CATS - From CHAMBERS' JOURNAL / CHAMBERS' EDINBURGH JOURNAL (From 1832 onwards).
Chambers Journal, 4 February 1832
We are informed by Browne, in his ‘Natural History of Jamaica,’ that cats are considered a very dainty dish among the negroes; and Goethe, in his ‘Rifleman’s Comrade,’ says:- “At Palermo, some of the soldiers caught a cat belonging to a convent, and having skinned the carcass, it was cut into pieces, and soaked twenty-four hours in vinegar, then anointed with garlic and honey, until the strong flavour had left it, after which it formed an excellent fricassee. To be serious,” continues our author, “I can assure my readers that the flesh of a well-fed cat is extremely good. It is indeed, (presuming her to be properly dressed,) not only agreeable in taste, but actually a dainty; and it is imagination and prejudice alone which protect the feline race amongst us from the uses of the gastronomic art.” – Brown’s Anecdotes of Quadrupeds.
[Editor: The people of Palermo have a right to exercise their own taste in cooking and eating the gigots of cats, and I shall not quarrel with them for doing so; for my part, I prefer to stick to our good old Scottish fare, and would recommend all my readers to do the same.]
Chambers Edinburgh Journal 29 April 1837
About the time of Bonaparte's departure for St Helena, a respectably dressed man caused a number of handbills to be distributed through Chester, in which he informed the public that a great number of genteel families had embarked at Plymouth, and would certainly proceed with the British regiment appointed to accompany the ex-emperor to St Helena: he added farther, that the island being dreadfully infested with rats, his majesty's ministers had determined that it should be forthwith effectually cleared of those noxious animals. To facilitate this important purpose, he had been deputed to purchase as many cats and thriving kittens as could possibly be procured for money in a short space of time; and therefore he publicly offered in his handbills 16s. for every athletic full-grown tom-cat, 10s for every adult female puss, and half-a-crown for every thriving vigorous kitten that could swill milk, pursue a ball of thread, or fasten its young fangs on a dying mouse. On the evening of the third day after this advertisement had been distributed, the people of Chester were astonished by the irruption of a multitude of old women, boys, and girls, into their streets, all of whom carried on their shoulders either a bag or a basket, which appeared to contain some restless animal. Every road, every lane, was thronged with this comical procession; and the wondering spectators of the scene were involuntarily compelled to remember the old riddle about St Ives:
As I was going to St Ives,
I met a man with seven wives;
Every wife had seven sacks,
Every sack had seven cats,
Every cat had seven kitts;
Kitts, cats, sacks, and wives,
How many were going to St Ives?
Before night a congregation of nearly three thousand cats was collected in Chester. The happy bearers of these sweet-voiced creatures proceeded all (as directed by the advertisement) towards one street with their delectable burdens. Here they became closely wedged together. A vocal concert soon ensued. The women screamed; the cats squalled; the boys and girls shrieked treble, and the dogs of the streets howled bass. Some of the cat-bearing ladies, whose dispositions were not of the most placid nature, finding themselves annoyed by their neighbours, soon cast down their burdens, and began to fight. Meanwhile the boys of the town, who seemed mightily to relish the sport, were employed in opening the mouths of the sacks, and liberating the cats from their situation. The enraged animals bounded immediately on the shoulders and heads of the combatants, and ran squalling towards the walls of the houses of the good people of Chester. The citizens, attracted by the noise, had opened the windows to gaze at the uproar. The cats, rushing with the rapidity of lightning up the pillars, and then across the balustrades and galleries, for which the town is so famous, leaped slap-dash through the open windows into the apartments. Now were heard the crashes of broken china—the howling of affrighted dogs—the cries of distressed damsels, and the groans of well-fed citizens. All Chester was soon in arms; and dire were the deeds of vengeance executed on the feline race. Next morning above five hundred dead bodies were seen floating on the river Dee, where they had been ignominiously thrown by the two-legged victors. The rest of the invading host, the victims of this cruel joke, having evacuated the town, dispersed in the utmost confusion to their respective homes. - Flowers of Anecdote.
Chambers Edinburgh Journal, August 26 1837
“Pussy, pussy baudrons, where ha’e ye been?”
“I’ve been to London, seeing the king.” – Old rhyme
Car or kitten, tom or tabby, puss, baudrons, or grimalkin, be the hue jet-black or tortoise-shell, red or white, brown or grey, under all its names, colours, and phases, we love a cat. A much abused animal it is, and ever has been. In part, this injustice is irremediable, seeing that the very name of the creature is permanently associated in our language with images and things of the most degrading and detestable description, and with which, moreover, the cat has no more to do than the rhinoceros. When was a cat ever known to have nine tails ? Or if it even could be proved, by some such eminent tail-discoverer as Lord Monboddo, that a cat with so many caudal appendages really had an existence, does it follow, that that cat ever became the willing instrument of lacerating the backs of mortal men, or in any way or manner countenanced such cruelty? Certainly not. shameful, therefore, is it, that the name of an innocent race should be mixed up with a violent practice, with which they have no true connection. Undoubtedly, the cat-o‘-nine-tails should be immediately abolished, were it only that no more injustice may be done to the fair fame of the cat. It is surprising that legislators should have so long overlooked this argument, but it will have, it is to be hoped, its due weight with parliament the next time that the subject is discussed.
Many similar examples of the abuse of the feline name might be adduced, but they are familiar to everyone. This injurious treatment of the race is the more remarkable, as few animals have greater claims on the friendly sympathy of man. Man is a whiskered animal; so is a cat. Man has been defined to be a boot wearing animals – an excellent definition, because the most exclusive, perhaps, that could be given. Yet is does not exclude cats. In the veracious chronicles which formed a leading portion of the judicious system of reading pursued in our youth, we find a cat – Puss in Boots – to be a most prominent personage, and a very amiable and respectable character he appears to have been. Cats, it is true, have given up wearing boots of late years, but this may he owing to a permanent rise in mouse-skins, or perhaps a scarcity. At all events, no argument can he founded on the disuse of paw-coverings, seeing that man might as well be said never to have been a wigged-and-powdered animal, because he has given up the custom of adorning his head with a crown of horse-hair and flour. We shall not continue further this catalogue of resemblances and congenialities, being satisfied with having shown that whiskers and boots are common to men and cats.
It is really shameful in us not to love better a creature bound to us by such ties. A great part of our antipathy seems to be owing to the connection supposed formerly to exist between cats and the imaginary and extinct tribe of fairies and witches. The cat was invested with supernatural powers. Its day character was conceived to he only a cloak to its enterprises of darkness during the night; nay, there was no saying but poor baudrons, sitting doucely by the fire thrumming its simple lay was a prince or princess of the fairies in disguise. The last authentic cat of this kind was that belonging to the Black Dwarf, otherwise called Bowed Davie Ritchie. When Sir Walter Scott, at that time a young than, visited this personage in his gloomy little cottage at Manor, the Dwarf, who loved sometimes to exercise his power of exciting wonder and terror, put to the poet the startling question, “Man, hae ye ony poo'r ?"- meaning thereby supernatural power. On Scott‘s disclaiming all knowledge of the hidden and forbidden art of “glamourie," the Dwarf pointed with his linger to a black fiery-eyed grimalkin which sat crooning in a dark recess of the apartment, saying at the same time to his visitor, “He has poo’r!” This expression, which excited indefinable feelings of awe and dread in the mind of the hearer, would have brought Davie, not very many years before, to the stake. The poor creature was only wantoning a little in his only power – the power of his deformity.
There is just one small portion of the human race which seems to regard the feline tribe with the sympathy due to it. This portion of the race consists of the elderly of the female sex. Spinsters, in particular, are very generally in the habit of bestowing on one or more of the race, bed and board -not washing, for that duty the cat undertakes itself - and highly does this fact redound to the honour of the parties so entertained. It shows their society to be held in higher estimation than that of all other animals, not excepting that of man himself - at least in some instances. Another circumstance greatly to the honour of cats, and one which we venture to put forward on the strength of our own observation, is that the most of the spinsters who are partial to feline fellowship, are gentle, amiable beings, the select of their order. Upon this principle, what an excellent woman must Mrs Griggs of Southampton Row have been, who kept an establishment of eighty-six cats, exclusive of twenty-eight defunct ones, stuffed and preserved in glass cases! The same lady at her death, which occurred about forty years ago, left an annuity of one hundred and fifty pounds to a black servant, for the maintenance of the said cats and himself. Eighty-six cats all moving about one house! What a purring and frisking!
Much as we love cats, we confess that our partiality for them is greatest when they are either very young or very old. Their noon of life is apt to be “daring, bold and venturous, proud, subtle, sly, and bloody.” But in their kittenhood, they are proverbially playful, and the most amusing, take them all in all, of created things. In their old age, too, when they feel their time of active toil to be o’er, there is a domesticity about them, a repose and sobriety of character, that are delightful to contemplate. So meek is the face which an old Thomas or Tabitha (we, at least, shall not be guilty of abbreviation) upturns to yours, that I defy you to utter and angry word, even although you know and perceive him or her to have scarcely yet dried their whiskers, after making your breakfast a jest – without cream. A cat in all its attitudes of repose is beautiful. The resemblance to the tiger in every curve of the form, has been made the foundation, with some persons, of an affected dread and abhorrence of the cat, but with us it is one of the animal’s biggest attractions; since it presents us, at no cost and less danger, with a miniature representation of what we pay half-crown to see in menageries.
Though we have given a hard account of the majority of middle-aged mousers, we do not mean to say that the cat at that period of its life never displays any of the domestic virtues. There are people indeed, who will not allow that the animal ever exhibits any good feelings at all. We can only afford room for one example to prove the contrary, but it will satisfactorily show the cat to have strong affections both natural and acquired. What can be finer of its kind that the following story of a cat’s attachment to its master?
“A beautiful cat was brought up in a family, and became extremely attached to the eldest child, a little boy, who was very fond of playing with her. She bore, with the exemplary patience, any maltreatment which she received from him – and which even good-natured children seldom fail, occasionally, to give to animals, in their sports with them – without ever making any attempt at resistance.
As the cat grew up, however, she daily quitted her playfellow for a time, from whom she had formerly been inseparable, in order to follow her natural propensity to catch mice; but, even when engaged in this employment, she did not forget her friend; for, as soon as she had caught a mouse, the brought it alive to him. If he showed an inclination to take her prey from her, she anticipated him, by letting it run, and waited to see whether he was able to catch it. If he did not, the cat darted at it, seized it, and laid it again before him; and in this manner the sport continued at long as the child showed any inclination for the amusement.
At length the boy was attacked with the small-pox, and, during the first days of his disorder, the cat never quitted his bedside: but, as his danger increased, it was found necessary to remove the cat, and lock it up. The child died. On the following day, the cat having, probably by accident, been liberated from her confinement, immediately ran to the apartment where she hoped to find her playmate. Disappointed in her expectation, she ran, with symptoms of great uneasiness and loud lamentation, about the house, till she came to the door of the room in which the corpse lay. Here she lay down, in silent melancholy, till she was again locked up. As soon aa the child was interred, and the cat set at liberty, she disappeared; and it was not till a fortnight after that event, that she returned to the well-known apartment, quite emaciated. She would not, however, take any nourishment, but ran away, with dismal cries. At length, compelled by hunger, she made her appearance every day at dinner time, but always left the house again, as soon as she had eaten the food that was given her. No-one knew where she spent the rest of her time, till she was found one day under the wall of the burying-ground, close to the grave of her favourite; and so indelible was the attachment of the cat to her deceased friend, that, till the parents removed to another place, five years afterwards, she never, except in the greatest severity of winter, passed the night anywhere else than at the above-mentioned spot, close to the grave.
The cat was, ever afterwards, treated with the utmost kindness by every person in the family. She suffered herself to be played with by the younger children, although without exhibiting a particular partiality for any of them. At the time this story was related by the parents of the child, the cat had attained her thirteenth year.”
With respect to puss’s conscientiousness and general sense of morality, we believe that the less we say the better. At the same time, while we admit that few cats, at cats go, are able to resist temptation, we must unequivocally impute this laxity of principle to the limited education usually bestowed on them, and also to the almost universal inattentiveness, on the part of their owners, to the supply of the wants of cats in a regular and legitimate way - by which neglect they are compelled habitually to cater for themselves. We have seen cats roaming at large amid abundance of edibles of a cattish sort, without ever breaking trust, and this simply became they were well trained and regularly fed. Man, therefore, has himself to blame, we conceive, for all the causes of anger or dislike which he ever received from the race of cats.
ZOOLOGICAL RECOLLECTIONS, CHIEFLY OF INDIA
Chambers Edinburgh Journal, 28 October 1837
THE popular story of Whittington and his Cat has probably some foundation in fact, although there is just reason to believe that the famous Lord Mayor of London was not indebted to one of the feline race for the foundation of his fortunes. The same story is common in Persia; and it seems exceedingly likely that not one only, but many persons, may have found a cat a very useful investment in trading to remote islands. Rats and mice abound in every part of the world, but, originally, cats were only to be obtained in particular countries: there are records to prove the scarcity of this useful animal both in England and in Wales, and the high prices for which they sold; the price of a kitten being a penny, and that of a cat, after it had evinced its destructive powers by killing a mouse, twopence. At this day, a female cat is not permitted to be taken off the island of St Helena, and at the first occupation of the island of Ascension, cats were the most acceptable gifts that the colonists could receive. The prolificness of the cat, though beneficial to man, is disadvantageous to itself; for if the species were more scarce, it would enjoy a much higher degree of favour. The extreme beauty of the animal, its natural grace, and extraordinary sagacity, are not very highly appreciated, since the object possessing these advantages has become so common as almost to degenerate into a nuisance. In Ascension, cats, having been allowed to go wild, have now increased to such an extent, as to be nearly as great a pest as the rats; while keeping down the superabundance of vermin, they destroy the eggs and the young of those numerous birds which formerly might be taken in any quantity by the crews of vessels touching at the island. Cats have either not thriven so well in St Helena, or care has been taken to keep them in a more domesticated state, for the rats are there spoken of as being the grand destroyers of game.
The moment that man has appeared upon any scene, however savage, he is certain to be surrounded by three different species of animals, the mouse, the sparrow, and the common fly; and the first and last in such quantities, that he is speedily obliged to take measures against them. The crews of shipwrecked vessels compelled to take up their residence for a time in some desolate place, have usually found their temporary habitations to be dreadfully infested with rats or mice: to such persons a cat proves an inestimable treasure, and, indeed, it would be scarcely possible to exist in comfort in any situation without one of these determined destroyers of vermin.
In India, the belief that these useful animals are connected with, and become the agents of, those who practise forbidden arts, is very prevalent. In sick-chambers, and more especially those of women at the period of childbirth, great care is taken that a cat should not enter the room, in order, it is said, to prevent the misfortunes which its presence might occasion; and even the very name of a cat is not allowed to be mentioned, as it is considered to be a witch. This prejudice extends to Mahommedan families, although the cat is a sort of privileged animal with them, in consequence of a tradition respecting the tenderness shown to one of the species by the Prophet himself. It is stated that, finding a cat sleeping one day on the sleeve of his caftan, he ordered it to be cut off, preferring to wear the garment thus mutilated rather than disturb his favourite, or his daughter's favourite, for, upon recollection, the cat was said to have belonged to Fatima. In some Mahommedan countries, the veneration for an animal petted by the promulgator of the religion, is carried to so great an extent, that hospitals are founded for the purpose of affording asylums for cats. It is not, however, in large communities such as these hospitals afford, that the mental faculties of the cat will be fully developed; the persons in charge of the animals may render them exceedingly tame and orderly, but it is close association and domestication with men which is required to show the extent of their intelligence. A celebrated ornithologist states, that, while pursuing his studies in America, he was indebted for some of the rarest specimens of the birds he sought after, to a favourite cat. After a time, this animal having watched her master very closely, seemed to comprehend at least so much of his employment as to see that he rejoiced at procuring a strange bird. She therefore went out into the woods, and surprised him by bringing in a specimen of a curious tribe, which, from its slyness, he had long sought after in vain. Happening once to be writing at a mansion in India, in which the family were what may be termed cat fanciers, keeping a breed of Persians, I was much pleased with the kindness and sagacity which one of them showed to a stranger. She had had kittens, but they were grown up, and had been given away, when a friend sent a remarkably pretty specimen of one bred in her own house, which was taken from its mother as soon as it could be fed without her assistance. This kitten, upon being introduced, went immediately up to the before-mentioned female, and attempted to suck: there was no milk, but the cat treated her very kindly, while the others seemed disposed to be hostile. In order to prevent the kitten from straying out of our sight upon leaving the breakfast room, we took her with us, and put her upon a piano-forte, which was too high for her to jump from; soon afterwards we observed the cat with whom she had previously made acquaintance, come into the apartment with a fried fish in her mouth, which she had taken out of the cook-room, and which formed part of the morning meal of herself and her companions. Leaping on the piano-forte, she began to feed her protegé; an act of most disinterested kindness—for though cats that have prematurely lost their kittens will perform the maternal office to animals of a nature perfectly contrary to their own, under these circumstances they experience a relief which is grateful to them, and rejoice at having an object on which they can lavish the affection, that maybe termed an instinct rather than a sentiment at the time.
When cats live in solitary houses, and are either not much noticed by their human protectors, or are left a good deal in the company of other animals, they will form rather odd friendships. One of the strangest that came under my observation, was that between a cat and a pigeon; for though the pigeon is rather a valiant bird, it must have been conscious that it had a very small chance against the cat, should the latter incline to be hostile; and my experience has shown, that the natural apprehension that the cat would employ its superior strength in some aggression, has prevented much of the social intercourse which puss is desirous to establish. A cat of my acquaintance would be but too happy to be upon friendly terms with a paroquet, but the latter will not be conciliated, and will take every opportunity that offers to bite the cat's tail. It tolerates puss, however, so far as to allow it to lie close to the cage in the porch of the house, while, should any strange cat enter the garden, its screams are terrific. To return to the warlike propensities of the pigeon. I had once several pets of this kind, that lived in cages, but were allowed to be at large for some hours every day: their cages were brought into what is called an inner or second verandah in India, and the doors being opened, they were permitted to walk out. They usually came into the drawing-room, and amused us with their antics, some strutting about backwards, with their heads perfectly buried in the large fan tails which they erected in the manner of a peacock. While thus engaged, the squirrels swarming about the house in hundreds, would come to the cages, take possession, and eat the peas provided for the legal owners. The instant that the pigeons were made acquainted with this invasion, they hurried to their cages, and drove the intruders out, expressing excessive indignation at the theft; while the depredators, though forced to retreat, and sometimes well beaten by the wings of their assailants, would watch their opportunity and come again, when the same scene would be reacted. The common squirrel of India is a very small, but a very beautiful creature, having three dark stripes along the back, and a splendid feathery tail, so fine as almost to resemble the gossamer: it is armed, however, with sharp teeth, and is a fierce and rather savage animal, exceedingly exclusive in its attachments. One which was tamed in our family never would tolerate any person except his master, and in his absence it bit everybody else so furiously, that we were obliged to put on gloves whenever we attempted to feed it, or touch its cage. The sparrows and the squirrels living in the eaves of the same verandah were by no means good friends, and we discovered that the latter, if in want of a meal, would make no scruple of attacking its feathered neighbours. One day an unusual hubbub brought me into the verandah of the bungalow, which, being thatched, afforded accommodation to various animals, and I saw a squirrel with a sparrow in its claws, which it would have speedily demolished, had not the other sparrows hastened to the rescue. Their numbers gave them the victory, beating him with their wings, pecking at him, and chirping vigorously; at the same time they forced the savage to quit his prey. These sparrows, though uniting in defence of one of their companions, were always fighting with each other, the combatants frequently coming down together and rolling over and over in the dust, as each succeeded in getting uppermost. They were certainly courageous birds, for, in despite of the numbers and watchfulness of our cats, they would peck at the window blinds to ask for the crumbs which we were in the habit of distributing amongst them.
Outside the house was a colony of carrion crows, and one or two large birds of the hawk kind; these creatures were always upon the watch, and nothing that was possible to attain ever escaped them. I was in the habit of going out upon a terrace in the evening, with a plateful of chicken bones in my hand, to feed a favourite terrier. The dog, more pleased at being let loose, and at my side, than anxious for food, would frequently leave his meal to play about. As long as I kept my eyes upon the plate, all was safe; but if anything withdrew my attention for a single moment, the bones were gone; there were creatures hovering unseen that darted down, and seized the prey immediately. [. . .] We were obliged to feed the cats inside the house, as they would have had no chance against these large birds, although they would engage in mortal combat with very formidable animals.
MEDICAL PROPERTIES OF THE CAT
Chambers Edinburgh Journal 13 January 1838
The following account of a very strange sort of plaster appears in Lloyd's Field Sports of the North of Europe: -“In general, sportsmen entertain a dislike to cats, because they destroy much game; but circumstances likewise occur, which remind mortals that everything is good which God has created. For example; it happened that a young sportsman of fifteen years old, whom I still know well, had got a dreadful pain in his left knee, and, by a contraction of the sinews, was forced to use crutches and the doctors had given their sentence that this would be his fate through life. Someone had heard the officers who were in the Pomeranian war of 1757, relate, that soldiers who from fatigue had got pain in the sinews, had used dog and calf skins just taken off and warm, which had given them ease; an idea was therefore started, that the cat, which is of a still warmer nature, would be more serviceable, especially if the whole cat was used. The hard sentence and intolerable pain made him determine to make every possible attempt to obtain a cure or alleviation. The patient therefore removed out into a tent, had a cat's head cut off, ripped open the body, and, with intestines and all, laid it round his knee, and fastened it with several handkerchiefs. When it had remained for twenty-four hours, the knee got more supple; the next day the leg could be stretched out altogether, and a hole broke out of itself, in the dreadful swelling, from which much matter ran out. The third day the cat was removed. The patient dressed himself and went, without stick or crutch, up to his parents and some strangers, who with joy beheld the miracle. All the pores on which the cat lay, appeared to have opened; and the cat had nearly turned into putrefaction, so that others could with difficulty approach the tent. The cure was effected in 1772. The old patient is still alive, and has, at seventy years of age, and after terrible fatigues, both as a soldier and a sportsman, never had the smallest pain in that knee."
TRAITS OF THE CAT IN HINDOSTAN.
Chambers's Edinburgh Journal, July 27, 1839 (Volume 8)
CATs are domesticated in nearly every house, and yet very little is generally known concerning their true character. They have got a bad name, and few are at the pains to discover whether they merit it or not. A love of dogs, and a hatred of cats, seem to be studiously inculcated; and although justice may occasionally be done to the maligned race, and individuals may become great favourites, common prejudice remains against them, and they are stigmatised as being savage, revengeful, and treacherous. The cat is perhaps not by nature friendly to man, and differs in this respect from the dog, who voluntarily attaches itself to the human race; nor will it continue to follow and serve him under ill treatment, for unkind usage renders it shy, suspicious, or fierce. But it is equally capable of the strongest degree of affection, and is equally faithful in its attachments. A peculiar method, however, must be pursued to elicit these qualities on the part of the cat. It does not understand teazing, and requires to be won by steady, genuine, and consistent kindness. The cat in its domesticated state is said to form an attachment to the place of its residence, rather than the people with whom it resides; but this will only be found to be the case when it is treated with indifference by the family; for of the cats of which honourable mention will be made in the following pages, not one manifested any predilection of the kind. The unfortunate association during the dark ages of cats with witchcraft, occasioned a strong prejudice against the unhappy animal condemned to endure the most odious imputation, an imputation which the sagacity it displays only tended to confirm. This notion is nearly, if not entirely, exploded in the civilised portion of the world; but another, equally erroneous, is still entertained, it being supposed that cats have a propensity to suck the breath of sleeping infants. Zoological writers have exposed the fallacy of this opinion, by showing that it does not accord with the construction of the animal; and we may hope that in the general spread of a most useful and entertaining branch of knowledge, that of natural history, the cat may be acquitted of any evil design against infant life. Its fondness for warmth and a soft bed may lead it to seek repose in the cradle, and it might injure the respiration of a baby by too close contact, as nurses sometimes overlay children; but there is no malice prepense [deliberate] in the case, and a petted cat would in all probability have too much good sense to commit this kind of mischief, for in no animals are the intellectual faculties so strongly developed by a judicious process of education, as in the cat. Various dispositions will be displayed by different individuals, but the result will in all cases be the same; they will become docile, affectionate, and exceedingly sagacious, understanding very thing that is said to them, and communicating their own wants, feelings, and wishes, in return, in very o language.
Nearly all domesticated animals, and the cat in particular, will exchange their own wild natural cry for acquired sounds; the mewings of a petted or a neglected cat will be very different; and each, besides the universal purr, will have a peculiar way of its own to express its satisfaction. In some I have observed a kind of chuckle or crow, and all will be distinguished by some variety. It is astonishing how soon a petted cat will learn to respect other favourites of the establishment, and how safely birds may be kept within its reach; a fact to be ascertained at nearly every bird shop, where cats may be seen threading their way behind the o in quest of mice. Cats, however, to be thus trusted, must be well fed; and it is a mistaken, as well as a very cruel policy, to keep them hungry in order to make them good mousers. A cat, maintained in health and spirits by sufficient food, will hunt for its amusement with more alacrity than the poor half-starved creature obliged to pick up a miserable subsistence by the chase, a circumstance certain to render it a thief. A little meagre cat, which I once purchased, would lie upon a chair, gazing listlessly at the mice playing round it, and offering them no sort of molestation; while a few weeks afterwards, when in good condition, she not only kept the house free from these intruders, but would watch for and catch much larger and more dangerous animals of the lizard kind, creatures nearly a foot long, and exceedingly dreaded by the natives of Hindostan.
Having resided for a considerable period in India, sometimes in lonely places, affording little amusement excepting that derived from watching the habits of the animal creation around, and at others dependent during the most sultry hours of the day upon the companionship of domestic pets, I had many opportunities of studying the feline character, and consider it to be but an act of justice to give the following unvarnished relation of the tempers and dispositions of a very misrepresented class. In none did I ever find a single instance of the treachery or ingratitude for which cats are proverbially infamous. In voyaging up the Ganges, the boat was so much infested with vermin, that, although not predisposed in favour of the antidote, we procured a half-grown male kitten at the city of Roughyr. The animal was of course treated with great kindness, and seemed to be perfectly happy in its new situation; but we did not give it credit for any superior intelligence, until one day I was shocked at seeing one of our birds, which had escaped in consequence of the cage-door being left open, in the cat's mouth. Instead, however, of doing the poor thing the slightest injury, puss brought it to her master perfectly unharmed, and seemingly frightened by the adventure. On our arrival at Benares, while visiting some friends, we left the cat in the boat, under the impression that it would not relish a removal to a strange place; and upon our return, after an absence of twelve days, were surprised by the manifestations of joy which it evinced at seeing us again. Puss now got into very great favour, and showed, by her affectionate demeanour, how well he appreciated our kindness. At length we reached the place of our destination, and in the distribution of the pets, the care of the cat devolved upon me. It travelled very contentedly in the palanquin, and on arriving at a large rambling dilapidated bungalow, which, there being no places of public entertainment in this part of the world, was to afford us shelter, the cat, not in the slightest degree discomposed by the change of abode, enabled me to pass the night in comparative comfort, by voluntarily taking up a position upon my bed, which, not having its usual defence of mosquito curtains strained tightly, and tucked in all round, and thus affording a good security against the inroads of vermin, might otherwise have been visited by most unwelcome guests.
After the sojourn of a week in this dreary mansion, the departure of one of the few residents of the station enabled us to purchase another in better condition, to which we removed; the cat, of course, accompanying us. We observed that both he and his successors, on changing their abode, would inspect every apartment, smelling them all round, and, having thus completed their survey, would settle quietly down, and make themselves at home. Tom was for some time exceedingly happy; he would roam abroad a little bit only for an hour or two; and if in the cold weather he found the doors closed, would utter a low gentle sound, to ask admittance. In the evening, in our walks, it would always follow us across the lain; and if we dined out, would accompany us, waiting, if there happened to be a cross cat or dog in the mansion, on the outside, ready to attend us home. The sensibility which this affectionate creature showed, roved, like that of many human beings, inimical to its happiness. After a time, some Afghan traders came to the station with cats of the Persian breed, among other articles, for sale. We purchased a very beautiful half-grown kitten of these men, which our older favourite beheld with not less astonishment than dismay. The first time that he saw my brother-in-law take this kitten in his arms, he went to his feet, looked up in his face, and uttered a piercing cry. We were, in fact, quite distressed by the grief which it manifested at the appearance of a rival, and endeavoured, by every means in our power, to reconcile the poor thing to the encroachments on its privileges by another, caressing it more than ever, and taking care that it should be supplied with food whenever it returned home, whether by night or day. It now absented itself more frequently, and for longer periods, than formerly, but never manifested any spite against the intruder; playing with it occasionally, and merely showing its dissatisfaction by moping about. During one of its absences, another string of camels passing, we took a fancy to a black female kitten, likewise a very beautiful creature, and purchased it for seven rupees, that is, fourteen shillings. Puss returning about noon, walked into the drawing-room, and seeing a second cat domesticated in the family, looked perfectly aghast. Withdrawing into a remote corner, he squatted down, and kept his eyes fixed upon the intruder, taking no notice of our attempts to soothe him, and refusing the food we offered. In this manner he continued to watch the whole day, and in the evening went away and never returned. We heard that he had taken up his quarters at another bungalow, the only one occupied by a family whom we did not visit; but we never saw him afterwards. We often hoped that he would come back to us, more especially as we were told that he had been beaten for thieving; but neither hunger nor ill treatment could induce him to revisit the house where he had been supplanted. We grieved exceedingly that the poor cat should have taken the affair so much to heart, but could not help being pleased with an instance of sensitiveness of so extraordinary a nature.
Our Persian kitten received the new addition to the family very differently, showing ever the most affectionate interest in the stranger; the little creature was exceedingly shy and timid, and was fond of creeping under a very low footstool for concealment. Tom would take up a station close to this stool, and lie upon it all night, to be near his companion. We found some difficulty in gaining the confidence of our new acquisition, for Tupee, as we called her, was particularly fearful, differing very widely in that respect from Tom, a bold fellow, the best tempered creature in the world, and full of trust and confidence. About this time a very tiny terrier puppy was added to the establishment; and all three agreed marvellously well together, playing till they were tired, and then going to sleep close to each other. Tom would sometimes betake himself to repose in one of the bathing-rooms, and curl round in a large circular brass basin, much used in India for washing the hands. If any of the party, in going into this apartment when he was thus ensconced, offered to stroke his head, he would shake it, uttering a sort of grunt, as if annoyed at being disturbed but this was all affected ; for if we passed through without taking any notice of him, he would rouse himself a little, and call after us, sinking again to sleep upon receiving the expected caress. This fellow being unacquainted with the nature of a blow, and of a most fearless disposition, would only jump up and play with a stick or whip if shaken over him, while Tupee, on the contrary, seemed to have an intuitive sense of danger. Notwithstanding her timidity, however, she possessed a high spirit, and would not put up with an affront. One day, while playing in the verandah, the dog jumped suddenly out, and startled her excessively. She sprang out of the way, but turning round, and discovering the cause of her alarm, she went up to the puppy, and gave him a pat on the face. At another time, being in a house with a stranger dog that snarled at her, when she good-naturedly attempted to play with it, on its repassing the stool on which it was sitting, she gave it a good cuff. We had the misfortune to lose Tom soon after he became full grown; some workmen had been employed about the premises, who showed themselves so much delighted with the cat, that we could not help suspecting them of stealing it when it disappeared.
We now removed to a larger station, carrying Tupee with us, and during our residence at this place occupied three different houses; we never observed her to manifest any annoyance at the change of residence, only appearing to be uneasy when put into some strange conveyance, to which, however, she was speedily reconciled, if the dog accompanied her. Her attachment to this terrier was very strong. Whenever it was absent for any time, she would evince the greatest joy at its return; indeed, upon all occasions she manifested a very affectionate disposition to those with whom she associated. Among other odd ways, Tupee had a fancy to get upon the beds early in the morning; she would walk up to the pillow of the occupant to be stroked, and if kept waiting, would give a gentle tap on the face with her velvet paw; if this did not succeed in arousing the pretended sleeper, she would as gently bite the chin; and having received the expected caress, would lie down gently for a while, and then go into another room, and do the same. Many nervous persons would have been alarmed at our favourite's method of engaging our attention, but we trusted her, and never found her treacherous.
We had now an opportunity of seeing how she would behave under the same circumstances which had produced so tragical an effect upon her predecessor, for having had a present of a Persian kitten, it was brought home. No sooner, however, did it make its appearance, than the vixen flew at it, and fairly beat it out of doors. I made several attempts to establish it comfortably in the family, but in vain; Tupee had no idea of yielding quietly and sorrowfully as the other cat had done, but maintained every point of law in her favour with teeth and talons. The kitten, therefore, was given away to a gentleman who promised to befriend it. We now took another journey, and having found a cat rather a troublesome companion in my palanquin, it was agreed that she should travel in a basket with the female servants, in their bullock carriages. Their departure took place several hours previously to our own, and Tupee was upon my lap when summoned to her basket. She instantly began to cry; and when we reached the encamping ground the next morning, we were made aware of our approach by the well-known voice, mewing with all its might. We found puss tethered to one of the tent-pins; and the moment the palanquins were put down, she ceased her vociferations, and became quite content, purring and showing her pleasure in her usual manner, although not relieved from the tent-pin, as we were afraid that if left at liberty she might stray into the jungle. When taken away from us, she recommenced her wailings, which continued without interruption until she saw us again.
When about sixteen months old, Tupee became a mother for the first time, and performed the maternal office to the only two kittens born alive, with great care and tenderness. Cats are admitted to be remarkable for love of their offspring, having the organ of philoprogenitiveness very strongly developed, and although sometimes destroying their young, only for a very sufficient reason. A naturalist of considerable celebrity has accounted most satisfactorily for a circumstance which has told against the cat, by stating the cause of the perpetration of apparently so unnatural a deed, which is committed only when the mother finds that she has no milk for the support of her off. spring. Ewes fed upon certain salt pastures in Australia are induced by the same cause to act in the same manner. The kittens, which were male and female, and named Torty and Tom, were dissimilar in their dispositions. Tom was exceedingly gentle, but the most inquisitive of his race, evincing the curiosity common to all in a very extraordinary degree. He would watch the movements of the people at work about the house with untiring patience; sometimes stationing himself about a yard from the men employed to root up the grass in the close vicinity of the mansion; an operation which must be performed very frequently during the rainy season, to prevent snakes from lurking around the premises unseen. Tom took the strongest interest in these weedings, always going out to superintend them; he conciliated everybody by his gentleness and pretty ways, while Torty, though affectionate, was of a fiercer nature, and liked nothing so well as hunting. When disappointed of the sparrows or the lizards which she thought were within her reach, her rage was quite amusing; she would look up after them, and snarl with vexation. At sunset we always went into the garden, or walked on the terrace, and the moment we left the house, the cats and dogs, for we had now another puppy, gathered round us, frisking and playing about, and jumping up at us as they ran along.
Circumstances taking me to Calcutta, Tupee and Tom were placed under the care of my servants, who made the journey by water. Their beauty, and the greater difficulty of procuring specimens of the breed, rendered them very valuable at the presidency, five pounds being given for an animal of the kind. I resided at this time in a large house in the midst of grounds in a fashionable suburb; and Tom, straying over the wall one day, was stolen by the servants of some of the neighbours, by whom he was much admired. He had been lost once before, but immediate search being made after him by a very intelligent servant of mine, he was found at breakfast with a gentleman, who could scarcely be prevailed upon to surrender his guest. This man was unfortunately absent on leave at the time of the second elopement. Although there are always a great many domestics lounging about an Indian mansion, it was necessary to appoint one whose sole business would be to look after my remaining cat. I therefore hired a little boy for the purpose, telling him not to permit her to go out of his sight. The poor child, attending to the letter rather than the spirit of his instructions, always kept within a yard of her, and she soon discovered that she was under constant surveillance. She consequently took a great hatred to her keeper, but never scratched or injured him in any way, her method of showing her dislike being a very curious one: whenever I appeared upon the scene, she would run to me, and, on passing this too vigilant sentinel, would look up, and make a grimace at him, uttering at the same time a sound very expressive of her enmity.
Tupee was at length taken ill, and unfortunately not having any skilful person to whom I could lo, for advice, the remedies which I tried proved unsuccessful. The night before her death, I kept her in my arms, and while undressing for bed, laid her upon my feet. I afterwards placed her on a chair at the bedside, but that did not satisfy her, and I therefore laid her upon the pillow; she put her head close against my throat, and purred all night louder than I had ever heard her before. She jumped off my lap on the following day, staggered and fell, dying soon afterwards. I had her buried under a cypress tree in the garden, and need scarcely say that I lamented the loss of so affectionate a creature. Meanwhile, my brother-in-law also travelled to Calcutta; he came by water, and lost Torty at a village on the river Jumna, where he halted for the night. He remained two days at this place, endeavouring to recover her; but the search proving vain, he wrote to the magistrate of the district, requesting that he would send some of his people into the woods to look after her. Upon his arrival in Calcutta, he received a letter from this gentleman, to say that the cat had been found with two kittens, in a very lean condition, and was being taken care of at the house of one of the Zumeendars, or farmers. A tent-pitcher, one of a class of servants not wanted in Calcutta, was immediately dispatched to bring down this interesting family; the distance he had to travel was about six hundred miles, and to go there and back on foot necessarily occupied some time. The claishee, however, thought nothing of it, but as it would have been infra dig in him to carry the cats, a man was hired stage by stage to bring them down. Upon their arrival, Torty, so far from having grown wild or forgetful, fell instantly into her old habits, showed great joy at seeing her master again, and immediately established herself in her usual place upon his desk, leaving him just room enough to write. One of her kittens resembled herself, but the other showed signs of degeneracy. It had not been my intention to pet another cat, but as this poor thing wanted a home, and had no beauty to tempt any one to steal it, I gave it an asylum. It soon became exceedingly attached to me, and was just as docile and good-natured as its predecessors had been.
Ill health obliging me to return to England, and not knowing how I should be circumstanced upon my arrival, I did not like to take a cat with me that was not handsome enough to conciliate strangers in its favour. The family with whom I resided, and some friends at the next door, for I was then living near Government House in the city of Calcutta, were desirous to have it for a pet, and, therefore, I left it behind. The first letter which I received, gave me a melancholy account of my poor favourite. I was told that it missed me almost immediately, and became inconsolable for my loss. After wandering about, apparently in search of the person who had showed it so much kindness, and refusing to be comforted by the caresses of others, it went away and was seen no more; deserting all its accustomed haunts, and thus showing that it was capable of a stronger attachment to persons than to places. Since my return to England I have been much interested by the intelligence and sagacity of a cat that I found with a family with whom I have resided ; it was not very well treated, and I was at first under the necessity of purchasing food, and feeding it by stealth. Puss comprehended in an instant all my manoeuvres for this purpose; coming to me immediately as it heard me speak to a parrot in a particular tone of voice, and eating silently and quickly, dispensing afterwards with the usual parade of licking the chops, an operation which it performed with great dispatch, and without incurring observation. This cat, if accidentally trodden upon, or injured in any way, will turn round, and cast a most reproachful look at the offender, uttering at the same time an upbraiding cry, but never dreams of biting or scratching, and may be handled immediately without danger. In consequence of my interposition in its favour, it now leads a very easy life; and its intellectual faculties have been so strongly developed by familiar intercourse with rational beings, that, according to the common phrase, it does everything but speak.
HUMOURS OF MR SYDENHAM.
Chambers' Edinburgh Journal, Feb 20 1841
IN one of those English cities which are peculiarly devoted to the residence of leisurely people—it might be Cheltenham, or Bath, or Brighton—there lived a few years ago a young man of good birth and fortune, named Alfred Sydenham, who was understood to have once been in India, but to have there allowed his bare head one day to get into such a collision with the sun, that it never after was quite itself again. Yet he was a mild quiet man, of perfect good breeding, and even some pretensions to literature; for which reasons he was generally well received in society, more particularly as the lady sex was in that city in the proportion of nearly two to one of its opposite. Two things were very odd about Mr. Sydenham: he preferred to all other society that of middle-aged ladies; and he was more enthusiastically devoted to cats than any lady in town of whatever age. He kept a whole seraglio of feline favourites— never less than six in number - and it was rarely the case that one or other of them was not nursing a young family besides, the members of which were in proper time distributed amongst his female friends, according to a principle of priority of application, which he was very careful to adhere to. He had these creatures regularly fed and tended, and spent much of his own time in their company, caressing and discoursing with them as if they had been rational creatures, and teaching them all sorts of little tricks, in the observation of which he seemed to take as much pleasure as anyone could take in a well-performed play, or in that so-called delightful task which consists in teaching the infant idea how to shoot. By and by, when people became aware of the inoffensive character of the man, and of his other estimable qualities, they did not think it so very strange that he should thus occupy himself; neither did they feel offended when, in his morning calls, he was found to ask as regularly and as tenderly for all their cats as he did for any of the human members of the family. It was just settled that Mr S. was a little queer, but there was no harm about him. Moreover, it should be recollected that he played a good hand at whist.
After Mr Sydenham had been settled nearly a winter in town, and when he had formed a tolerably extensive female and feline acquaintance, it occurred to him that his own favourites ought to give a soirée to a select party of their own species. Children, said he, give parties, which only children attend: why may not cats also give a party, to be attended only by cats? He therefore quickly determined on realising the idea, and forthwith cards were issued. The invitations, dated from his house, ran in the names of Misses Fanny, Nanny, Jenny, Kitty, Patty, and Tetty, and requested the pleasure of [Blank’s] company on Tuesday evening next ensuing, at eight o'clock. Amongst the gentlemen invited were Mrs Davenport's “Saul,” a steady old person who rarely stirred from his own chimney corner —the Honourable Miss Cately's “Tom,” who was understood to be a good deal of a wag in his neighbourhood—and the “Black George” of the Misses Wilson, a young person whose character was yet in a great measure to be formed, but who had already been remarked to have a natural genius for running after his tail—a trick probably practised by other cats before, but which was believed to be original with him nevertheless, in as far as he was not known to have ever seen it performed by any other individual. There was also a goodly company of lady cats from different establishments, including a few families of kittens, Mr Sydenham making it a point to request that “the young people” might be sent along too, in all cases where he knew that there were young people. In a neat postscript at the bottom of his lithographed card, it was hinted that coaches might be ordered at half-past ten. The invitations were mainly limited to cats of the upper classes—chiefly indeed to those of the independent gentlewomen of Mr Sydenham's acquaintance; but, being informed of a remarkably large gentleman in tortoise-shell, who dwelt with the butcher three doors off, and his housekeeper pleading that it might be asked to share in the joys of the evening, “as she was sure their own misses would be expecting him,” he, being a good-natured man, readily consented. In this case, however, only a verbal message was sent.
The good, quiet, middle-aged ladies of the place entered heartily into Mr Sydenham's kind and polite intentions, and prior engagements being out of the question, and colds not understood to affect the genus felis, acceptances were returned from one and all. It was a great day with our hero when he had to make preparations for receiving and entertaining thirty-six cats, besides younkers: no peep did anyone get of him that day upon the streets. His own meals were despatched in about ten minutes each, in a small closet off his store-room, all the rest of the house (which was rather a small one) requiring to be arranged on purpose for the business of the evening. He never once got on his coat endued the whole day; nor did he shave till it was time to dress for the party.
In due time the guests began to arrive. Most, as might be expected, were carried by servants in baskets; but in some instances where the lady owner kept her own carriage, or was at ease on the subject of coach-hire, four-wheeled vehicles were employed. A room had been set apart for receiving the servants with their respective charges, analogous to the bedroom in which ladies are accustomed to lay by their bonnets and shawls. Here the guests, generally mewing in an alarmed and vexed manner, were successively discharged from their wicker conveyances, and means taken to soothe and pettle each into his or her usual equanimity. There were a few escapes under beds and chests of drawers, and one of rather a troublesome nature into a dark closet, which had been stuffed impenetrably full of furniture in the course of the day; but, upon the whole, the behaviour of the company was respectable; and most were ushered into the drawing-room without much trouble, and in their usual well-bred state of mind. Mr Sydenham was there, in waiting, in the midst of his own harem, to welcome the entrants, manage introductions, and so forth. The room was in a blaze of light, and heated up to the very height of feline wishes. Miss Jenny, Miss Nanny, and Miss Fanny, sat each on separate chairs, looking as grave and considerate in their red leather collars as possible; while Misses Patty, Tetty, and Kitty, who were of more advanced years, formed a somewhat formidable row upon a sofa adjoining to the fire. Two men-servants, and one female were also present, to keep order and help the guests, all of them looking as solemn as rooks, yet occasionally, when the host's back was turned, giving a sly whimsical wink to each other, as much as to say, “A queer fellow is master.” This was only the order at first, for it is not to be supposed that above a score of cats could be brought together into a room, all strangers to each other, without a good deal of irregular whisking about. The fact must be told, that Miss Nanny, who was the youngest of the corps of inmates, leaped from her chair at the sight of the first stranger; and before a dozen had come in, the whole row of old matrons on the sofa had broken their ranks and dispersed like a string of beads from which the string has been withdrawn. It was in vain that Mr Sydenham exerted himself to preserve order: he soon had to give up the attempt in despair. “And indeed, said he, “it is perhaps as well as it is—let the people go about and mix in conversation with each other.” He was only a little provoked at one of the elder ladies—I think Miss Patty—who slunk under a chair in a far corner, where she growled rather ominously whenever any attempt was made to dislodge her. It showed her to be a cat of a sulky temper. But he was upon the whole so happy, that he could easily afford to forgive her.
When the whole of the expected company had assembled, a repast of bread and milk, boiled deliciously, was brought in on little saucers, and arranged upon a couple of long tables placed at opposite sides of the room. The guests were then set down by the servants, each before one of the dishes, the ladies of the house being placed in a cross row of three each at the respective heads; and presently all was lapping and enjoyment. A mouse might have at that moment run across the room without raising an emotion hostile to its peace in any one breast in company. Mr Sydenham looked benevolently on, as a kind parent might survey his healthy and happy children at one of their so well-enjoyed meals. He rubbed his hands, and fell a-capering through the room with pleasure. The very servants thought it a pretty sight, and remarked that there were worse ways in which a gentleman might spend his money than this. Meanwhile, one or two basketfuls of very young kittens, which had come along with their mammas, an been placed comfortably on the hearth-rug, were not forgotten : they had a ration of lukewarm cream for their own particular use, and, but for one of them rolling into it and getting nearly drowned, this would have equally been a scene of unmixed enjoyment. Even here things were not so bad as they looked at first; for, by information upon which we can perfectly depend, three minutes had not elapsed after the conclusion of the mess, when the soused kitten was licked as clean as a washed potato. At the long tables all went well, with but one exception. The butcher's tortoise-shell having got uncommonly soon done, and chancing to have rather more than the average appetite, deemed himself at liberty to go on eating at the expense of one of his female neighbours, who no sooner observed him approach on interloping thoughts intent, than she set up a paw in the defensive, and by sundry puffs and teeth-showings, gave a full token of a design to fight for her dish. The intruder, nevertheless, did advance, and was on the point of setting his nose into the mess, when puss gave him a most serious scratch, and at the same time uttered a scream which brought master and servants both to the rescue. “For shame, Jemmy' for shame!” cried the housekeeper, who had been the cause of the delinquent being invited; “sure, if you had come to me, you might have had your fill.” So saying, she gave him an addition to his mess, and peace was immediately restored. Mr Sydenham, who was one of those people who moralise on everything, could not help making a remark on the effect of breeding upon the feline nature. “Poor fellow!" said he, “he has never seen good society. Always accustomed to yield to his appetites, he has no idea of restraining any of them, even when it is sure to make a quarrel with his neighbours. Perhaps it was wrong to bring an untutored plebeian like him into the company of ladies and gentlemen.
Saucers being removed, it became necessary to see to the amusement of the guests. This was easily managed, as far as the young people were concerned. A sufficiency of clues and corks had been provided to roll along the floor; and several good stout straws lay upon the mantel-piece. With these, to keep the youngsters in fun was a simple matter. The elder folks fortunately affected conversation. They fell into little whist-party-like groups in various parts of the room, and appeared to have a quiet kind of happiness in looking at each others' noses, and listening to the undertoned purring which each took up as the other dropped, and which evidently was designed as approbation of the late meal. Then Mr Sydenham mingled in their conferences, and did his best to make them all easy with each other. He distributed his attentions very equally, but upon the whole was most solicitous respecting the enjoyments of the seniors, wisely knowing, of course, that young people in the feline, as in the human species, are rarely at a loss to find amusement for themselves. It was very fortunate for the evening that Miss Cately's Tom was present, for Tom had a very pretty way of leaping over a stick, which he was quite as willing to practise for a stranger as for his own mistress, and with a perfect indifference as to time and place. When Mr Sydenham, therefore, took a cane, and held it horizontally about eighteen inches above the floor, Tom readily entered into his views, and began leaping to admiration. While this drollery was going on at one place, the valet kept Black George running after his tail at another. It was remarked, however, that there were elderly people who never seemed to pay the least regard to these antics, but persevered in looking at each others' noses, as if nothing of the kind had been going on. It must not be forgotten that two or three people not long out of their kittenhood were permitted to sit admiring a globe of gold-fish upon the top of a cabinet. They were evidently rapt in wonder at the sight of the brilliant creatures as they glided about, sometimes, getting small to the eye, and again most unaccountably enlarging to double the size, whenever they chanced to be on the opposite side of their glass palace. One or two paws were occasionally seen thrust down into the opening at the top, but without doing any harm, or calling for the interference of the police.
Thus a couple of hours passed on—hours most gratifying to our kind-hearted friend, who thought he had never been anywhere more charmed with company than he was with that of the dumb creatures now around him. When half-past ten arrived, there was a rattling of coaches in the dull street, and a good many arrivals of servants. All now became bustle in the drawing-room, as puss after puss was called for, and claimed, and basketed, M. Sydenham going about all the time in a state of the most polite anxiety, taking leave of every lady and gentleman as she or he was carried off. To the servants he expressed the gratification which Misses Fanny, Jenny, Nanny, Kitty, Patty, and Tetty, as well as himself, had had in the agreeable society of their visitors, with kind hopes that they would all get home quite comfortably. He gave each puss, as she was packed up, the best of characters for behaviour, and said that, indeed, he had never seen a company of two-legged people conduct themselves in a more discreet manner than his company of that evening had done. Even to the delinquent Jemmy he gave a kindly pat and a word of approbation. The people, having by this time learned what was going on, were assembled at the door to see the party leave; and, as each basket came forth, it was saluted with a good-humoured burst of shouting and laughter, which I fear Mr Sydenham thought very rude, though he did not come forward to express any resentment of it. The whole muster roll was found at the end of the meeting to be complete, with one exception. Of all cats in the world, “Saul” was missing—Mrs Davenport's grave and venerable Saul. He was found at home next morning; mystery continues to rest till this day upon the cause of his absence.
For a week after, it was the employment of the delighted Sydenham to go about making morning calls amongst the mistresses of his guests. Invariably, as soon as he had asked for the lady herself, for her sister, if she had one, or for any other two-legged inmate of the house, his next question was, “And how’s your poor dear pussy " He was full of hopes that pussy was not the worse of being out last Tuesday—altogether notwithstanding the recognised fact in feline economy, that pussies are quite accustomed to be out at night, and do not seem ever to be the worse for it. Then he had such a recital to give of the events and enjoyments of the evening, launching into such encomiums upon this lady’s particular cat, and expressing such admiration of, and sympathy for, the whole of this amiable branch of the carnaria. He might be “touched’ or not; but assuredly he was a man who had the milk of human kindness in him, however strange the direction it had taken. And so he continued for a year to be a source of amusement to the good folk of  who often wondered, when assembled at a dull party, what they would have had to be amused with if they had not either had Mr Sydenham present to talk so enthusiastically of his cats, or at least Mr Sydenham absent, to be a subject of endless talk on their own part with reference to this same crotchet.
JOSEPH TRAIN’S ACCOUNT OF THE ISLE OF MAN
Chambers Edinburgh Journal Nov 6 1847
It is a little known, but curious fact, that the cats of the Isle of Man have no tail, and at most a mere rudiment of caudal vertebrae. They are called rumpies, and are excellent mousers. Mr Train, after keeping one for four years, expresses his belief that it is a hybrid animal, between the cat and rabbit; but from the decided diversity of those species, we feel inclined to pronounce very confidently that no such union could take place.
A CHAPTER ON CATS.
Chambers's Edinburgh Journal, Jan 10 1852
The newspapers have recently been chronicling, as a fact provocative of especial wonder, the enterprise of some speculative merchant of New York, who has just been despatching a cargo of one hundred cats to the republic of New Granada, in which it would appear the race, owing, as we may believe, to the frequently disturbed state of the country, has become almost extinct.
Your cat is a domestic animal, and naturally conservative in its tastes--averse therefore to uproar, and to all those given to change. Its propensities are to meditation and contemplative tranquillity, for which reason it has ever been held in reverence by nations of a similar staid and composed disposition, and has been the favourite companion and constant friend of grave philosophers and thoughtful students. By the ancient Egyptians cats were held in the highest esteem; and we learn from Diodorus Siculus, their 'lives and safeties' were tendered more dearly than those of any other animal, whether biped or quadruped. 'He who has voluntarily killed a consecrated animal,' says this writer, 'is punished with death; but if any one has even involuntarily killed a cat or an ibis, it is impossible for him to escape death: the mob drags him to it, treating him with every cruelty, and sometimes without waiting for judgment to be passed. This treatment inspires such terror, that, if any person happen to find one of these animals dead, he goes to a distance from it, and by his cries and groans indicates that he has found the animal dead. This superstition is so deeply rooted in the minds of the Egyptians, and the respect they bear these animals is so profound, that at the time when their king, Ptolemy, was not yet declared the friend of the Roman people--when they were paying all possible court to travellers from Italy, and their fears made them avoid every ground of accusation and every pretext for making war upon them--yet a Roman having killed a cat, the people rushed to his house, and neither the entreaties of the grandees, whom the king sent for the purpose, nor the terror of the Roman name, could protect this man from punishment, although the act was involuntary. I do not relate this anecdote,' adds the historian, 'on the authority of another, for I was an eye-witness of it during my stay in Egypt.'
During their lives, the consecrated cats were fed upon fish, kept for the purpose in tanks; and 'when one of them happened to die,' says the veracious writer just cited, 'it was wrapped in linen, and after the bystanders had beaten themselves on the breast, it was carried to the Tarichoea, where it was embalmed with coedria and other substances which have the virtue of embalming bodies, after which it was interred in the sacred monument.' It has puzzled not a little the learned archæologists, who have endeavoured to discover a profound philosophy figured and symbolised in the singular mythology of the Egyptians, to explain how it is that in Thebes, where the sacred character of the cat was held in the highest reverence, and cherished with the greatest devotion, not only embalmed cats have been found, but also the bodies of rats and mice, which had been subjected to the same anti-putrescent process. If, however, Herodotus is to be credited, the Egyptians owed a deep debt of gratitude to the mice; for the venerable historian assures us, and on the unquestionable authority of the Egyptian priests, that when Sennacherib and his army lay at Pelusium, a mighty corps of field-mice entered the camp by night, and eating up the quivers, bowstrings, and buckler-leathers of the Assyrian troops, in this summary fashion liberated Egypt from the terror of the threatened invasion. Probably the existence of mice-mummies may be accounted for in this way, and if--resorting to no violent supposition—we presume in the good work which the tiny patriots so sagaciously accomplished that their cousins-german the rats were assistant, the whole matter receives a satisfactory explication. The hypothesis, it is submitted, is not without plausible recommendations on its behalf. There is extant a fragment of a comedy, entitled 'The Cities,' written by the Rhodian poet Anaxandrides, in which the Egyptian worship of animals is amusingly enough quizzed. A translation will be found in Dr Prichard's ‘Analysis of Egyptian Mythology’. The lines referring to cat-worship are as follow:--
'You cry and wail whene'er ye spy a cat,
Starving or sick; I count it not a sin
To hang it up, and flay it for its skin;'
from which it appears this gay free-thinker was not only somewhat sceptical in his religious notions, but, moreover, a hard-hearted, good-for-nothing fellow--one who, had he lived in our times, would unquestionably have brought himself within the sweep of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and the Duke of Beaufort's Humanity Act.
We learn from Herodotus that in his days it was customary, whenever a cat died, for the whole household at once to go into mourning, and this although the lamented decease might have been the result of old age, or other causes purely natural. In the case of a cat's death, however, the eyebrows only were required to be shaved off; but when a dog, a beast of more distinguished reputation, departed this life, every inmate of the house was expected to shave his head and whole body all over. Both cats and dogs are watched and attended to with the greatest solicitude during illness. Indeed, by the ancient Egyptians the cat was treated much in the same way as are dogs amongst us: we find them even accompanying their masters on their aquatic shooting-excursions; and, if the testimony of ancient monuments is to be relied on, often catching the game for them, although it may be permitted to doubt whether they ever actually took to the water for this purpose.
In modern Egypt the cat, although more docile and companionable than its European sister, has much degenerated; but still, on account of its usefulness in destroying scorpions and other reptiles, it is treated with some consideration--suffered to eat out of the same dish with the children, to join with them in their sports, and to be their constant companion and daily friend. A modern Egyptian would esteem it a heinous sin indeed, to destroy, or even maltreat a cat; and we are told by Sir Gardner Wilkinson, that benevolent individuals have bequeathed funds by which a certain number of these animals are daily fed at Cairo at the Cadi's court, and the bazaar of Khan Khaleel.
But a tender regard for the inferior animals is a prevailing characteristic of the Oriental races, and is inculcated as a duty by their various religions. At Fez there was, and perhaps is at this day, a wealthily-endowed hospital, the greater part of the funds of which was devoted to the support and medical treatment of invalid cranes and storks, and procuring them a decent sepulture whenever they chanced to die. The founders are said to have entertained the poetical notion that these birds are, in truth, human beings, natives of distant islands, who at certain periods assume a foreign shape, and after they have satisfied their curiosity with visiting other lands, return to their own, and resume their original form.
To return, however, not to our sheep, but our cats, we must remark that, in modern times, in spite of the kindness the cat habitually receives in Egypt, his _morale_ is not in that country rated very high--the universal impression being that, although, like Snug the joiner's lion, he is by nature 'a very gentle beast,' still he is by no means 'of a good conscience;' that he is, in short, a most ungrateful beast; and that when, in a future state, it is asked of him how he has been treated by man in this, he will obstinately deny all the benefits he has received at his hand, and give him such a character for cruelty and hardness of heart as is shocking to think of. The dog, however, it is understood, will conduct himself more discreetly, and readily acknowledge the good offices for which he is indebted to the family of mankind.
Singular anecdotes have been related of the intense repugnance persons have been found to entertain to these, at worst, harmless animals. One shall be given in the very words of the Rev. Nicholas Wanley, who, in his authentic ‘Wonders of the Little World’, has recorded a number of other facts quite as marvellous, and sustained by testimony not one whit more exceptionable:--'Mathiolus tells of a German, who coming in winter-time into an inn to sup with him and some other of his friends, the woman of the house being acquainted with his temper (lest he should depart at the sight of a young cat which she kept to breed up), had beforehand hid her kitling in a chest in the same room where we sat at supper. But though he had neither seen nor heard it, yet after some time that he had sucked in the air infected by the cat's breath, that quality of his temperament that had antipathy to that creature being provoked, he sweat, and, of a sudden, paleness came over his face, and, to the wonder of us all that were present, he cried out that in some corner of the room there was a cat that lay hid.' Not long after the battle of Wagram and the second occupation of Vienna by the French, an aide-de-camp of Napoleon, who at the time occupied, together with his suite, the Palace of Schönbrunn, was proceeding to bed at an unusually late hour, when, on passing the door of Napoleon's bedroom, he was surprised by a most singular noise, and repeated calls from the Emperor for assistance. Opening the door hastily, and rushing into the room, a singular spectacle presented itself—the great soldier of the age, half undressed, his countenance agitated, the beaded drops of perspiration standing on his brow, in his hand his victorious sword, with which he was making frequent and convulsive lunges at some invisible enemy through the tapestry that lined the walls. It was a cat that had secreted herself in this place; and Napoleon held cats not so much in abhorrence as in terror. 'A feather,' says the poet, 'daunts the brave;' and a greater poet, through the mouth of his Shylock, remarks that 'there are some that are mad if they behold a cat--a harmless, necessary cat.' Count Bertram would seem to have shared in this unaccountable aversion. When 'Monsieur Parolles, the gallant militarist, that had the whole theory of war in the knot of his scarf, and the practice in the chape of his dagger,' was convicted of mendacity and cowardice, Bertram exclaimed, 'I could endure anything before this but a cat, and now he's a cat to me.' The force of censure could no further go.
If Napoleon, however, held cats, as has been averred, in positive fear, there have been others, and some of them illustrious captains, that have regarded them with other feelings. Marshal Turenne could amuse himself for hours in playing with his kittens; and the great general, Lord Heathfield, would often appear on the walls of Gibraltar, at the time of the famous siege, attended by his favourite cats. Cardinal Richelieu was also fond of cats; and when we have enumerated the names of Cowper and Dr Johnson, of Thomas Gray and Isaac Newton, and, above all, of the tender-hearted and meditative Montaigne, the list is far from complete of those who have bestowed on the feline race some portion of their affections.
Butler, in his ‘Hudibras,’ observes, in an oft-quoted passage, that
'Montaigne, playing with his cat,
Complains she thought him but an ass.'
And the annotator on this passage, in explanation, adds, that 'Montaigne in his Essays supposes his cat thought him a fool for losing his time in playing with her;' but, under favour, this is a misinterpretation of the essayist's sentiment, and something like a libel on the capacity of both himself and cat. Montaigne's words are: 'When I play with my cat, who knows whether I do not make her more sport than she makes me? We mutually divert each other with our play. If I have my hour to begin or refuse, so also has she hers.' Nobody who has read the striking essay in which these words appear could for a moment misconceive their author's meaning. He is vindicating natural theology from the objections of some of its opponents, and in the course of his argument he takes occasion to dwell on the wonderful instincts, and almost rational sagacity of the inferior animals. We must, however, lament that, although he does full justice to the 'half-reasoning elephant,' to the aptitude and fidelity of the dog, to the marvellous economical arrangements of the bees, and even to the imitative capacity of the magpie, he pays no higher tribute to the merits of the cat than that she is as capable of being amused as himself, and like himself, too, has her periods of gravity when recreative sports are distasteful. Her social qualities he does not allude to, though he, so eminently social himself, could scarcely have failed to appreciate them.
In this country, at this time, cats have superseded parlour favourites decidedly less agreeable in their appearance, and infinitely more mischievous in their habits. Writing in the seventeenth century, Burton, in his ‘Anatomy of Melancholy’, remarks that 'Turkey gentlewomen, that are perpetual prisoners, still mewed up according to the custom of the place, have little else, beside their household business or to play with their children, to drive away time but to dally with their cats, which they have in delitiis, as many of our ladies and gentlewomen use monkeys and little dogs.' It is not the least merit of the cat that it has banished from our sitting-rooms those frightful mimicries of humanity--the monkey tribe; and as to the little dogs Tray, Blanch, and Sweetheart, although we are not insensible to their many virtues and utilities, we care not to see them sleeping on our hearth-rug, or reposing beside our work-tables.
A later issue carried this addendum to “Chapter on Cats:” In No. 419 of this Journal, an article with the above heading mentions among the exports from New York to New Granada 100 cats. Wherever our contributor may have picked up his intelligence, the original source is the New York Herald; but unluckily, a paper of a more practical nature – if we may judge from its title – The Dry-Goods Reporter, gives the custom-house entry in full, in which the change of a single vowel makes a prodigious difference. The entry is this: “100 cots – 125 dollars – to Granada.
CURIOUS FACT IN NATURAL HISTORY.
Chambers's Edinburgh Journal, Feb 16 1860
Da Sichel has communicated to the 'Annales des Sciences Naturelles' a curious fact, which some of our readers may like to amuse themselves in verifying. He says that, twenty years since, he made the observation so carefully, and for such a period of time, as to become perfectly assured that cats which have perfectly white coats (that is, with not even a spot of another colour) and blue eyes are invariably deaf. We may make, as close to them as we will, any noises that usually terrify them —such as the cracking of a whip, imitation of the barking of a dog, clipping the hands, etc. — and yet, provided these sounds are not of a nature to convey vibrations, by shaking the ground, as when we strike the floor with a hammer, the animal will remain perfectly indifferent. If, however, there is the smallest spot or shade of black, brown, gray, red, etc. on the coat; or if the iris, instead of being blue or grayish-blue, is yellow, or partakes of some deeper colour, then will the auditory functions be found in their normal state. This blue colour of the iris is indeed rather rare in the feline race, and is generally found only in very young animals; and when, in the progress of age, it becomes exchanged for a deeper colour, though the white skin yet remain, hearing becomes established.
After repeating these observations a great number of times on cats which he met with by chance, Dr Sichel, in 1828, had the opportunity of observing during some months an entirely white cat with blue eyes, which he had procured, while a kitten, for that purpose. This cat, which, at the mere sight of a dog, escaped as rapidly as possible, paid no heed to his barking if she did not see him. Of its complete deafness both he and a friend assured themselves. At the end of four months, the iris became of a deeper colour, and the cat began to show signs of attention when a sharp-sounding bell was rung at about a yard from its ear. Unfortunately, the farther progress of the experiment was arrested; for the cat, having passed into the street, was worried by a dog whose barking she had not heard. Since that period he has made many additional confirmatory observations, but has not had leisure to pursue any of these connectedly.
In numerous examples of albinism in man and animals he has met with nothing of the kind, and all that has been said applies exclusively to white cats with blue or bluish irides. In pure albinos the hair is colourless, the pupil is a more or less deep red, and the iris rose-coloured. In incomplete albinism in man the iris is sometimes of an extremely bright blue, having, however, in the interstices of its fibres, and especially towards the circumference, a slightly red or golden colour. These fibres themselves are in great part white, and show on the blue or partially red ground. The blue of the irides of these deaf cats, on the contrary, is quite uniform, and uninterrupted by any white fibres, or by any different shades of colour. Nor are the depth of the eye and the pupil red, as in the albino. In this case, then, there does not coincide with the absence of colouring pigment in the hairs that entire absence of it in the internal membranes of the eye which exists in the albino, and produces the redness of his eye — the vessels filled with red blood, which in other eyes are concealed behind a dork pigment, being in his exposed to view. The pigment in these blue-eyed cats is probably of a bluish colour, and at all events it must be far lighter than is usually the case.
Dr Sichel refers to a paper published by Professor Hevsinger a short time previously, in one of the German medical journals, in which he draws attention to other peculiarities of white animals — namely, their inferior power of resisting the injurious effects of certain external agents. Hevsinger observes that facts such as these in question were formerly deemed unworthy of credit, but that accumulated observations have now vouched for their accuracy. At an early period Cayrillo, and at a later one Marinosci di Martini and Menni di Lecce, communicated facts showing that in Naples and Sicily eating of the Hypericum crupum (there called Fumulo) acted perniciously on white, but not on black sheep, causing in the former the wool to fall off, the head to swell, and death itself to take place in a couple of weeks. On this account, in Tarentino, where the plant is very common, black sheep alone are reared. Lecce states that the plant acts in this injurious manner only when it grows in marshy places. Spinola, in his work on the diseases of swine, declares that buckwheat (the Polygonum fagapyruni), eaten at its period of flowering, engenders in white or partially white swine diseases which are not produced by it in the black animal; and Fuchs, treating of the diseases of domestic animals, says that it acts injuriously not only on white swine, but on white sheep and goats, and, though seldomer, on white horses and cattle.
A veterinary surgeon named Steiner relates in a German periodical devoted to the diseases of animals, that in the summer of 1841 the leguminous plants, especially the vetches, became subject to honey-dew, and that all white horses, and even such as had only white marks, which partook of them suffered from disease of the skin. The white portions in parti-coloured horses became gangrenous, and separated from the dark portions, which continued sound. The dark-coloured horses which did, and the white ones which did not partake of this food, continued healthy. In the same journal a Pomeranian veterinary surgeon mentions a circumstance of exactly the same kind occurring from the same cause. Similar observations were made by Burmeister at Anklam in 1842.
Mr Youatt relates a case bearing upon the subject. A cow for the most part white, but having some black spots, fell sick, and became bald on every part of the white surface. On these parts the epidermis detached itself from the subjacent true skin, while the dark spots continued perfectly healthy. A veterinary surgeon named Erdt relates a similar case. A black and white cow became very ill. The two colours perhaps were nearly alike in quantity, but were commingled in numerous patches of very various sizes. As the cow recovered, the portions of akin covered with white hair were observed to be swollen and unduly sensible, while the portions covered with black hair remained in their normal state. At the lines of junction between the two colours the epidermis of the white portions separated, became warped, and acquired a parchment consistency. These portions gradually retracted, and rolled themselves up, falling off in a week or two; so that, at the end of a fortnight, not a trace of the white hairs and subjacent skin was observed; and so slowly were these reproduced, that three months after the animal was still denuded of half its hair. Not the slightest injury befell even the smallest portions of the parts covered with black hair. After the detachment of the skin, not a white hair could be detected upon the entire animal; nor could careful examination discover a single black one on the portions of skin that were thrown off.
M. Sichel, commenting on these cases, observes that they serve to show that the absence or modification of the pigment in mammiferous animals is not a mere physiological variety of the order of those formerly termed lusus naturae, or freaks of nature; but that it may exert a real and great influence not only upon the skin itself, but upon various other organs, modifying, or even abolishing, the functions of some of these, and creating a singular susceptibility to toxical substances. In regard to man himself, it has been also long observed, that both in his normal and morbid conditions, various portions of the organic system, besides the skin and hair, comport themselves very differently in fair and dark subjects.
Chambers's Journal July 12 1873
The Sumatran state, known as Acheen, Achin, Atchin, which the Dutch are endeavouring to subdue, but which promises a most tenacious resistance to the battalions of Holland [. . .] But what, and where is Acheen? It is a territory, having numerous ports upon its coast, opening upon the Bay of Bengal at one extremity, and on the Javan Sea at the other. [. . .] But the interior is infinitely more interestin than the ocean ma 'n; flowers of superb tint, a fu yard across; pitcher-plants brimming with dew of perfect purity; fields of edible roots, each four hundred pounds in weight; lakes in which a fresh-water cockle supplies a meal for twenty men ; elephants more monstrous than those of Ceylon; tigers, buffaloes, and rhinoceroses, all on the largest scale known in creation ; trees of tremendous height, with crowns of foliage spreading from a smooth stem more than a hundred feet above the ground; and man alone diminutive. The Sumatran man is everlastineg fighting, or drinking, or smoking opium, or gambling, except when, to earn the means of paying for these luxuries, he is cultivating the pepper vine, or camphor, or the betelnut, so important to Asiatic commerce. There is, moreover, in this vast island a special industry devoted to the rearing of cats, which, being sold in royal markets, enjoy better treatment than many sultanas.
ANECDOTES OF THE CAT.
Chambers's Miscellany of Useful and Entertaining Tracts, Vol 6, c. 1847
THE cat belongs to the same natural family as the lion, tiger, panther, leopard, puma, serval, ocelot, and lynx. The tribe is perhaps one of the best defined in zoology, all its members having characteristics of structure and habit not to be confounded with those of other animals. Every reader must be familiar with the forms of the tiger and domestic cat, and these may be taken as types of the family. The rounded head and pointed ears, the long lithe body, covered with fine silky hair, and often beautifully marked, the silent stealthy step, occasioned by treading only on the fleshy ball of the foot, the sharp retractile claws, the large lustrous eyes, capable, from the expansive power of the pupil, of seeing in the dark, the whiskered lip, the trenchant carnivorous teeth, and the tongue covered with recurved bony prickles, are common to all.
In their habits and manner of life they are equally akin. They inhabit the forest and the brake, sleeping away the greater part of their time, and only visiting the glade and open plain when pressed by hunger. They are for the most part nocturnal in their habits, being guided to their prey by their peculiar power of vision, by their scent, and by their hearing, which is superior to that of most other animals. Naturally, they are strictly carnivorous, not hunting down their prey by a protracted chase, like the wolf and dog, but by lying in wait, or by moving stealthily with their supple joints and cushioned feet, till within spring of their victims, on which they dart with a growl, as if the muscular effort of the moment were painful even to themselves. Whether the attack be that of a tiger on buffalo, or that of a cat on a helpless mouse, the mode of action is the same—a bound with the whole body from the distance of many yards, a violent stroke with the forefoot, a clutch with the claws, which are thrust from their sheaths, and a half-tearing half-sucking motion of the jaws, as if the animal gloated in ecstasy over the blood of its victim.
This mode of life has gained for these animals the common epithets of "cruel, savage, and bloodthirsty," and has caused them to be looked upon by the uninformed as monsters in creation. Nothing could be more erroneous. No creature is capable of moral good and moral evil save man; he it is alone that can judge for himself; and he it is upon whom this gift of judgment has imposed the responsibility of right and wrong. The tiger in slaughtering a stag gratifies no evil passion; he merely satisfies an appetite which nature has implanted within him, and which nature has surrounded with the objects for its satisfaction. When these objects shall die out, then also will the tiger cease to exist; and were the whole world equally peopled and cultivated with our own island, the feline family would be limited to a single genus—namely, the humble cat. But as things are at present constituted, the valleys and plains of the tropics are clothed with an excessive vegetation, supporting numerous herbivorous animals, which could only be kept within due limits by the existence of carnivora, such as the lion, tiger, leopard, and panther.
The distribution of the feline animals is governed by those conditions to which we have alluded; and thus the puma inhabits the North American prairie, the jaguar the savannahs of South America, the lion the arid plains of Africa and Asia, the tiger and panther the tropical jungles of the old world; the minor species, as the ocelot and lynx, have a wider range in both worlds; while the domestic cat associates with man in almost every region. With the exception of the latter, none of the other genera have been tamed or domesticated, so that they are strictly "wild beasts," against which man wages a ceaseless war of extirpation. It is true that in the East one species of leopard is trained for hunting, but this but very sparingly, and even then he does not follow the game by scent, but is carried by the hunters, and only let loose when he is within a few bounds of the animal. It must not be inferred, however, that they are untameable; for every creature is capable more or less of being trained by man, provided it receives due attention; and we have sufficient evidence, in the wonderful feats performed by the lions and tigers of Mr Carter and Van Amburgh, that the Felines are by no means destitute of intelligent docility. The truth is, there is no inducement to tame them; and thus the cat—the most diminutive of the family, and the only one of direct utility to civilised man—is likely to continue, as it ever has been, the sole domesticated member.
THE DOMESTICATED CAT.
Respecting the domestication of the cat, of which there are many varieties, differing in size, length of hair, colour, and the like, we have no authentic information. We have no knowledge when it became the associate of man; nor do we know anything concerning its original habitat. It is true that the wild cat has inhabited Great Britain, the continent of Europe, and Asia, from the earliest periods; but that animal presents so many differences, that naturalists generally consider it as belonging to a distinct species. Thus it is a larger and more powerful animal than the domestic one; has longer and shaggier fur; has a more ferocious aspect; has the intestinal canal shorter, which proves it to be more decidedly carnivorous; and has the heart and stomach not quite so like those of the more omnivorous dog. The most of these are transient distinctions, which domestication might obliterate; but we can hardly conceive of the same influence acting so decidedly upon the internal structure. However this may be, the general opinion at present is, that they belong to different species; that the wild cat is strictly an inhabitant of the brake, enduring with admirable fortitude the extremes of heat and cold; and that the domestic animal, from its more delicate constitution, and its fondness of warmth, seems to have sprung from a southern habitat.
Every one is so perfectly familiar with the domestic cat, that any description of the animal is altogether unnecessary; yet one or two of the more obvious varieties may be mentioned, with the remark, that it is quite as difficult, from their present appearance, to refer them all to one stock, as it is to believe that that stock is the wild cat of the British brake. The Cat of Angora, says a recent writer, of whose descriptions we avail ourselves, is a very beautiful variety, with silvery hair of fine silken texture, generally longest on the neck, but also long on the tail. Some are yellowish, and others olive, approaching to the colour of the lion; but they are all delicate creatures, and of gentle dispositions. The Persian Cat is a variety with the hair very much produced, and very silky, perhaps more so than the cat of Angora. It is, however, differently coloured, being of a fine uniform gray on the upper part, with the texture of the fur as soft as silk, and the lustre glossy; the colour fades off on the lower parts of the sides, and passes into white, or nearly so, on the belly. This is probably one of the most beautiful varieties, and it is said to be exceedingly gentle in its manners. The Chinese Cat has the fur beautifully glossed, but it is very different from either of those which have been mentioned. It is variegated with black and yellow, and, unlike the most of the race, has the ears pendulous. The last we shall mention is the Tortoise-shell Cat, one of the prettiest varieties of those which have the fur of moderate length, and without any particular silvery gloss. The colours are very pure black, white, and reddish orange; and in this country, at least, males thus marked are said to be rare, though they are quite common in Egypt and the south of Europe. This variety has other qualities to recommend it besides the beauty of its colours. Tortoise-shell cats are very elegant, though delicate in their form, and are, at the same time, very active, and among the most attached and grateful of the whole race. It may be remarked, however, that there is much less difference in manners than in appearance, and that those which are best fed and most kindly treated are invariably the best natured and the most attached.
It has already been observed that little or nothing is known regarding the history of the domestic cat; and naturally so, since the animal is generally too insignificant to merit much attention. The cat has been known from time immemorial to the Chinese, Hindoos, and Persians; was domiciled among the Phoenicians, Egyptians, Jews, Greeks, and Romans; and even figures in the mythology of some of these nations. Among the Egyptians the cat was held in the greatest veneration. If one died a natural death, it was mourned for with certain appointed symbols of grief; and if killed, the murderer was given up to the rabble to be buffeted to death. Cats were thus not only held sacred when alive, but after death were embalmed and deposited in the niches of the catacombs. Moncrieff mentions that an insult offered to a cat by a Roman was the cause of an insurrection among the Egyptians, even when the fact of their own vanquishment could not excite them to rebel; and it is also told that Cambyses, availing himself of this regard for the animal, made himself master of Pelusis, which had hitherto successfully resisted his arms. The stratagem which he fell upon was in the highest degree ingenious: he gave to each of his soldiers employed in the attack a live cat instead of a buckler, and the Egyptian garrison, rather than injure the objects of their veneration, suffered themselves to be conquered. M. Baumgarten informs us, that when he was at Damascus, he saw there a kind of hospital for cats: the house in which they were kept was very large, walled round, and was said to be quite full of them. On inquiring into the origin of this singular institution, he was told that Mahomet, when he once lived there, brought with him a cat, which he kept in the sleeve of his garment, and carefully fed with his own hands—cutting off his sleeve rather than disturb the slumber of his favourite. His followers in this place, therefore, ever afterwards paid a superstitious respect to these animals; and supported them in this manner by public alms, which were very adequate to the purpose.
In the early history of our own country also, cats were of so much importance as to be the subject of special enactments. In the reign of Howel the Good, Prince of Wales, who died in 948, laws were made to fix the prices of different animals, among which the cat was included, as being at that early period of great importance, on account of its scarcity and utility. The price of a kitten before it could see was fixed at one penny; till proof could be given of its having caught a mouse, twopence; after which it was rated at fourpence—a great sum in those days, when the value of specie was extremely high. It was likewise required that the animal should be perfect in its senses of hearing and seeing, should be a good mouser, have its claws whole, and, if a female, be a careful nurse. If it failed in any of these qualifications, the seller was to forfeit to the buyer a third of the purchase-money. If any one should steal or kill the cat that guarded the prince's granary, the offender was to forfeit either a milch ewe, with her fleece and lamb, or as much wheat as, when poured on the cat suspended by its tail (its head touching the floor), would form a heap high enough to cover the tip of the tail. This is curious not only as a matter of history, but as showing that, while the wild cat of the country was so abundant as to be troublesome, the domestic species was apparently an import of great rarity, and of considerable value.
INSTANCES OF ATTACHMENT.
It is a vulgar and erroneous belief that cats are only attached to places: there are hundreds of instances on record where they have shown the most devoted and enduring attachment to persons who have treated them with kindness. A gentleman in the neighbourhood of London had a tortoise-shell cat, which, though he never fed it, or paid much attention to it, formed an attachment for him equal to that of a dog. It knew his ring at the bell, and at whatever time he came home, it was rubbing against his legs long before the servant came, saw him into the sitting-room, and then walked off. It was a very active animal, and usually went bird-watching during the night; but when its master rose, which was generally early in the morning, the cat was always ready to receive him at the door of his room, and accompanied him in his morning walk in the garden, alternately skipping to the tops of the trees, and descending and gambolling about him. When he was in his study, it used to pay him several visits in the day, always short ones; but it never retired till he had recognised it. If rubbing against his legs had not the desired effect, it would mount the writing-table, nudge his shoulder, and if that would not do, pat him on the cheek; but the moment he had shaken it by the paw, and given it a pat or two on the head, it walked off. When he was indisposed, it paid him several visits every day, but never continued in the room; and although it was fond of society generally, and also of its food, it never obtruded its company during meals. Its attachment was thus quite disinterested, and no pains whatever had been taken to train it.
When M. Sonnini was in Egypt, he had an Angora cat, which remained in his possession for a long time. This animal was one of the most beautiful of its kind, and equally attractive in its manners and dispositions. In Sonnini's solitary moments, she chiefly kept by his side; she interrupted him frequently in the midst of his labours or meditations, by little affecting caresses, and generally followed him in his walks. During his absence, she sought and called for him incessantly, with the utmost inquietude; and if it were long before he re-appeared, she would quit his apartment, and attach herself to the person of the house where he lived; for whom, next to himself, she entertained the greatest affection. She recognised his voice at a distance, and seemed on each fresh meeting with him to feel increased satisfaction. Her gait was frank, and her look as gentle as her character. She possessed, in a word, the disposition of the most amiable dog beneath the brilliant fur of a cat. "This animal," says M. Sonnini, "was my principal amusement for several years. How was the expression of her attachment depicted upon her countenance! How many times have her tender caresses made me forget my troubles, and consoled me in my misfortunes! My beautiful and interesting companion at length perished. After several days of suffering, during which I never forsook her, her eyes, constantly fixed on me, were at length extinguished; and her loss rent my heart with sorrow."
Mahomet's cat must have ingratiated herself with her master in no common degree, for the prophet preferred cutting off the sleeve of his garment to disturbing the repose of his favourite, who had fallen asleep on it. It is said that Rousseau esteemed the cat more than the dog; but though few will be inclined to go this length, the former is undoubtedly capable of close personal attachment, and knows how to recommend herself to those for whom she feels an affection. Petrarch was so fond of his cat, that he had it embalmed after death, and placed in a niche of his apartment. Dr Johnson, too, had his feline favourite, of which it is told that it once fell ill, and refused every kind of food that could be thought of, till at last an oyster was offered by accident, which it greedily seized, and seemed to relish. The doctor, thinking that his servants would not be over-attentive to the duties of cat-nurse, undertook the charge himself, went daily for a few oysters, brought them home in his pocket, and administered them to poor Puss till she had quite recovered. The celebrated painter, Godefroi Mind, devoted himself almost exclusively to the painting of cats, in which he gained such celebrity, that he was distinguished by the appellation of the "Raphael of cats." He did not view them merely as subjects for art, but his attachment to the animal was unbounded. At one time hydrophobia prevailed to such an extent among the cats of Berne, that 800 were destroyed in consequence of an order issued by the magistrates. Poor Mind was in the deepest grief for the death of the cats, nor was he ever after completely consoled. He had, however, so successfully secreted his own favourite cat, that she was spared. Minette was always near him when he was at work, and he carried on a kind of conversation with her by gestures and words. Sometimes Minette occupied his lap, while two or three kittens were perched on his shoulder, or on the back of his neck, as he stooped at his occupation; and thus he would remain for hours together without stirring', for fear of disturbing his companions, whose purring soothed and composed him. What made this the more remarkable was, that Mind was not particularly well - tempered, and that he could never be disturbed by visitors. His cat was no doubt equally attached to her master.
It is very common for cats to select one member of a family on whom they lavish all their fondness, while to the others they comport themselves with the utmost indifference. "I remember," says a female correspondent, "there was a cat with her kittens found in a hole in the wall, in the garden of the house where my father-in-law lived. One of the kittens, being a very beautiful black one, was brought into the house, and almost immediately attached himself in a very extraordinary way to me. I was in mourning at the time, and perhaps the similarity of the hue of my dress to his sable fur might first have attracted him; but however this may have been, whenever he came into the room he constantly jumped into my lap, and evinced his fondness by purring and rubbing his head against me in a very coaxing manner. He continued thus to distinguish me during the rest of his life, and though I went with my father-in-law's family every winter to Dublin, and every summer to the country, the change of abode (to which cats are supposed so averse) never troubled my favourite, provided he could be with me. Frequently, when we have been walking home after spending the evening out, he has come running down half the street to meet us, testifying the greatest delight. On one occasion, when I had an illness which confined me for upwards of two months to my room, poor Lee Boo deserted the parlour altogether, though he had been always patted and caressed by every one there. He would sit for hours mewing disconsolately at my door, and when he could, he would steal in, jump upon the bed, testifying his joy at seeing me by loud purring and coaxing, and sometimes licking my hand. The very day I went down, he resumed his regular attendance in the parlour."
One of the most affecting instances of personal attachment in the cat, is that mentioned by M. Ladoucette. Madame Helvitius had a favourite, which constantly lay at her feet, seemingly always ready to defend her. It never molested the birds which its mistress kept; it would not take food from any hand save hers; and would not allow any one else to caress it. At the death of his mistress, the poor cat was removed from her chamber, but it made its way there the next morning, went on the bed, sat upon her chair, slowly and mournfully paced over her toilet, and cried most piteously, as if lamenting his poor mistress. After her funeral, it was found stretched on her grave, apparently having died from excess of grief. Another equally remarkable instance is related by Mr Pennant in his Account of London. Henry Wriothsly, Earl of Southampton, the friend and companion of the Earl of Essex in his fatal insurrection, having been some time confined in the Tower, was one day surprised by a visit from his favourite cat, which is said to have reached its master by descending the chimney of his apartment.
The following anecdote of combined attachment and sagacity rivals anything that has been told of the dog, and places the cat in a much more favourable light than current opinion would allow:—In the summer of 1800, a physician of Lyons was requested to inquire into a murder that had been committed on a woman of that city. He accordingly went to the residence of the deceased, where he found her extended lifeless on the floor, and weltering in her blood. A large white cat was mounted on the cornice of a cupboard, at the farther end of the apartment, where he seemed to have taken refuge. He sat motionless, with his eyes fixed on the corpse, and his attitude and looks expressing horror and affright. The following morning he was found in the same station and attitude; and when the room was filled with officers of justice, neither the clattering of the soldiers' arms, nor the loud conversation of the company, could in the least degree divert his attention. As soon, however, as the suspected persons were brought in, his eyes glared with increased fury; his hair bristled; he darted into the middle of the apartment, where he stopped for a moment to gaze at them, and then precipitately retreated. The countenances of the assassins were disconcerted; and they now, for the first time during the whole course of the horrid business, felt their atrocious audacity forsake them.
AFFECTION FOR OTHER ANIMALS.
Every one who has observed the deportment of the female cat towards her young, must have admired not only her maternal t assiduity, but the playful simplicity she assumes to amuse them. The same tenderness she has been known to bestow on the young of other creatures; nursing them and tending them with the most devoted watchfulness. Books on animal biography abound with instances of this nature. Mr White of Selborne mentions that a friend of his had a leveret brought to him, which his servants fed with milk from a spoon. About the same time his cat kittened, and the young ones were drowned. The little hare was lost, and it was supposed to have been devoured by some dog or cat. However, in about a fortnight after, as the gentleman was sitting in his garden in the dusk of the evening, he observed his cat with tail erect trotting towards him, and calling with short notes of complacency, such as cats use towards their kittens, and something gambolling after, which proved to be the leveret, which the cat had supported with her milk. The same writer relates a similar anecdote of a boy who had taken three young squirrels from their nest. These creatures he put under a cat which had lately lost her kittens, and found that she nursed and suckled them with the same assiduity and affection as if they had been her own progeny. So many persons went to see the little squirrels suckled by a cat, that the fostermother became jealous of her charge, and in pain for their safety, and therefore concealed them over the ceiling, where one of them perished.
A similar story is told, in Dodsley's Annual Register, of a cat that suckled a couple of young rabbits, which had been thrown to her to devour; and, what is equally wonderful, we have heard of a cat that brought out two chickens, and treated them with the same affection as she did her kittens. A more remarkable instance, however, occurred some years ago in the house of a Sir Greenfield of Maryland. A cat had kittens, to which she frequently carried mice and other small animals for food, and among the rest she is supposed to have carried a young rat. The kittens, probably not being hungry, played with it; and when the cat gave suck to them, the rat likewise sucked her. This having Deen observed by some of the servants, Mr Greenfield had the kittens and rat brought down stairs, and put on the floor; and in carrying them off, the cat was remarked to convey away the young rat as tenderly as she did any of the kittens. This experiment was repeated as often as any company came to the house, till great numbers had become eye-witnesses of the preternatural affection.
We shall close our instances of the cat's affection towards the young of other animals by the following anecdote from the pages of Marryatt, allowing the captain to tell it in his own amusing way:—'" A little black spaniel had five puppies, which were considered too many for her to bring up. As, however, the breed was much in request, her mistress was unwilling that any of them should be destroyed, and she asked the cook whether she thought it would be possible to bring a portion of them up by hand before the kitchen fire. In reply, the cook observed that the cat had that day kittened, and that, perhaps, the puppies might be substituted. The cat made no objection, took to them kindly, and gradually all the kittens were taken away, and the cat nursed the two puppies only. Now, the first curious fact was, that the two puppies nursed by the cat were, in a fortnight, as active, forward, and playful as kittens would have been: they had the use of their legs, barked, and gambolled about; while the other three, nursed by the mother, were whining and rolling about like fat slugs. The cat gave them her tail to play with, and they were always in motion: they soon ate meat, and long before the others they were fit to be removed. This was done, and the cat became very inconsolable. She prowled about the house, and on the second day of tribulation fell in with the little spaniel who was nursing the three other puppies. 'Oh,' says Puss, putting up her back, 'it is you who have stolen my children.' 'No,' replied the spaniel with a snarl; 'they are my own flesh and blood.' 'That won't do,' said the cat; 'I'll take my oath before any justice of the peace that you have my two puppies.' Thereupon issue was joined; that is to say, there was a desperate combat, which ended in the defeat of the spaniel, and in the cat walking off proudly with one of the puppies, which she took to her own bed. Having deposited this one, she returned, fought again, gained another victory, and redeemed another puppy. Now, it is very singular that she should have only taken two, the exact number she had been deprived of."
Besides these instances where the maternal feeling is the exciting motive, there are many accounts of cats having lived in amity with creatures to whom they are supposed to be naturally averse. A few years since, a collection of wild beasts, birds, etc. was exhibited, in which the most attractive object was a cage inhabited by a cat, a guinea-pig, some white mice, and some birds—all living together in peace and harmony—Puss not only having laid aside her predatory propensities, but actually regarding her companions with looks of complacency and kindness. "We have at present," says a correspondent, "a cat who has formed a very warm friendship with a large Newfoundland dog. She is continually caressing him, advances in all haste to him when he comes in, with her tail erect, then rubs her head against him, and purrs delightedly. When he lies before the kitchen fire, she uses him as a bed, pulling up and settling his hair with her claws to make it comfortable. As soon as she has arranged it to her liking, she lies down and composes herself to sleep, generally purring till she is no longer awake; and they often lie thus for an hour at a time. Poor Wallace bears this rough combing of his locks with the most patient placidity, turning his head towards her during the operation, and merely giving her a benevolent look, or gently licking her."
We have also met with the following, which shows how the cat will look for assistance in cases of emergency, and that she will hit upon some way of showing her gratitude for the kindness conferred. We give it in the words of the individual who recounts it:—" I was on a visit to a friend last summer, who had a favourite cat and dog, which lived together on the best possible terms, eating from the same plate, and sleeping on the same rug. Puss had a young family while I was at the Park, and Pincher paid a daily visit to the kittens, whose nursery was at the top of the house. One morning there was a tremendous storm of thunder and lightning; Pincher was in the drawing-room, and the cat was attending her family in the garret. Pincher seemed to be considerably annoyed by the vivid flashes of lightning which continually startled him; and just as he had crept close to my feet, some one entered the drawing-room followed by Puss, who walked in with a disturbed air, and mewing with all her might. She came up to Pincher, rubbed her face against his cheek, touched him gently with her paw, and then walked to the door; stopped, looked back, mewed—all of which said, as plainly as words could have done, 'Come with me, Pincher;' but Pincher was too much frightened himself to give any consolation to her, and took no notice of the invitation. The cat then returned and renewed her application with increased energy; but the dog was immoveable; though it was evident that he understood her meaning, for he turned away his head with a half-conscious look, and crept still closer to me; and Puss finding all her intreaties unavailing, then left the room. Soon after this, her mewing became so piteous that I could no longer resist going to see what was the matter. I met the cat at the top of the stairs, close to the door of my sleeping apartment. She ran to me, rubbed herself against me, and then went into the room, and crept under the wardrobe. I then heard two voices, and discovered that she had brought down one of her kittens and lodged it there for safety; but her fears and cares being so divided between the kittens above and this little one below, I suppose she had wanted Pincher to watch by this one while she went for the others; for, having confided it to my protection, she hastened up stairs. I followed her with my young charge, placed it beside her, and moved their little bed farther from the window, through which the lightning had flashed so vividly as to alarm poor Puss for the safety of her family. I remained there till the storm had subsided, and all was again calm. On the following morning, much to my surprise, I found her waiting for me at the door of my apartment. She accompanied me down to breakfast, sat by me, and caressed me in every possible way. She had always been in the habit of going down to breakfast with the lady of the house; but on this morning she had resisted all her coaxing to leave my door, and would not move a step till I made my appearance, she went to the breakfast-room with me, and remained, as I have mentioned, until breakfast was over, and then went upstairs to her family. She had never done this before, and never did it again: she had shown her gratitude for my care of her little ones, and her duty was done.
COURAGE AND BOLDNESS.
The cat, being naturally carnivorous, may be expected to possess considerable audacity. Every one must have witnessed the boldness with which a cat of ordinary size will stand up against even the largest Newfoundland dog, bristling her hair, and using her claws with the greatest address, so long as she can keep her front to her antagonist. Indeed it is only when the dog can lay hold of the comparatively slender spine of his opponent, that he overcomes her—few dogs having the boldness long to resist the ferocity with which she assails their faces and eyes with her claws. The following instance of maternal courage and affection, recorded in the Naturalists' Cabinet, is worthy of admiration: — "A cat who had a numerous brood of kittens, one sunny day in spring, encouraged her little ones to frolic in the vernal beams of noon about the stable-door. While she was joining them in a thousand sportive tricks and gambols, they were discovered by a large hawk, who was sailing above the barnyard in expectation of prey. In a moment, swift as lightning, the hawk darted upon one of the kittens, and had as quickly borne it off, but for the courageous mother, who, seeing the danger of her offspring, flew on the common enemy, who, to defend itself, let fall the prize. The battle presently became seemingly dreadful to both parties; for the hawk, by the power of his wings, the sharpness of his talons, and the keenness of his beak, had for a while the advantage, cruelly lacerating the poor cat, and had actually deprived her of one eye in the conflict; but Puss, no way daunted by this accident, strove with all her cunning and agility for her little ones, till she had broken the wing of her adversary. In this state she got him more within the power of her claws, the hawk still defending himself apparently with additional vigour; and the fight continued with equal fury on the side of grimalkin, to the great entertainment of many spectators. At length victory seemed to favour the nearly exhausted mother, and she availed herself of the advantage; for, by an instantaneous exertion, she laid the hawk motionless beneath her feet, and, as if exulting in the victory, tore off the head of the vanquished tyrant. Disregarding the loss of her eye, she immediately ran to the bleeding kitten, licked the wounds inflicted by the hawk's talons on its tender sides, purring while she caressed her liberated offspring, with the same maternal affection as if no danger had assailed them or their affectionate parent."
The cat's dislike to wet her feet has long been proverbial. The saying, "she likes fish, but won't wet her feet for them," is, however, not strictly true: the cat has been known to take the water after a fish, just as she will take the brake after a young hare or pheasant. Her dislike to soil her feet arises as much from her natural love of cleanliness, and the desire to keep her fur dry, as from any fear that she has to take the water. A friend of Dr Darwin's saw a cat catch a trout, by darting upon it in a deep clear water, at the mill at Weaford, near Litchfield. The animal belonged to a Mrs Stanley, who had frequently seen her catch fish in the same manner in the summer, when the millpool was drawn so low that the fish could be seen. Other cats have been known to take fish in shallow water as they stood on the bank. This may probably be a natural act of taking prey, which acquired delicacy by domestication has in general prevented cats from using, though their desire of eating fish continues in its original strength.
INSTANCES QF MEMORY.
The attachment of the cat to particular persons and places, and the fact of its often returning to its original home after a long absence, and over a great distance, prove the possession of a pretty accurate memory. All the felines seem well endowed in this respect, and none more so, perhaps, than the domestic cat. The following surprising instance we transcribe from the Scotsman newspaper for 1819:—"A favourite tabby belonging to a shipmaster was left on shore by accident, while his vessel sailed from the harbour of Aberdour, Fifeshire, which is about half a mile from the village. The vessel was about a month absent, and on her return, to the astonishment of the shipmaster, Puss came on board with a fine stout kitten in her mouth, apparently about three weeks old, and went directly down into the cabin. Two others of her young ones were afterwards caught quite wild in a neighbouring wood, where she must have remained with them till the return of the vessel. The shipmaster did not allow her again to go on shore, otherwise it is probable she would have brought the whole litter on board. What makes this the more remarkable is, that vessels were daily entering and leaving the harbour, none of which she ever thought of visiting till the one she had left returned." How wonderfully accurate must this animal's recollection of the ship have been! The differences, however trifling, between it and other vessels which put in, must have been all closely observed and remembered; or we must suppose the creature to have had its recollections awakened by the voice or figure of some of its shipmates passing near to the wood where its family was located.
We have all heard of cats returning to the homes from which they have been sent, and this we might readily conceive to be the result of accurate observation and retentive memory; but there are many instances, well authenticated, where they could hardly have been aided by their faculties, and where they appear to have been guided by some mysterious instinct. "We have a cat," says our lady correspondent already quoted, "who was a very wild character, often committing depredations in the larder, destroying our young pigeons, and making great havoc among the birds. He was considered so lawless, that, after a consultation on what was best to be done, a decree of banishment was issued against him, and he was sent in a thick linen bag to a cottage at about two miles' distance, where he was offered shelter, as he was an expert mouser. We thought we should never see Mr Tib again, but found ourselves quite mistaken; for late one evening, about three weeks after, he walked into the kitchen, and greeted every one so kindly, that he met with a more favourable reception than his previous conduct could have warranted him in expecting. Whether he has repented of his late misconduct, whether he is conscious that it was the cause of his banishment, or whether he has passed through scenes which have broken his daring spirit, we cannot say, but all his bad habits are actually conquered, and he is now quite a pattern of domestic propriety." Still more extraordinary is the instance related by a gentleman who removed his establishment from the county of Sligo to near Dublin, a distance of not less than ninety miles. When about to change his residence, he and his children regretted very much being obliged to leave a favourite cat behind them, which had endeared itself to them by its docility and affection. This gentleman had not been many days settled in his new abode, when one evening, as the family were sitting chatting after tea, the servant came in, followed by a cat so precisely like the one left behind, that all the family repeated his name at once. The creature testified great joy in his own way at the meeting. He was closely examined, and no difference whatever was discernible between the cat in Sligo and that now beside them. Still, it was difficult to believe it was their poor pet; for how could he have travelled after them, or how could he have found them out? And yet the exact resemblance, and the satisfaction which the poor animal evinced as he walked about, seemingly in all the confidence of being among his friends, with his tail erect, and purring with pleasure, left but little doubt upon their minds that this was indeed their own cat. The gentleman took him upon his lap, and examining him closely, found that his claws were actually worn down, which at once convinced him that poor Puss had really travelled the whole ninety miles' journey.
SAGACITY AND INTELLIGENCE.
While we readily admit that the cat is inferior in docility and intelligence to the dog, we are not of those who would exalt the one at the expense of the other, and continue to harbour absurd prejudices against the dispositions and manners of the former. We have seen that it is by no means destitute of attachment, gentleness, courage, memory, and other mental attributes j and if we regard it honestly, we shall also find that it exhibits in many instances no small degree of sagacious ingenuity. "No experiment," says an intelligent writer, "can be more beautiful than that of setting a kitten for the first time before a looking glass. The animal appears surprised and pleased with the resemblance, and makes several attempts at touching its new acquaintance; and at length finding its efforts fruitless, it looks behind the glass, and appears highly astonished at the absence of the figure. It again views itself, and tries to touch the image with its foot, suddenly looking at intervals behind the glass. It then becomes more accurate in its observations, and begins, as it were, to make experiments, by stretching out its paw in different directions; and when it finds that these motions are answered in every respect by the figure in the glass, it seems at length to be convinced of the real nature of the image." If so acute and intelligent in its very infancy, what may we expect when its faculties are matured by observation and experiment?
"A friend of mine," says the Rev. Mr Bingley, "possessed a cat and a dog, which, not being able to live together in peace, had several contentious struggles for the mastery; and in the end the dog so completely prevailed, that the cat was driven away, and forced to seek for shelter elsewhere. Several months elapsed, during which the dog alone possessed the house. At length, however, he was poisoned by a female servant, whose nocturnal visitors he had too often betrayed, and was soon afterwards carried out lifeless into the court before the door. The cat, from a neighbouring roof, was observed to watch the motions of several persons who went up to look at him; and when all were retired, he descended and crept with some degree of caution into the place. He soon ventured to approach; and after having frequently patted the dog with his paw, appeared perfectly sensible that his late quarrelsome companion could no more insult him; and from that time he quietly returned to his former residence and habits." Here there was only a reasoning process exhibited; but in the following instance, related by Dr Smellie, there was ingenuity of performance combined with the sagacity :—"A cat frequented a closet, the door of which was fastened by a common iron latch. A window was situated near the door. When the door was shut, the cat gave herself no uneasiness; for, so soon as she was tired of her confinement, she mounted on the sill of the window, and with her paws dexterously lifted the latch and came out. This practice she continued for years."
Still more ingenious are several of the instances related by M. Antoine in his Animaux Celebres:—In a cloister in France, where the hours of meals were announced by the ringing of a bell, a cat was always in attendance as soon as it was heard, that she, too, according to custom, might be fed. One day it happened that Puss was shut up in a room by herself when the bell rang, so she was not able to avail herself of the summons. Some hours after she was let out, and instantly ran to the spot where dinner was always left for her, but no dinner was to be found. In the afternoon the bell was heard ringing at an unusual hour; when the inmates of the cloister came to see what was the cause of it, they found the cat clinging to the bell-rope, and setting it in motion as well as she was able, in order that she might have her dinner served up to her. In this instance the cat must have been in the habit of observing what went forward, and was therefore led to associate the ringing of the bell with the serving up of dinner; and feeling the want of her meal, very naturally applied herself to perform the act which had always preceded its appearance. Another anecdote evincing still greater ingenuity and cunning, is related by the same amusing compiler. An Angora cat belonging to the Charter-house of Paris, having' observed that the cook always left the kitchen upon the ringing' of a certain bell, and thus left the coast clear for his depredations, soon acquired the art of pulling the bell, and during the cook's absence regularly made off with some of the delicacies which were left unprotected. This trick he repeated at intervals for several weeks, till one day he was detected by a person who was placed in wait for the purloiner.
The power of observation in the lower animals is much more active and accurate than is generally supposed; and to those who have watched their conduct, they seem not only to observe persons and events, but actually to know days, and if not to understand our language, at least to comprehend the meaning of the tones in which it is uttered. A very curious proof of the observant faculty in the cat is given in the following story:—There was a lady who lived at Potsdam with her children, one of whom ran a splinter into her little foot, which caused her to scream out most violently. At first her cries were disregarded, and supposed to proceed from crossness; but at length the eldest sister, who had been asleep, was awakened by the screams, and as she was just getting up to quiet the child, she observed a favourite cat, with whom they were wont to play, and who was of a remarkably gentle disposition, leave its seat under the stove, go to the crying girl, and give her such a smart blow on the cheek with one of its paws, as to draw blood. After this the animal walked back with the greatest composure and gravity to its place, as if satisfied with having chastised the child for crying, and with the hope of indulging in a comfortable nap. No doubt it had often seen the child punished for crossness, and as there was no one near to administer correction, Puss had determined to take the law into her own hand.
It is told that before the conquest of Cyprus by the Turks, a garrison of disciplined cats was kept on that island, for the purpose of destroying the serpents wherewith it was infested. So well trained were these feline hunters, that they came in to their meals at the sound of a bell, and upon a similar signal returned in order to the chase, which they prosecuted with the most admirable zeal and address.
Such are the accounts which we have been enabled to glean, from a pretty wide range of authorities, respecting the disposition and manners of the domestic cat. Exaggerated to some extent they may be, but not greatly so; for from all that we have observed of the animal—and our experience has been neither short nor partial—we are inclined to regard it as an attached, gentle, and playful associate, and all the more so that it meets with kindly treatment.