NINETEENTH CENTURY NEWSPAPER REPORTS (1880 - 1883)
AN IMPROMPTU CAT SHOW People who chanced to be in the vicinity of Dr Al. Watts’s “repository" on Tuesday evening witnessed an impromptu cat show, which the worthy animal fancier unintentionally provided, and which was certainly as edifying as any ever given. Mr. Watts locked fifty-three tabbies and toms in an upper loft, three stories from the ground, on Tuesday afternoon, thinking that a broken pane of glass in the window was not worthy of consideration. The cats considered it well, however, and to such purpose that fifty of them made their way out during the evening, “shinned” down the side of the building and scampered away to freedom. The felines were a new stock in trade, and some of them were quite valuable. Several were recovered on Wednesday. EGYPTIAN CATS The Egyptians are the first people among whom we find notices of the cat. It figures largely upon the monuments as a domestic pet, and was honoured when dead. Comical stories are told by Herodotus of the anxiety to save the cats when a house caught fire, and of the grief when one died. The cat seems to have served as a retriever in fowling expeditions, and even in fishing. It seems strange that no mention of the cat occurs in the Bible or in any Assyrian record. Even in India, Prof Max Miller is quoted as saying that it was but recently known a domestic animal. Its Sanscrit name is marjara, from a root meaning to clean, from the creature’s habit of licking herself at her toile. Her mousing habits were well-known to the Romans, and even to the Etruscans as shown by antique gems and even wall-paintings. The mouse-killer domesticated among the Greeks, called gale, described by Aristotle and humorously referred to by Aristophanes in the “Peace,” has been shown by Prof Rolleston to have been our white-breasted marten (Martes foina), a different animals from the gale agria or iktis, which was larger, and a great lover of honey as well as a killer of birds. Mr Houghton dwells upon the remarkably scanty occurrence in Latin writers of the word felis or feles, Cicero using it but once, and that when speaking of Egyptian cats. Ovid in a single passage speaks of a mythological felis, into which the sister of Phoebus was changed. Besides the cat, the Egyptians domesticated the ichneumon, popularly known as Pharaoh’s rat, which is still to be seen in houses at Cairo.
Boston Post, February 19, 1880
The New York Times, February 22, 1880
Reprinted from The Saturday Review
Various, March 1880
AN IMPROMPTU CAT SHOW
People who chanced to be in the vicinity of Dr Al. Watts’s “repository" on Tuesday evening witnessed an impromptu cat show, which the worthy animal fancier unintentionally provided, and which was certainly as edifying as any ever given. Mr. Watts locked fifty-three tabbies and toms in an upper loft, three stories from the ground, on Tuesday afternoon, thinking that a broken pane of glass in the window was not worthy of consideration. The cats considered it well, however, and to such purpose that fifty of them made their way out during the evening, “shinned” down the side of the building and scampered away to freedom. The felines were a new stock in trade, and some of them were quite valuable. Several were recovered on Wednesday.
The Egyptians are the first people among whom we find notices of the cat. It figures largely upon the monuments as a domestic pet, and was honoured when dead. Comical stories are told by Herodotus of the anxiety to save the cats when a house caught fire, and of the grief when one died. The cat seems to have served as a retriever in fowling expeditions, and even in fishing. It seems strange that no mention of the cat occurs in the Bible or in any Assyrian record. Even in India, Prof Max Miller is quoted as saying that it was but recently known a domestic animal. Its Sanscrit name is marjara, from a root meaning to clean, from the creature’s habit of licking herself at her toile. Her mousing habits were well-known to the Romans, and even to the Etruscans as shown by antique gems and even wall-paintings. The mouse-killer domesticated among the Greeks, called gale, described by Aristotle and humorously referred to by Aristophanes in the “Peace,” has been shown by Prof Rolleston to have been our white-breasted marten (Martes foina), a different animals from the gale agria or iktis, which was larger, and a great lover of honey as well as a killer of birds. Mr Houghton dwells upon the remarkably scanty occurrence in Latin writers of the word felis or feles, Cicero using it but once, and that when speaking of Egyptian cats. Ovid in a single passage speaks of a mythological felis, into which the sister of Phoebus was changed. Besides the cat, the Egyptians domesticated the ichneumon, popularly known as Pharaoh’s rat, which is still to be seen in houses at Cairo.RAINING CATS AND DOGS
The figurative expression, “raining eats and dogs,” had a practical illustration in Boston a few days ago. A dealer in dogs had secured some fifty cats, with which to start an opposition exhibition to the forthcoming show at the Music Hall, or to bear the bootjack market. These cats he had locked into a room three stories from the ground, after giving them an abundance of food and drink. As night came on, the cats longed for their accustomed liberty, and looked around to see how it could be gained. They found a few broken panes in the windows, and leaped pell mell, through them, to the great astonishment of the passers-by, who had never before seen a shower of grimalkins. Just fifty cats had taken the leap, leaving only three to be found by their owner on his return in the morning. The marks of sharp claws on the woodwork beneath the windows, and tufts of fur on the jagged edges of the broken glass, showed the manner of exit, notwithstanding the height from which they descended, not a cat is known to have lost any of its nine lives.
The New York Times, March 8, 1880
There has latterly been a great and impressive uprising of the cat in our illustrated periodical literature. Our juvenile magazines and newspapers especially teem with wood-cuts of cats in humorous situations. We are shown an oppressed cat undergoing a practical joke at the hands of some wicked boy, or a triumphant cat perpetrating some comic feat at the expense of a stupid dog or child. The unanimity with which our comic artists have perceived the availability of the cat as an element of comic art is certainly very remarkable, and it cannot be denied that their use of the animal is ‘usually very successful.
Undoubtedly, the fun of those comic cat pictures lies in the incongruity of associating anything like humor with an animal so utterly devoid of that quality. The cat is Philistine to the tip o f it s tail. It never condescends to play, and in no circumstances loses its perfect dignity of manner. What is sometimes mistaken for playfulness in the cat is nothing more than a rehearsal of the gymnastic feats which are essential to its professional duties. The kitten chases a string in order to develop that agility and command of muscle which are needful in chasing mice and birds, and the mature cat, when she has caught a mouse, goes over the whole process of the capture again and again as a. mere matter of practice. The idea of anything so frivolous as play or amusement unquestionably never enters into the cat’s head. This habitual seriousness and strict attention to business is the cause of the veneration which the Egyptians showed to the cat. They regarded it as a god merely because it never smiles and never jokes. So solemn an animal must be, they thought, superhuman. Without doubt, had a stray German visited Egypt, the Egyptians would have instantly deified him because of his inability to comprehend a joke.
When an artist represents a cat in a humorous situation, the incongruity of the thing amuses us. It is precisely the same with Germans. For a long time the Ger man has been a fruitful subject of humor, for the sole reason that he is personally utterly devoid of humor. We are amused when a story-teller or a comic artist represents a, German in intimate association with something humorous, because of the enormous incongruity of the idea. It has taken us somewhat longer to perceive that in this respect the cat is as avai1ab1e as the German, and now that we have perceived it, there is danger that the present artistic cat “ boom” will grow to unpleasantly large dimensions.
There are many interesting anecdotes illustrating the wonderful intelligence of the cat, and among them we can incidentally find striking evidence of the cat’s complete lack of. humor. There was a large Maltese cat, the property of a prominent washer-woman of Chicago, who contrived a scheme of supplying his table with choice mice without personal exertion. He made the acquaintance of an active and intelligent terrier, and employed the latter to catch mice for him, paying for them in bones. The cat collected a large stock of bones, which he kept in the hollow of a tree, out of reach of the dog, and never produced until a bargain was consummated. A large flat stone served as a counter, and on this the dog would deposit a mouse when offering it for sale. The cat would examine the mouse closely, and would always affect to disparage it. The dog would insist that it was a remarkably fine Spring mouse, and, rejecting with disdain the cat’s first offer, would pick up the mouse and pretend to carry it away. Then the cat would call him back, and, after a long discussion and much sharp bargaining, an agreement would be reached. The cat would then climb up to his bone-safe, and bring down the amount of bones agreed upon, after which the dog would retire, leaving the mouse in the cat’s possession. The cat was far from liberal in his dealings, and the ruling rates for a good. average-sized mouse were one chicken-leg bone or two wing-bones, carefully denuded of meats. It is evident that he must have made a profit of at least a hundred per cents on these transactions, especially as he stole his entire capital of bones ; but such is ever the way in which the cunning and unscrupulous impose upon the honest and hard working.
One day the dog brought for sale a particularly attractive mouse. He claimed that he had; caught it in a menagerie, and. that it was an imported, short-tailed mouse of immense value. The cat was evidently taken with the appearance of the mouse, but, at first refused to offer more than the
regular price. At length, after much sharp language and profanity, a bargain was struck, and the cat paid an entire rib of roast beef, with a, quarter of a pound of good meat adhering to it. No sooner had the dog obtained his pay than he broke into wild barks of delight, and turned somersaults all over the yard. Startled by this unexpected conduct, the cat carefully investigated his new purchase, and, to his great disgust, found that the imported, short-tailed mouse was merely an imitation mouse, made of flannel, and grossly adulterated with sewing-silk.
Now the dog was completely carried away with a sense of the enormous joke he had played on the penurious cat, but the cat could not see a trace of anything humorous in the proceeding. He swore freely, and. was so enraged that he attempted to assault the dog, who promptly thrashed him, and drove him into a tree, Even. then the cat failed to be amused, and there is no reason to believe that to this day he has ever understood why the dog laughed.
This is a conspicuous instance of the cat’s lack of any perception of the humorous, and a thousand equally truthful anecdotes can be told by any inquisitive zoologist, if it is made an object to him.
THE RIGHT OF PROPERTY IN CATS
The Albany Law Journal 21 (Jan.-Jul. 1880)
In regard to the ownership of live animals, the law has long made a distinction between dogs and cats and other domestic quadrupeds, growing out of the nature of the creatures and the purposes for which they are kept. Beasts which have been thoroughly tamed and are use for burden, or for husbandry, or for food—such as horses, cattle and sheep—are as truly property of intrinsic value, and entitled to the same protection, as any kind of goods. But dogs and cats, even in a state of domestication, never wholly lose their wild natures and distinctive instincts, and are kept either for uses which depend on retaining or calling into action those very natures and instincts, or else for the mere whim or pleasure of the owner; and therefore although man may have such right of property in a dog as to maintain trespass or trover for unlawfully taking or destroying it, yet he was held, in the phrase of the books, to have ‘no absolute or valuable property’ therein which could be subject of a prosecution for larceny at common law [...] dogs have always been held by the American courts to be entitled to less legal regard and protection than more harmless and useful domestic animals.
The New York Times, November 14, 1880
Reprinted from Chambers's Journal
No 1 was a she-cat of the gray brindled kind, which i believe is the Scottish breed. She, like Nimrod, was a mighty hunter. hares, rabbits, and partridges all fell victims to her sporting propensities. What is remarkable is that whatever she killed she invariably brought home and laid at my mother's feet. if they were worth keeping, as the often were, they were appropriated, while Pussy sang her song of pleasure; if they were not worth keeping, they were given back to her, and she devoured them with relish. She ate none till they were lifted and then thrown down to her again. She was fond of fish but, unlike other cats, she was willing to wet her feet for them. Often has she been watched sitting on the burn-bank until a trout came within reach, when down went her paw and out came the trout almost without fail. No 2 was a Tom-cat, red and white. Like No 1, he brought the fruits of the chase home, but afterward became more selfish and devoured what he could on the spot. What was left he kept hidden until it was required. perhaps your readers may consider what follows about him as incredible, but it is a fact nevertheless. he seemed to become weary of the lying-in-wait process of catching game and actually endeavored to run down hares by speed of foot. Ever after that we considered him as having "a want." he was shot because when a certain gardener was shooting partridges, Gib pounced upon a covey and deprived the sportsman-gardener of his game. Out of revenge he lodged the shot in poor Gib.
Various, November 8, 1880
Those who think cats an unmitigated nuisance and of no value whatever, will be surprised to learn that, at a recent cat show in London there was one cat valued at $500. It was a white long-haired beauty, ten years old, and the winner of thirty-nine first prizes, three second and eleven special. There were other cats whose owners would not sell them at any price.
The New York Times , December 15, 1880
We can never be too thankful that we did not live lit the pliocene or miocene periods. We may think that there are a good many cats at the present day, and that we suffer a good deal from them, but both in quantity and quality the pilocene and Miocene cats must have been frightful. Prof. E. D. COPE has recently written a paper on the The Extinct Cats of America, which is enough to make one’s flesh creep with horror, while at the same time it tills the heart with gratitude.
Prof. COPE has found the fossil remains of no less than forty-seven distinct species of cats, almost any one of which was larger, fiercer, and louder than any modern cat. The very names of these atrocious animals fill the mind with awe. Fancy the noise that a Hoplophoneus oreodontis must have made when indulging in terms of endearment toward another cat of the same style. How tough and impossible to slay with ordinary boot-jacks must have been the Nimravus gomphodus and what a dangerous brute to meet with in a, dark pliocene coal cellar was the Smilodon fatalis! These were only a few of the forty-seven kinds of cats which made life a burden to unhappy men with whom they were contemporary ; and in all probability Prof. COPE will find a large quantity of additional cats before he gets through with his investigations.
These cats are found chiefly in the neighborhood of fossil back fences, a fact which proves that their habits were essentially the same as those of existing cats, although, of course, they were much more offensive, for the reason that the larger any bad habit may be the more objectionable it is. No boot-jacks or beer bottles have, however, been found by Prof. COPE in either pliocene or miocene strata. This does not prove, as the Professor seems to imagine, that boot-jacks and beer bottles did not exist at the periods in question, but it rather indicates that the contemporaneous men and women were so awed by the size and ferocity of the cats that they did not have the heart to throw things at them.
We can readily understand that it is not safe to throw boot-jacks at all sorts of animals. Take, for example, the Nimravus gomphodus. He was “as large,” says Prof. COPE, “as the full-grown panther of the large varieties.” He wore his upper canine teeth outside of his mouth, which gave him a terribly fierce and bloodthirsty appearance. His “sectorial apparatus” - which he appears to have constantly carried with him - was “especially effective,” and he also had “compressed mandibular zami,” which must alone have stricken terror into the observer. Now, who would risk irrtating such an animal by shying a boot-jack at him ? He would probably have jumped from the fence into the back window and clutched his pliocene insulter at a single bound. It is all very well to throw things at the modern degenerate cat, but the man who fooled with pliocene and miocene cats deserved the fate which he undoubtedly experienced.
Another leading cat was the Pogonodon brachyops, and he fully deserved the name. This formidable beast possessed “the biting functions” in a high degree of efficiency. Among his most remarkable peculiarities were – “the truncate triangular post-tympanic process” - a process of which he is believed to have been especially fond, and which was indescribably painful when applied to a human victim ; “the transverse fronto-maxillary suture,” which greatly irritated his naturally bad temper ; and his “preorbital impressed depression” - a state of feeling quite in keeping with the sullen and morose humor for which he was noted. It is very clear that when such a cat lifted up his voice in the back yard the only thing for a prudent man to do was to close his shutters and say his prayers. As for attacking a cat accustomed to the infliction of “the truncate triangular post-tympanic process” on his victim, it would have been safer to have attacked a grizzly bear.
The Pogonodon platycopis cat was about the size of the jaguar and twice as wicked. It was, in Prof. COPE’S opinion, “a. great destroyer of contemporary mammalian life” meaning chickens and such - and it is only too probable that “the largest ungulates of the Truckee fauna were among its victims.” We thus see that neither strength nor skill availed against this devouring pogonodon. The ungulates of Truckee were undoubtedly the leading citizens of that locality - men respected for their courage and admired for their strength. If ever the brave ungulates were killed and eaten by the pogonodon, what chance had weaker men or defenseless women and children ? It is probable that these extinct cats rendered the other inhabitants of the country extinct at an early date, and afterward died of starvation because there were no more dinners to eat.
Well may we be ashamed of the murmuring and repining in which we have occasionally indulged when the contemporaneous cat has mewed at unseemly hours. Our cats may howl and swear, but they cannot walk into our houses, seize upon the fattest member of the family, and then and there devour him or her, as the case may be. The world has improved since the pliocene period, and there is nothing which more forcibly illustrates this improvement than the fact that the extinct cats were infinitely worse than are the most depraved of the cats of the present era.
AMERICA’S CHAMPION CAT
The Milan Exchange, December 16, 1880
The residence of Mr. Bancroft, No. 22 Morgan Street, says the Hartford (Conn.) Times, is a point of attraction to a good many visitors aside from those who make friendly calls upon the family. Many strangers ring at their door upon the same errand — an errand of curiosity. They are desirous to see a certain famous cat, which makes its home with the Bancrofts. This animal, which has become an object of curiosity, is an ordinary house cat in all except its great size. It is as big as two or three ordinary cats, having at its best tipped the scales at twenty-seven and a quarter pounds, though at the present time it is two or three pounds lighter.
So far as known it is not only the champion cat of America, but also of the world. The cat shows of England have never yet produced one that equals it in size. “Bouffe,” as the cat is called, was twelve years old last April and comports itself with as much dignity as a cat of its size and age should. He seems to know that he is an object of attraction and when a visitor calls he takes a stand upon a table and poises for admiration. Bouffe has lost his teeth within the past year and old age begins to tell upon him. In his younger days he was a splendid mouser as well as a good rat-catcher. He cleared the house then so effectually that he has no opportunity to show his prowess now. But with his teeth gone he could probably come the gum game successfully over any rat he might meet. When Bouffe shuffles off this mortal coil his remains will be in good demand. One person has spoken for his skull an another wants him to stuff, but for all this he may be consigned to the “cat cemetery” in the back yard, where the remains of five felines are already interred. One of the cats weighed fourteen pounds and another was sixteen years old when it died.
In speaking of other cats, we may say that Martin B. Bidwell, the North Main Street grocer, has a fine specimen. Maltese and white which weighs fifteen pounds. But Bouffe, as we said before, attracts strangers from far and near, and so frequent are the calls a book has been provided and the visitors are requested to leave their autographs. In looking over this book we found names from Boston, New York, Albany and other distant places, showing that the fame of Hartford’s big cat is not bounded by the circumscribed limits of Connecticut.
SPEAKING ABOUT CATS. - SOME FRAGMENTS FROM ESSAYS, ONE OF WHICH MAY GET A PRIZE.
The New York Times, March 16, 1881
Mr G B Bunnell, who has a cat show at his museum, corner of Broadway and Ninth-street, offered, before the opening of the show, a prize for the best essay on cats. The result is that Mr Bunnell's office is now flooded with poetic, comic, serious, and historic effusions from all parts of the country. A female essayist treats of the subject at great length. She says that the old Egyptians worshiped cats. When the family cat died a natural death the members of the household shaved their eyebrows in sorrow. The body was embalmed and buried in a spot consecrated to cats. They were never killed bu the Egyptians, and a Roman, who accidentally caused the death of a cat, was set upon by an infuriated mob and sacrificed to their fury. The Roman's name and former address are withheld out of respect to his family. The sad event cast a gloom over the entire community.
There are some curious superstitions connected with the cat, according to this yearner for Mr Bunnell's prize. When the cat washes itself it is a sign of good weather; when it licks itself against the grain, or washes its face over the ear, or sits with its tail to the fire, the weather will be bad. If there is to be a wedding in the house, the bride may consider herself very fortunate if the cat sneezes the day before. In Bavaria a cat of red, white, and black is called a fire-cat, and in some villages such cats are thrown in the flames of a burning house instead of water to quench the flames. It is also supposed that their presence in a house will prevent fever. When America was discovered no cats were found here, not even wild ones. The American cats are descendants of those brought over from Europe by the first settlers.
A "New-York journalist," who is also anxious for the prize, sends and essay of exactly 1,000 words. The origin of house cats, he says, is obscure. This is undoubtedly true in many cases. Arab legends trace the cat back to Noah's ark, where the story runs, it was sneezed from a lion's nostrils. Its known history dates back 3,558 years, or 1,688 years before the Christian era. it is a native of Egypt, and was held sacred to Isis. In Greek animals the first recorded cat belonged to Theocritus. The white-breasted marten preceded it as a mouse-killer. In Rome and ancient Britain cats were rare. Pliny mentions them, and the Caesars painted them on their banners. In the Middle Ages they were held as emblems of sorcery and witchcraft. St Dominic describes the cat as an uncanny animal, whose form the devil often assumed. It is related that an architect invoked Satan's aid to build a bridge. Satan consented on condition that the first who crossed it should forfeit his soul. The architect sent over a cat, which scratched the devil's face. In Germany black cats are kept from children as evil omens, and their appearance in sickness denotes death. The cats from the Isle of Malta, Russia, Japan, Turkey, Sicily, and Mexico all possess the features of the ancient Egyptian breed.
A Schenectady essayist says that reference is made to the cat in Sanskrit writings 2,000 years old, and still more ancient records of it are to be found in the monumental figures and cat mummies of Egypt. The gloved cat of Nubia (Felis maniculata,) which also appears as a mummy, approaches most nearly in size and in the tapering form of the tail to the domestic cat. The difficulty of recognizing this ancestor in any single wild species has led many naturalists to the conclusion that the common cat (Felis domestica) is the product of many crossings of species commingled. In country districts specimens of the domestic cat that run wild are by no means uncommon, and having once tasted wild food it is afterward indifferent to rats and mice, but there are few animals more destructive to poultry and game. The old Latin proverb, "Caties amat pisces sed aquos introre recusat" (the cat likes fish, but don't like to go in the water,) is hardly correct, as cats have been frequently known to overcome their aversion to water in order to gratify their taste for fish.
A poor student in the Connecticut Literary Institution, at Suffield, Conn., who is working his way through college sends a short essay and an urgent letter asking the committee to "Please let me know at once concerning the prize." The essay is as follows: "The cat is a domestic animal. She is the smallest of the family of the great cat tribe. This tribe comprises the lion, tiger, panther, and other fierce animals, but the household cat is a very domestic creature." A young lady, gifted in the matter of adjectives, is very indignant that the law does not recognize property in cats. She writes: "Now, if a man steals from my blind-maimed-sprained-foundered-got-the-heaves-kicking-knock-kneed-bobtailed-balking-horse, or if he steals my old brindle-hooking-scraggy-sell-for-nothing-and-dear-at-that-and-always-kicks-the-milk-pail cow, or my howling-barking-yelling-yelping-mangy-tailless-hydrophobic dog, or my screeching-screaming-swearing-so-that-all-the-neighbors-complain-of-it-and-one-old-lady-said-she-would-speak-to-the-Police-and-it-was-shameful-and-unneighborly parrot, the law will punish him. The briefest and most comprehensive of all the essays is from a man who says he has not had a good night' sleep in a year, as follows: "Dam all cats anyway."
A CAT HATCHING CHICKENS.
The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, April 1, 1881
The cat show at the Museum, in Wheeler's Building, is well attended, and the Tabby which has been sitting on a nest full of hen’s eggs is the center of attraction. Yesterday two chickens were hatched out, the cat assisting them to escape by breaking the shells with her claws. The prizes were awarded yesterday; J. B. Rose taking the premium for the largest cat; Mrs. Knee the prise for the handsomest specimen, and Ben La Ross the prize for the second largest animal. The Hancock Legion received a premium for the best Maltese cat, known as General.
THE PLACE WHERE CATS CAN'T LIVE
The New York Times, October 23, 1881
(From the Bodie (Cal) Free Press)
Jim Townsend, of Lundy, has been making some experiments with an ordinary domestic cat. It has been repeatedly stated that a cat could not live at an altitude of 13,000 feet above the sea. Mr Townsend has demonstrated that such is the fact. On Monday last, he and another gentleman made the ascent of Castle Peak, which is a little over 13,000 feet high. They took with them a cat - Thomas - that was a year old, and had lived at an altitude of 6,000 feet with no symptoms of disease. Mr Townsend had the cat in a box, and as they went up he took This was about 2observations and noted very carefully its every movement. When the summit was reached they pitched their tent. This was about 2 o'clock in the afternoon. The cat partook of some food, and, after playing for an hour or so, fell asleep and di not wake up until near midnight. When it did recover consciousness it set up a howling and appeared much distressed. Townsend pitied it and endeavored to make it feel at home, but of no use. It kept up its constant moaning and displayed symptoms of having fits. When morning came the cat was offered food, but it refused to eat and acted even more strangely than during the night. Townsend says it would open its mouth as if gasping for breath; would jump about and then go to sleep and wake up with a start. All this while close watch was kept and every movement noted. At 5 o'clock in the afternoon the cat died of exhaustion.
CATS AT SEA
The New York Times, October 30, 1881
(From The United Service)
Certain animals were once thought to provoke storms at sea, and were thus regarded as unlucky by seamen. A dead hare on board ship has long been thought a storm-bringer. The hare is unlucky in many folk-lore stories. many people, as Lapps, Finns, and Chinese, will not eat it. An animal supposed to see at night, it was connected with the moon, shining by night, and we have Eastern traditions of the hare in the moon. Hence it is, with the moon, a weather-maker. The cat was still more widely feared as a storm-bringing, and is always unlucky on board ship. She "carries a gale in her tail," and is thought particularly to provoke a storm by playing with a gown or apron, rubbing her face, licking her fur the wrong way, &c. Provoking a cat will certainly bring a gale, in sailor belief, and drowning one will surely raise a tempest. Fielding, in a voyage to Lisbon, (1775,) says; "The kitten at last recovered, to the great joy of the good Captain, but to the great disappointment of some of the sailors who asserted that the drowning of a cat was the very surest way of raising a favorable wind." Flaws on the surface of the water in sailor-lore "cat's-paws."
There is a Hungarian proverb that a cat does not die in water, hence its paws disturb the surface. A larger flurry on the water is "cat-skin." So it rains cats and dogs, and the stormy north-west wind in some parts of England is the "cat's nose." In Chinese lore tigers cause storms, and the Japanese wind-god has steel claws and a tigerish countenance. In Germany there is a proverb that any one making a cat his enemy will be attended at his funeral by rats and rain. Cats see better at night, are connected with the moon in many legend, are witches; familiars, and hence are eyed askance by many. The Egyptian goddess of evil, Pasht, was a cat-headed goddess. Cats were, as we have seen, used by witches in raising a gale, and are said to smell a wind, while pigs see it. On shipboard, the malevolent character of the at is shown in nautical nomenclature, and the song now popular - "It was the cat" - is liable to more than a double interpretation. the cat-o'-nine tails is not a desirable acquaintance, nor do sailors have a love for the miscellaneous gear connected with raising the anchor, such as the cat-head, cat-fall, cat-tail, cat-hook, cat-back, &c. The lubber's-hole through which it is thought derogatory to the able seaman to pass, is in French "Trou de Chat." Weak tea is called by sailors "cat-lap." Freya, the Norse goddess, was attended by cats, and thus Friday, her day, was thought unlucky. A spectral dog, "shony," is said to predict a storm when appearing on the Cornish beach.
THE TAILLESS CAT
The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Jan 15, 1882
Cats are always objects of suspicion in cases of the sudden disappearance of canary birds, yet there is often a painful uncertainty as to the fate of the feathered pet. But when the tailless cat bagged game of this sort he usually finished the business on the spot, kindly leaving a beak or a few feathers scattered about, that there might be no doubt as to what had become of the missing songster.
From what has been related it will be seen that the tailless cat of P-- street was something of a feline natural curiosity. When the cat show was announced, therefore, all the boys of the neighborhood began to devote their spare time to stalking the animal, with the intention of capturing him alive, sending him to the show and securing one or more prizes on him. Late one afternoon thirteen boys succeeded in cornering him near the vacant lot. A capacious sack was thrown over him, and Bobbie Nichols took charge of him for the night. This youth did not let the cat out of the bag, for the cat spared him the trouble. He never went to the show. Those peculiar intersecting lines which cover the backs of Bobbie’s bands are not a tatooed geometrical problem ; they are the scars which remained after the scratches had healed up — for he had tried, unaided, to hold the tailless cat.
Little incidents like these made up the animal's every day life. He almost invariably eluded capture, and when driven to close quarters he behaved with such energy that his enemies were glad to let him escape. This only made him more audacious than ever. The landlady at No. 70, being lame, was unable to give brisk pursuit to trespassers upon the premises, and this the tailless cat soon discovered. When the lady chanced to be in the kitchen alone, he would make way with edibles before her very eyes, and not hurry about it, either. In fact, his impudent, defiant bearing was his most exasperating trait. One day he stalked into the kitchen with that swaggering air of his, and deliberately inspected the tables and every corner which might promise forage. Finding none, he ventured down into the cellar for exploration. The door was closed behind him, and the tailless cat was a prisoner. The news spread rapidly through the whole neighborhood. A Jury composed of the cook, the chambermaid, the waiter girl, and two boys from the corner grocery store decided that the cat must die, and forthwith descended to the dark cellar to execute the sentence. As their only light was supplied by a flickering candle, carried by the waiter girl, it was with some difficulty that the cat was found. When, at last, a glimpse was caught of his gleaming eyes, the problem of how to catch him yet remained to be solved. He was chased in and out of corners, off high shelves, through pieces of old stove pipe, and among heaps of broken furniture, and remained as fresh as ever, while his pursuers were bruised, dusty and tired out. But they were bent upon vengeance, and at last they drove the cat into a corner, behind a heap of rubbish, where no one could reach him, but where he offered a fair target for such missiles as could be picked up about the place. A bar of iron laid him low and then he was hammered with clubs until it seemed that all the lives he possessed were beaten out, A stone was rolled upon him and he was left to "die thoroughly.”
The boys returned to the grocery store, and the girls described to the lady of the house the hunting down and slaying of the offender. Somebody had proposed an epitaph : Requiescat in pace. The lady of the house sat in the outer doorway and breathed a sigh of relief as she thought that now she could leave custard pies on the table and not have them linked out of the crust the moment her back was turned. Behind her was the open cellar door. A scrambling around was heard — a whizz! and, something flew over her head, across the yard, over the fence. It was the tailless cat — and a nice chop that had been left on a side table near the cellar door.
After this episode the cat’s relation with No. 70 were not as intimate as they had been, and finally he disappeared from the neighborhood altogether. The butcher’s boy says that the tailless cat will never be seen any more, having been run down and crushed by the butcher's cart at a crossing. It appears that such an accident did really occur; but it does not necessarily follow that thereby the brilliant career of the tailless cat is cut short. He will probably turn up again. T.
THREE MAD CATS ATTACK A MAN.
The New York Times, March 19, 1882
(From the Lawrence (Mass) American, March 10
Yesterday afternoon, as Mr Frank A Small was sitting as the desk in A B Stannard's office, in the Essex yard, three cats, which have lived about the premises for some time past, came together into the building, and suddenly springing upon the desk, made a furious attack upon Mr Small's right hand; they pounced upon him as they might seize a rat, biting and scratching the flesh in a savage manner. So vigorous and persistent were the three animals, that Mr Small had serious difficulty in defending himself and driving them off; the cats appeared perfectly wild, seizing, climbing upon and tearing the window curtains, overturning and breaking a lamp upon the desk, with other antics, until finally, two ran out of the shop, the third hiding under a pile of lumber. Mr Small, covering his lacerated hand with a handkerchief, and calling two of the workmen, succeeded in dislodging the secreted cat, which thereupon made a dash for a window, going out though one of the lights of glass. Mr Small had his hand dressed by Dr Dow. The strange action of the cats is a matter of curious speculation.
CATS LOOKED ON WITH SUSPICION
The New York Times, March 5, 1882
(From The Sunday Review)
The cat has always been looked upon with suspicion by the masses. A Finisterre cat which has served nine masters in succession is believed to have the right of carrying off the soul of the ninth to hell. In Upper Brittany there are sometimes seen enormous cats engaged in holding a meeting. If any one presumes to intrude upon their presence, they surround and tease him for a time. Then a long needle is driven into his heart, and he is dismissed. Hypochondria ensues, and he slowly wastes away. A black tom-cat, says a Russian proverb, at the end of seven years becomes a devil. A Breton farmer who neglected to take the usual precaution of putting his tom-cat to death before it completed its seventh year, was found dead in bed one morning, with his throat terribly torn. Suspicion fell upon innocent persons, who were likely to be hanged on circumstantial evidence. Luckily a boy observed that the cat of the house was always watching the corpse with eyes that blazed with rage. So he fastened to the dead man's arm a string, the end of which he dropped through the window into the yard. Then he told the Police to watch the body secretly, while he pulled the string. They did so. When the boy gave the string a pull, the corpse's arm jerked. The cat imagined its master had revived. With one bound it sprang onto the bed, and furiously tore away at the corpse's wounded neck. Whereupon it was condemned to be burned alive, and the suspected persons were set free. It is believed, we read, that a cat's viciousness depends to a great degree upon the length of its tail. If the end part of its tail be cut off, it is unable to take part in the witches' sabbat. When a Walloon maiden wishes to refuse a suitor with contumely, she gives him a cat, and tells him to count its hairs. it is generally believed in France that a bachelor who treads on a cat's tail will find no woman to marry him till a full year has passed by.
CATS TO HUNT RABBITS
The New York Times, April 18, 1882
(From the Pall Mall Gazette)
The necessity of keeping down the rabbits which are eating up the colony of New-Zealand has led to a demand for cats for rabbiting. Professional rabbiters, who are paid a price ranging from 1s to 3s for each dozen skins, according to their state, have been employing cats to aid them in the capture, and the venture has been so successful that in some parts good rabbiting cats can command half a crown each. That history repeats itself is an axiom often brought to mind, and perhaps before long some enterprising spectator, like the nursery hero who was thrice Lord Mayor of London, may lay the foundation of a colossal fortune by the export of cats.
THE CEMETERY FOR CATS
The New York Times, May 7, 1882
(From the Pall Mall Gazette)
"The burial-place for pet animals, dogs, cats, and birds" is emerging from the region of dreams. The prospectus of the "Zoological Necropolis Association (Limited)," which lies before us, with its imposing array of patrons, Directors, bankers, brokers, solicitors, and Secretaries, shows that the scheme is being pushed into the orthodox commercial fashion, and anyone who wishes to subscribe can purchase as many of the 5,000 two-pound shares as his inclination leads him and his finances permit. The burial ground is to be established "within a few miles of London," and "if wished for, a tribute to their memory can be erected by those who love them," In due time we shall have a cats' undertaker setting up in business, but for the present it is sufficient to say that the offices of the Cats' Cemetery Company are at No 27 Henrietta-street, Cavendish-square, W., where all necessary information can be obtained by intending shareholders.
BEES, MICE, CATS, AND FLOWERS
The New York Times, May 21, 1882
Many of our orchidaceous plants absolutely require the visits of moths to remove their pollen-masses and thus to fertilize them. I have also reason to believe that humble-bees are indispensible to the fertilization of the heartsease (Viola tricolor,) for other bees do not visit this flower. From experiments which I have lately tried, I have found that the visits of bees are necessary for the fertilization of some kinds of clover; but humble-bees alone visit the red clover, (Trifolium pratense,) as other bees cannot reach the nectar. Hence I have very little doubt that if the whole genus of humble-bees became extinct or very rare in England the heartsease and red clover would become very rare, or wholly disappear. The number of humble-bees in any district depends in a great degree on the number of field-mice, which destroy their combs and nest; and Mr H Newman, who has long attended to the habits of humble-bees, believes that "more than two thirds of them are thus destroyed all over England." Now the number of mice is largely dependent, as everyone knows, on the number of cats, and Mr Newman says: "Near villages and small towns I have found the nests of humble-bees more numerous than elsewhere, which I attribute to the number of cats that destroy the mice." Hence it is quite credible that the presence of a feline animals in large numbers in a district might determine, through the intervention first of mice and then of bees, the frequency of certain flowers in that district!
CAT RECORDS IN HISTORY; NATIONS WITHOUT CATS AND CATS IN FOLK-LORE. EGYPTIAN REVERENCE FOR THEM--SHAVING THAT WAS PRACTICED WHEN ONE DIED IN THE HOUSE--NOT MENTIONED IN HOLY WRIT--NARROW ESCAPE OF A ROMAN SOLDIER FROM DEATH.
The New York Times, May 21, 1882
From the London Saturday Times
A man's sentiments with regard to cats are a kind of token of his age. In boyhood we are apt to hate cats, regarding them as "the higher vermin." A dog which, like poor dog Tray in the poem, 'is uncommon good at cats," is our favorite companion. We do not weary of contrasting the sterling merits and straightforward character of the dog with the sly and slinking habits of the cat. But as age dawns on, we begin to see redeeming features in the quiet, undemonstrative cat. We admire the sagacity with which it passes a double life - a sleek domestic favorite all day, a wild animal of unbridled impulse in the darkness of night. If the cat is not a robustious animal like the Newfoundland or bull-terrier, it is an unaffected one. It does not wag its tail at every chance comer, but purrs only when it has good reason to be pleased. The undemonstrative cat takes a human interest in her own comfort, disturbs no-one, (except occasionally at night,) and really deserves protection from the worse than Bulgarian atrocties of fiends in the shape of boys. This animal, so essentially hypocritical and civilized, has a history and a folk-lore of her own, which we now propose to examine.
In the new number of the Gentleman's Magazine, Mr Thistleton Dyer tells us a few things about the history and folk-lore of the harmless persecuted cat. He remarks that the chariot of the Goddess Freya, "the Teutonic Venus," was drawn by cats, and for his authority he refers us to Kelly's "Indo-European Folk-lore." But this does not advance us much, as we wish to know whence Kelly derived his information. But he who asks for first-hand references is born to be disappointed. It is not easy to see how Freya's car came to be drawn by cats if cats were not introduced into Europe till the Middle Ages, by which time Freya had ceased to be adored. Probably Freya's were the tall, brindled wild cats, which 30 years ago were common enough in the West Highlands. This wild cat, M Lenormant says, was hunted and even eaten (we regret to learn) by the dwellers in the Swiss lake cities in the age of stone. M Lenormant is convinced that not Egypt, but Africa, further south, is the cradle of the cat as a domesticated animal. The Egyptian wild fowl hunter in the monuments takes his cat with him in his boat, and the cat acted as a retriever. Cats as a rule, disklike cold water, but they are fond of fish, and there used to be a cat in a mill on the Yarrow or Ettrick (we forget which) which would dive after trout and seize them even in deep pools. This cat did not illustrate the Latin proverb "Catus amat pisces sed aquas intrare recusat." The Egyptian cat's fondness for birds doubtless enabled him to overcome his aversion to wetting his feet. All the world knows through Herodotus how the Egyptians revered the cat, though, indeed there was scarcely any animals which some of them did not ignorantly worship. The remarks of Herodotus about the personal habits of the cat seem to prove almost the demonstratation that the domesticated animal was no more known in Greece in his time than in the country where Dick Whittington introduced it.
On this topic, some years ago, Mr Mahaffy entered into controversy; Mr Mahaffy believing in Greek cats, while Mr A S Murray was skeptical about their existence. If any Egyptian voluntarily slew a sacred animal death was his punishment; and Diodorus tells that a Roman soldier who had accidentally killed a cat scarcely escaped the fury of the people. yet the Egyptians had probably a still higher respect for dogs. When a cat died in a house the people shaved their eyebrows, but when a dog died they shave the whole head and all the body. Dead cats were embalmed and buried in the city of Bubastis, the sacred city of Bast, or Pasht, the divine cat. M Lenormant finds that the Egyptians still respect cats, and in Cairo serve up a copious banquet every day to the cats of each quarter "in the court of the house of the Cadi." In one of the picture galleries was lately exhibited a study of cats on a pilgrimage in Egypt; they had a camel all to themselves under the direction of an old pilgrim, and were perched most comfortably on the animal's shoulders.
The cat, like so many other animals, played a considerable part in Egyptian religion. But if M Lenormant is right, cat worship is comparatively late in Egypt. he finds no trace of the animals among all the many monuments of the ancient empire. Under those early dynasties the cat goddess, Bast or Pasht, was a lioness goddess. Not till the twelfth dynasty, and the conquests in le pays de Kousch, does the cat come to the front in Egypt. We may therefor regard the cat as a Cushite animal, derived from the Felis maniculata, found wild in Upper Nubia and the Soudan. Our cat, on the other hand, is thought to be descended from the Felis catus, the wild cat which gave a name to Clan Chattan, and to the Duchess of Sutherland a Gaelic title, said to mean "The Graet Lady of the Cat." The Spanish cat is regarded as a hybrid, dating from the Arab invasion.
The late introduction of domesticated cats among Semite peoples seems to be proved by the absence of cats in the Bible. We do not remember a single mention of cats in Holy Writ. The Assyrians and the Babylonians are said to have been equally ignorant of this charming animal. There appear to be no Greek or Roman pictures or other representations of the mau, or "mew cat," of the Egyptians. Perhaps one exception should be made, for M Longperier has encountered a cat on a Tarentine coin, struck shortly before the wars of Pyrrhus. Another archaeologist mentions a Romac tombstone, that of Calpurnia Felicula (pussy) on which a cat was engraved; but the monument is lost, and its date was post-Christian. Orelli thinks that felicula (little cat or kitten) is a late name for women.
The Byzantine writers, in the latest days of Greece, are thought to have been the first who gave the name gale to the modern cat. The Greek gale was a polecat, or foumart; though there was an old fable of a cat changed into a woman, which seems more naturally interpreted as the modern cat. The names of the cat in European languages are interesting. M Pictet, the author of "Les Origines Indo-Europeennes," thinks that none of our names for puss belong to the old Aryan tongue. The Romans - who rather late in the day, were the Whittingtons of antiquity, and introducers of the cat - call the animal catus. The adjective catus means, in a bad sense, "sly, cunning, artful, crafty." But M Pictet was not so easily satisfied; he derived the late Roman catus from the Syriac gato and the Arabic quitt (kitten.) Nor even here did he stop in his impetuous course. Qato and qitt, it seems are not originally Semitic, but African words, as in the Nubian kadiska. The Egyptians, as we have seen, gave the cat a childish name; as infants call the cow "moo," they .called the cat "mau," an imitation of its plaintive cry. The history of cats, then, is derived from countries bordering on the Upper Nile, whence the beast came to Egypt, and passed to Syria, Rome, and Western Europe.
The Indo-Aryans of the Vedic age seem to have lived and died ignorant of cats. The Sanskrit names of the cat mean "the animal of the house," "the house-wolf," "the rat-eater," "the enemy of mice." The name of the wild cat in many languages seems to be related to our puss. The Persian is puschak; Afghan, pischik. Even the fanatic Kurd keeps his psiq; the Lithuanian is attched to his domestic puje, and the Turk has a kindly feeling for the puschik. M Pictet, that audacious philologist, is inclined to connect these words with the Sanskrit, putchha - that is "tail;" and so we should find in "puss" the same idea as in the Greek ailouros, the creature with the waving tail.
Cats play a considerable part in folk-lore, and no wonder. Their ways are mysterious and uncanny; they appear and disappear unexpectedly; they haunt the paths of the night, and they are the only friends of old women with a repute for necromancy. We need not, however, say with the intrepid Gubernatis thaat the cat with white ears ina fairy tale is "the morning twilight," or "the moon which chases the mice of the night." There is a chattering cat in a Russian fairy tale which is killed in the territory of a hostile Sultan. M de Gubernatis cannot even let the poor Sultan off, but explains that he is "the wintry night." What the chattering cat is in this case we know not - perhaps the wind, or the spring, or anything but a cat that chatters. MMe d'aulnoy's white cat, la chatte blanche, has not escaped M de Gubernatis's queet conjectures. The wooden horse of the young Prince in the tale is "the forest of the night." The white cat herself is "the white moon;" and, when she is metamorphosed into a woman, clad says mme d'Aulnot, "dans une robe d'une legere gaze blanche doublee de taffetas colour de rose," the "white moon" becomes the "rosy aurora." it is needless to say that the gauze and rose-colored taffeta are purely inventions of Mme d'Aulnoy's fancy in th pleasing region of millinery. To regard the rose-colored taffeta as the survival of the Mythopoeic age, and as a proff that the white cat was the moon, and became the dawn, is truly worthy of M de Gubernatis. He treats Aesop's cat-woman (probably the Greek polecat-woman) in the same way. That the bride went to bed can only meant "The evening aurora sinks into night." The Italians describe and empty house by saying, "there was not even a cat there." But do they mean that the house is deserted, even by the home-loving domestic puss? Nothing so commonplace. The proverb is derived from the sun entering the night, where he finds nothing, or "only the cat moon." Black cats are not black cats, but they are the moonless night. "The cat in the bag of the proverb has probably a diabolical allusion!" When a German invalid sees two cats fight he thinks it a bad omen. Why? Because, in M de Gubernatis's opinion, the cats "represent perhaps night and twilight." it seems to be held that men take no interest in anything except so far as it may be considered a symbol of night or light. When montes parturiunt and nascetur ridiculus mus, the reference is not to the immensity of the labor and the minute results. Oh no: "from the mountain comes forth the mice of night, the shadows of night, to which the cat moon and cat twilight give chase." But we have had enough of M de Gubernatis, and of the meteorological cats which are offered to the world as the last word of mythological science. The whole process is a reductio ad absurdum of the conjectural method. Just one more little specimen. "When the cat's away the mice may play." What does this mean? It means that "the shadows of night dance when the moon is absent," which is precisely what they do not do. No moon, no shadows, still less and shadow dance. The most ordinary truths of experience are not only set aside, but reversed, by the method of M de Gubernatis, a method from which not even poor puss has escaped.
The most gruesome cat story is the roasting of the cat by the prophet in Highland superstitions. A man was tied up in a bull's hide while his friends roasted a live cat. One of the company said, "What are you doing?" to which he who turned the spit replied, "I roast thisw cat until his friends answer my question." "And afterward a very big cat came, attended by a number of smaller cats, desiring to relieve the cat upon the spit, and answered the question."
THE GOVERNMENTS CAT FARM
The Austin Weekly Statesman, August 10th, 1882
From the Philadelphia Record: “Oh, pshaw! go buy the cat some meat yourself,” said Colonel James Bingham, deputy postmaster, one day to the engineer, who stepped into the office with the request that some money be given him to keep the felines about the place in food. The matter appeared very trivial, and Colonel Bingham merely smiled when he thought of the request. One day, when he was in Washington, the deputy postmaster busied himself by examining the accounts of the New York post office, and to his astonishment, ascertained that an appropriation was made annually of from $80 to $100 for the feed of the cats in the office at Gotham, and the item appeared in that shape on the books of the department.
When he reached home he thought over the matter which had heretofore appeared so trifling, and it was learned that the mousers were an essential part of the force of the office ; that they kept rats and mice out of the mail matter, and otherwise made themselves useful. He also learned that it cost no inconsiderable sum to maintain the couple of dozen cats, about the Philadelphia office, so an item was made for the Philadelphia office, and about thirty or forty dollars are appropriated each year to “feeding the cats.” Edwin A. Lewis, of the eighth ward, is the contractor tor keeping the feline employees in provisions, and he is familiarly known about the office as the “cat’s-meat” man. Lewis has charge of the disbursement of the appropriation, and although the names of the animals do not appear upon the pay-rolls, yet he is obliged to account for them, and signs the warrant- books on their account. If the cat family increases in numbers Lewis duly reports the fact, and provision is made for the newcomers.
There are about 1000 cats in the employ of the post office department of the government, and they are paid for their services with food and shelter. As simple as this matter seems, yet the government expends $1000 per year in the maintenance of cats at all the principal post offices and large public buildings in the country.
CATS IN DRY GOODS PACKAGES
The New York Times, September 10, 1882
(From the Fall River (Mass) News)
A local dry goods dealer received a box of goods from New-York the other day and among the articles found inside was a live cat in a good state of preservation considering the circumstances, which manifested a willingness to partake of food as soon as liberated.
GAUTIER’S DOGS AND CATS.
My Household Of Pets. Translated From The French Of Theophile Gautier By Susan Collidge. Illustrated. Boston: Roberts Brothers.
The New York Times, November 22, 1882
“No, Mm. Mirecourt and Vaperau, I did not receive a bad education at Tarbes, because I was only 3 years old when I came to Paris,” says Theophile Gautier. for that event and the date were firmly impressed on Gautier’s mind, from the fact that with his homesickness for his native Tarbes, his dear Cagnotte was wanting, and Cagnotte was a ‘dog, the playmate of his baby days. Not to have Cagnotte made him miserable. “One morning, after having thrown out of the window out tin soldiers, a German village painted in gaudy colors, and our reddest of red fiddles, we were on the point of following by the same road in hopes of finding the sooner Tarbes, Gascony, and Cagnotte, and were only dragged back in the very nick of time by the collar of our jacket.” This early attempt at suicide was only prevented by the production of another Cagnotte. Josephine, the nurse, told Theophile that the dog was coming by the first diligence. All that day, every quarter of an hour, the child asked for the dog. At last, to pacify him, on the Pont Neuf a little dog was bought somewhat resembling the dog of Tarbes. “At first we were mistrustful and would not believe him to be the same; but we were assured that traveling produces strange changes in the looks of dogs.” The Pont Neuf caniche was accepted as the authentic Cagnotte, and the child was happy. But in time a change came over the new dog. he became sad, distressed. Apparently a poodle, he belied his breed. One day a seam was discovered in his woolly coat. A pair of scissors and a single snip effected the cure. The rascally dog merchant had sewed up the new Cagnotte in the hide of a poodle. At once Cagnotte was gay and frolicsome, and though nothing more than a common cur, without the lamb’s wool curl of the true poodle, he ingratiated himself into the boy’s heart. “In the companionship of Cagnotte, who was a true child of Paris, we forgot by slow degrees Tarbes and the high mountains which we had been used to see from our windows. We learned French, and we also became Parisians.”
Theophile did not, however, love dogs as much as cats. For the feline race he had the greatest affection. He particularly cultivated these cat friendships. Two dynasties of cats were contemporaneous with the life of Gautier, the white and the black one. “Childebrand was a magnificent cat of the housetops, who had eyes of almond shape, and his velvet-striped coat gave him a resemblance to a tiger, which we found exceedingly pleasing.” Gautier tells amusingly the first rencontre between another cat -Madame Theophile -and a green parrot. The eyes of the cat were riveted on the bird, and her eyes said as plainly as if they could speak, “Green though he be, this chicken is without doubt good to eat. * *.* Little shivers ran down her spine; she was like an epicure as he sets himself at a table before a dish of truffled chickens, and smacks his lips in advance over the choice and succulent repast which he is about to enjoy. The exotic dainty tickled all her sensuous capabilities.” Just when the curve of her back was about to spring and her whole cat-ship to be shot like an arrow on the bird, he enquired in a deep, low bass, “Had any breakfast, Jacquot?” Then Madame took refuge under a bed, “from which place of safety she could not be enticed for the remainder of the day.” After the white dynasty came the black one, of which Don Pierrot de Navarre was the representative. Gautier does not seem to have been very fond of dogs in his later days, though he has an affection for a dancing dog. He tells the story of a pair of ponies which he owned when he was a journalist, which presupposes the idea that French litterateurs were either better paid in those days than now or that horses were cheaper. Perhaps, though the translation is well done, Theophile Gautier loses immensely when his is “Eng1ished.” Somehow a Frenchman’s love for a dog is quite different from that of an Englishman. It has rather too much of sentimentalism about it, for the dog never is admitted into the same “hail-fellow-well-met” companionship that makes him the comrade of the Englishman. perhaps no one really ever did understand a dog, or write about him better in an introspective way than Mr Hamerton.
A FELINE FISHER. Fife Herald - Thursday 23 November 1882
KIRKLAND. It is well known that cats show dislike to water. Who has not seen cat in a rainy day, or when the roads are wet, cautiously avoid even wetting her feet. Notwithstanding this dislike a cat belonging to Thomas Simons, Kirkland Dam, has become quite adept as a fisher in the Leven. Unhesitatingly she enters the water, going along the dam-dyke when the water is shallow and there waiting until some unwary minnow, or other small fry comes within her reach, when she dexterously seizes her finny prey, makes for an islet near hand where she devours the fish, and again renews her fishing expeditions. This feline fisher has attracted much attention of late.
THINK A GREAT DEAL OF CATS
The New York Times, January 11, 1883
(From the Woodstock (Vt) Standard)
Your correspondent had occasion last Fall to call at the house of A C Kendall who lives on a farm in Bridgewater, adjoining Barnard. I knocked at the door, and, no-one appearing, opened it and looked in. And there I saw a cat sitting up very soberly in each of the chairs in the room and two on each window-sill. This unusual sight of so many cats in one room led me to make a precipitate retreat. But I have often thought of those cats since, and the other day, seeing one of Mr Kendall's neighbors, inquired about the cats and how many Mr Kendall kept. he answered as follows: "Well, i can't say how many cats Mr Kendall does keep, but one of my boys was up there the other day, and he counted 18 cats in the house and heard several more outside. He thought there must be 25 cats in all. But that is not so many as they sometimes have; they are short of cats now. I have known them to have 33 cats. They think a great deal of cats, Mr Kendall's folks do, especially Mrs Kendall; she always keeps a pan of milk for them to go to, and has a cushion for each cat. Oh they like cats, Mr Kendall's folks do."
TEXAS CAT RANCH
In February 1883 (various sources)
A Cleburne, Texas paper says; Several parties in this city gratified their curiosity this week in a walk half a mile south of town to visit perhaps the largest cat ranch in Texas, or, for that matter, in America. The cats, we presume, are the property of Colonel B. J. Chambers. In the summer of 1881 the wheat on the farm was thrashed and a considerable quantity of straw was left in rail pens. A few cats at once took possession of the pens. The country thereabouts is full of small game, on which these animals feed and the result was that they have multiplied until now at least 500 cats, black, white, yellow, gray, spotted — in fact every color known to the feline race, to say nothing of kittens — can be seen with little trouble by visiting the pens. The place is famous throughout Texas as being the greatest cat ranch in the world.
Some of the papers, such as the Boston Weekly Globe (March 27, 1883) added their own twist on the story: “This reminds one of the theory held by an eccentric English writer that the splendid physique of the English race is due to the number of old maids in that country. His argument was that each old maid kept a cat, that the cat was the enemy of the field mouse, which variety of mouse was destructive to the red clover, which gives its nutritious quality to the beef, and the English race is the product of the roast beef of old England. Hence the multiplicity of old maids was the indirect cause of the vigor of the English race. But the Texas cats seem to thrive without the protection of old maids.”
CATS AND DOGS.
The New York Times, March 4, 1883
J G Wood, in Good Words.
Why do cats run up the tree for safety, and why does not the dog try to follow them into the branches, instead of contenting himself with futile barkings below? Here we find ourselves met by two points, the first being that the structure of the animals is different, and the second, that the instinct coincides with the structure. Up to a certain point their structure is almost identical, but after that point the begin to diverge. Both are, in the wild state, carnivorous animals, and both live on prey which they procure by their own efforts. But the mode in which they do so is widely different. The dog pursues its prey in the day-time, and runs it down by fair chase. None of the cats do this, but almost invariably hunt at night. Therefore their eyes are not made like those of the dog. When Ponto has barked himself hoarse after the cats in the tree, we will call him and make him look us in the face. The "pupils" of his honest brown eyes are quite circular, like those of the human being. Suppose that we look at them again after dusk, we shall find that they are much larger than they appeared in daylight, but that they are still circular. Having induced Ponto to go back to his own premises and coaxed the cats from their refuge, we will examine their eyes, as we did those of the dog. The pupil of the eye will be seen to be little more than a narrow slit. Toward dusk, if we look at pussy's eyes, we shall see that the slit has greatly widened. At midnight the pupils will be as circular as those of the dog, only very much larger in proportion to the size of the animals. This changed is caused by the effect of light upon the mechanism of the eye, and it is invariable in the cats all over the world. The Chinese have long known and utilized this phenomenon. As we all know, they are very fond of cats, both as pets and for the table. In which latter case they are perfectly right, for jugged cat is quite as good as jugged hare, and very few persons would discover the imposition if one were exchanged for the other. If, then, a Chinese wishes to tell the time on a cloudy day when the sun cannot guide him, he takes up the nearest cat, looks at its eyes, and from the width of the pupil can form a very good idea of the time.
THE LOVE FOR CATS.
The New York Times, April 1, 1883
From The Saturday Review
Mr. Nasmyth has a proper love for cats, and that, with the generosity and sense of justice which characterizes him, he gives that most admirable of animals the credit of having been the "original inventor of a sanitary process which has lately been patented and paraded before the public as a sanitary novelty." This love of cats seems to have been inherited, and Mr Nasmyth tells us of an aged relative of his who used to say his prayers in a loud voice, concluding by praying for aid to forgive all her had injured him, "except John Anderson o' the Toonhead, for he killed my cat, and him I'll ne'er forgie!" Moreover, one of the last victims of superstition in Scotland was a member of the Nasmyth family, who was burned as a witch because she kept four black cats, and read the Bible with two pairs of spectacles.
The Star, 10th April 1883
The cat is generally considered to be a domesticated animal,- but it would be more justly described as a gregarious one. No one who sees the placid and indifferent air with which the cat conducts himself when within doors, and compares it with the wild rapture with which the creature lifts up its voice when assembled with five or six of its species upon the end of a garden wall, can question for an instant that the cat is above all things gregarious in its instincts. That domestication is alien to the feline nature is proved also by the fact that there are no recorded instances of lions, tigers, or even the wild cats of these islands, walking into a parlour and lying down upon the hearthrug of their own accord. In the case of the wild cat it may be urged that such an advance on its part would not be welcomed; but assuredly no opposition would be offered to the lion or tiger who might yearn to domesticate itself in this manner. The extreme repugnance which the feline race in their wild state evince for fire is another proof of the absence of any domestic yearnings in their breasts, for fire is the emblem of domesticity. The cat, then, has clearly assumed domesticated habits under protest, and is against its innermost nature; but it must be admitted that the imputation of hypocrisy which has been freely brought against the animal, is hardly justified.
The cat, to do it justice, pretends to no fondness whatever for those who care for it. It will submit to be rubbed and stroked, and to be placed upon ladies' laps, simply because it likes these attentions, not because it is grateful to those who render them. It will rub against a human leg, but will also rub against the leg of a table with an equal air of affection. It will not answer when called upon, unless there be a prospect of food, but will gaze in stolid indifference at the fire, as if wholly unconscious of being addressed. This absence of affection in cats is in itself an argument against the Darwinian theory. Since the days of Ancient Egypt cats have been pets. Ladies have, in the absence of better subjects for affection, doted upon them for affection, doted upon them from time immemorial; but in all these countless generations the cats have not been able to get np a reciprocal feeling. Friends of the species have endeavoured to urge in its favour that it is affectionate to its young. If, however, five out of six kittens are removed and drowned the mother in no way concerns or troubles herself. She certainly will look sharp after the last; but this only shows that she likes to have something to nurse and play with. Had she had a particle of real love for her offspring, she would have cared for all alike.
An intense devotion to public assemblies of its kind upon housetops and walls, and to the raising of music, Wagnerian in its absence of melody, are the special characteristics of the cat. To gratify its passion for concerted music it will dare all danger. Showers of knobs of coal, and even of boots and brushes, cause but a momentary interruption of its song, and even wet weather, which of all things it most bates, will not suffice to damp its ardour for these vocal exercises. It can hardly be doubted that cats are well aware that their gatherings for the purpose of song are hateful to mankind; but this knowledge in no way affects them, and even the voice of the mistress, who an hour before bestowed bread and milk, is absolutely unheeded when it is raised in an agonised appeal for silence. The predatory instinct is strong in these creatures, and however well a cat be fed or treated it remains a thief to the end of its life. It is believed by those best acquainted with them, that the greater portion of the time spent by a cat sitting in a state of apparent somnolency on the hearthrug is really occupied in maturing plans for the surreptitious carrying off of pats of butter, for raids upon the larder, or for the assassination of canary birds.
The question why the cat should be selected by ladies as a domestic pet has occasioned the liveliest debate among philosophers of all ages. The animal possesses many vices. It is erratic in its habits, noisy, and thievish. It has no real affection for its mistress. It has but one virtue - it is soft; but many other things are soft which are free from these drawbacks. Some have presented to see a resemblance between the natures of the cat and the woman; but no sufficiently strong analogy can be traced to support so libellous an assertion. The fact that both love the fireside, and hate going out into the wet, and that it is dangerous to rub either the wrong way, can scarcely be considered as of sufficient importance to warrant the suggestion of general similarity. The feeble plea that cats catch mice cannot be admitted as an argument in favour of their general acceptance. There are not mice to catch in a great many houses; and it is notorious that where there are, not one cat in fifty will trouble itself to catch them. The cat who can get milk given to it in a saucer is not going to trouble itself by catching mice; and the knowledge that it is expected to pay for its board by keeping down mice troubles it not at all. Even as a mouse catcher the cat is a poor creature – taking half an hour over a job which a terrier of the same size will perform in a second.
It has been urged that without cats there could be no cat shows, and this may be conceded frankly; but mankind might get on without these exhibitions. Were cats unobjectionable in their ways, the onus of proving why they should be abolished would rest with those who do not keep them; but as they are most objectionable owing to the torture of nerves caused by their midnight assemblages, to say nothing of their destructiveness to well-kept gardens, it is for those who own them to prove that there is some compensation, some good quality, some advantage arising for the keeping of pets which are a pest and an annoyance to neighbours. A man is not allowed to hire an organ or a German band to play in front of his house, even in the daytime, if a neighbour objects; why, then, should he be allowed to keep a creature which renders night hideous with its caterwaulings?
The legislation which takes man's faithful friend and companion, the dog, allows his wife to keep two or three cats and to populate the whole of the district with their progeny at her will. Over and over again has the desirability of placing a tax upon these animals been pressed upon successive Chancellors of the Exchequer; but they have hitherto turned deaf ears to the suggestion and the reason is clear. Chancellors of the Exchequers are but mortal, and have wives. No man having a wife would venture to propose a tax upon cats, and until we have a Minister who is without either a wife or other female relations, sisters, aunts, or cousins, the cat will remain master of the situation. And yet we are not altogether without hope. The present is essentially an age of association. There are Salvation Armies, Blue Ribbon Armies, Good Templars, Vegetarians, and Anti-tobacconists. Everyone is interested in the well-doing of everyone else. It cannot be doubted that sooner or later there will be an Association for the Suppression of Bad Language, and the very first step which such a body must take would be the suppression of the cat nuisance. It is calculated that at least 90 per cent, of those who have fallen into the lamentable habit of using strong expressions have in the first place been driven thereto by the voice of the midnight cat, and a pious divine has gone so far as to admit that mental profanity was absolutely universal even among the best of men under these circumstances, although all outward expression of the thoughts might be suppressed. Even ladies of irreproachable morals and conduct have admitted the use of mental bad language under the irritation caused by hours of sleeplessness through the infliction of a concert on the tiles. A society which would take the matter in hand would command an enormous support, although the great proportion of the subscriptions and donations in furtherance of its object would be anonymous, for few men would venture to expose themselves to the anger of their female relatives by an open adherence to a society which, as a first step towards the suppression of swearing, would undertake to put down the domestic cat. — Standard.
CATS AND HERETICS.
The New York Times, April 15, 1883
The Cornhill Magazine
It occasionally happens that the name of an animal, in itself of unknown derivation, stands as the root to some other word, and thereby throws a curious light on the mental state of those who framed the derivative. The word katze, a cat affords a good case in point. This humble word has baffled even Grimm himself, but the word ketzer (katzer) for a heretic is admitted to be a derivative from it. How came this about? The answer is tolerably clear. That a witch and a black cat were not merely invariably associated together, but very often regarded as one and the same natural phenomenon by that process of instantaneous conversion which has already been shown to be the key-note of all mythology, is known to all who have waded never so little amid the melancholy annals of the arts of sorcery. Thus in the Monferrato peculiar dread still attaches to all cats seen on the roofs of houses in February, from the belief that they are not really cats, but witches, whom it is therefore desirable to shoot. But it is perhaps less well-known how intimate was the original connection in men's minds between witchcraft and heresy. In popular German imagination, the Waldenses, the Albigenses, and even the Templar Knights were credited with worshiping a large black cat, and this association of ideas resulted in the word katzer or ketzer for a heretic. If, therefore, it was once the custom in France ever St John's Day, with hymns and anthems and processions of priests, to throw 24 live cats into a large fire, kindled by the Bishops and clergy in the public square, the practice will appear to have been strictly in keeping with the ceremony of burning heretics, which, to the eternal discredit of the Christian Church, afforded interest and delight to our forefathers. It is a curious reflection for a Protestant to make when he beholds a black cat, that in the minds of good Catholics of by-gone days, himself and that vulgar animal would have stood for well-nigh convertible terms.
CATS ON SHIPBOARD.
The New York Times, April 15, 1883
(From All The Year Round)
Although pussy is the unrelenting enemy of rats and they stand in wholesome awe of her presence, she is not always victorious in her encounters with them. I have seen a cat rolled over and over by a patriarch on whom she had pounced, and retire from the fray discomfited, with a severe bite through the lip. In connection with cats and rats, I will mention two episodes that I could scarcely have believed possible had they not come under my immediate notice. On board the Elbe we had a grand, great, yellow cat in the after part of the ship - for cats have their own well-defined homes afloat as ashore, and resent intrusion within their boundaries from feline rivals quite as conservatively s their brethren who enjoy the blessings of the land. Sandy, then, reigned over the saloon and quarter-deck, and was the most accomplished and gentlemanly cat I was ever acquainted with. One morning, while we were lying in Scheldt abreast of Antwerp, Sandy was seated on the rail watching the disembarking of the cargo and the various operations of the small craft which surrounded the steamer, with that responsible air of general superintendence which distinguished him, when he suddenly caught sight of a rat in one of the lighters alongside. Without a second's hesitation he sprang down from the rail sheer into the lighter's cargo-space, a descent of full 30 feet, perhaps more. As may be expected, he was nearly killed by the fall, and lay for days almost insensible, but we nursed him round with beef tea and brandy.
The other incident was horrible. I had brought an old cat with me, on joining a certain rat-ridden ship, knowing him to be a good sporting animal; it was not mine, but one i had borrowed for the voyage on hearing the vessel's reputation for natural history. She was fairly over-run with vermin from stem to stern, but it appeared that there was an extraordinary concentration of the ratty element in the store-rooms underneath the fore-peak. Nothing served to restrain their depredation, or to diminish their numbers and audacity; it was scarcely safe to venture down there, and the store-keeper was at his wits' end to know how to protect the articles under his charge. At length he asked me to allow him to put Tim down there at night, not so much in the hope of destroying the rats as of scaring them away. Tim was accordingly conducted thither before the gratings were put on, and left there, with his saucer of bread and milk. In the morning nothing remained of him but gnawed bones and some scraps of gray fur.
A STRANGE CASE OF COLORED HOODOOISM
The Atlanta Constitution, July 25, 1883
The Fatal Effect of Hair from the Hind Leg of a Cat — An Old Negro’s Strange Malady — A Month Without Food or Utterance - Colored Ignorances and Superstition — Etc. [Please note that the opinions and language in this report are historical. The affliction sounds like a stroke.]
Several weeks ago The Constitution published an account of the strange illness of Elsie Foster, a negro woman on May’s alley, in the first ward. A description of the woman’s malady was presented, and the declaration made that she had been “conjured" by an old negro woman who has made herself a terror to the devotees of hoodooism in Atlanta. When the officers visited the woman's home immediately after the appearance of the malady and found that her friends claimed that she had been “conjured," they instantly left in disgust. During their presence they were apprised of the fact that the woman could not talk, and were greatly amused at her incoherent utterances. That was nearly a month ago, and still the woman’s condition has not changed. From daylight until dark and from dark until daylight again the woman lies upon her bed an immovable and almost lifeless body. Her eyes are always open and fixed with a steady gaze upon the ceiling. Occasionally her hands go up to her forehead and as they do she moans as though enduring the greatest pain. She positively refuses to talk if talk she can. Since the day she was seized with the strange illness she has not closed her eyes one moment. But the strangest part of the story is her total abstinence from food. Not one mouthful of food has passed her lips for nearly a month and yet she does not seem to have fallen away one ounce. The woman's neighbors all declare that she has been “conjured " by the old woman who bears the reputation of being the only successful “conjurer” in Atlanta. The “spell,” as they call it, was occasioned by the bottle in which there was water and a half dozen hairs. These hairs constitute the power of the charm, and are supposed to have been pulled from the right hind leg of a cat, which the “conjurer” turned loose as soon as she secured what she wanted. The only cure for the “spell” is the capture of that cat, and as the particular cat is known to only the “conjurer,” its capture seems almost impossible. The husband of the afflicted woman has offered the “conjurer” $50 for the cat, or to have the “spell” removed, but with a peculiar persistency she avows she has had no hand in the affair. This declaration none of her acquaintances credit. They all declare she never admits anything of the kind. In vain hopes of getting the right cat about fifty members of the feline tribe have been butchered in that part of the city recently, but the death of none has removed the spell. A cat cemetery in the first ward is the remit. The cure of this mysterious malady will make some Atlanta physician celebrated.
ANTIPATHIES.; THE ROOTED DISLIKE SHOWN BY DOGS FOR CATS AND CERTAIN MEN.
From The London Globe
The New York Times, August 10, 1883
The rooted dislike manifested by the canine race for postmen has lately been the subject of a lively discussion in our columns, but without receiving any explanation which could be deemed altogether satisfactory. It remains open to as much doubt and argument as ever why a dog should be provoked to greater anger by the sight of a man clad in Mr Fawcett's livery (note: a postman) than by the appearance of any ordinary subject of her Majesty. . . . why should dogs and cats exhibit for one another that natural aversion which has made it a proverbial phrase to speak of "a cat-and-dog life"? It will be said that they are natural enemies and that each, being a carnivorous beast, is prepared to kill and eat the other. But it would be hard to find a case where either had actually been devoured by the victorious enemy; and it is obvious to anyone who has ever seen a dog run at a cat that it is the spirit of sport and adventure which urges him on to the attack and not hunger or the desire of utilizing the dead body of the victim. Moreover, there are probably not as many as five dogs out of every ten which have either the pluck of the inclination to make a serious attack , and yet the cat, who is quite well aware that there is nothing to be feared from the meaner-spirited curs, will exhibit as much uneasiness and wrath in their presence as at the sight of a bull-terrier.
(Note: at that time, "meaner-spirited" meant "lacking in spirit or courage")
A CAT CONCERT.
The Boston Weekly Globe, September 25, 1883
Unique Effects Produced by a Retired Circus Rider's Chorus of Musical Pussies and Toms
“Mew? meow-ow-ow!” howled three cats, while their owner raised his voice above the din to say in wheezy tones they were his first class in singing. He was a little old man, with one eye and a scarred face. An odor of valerian hung about him.
“You don’t mean to say that is singing?” said a reporter for the Chicago Timaes.
“Don’t I though?” he replied. “Did you ever hear ‘Fra Diavolo?’ That’s it — Ferah De-ov-ol-lo. They did everything but speak the words, I think; In fact, the words could be distinguished quite as well as they can when those Italians are making their uproar. Be quiet, Mimi, I’ve got this stuff on me to attract strange cats in the night, so I may pick out any of them that have good voices and appear to be intelligent. That is why Mimi jumped on me a while ago. She is the best singer in the lot, and I’ve got her on the programme for three acts. If the others continue to learn as fast as they are learning now I shall be able to start my company on the road the latter part of next month. Here is one of my cards.” He handed out a bit of neat bristol board, on which was inscribed :
Signor Giulo Fernani.
Manager Chicago Quintet.
The Only Troupe of Operatic Cats in the World.
Late bareback rider with Dan Rice.
“I was always fond of cats, and had several fine ones taught to play several tricks, but I never thought of a cat show. The idea was Molly’s — my little niece. I was thinking one day what was to become or us all, now that I was all crippled up from falls, when Molly came up and told me about her little kitten mewing every time the piano next door was played, and said: ‘Uncle Tom, why don’t you teach cats to sing like that man did that had the dogs in the circus?’ I thought over it, and decided that it was a good plan. And here I am the manager of the only great and ‘Original Company of Feline Vocalists.’
Molly’s kitten learned more easily than any others, It’s the one I spoke of before. Altogether, since last May, I’ve had in the house about 200 cats. I tried to teach them one by one, and so found out which were the best suited to my purpose. I have eleven at present, and may catch another one tonight. Out of the entire lot I shall select seven — five to constitute my quintet and two to act as a reserve, to be put on the boards in case of the sickness of the regular vocalists. I’ve had a pretty tough time of it, but expect to obtain adequate compensation ultimately. See that left optic? No, you don’t.
I lost that in the cat business. Scratched out by a black tomcat that must have been one of the angel’s devils. Fight! I never saw anything like him for fighting. Bar out the Marquis of Queensbery’s rules and put him in a twenty-four-foot ring with Mace and Slade, and they’d get left so bad their friends wouldn't know the. But he had a splendid voice — not cracked and shrill like that of most tomcats, but loud and clear. I tried him two days. The first day I put him in the cage and let him see me pet Mimi and feed her when she had done singing to the tune of “ The Miserere,” from “Il Trovatore,” as played on a mouth melodeon by one of my boys. He watched pretty closely and howled occasionally, always at the wrong time, and putting Mimi out so she had to start over again twice. The next day I held him while Fred played. At first he kept quiet and showed his claws. Then I pinched him to make him yell, so he would know what was wanted. That’s where I made my mistake. I gave a kind of spitting noise, and the next minute Fred was howling, and I was looking with one eye at that black cat flying out the window. I came near giving the business up that day, but my wife told me as I’d gone in it I had better stick it out, and use only the cats I had on hand.
“I’ve got them trained pretty well now. Two of them sing ‘Over the Garden Wall’ and ‘I Want to Be an Angel,’ and six are getting along finely in parts of ‘II Travatore,’ ‘Il Barbiere Sevilla,’ ‘La Mascotte,’ ’Fra Diavolo,’ and ‘The Bohemian Girl.’ Mimi does the prison scene in ‘Il Travatore,’ so feelingly it surprises me, and does ‘Home From the Mountains’ in the ‘Bohemian Girl’ very well, too. They were all common cats when I got them, but they are most uncommon cats now. When I put them on the road Patti and Nilsson won’t be anywhere. Oh, yes, they’ll all be in costume. I’m having the proper suits made for them now. I’ll have them rehearse for you. The next act, ladies and gentlemen, presents to you Mlle. Mimi and M. Flip, as the prima donna absoluta and the leading tenor, singing the ‘Gobble Song’ from the famous opera ‘La Mascotte.’ Enter mademoiselle and monsieur.”
He opened the door of a miniature house, and two cats sprang forward, Mimi ambitiously, the other one — a dejected looking tommy, with scant fur - more slowly and rather fearfully. A boy came m and started a tune with a French harp. The cats arose on their haunches and placed their front paws on each other’s necks. Then arose such a mewing as the visitors had seldom heard except on dark nights and from back yards. At the expiration of half a minute a number of cats in the next room set up a chorus, on which “Signor Fernani,” or Thomas Howard, had not counted. Seizing a switch and muttering an oath, he started for the choristers, while Pippo and his darling, catching the prevailing spirit, ceased their ear piercing yells to spit spitefully at each other, and the reporter hastily made his exit.
BIRDS AND KITTENS.
The New York Times, October 6, 1883
The fashion of ornamenting ladies' hats with small stuffed birds was long ago vigorously and properly denounced by Mr. RUSKIN. It was an offense against art and ornithology. The bird was supposed either to have alighted on a lady's hat or to have built its nest and taken up its residence in the same preposterous locality. Nothing could be more absurd than the pretense that a wild song-bird would spend its life perched on the rim of a hat except the pretense that any sane bird would undertake to build its nest among artificial flowers and in hourly danger of being impaled by hair pins. The bird on a lady's hat was an object so manifestly out of place as to exasperate the artistic instincts of people less irascible than MR. RUSKIN. Of the cruelty that took the life of a harmless song-bird every time a new hat was trimmed there could be no defense, although the very women who wore murdered birds on their bonnets were, in many cases, ardent supporters of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
Happily, the bird mania is on the wane, and the news comes from Paris that the heads of stuffed kittens are henceforth to peer from the thickets of artificial flowers and jungles of artificial feathers once haunted by dead song-birds. To this new fashion little objection can be made. Indeed, on the contrary, there are reasons why it should be warmly approved, and why even MR. RUSKIN should write a few volumes in its favor.
No artist will claim that a kitten is out of place on a lady's hat. There is, in fact, no place in which a kitten may not legitimately be found, for, as every housewife will testify, there is no object in nature so all-pervading as the inquisitive kitten. There is a certain fitness in close association between kittens and artificial flowers, for the kitten is the most artificial of animals in its ingenious and insincere tricks and manners. Our sense of the fitness of things is not shocked by the presence of a kitten on a lady's hat any more than it would be by the sight of a kitten with its head in the cream jug.
Those ladies who wear stuffed kitten's heads on their hats will not be accused of cruelty. True, the kitten is graceful and pretty, but it contains not merely the promise but the certainty of cat. So surely as the kitten grows to maturity the result will be the profane, immoral, midnight marauder, haunting the back fence and banishing sleep from hundreds of tired men and women. The cat is man's punishment for the crime of letting the kitten outlive its youthful beauty. We yield ourselves to the charm of the kitten, and when it has grown to be a cat we recognize too late our weakness and error. Were all kittens to be slain on attaining a given age cats would soon become unknown, and in the course of a century the bones of the extinct cat would be studied by naturalists, who would decide that the animal was a missing link between the cook and broken china, and invent some ingenious theory to account for the cataclysm which rid the world of cats.
If every lady is to wear a kitten's head on her hat the cat will become extinct within the next five years. Assuming that every civilized woman purchases only two hats yearly, it can readily be shown that the annual consumption of kittens resulting from the new fashion will be at least 100,00,000. Prolific as the domestic cat unquestionably is, no animals could survive such a tremendous drain upon its progeny. In a year from this time, if kittens became the inevitable ornament of all feminine hats, the price of an ordinary kitten's head will be at least double the cost of every hat, and in five years the managers of zoological gardens will offer enormous prices for that greatest of domestic rarities, a domestic kitten.
Can it be that we are to live in a catless world, where no velvet-footed thief steals dainties from the dinner-table and no shrill-voiced vocalist haunts the midnight fence. For once fashion has been both intelligent and kind in undertaking the extirpation of cats.
NEW PARISIAN COSTUMES - THE MODISTES BUSY - KITTENS' HEADS AS MUFF ORNAMENTS
The New York Times, October 4, 1883
PARIS, Oct 3. - Paris is very animated in the Bois, at the Salon trienniel, the Hippodrome, the Cirque, the Porte St. Martin - where "Frou Frou" is drawing crowds - at the grand bazaars, where their exhibitions of silks, velvets, and nouveautes d'hiver, in the fashionable restaurants - and above all, in the environs of the Rue de la paix. Elegant mondaines and demi-mondaines are visible daily in full force, and the salons of the great couturiers are invaded by fair ladies in quest of new toilets - costumes de chateau, costumes for hunting, shooting, and 5 o'clock tea. Here are three new hats that were noted at the Salon yesterday. A toque of black tulle, embroidered with Pompadour sprigs of bright flowers in front; a large loosely looped rosette of Rose Dubarry ribbons, and in the midst of that a richly jeweled owl's head. A Henri IV hat of yellowish, long pile beaver, the brim flat and narrow, on one side a nest of mice, forming a bow. A blue soft felt hat, on one side a bow of blue velvet and satin, on which is placed a bird with open wings, and from under the bow emerges a kitten's head. The demand for kittens' heads has become so important that cat breeding has become a regular business. Pigeons' wings and cock's heads are also much worn, and the muff of the season will be velvet or plush, to match the dresses, with a kitten or hirondelle de mer on the front.
CATS. London Daily News, 19th 19 October 1883
Mr. Paget yesterday committed a lad to prison for fourteen days for cruelty to a cat, which he had knocked down with a brick, and then, holding it by the tail, had beaten about the head with a stick till the stick was covered with blood. If the recent Cat Show at the Crystal Palace does little to improve the breed, at least it may help to promote the kind treatment of cats. An animal which on certain occasions meets in his thousands at the Crystal Palace is not to be despised. In this parliament of pussies the Persian and the Manx cat, which has no tail, were doubtless the most beautiful and curious, but all cats are quaint and enigmatic creatures. Une bête lunatique, an old French author calls the cat, and Plutarch supposed that the Egyptians worshipped it because its eyes resembled the moon.
The folk lore of Europe is full of dread of cats. The husbandman in a German, English, and Breton story passes, in his darkling homeward way, a whole congregation of cats. They are all wailing and lamenting, and one of them coming forward tells the rustic that “Bertrand is dead,” The man returns home and repeats the tale to his wife. Instantly his own cat stands up beside the hearth, “Is Bertrand dead, then I am king of cats,” he cries, and flies up the chimney. Cats were the witches’ familiars, and perhaps it was for that reason, or some other as good, that in Flanders cats were thrown from church towers in Lent, and that in France they were burned in bonfires on the night of St. John. Or that rite may be the survival of the curious custom by which in Greece wild beasts, bears, deer, and others, were driven through the fire in honour of Artemis.
The magical qualities of poor puss got him even worse treatment in the Highlands of Scotland. When the seer of the clan wished to prophesy with unusual accuracy he used to go out to a lonely place in the midnight, and there, beside some roaring waterfall, he would torture a cat, till a great supernatural cat came, answered the questions of the wizard, and purchased the release of the tormented animal. The relics of these superstitions perhaps betray themselves in the horror which some people feel at the mere presence of “baudrons,” as the Scotch call the purring animal. This horror is a very old phenomenon. Aristotle mentions “the man who was afraid of the cat,” but it may be argued that Aristotle was thinking of some other animal, and that Greece had not yet imported the common cat from Egypt.
It is certain that one of the bravest of modern soldiers has the reputation of being physically unable to endure the society of a cat, and of knowing by his own nervous emotion when a cat is in the room. If the world possessed many such martialists, the cat-artillery of Christopher of Hapsburg would be doubly valuable. This old theorist on artillery conceived the brilliant idea of fastening bottles filled with poisonous vapours on the backs of cats, and of letting the animals loose on the doomed foe. But this terrific invention, he insists, must on no account be used against Christians. The most dangerous foes of cats in our age are gamekeepers, who shoot them, and rowdy youth, who pursue them with bull terriers.
The cat is a beast of very ancient lineage and high degree. Perhaps it was from Nubia that the Egyptians got the cat, which they at once begun to worship as the Goddess Pasht. The etymology of the names for the cat throw little or no light on its original home. Chet, gatto, kath (Kymric) and the old Scandinavian köttr are all clearly of the same family as the late Latin catus or cattus, and as plainly unconnected with the earlier Latin felis from which comes the woman's name Felicula, “little puss.” The Greek name simply means “the beast with the waving tail.” A number of the other names are clearly onomatopoeic, and are derived from the mew or wailing cry of the cat. A recent American writer mentions some children who invented a “cat-language,” in which cats could be intelligently addressed. Oddly enough, a French philosopher, Dupont de Nemours, had anticipated this childish idea, and made considerable researches into the language which cats talk among themselves. He decided that cats, which have a more extensive view of the world from tree-tops and housetops than dogs enjoy, have also a more fully developed language than their natural enemies.
“The cat has a speech in which all the vowels of the dog are found, with six consonants into the bargain, these being m, n, g, b, y, and f. Henoe the cat has a far greater number of words than the dog; hence, too, its superior intelligence and cunning.”
Thee Abbé Galiani, a famous wit, was also fond of studying cats. He maintained that the language of the Tom “is quite different from that of the tabby, as it ought to be.” In this case cats resemble several savage races (such as the Cariba and a people mentioned by Herodotus) in that the males and females of the race speak different tongues. The Abbé detected “more than twenty inflections in the language of cats,” and might have parodied the remark attributed by Voltaire to a Hebrew prophet, and said “mon chat parle et même il parle bien.” He was certain that cats always use the same, sound to express the same thing.” These philosophers might well have wondered, like Montaigne, what their cat was thinking of their diversions.
Chateaubriand, a great friend of cats, had rather a good story of a ghost of a cat, accompanied by a ghost of a wooden leg, which used to walk up and down stairs together in an ancient house. And if cats have a language, why should they not leave ghosts behind them ?
Cats have naturally had a good deal of honour paid to them in heraldry, Probably the Chatti of Tacitus were a race which named themselves and claimed descent (as so often happens) from the cat. Clan Chattan, which fought the other clan on the North Inch at Perth, was also a cat clan. The Gaelic name of the Duchess of Sutherland means "the Great Lady of the Cat.” In the Roman army the standard of the Ordines Augustei is said to have been a cat, and another company, the Felices Seniores, or “lucky veterans,” bore half the image of a cat rampant. Clotilde, the wife of Clovis, bore, we are assured, a cat killing a mouse in her blazon, and the Della Gatta of Naples naturally have cats for supporters. Among the most illustrious friends of cats have been Victor Hugo, Theophile Gautier, Prosper Mérimée, Chateaubriand, Cardinal Wolsey, Richelieu, and Mahomet. The cat of Mahomet was named Muezza, and for this worthy animal he showed the highest consideration. One day the cat fell asleep on the wide sleeve of the prophet's coat. Mahomet had a business engagement, but he could not dream of disturbing Muezza. At last, as the matter became pressing, this good natured prophet cut the sleeve off his coat, went about his business, and left Muezza to repose.
Chateaubriand thought, and justly, that the independence of the cat was one of its most remarkable features. There is always one who loves and one who lets himself be loved in every affair of the heart, and the cat invariably occupies the latter position. It cares no more for any of its friends than did the jolly miller who lived by the banks of Dee. The cat is attached to places that is, to its habits and its “meals regular,” not to persons. And why not? “Man has sought the society of the cat, it is not the cat that has sought the society of man," says Champfleury. “The cat does not caress us,” said Chamfort —and he never said anything more true — “it caresses itself on us.” It is a natural, comfortable, selfish, independent animal, and probably its society is valued because it so obviously and unaffectedly makes the best of this life without pretending to any enthusiasm for humanity.
CATS. London Daily News - Monday 22 October 1883
Sir,- Having read your leading article in your issue of this morning, on the subject of cats, I feel that, as one who has for many years past had a large acquaintance with those animals I cannot restrain from some endeavour to remove what appears to be very evident misconception of their nature and qualities. Before becoming possessed of cats and allowing myself to take an interest in them, I must confess to having had as strong a prejudice against them as perhaps most people have. Since, however, I have allowed them not only in my house, but about my person, I have come to a very different opinion respecting them. Being familiar with many instances, I unhesitatingly affirm that cats are quite as affectionate as dogs whenever they have the chance of being so. The difference is that in general they are very differently treated. Dogs, as we all know, are in general well cared for, noticed, caressed, and petted. How often does it fall to the lot of poor puss to be so? But it will be replied, “They are so unlike. Dogs are so noble, so generous, so affectionate, so faithful.”
Now I have not a word to say against dogs. I have as much regard for them as anyone. But there are dogs, and dogs, and there are cats, and cats. Nut I maintain that in either case it is very much as they are treated. I have no hesitation in affirming that cats are as intelligent and affectionate as dogs – only treat them in a similar manner. The difference really is that while a dog is strong and courageous animal, a cat is weak, and therefore naturally very timid. That, I believe, is really all the difference; except – and the exception is most important – that whereas the strong and courageous animals gets notice and praise, the poor, weak, timid creature gets little else than kicks and cuffs.
An advertisement in one of the front columns of your paper of this morning, in reference to cats, is enough to make one’s blood boil to think of the horrors to which they are subjected. That advertisement ought to be exhibited all over London and throughout the country. May the generous advertiser meet with his reward! An allusion too, in your own article on which I am animadverting [passing criticism], might suggest that poor cats meet with enough cruel treatment without being written against. It is untrue to write or say: “There is always one who loves and one who lets himself be loved in every affair of the heart, and the cat invariably occupies the latter position.” I will venture to say that where a cat is loved it invariably returns the affection; and I distinctly challenge a disproof of that assertion. I can adduce instances enough to prove it. Again, it is most libellous to say; “It cares no more for any of its friends than did the jolly miller who lived by the banks of the Dee.” My cats show the greatest, and sometimes the most touching, affections for me.
Also to say, as is commonly and ignorantly asserted: “The cat is attached to places, that is, to the habits and its ‘meals regular,’ not to persons,” is, I am sure, without a shadow of proof. If it is attached to its “habits and meals regular,” who is to blame it for that? Are not we ourselves even so? But that it is not attached to places more than to persons I have this proof. A few years ago I removed from my residence to another abode, some few miles only distant, where I now reside; and I took with me six cats, none of them in their kittenhood, and two of them well grown in years. They were shut up in the new house only for a night. The next day I took them all over the house and gardens, and gave them their liberty. Not one attempted to go away! It was enough for them that I was there. And to this hour, though they have had perfect freedom, not one has strayed or been lost!
And as to affection, one of these cats shows the greatest fondness for me, caressing me at all hours in the most loving manner – not waiting to be caressed. No doubt they know they are well cared for, and they give gratitude and affection in return. But who can go through the world with his eyes open and not see the miserable life most poor cats must lead, with their chance and insufficient “meals,£ their wretched housings and uncleanly and uncomfortable beds; hardly ever noticed or spoken to, and glad to get out of the way whenever they can. Is it to be expected they will be very affectionate in such cases? Mohammed had faults enough, to be sure; but let his kindness to his cat teach a lesson to those who need it; some too, who ought to be ashamed to have to learn from such a teacher. [Note – this was time of Christian intolerance towards other faiths]
I am, Sir, respectfully yours, A LOVER OF CATS. Oct. 19.
[The advert in question was: Ten pounds reward will be given to anyone who witnessed the flaying of a live cat in or near Boundary-mews, Talbot-road, Bayswater and who will give such information as shall lead to the conviction of the offender or offenders. The reward will be paid by R. Barlow Kennett,Esq, Petersfield, Hants; and information to be given to Miss Mayhew, 46 Westmoreland-road, Bayswater, London. A further reward of five pounds will be given to any person who will give such information as shall lead to the conviction of anyone guilty of cruelty to a cat or cats in this neighbourhood or any other place whatsoever and wheresoever it may be.]
LETTER TO THE EDITOR London Daily News, 22nd October 1883
Dear Mr Editor – May we say a word for Pussy? We were sorry this morning when mama showed us what a gentleman has said in the Daily News, that a cat “cares nothing for its friends,” is “attached only to places and not person,” and is a “selfish, comfortable, independent animal.” Now, we are six children, and we have had cats all our lives; and though we are not very old, we think we understand them better perhaps than some grown-up people. They show their love for us in a great many ways. Those we have now always come out to meet us when we come home from school every day. Even in heavy rain we have found two of them waiting for us at th gate, purring and doing all they could to show their joy at seeing us; and everybody knows how a cat hates to be wet. The oldest of them came from London into the country with us, and never attempted to go back or minded at all what place it was in, as long as it was with us. It is only when people do not care about them that they care only for places. They are kind to each other too. One of ours had a little kitten a short time ago, and used to call one of the other cats to come and stay with it while she had a game in the garden herself, and that cat never left the kitten till its mother came back. We could tell you a great many proofs of cats’ affection and intelligence. We do not quite understand what “enthusiasm for humanity” means, so do not know if our cats have that or not. We remain, dear Mr Editor, Six Firm Believers in Pussy.
KITTEN CAUGHT ON FISHING HOOK. Illustrated Police News, 27th October 1883
Cats are remarkably difficult to kill, and their tenacity of life has passed into a kind of proverb. They are usually, too, very careful of exposing themselves to risks, and you rarely catch a cat in a scrape. But though an old cat may be wary, kittens are easily deluded with a ball of string or a cork. We saw this week an account of a painful (very painful for the kitten) incident which happened in Birmingham. In the window of a fishing tackle shop a young cat was found suspended by the hook of a fishing line. The account states that “five policemen were brought to the rescue, and forcing open the window, tried for several minutes to extract the hook, but being unsuccessful, drowned the wretched creature.” It is supposed that the cat mistook the artificial fly at the end of the hook for a real one, and was caught in the act of seizing it.
THE CATS OF CAIRO
Gentleman’s Magazine, 1883
Among the curiosities of Cairo is an amateur branch of the Humane Society for the especial benefit of poor Puss. A curious legacy was some years ago left by a wealthy burgher to enlarge the permanent income of the Cadi, on condition of his nourishing and cherishing all the unclaimed cat in Cairo. Like most Mahometans he must have shared the feeling which made the Prophet cut off the side sleeve of his robe sooner than disturb a favourite cat who had fallen asleep thereon. Conse¬quently a large courtyard has been de¬voted to their especial benefit; and here the “nice, soft, furry creatures” lie and bask in the sun, and are fed at stated interval*, and altogether have a very good time of it. It in a curious fact, however, that, although daily ad¬ditions are made to this large feline home, the inmates rarely amount to more than fifty. This (in the absence of sausage machines) is a very remark¬able problem. I suppose that a candi¬date for the office of Cadi has to produce a medical certificate to prove that be in not troubled with that unconquer¬able aversion to dear old Puss with which so many of the masculine genus are afflicted.
The said aversion was one day turned to excellent account by one of our mutual friends, whose next neighbor in chambers made himself odious by prac¬ticing on a cornet, or big fiddle, or some such instrument of torture, in spite of the civil entreaties of our friend, who was nearly wild with headache. At last, exasperated beyond en¬durance he sallied forth and invested in a large packet of valerian, which he sprinkled on the low roots below the windows. Of course, in half an hour all the cats in the neighborhood had as¬sembled and crazy with delight, issued cards of invitation to all their acquaintances, and very soon the army of cats, each more mad than its neighbor, were dancing and scrambling, fighting und miauling, until the barbarian with the musical ear rack was tearing his hair in a frenzy nearly as wild as the cats. His neighbor was so delighted at the success of his little joke that his head¬ache was cured. Mcanwhile a shower of rain washed the valerian into the courtyard below. Then everyone who walked across the court brought in par¬ticles thereof on the soles of his feet; and the cats found their way upstairs by scores, even into the chamber of the cat-hater, who, on the whole, was very fairly punished.
They seemed to have the same affec¬tion for very young nemophila, and come and lie down and roll on it in the most aggravating way. Speaking of cats it is not startling to hear that the cats of London — the real household pets — are said to number 300,000, with¬out any sort of calculation for house-less wanderers, whose nasal yells dis¬turb nocturnal peace? The amount annually spent on purchasing horse flesh from the cat's-meat men in Lon¬don is said to be £100,000 ! This, according to vulgar notions, should be a proof of the folly of elderly spinsters, who are generally supposed to have a monopoly of feline affections. The great cat show in London a few years ago, however, betrayed a very different state of domestic matters, the male ex¬hibitors being so numerous and so suc¬cessful that they carried off thirty-two prizes; fifteen more were secured by cat-loving matrons, while to the much maligned old maids they were only awarded four prizes !