1905 - THE SLUM CAT (WHO BECAME CAT SHOW CHAMPION)
THE SLUM CAT
A work of fiction by Ernest Thompson Seton
From The Windsor Magazine, An Illustrated Monthly for Men and Women, Vol XXI, December 1904 to May 1905
LITTLE Slum Kitten was not six weeks old jet, but she was alone in the old junk-yard. Her mother had gone to seek food among the garbage-boxes the night before, and had never returned ; so when the second evening came, she was very hungry. A deep-laid instinct drove her forth from the old cracker-box to seek something to eat. Feeling her way silently among the rubbish, she smelt everything that seemed eatable, but without finding food. At length she reached the wooden steps leading down into Jap Malee’s bird-store underground at the far end of the yard. The door was open a little, and she walked in. A negro sitting idly on a box in a corner watched her curiously. She wandered past some rabbits ; they paid no heed. She came to a wide-barred cage in which was a fox. He crouched low; his eyes glowed. The Kitten wrandered, sniffing, up to the bars, put her head in, sniffed again, then made straight towards the feed-pan, to be seized in a flash by the crouching fox. She gave a frightened “ Mew! ” and the negro also sprang forward, with such sudden vigour that the fox dropped the Kitten and returned to the corner, there to sit blinking his eyes in sullen fear.
The negro pulled the Kitten out. She tottered in a circle a few times, then revived, and a few minutes later, when Jap Malee came back, she was purring in the negro’s lap, apparently none the worse. Jap was not an Oriental: he was a full-blooded Cockney; but his eyes were such little accidental slits aslant in his round, flat face that his first name was forgotten in the highly descriptive title of “ Jap.” He was not especially unkind to the birds and beasts which furnished his living, but he did not want the Slum Kitten. The negro gave her all the food she could eat, and then carried her to a distant block and dropped her in an iron-yard. Here she lived and somehow found food enough to grow till, weeks later, an extended exploration brought her back to her old quarters in the junk-yard, and, glad to be at home, she at once settled down. Kitty was now full grown. She was a striking-looking cat of the tiger type. Her marks were black on a pale grey, and the four beauty spots of white on nose, ears, and tail-tip lent a certain distinction. She was expert now at getting a living, yet she had some days of starvation, and had so far failed in her ambition to catch a sparrow. She was quite alone, but a new force was coming into her life.
She was lying in the sun one September day when a large black cat came walking along the top of a wall in her direction. By his torn ear she recognised him at once as an old enemy. She slunk into her box and hid. He picked his way gingerly, bounded lightly to a shed that was at the end of the yard, and was crossing the roof when a yellow cat rose up. The black tom glared and growled ; so did the yellow tom. Their tails lashed from side to side. Strong throats growled and yowled. They approached with ears laid back, with muscles a-tense.
“ Yow—yow—ow ! ” said the black one.
“Wow—w—w -!” was the slightly deeper answer.
"Ya—wow—wow—wow !” said the black one, edging up an inch nearer.
“ Yow—w—w ! ” was the yellow answer, as the blond cat rose to full height and stepped with vast dignity a whole inch forward.
“ Yow—w ! ” and he went another inch, while his tail went swish—thump—from one side to the other.
“Ya—wow—yow—w! ” screamed the black in a rising tone, and he backed the eighth of an inch as he marked the broad, unshrinking breast before him.
Windows opened all around, human voices were heard, but the cat scene went on.
“Yow—yow—ow ! ” rumbled the yellow peril, his voice deepening as the other’s rose.
“ Yow ! ” and he advanced another step.
Now their noses were but three inches apart; they stood sidewise, both ready to clinch, but each waiting for the other. They glared at each other for three minutes in silence, and like statues, except that each tail-tip was twisting. The yellow began again. “ Yow—ow—ow! ” in deep tone.
“ Ya-a-a-a-a ! ” screamed the black, with intent to strike terror by his yell, but he retreated one-sixteenth of an inch. The yellow walked up a whole long inch ; their whiskers were mixing now; another advance, and their noses almost touched.
" Yo—w—w!” said Yellow, like a deep moan.
"Ya-a-a-a-a! ” screamed Black, but he retreated a thirty-second of an inch, and the yellow warrior closed and clinched like a demon.
Oh, how they rolled and bit and tore — especially the yellow one ! How they pitched and gripped and hugged —but especially the yellow one ! Over and over, sometimes one on top, sometimes the other, but usually the yellow one, and over they rolled till off the roof, amid cheers from all the windows. They lost not a second in that fall into the junk-yard ; they tore and clawed all the way down, but especially the yellow one; and when they struck the ground, still fighting, the one on top was chiefly the yellow one ; and before they separated both had had as much as they wanted, especially the black one ! He scaled the wall, and, bleeding and growling, disappeared, while the news was passed from window to window that Cayley’s " Nig ” had been licked by " Orange Billy.”
Either the yellow cat was a very clever seeker, or else Slum Kitty did not hide very hard, for he discovered her among the boxes; and she made no attempt to get away, probably because she had witnessed the fight. There is nothing like success in warfare to win the female heart, and thereafter the yellow tom and Kitty became very good friends, not sharing each other’s lives or food — cats do not do that much — but recognising each other as entitled to special friendly privileges. When October’s shortening days were on, an event took place in the old cracker-box. If " Orange Billy ” had come, he would have seen five little kittens curled up in the embrace of their mother, the little Slum Kitty. It was a wonderful thing for her. She felt all the elation an animal mother can feel — all the delight — as she tenderly loved them and licked them. She had added a joy to her joyless life, but she had also added a heavy burden. All her strength was taken now to find food. And one day, led by a tempting smell, she wandered into the bird-cellar and into an open cage. Everything was still, there was meat ahead, and she reached forward to seize it; the cage door fell with a snap, and she was a prisoner. That night the negro put an end to the kittens, and was about to do the same with the mother, when her unusual markings attracted the attention of the bird-man, who decided to keep her.
Jap Malee was as disreputable a little Cockney bantam as ever sold cheap canary birds in a cellar. He was extremely poor, and the negro lived with him because the “ Henglishman ” was willing to share bed and board. Jap was perfectly honest according to his lights, but he had no lights, and there is little doubt that his chief revenue was derived from storing and restoring stolen dogs and cats. The fox and the half-a-dozen canaries were mere blinds. The " Lost and Found ” columns of the papers were the only ones of interest to Jap, but he noticed and saved a clipping about breeding for fur. This was stuck on the wall of his den, and under its influence he set about making an experiment with the Slum Cat. First he soaked her dirty fur with stuff to kill the two or three kinds of creepers she wore, and when it had done its work he washed her thoroughly. Kitty was savagely indignant, but a warm and happy glow spread over her as she dried off in a cage near the stove, and her fur began to fluff out with wonderful softness and beauty. Jap and his assistant were much pleased. But this was preparatory.
" Nothing is so good for growing fur as plenty of oily food and continued exposure to cold weather,” said the clipping. Winter was at hand, and Jap Malee put Kitty’s cage out in the yard, protected only from the rain and the direct wind, and fed her with all the oil-cake and fish-heads she could eat. In a week the change began to show. She was rapidly getting fat. She had nothing to do but get fat and dress her fur. Her cage was kept clean, and Nature responded to the chill weather and oily food by making Kitty’s coat thicker and glossier every day, so that by Christmas she was an unusually beautiful cat in the fullest and finest of fur, with markings that were at least a rarity. Why not send the Slum Cat to the show now coming on ?
“ ’Twon’t do, ye kneow, Sammy, to henter ’er as a tramp cat, ye kneow,” Jap observed to his help ; " but it kin be arranged to suit the Knickerbockers. No think like a good noime, ye kneow. Ye see now, it had orter be ' Royal ’ something or other — nothink goes with the Knickerbockers like ' Royal ’ any think. Now, ' Royal Dick ’ or ' Royal Sam ’: ’ows that ? But ’owld on : them’s tom names. Oi say, Sammy, wot’s the noime of that island where you were born ? ”
" Analostan Island, sah, was my native vicinity, sah.”
" Oi say, now, that’s good, ye kneow. ' Royal Analostan,’ by Jove ! The onliest pedigreed Royal Analostan in the howle sheow, ye kneow. Ain’t that capital ? ” and they mingled their cackles. " But we’ll ’ave to ’ave a pedigree, ye kneow ” ; so a very long fake pedigree on the recognised lines was prepared. One afternoon Sam, in a borrowed silk hat, delivered the Cat and the pedigree at the show door. He had been a barber, and he could put on more pomp in five minutes than Jap Malee could have displayed in a lifetime, and this, doubtless, was one reason for the respectful reception awarded the Royal Analostan at the cat show. Jap had all a Cockney’s reverence for the upper class. He was proud to be an exhibitor, but when, on the opening day, he went to the door, he was overpowered to see the array of carriages and silk hats. The gateman looked at him sharply, but passed him on his ticket, doubtless taking him for a stable-boy to some exhibitor. The hall had velvet carpets before the long rows of cages. Jap was sneaking down the side row, glancing at the cats of all kinds, noting the blue ribbons and the reds, glancing about, but not daring to ask for his own exhibit, inwardly “Frequent wallowings in the garbage-pail.” trembling to think what the gorgeous gathering of fashion would say if they discovered the trick he was playing on them. But he saw no sign of Slum Kitty. In the middle of the centre aisle were the high-class cats. A great throng was there. The passage was roped, and two policemen were there to keep the crowd moving. Jap wriggled in among them : he was too short to see over, but he gathered from the remarks that the gem of the show was there.
“ Oh, isn’t she a beauty ! ” said one tall woman.
“ Ah ! what distinction ! ” was the reply.
“ One cannot mistake the air that comes only from ages of the most refined surroundings.”
“ How I should like to own that superb creature ! ”
Jap pushed near enough to get a glimpse of the cage and read a placard which announced that “ The Blue Ribbon and Gold Medal of the Knickerbocker High Society Oat and Pet Show had been awarded to the thoroughbred pedigreed Royal Analostan, imported and exhibited by J. Malee, Esquire, the well-known fancier. Not for sale.” Jap caught his breath ; he stared—yes, surely, there, high in a gilded cage on velvet cushions, with two policemen for guards, her fur bright black and pale grey, her bluish eyes slightly closed, was his Slum Kitty, looking the picture of a cat that was bored to death. Jap Malee lingered around that cage for hours, drinking a draught of glory such as he had never before known. But he saw that it would be wise for him to remain unknown; his “ butler ” must do all the business.
It was Slum Kitty who made that show a success. Each day her value went up in the owner’s eye. He did not know what prices had been given for cats, and thought that he was touching a record pitch when his “ butler ” gave the director authority to sell the cat for $100. This is how it came about that the Slum Cat found herself transferred to a Fifth Avenue mansion. She showed a most unaccountable wildness as well as other peculiarities. Her retreat from the lap-dog to the centre of the dinner-table was understood to express a deep-rooted though mistaken idea of avoiding a defiling touch. The patrician way in which she would get the cover off a milk-can was especially applauded, while her frequent wallowings in the garbage-pail were understood to be the manifestation of a little pardonable high-born eccentricity. She was fed and pampered, shown and praised, but she was not happy. She clawed at that blue ribbon around her neck till she got it off ; she jumped against the plate-glass because that seemed the road to outside, and she would sit and gaze out on the roofs and back yards at the other side of the window, and wish she could be among them for a change.
She was strictly watched — was never allowed outside — so that all the happy garbage-can moments occurred while these receptacles of joy were indoors. But one night in March, as they were being set out a-row for the early scavenger, the Royal Analostan saw her chance, slipped out of the door, and was lost to view. Of course there was a grand stir; but Pussy neither knew nor cared anything about that. Her one thought was to go home. A raw east wind had been rising, and now it came to her with a particularly friendly message. Man would have called it an unpleasant smell of the docks, but to Pussy it was a welcome message from her own country. She trotted on down the long street due east, threading the rails of front gardens, stopping like a statue for an instant, or crossing the street in search of the darkest side. She came at length to the docks and to the water, but the place was strange. She could go north or south; something turned her southward, and dodging among docks and dogs, carts and cats, crooked arms of the bay and straight board fences, she got in an hour or two into familiar scenes and smells, and before the sun came up she crawled back, weary and footsore, through the same old hole in the same old fence, and over a wall into her junk-yard back of the bird-cellar—yes, back into the very cracker-box where she was born.
After a long rest she came quietly down from the cracker-box towards the steps leading to the cellar, and engaged in her old-time pursuit of seeking for eatables. The door opened, and there stood the negro. He shouted to the bird-man inside —“ Say, boss, come hyar ! Ef dare ain’t dat dar Royal Ankalostan corned back ! ”
Jap came in time to see the cat jumping the wall. The Royal Analostan had been a windfall for him ; had been the means of adding many comforts to the cellar and several prisoners to the cages. It was now of the utmost importance to recapture her Majesty. Stale fish-heads and other infallible lures were put out till Pussy was induced to chew at a large fish-head in a box-trap. The negro in watching pulled the string that dropped the lid, and a minute later the Analostan was again in a cage in the cellar. Meanwhile Jap had been watching the " Lost and Found ” column. There it was : " Twenty-five dollars reward,” etc. That night Mr. Malee’s “butler” called at the Fifth Avenue mansion with the missing cat.
“ Mr. Malee’s compliments, sah.” Of course, Mr. Malee could not be rewarded, but the “ butler ” was evidently open to any offer.
Kitty was guarded carefully after that, but so far from being disgusted with the old life of starving and glad of her care, she became wilder and more dissatisfied. The spring was on in full power now, and the Fifth Avenue family were thinking of their country residence. They packed up, closed house, and moved off to the summer home some fifty miles away ; and Pussy, in a basket, went with them. The basket was put on the back seat of a carriage. New sounds and passing smells were entered and left. Then a roaring of many feet, more swinging of the basket, then some clicks, some bangs, a long, shrill whistle, and door-bells of a very big front door, a rumbling, a whizzing, an unpleasant smell ; then there was a succession of jolts, roars, jars, stops, clicks, clacks, smells, jumps, shakes, more smells, more shakes, big shakes, little shakes, gases, smokes, screeches, door-bells, tremblings, roars, thunders, and some new smells, raps, taps, heavings, rumbling, and more smells. When at last it all stopped, the sun came twinkling through the basket lid. The Royal Cat was lifted into another carriage, and they turned aside from their past course. Very soon the carriage swerved, the noises of its wheels were grittings and rattlings, a new and horrible sound was added—the barking of dogs, big and little, and dreadfully close. The basket was lifted, and Slum Kitty had reached her country home. Everyone was officiously kind. All wanted to please the Royal Cat, but, somehow, none of them did, except possibly the big, fat cook that Kitty discovered on wandering into the kitchen. That greasy woman smelt more like a slum than anything she had met for months, and the Royal Analostan was proportionately attracted. The cook, when she learned that fears were entertained about the cat’s staying, said : “ Shure she’d ’tind to thot; wans a cat licks her futs, shure she’s at home.”
So she deftly caught the unapproachable Royalty in her apron and committed the horrible sacrilege of greasing the soles of her feet with pot grease. Of course, Kitty resented it; she resented everything in the place ; but on being set down she began to dress her p^ws, and found evident satisfaction in that grease. She licked all four feet for an hour, and the cook triumphantly announced that now “ shure she’s be apt to shtay ”; and stay she did, but she showed a most surprising and disgusting preference for the kitchen and the cook and the garbage-pail.
The family, though distressed by these high-born eccentricities, were glad to see the Royal Analostan more contented and approachable. They gave her more liberty after a week or two. They guarded her from every menace. The dogs were taught to respect her ; no man or boy about the place would have dreamed of throwing a stone at the famous pedigreed cat, and she had all the food she wanted, but still she was not happy. She was hankering for many things, she scarcely knew what. She had everything — yes, but she wanted something else. Plenty to eat and drink—yes, but milk does not taste the same when you can go and drink all you want from a saucer; it has to be stolen out of a tin pail when one is pinched with hunger, or it does not have the tang — it is not milk. How Pussy did hate it all! True, there was one sweet-smelling shrub in the whole horrible place — one that she did enjoy nipping and rubbing against; it was the only bright spot in her country life.
One day, after a summer of discontent, a succession of things happened that stirred anew the slum instincts of the royal prisoner. A great bundle of stuff from the docks had reached the country mansion. What it contained was of little moment, but it was rich with the most piquant of slum smells. The chords of memory surely dwell in the nose, and Pussy’s past was conjured up with dangerous force. Next day the cook left through some trouble. That evening the youngest boy of the house, a horrid little American with no proper appreciation of royalty, was tying a tin to the blue-blooded one’s tail, doubtless in furtherance of some altruistic project, when Pussy resented it with a paw that wore five big fish-hooks for the occasion. The howl of downtrodden America roused America’s mother ; the deft and womanly blow she aimed with her book was miraculously avoided, and Pussy took flight — upstairs, of course. A hunted rat runs downstairs, a hunted dog goes on the level, a hunted cat runs up. She hid in the garret and waited till night came. Then, gliding downstnirs, she tried the screen doors, found one unlatched, and escaped into the black August night. Pitch black to man’s eyes, it was simply grey to her, and she glided through the disgusting shrubbery and flower-beds, had a final nip at that one little bush that had been an attractive spot in the garden, and boldly took her back track of the spring.
How could she take a back track that she never saw ? There is in all animals some sense of direction. It is low in man and high in horses, but cats have a large gift, and this mysterious guide took her westward — not clearly and definitely,but with a general impulse that was made definite because the easiest travel was on the road. In an hour she had reached the Hudson River. Her nose had told her many times that the course was true. Smell after smell came back. At the river was the railroad. She could not go on the water ; she must go north or south. This was a case where her sense of direction was clear : it said “ Go south”; and Kitty trotted down the footpath between the iron rails and the fence.
Cats can go very fast up a tree or over a wall; but when it comes to the long, steady trot that reels off mile after mile, hour after hour, it is not the cat-hop, but the dog-trot, that counts. She became tired and a little footsore. She was thinking of rest when a dog came running to the fence near by and broke out into such a horrible barking close to her ear that Pussy leaped in terror. She ran as hard as she could down the path. The barking seemed to grow into a low rumble — a louder rumble and roaring — a terrifying thunder. A light shone ; Kitty glanced back to see, not the dog, but a huge black thing with a blazing eye, coming on yowling and spitting like a yard full of tom-cats. She put forth all her power to run, made such time as she never had made before, but dared not leap the fence. She was running like a dog — was flying, but all in vain : the monstrous pursuer overtook her, but missed her in the darkness, and hurried past, to be lost in the night, while Kitty sat gasping for breath.
This was only the first encounter with the strange monsters — strange to her eyes — her nose seemed to know them, and told her that this was another landmark on the home trail. But Pussy learned that they were very stupid, and could not find her at all if she hid by slipping quietly under a fence and lying still. Before morning she had encountered many of them, but escaped unharmed from all. About sunrise she reached a nice little slum on her home trail, and was lucky enough to find several unsterilised eatables in an ash- heap. She spent the day around a stable. It was very like home, but she had no idea of staying there. She was driven by an inner craving that was neither hunger nor fear, and next evening set out as before. She had seen the “ one-eyed thunder-rollers ” all day going by, and was getting used to them. That night passed much like the first one. The days went by in skulking in barns, hiding from dogs and small boys, and the nights in limping along the track, for she was getting footsore ; but on she went, mile after mile, southward, ever southward — dogs, boys, roarers, hunger — dogs, boys, roarers, hunger — but day after day with increasing weariness on she went, and her nose from time to time cheered her by confidently reporting : “ This surely is a smell we passed last spring.”
So week after week went by, and Pussy, dirty, ribbonless, footsore and weary, arrived at the Harlem Bridge. Though it was enveloped in delicious smells, she did not like the look of that bridge. For half the night she wandered up and down the shore without discovering any other means of going south excepting some other bridges. Somehow she had to come back to it; not only its smells were familiar, but from time to time, when a “ one-eye ” ran over it, there was the peculiar rumbling roar that was a sensation in the springtime trip. She leaped to the timber stringer and glided out over the water. She had got less than a third of the way over when a “ thundering one-eye ” came roaring at her from the opposite end. She was much frightened, but knowing their blindness, she dropped to a low-side beam and there crouched in hiding. Of course, the stupid monster missed her and passed on, and all would have been well, but it turned back, or another just like it, and came suddenly roaring behind her. Pussy leaped to the long track and made for the home shore. She might have got there, but a third of the red-eyed terrors came roaring down at her from that side. She was running her hardest, but was caught between two foes.
There was nothing for it but a desperate leap from the timbers into—she did not know what. Down—down—down—plop ! splash! plunge into the deep water — not cold, for it was August, but oh, so horrible ! She spluttered and coughed and struck out for the shore. She had never learned to swim, and yet she swam, for the simple reason that a cat’s position and attitude in swimming are the same as her position and attitude in walking. She had fallen into a place she did not like ; naturally she tried to walk out, and the result was that she swam ashore. Which shore ? It never fails — the south—the shore nearest home. She scrambled out all dripping wet, up the muddy bank and through coal-piles and dust-heaps, looking as black, dirty, and unroyal as it was possible for a cat to look. Once the shock was over, the royal pedigreed slummer began to feel better for the plunge. A genial glow without from the bath, a genial sense of triumph within, for had she not outwitted three of the big terrors ? Her nose, her memory, and her instinct of direction inclined her to get on the track again, but the place was infested with the big thunder-rollers, and prudence led her to turn aside and follow the river bank with its musky home reminders.
She was more than two days learning the infinite dangers and complexities of the East River docks, and at length, on the third night, she reached familiar ground, the place she had passed the night of her first escape. From that her course was sure and rapid. She knew just where she was going and how to get there. She knew even the more prominent features in the dogscape now. She went faster, felt happier. In a little while she would be curled up in the old junk-yard. Another turn and the block was in sight . . . But—what! — it was gone. Kitty could not believe her eyes. There, where had stood, or leaned, or slouched, or straggled — the houses of the block— was a great broken wilderness of stone, lumber, and holes in the ground.
Kitty walked all around it. She knew by the bearings and by the local colour of the pavement that she was in her home ; that there had lived the bird-man, and there was the old junk-yard ; but all were gone, completely gone, taking the familiar odours with them ; and Pussy turned sick at heart in the utter hopelessness of the case. Her home love was her master mood. She had given up all to come to a home that no longer existed, and for once her brave little spirit was cast down. She wandered over the silent heaps of rubbish and found neither consolation nor eatables. The ruin had covered several of the blocks and reached back from the water. It was not a fire. Kitty had seen one of these things once. Pussy knew nothing of the great bridge that was to rise from this very spot. When the sun came up, Kitty sought for cover. An adjoining block still stood with little change, and the Royal Analostan retired to that. She knew some of its trails, but, once there, was unpleasantly surprised to find the place swarming with cats that, like herself, were driven from their old grounds ; and when the garbage-cans came out, there were several cats at each. It meant a famine in the land, and Pussy, after standing it a few days, set out to find her other home in Fifth Avenue. She got there to find it shut up and deserted, and the next night she returned to the crowded slum.
September and October wore away. Many of the cats died of starvation or were too weak to escape their natural enemies. But Kitty, young and strong, still lived. Great changes had come over the ruined blocks. Though silent the night she saw them, they were crowded with noisy workmen all day. A tall building was completed by the end of October, and Slum Kitty, driven by hunger, went sneaking up to a pail that a negro had set outside. The pail, unfortunately, was not garbage, but a new thing in that region, a scrubbing-pail—a sad disappointment, but it had a sense of comfort ; there was a trace of a familiar touch on the handle. While she was studying it, the negro elevator-boy came out again. In spite of his blue clothes, his odorous person confirmed the good impression of the handle. Kitty had retreated across the street. He gazed at her.
“ Sho ef dat don’t look like de Royal Ankalostan — hya, Pussy—Pussy—Pussy—Pus-s-s-y, co-o-o-me—Pus-s-sy, hya, I specs she’s sho hungry.”
Hungry ! She had not had a real meal for a month. The negro went into the hall and reappeared with a portion of his own lunch.
“ Hya, Pussy, Puss—Puss—Puss ! ” At length he laid the meat on the pavement and went back to the door. Slum Kitty came, found it savoury ; sniffed at the meat, seized it, and fled like a little tigress to eat her prize in peace.
This was the beginning of a new era. Pussy came to the door of the building now when pinched by hunger, and the good feeling for the negro grew. She had never understood that man before. Now he was her friend, the only one she had. One week Pussy caught a rat. She was crossing the street in front of the new building when her friend opened the door for a well-dressed man to come out.
“ Hallo ! look at that for a cat,” said the man.
“ Yes, sah,” answered the negro ; “ dat’s ma cat, sah ; she’s a terror on rats, sah. Hez ’em ’bout cleaned up, sah ; dat’s why she so thin.”
“ Well, don’t let her starve,” said the man, with the air of a landlord. “ Can’t you feed her ? ”
“ De livermeat man comes reg’lar, sah, quatah dollar a week, sah,” said the negro, realising that he was entitled to the extra fifteen cents for the idea.
“ That’s all right ; I’ll stand it.”
Since then the negro has sold her a number of times with a perfectly clear conscience, because he knows quite well that it is only a question of a few days before the Royal Analostan comes back again. She has learned to tolerate the elevator and even to ride up and down on it. The negro stoutly maintains that once she heard the meat-man while she was on the top floor, and managed to press the button that called the elevator to take her down. She is sleek and beautiful again. She is not only one of the four hundred that form the inner circle about the liverman’s barrow, but she is recognised as the star pensioner as well. But in spite of her prosperity, her social position, her royal name and fake pedigree, the greatest pleasure of her life is to slip out and go a-slumming in the gloaming; for now, as in her previous lives, she is at heart, and likely to be, nothing but a dirty little Slum Cat.
New York Times, 21st October, 1905
‘Animal heroes. Being the Histories of a Cat, a Dog, a Pigeon, a Lynx, Two Wolves, and a Reindeer, and in elucidation of the same over 200 drawings, By Ernest Thompson-Seton. 12mo. New York; Charles Scribner’s Sons. $2’
A hero, says Mr. Thompson-Seton in his preface, "is an Individual of unusual gifts or achievements.” And granting that definition, he has every right to call his nice animals heroes. The first nice animal (though the surroundings seem to fit that adjective singularly well) is a slum cat. Four of the nine lives of the cat are related. In the first life she was a slum cat merely. In the second life she was fattened by a cockney fancier, became a “Royal Analostan,” and won the blue ribbon at a cat show. In the third life she lived with a rich family, slept daily upon silk cushions, and was miserable. In the fourth she returned on her four paws to her slum — but lived there in a new model tenement or some such place.
San Francisco Chronicle, 5th November, 1905
Ernest Thompson Seton, with pencil and pen, has made a beautiful book of “Animal Heroes." He has told the histories of a cat, a dog, a pigeon, a lynx, two wolves and a reindeer, but these histories are related by a literary artist, and each is illustrated by a large number of dainty marginal sketches as well as by several full-page drawings. The story of the slum cat is characteristic of Mr. Seton’s methods. A poor pussy of the tenements falls into the hands of a showman, and by him is entered in a cat show. His slum cat wins the blue ribbon, is sold for $100 and is transferred to a Fifth-avenue mansion, but even in her prosperity the sleek, smug life of the aristocracy palls on her, and occasionally she returns to the tenements on a slumming expedition. [. . .] The book is so handsomely illustrated that it will be suitable for a holiday present. (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons; price S2.)