at the cats and things. It was pretty late, and while I was in one of the rooms up in the third story all the lights went out like a flash — turned off in the cellar, you know. There wasn’t no one else in the room where I was, and I thought it was about time to go, but when I went to go down stairs there wasn’t no stairs there. I’m sure I went to the very same place where I’d come up, but the stairs was gone. So I was in for it. What to do I didn’t know. I felt about in all my pockets tor a match. Without any foolin', I’d gin a half a dollar for a matcn. It must have been an hour or more that I waB try in’ to find the stairs, and at last I gave it up, and lopped right down on the floor for a rest. I don’t know how long I'd sat there, but I must have gone to sleep. All of a sudden I was woke up by the most awful noise close to my ear. It sounded like some wild animal. It went pretty reg’lar like breathin’, and I was atraid to stir for fear it would spring. After a while, though, I put out my hand to see if I could feel it, and where do you think my hand went? Well, sir, if my hand didn’t go straight into some wild animal’s mouth right between his teeth then I never owned a tack cat. But he didn't close on it quick enough, and I jerked it out; you better believe I got away quick and ran across that room. I was bound to find the stairs whether or no, and I found them. I didn’t find them till I struck the last step though, and that’s how I got this bruise on my cheek.”
“You mean you fell down stairs ?”
“Fell down? Yes, that’s it. Then I didn’t know which way to turn, and I went three or four steps ahead, very careful like, and first thing I knew I touched a man’s arm. It was sticking out straight, and I think he was waiting to grab me. I saw through it all in a minute. They’d got me up there and turned off the lights, so as to rob me. But I wasn't quite so green as that, you know. I made a good calculation by touching the man’s arm again, and made up my mind jest where the face was. Then I drawed back and let him have one jest as square between the eyes as I could in the dark. Drop? ! Well, I guess he dropped. He dropped so hard and lay so still I began to be afraid I’d killed him, and after a while I stole up to him and touched his face. It was cold as ice. I felt down his arm for his pulse. His pulse didn’t beat. I had killed him!”
Mr. Tompkins, as he spoke, re-licked a piece of court-plaster that had dropped from his forehead.
“Then I knew I’d got to get out of there. I’d come down one story, and I knew I was on the second floor, and I thought the best way would be to get to a window and jump out. I calculated which was the front, and started. I hadn’t gone five steps before I ran against another man. He was sitting down, and I fell over him and right square into a third man’s lap. But I was good for ’em. I turned over quick, and grabbed the nearest man by the collar. He never moved, and I gave him a h’ist that sent him heels over head. Then I grabbed the other one, but as I went to sling him too, I stumbled over the third man’s chair, and away I went. What do you think I struck on ? More men ! The room was full of ’em. They were laying for me. But I was good for ’em. That was when old Steuben came to the rescue. What did I do? Why I just grabbed a chair and laid about that room till there couldn't have been a man in it as big as a mouse without getting his head cracked. It was murder, I know, but my blood was up. I wouldn’t a cared if there was one hundred men in that room, I'd killed ’em all. No man mustn’t lay in wait in the dark for me! Then' I went up to the window and gave her an all-sender with the chair. The window gave way, of course, but there was a big canvas sign outside of that yet. I was pretty well exhausted by this time, so I give it up and yelled murder just as loud as I could.
“I expected somebody would come with a ladder and get me out the window; but they didn’t. I heard somebody pounding on the sidewalk with a club, and in a minute afterward the front door was broke in. But wasn’t I a happy man! There was a little streak of light came up the stairs, and in a minute it got bigger, and I saw my victims lying on the floor. I swear to goodness I never knew before I was so strong. The floor was covered with ’em. And while I was looking at them, who do you think come up the stairs? Four policemen. As soon as I saw the first one coming up I tried to hide behind a table that stood there, but it was no good — they had me out in a minute.
“ ‘You’re the man wot’s been making all this racket, are you?’ said one of the policemen.
“ ‘I tried—’ said I.
“ ‘ Oh, yes; you tried,’ said another policeman, ‘and you’ll soon be tried. What kind of swag did you think you’d get out of this place ? Been assaulted, have you? That's too thin. You come along with me.’
“When we got to the station-house, I got them to send for the manager. As soon as he came he told the policemen about the tack cat, and how I went into the museum very late, and must have got locked in. So they let me go. But when the manager came to see me this morning, he said I spoiled a stuffed tiger worth $300, and mashed Ben Franklin and Roger Sherman so nobody could tell them from the wax images in the “Last Supper;” and as for John Hancock, he had a dent across his cheek big enough to put your fist in. It's a bad thing. I suppose it’ll cost me three or four hundred dollars before I get through. The manager says what I heard up stairs was the fat boy snoring, and that the tiger I found was stuffed; but that’s too thin.”
TAXATION AND CATS
The New York Times, February 28, 1879
An embryo British statesman recently suggested in one of the London newspapers a tax upon cats, similar to that imposed upon dogs, to operate at once as a source of revenue and as a restriction upon the production of an article excessive indulgence in which is undoubtedly pernicious. It is a generally recognised principle that taxation should bear most heavily on luxuries, especially such as ten to a vicious 3excess. If these quadrupeds are in any case a necessity of life, as SHAKESPEARE seems to intimate in his reference to the "harmless, necessary cat," it is only in very moderate quantities. They are not even comforts, except in rare instances, in which demented old ladies have been so long addicted to cats that they cannot do without them, and even then, as in the case of the opium habit, the sad result comes from a long-contained vicious indulgence that perverts nature and should be sternly discouraged. Among the many things intended solely for mankind which cats have appropriated is the divine injunction to increase and multiply, and the result is a supply altogether beyond any rational demand. In present numbers they are neither necessary nor useful, but a superfluous article of luxury. And the worst of it is, they are a cheap luxury, while luxuries ought to be expensive, so that their mischievous use may be restricted to a small class, and that the least likely to fall into deplorable excesses.
Cats, in the present state of the market, are not only a superfluity, but an actual nuisance, productive of great discomfort and annoyance to the community at large. They, of all created things, have been most free from the operation of human laws, and the consequence is an arrogant contempt for the rights of man. There is probably no existing statute that touches them, and they have not the smallest respect for the authority that has never even attempted to bring them into subjection, or to put any restraint upon their movements. They roam about whithersoever they will, steal whatever they can lay their paws upon, congregate in any man's back yard, in utter contempt of private rights, and make night hideous with their unrestrained reveling and riot, to the destruction of sleep that "knits up the raveled sleeve of care," and refreshes men for each day's task, and to the premature loss of many articles of utility that are resorted to as missiles for the interruption of their unhallowed orgies. They disregard remonstrance, defy threats of vengeance, and spit at every semblance of authority. It does not comport with human dignity to allow this outrageous conduct to go on, and it is quite time to raise the cry, "The cats must go" - or be restrained within decent limits. The primary object of taxing cats should be restriction and not revenue, and, consequently, it will do no harm if the rate is beyond the revenue point.
It may be urged that indulgence in cat is not itself a vice, but that can only be so where the most rigid moderation is not observed, and the main object of taxation would be to enforce moderation. It is a vice of the most demoralizing kind, tending to a disregard of the rights of others, to loose and slovenly habits, and to the most degraded condition, as any one may see by observing the state of things in any locality where cats prevail. Besides, they are vicious in themselves, as well as the cause that vice is in others, to paraphrase the language of 'Falstaff.' Dogs have many admirable qualities, and yet they are taxed and restrained of their liberty, where the interest of the community requires it; whereas cats are notoriously given over to evil ways, and allowed to go unchecked. They have no habits of industry, no sense of responsibility or sentiment of fidelity, and no regard for the proprieties of life. They are known to be treacherous, thieving, and altogether unworthy of trust; they are addicted to late hours and dissipated habits, they fight and tear each other without compunction, and they indulge in unearthly vocal exercises at all hours of the night. Such conduct among human beings is rightly regarded as reprehensible to the last degree, and why should it be tolerated among quadrupeds that are of no service to society, as is the case with at least nine cats in every ten? The most feasible way of bringing them into subjection to law and diminishing their numbers is by taxation. Other evils, such as dram-selling are dealt with in this way, and why not cats? Sometimes, when it is desirable to get rid of a specific thing, it is taxed out of existence, as was the case with the notes of the old State banks. Perhaps the same policy might not be expedient in the case of cats, but it would do no harm if a large part of their volume were withdrawn from circulation. They have become terribly inflated, and violent contraction is necessary to bring them to par and make them meet the wants of trade, and no more.
Context: Burt Green Wilder (1841-1925) was an American comparative anatomist. From 1867 to 1910 he was professor of neurology and vertebrate zoölogy at Cornell. He recommended using the domestic cat (of which there was a huge surplus in American cities) as an introduction to human, veterinary, and comparative anatomy.
PROF WILDER'S CATS
The New York Times, September 3, 1879
Prof WILDER, of Ithaca, New-York, is probably the ablest person now living in point of cats. He is at present in Saratoga, where he has been edifying the American Association with his profound cat-lore. His masterly discussion of a subject that comes home so closely to our back fences has deeply interested his scientific brethren, and has been recognised by the public as one of the most important scientific events of the year.
Prof WILDER has evidently suffered deeply from cats, and it was this fact that first led him to investigate the nature of cats, in order to discover, if possible, an effective method of suppressing them. Every one knows how extremely difficult it is to kill an able-bodied cat. A double-barreled shot-gun, warranted to kill two Mississippi Independent candidates, may be fired at a cat without causing him the slightest inconvenience. Even a repeating rifle capable of firing sixteen charges seldom kills a full-grown cat, and more than one instance can be sited of a cat, after having been shot all to pieces with a magazine rifle, has put herself together again and sung in an open-air concert within twelve hours after the experiment. Poison is equally ineffective. The average cat cannot be induced to eat a piece of poisoned meat, no matter how tempting it may appear. There was, it is true, an Albany cat, a few years ago, who was observed to pick up a piece of poisoned meat and carefully carry it to the partner of his joys and sorrows, whom he finally induced to eat it by a prolonged series of plausible but hypocritical mewings. The poison would have killed from six to eight dogs of the largest size, but the cat who swallowed it merely felt temporary colic to convince her that she ought never again to put the slightest confidence in the pretended affection and liberality of her mate.
After Prof WILDER had experimented with guns and poison, he devised a new and complex method of overcoming the cat's excessive vitality. He caught a cat and froze her solid by means of a chemical mixture. After the animal had become as hard and solid of texture as a boarding-house beefsteak, he sawed her into slices and placed each slice in a separate bottle full of alcohol. As yet this particular cat has not been able to reconstruct herself - the bottles being closely corked and the corks confined with strong wire. While it may be admitted that this method is a success so far as it has been tried, it is evident that it is not adapted for general use. The ordinary householder cannot afford the expense of building a cat refrigerator, and the householder's wife would be pretty sure to object to having her sweetmeat jars used for the preservation of sliced cat. Moreover, in order to freeze our cat you must first catch him, and it is the difficulty of performing this feat which is the almost insuperable fault of Prof WILDER'S method. Strangely enough, no member of the American Association who listened to Prof WILDER's able exposition of the manner of freezing and slicing cats appears to have thought of this objection. Like most other scientific persons they are plainly anything but practical, and so long as a theory is complex and ingenious they care very little whether it is useful or not.
Although Prof WILDER'S motive in making his investigations was a good one, and although he is certainly entitled to the credit of having permanently killed at least one substantial cat, he has, on the other hand, made a painful discovery that is fraught with the most series consequences. He exhibited to the American Association an experiment, in connection with an apparently dead cat, which must fill the thoughtful mind with terror. Taking a moderate-sized cat, prof WILDER subjected her to the influence of ether, and when she was entirely insensible, removed her skull, thus rendering her, as most people would imagine, of no further use as a cat. He next proceeded to connect a galvanic battery with the different organ of the cat's brain. When the organ of tail-wagging was touched, the cat wagged her tail, and when the electric fluid touched the organ of getting-up-on-a-back-fence, the insensible animals made with her legs the motions proper for the performance of that athletic feat. Similarly, the organ of profane swearing, when brought in contact with the battery, impelled the inanimate cat to swear with great vigor. In short, all the actions of which a live cat would be guilty, were artificially reproduced by this dead cat when the appropriate organs were stimulated by electricity. Prof WILDER explained that this experiment was of enormous utility, since the brain of the cat is almost precisely the same as the brain of a scientific person, and hence so long as cats' brains are cheap and accessible, it is not worth while to experiment with a scientific person's brain. The view of the matter was enthusiastically applauded by the members of the association, and it so exclusively occupied their attention that they entirely overlooked the true meaning of the experiment.
It will at once be perceived that if a dead cat can be made to swear and spit and claw by means of electricity, there will be no use in killing cats. Suppose, for example, that the full strength of the cat company singing in any one back yard consists of fifteen cats; and, further suppose that all these cats should be simultaneously and entirely killed. Now, any wicked small-boy has merely to collect these dead cats in a pile, and to stimulate them with electricity, and they will promptly sing and swear as vigorously as ever. What Prof WILDER has done is to place the knowledge of this terrible fact in the hands of wicked and irresponsible persons. The very least penalty that should be inflicted upon him is to freeze him solid, to cut him into fine slices, and pickle him in Mrs WILDER'S preserve jars.
The New York Times, October 31, 1879
Dr BURT G WILDER may perhaps be remembered as a scientific person, who publicly demonstrated at Saratoga last Summer that when a cat is frozen solid, sawed into slices, and each slice secured in a separate bottle of alcohol, the animal's powers of singing in the back-yard are seriously curtailed. DR WILDER evidently finds a peculiar fascination in the study of cats, for he has just issued a pamphlet entitled the "Anatomical Uses of the Cat," in which may be found many interesting and, to most people, novel facts.
The writer assumes at the outset that it is necessary for the medical student to practice dissection. Now, there are many obstacles in the way of the frequent dissection of the human subject. There is not much difficulty in obtaining human skeletons, but the skeleton alone is, as the author justly remarks, as "dreary as a fireless grate." What the student needs is a cheerful corpse, and this is very expensive. In this country the supply never equals the demand. It is true that in Europe the supply is so large that in some cities a fair article of corpse can be bought for fifty cents; but if any attempt were made to supply the American market with foreign corpses, Congress would instantly impose a heavy import duty, for the protection of American manufacture. Not only is the human subject so costly that few medical students can treat themselves to more than one or two corpses annually, but it is inconveniently large. It has to be laid on a long table expressly constructed for the purpose, and the student is compelled to stand on his feet while working instead of being able to sit down and enjoy his work without fatigue. Then there is the difficulty of disposing of the chips after the work of the knife and saw is ended. DR WILDER remarks that it is the habit of the profession to get rid of partially-dissected dogs by tying them to a freight train so that they will be dragged behind as the train moves on, and distributed impartially over several miles of track. This could not be done with the human subject, and hence the medical student, in addition to his other expenses, is compelled to maintain a private cemetery. Finally the human subject, having nearly always died of disease or violence, is, in almost all cases, more or less damaged. If the medical men were allowed to select healthy men and women and kill them for the purposes of dissection, they could obtain unblemished subjects, but in deference to popular prejudice, they can only kill their patients, and these are usually in a bad state of repair before becoming patients. In view of these serious objections against the frequent use of human subjects, DR WILDER urges that the young medical student should study anatomy by dissecting cats, and should dissect only an occasional corpse, and then chiefly by way of relaxation.
The cat has none of the disadvantages which have just been enumerated. The cat is cheap. The supply of him is enormously in excess of demand, and instead of being required to buy cats, the medical student will often be paid by cat-owners for removing their superfluous cats. Then, the size of the cat is convenient. He does not fill the entire room, as does the awkward, clumsy corpse, but he can be kept on an ordinary study table and slipped into the pocket in case the landlady knocks at the student's door. The student can always sit down while working, and can thus dissect at his ease. The facility with which the remains of cold cat can be disposed is not alluded to my DR WILDER, who has a courteous regard for the feelings of his readers, but it may be hinted that the thrifty medical student may devise a way to make a small by steady income by wisely disposing of such dissected cats as he may not care to preserve. Those that he does wish to keep can be readily preserved in spirits. One gallon of spirits will, it is estimated, fully preserve an entire cat, besides supplying the most important ingredient of punch for a party of two or three young doctors.
But the main reason why the substitution of the cat for the human cadaver is urged by DR WILSON, is the curious fact that the anatomy of the cat bears the most startling resemblance to the anatomy of the average scientific person. DR WILDER asserts that many physicians will be startled when they learn "how slight are the differences between a cat and a man," meaning of course, a man of science. Each has "a head, a neck, a trunk, and two pairs of limbs, with similar bones, muscles, and joints." Moreover, "the chest, abdomen, and pelvis contain the same organs, similarly arranged." "Let us," pursues the author, "examine the arm, or front leg of the scientific person. We shall find that it has the shoulder-blade and collar-bone, humerus, ulna and radius, carpals, metacarpals and phalanges," which we find in the front leg of the cat. Both cats and scientific persons have a collection of identical muscles with Latin names, that would certainly loosen the back teeth of any cat who should try to pronounce them; and in conclusion we are told that the cat's brain "presents all the primary divisions, and some of the fissures of the hemispheres are homologous with those of man."
It may be conceded that DR WILDER'S arguments fully prove the anatomical usefulness of the cat, but it is possible he has proved too much. If the scientific person so closely resembles a cat, would it not be wise and fitting for him to go and be a cat in the intervals of weariness of self which every man occasionally feels? DR WILDER has overlooked this possible result of his pamphlet, but he may be assured that people will not readily forgive him when they find their back fences infested with howling scientific persons engaged in practically illustrating their resemblance to cats.
The New York Times, April 27, 1880
No less than three instances of the adoption of young chickens by cats have been. lately reported, if the support of three distinct men constitutes a strong movement in behalf of Mr. SHERMAN for the Presidency, these three instances of chicken adoption may be regarded as evidence that the tendency of the modern cat is to the rearing of chickens. This is certainly a most remarkable zoological fact, and it deserves to be investigated and explained.
In any case where a cat has supplied herelf with an. extemporized and ready-made family of chickens, she has previously been the mother of regular and customary kittens. These latter she has repudiated, and has usually exposed them, on cold and distant door-mats, to the doubtful mercies of dogs and householders. She has then gone into a convenient barn-yard and surreptitiously provided herself with five or six chickens, bringing them home with her, and treating them with a certain amount of apparent motherly affection.
We note in this curious proceeding an unnatural unwillingness to rear kittens. The explanation of this must be sought in the peculiar moral characteristics of the cat. Of all the domestic anima1s, the cat is remarkable for her love of luxury and display. The dog cares very little about his personal appearance. He never washes his face, and rarely, if ever, arranges his hair. The cat, on the contrary, is constantly occupied in dressing her fur and lavishes excessive care on her complexion. She is always in full dress, and to rub her fur the wrong way is resented by any cat of spirit with as much vigor as a fashionable lady resents the rudeness of the man who steps on her train.
Then the cat is averse to all labor, and delights in the luxuries that wealth commands. She loves to lie in the most costly chairs, and on the softest pillows, and is never so happy as when she walks on Axminster carpets, and is surrounded by Queen Anne furniture. Love of luxury and elegance is the strongest passion of her nature. She has all the instincts of a leader of fashion, and is the only animal that is thoroughly aristocratic in its tastes. The cat that has once been. received into a Fifth-avenue mansion scorns the vulgar cats of boarding-houses, and associates only with her particular “set.” So far as is possible, she apes the follies of fashion, and her ideal is the Angora cat who resides in an aristocratic quarter of Paris.
Now, it could hardly be expected that so refined and elegant an animal would condescend to nurse a family of kittens. It is impossible, in the present constitution of feline society, to prevent the occasional arrival of unwelcome kittens, but they. are necessarily regarded as incumbrances. Were it practicable for a cat to bring up her kittens on the bottle, she would doubtless gladly do so, but there are obstacles in the way which are insuperable. The fashionable cat must, then, nurse her kittens as if she were a mere tenement-house tabby, and thereby ruin her figure and withdraw temporarily from society, or she must rid herself of them, and thereby incur the reproach of being a heart-less and wicked creature. In these circumstances , the fashionable cat makes a compromise between her duties to society and her duty as a mother. She quietly gets rid of her kittens and substitutes for them a family of chickens. When her friends and acquaintances, who have heard that she has become a mother, call upon her to express their sympathy and regret, she exhibits her chickens, and pretends that they are her own offspring. She explains that kittens are vulgar and troublesome, and that all high-toned and cultured cats prefer chickens. This explanation is unhesitatingly accepted. and the friends and acquaintances compliment her on the beauty of her family, and her devotedness as a mother.
The astute cat finds her chicken family in every way preferable to kittens They go to sleep quietly at the approach of night and leave her at liberty to attend balls and parties on the most fashionable back fences. They find their own food, and they never torment her by pulling her ears and tail, as is the habit of ordinary kittens. The young chicken is more attractive and less troublesome than a kitten, and a cat who has a chicken family can take real pleasure in exhibiting them, and is never harassed by the fear that they will misbehave themselves at the very moment when she is explaining to a friend that they are models of deportment.
By this ingenious device of substituting chickens for kittens the fashionable cat avoids the annoyances of nursing her offspring, and is able to earn the reputation of being a careful and affectionate mother without undergoing the slightest trouble. She pays no more attention to her chickens than a fashionable lady pays to her own children, and she is saved the expense of hiring a nurse. Whether she cares anything about her chickens or not, we have no means of knowing, but she undoubtedly endeavors to model her conduct as a mother upon that of the elegant Fifth-avenue mothers whom she most admires.
We thus see that the adoption of chickens by cats is the result of the love of luxury and display in the fashionable feline world. It is, of course, greatly to be regretted, but it is undeniable, that the growth of luxury among cats has of late years been very marked. The simple, honest cat of the last, generation, who did her duty in point of mice and reared her kittens faithfully, has become virtually extinct. In her stead we have the fashionable cat - an idle, selfish creature, who has no thought above her own ease, and no ambition except to wear more elegant fur than her neighbors. Whether anything can be done to arrest this evil tendency remains to be seen. There is certainly only too much reason for the dislike and contempt which all respectable persons show for the frivolous cat of the period.
The New York Times, July 25, 1880
Reprinted from the London Telegraph
So engrossing is the partiality of the domestic cat for its home - so vehement its yearning to return thither when circumstances over which it has no control have resulted in its transfer to unfavorable localities - that certain Dutch naturalists have come to the sage conclusion that Grimalkin may be utilized as a letter-carrier with considerable advantage to public interests. These worthies propose to organize a service of post-cats, and are at present engaged, by a series of ingenious experiments, in testing pussy's capacities for delivering the mails. Selecting Luik for their head-quarters, they thence dispatch a number of cats, securely tied up in woolen bags, to the neighboring villages, where they are freed from confinement and turned loose, with neat packets of letters firmly strapped to their backs. At one their domestic instincts come into full play, and they swiftly flee homeward with unswerving directness. Of 37 cats thus constrained to serve their country, not one has hitherto failed to fulfill its postal function with excellent punctuality. It is feared, however, that when a double service shall be arranged, difficulties and delays may arise from the meetings of post-cats on the road. If the feline postmen can be inspired with a high sense of duty, overriding personal impulse, all will be well. Failing this, we apprehend that irregularities in delivery will take place.
THE TRIUMPH OF CATS
The New York Times, August 15, 1881
The world has been slow in learning the uses of cats. The ancient Egyptians used them as implements of religion; but, like other people, they never put them to any practical use except in connection with mice. Of course, cats have occasionally been made to do service in the shape of alleged stewed rabbit and veal pie; but tit cannot be properly said that the cat is a useful table animal. Few people, if asked "What is the cat good for?" would return any intelligent and serious answer. it has been reserved for an American scientific person in the present year of grace to discover that cats may be of inestimable value in protecting buildings from lightning, and that this is undoubtedly the tru object of the cat's existence.
It cannot have escaped notice that cats are never struck by lightning. All other animals are liable to death from this cause. A large number of horses, cows, and sheep are annually killed by lightning. Dogs, pigs, birds, and even fish are sometimes struck by the electric bolt, but no one has ever seen a cat that died from a stroke of lightning. It is as well established as any scientific fact can be that the cat enjoys a unique and total immunity from lightning, and times without number when the electric fluid has struck a house and prostrated a room full of people, the family cat lying on the hearth rug has not had a hair of her tail injured. It is also well established that lightning never strikes the back fences of city houses. it may strike steeples and chimneys, it may fall upon horse cars and carriaged and dog kennels, but it never touches a back fence. There must be a reason for this, and Prof Schmidt, of the University of West Virginia, has discovered the reason.
The fact that niether cats nor back fences are struck by lightning indicates a close relation between the two. It suggests that either the fence protects the cats of that the cats protect the fence. Prof Schmidt, in investigating this matter, demonstrated to his complete satisfaction that there is no self-protecting power inherent in back fences. he found that a spark from a Leyden jar could be passed directly through any back fence, and on one occasion, having placed a section of back fence on the top of a house, he actually saw it struck and totally destroyed by a thunder-bolt. It was thus made reasonably certain that the immunity from lightning enjoyed by back fences is due to the cats which constantly infest them, and as cats are never struck by lightning it follows that there must be something peculiar in their electrical condition.
Now, every one knows that a cat is simply full of the very best quality of positive electricity. if she is rubbed a little in the dark, the electricity streams from her in a shower of sparks. In this respect she differs widely from all other domestic animals. You may take a pig or a horse or a cow into the dining- room closet and rub it for hours, but it will not give out a spark. The electricity of the cat being positive, it is of the same quality as the electricity of the clouds. Electricians assure us that electricity of one kind is never attracted by any object charged with the same kind of electricity. Thus, a house in order to be struck by the positive electricity of the clouds must be charges with negative electricity, and if by any chance it is full of positive electricity it is perfectly safe. It is the positive electricity of the cat which renders that able animal safe in the severest thunder-storm. The positive electricity of the thunder-bolt slides off the cat as easily and safely as rain from the back of a duck. The lightning of the clouds may aim at a cat all day, but it cannot hit her, and wherever the cat may be she will protect her immediate neighborhood from lightning not only as well as, but far better than, any lightning-rod.
This is the reason why back fences are never struck by lightning. As a rule they are hardly ever free from cats. prof Schmidt has made a calculation showing that every cat protects a surface, the square root of which is equal to three times the length of the cat, including the tail. As an average full-grown cat measures 18 inches from tip to tip, she protects a surface of 2,916 square inches, or a section of back fence 54 inches in length. Thus, three cats and a small kitten, arranged at equal intervals from one another, are amply sufficient to protect the back fence of an ordinary city lot from lightning, and as an average of twelve ats to a back fence is always to be found, we need not wonder that our back fences are safe.
If we substitute for the lightning-rods, which are supposed to protect our houses, but which rarely do protect them, a quantity of cats, disasters from lightning will be unknown. This work of protecting houses is the true mission of the cat. the animal at whom we aim boot-jacks and bad language when we find her perched on out roof is really rendering us an important service for which we owe her a heavy debt of gratitude. Since Prof Schmidt has made his grand discovery of the protective power of cats we may expect to see a complete change of public sentiment in relation to them. Our insurance companies will insure no houses which are not well provided with cats. On the roof of every house will be placed cat-kennels with constant supplies of milk and tender mice, so as the make home attractive to the cats. The aim of every household will be to have his roof fairly blossom with cats, and the more he can induce to reside permanently on his roof, the safer he will feel and the lower will be his insurance premium. The day of triumph for cats has long been delayed, but it has come at last. Hereafter, whenever a thunder-storm is in progress we shall find men and women sitting with their arms full of cats, and invoking blessings on the only sure protection against the bolts that laugh at lightning-rods and mock at feather beds.
THE DECREASE OF CATS.
The New York Times, March 10, 1883
The marked diminution of cats in this City and in Brooklyn during the last three years is attracting the attention of scientific persons. it is estimated that this diminution amounts to fully 50 per cent, and that in some localities it is even greater. There must, of course, be some cause for this curious phenomenon, and it is well worthy of investigation.
The decrease of cats in Brooklyn was first observed about two years ago, and was at that time attributed to the competition of TALMAGE. it is asserted that when TALMAGE first came to Brooklyn, the cats residing within hearing of his voice were accustomed to gather in large numbers at the windows of the Tabernacle and to gaze at the agile and eloquent preacher with countenances expressive of the utmost wonder. After witnessing a sermon for half an hour or more this expression of wonder usually gave place to an expression of deep sadness, and the cats would withdraw from the vicinity of the Tabernacle with downcast tails and every evidence of despair. The theory is maintained that the Brooklyn cats, recognizing their vast inferiority to TALMAGE in point of eloquence and the utter hopelessness of any attempt to rival him in agility, withdrew from Brooklyn, and sought other towns to which the voice and legs of TALMAGE never penetrated.
This theory, which at first sight is certainly plausible, will not bear close inspection. In point of fact, the exodus of Brooklyn cats did not begin until after TALMAGE had been accustomed to give his weekly representations for at least ten consecutive years. Furthermore, the diminution of the New-York cats, who are for the most part without any knowledge of TALMAGE, except by hear-me, is evidently due to the same cause as the diminution of the Brooklyn cats. Painful as TALMAGE must be to every cultivated cat, there is really no reason to believe that he has driven cats out of either Brooklyn or New-York.
It is quite possible that the elevated railroads have produced a feeling of dissatisfaction among our cats. When the elevated roads were first built the prevailing feline opinion was that they were either a new style of back fence or a new variety of tree. In consequence of these views the cats undertook to climb the elevated railroads in order to give concerts on the station platforms and to kill the birds with which the railroads were presumed to abound. Of course the result was a complete disappointment, and there is no doubt that a deep dislike of the elevated roads characterizes the cat of the period.
Beyond any doubt the running of trains on the elevated roads has interfered with the comfort and prosperity of cats. From the streets through which the elevated trains run cats have almost wholly disappeared. The reason for this is two-fold. The cat is a creature of delicate nerves, and cannot sleep with any success in localities where the constant rush of elevated trains and the hiss of escaping steam disturb her. Moreover, the trains have proved as unwelcome to the mice as they have to the cats. The houses on the Second, Third, Sixth, and Ninth avenues have been shaken almost entirely free of mice. No mouse cares to live in a house where the walls tremble with the vibration of passing trains and where it is impossible for any by the boldest mouse to find courage to issue from a hole at the very moment when a train is about to pass. The disappearance of mice has, of course, deprived cats of food and of the pleasures of the chase, and hence we may safely assume that the elevated roads have had a share in diminishing the number of New-York cats. This, however, has no bearing upon the diminution of Brooklyn cats, and hence we must seek further for a cause which will explain the disappearance of cats from both cities.
The building of vast quantities of very high houses must have been unpleasant to our cat population. It has been established by trustworthy observers that the cat does not flourish at an altitude of more than forty-two feet from the ground. This is the reason why no cats are ever found on the roofs of our six and eight story buildings. Now, the multiplication of buildings of this character must restrict the space habitable by cats, and the consequent overcrowding of cats on roofs not over forty-two feet from the ground may have led to the emigration of part of the surplus population.
Again, the great height of our new houses has the effect of shutting out both sunlight and moonlight to a great extent from our back fences. Localities where cats could once sun themselves nearly all day long on the back fence, and from the same pleasant altitude survey the moon and the starry heavens through the greater part of the night, are now dark, gloomy, and forbidding. Here is another reason of the emigration of cats from our City, and we may unhesitatingly assume that it has been the cause of the emigration of hundreds of our best and most enterprising cats. Still, it cannot be said that the height of Brooklyn buildings has increased during the last three years to an extent sufficient to render Brooklyn cats generally dissatisfied.
The real cause of the diminution of City cats is probably the popularity of the cornet. This nefarious instrument is now played by at least one amateur on every block of the city and Brooklyn. No self-respecting cat will for a moment enter into competition with the cornet, and to MR LEVY and other apostles of the cornet must be given the credit of partially ridding New-York and Brooklyn of nearly one-half of their feline population.
AN OPENING FOR CATS.
The New York Times, May 6, 1883
Persons owning or living next door to people who own cats are earnestly advised to pack the cats in boxes and send them to Winnipeg without delay. The Winnipeggers are clamoring for cats, and at the latest advices were offering a dollar apiece for full-grown cats and $10 per dozen for assorted kittens.
This City is one of the largest cat producing districts of the whole country. We raise, according to the last census - 74 cats to every linear mile of back fence, while Philadelphia, which stands next to us in the table of cat-culture, raised 68, and Boston only 32 cats to the mile. Our climate and back fences are peculiarly favorable to the production of cats, and the result is an annual cat crop far in excess of our wants. The opportunity to export cats to Winnipeg should not, in these circumstances, be neglected. At $1 per cat the profit on every shipment of cats will be 100%, less the cost of transportation. There is no other crop upon which anything like so large a profit can be obtained.
No reason is assigned for the sudden and enormous demand for cats in Winnipeg. it will, of course, be suggested that Winnipeg is suffering from a plague of rats and mice, but no one who is acquainted with the real character of cats would dream of applying to them for assistance against such an enemy. Undoubtedly cats have been known to catch both rats and mice. if no food is given to a cat for seven or eight days she will sometimes prefer to catch a rat of a mouse rather than to perish of starvation, but even a cat entirely reduced to rat and mice rations will not catch more than one of the little animals daily - at least for the purpose of eating it. Cats with families unquestionably do catch rats and mice for strictly educational purposes - using them while giving object lessons to kittens in rat-catching; but a judicious and careful cat is able to make a single rat or mouse last during half a dozen daily lessons, and hence the number of rats and mice caught for educational purposes is extremely small. If there are, say, a million rats and mice in Winnipeg it will take at least half a million of cats to exterminate them in the course of a week. if, then, the Winnipeggers are buying cats with any view to suppressing rats and mice they are making a great mistake.
The demand for cats is probably due to a sudden and uncontrollable outbreak of the domestic affections among the male Winnipeggers. As is well known, there are hardly any women in Winnipeg, and hence the inhabitants are without the soothing influences of domestic life. Wives are costly, and few Winnipeggers can afford to import them. If, however, every house can have its sleek and contented cat, the animal will impart a homelike air to the place which will be of priceless value to the householder. If the Winnipeggers are buying cats in order to cultivate the domestic affections, they certainly deserve encouragement, and true philanthropists will prefer to send purely gratuitous cats to Winnipeg rather than to deprive any man the means of gratifying one of the holiest impulses of our nature,
BOAS AND CATS.
The New York Times, September 16, 1884
Mr. BERGH has so heartily identified himself with the lower animals and has done such good service in their cause that it is painful to find him wavering in his fondness for the brute creation. He has openly taken sides against the boa constrictor, whom he describes as a "hideous monster." The boa insists on having rabbits served up to him alive, and Mr BERGH goes so far as to say that if the boa will not eat dead rabbits he ought to be allowed to die. ... That Mr BERHG should find it necessary to take up an independent position as to animals, and to bolt the boa on the ground that the beast is unworthy of kind treatment is astonishing, but it is still more astonishing to find him apparently perverting truth in regard to cats. He distinctly asserts that man is the only animals that delights in the prolonged torture of living beings, and that every other animal "seizes its prey and instantly ends its sufferings." In his utter disregard of demonstrated and familiar facts, Mr BERGH rivals the average Blaine editor. He knows perfectly well that every cat who catches a live mouse spends from two to twenty minutes in playing with the poor wounded beast. When a cat lets a wounded mouse run a few inches away and then draws it back again, or when the cat tosses the mouse in the air and catches it as it comes down, is not the mouse tortured? And yet Mr BERGH calmly says that no animal except man delights in torturing living beings, and that every other animals "seizes its prey and instantly ends its sufferings."
In the face of the known facts as to cats there are but two possible explanations of Mr BERGH'S conduct. Either he has been reading Blaine newspapers of his has forgotten the distinction between truth and falsehood, or he has thrown over the cat precisely as he has the boa, and is ready to maintain that He who made Mr BERGH did not make the cat. As it is too painful to believe for a moment that Mr BERGH has sunk morally to the level of the Blaine editor, the conclusion is inevitable that he no longer regards the cat as an animal, but classes that tuneful beast with the "hideous monsters" that deserve to be starved to death. Very likely Mr BERGH has been deprived of his sleep during the recent hot weather by midnight cats, but that does not justify him in suddenly outlawing an animals whom he has already a hundred times protected from cruel treatment on the ground that the Being who made Mr BERGH made the cat. Where is this thing to end? Mr BERGH has abandoned the boa and the cat. (It then goes on to suggest that if he was consistent he would abandon any animal that somehow offended him)
THE QUADRENNIAL GATHERING AT WEST BROADWAY AND CANAL STREET.
An Educated Cat Delivers an Oration and a Feline Reformer Denounces Finis-Kilkenny Blood Tells – A Peculiarly Interesting Meeting Broken Up by a Bootjack.
The Sun, December 14, 1884
To the Editor of The Sun: Sir; For years there has existed among the morning newspaper compositors a tradition to the effect that every leap year a feline convention, a mighty gathering of the cat clan, is held In the vicinity of West Broadway and Canal street. In his frequent nocturnal trips through this neighborhood many a typo[type-setter] has looked well about him, during the significant period, hoping he might establish proof of the truth of the legend. I am one of these typos, and I now set the mythical tale upon the enduring pedestal of actual fact.
It was on one of the mellow nights which have succeeded Thanksgiving this present season that I was making my way home-ward shortly after 2 o'clock A. M. The night was clear, the air almost as soft and balmy as that which chases the fleecy clouds across a June sky, and far above the city the silver of the stars was picked out in glittering embroidery against the autumn heavens. Fresh from the noise and heat and glare of the scene of my recent labors, the mild radiance of the night came with soothing Influence, and as I crossed City Hall park, leaving behind me the lights and bustle of Printing House square, I bared my brow to the gentle breeze. From Park place my route lay up through West Broadway. This thoroughfare, which from the earliest dawn till after nightfall resounds with the roar of the city's traffic, was at this hour silent and deserted, save for the occasional passage of an almost empty street car, the tinkle of whose bells rang not unmusically in the unusual quiet. Canal street, another artery of the city's life, throbbing mightily during the daylight hours, now lay calm and pulseless in the enfolding arms of night, and it was doubtless this absence of other distracting sound that attracted my attention as I neared the cross-town avenue, to a shrill and most unhuman voice, coming from behind a high fence at my right.
Something impelled me to investigate the source of the curious cry. A moment and I had scaled the board wall, and from its top had a good view of the space upon the other side. It was a narrow, badly paved court between the rear of a liquor store on the one side and the back windows of a rickety tenement house on the other. In the clear starlight but little of it was in the shadow, and what was my surprise to see the enclosure packed with cats, posed in various attitudes, and with their attention so thoroughly riveted upon an exceedingly large and black cat seated upon ab ash barrel in one corner that my appearance and subsequent movements were wholly unnoticed by them.
A motley and curious cat show they made. There were big cats and little cats, fat cats and thin cats, black cats and white cats, cats gray and cats mottled, cats shapely and cats deformed, tabby cats and tom cats, Maltese cats and tortoise-shell cats, with an occasional beautiful Angora daintily licking its long silken hair and eyeing, with some disfavor, the plebeian company in which it found itself. It was the voice of the big tom on the ash barrel which had been caught by me, and this cat's further address soon apprised me of the nature of the gathering at which I was thus suddenly and unexpectedly assisting. With a prolonged air of astonishment and an exclamation of incredulous wonder. I took in the situation. "The legend of the composing room is then no myth," I muttered to myself. "Cats do hold conventions once in four years at this spot, and I am fortunate enough to have struck upon one of their quadrennial gatherings." I settled myself in a comfortable position in the shadow and watched eagerly the performance,
Meantime, the caterwauling went on. Old Tom was evidently Chairman, and so far yielded the floor to no one, although clamors to be recognized were heard from various quarters of the assembly.
“What we need Is reform," continued the Chairman, bristling his tail eloquently. "The times are going to the dogs. (Hear, hear.) Cats must rally and rescue. We must organize. There must be no shrinking from the call of duty — we must, we must. Will Mr. Maltese take the floor and let us hear what he thinks about it," broke off the old fellow suddenly, and a sleek, mouse-colored feline shook his whiskers and looked amicably about him.
"I think," he began slowly, "that our most respected Chairman colors his opinions somewhat from his surroundings, he lives at a hotel much frequented by politicians, and he has imbibed from them some radical views, which, if he will pardon me, are really only intended for deliverance at a torchlight procession with a band of music under full headway. Now, I am a resident of upper Fifth avenue. We take life quietly there. It is not, I may say, considered good form to be garrulous and noisy. I pass much of my time in sober thought, and from my point of view I see no cause for disquiet among our race."
A grunt and a snort interrupted this speaker, and a shrewd-eyed, shrill-voiced female cat started up: "It strikes me,” she said, "that more than one is prejudiced by his surroundings. What can an upper Fifth avenue cat know of the condition of the majority of his race, for to not many of us is given a residence in that delectable region. I am a plain blunt tabby from Harlem; I want neither senseless sound nor glutton philosophy. I should like this convention to come down to practical issues, and pass some resolutions condemning the existence of flats. I tell you we are being exterminated by them. What show does even a good acrobatic cat stand in scaling these tall apartment houses? And, besides, there is nothing get-at-able when we have risked our nine lives by a trip up the fire escape. The janitor, and death to all janitors, say I (great applause from the rowdy element) is our natural enemy. He removes all the available pickings, and cats are nowhere. Now, what are you going to do about it?"
A somewhat startled silence fell upon the assembly; then a slim, dudish young member rose with a languid air, and, making a movement with his paw, somewhat after the manner of adjusting an eyeglass, drawled out: “May I ask if the last speaker is a wife and mother?”
”No," snapped out Tabby, "thank goodness, I am a spinster."
"Ah, I thought so,” murmured the dude. “My experience so far has emphasized more than once the fact that the female reformer is apt to be a spinster."
The silence winch followed this retort was broken by the cry of Chairman Tom, who, from his ash barrel, briskly miaowed "Order, order." for the want of something better to say, and called for the discussion of further business, whereupon an educated-looking elderly cat stood up and cleared his throat.
A little thrill of excitement ran through the audience, and the words "A college cat" passed quickly from one to another. When absolute silence prevailed, the gray-whiskered cat began:
"My friends. In the early history of our species we were a race of sacred animals. On the distant plains of the Nile, under the shadow of the lowering pyramids we grew and flourished. We were consecrated to Isis, a mighty heathen god, and to the moon, which the men of that day also worshipped. Temples were erected in our honor, and praises and sacrifices offered in our name. But stretching from the land of Egypt beneath the eternal and immovable eye of the Sphinx, down through the ages to the vicinity of West Broadway and Canal street in New York (sensation) is an immeasurable interval of time and distance. The years and centuries have seen the decadence of our kind; have seen us maligned and persecuted. I (Hear, hear.) In lieu of marching honored and triumphant at the head of victorious armies we skulk in back courts and alleys, and sneak ignominiously through narrow, ill-smelling passageways in pursuit of food enough to satisfy our now meagre wants. My friends," he went on, his soul rising, "ought this to be? I ask the moon, the stars. I ask the night wind. I ask ye all, ought this so to be?"
While he paused for a reply and smacked his chops for a fresh start, an irreverent, dissipated-looking mouser jumped to Ills feet, "This is all very well, but not to the point," he said, briskly. "Besides, we have heard it all before, and are likely to hear it again, Prof. Longwhisker having produced about the same effort at the last four conventions. Now, I live in a neighborhood of lawyers, and possibly have Imbibed their promptness and want of circumlocution. If anybody has anything pat and pertinent to say, let him say it, and if not, why then I have, and that's all" - and the cat looked about him impudently.
A voice came from the further corner "I should like to report that the cat’s museum, of which I have the honor to be the keeper, is overstocked with one article. During the past four years I have received contributions of 782,842 boot-jacks, and the receptacle will hold no more.”
“Good," said the legal ratcatcher. "Now that’s business."
"We need an appropriation for more public buildings,” suggested a seedy specimen propped up against an old beer keg, “and a Society for the Suppression of Bootjacks," supplemented another rowdy, who limped.
“I should like to advise the founding of a fund for that purpose," went on the first speaker, unheeding the interruption, "and will say that, to further the movement I am willing to act as Treasurer. If called to this high and important office, I shall bring to it my best efforts and highest intelligence and shall endeavor to satisfy my constituency in the discharge of my duties."
“Pooh!” cried the lawyers' intimate, "you are a ward cat. I know you, and I’ll expose your record if you run for office."
“Hiss! Piff! spit!" came promptly upon this break, and the fur flew as the two belligerants took to the fence in hot battle.
“My friends,” said the dude cat, "Do not interfere; it would be useless. I know them both well. We shall never see them again. They are of Kilkenny descent.” His words seemed prophetic, for at this moment the pair of pugilists unlocked from their close and fierce embrace and vanished down the court - two streaks of animated fury, howling at one another as they went.
The convention, figuratively speaking, shrugged its shoulders at this abrupt departure of two of Its members, and as the sound of their rapid and forcible language died away in the distance, resumed business with undisturbed equanimity.
A movement on the part of the college cat to pick up the thread of his discourse brought instantly to his feet a large black animal of muscular build who, as a prelude to his remarks, humped his back, spat over his shoulder, and glared at the assembly.
"I'm down from Boston for this meeting tonight,” he began, “and I want to say to you fellers that you are all out of training on the bootjack question. Is it on record that any cat was ever struck by a bootjack?" A murmur. "No, never!” ran among his auditors. "Then,” continued the Hub delegate "what do you want to suppress ‘em for? Why, they are as harmless as soft gloves, and it would be uncatly even to dodge ‘em. I," and his attitude grew bolder and more defiant, "would spit at the man" - but the sentence was never finished. A window above the court was hastily thrown up, there was a whizzing nosound, and in the centre of the gathering fell a bootjack of unusual size and weight. A quick movement alone saved the New Englander from a telling blow from the projectile.
A moment of uncertainty followed this interrupting episode; ominous miaows and low, long-drawn howls grew in volume and intensity. Then a tremulous movement swept over the assemblage as one tail after another rose in outraged protest, till, as the sound of a second uplifting sash broke upon the air, the entire company, moved by a common impulse, started forward radiating in every direction in scattering flight. For a few minutes it seemed to rain, hail, and blow cats. They rushed over me, around me, and under me; the night was hideous with their cries and outlandish utterances, but so quickly was the whole exodus planned and executed that before I could cease to be an unwilling but easily surmounted obstacle the last feline had disappeared in the darkness. - PRINTER
The New York Times, January 10, 1885
It has often happened that valuable inventions have had their birth in accident. This is the case in regard to the recent invention made by Mr. J.H. Symms for the Modification of Cats, and although the name of the invention may be open to criticism, of the value of the invention itself there can be no doubt. Mr Symms's back yard has been for years infested with cats. Affliction sore from this particular cause long time he bore and bootjacks were in vain. The voices of the cats were to the last degree exasperating to his nerves, and a month ago, Mr Symms was apparently on the way to fall a victim to persistent insomnia. One night a peculiarly melodious sound floated up to Mr Symms's back windows. It was a gentle, soothing sound, of delicious timbre, and while totally different from the yell of an ordinary cat it did suggest what the voice of a celestial and glorified cat in another and better world might be. Mr Symms listened with admiration and delight, and in a short time was lulled to slumber by the melodious voice. In the morning an investigation in the back yard resulted in the discovery of what was apparently a new species of animal, half cat and half tin can - a sort of connecting link between live cats and canned sausage. It appears that a can containing a little preserved salmon had been carelessly thrown into the yard. A predatory cat has squeezed her head into the can in order to get at the salmon, and had found, when it was too late, that the fragments of tin around the mouth of the can prevented her from withdrawing her head. In these circumstances she wandered about the yard, blind and unable to escape. The voice was so modified by the can that it lost its harsh and distinctive feline character and became the delicious music which had charmed Mr Symm's midnight ear.
Mr Symms at once saw that the means of rendering all the cats of the neighborhood harmless was at his command. The next night he placed 24-four salmon cans in his back-yard, and in the morning he found that twenty-four cats had bonneted themselves. For nearly a week these animals wandered about the back yard, unable to steal, fight, or destroy Mr Symms's geraniums, while the neighbors called on that gentleman to thank him for the public spirit which had induced him to place in his back window the most delightful aeolian harp they had ever heard. It was not necessary to use more than the original twenty-five salmon cans, for the remaining cats of the neighborhood, the moment they caught sight of the modified cats, were so shocked and alarmed that they completely deserted the block. At the end of a week or ten days, the modified cats gave up the effort to live with their heads permanently canned, and Mr Symms buried them in his celery bed.
Mr Symms is one of the grandest benefactors of the race. He has pointed out the way by which we can all obtain relief from cats. Old tin cans can be obtained at a nominal price, and enough salmon to bait a hundred of them can be bought for ten cents. There is not a cat living who has sufficient self-control to abstain from canned salmon even at the peril of her life. Within a month's time there need not be a cat in this city - with, or course, the exception of the Sun's cats - whose head is free from a tin can. The midnight concerts of canned cats will make the whole city melodious, and after their swan song is sung, the cats will die, and the whole feline race, so far as this city is concerned, will be exterminated.
IMPROVEMENTS IN CATS.
The New York Times, March 1, 1885
Mr. FRANCIS GALTON is one of the most ingenious and yet useless scientific persons now living. He is continually making some new discovery, but his discoveries are of the kind that benefit nobody. It is sad to see so much real ability as Mr GALTON unquestionably possesses frittered away in science. Were he to give his attention to something useful - whist for example - he might make himself a public benefactor instead of a mere object of curiosity. He has latterly been trying to devise ways for the improvement of cats. No one will deny that this is a field in which great good might be done. The cat has not been improved within historic times. The cat of to-day is the identical animals that the Egyptians worshiped. She is just as objectionable s she was six thousand years ago; and no one has hitherto made any attempt to place an improved style of cat on the market.
Now what does Mr GALTON do when he sets out to improve the cat? Does he attempt to improve the cat's voice and method of singing, so that it will be possible for people to sleep at night in a community where cats thrive? Has he thought of substituting soft and innocuous paws for the armed and deadly paws not in use? Has he dreamed of so modifying the cat's teeth that she can be accidentally stepped on in a dark room without subjecting the innocent aggressor to a lacerating bite that is sure to be followed by hydrophobia or lockjaw? He has done none of these things, and his whole energies have been concentrated on a plan to make cats totally deaf.
Mr GALTON has found that deaf cats are by no means uncommon. Indeed, nearly all the white cats with pink eyes are congenitally deaf. Mr GALTON informs the world that be careful breeding a race of deaf cats can be produced and in time made to take the place of other cats. This is the sole improvement in cats that he has at present thought of, and the fact shows us just what an impracticable and useless person Mr GALTON is. There is no possible advantage in owning a deaf cat. The animal would sing, fight, scratch, and bite as vigorously as a cat in the full possession of her hearing. On the other hand, her want of hearing would make her positively objectionable. It would be useless and exasperating to request such a cat to "scat," for she would pay no attention to a request that she could not hear. Boots and things would have to be thrown at her whenever it was desired to attract her attention, and it would be impossible to call her - no matter what endearing and flattering terms might be used - in case her presence was desired. While she might be induced to watch a mouse hole in case it were shown to her, she could not have her faculties stimulated by hearing mice gnawing or squeaking in the wall, and half a dozen rats might run over the floor when her back was turned without the least danger that she would notice them. For these reasons there is and can be no demand whatever for deaf cats, and yet deafness is Mr GALTON'S idea of the chief improvement that ought to be put upon cats.
Why could not the man see that what the world wants is a dumb variety of cat. Such an animal would be a blessing unalloyed except with claws and teeth. In the night her value would be beyond price. Hundreds of dumb cats might assemble on the back fence and spend the whole night in argument, but not a single sleeper would be disturbed. The keen-eared watcher might occasionally hear the tearing of fur, and now and then a cat would drop from the fence into a hotbed and break a little glass, but in the hideous caterwauling that in many parts of this city renders sleep an impossibility would be unknown. It is now a common practice for a cat who has been shut out of the house at night to sit on the front step and mew until life becomes a burden to everybody within the radius of quarter of a mile; for a cat has absolutely no consideration for the nerves of other people, and is a mere mass of compressed and consolidated selfishness. But no matter how much a dumb cat might want to get into the house at night she could not mention it, and she would be obliged to wait quietly and decently until morning.
Of Mr GALTON would turn his attention to the invention of dumb cats he would do something of value for the human race. There is little doubt that by a trifling surgical operation on a cat's throat dumbness might be secured. Cats rendered dumb by artificial means would in turn produce a race of kittens congenitally dumb, and as a result the average longevity of man would be increased. Think for a moment what this world would be were the voice of the cat never again to be heard! Think of the hours of quiet sleep that we should have; the healthy condition of our nerves, and the improvement of our morals that would follow the cessation of caterwauling. And then think on the stupendous stupidity of the scientific person who can think of no way of improving cats except by making them deaf!
(Galton's studies into heredity tested the idea that particles in the blood allowed the inheritance of acquired characteristics. He disproved this between 1869 to 1871, by transfusing blood between different rabbit breeds and finding no evidence of characteristic transmitted in the transfused blood. Galton explicitly rejected the idea of the inheritance of acquired characteristics (Lamarckism), and was an early proponent of "hard heredity" (what is now "genetics." Hence the satire above ends with a Lamarckian approach of inheriting dumbness.)
The New York Times, April 9, 1885
Some time ago an Ohio cat who had repeatedly suffered the loss of promising families of kittens took possession of a last year's bird's nest at the top of an elm tree. It is, of course, possible that being an Ohio cat she was unable to see a vacancy even in an elm tree without promptly endeavoring to fill it, but it is more probably that her chief purpose in occupying the nest was to rear her next family far from the madding crowd of small boys and at a safe distance from the mill pond. In due time the nest was filled with five kittens - and, in fact, filled altogether too full. The cat thereupon dropped the least valuable kitten out of the nest just at the time that a terrier of renown was passing under the tree. The nest, being thus made comfortable, has been occupied for three weeks by the cat and her family, and both mother and offspring are doing much better than could have been expected. The cat broods over her kittens at night and protects them from inquisitive birds by day, and as the limb on which the nest is placed is too small to bear the weight of a small boy there is little danger that a successful attack will be made upon it.
Interesting as this incident is to the general public, it has caused much uneasiness to scientific persons, who fear that the Ohio cat has taken the first step in the development of a breed of flying cats. The kittens will be led to look upon trees as the natural habitat of their species, and it is not impossible that Nature will provide them with organs especially suitable to arboreal life. Wings would be of no use to an ordinary cat, but to a race of cats living exclusively in trees wings would be of inestimable value. Whenever nature sees that an animal is in need of any particular organ she furnishes it sooner or later. For example, Nature saw that a claw capable of clutching crackers would be of great use to the parrot, and accordingly the parrot at an early stage of its residence in tin cages developed prehensile claws. It is believed by many able scientific persons that the bat is simply a mouse which, having adopted the habit of living in church towers, felt the need of wings with which to fly and of eyes adapted for use in the dime religious light of dark churches. Nature furnished wings and eyes of the desired pattern on demand, and that she will furnish the Ohio arboreal kittens with wings in the course of the next generation or two is probable.
Mankind has suffered much from cats of the ordinary type, but it is a question whether life will be worth living when every shade tree is the haunt of a flock of flying cats. These pestilent bests will fly in our open windows at night, and will roost and howl on every roof and telegraph pole. It is difficult enough to hit a stationary cat with a bootjack, but who will be able to hit a cat on the wing? As a consequence, the flying cats will multiply enormously and drive every bird out of the country. Instead of being awakened by the chirp of the early morning bird we will be aroused by the wail of half-awakened cats and both by day and night the air will be filled with feline blasphemy and fur torn out in the aerial combats of flying cats. No time should be lost in cutting down the Ohio elm tree and drowning both cats and kittens, as a warning to the race that the introduction of flying cats will not be tolerated in any civilized community.
INTEMPERANCE IN CATS
The New York Times, June 10, 1885:
The woman who was arrested the other day on the charge of habitual and disorderly cat keeping was a melancholy example of the effects of intemperance in cats. She confessed that she habitually kept eighteen cats and their kittens in her rooms, and her appearance showed she was wholly incapable of reformation. Intemperance in cats is a feminine vice and it is very seldom that a man becomes addicted to it. The Countess DELLA TORRE [sic], who is frequently brought before the London police courts, sometimes keeps as many as sixty, or seventy cats, and other women almost as bad are from time to time mentioned in the English police reports. In some of these cases the thirst for cats is probably inherited, and in others intemperance in cats is due to moral weakness and absence of self-control. Usually; however, it is misery which draws women to cats. They seek in the society of those demoralizing animals forgetfulness of the miseries of daily life and a temporary excitement, the subsidence of which plunges them still deeper in misery.
It is the common belief that a woman can indulge moderately in cats without any evil consequences. To a certain extent this is probably true. That is to say, there are thousands of women who keep their one cat and are apparently none the worse for it. Still, it is unquestionably true that it is dangerous to tamper with cats. The unhappy victims of the cat passion who are dragged before the courts would have escaped degradation had they never touched cats. It may safely be asserted that not one of those degraded creatures foresaw when she kept her first cat the wretched fate that awaited her. Total abstinence from cats of every age is the price of safety, and it is a price which no one should hesitate to pay. Even if a woman knows that she herself can indulge in a single cat without danger of becoming intemperate she should reflect upon the evil effect which her example may have upon other women, and should abstain wholly from cats lest she should be the means of her neighbors' fall.
The passion for cats, whatever may be its origin in any individual case, is the sure ruin of the wretched woman who yields to it. Under the fatal fascination of cats she loses all interest in high and noble things. She neglects her proper occupation and forgets her friends. She cares for nothing, but to shut herself up in her room and there indulges in reckless and prolonged intemperance in cats. At a later stage in her career she loses all sense of shame, and does not hesitate to show herself surrounded by cats. She reduces herself to abject poverty by squandering her money on cats, and if she escapes imprisonment as a disorderly cat keeper she is finally found dead in the midst of her cats. The possibility of such degradation could hardly fail to deter any woman from indulging in cats were it placed fairly before her, and it is the duty of philanthropic women to leave no means untried from promote total abstinence from cats among those of the weaker sex.
The New York Times, July 15, 1885
(A satirical piece - evolution was still controversial - this was the "Bonsai Kitten" hoax of its day)
There were great men before AGAMEMNON and great benefactors since his time, but the greatest man and noblest benefactor of his race is Dr. THOMPSON, of Manchester. The doctor is not merely a medical practitioner, but he is also an eminent naturalist and general scientific person. Experiments are his delight, and he has blown himself up with chemicals, and had patients unexpectedly recover in consequence of experimental remedies more than any other medical man in England. It is now a year since Dr THOMSON undertook his series of experiments in transforming aquatic animals into land animals and land animals into aquatic animals. His first experiments were made with fishes, but they were uniformly failures. He would place a fish in a bowl of water, and recued the quantity of the latter one dram daily, in the hope that by the time the water should be totally exhausted the fish would be accustomed to live without it. Unfortunately the fish invariable died when the water became too low to cover them, and the doctor was finally obliged to abandon the hope of converting fish into land animals.
Six months ago, Dr THOMPSON began what will hereafter be known as his famous experiment upon cats. He procured six new-born kittens, with the help of his family cat, and before they were five seconds old he dropped them into a bathtub willed with tepid water. The kittens sank to the bottom, where they curled themselves up contentedly until the doctor was ready to feed them. He took a small rubber tube, placed one end of it in a dish filled with warm milk and the other end in the mouth of a submerged kitten. The latter instantly began to feed, and when its appetite was satisfied resumed its slumbers. Each kitten was fed in turn, and this was repeated day after day at intervals of every three hours, while great care was taken to keep the temperature of the water always at the same height.
At the end of the week one of the kittens died from some unascertained cause, but the remaining five were perfectly healthy. They remained at the bottom of the tub, sometimes crawling over one another, but for the greater part of the time sleeping peacefully. About the middle of the second week they opened their eyes, and a few days later began to rise at intervals to the surface of the water. They never thrust their heads above the water except for an instant at a time, and Dr THOMPSON is not certain that they ever found it necessary to inflate their lungs with air. When the kittens were six weeks old they were removed from the bathtub to a tank, where the temperature of the water was allowed to regulate itself. One kitten apparently caught cold in consequence of the comparative coldness of the water in the tank, and after lingering a week, was found dead one morning. The others preserved their health unimpaired and are still flourishing. They live now upon small fish which are daily introduced into the tank and caught by the kittens, who seem greatly to enjoy the pleasures of the chase. They swim with great rapidity, using the tail as both a propeller and as a rudder, and, so far as Dr THOMPSON has observed, they have not the slightest longing for the back fence and have entirely lost the art of singing. They play with one another after the usual manner of their kind, but their voices are mute, and they are as harmless as any other silent aquatic animal.
Dr THOMPSON has thus succeeded in converting the cat into as purely an aquatic animals as is the whale. Doubtless his aquatic cats will increase as rapidly as the ordinary land cats, and the rivers and ponds of England will soon be swarming with them. It is the doctor's opinion that the change in the aquatic cat's habits and its exclusively fish diet will render its flesh as eatable as that of the otter, and will thus open to the poor of England a new and plentiful supply of food. As a game animal the new variety of cat will be a source of great delight to English sportsmen, since it will be shy, swift, and full of stratagems to baffle the hunter. Its fur will become more sleek and glossy by its continual contact with water than is the fur of the land cat, and hence, it will acquire a new value in commerce.
Not only has Dr THOMPSON virtually created a new animal, but he has rendered easy the task of extirpating the land cat. No one will have any excuse for protecting the latter animal when the inoffensive aquatic cat will be even more than sufficient to supply any possible demands for cats. The presence of a superior race of cats invariably involves the extinction of the inferior race. The latter will be universally regarded as vermin, and every man's hand will be against them. Maiden ladies with a fondness for cats will gratify it by having a cat pond in the back yard, or by keeping a pair of cats in a large aquarium, but they will not dream of permitting a land cat to roam about the house or to make the midnight fence hideous.
If he who makes two trees grow where one grew before is a benefactor, what shall we say of him who supplants an offensive animal by one of which no one can speak but in praise? The edible, fur-bearing, aquatic cat will be a blessing to the sportsman, the hungry person, and the fur merchant, and inasmuch as its advent implies the extinction of the pestilent land cat, we should hail the aquatic cat with every demonstration of enthusiastic joy. As to its inventor, Dr THOMPSON, he is sure of immortal fame, and if there is any gratitude in mankind he will have a monument taller than the Washington obelisk, and, if possible, twice as ugly.
BLACK CATS, BUT NO BLACK WOMEN
From The Chicago Post. (Reprinted in The New York Times, October 17, 1898)
Our good friends of the philanthropic Order, Little Sisters of the Cats, held a meeting yesterday, which was marked by the usual exhibition of peace on earth, good will to all Women and cats. Discussion was precipitated by the application of a lady for membership, accompanied by the explanation that “God has marked me black.” It transpired that black is a very distinguished and elegant color for cats, but is not so desirable in women, and the lady has been requested to settle with Providence the grievance that she is a woman and not a cat, with the understanding that if she can induce the Almighty to make the necessary change from humanity to felinity, she will be received into full and joyous communion. Pending this arrangement the lady who has been marked black is lying on the table.
TAR AND FEATHER SERIES: THE CAT.
A Skit by H. Graham, in The Windsor Magazine, Vol VIII, June - November 1898
What true sportsman does not feel a thrill as he hears the word “ cat,” and knows that before long another First of April will come round, and the hunting of this noble animal begin again in earnest? The very thought of it bids the blood course quicker through his veins and sends his temperature up at least two degrees. And well it may, for there is no finer day’s sport to be had than a good day’s cat shooting. Every variety of shot is obtained, from the chance taken at an old Tom flitting beneath the cover of a suburban strawberry bed to the fairly long cross-shot aimed at a cat darting across the open roof, polished by the wanderings of generations of his ancestors, or the quick snap, taken ere the soap dish is raised high enough to give its flight deadly effect, at a covey settling among the chimney pots. Even the slow, steady pot-shot with a bootjack at a cat stealing slowly over the cucumber frame, not thirty yards away, is not always a certainty to the most experienced shootist.
It is impossible to deal at any length with the natural history of the cat within the short limits of an article of this sort, and in any case the subject is already too well known to bear repetition. He is born at the customary age, though he generally chooses an extremely inconvenient place — such as the front stairs during a dinner-party — in which to make his first appearance. When very young he is called a kitten. Why he is called a kitten we have been unable to discover, but there it is, take it or leave it.
The cat, during the early stages of his career, is merely a fluffy ball with two large green eyes — you can’t see them, but they’re there all the same — a leg at each comer, and a tail, though this latter appendage is not a necessity, and has been laid aside by some of the species. As the cat grows up he adopts different abodes and employs various means for his own maintenance and sustenance. Consulting old records will show us that the cat is not a very fastidious feeder. He dotes on fish, is extremely fond of flesh, and is not above fowl. His tastes, however, are frugal, and he does not worry because there is no sauce with his salmon, though he generally prefers to take milk with his mice. He is very fond of the dark, is the cat, partly because he can see quite well in it, but chiefly because he knows you can’t, and a cat loves to have two to four the best of you. After he has fixed upon any house or garden as his abode, he will take great trouble to search out all the darkest portions therein. These he selects as suitable spots in which to sit and think, and do his family washing and sleep, and he never leaves any of these temporary resting-places until you have tripped up over him several times and nearly broken your neck. He loves to hear you swear. Bad language is like a day in the country to an ordinary cat; it braces him up and does him no end of good. No other living creature except a woman or a house fly spends so much time over its toilet as the cat ; but that is, of course, a fault on the right side. When left alone he is a most harmless creature, and but few deaths can be laid at his door. On the contrary, he generally lays the death at your door, either in the shape of a rat which he has found in the gutter, or of your best friend, who has fallen over his slumbering form and fractured his skull against the kerb. Occasionally, if you are short-sighted, the death is your own, and then it is extremely unpleasant, but has to be put up with.
Ambrose Powell, writing in 1760, says “Ye catte” — I don’t know why he spells it like that, but there appears to have been a sort of epidemic of that sort of spelling prevalent at that time; and, after all, if it amused the poor man and didn’t do any harm, I don’t know why we should object. “Ye catte,” he writes, “ is a gentle beaste, but when roused he becometh noisome and pestilent.” Of course the moral of this is, don’t rouse ye catte, but that is too desperate a remedy for any sportsman to adopt.
There are two kinds of cats which are most prevalent in England at the present time. First of all there is the common or garden cat, who makes his home upon the common or within the garden. He is generally thin and melancholy. He has eaten something that has disagreed with him, and he must needs sing about it all night. He is apt to look at the dark side of things, such as lumps of coal or other “ souvenirs ” which are handed to him during the course of the evening from surrounding windows, and from these he gathers that the world is harsh and cold and unsympathetic. This type of cat eats but little, and this for many reasons, the chief one being that he can’t get any more. We should be considerate with the poor beast and remember what he has to suffer, even when his yowlings are more than human flesh and blood can bear, we should politely request him to desist, and, if he refuses, content ourselves with heaping coals of fire and knobs of chairs and things on his head. He is not worth losing our temper over or breaking the crockery.
We next come to the indoor or preserved cat. Of course, by this we do not mean that the animal is preserved in the way that jam is preserved, though it is rumoured that when tinned he makes an excellent substitute for rabbit. We refer, naturally enough, to the home-reared, home-fed cat, who takes up a temporary abode in whatever room a meal happens to be going on at the moment. He is sleek, well-to-do, and sociable. He rubs himself up against your trousers in an engaging way, and leaves them covered with short black hairs. He invites you to tickle his head, and then scratches you all down the arm when he wishes to make it clear to you that “ he has had enough, thanks.” He goes to sleep in the armchair into which you motion your only rich uncle, and claws him enthusiastically in the back when he sits down. He plays silly games with the knitting of your wealthy maiden aunt, and gets it into such an appalling tangle that you have to take it guiltily out into the garden and bury it before the poor old lady finds out. He poaches all night in your neighbour’s hen roost, and slays the favourite Cochin China fowl which your neighbour’s wife has cherished and tended ever since it was an egg. He is left in the house when the family goes out of town, and the caretaker, whose bit of Sunday pork has mysteriously disappeared, turns him out into the street and slams the door in his face, he then joins the tribe of common or garden cats, and nightly vows vengeance against mankind from every housetop in a loud, clear voice and with great unanimity, if not perfect harmony.
In shooting cats the sportsman must keep his ears and eyes open, and always have his lethal weapon at hand, be it air-gun, catapult, sling, or merely the more homely half brick or lump of coal. Cats standing on the roof at night are hard to see, and, rushing in and out amid the encircling chimney pots, they are hard to hit. If obliged to take them running past windows or over glass houses, it is better to chance breaking a pane or two than to let them reach the open flower beds and so escajie. Air-guns are perhaps the most fatal form of death-dealing implements for cat shooting, but in densely inhabited districts they are rather too dangerous to be popular. In fact, we ourselves have known the mere report of a gun in a suburban street to create an almost universal panic. Every window in the place flew open, and the inhabitants gave vent to unpleasantly shrill screams, and, with one voice, made loud remarks on the subject of Fire, Police, Help, Thieves, Battle, Murder and Lingering Death. The most awful consequences might have ensued had it not been for the presence of mind of an adjacent police constable, who rose like one man and assured the affrighted populace that there was no cause for immediate alarm.
Catapults are also very effective against cats, and will occasionally bring them down at a distance of forty yards and more. Blow tubes, on the other hand, though deadly at short ranges, have no staying power, and their curved trajectory renders them untrustworthy for distances over twenty yards. A bootjack gripped firmly by the broader end makes a very useful missile, and nice nobbly bits of coal are also handy. We should not recommend the use of candlesticks or bedroom crockery, as the results gained are not in equal proportion to the amount of expense incurred.
The cat has many foes, but among his natural enemies there are two which stand out most prominently. The chief of these is the dog. No right-minded, self-respecting dog can see a cat without experiencing a wild desire to run after him. There is something fascinating about the sight of a cat’s tail to the average dog, and he can seldom resist it. When the pursued cat turns round, however, the dog generally stops. He seems to wish to give the poor cat every chance. In fact, he almost looks as though he were longing to avoid an encounter. An expression of anxious yearning comes over his face which says quite plainly, “Let me get out and walk.” But still, take him all round, the dog is brave enough when there is any pursuing to be done, and will give chase with great vigour till he has brought his quarry to bay.
The small boy is another of the cat’s natural foes. We refer to the genus small boy which walks along the street backwards or sideways, carrying something on his head and whistling in a shrill and offensive manner. When a youth of this type views a cat, his worst passions are at once roused. He becomes frantically excited, hisses violently, and makes other oppressive noises with his mouth, and pursues the unfortunate animal, with whatever he happens to have in hand, to the shelter of the nearest area. If the dog and the small boy both combine to annoy the cat, the position of the latter is sometimes startlingly painful and his existence inordinately brief.
A clear, moonlight night is the best time for a cat drive. Good, weather is almost indispenable to the sport, as otherwise the animals will not be out, and, if under cover, they keep close and are very difficult to put up. The easiest time to find cats, if you are without a dog, is in the early spring. It is then that you can often hear them calling to one another across the roofs, and so make sure of their position before attempting to stalk them. At other seasons they are apt to pack together in large coveys, and, if you fire at one of them and miss, he is very likely to give the alarm to the whole garden, and then you will have little chance of getting a second shot.
I shall never forget the day I bagged my first cat. I was staying in a small house just outside London at the time. It was in ’87, the year when cats were so plentiful and strong on the leg. I happened to be looking out of my window one clear, starlit night, when I suddenly saw a fine old black Tom settle on the roof of the conservatory just below me. I couldn’t get a shot at him there for fear of breaking the glass, but I bethought me of a plan for moving him to more open country. I had plenty of ammunition by me, and loaded up with a bootjack in my right hand and a soap dish in my left. Then I gently threw a sponge half full of water in such a way that it dropped just about an inch in front of the monarch’s snout. As he rose I let fly at him. Heavens ! I missed with my right, the shot going short and ploughing up the mignonette bed at his feet ; but I took a deliberate aim with my left, and, by a lucky chance, brought him down just as he was getting away. I remember a policeman helped me to bury him in the back garden, and afterwards drank my health in the kitchen several times. Ah, how it all comes back to me ! I can see the whole scene in my memory as though it were only yesterday. But, alas, I am old now and too rheumatic to do much in the way of cat shooting. All the same, I can still eujoy an occasional day’s driving on the roofs with the youngest, though I am not strong enough to walk them up as I used, or catapult them over dogs.
This, perhaps, would be a good opportunity for a few hints to beginners and those to whom cat shooting is as yet an unknown joy. My young friends, the first and most important rule to remember is never to point your catapult or other weapon at anybody, no matter whether it be loaded or not. Nasty accidents have often occurred through neglect of this simple precaution. It is to your own advantage to be careful, as your host is extremely unlikely to ask you to help him shoot his preserves next year if you have just succeeded in embedding a large stone in his cranium. When crossing a garden wall or a slippery bit of pavement, all missiles should be stowed away in the pocket, and not held in the hand. This may seem a simple thing, but we have known cases where even experienced cat-shots have done themselves serious injury through neglecting to comply with this rule. A lump of coal when carried in the hand across a bad piece of ground may easily slip, and, if it happens by chance to fall heavily on to the toe of the sportsman, it will cause him a good deal of pain and perhaps necessitate his remaining on the sick list during some of the best days of the season.
When cat shooting, you should remember always to aim well forward. If this rule is observed there will be no more cases of wounded cats escaping, no more maimed animals creeping away to die in the local water company’s reservoirs, and consequently no unpleasantness caused to those of the inhabitants who happen to be teetotallers. Aiming forward does not necessarily mean firing too soon, and beginners will find it a useful plan to see which way the cat jumps before firing at all.
With these words we will, for the present, close our short dissertation upon the cat, absorbing though it be. Not so much because we have exhausted the subject as because we feel that we have said sufficient and that you must be getting tired.
Enough, gentle reader, and again I say enough. Which makes twice. And twice is as good as a feast.
Two little brothers, aged respectively four and six years old, fell in with a stray kitten, which, suffering by the hands of some cruel person, had of its tail scarcely half an inch remaining. “ Poor little kitten!” said the younger one; “ who has cut off its tail ? I wonder if it will grow again ? ” To which the elder gravely remarked, “ Of course it will ! Don’t you see the root is there ?”
CATS IN ORGANS.
The New York Times, September 6, 1899
An altogether unaccountable tendency on the part of domestic cats to get into organs, to remain in them regardless of hunger and thirst, to so dispose their bodies as to render futile the combined efforts of organ blower or organist to evoke music from the instrument, appears to have developed in widely separated sections of the country, the most notable instance being that reported from Richmond as having occurred on Sunday last.
The Western instance noted a fortnight ago was that of a black Cat that found its way into the vitals of a church organ and that refused all offers of meat or fish or milk to tempt it from its retreat. It was plain that it had not sought its strange hiding place under stress of hunger or thirst. Love of music could not have impelled it to seek this unusual seclusion. It is specifically stated of the Richmond cat, which was yellow, that it was big and that it was asleep when extricated at the end of a service in which the singing was unaccompanied.
Of course, the builders of church organs will be prepared to guard against an epidemic tendency on the part of house cats to wander into church organs. They may be able to offer an explanation, not vouchsafed by those who have suffered from the music-destroying wanderings of these vagrant cats for their newly discovered fondness for organ interiors. It is not tor layman, to whom organ construction is a mystery, to venture to suggest the devices for excluding cats from these musical instruments or for so apprehending them as to make their wanderings powerless to thwart the efforts of blowers and players. If a cat had any political sense, or could he suspected of sufficient intelligence to be accused of a purpose to ridicule political parties, the pranks of Virginia and other cats with organs might be interpreted as having some sort of application to the ineffectual efforts of some political organ grinders to produce harmony by inflating the bellows a political cat, asleep across the vital parts of the mechanism, made impossible a response that could be called music.
There can be no doubt that if the Kentucky Democrats would take the Goebel organ apart a cat would be found in it, probably a wide-awake, gold-colored cat of most malignant aspect. There is reason to suspect that there are several cats hidden in the Ohio Democratic organ, if the refusal of that instrument to emit harmonious notes can be reasonably suspected to be caused by an irruption of organ-seeking eats. Unquestionably there is a cat in the New York Democratic organ. If anybody who attended the Altgeld meeting at Cooper Union on Monday night had heard about the organ-hiding cats, he must have been ready to explain the strangeness of the utterances heard there.
CATS AND MICE.
The New York Times, January 25, 1903
Now that the incident of the proposed mouse-killing contest for pet cats at Stamford is closed to the satisfaction of all in interest, the cats and mice included, there remains just a suspicion that the estimable women who were credited with the purpose of putting the vermicidal capacity of their pets to the test were perpetrating a joke upon those who took them quite seriously. Assuming that they know as much about cats as the average small boy has learned from experience, especially as to their temperamental idiosyncrasies, they must have known that cats have at least one distinctly and characteristically feminine trait, in that when they will they will, and when they won't they won't.
Any one who has ever taken a cat to a strange place and "put it up to her" to do something peculiarly in her own line of business has invariably found that the cat had something else to think about just then and could not be induced to do what, in other circumstances, she could not be restrained from doing. The lad who has corralled a rat or mouse in some place from which it could not escape, and brought the family cat with a well-established reputation as a valiant and puissant mouse to slay it, hoping to have one ecstatic moment of making believe that he was a spectator at a Roman arena ever so long ago, has had the disappointment of his life. The cat has squatted in one corner like a brooding Buddha and the mouse in another. If dislodged with a stick the mouse's safest refuge at the moment was under the cat. No doubt if left together long enough the cat's instinct as a hunter would triumph over her nervousness, closely corresponding to stage fright, and she would stalk the mouse in good style; but rather than gratify a morbid curiosity to see her perform she would let the mouse die of the complaint which killed the fox the day after a Meadow Brook hunt - fatty degeneration of the tissues due to lack of exercise. It is safe to say that the Happy Family of childish memory, with its congregation of normally antipathetic animals, was less free from sanguinary conflict about feeding time than would be a pit in which mice and cats were reluctantly foregathered under observation.
The Stamford ladies are playful, or else they have so much to learn about cats that a local cat club is a necessity.
SHOULD CATS SMOKE? [Satire]
By Barry Pain
The Tatler, 16th August 1905
The editor is somewhat surprised that he never really received any of the following letters as this is unquestionably the season for them:
Dear Sir, It is difficult for me to express what my feelings were on reading the letter signed An Animal-lover in your last issue. It is bad enough that any woman should so far forget her duty to the poor creatures who are dependent upon her as deliberately to teach a young Persian kitten to smoke cigarettes, but that she should write to this paper and advocate the practice of smoking among cats shows either the most brutal callousness or an ignorance which is even worse than actual cruelty. The cat, sir, is by nature one of the noblest of God's animals. In many a lowly cottage it catches the mice, it cheers the home, and is the devoted plaything of the children. What right have we to drag such an animal down to our level? It is bad enough that the poison of tobacco has permeated every grade of society. I am credibly informed that Mr. Chamberlain smokes, and it is impossible to pass along a London street without having actual and offensive evidence that the British workman smokes also. I am even aware that some women are so lost to any sense of decency or honour as to smoke a cigarette themselves. But, sir, think of the poor cats. Hitherto their abstinence from alcohol and tobacco has been one of their chief attractions. If the practice gains ground with them I for one must give up cats altogether. I cannot, nay, I will not, have a cat enter my drawing- room reeking of the Havana cigar which it has just finished on the tiles outside. Let us remember, too, that this is but the thin end of the wedge. A cat that smokes will most assuredly drink also. No, sir no true lover of these charming pets can ever wish to degrade them to the human level. I am, sir, your obedient servant, Jane Amelia Watson.
Dear Sir, I have read with great interest the letter of 'An Animal-lover' in your last issue. Why should cats be debarred from a pleasure which, thanks to the enterprise of many firms - my own, I hope, amongst the number - is now placed within the reach of the very poorest. All that is required is a cigarette specially adapted to the use of cats. In all probability they will never learn to hold the cigarette in the lips, and therefore a stout card mouthpiece must be provided. Also it must be remembered that the cat is much smaller than the human being and has a more delicate nervous constitution. Its tendencies to insomnia are too well known to require more than a passing reference. Therefore the tobacco used in these cigarettes should be particularly mild and specially blended. Such a cigarette we are now placing upon the market in boxes of twenty-five at the moderate price of 1 shilling per box. All those who possess cats or take a friendly interest in them should procure these cigarettes at once. Ask for the Felis brand. I am, sir, your obedient servant, M. Ikestein.
Dear Sir, I really must enter a vigorous protest. I am a bachelor living in lodgings and my landlady has a cat. I venture to say there are many thousands in England to-day in a similar position. There are also many cats in a similar position, and it is already notorious that as scapegoats they are being overworked. The cat at this house not only accounts for all breakages of my property and for any articles of food that may be missing but has also provided a perfect and sufficient excuse for the fact that breakfast on Sunday mornings is one hour late and for the failure to post several important letters of the evening before. I do not want that cat to overdo it. When I find, as I probably shall before another sun has set, that the general servant here has helped herself to my cigarettes in the interests of the young man with whom she is walking out I do not want her to be able to say without a blush that the cat has taken to smoking. Yours sardonically, Nemo.
Dear Sir, On my way to the British Museum the other morning I made a few inquiries, from which I find it to be an established fact that it is impossible to smoke and to sing at the same time. In the interests of those who like myself are compelled to spend the midnight hours in intellectual labour I most strongly support the suggestion of ‘An Animal-Lover.' Every cat should be taught to smoke just as every child should be vaccinated, and the law should be as strict in one case as in the other. I have no objection to the smell of tobacco although I make no use of it myself but I have every objection to the interruption due to these filthy and abominable animals from which I nightly suffer. I hope it will not be considered immodest if I sign myself, dear sir, very faithfully and sincerely yours, A Scholar.