“Notes and Queries” began in 1849 as a weekly periodical in which scholars and interested amateurs exchanged knowledge (“the factual rather than the speculative”) on “English language and literature, lexicography, history, and scholarly antiquarianism”. The “Notes” were miscellaneous findings of correspondents that the editors considered of interest to the readership. The “Queries,” and their responses, formed the bulk of the publication. Entries from correspondents ranged from a few lines to a few paragraphs.
WHITE CATS AND DEAFNESS
Notes & Queries Volume 7 (179), April 2nd 1853: Are White Cats Deaf? - White cats are reputed to be “hard of hearing.” I have known many instances, and in all stupidity seemed to accompany the deafness. Can any instances be given of white cats possessing the function of hearing in anything like perfection? - Shirley Hibberd.
Notes & Queries Volume 8 (197), August 6th, 1853: Are White Cats Deaf? (Vol 7, p 331) - In looking up your number for April, I observe a minor Query signed Shirley Hibberd, in which your querist states that in all white cats stupidity seemed to accompany the deafness, and inquires whether any instances can be given of a white cat possessing the function of hearing in anything like perfection. I am possessed of a white cat which, at the advanced age of upwards of seventeen years, still retains its hearing to great perfection, and is remarkably intelligent and devoted, more so than cats are usually given credit for. Its affection for persons is, indeed, more like that of a dog than of a cat. It is a half-bred Persian cat, and its eyes are perfectly blue, with round pupils, not elongated as those of cats usually are. It occasionally suffers from irritation in the ears, but this has not at all resulted in deafness. - H.
Notes and Queries Vol 4 4th Series (96), October 30th, 1869 continued the debate, but was sadly inaccessible online.
Notes & Queries, Vol 9 (No 219), January 7th, 1854: Tailless Cats. - A writer in the New York Literary World of Feb 7 1852, makes mention of a breed of cats destitute of tails, which are found in the Isle of Man. Perhaps some generous Manx correspondent will say whether this is a fact of a Jonathan. - Shirley Hibberd.
Notes & Queries, Vol 9 (No 223), February 4th, 1854: Tailless Cats (Vol ix, p 10) - In my visits to the Isle of Man, I have frequently met with specimens of the tailless cats referred to by your correspondent Shirley Hibberd. In the pure breed there is not the slightest vestige of a tail, and in the case of any intermixture with the species possessing the usual caudal appendage, the tail of their offspring, like the witch’s “sark,” as recorded by honest Tam o’Shanter “In longitude is sorely scanty.” In fact, it terminated abruptly at the length of a few inches, as if amputated, having altogether a very ludicrous appearance. - G Taylor.
Notes & Queries, Vol 9 (No 223), February 4th, 1854: The breed of cats without tails is well known in the Isle of Man, and accounted by the people of this island one of its chief curiosities. These cats are sought after by strangers : the natives call them “Rumpies,” or “Rumpy Cats.” their hind legs are rather longer than those of cats with tails, and give them a somewhat rabbit-like aspect. which has given to the odd fancy that they are the descendants of a cross between a rabbit and a cat. They are good mousers. When a perfectly tailless cat is crossed with an ordinary-tailed individual, the progeny exhibit all intermediate states between tail and no tail. -Edward Forbes.
Notes & Queries, Vol 9 (227), March 4th, 1854: Tailless Cats (Vol ix, p 10) - The tailless cats are still procurable in the Isle of man, though many an unfortunate pussey with the tail cut off is palmed off as genuine on the unwary. The real tailless breed are rather longer in the hind legs than the ordinary cat, and grow to a large size. - P P.
Notes & Queries, Vol 9 (227), March 4th, 1854: Though not a Manx man by birth, I can assure your correspondent Shirley Hibberd, that there is not only a species of tailless cats in the Isle of Man, but also of tailless barn-door fowls. I believe the latter are also to be found in Malta. - E P Paling.
Notes & Queries, Vol 9 (238), May 20th, 1854: Tailless Cats (Vol ix, p 10). - On the day on which this Query met my eye, a friend informed me that she had just received a letter from an American clergyman, travelling In Europe, in which he mentioned having seen a tailless cat in Scotland, called a Manx cat, from having come from the Isle of Man. This is not “a Jonathan.” perhaps the Isle of Man is too small to swing long-tailed cats in. - Uneda, Philadelphia.
Notes & Queries, Vol 9 (238), May 20th, 1854: - Mr T D Stephens, of Trull green, near this town, has for some years had an bred the Manx tailless cat; and I have no doubt, would have pleasure in showing them to your correspondent Shirley Hibberd, should he ever be in this neighbourhood. - K Y, Taunton.
Notes & Queries, Vol 9 (238), May 20th, 1854: - A friend of mine, who resided in the park farm, Kimberley, had a breed of tailless cats, arising from the tail of one of the cats in the first instance having been cut off; many of the kittens came tailless, some with half length; and occasionally one of a bitter with a tail of the usual length, and this breed continues through several ‘generations. - G J.
Notes & Queries, Vol 9 (242), June 17th, 1854: Tailless Cats (Vol ix, pp 10, 111) - It may be interesting to your correspondent Shirley Hibberd to know, that the Burmese breed of cat is, like that of the Isle of Man, tailless; or, if not exactly without tails, the tails they have are so short as to be called so merely by the extremest courtesy. This is the only respect, however, in which they differ from other cats. - S B, Lucknow.
Notes & Queries, Vol 2 2nd Series, (46) November 15th, 1856: Tailless Cats. - I remember that, some twenty years ago, there was a prolific family of tailless cats, that, in a comparatively wild state, increased and multiplied in the vaults under the chapel of Clare Hall, Cambridge. This vault, or rather part of the vault, was not devoted to sepulture, but, to the best of my recollection, was the repository of the college fuel. How they had originally come there I never could learn. They may possibly have been imported by some student from the Isle of Man. -Henry T Riley.
“Notes and Queries” began in 1849 as a weekly periodical in which scholars and interested amateurs exchanged knowledge (“the factual rather than the speculative”) on “English language and literature, lexicography, history, and scholarly antiquarianism”. The “Notes” were miscellaneous findings of correspondents that the editors considered of interest to the readership. The “Queries,” and their responses, formed the bulk of the publication. Entries from correspondents ranged from a few lines to a few paragraphs. This note was about superstitious sailors attributing storms to cats being onboard the ship.
Notes and Queries Vol 4, 2nd Series (91), Sept 26th 1857: Maltese Cats. - It is stated in the Albany Express:-
“That a New York merchant recently sent for a cargo of Maltese cats from that celebrated island, per schooner “William E Callis,” of Nantucket, Captain Smith. Fifty kittens were received on board the schooner as part of the assorted cargo. On the voyage very rough weather was experienced. At first the tars attributed the rapid succession of gales to the comet; but one old sailor told the crew that it was nothing outside the vessel that occasioned the storm; that one cat was enough to send and ship to Davy Jones’s locker, and as they had fifty on board, not a man of them stood a chance of setting foot on dry land again. This was enough for the superstitious crew, and the cats were immediately demanded of the captain, given up, and drowned. By a singular coincidence the storm thereupon abated. The owner of the cats has now sued the owners of the vessel for damages, laying the value of the cats at 50 dollars a piece, or 2500 dollars.”
Jack, it is well known, has his many superstitions, but this referring to Maltese cats is not one of the number. It being in my power to say that there has not been any vessel at Malta of the name of the “William E Callis,” the “fifty kittens” could not have been shipped “as part of her assorted cargo” - the “very rough weather on the voyage” could not have been “experienced” -the old tar could not have “demanded the cats of the captain to be given up and drowned” in the Atlantic - the “singular coincidence” when this was done “of the storm thereupon abating,” could not have occurred : and finally, of the whole story it may be written, “si non e vero, e ben trovato.” [it is not true or well found] W W, Malta.
(To which I can add that the term “Maltese” in North America at that time meant “blue grey” – Maltese Cats were the local blue domestic shorthairs.)