THE CAT : ITS CARE AND MANAGEMENT
BY MRS. LESLIE WILLIAMS
AUTHOR OF THE MANUAL OF TOY DOGS, HOW TO BREED, REAR, AND FEED THEM.
WITH FRONTISPIECE and 17 ILLUSTRATIONS in THE TEXT
PHILADELPHIA HENRY ALTEMUS COMPANY
WHEN planning this little handbook, I desired to pay special attention to the diseases of cats, and it is therefore necessary to explain why, after all, not very much space is occupied in the consideration of this part of the subject of Pet Cat management. The fact is, that if cats are kept at liberty and fed on meat, they have no diseases apart from accident or injury. Such inherited troubles as some weakly kittens show are all, directly or indirectly, due to mistaken feeding and overcrowding. Now that the ‘boom’ in Persian kittens, which a few years ago caused a great many people to take up cats more for profit than because they loved them, is a thing of the past, over-production is ceasing, and in time, no doubt, all cats will be as healthy as Nature intended. In the meantime fresh air, liberty, and the natural diet of a purely carnivorous animal are worth all the drugs in the world for our pets.
With regard to the pictures in this book, I must acknowledge debts of gratitude for kind help to Mrs. Clark of Kyrie, Batheaston, Bath, Mrs. Higgens (Dick Whittington), and other ladies who have allowed their favourites to be depicted. The Ladies’ Field has also been so kind as to let me reproduce some excellent pictures.
M. L. WILLIAMS.
September 2, 1907.
The Management of Pet Cats
Food for Cats
The Care of the Coat
Parasites on Cats
Treatment of Breeding Queens
Kittens in the Nest
Complaints of Kittens
Showing Cats and Kittens
Preparing Exhibits for Show
Common Ailments of Cats
Tuberculosis, Pernicious Anaemia, and other Wasting Diseases
Distemper and Gastritis
Wounds, Accidents, and Emergency Appliances
Appliances other than Medical
Abscesses in the Head and Toothache
Growths and Tumours
Congestion and Canker in the
The Rarer Diseases and some Abnormalities of Cats
The Different Varieties of Cats (Long-haired Cats)
Points of Long-haired Show Cats
The Chinchilla Persian
Tortoiseshell and Tortoiseshell and White, or Tricolour
Orange and Cream Persians
Blue Short-haired Cats
Black and White Short-hairs
Tabby Short-haired Cats
How to begin keeping Pet Cats
General Hints to Cat Owners
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
Blue Long-haired Cat with Copper Eyes (Frontispiece) - Miss Hamilton’s ‘Rozelle Consolation.’
Self Silver and Silver Tabby - Mrs. Clark’s (Bath) ‘B.P.’ and ‘San Toy.’
A Blue Long-Haired Kitten - Miss Humphrey’s ‘Cupid.’
Unmarked Self-Silver Longhair - Mrs. Clark’s (Bath) ‘Absent-minded Beggar.’
A Queen and Kittens - Mrs. Steward Dodd’s.
Orange Long-haired Kittens - Miss A.B. Wilsey’s ‘Bismarck’ and ‘Patrick Sarafield.’
Blue Long-Haired Kitten - Mrs. Burns Maitland’s ‘Lady Love of Dundee.’
The Typical Head and Eyes of an Unmarked Silver Kitten - Mrs. J. S. Owen’s ‘Owena Psyche.’
A Silver Long-Hair - Mrs. Stewart Dodd’s ‘Diamond.’
A Blue-Eyed White Long-Hair - The Misses Wilsey’s ‘Princess Patricia.’
A Smoke Long-Hair - Miss M. Perssee’s ‘Exmoor Taps.’
Silver Tabby - Mrs. Gregory's (Bath) ‘Otto III.’
A Brown Tabby Long-Hair - Mrs. N. F. McLean’s ‘Clover.’
Twin Oranges - Mrs. W. K. Wilson’s ‘Admiral Togo’ and ‘General Nogi.’
Blue Short-Hair in Cattery - Mrs. Clark’s ‘Peter the Great.’
A Spotted Tabby Cat - Miss Clute’s ‘Tiger.’
A White Manx Kitten - Mrs. Collingwood’s ‘Mona Elysee.’
Siamese - Lady Marcus Beresford’s.
Note. — The cats shown in the illustrations are in nearly all cases well known as leading winners, and are all types of beauty in their respective varieties.
THE CAT. ITS CARE AND MANAGEMENT
THE MANAGEMENT OF PET CATS.
The ideal life for a cat, whether long- or short-haired, is one of liberty, combined with care and petting. Unlike the dog, who, except in the case of the hound breeds, has lost all feral wildness, the cat retains its instinct of independence to such a degree that constraint of any kind is bitterly irksome to it. When we come to consider the question of breeding, we shall have to face the fact that it is absolutely necessary to keep male cats in confinement, if they are kept at all, for they are quite impossible as pets at liberty. But where females — which in the cat world are always called queens — or neuter males are kept as pets, and allowed to have their freedom about a house and garden, they are at their very best and healthiest. Those who keep at most a couple of queens, mating them now and then to stud cats kept by other people, are the cat-owners who may most confidently look forward to making some small profit out of their hobby. At one time breeding Persian kittens in this way, by which the maximum results were obtained with the minimum of trouble and expense, was really advantageous, because there was a ready sale for the kits at remunerative high prices, about £3 3s apiece being a fair average. But so many people took up the hobby that overproduction spoilt the market, prices went down, and there was no longer the certainty of selling. At the present time nice, healthy, silver and blue Persian kittens will generally sell, but there is no assurance of finding many buyers for those of other colours, and, so far as the race of cats is concerned, it is just as well. They do not gain by being made articles of commerce to such a degree as to render it profitable for people to force them into the world in numbers too great to receive individual love and care.
While it is part of the ideal life for the cat to have full liberty, it must not be understood by this that she is to be left to take care of herself. No pet cat on which the owner sets any value should be allowed to stay out all night. This is particularly important from the breeder’s point of view, but even a neuter should be most strictly kept under supervision in this way. Being out and about at night cannot do the cat the least good in any way, and for a hundred reasons is undesirable.
Cold may be caught, and besides fighting with stray cats and the riff-raff of miserable neglected felinity that prowls the night, out pets may easily pick up contagious skin diseases that will give a world of trouble to sure. Diphtheria too, is a disease of neglected cats that healthy and wholesome pets may catch and bring into our houses, and even if this dreadful complaint itself is not experienced, a cat’s sore throat and cold is highly contagious to human beings. Again, poaching habits are immensely encouraged by night liberty, and once a cat, no matter how sleek and silken its fireside innocence of the day, takes to the enjoyment of sport by night, its final disappearance, or some dreadful misfortune of trap or snare, is inevitable.
Of course we cannot always get the cat in at night without taking some trouble, and some pets are very perverse in this way. But if the principal meal of the day is given in the evening, about six or seven p.m., pussy is pretty sure to turn up for it, and must then be captured and safely secured. In the daytime cats get nothing but good from being able to roam as they please, and if a large garden and country pleasure is available, so much the better. In towns, where the usual oblong, walled back-garden is all that we can command, it is generally quite worthwhile to go to the expense of wiring this in to keep off other cats and keep our own favourites at home. The run of a house and small garden is quite enough to constitute a happy liberty, so long as grass is obtainable. It is a necessity to the health of cats, but it need not be growing. A weekly bunch from the country, of the rather coarse broad-headed stuff called dog-grass, is easily arranged for, and can even be tied in a bunch and put tightly into a jar of water. Many cat owners grow their own cat grass by sowing the seed in shallow boxes of soil, and even canary seed, which springs up with magic quickness to fresh green blades is sufficient and appreciated.
Sunshine is life to cats, and, although they still pretend at times to the lofty aloofness that no doubt was a more leading characteristic in the race that shared ancient Egyptian reverence with the onion, they also enjoy and require a large share of sociality. At the time when a pet queen must be shut up she should never be condemned to a room without a window, but it should be remembered that she loves to bask on the sill in the sunshine, watching all that goes on in the street below.
Food for Cats.
Some very strange fallacies, whose foundation it is impossible to trace, are in existence, and apparently in the firmest possession of universal credit, on the subject of feeding cats. Probably nineteen people out of twenty, in spite of much good advice they might have taken to heart had they cared to follow the modern literature of the subject — pets of all kinds are now well and wisely written of in many papers — are still quite determined that the proper, the only, food for cats is milk and fish. As a matter of fact fish is by no means wholesome as cat dietary: to a pet that is fed on house scraps an occasional meal of fish will do no harm, but neither is it of much nutritious value. It does not contain the mineral salts and other elements, so largely present in meat, that the system of a carnivorous animal requires. A cat fed only on fish is bound, sooner or later, to suffer from anaemia and skin trouble, inseparable companions as they are. Milk is undesirable for adults because it is liquid, and the fully developed stomach of the cat is not adapted to digest or subsist upon liquid food. Putting a large bulk of liquid into the organ taxes and strains it to an extent quite inadequate to the amount of nourishment derived. There is more nourishing goodness in an ounce of raw meat than in many ounces of milk, and the stomach is neither dilated nor affected, otherwise than pleasurably, by its ingestion. From the trouble many people will take to argue in favour of, and to carry out, any possible scheme of dietary for the purely carnivorous cat other than that for which its organs were designed and adapted, one might suppose that they think themselves wiser than the animal’s Creator. That cats have been civilised, so to speak, has no value as an argument in favour of any unnatural diet. The difference between a wild life of hunting, gorging, and sleeping and a tame one of comparative confinement with provided food is appreciable, of course, but it has not altered the cat's anatomy of digestion. A meat diet does not ‘make a cat smell’ – this is another fallacy. The nearer the cat is to a state of fortunate Nature – of Nature without its cruel accidents – the healthier, and a thoroughly healthy cat is a very sweet-smelling creature as to skin and fur.
For cattery cats, raw meat, beef or mutton, and raw rabbit cut into joints with the fur left on, with plenty of clean water daily changed, is an excellent dietary. For pets, at liberty about the house, any kitchen scraps of meat that are not salt, or sour, or twice-cooked, are suitable. It is not necessary, while throwing these away, to buy fresh meat daily for the cat. But it is always well to let her have some fresh raw meat twice a week, and if she cannot catch a bird or a mouse now and then, an effort should be made to get her a rabbit, and to give it, as before-mentioned, with the fur on, and cut up into uncooked pieces. The fur, or the feathers in the case of a bird, has some specific action in the stomach and intestinal canal which is very beneficial. Cats do not, of course, swallow all the feathers of a bird, but the considerable quantity they do eat does them nothing but good, probably because the mechanical action, as the mass passes more or less unaltered through the digestive track, affords the natural stimulus of distension.
In some cases of illness a freshly killed sparrow will tempt a cat to eat when nothing else will, and may prove the turning-point for recovery; and perhaps no apology need be made for the prescription, considering the unlovable character of these mischievous little birds, for whom even the sentimentalist cannot find much to say. They are certainly not more useful or generally popular than mice, and the most ardent humanitarian seems hardened to the idea of a cat’s dinner being the mouse’s rightful end.
The amount of meat to be daily given to each cat varies according to the latter’s size and appetite. Many queens are most fastidious eaters, while neuters, as a rule, have hearty appetites and large frames to support. A long-haired cat requires more food, or food of better quality, than a short-hair, in proportion to the amount of coat it carries. An expenditure of vitality is needed to supply the hair-bearing follicles and glands, upon which long hair draws more than a short coat can.
A poorly fed, anaemic cat cannot possibly show that splendid bloom of condition that is the aim of every true cat lover to see in his pets. As a rule eight ounces of raw meat a day, divided into two meals, is quite enough for a large neuter, while a queen may be quite satisfied with six ounces. Cats in kitten must be liberally fed if they are hungry, but very often they lose rather than gain in appetite, and require tempting with dainties.
There are certain parts of meat that butchers, if approached on the subject of economical provision for pets, always suggest, and these are exactly what it is least desirable to give. Lights, or lungs, and throttles, for instance, are quite valueless, because so lacking in nutritive power. Liver is also innutritious, though it is likely to cause a bilious attack if given raw. Well boiled, it is somewhat aperient in its action, and occasionally useful in illness, both for this reason and because many cats are fond of it, so that a little grated boiled sheep’s liver, sprinkled over a meal of meat, may induce a shy feeder to eat when other temptations fail.
Beef is the best meat for cats, and where an ailing animal is concerned a little of the best rump-steak may be an extravagance that will save a good deal of dosing. Foreign beef, however, is quite good enough as a general rule, and foreign mutton makes a nice change; it must not, of course, be given in a frozen state. The beef should be kept in a warm place for some hours at least, and the mutton, after being slowly thawed, should be very lightly roasted, so that it still remains red.
It is false economy to spare kitchen physic in the case of even a cattery full of cats, for it takes the price of a great many pounds of meat to pay a veterinary bill, and cats are bad patients. Once let them get below par, and the door is open to a perfect Pandora’s boxful of ailments, always difficult to diagnose, and often far harder to cure. It may be added that popular as the cat’s-meat man undoubtedly is among the town feline population, many of whom never see meat on their plates at home, or taste it otherwise than from his skewer, horse-flesh is not a good cat food, even when healthy and wholesome. Still less is it to be desired when the horse affording it has been given physic before its death, or died of illness rather than accident; and as this is always a probability, cat owners who can afford to keep their pets properly should pay a little more for a better article.
When we come to discuss the feeding of kittens we shall find ‘many men, many minds’ thoroughly well exemplified. Almost every breeder of repute or experience has his or her own method, and naturally considers it the best. But there can be no question that in the case of the kitten, as in that of the adult cat, Nature is the safest guide. Her plan is to let the cat suckle her young ones until their first teeth are fully developed, when they at once begin to eat meat. During the short period when the mother’s milk is beginning to fail, while the kitten’s teeth are still not fully through, Nature’s plan was that the mother should, as it were, teach her offspring to eat by sometimes disgorging partly digested food for them, while at other times they would gnaw the prey she brought, and suck the meat juices without actually tearing off or swallowing any portion. A great many queens, however, have lost the instinct of thus teaching their babies to bite flesh, and as the mother’s milk is often less abundant than it would be in a state of pure Nature, we may have to fill up the hiatus for the space of two or three weeks or longer.
For this purpose no food excels a mixture of cow’s milk, cream, and plasmon. Cow’s milk — or goat’s milk, which is better — given alone is not sufficiently nourishing, as it contains a very large percentage of water. The addition of a little fresh raw cream or a beaten-up fresh egg and about-a teaspoonful of plasmon to each teacupful of milk brings it about up to the standard of mother’s milk. A little pure cane-sugar should be added also, just enough to sweeten it faintly. The milk and plasmon powder should be mixed and stirred over a slow fire for five to ten minutes until the mixture begins to thicken slightly; the cream should then be added in the proportion of one tablespoonful to a teacupful.
[Note: Plasmon is a milk protein powder manufactured from skimmed milk. It was invented by a German chemist and popularised in Britain from 1899. Plasmon now exists only as a brand name for a Heinz-owned Italian baby food containing plasmon.]
It may be objected that this is a fussy method giving a great deal of trouble. It is certainly more troublesome than it would be to feed the kittens on plain cow’s milk; but if we can take the trouble to breed kittens we may as well make up our minds to rear them afterwards as well as possible. It is upon their first start in life that their future depends, and a well-nourished healthy kitten is so delightful a possession that it is well worth a little extra pains to secure. Enough of the food can easily be made in the morning to last until night, and it keeps perfectly sweet and fresh over a night light in a food-warmer, so that a meal is all ready for the kittens at the proper intervals.
Kittens should not be stuffed at irregular hours. Their meals may as well coincide with those of the rest of the household, since once every four hours is quite often enough to feed them during the day while they are at this stage. As soon as they begin to eat meat, a small quantity of minced-up raw beef or other meat twice a day is amply sufficient. The exact amount will depend on the kits themselves, their size and appetites, but it is a mistake to overdo them with meat food. They may have as much, up to two teaspoonfuls at six weeks old, as they will eat eagerly without moving away, but the moment they leave the meat, or stop eating, it should be taken up.
As to the psychological moment at which to begin upon meat, it must be decided by each breeder according to his lights. As a rule the kittens give a lead themselves, for directly their teeth are ready to bite solid food they will make for their mother’s plate and try to share with her. After this they should be brought gradually on to meat, till they are having one milk meal and two meat ones daily.
Some little kittens have very tiny appetites, and a small teaspoonful of minced raw beef twice a day is quite enough to begin with. No idea that there is not sufficient bulk here need be entertained for a moment; the meat is concentrated nutriment exactly adapted to the small stomach that receives it. As the kittens grow older they will naturally want larger meals, but they should not be fed oftener.
They may gradually be allowed a nice variety of meat food, beef, mutton, rabbit, house-scraps of any fresh meat, chicken and game. But the plan of removing their food the moment
They cease to eat hungrily should always be followed.
That there is absolutely no comparison in point of healthy and perfect development between meat-fed kittens and those kept, as some people argue that they should be kept, on the utterly unnatural farinaceous food system, is very easily proved by demonstration, and it is open to anyone who doubts the wisdom of natural or meat-feeding to make the experiment of feeding one kitten thus, and bringing up another beside it on sloppy milk foods, porridge, bread and milk, puddings, and the rest of the cereal gamut.
These foods do,, of course, contain some small nutriment, or kittens fed on them would never live at all, and they certainly ensure the survival of the fittest, because the great bulk that has to be somehow or other got through the system in order to extract a feeble livelihood from these scanty elements of nutrition cannot fail to put a tremendous tax on the digestive system, a tax too severe by far for the weakly ones.
But a kitten that is busy fighting to keep alive on food it was never created to eat has no strength to spare for other purposes, and let but the slightest chill or shock or contagion approach it, it is down at once. Meat-fed kittens are far less liable to distemper, colds, and other bronchial and lung troubles, while digestive disorders, from simple indigestion to enteritis, visit them not at all. Lastly, they are infinitely cleaner in their habits, as will readily be understood, and very much easier to train to the house.
If the cat is a really good mother, and has plenty of milk, she will easily take them on until they are quite ready to eat meat, and in this case a short period of milk feeding is all that is necessary. This is the ideal upbringing. Kittens whose mothers are indifferent, or, as sometimes happens, without milk to give their offspring, can be reared on the milk and plasmon mixture by hand, at all events for a few hours or days, until a foster-mother, either natural or artificial, can be found; but it is a very troublesome task, and one not to be undertaken unless the litter is a very valuable one, in which case the wise breeder will have arranged beforehand that some reliable common cat shall be having her family at the same time. Fresh water is at all times necessary to both cats and kittens. The cat should have her drinking dish as scrupulously attended to as that of the dog.
THE CARE OF THE COAT.
Short-haired cats can, as a rule, look after their own jackets, and if they are well fed and not allowed to stay out at night and racket about with fighting toms and other bad company of the roofs and tiles, they will certainly do so admirably. It is in this matter that the short-coated cat excels as a pet. The long beautiful coat of the Persian is a joy, when it happens to be in perfection, but how short a time, unfortunately, does that perfection endure!
Some long-hairs are worse than others in the matter of moulting, but with most of them a much longer time is devoted to getting rid of the jacket and growing another than to the becoming wearing of the perfect article. The cat may be at his best, perhaps, for two or three months of the year; the rest of the time he is like the little boy who, in respect of mischief, was always ‘just a’goin’ in, th’else just a’comin’ out.' Neuters are more constant in coat than queens or toms.
It is not at all desirable that long-haired cats should swallow their fur, and this they are constantly doing unless they are properly groomed, and such coat as may happen to be loose daily removed by comb and brush. It is, however, an appalling task to comb a large, strong, self-willed cat — and cats are, one and all, horribly impatient of any constraint — that has not been accustomed from its youth up to this necessary attention.
Sometimes we may become possessed of such an animal, or even of one that has been neglected, and may be covered with tangles and hard cots and lumps of matted fur. The latter are sure to be thickest underneath, and sometimes are so hard and stiff as to form a perfect mattress under the unfortunate cat’s body. Before a good new coat can grow it is absolutely necessary to get rid of all this.
Two operators, wearing the stoutest possible gloves — what are known as housemaid’s gloves, made of thick wash-leather, will best answer the purpose, if securely tied round the wrists with tape — will be needed, one to hold the patient, and the other to clip away the mats with a pair of round pointed scissors. If the head and shoulders and front paws of the victim are well muffled up in a rolled bath-towel or woollen table-cloth, there will be a better chance of getting through the business without much bloodshed.
Some writers recommend softening the cots with warm water first, but this only prolongs the business unduly, and very little coat worth keeping can be teased out of them. It is better to do the thing thoroughly, pull them as far from the skin as may be without using the least roughness or force, and clip them away. By using round-pointed scissors we avoid any risk of snipping the skin, which it would be difficult not to do if the instrument had sharp points.
A soft brush with long bristles should be used for the daily grooming of long-haired cats. The ideal brush is that sold by dogs’ caterers for Yorkshire terriers. This has very soft bristles higher in the middle than at the sides, and brings out all loose and dead hair at once, without any pulling or straining at the rest. Kittens should be brought up to consider a daily grooming as inevitable as their dinners, when they will soon learn to regard the brush and comb with complete indifference, or even to like having their toilets performed.
PARASITES ON CATS.
Cats, and especially kittens, kept in neighbourhoods where the soil is warm and sandy, and also in the south of England, are always subject to fleas, particularly in very hot weather. Sometimes kittens, that are in every way well-kept and cared for, will nevertheless be found to be absolutely alive with myriads of these pests. They do not leave the cats, nor trouble human beings, as a rule, but still it is usually a great shock to the uninitiated amateur to find his pets in this condition. They may be so covered with fleas, that if they lie for a few minutes on a cushion or chair with a dark covering, it will be found, when they move off, to be powdered with a sort of whitish deposit like very fine sago, which, rightly or wrongly, is called ‘fleas’ eggs.’
Of course, no owner likes to have the cats in such a condition, but it is, all the same, almost impossible to clear off every one of the creatures, and next day the well-combed kitten may be just as bad as ever. The only thing to do is to persevere with the comb and the small tooth-comb, and to rub powdered camphor and flowers of sulphur, mixed in equal parts, into partings made all over the coat, and also round the neck and about the ears. An antiseptic powder called ‘raydia’ is also very useful for this purpose, and is quite harmless to the cat or kitten, besides being nicely scented. Cat owners living on heavy soils or in the north and east of England are spared this trial, and should be indulgent if they buy a kitten from someone who has to contend with the summer flea plague, and find it has not arrived without a few undesired companions.
Under no circumstances should either kittens or cats be washed with an idea of getting rid of fleas or other parasites. Combing, the cat being first placed on a chair or small wooden stool set in the middle of a shallow bath with a little hot water in it, will do quite as much, or more, good, while being washed would, at the very least, upset the cat terribly, and might make it very ill.
Some breeders tub their white or very pale-coloured cats before showing them, but only the most experienced person should attempt to subject any cat to so detested an ordeal, and one so likely to be followed by bad consequences. Leave well alone is an excellent rule with cats, for, once ill, they are always bad patients and may give endless trouble before they come round again.
Weakly cats and kittens, badly fed and anaemic, or healthy cats that have been in bad company, sometimes become covered with lice, small yellow or grey insects, which cluster about them, chiefly on the face, head, neck and shoulders, and on the legs. For these small tooth-combing, the comb to be frequently dipped in lavender water or Eau de Cologne — which must not go near the eyes, however — is the only local remedy, and the camphor -sulphur powder or raydia may afterwards be rubbed in, and later brushed out.
Occasionally a cat may pick up these parasites in a stable, as ill-groomed horses not infrequently have them. They do not irritate their host, nor cause any inconvenience, neither can they live on human beings, but they are troublesome because they lay eggs in the form of minute nits firmly attached to the hairs of the coat, and these are not affected by any treatment, but must be attacked with the comb as they hatch and keep up a supply.
The only other external parasite that cats suffer from is a very minute white insect, invisible to the naked eye, that sometimes infests the roots of the external ear, causing considerable irritation. It is easily got rid of by means of a dressing of sulphur ointment.
No ointment nor wash containing mercury, either in the form of the green or yellow oxide or otherwise, should ever be allowed to touch a cat, neither should carbolic nor any of its derivatives be used for them. Mercury is a most dangerous and highly unsuitable drug for use on either dogs or cats; it is readily absorbed into the system, and the mischief it sets afoot may only be realised after months of suffering, and may end in incurable disease. Carbolic acid and its phenyl and other derivatives are exceedingly valuable in canine practice, but for some reason they are desperately toxic to cats, and should be most carefully avoided, otherwise we may get rid of
a few skin parasites, or some unimportant lesion, at the cost of an attack of enteritis or intestinal inflammation that will cure the patient for ever of all the ills of this weary world.
About the only advantage of the cattery, or system of keeping cats in specially built houses, to which they are confined, is that the worry of keeping watch on queens and shutting them up when in season is avoided. Where pet queens are kept about the dwelling-house, and at liberty, we get far better results from breeding, and both cats and kittens are much healthier and more intelligent, but we may expect a good deal of trouble in keeping their affairs arranged to our liking and avoiding the results of independence — which is to say, litters of half- breeds.
No two queen-cats are exactly alike in their ways. Some will come in season perpetually, perhaps every month or so, while others only think of breeding once or twice a year. The latter is the normal state of affairs. First the cat becomes restless, then she takes to sitting at the window and doing what can only be clearly described as ‘yowling’ — a peculiar melancholy mewing, long drawn out and harassing. Then she rolls about the floor, and to those who have had much to do with cats is sure to betray unmistakably what is in her mind. She usually continues thus for about a week or ten days, sometimes for as long as three weeks, and is at the first ready to be sent away to visit the stud cat.
People who only have two or three pet queens will never find it worthwhile to keep a stud cat of their own on the premises. These animals are, of course, quite impossible about the house, and, if kept, must lead a cattery life, each in its own separate abode. A really good stud cat of popular colour that has done some winning is a profitable possession, but the profit is, to some minds, dearly bought. Visiting queens are an endless source of worry, and, in short, the cat fancier who successfully manages one or more stud cats and their affairs must be an experienced enthusiast, and is deserving of the warmest gratitude from all owners of pet queens, who only want pleasure, amusement, and perhaps small profit, without hard work or any unpleasant tasks.
The fees for stud cats vary from 10s 6d to 30s, a guinea being the most usual sum. Most owners of stud cats are willing to give a second service should the first prove fruitless, and this is a stipulation that it is always fair to make beforehand. The journey alone may upset a young queen, or the inexperienced breeder may be forgiven, for once, if the queen is sent not quite at the right time. When, however, the breeder really does understand the ways of queens, it is inexcusable to send them off ‘on the chance,’ perhaps again and again, for queens that are really not wishing to breed spoil the stud cat, and give great trouble to his owner.
A cat that is to be used for breeding should always have, as a matter of course, a proper travelling-box or basket, chosen in good time, roomy, strong, and with a neat and secure fastening. A wild search and scramble, at the last moment, for something to send the cat away in is sure to result in trouble. She may escape on the way; she may be cramped and very uncomfortable in too small a box, or a very costly traveller in one much too large and heavy; lastly, the owner of the stud cat cannot be expected to be responsible for, or to supply, deficiencies in the packing of visitors.
A draughty, cold package is worst of all, as it may easily mean death for the traveller. Unlined wicker-baskets should never be used; but a well-made, close-woven, buff wicker-hamper, with a rounded lid, that has a handle at the top, with a removable lining of good all-wool flannel, and a secure buckled strap round it, is a comfortable and efficient article for the purpose, and not expensive, either to buy or to send about. Before starting, that is about two hours before, the cat should have a moderate meal of underdone meat. On no account should a large meal be given immediately before she goes, or she will certainly be sick on the way.
Breeding for colour is a matter that can only be properly considered from a scientific point of view, but this matters the less, as it is only in the procuring of tortoise-shells that it is likely to be a subject of interest to the average cat-owner. To breed a tortoise-shell tom is the as yet unrealised ambition of many, and crosses of blacks, tortoise-shells, and oranges have been repeatedly tried, and though but little success is recorded, this formula is undoubtedly somewhere near the mark, and might repay further experiment by experienced breeders.
Cats of self-colour, however, are, or should be, bred to their own colour — a blue to a blue, a black to a black, and so on. It is a very great mistake for beginners to plunge wildly into chance mixing of strains, by which means they are sure to get kittens of bad or indeterminate colour.
What is necessary in choosing a stud cat is to ascertain that he is perfectly healthy, not over-worked, and possesses points that may correct any faults in the queen. Thus, if the queen is a blue or a black that has pale-yellow eyes, a mate should be sought who excels in the deep orange colour desired in eyes. In the case of chinchillas or self-silvers, a great deal of the undoubted delicacy of cats of this colour may be ascribed to the fact that stud cats sufficiently perfect in absence of shadings and black hairs are few, and the popular ones have to work harder than is the case in other colours where there is abundant choice of excellent sires.
Queens should not be allowed to breed when out of coat, nor to have more than, at the outside, two litters in the year. If either parent is out of coat at the time of mating, the kittens are likely to suffer from constant loss of coat, and of course this tendency is much increased if both parents should be moulting when they meet. One occasion of meeting is quite sufficient, as a rule, though some breeders prefer to put the two together twice at a day’s interval.
TREATMENT OF BREEDING QUEENS.
Queens in kitten must be carefully looked after. They should never be lifted or handled in any way; but it is quite unnecessary to restrict their liberty, as they do not hurt themselves by jumping up or down, no matter how active they may be: this is owing to the elasticity of their movements.
They require liberal feeding, and if the appetite is not naturally good it must be tempted. Drugging is to be sedulously avoided. If the queen is healthy, and getting plenty of amusement and gentle exercise, it is most unlikely that, there will be any difficulty about the coming of the kittens. The only contretemps that is at all common is the mother’s failure to nurse her infants, which now and then occurs. Sometimes she actually has no milk, and sometimes she may, apparently, take a dislike to her family and refuse to notice it.
Having this possibility in view, it is always well, especially in the case of first kittens, to have a foster-mother ready, whose time of kittening should be, if possible, a day or two before that of the more valuable cat. If the foster — a common short-haired cat of a kind and motherly disposition is best — has lived a few weeks with the defaulting mother, there will be no quarrels.
The kittens should be gradually mixed, so to speak. The new family must not be hurriedly sprung upon the foster, but while she is out of the way one or two of her own should be removed and the valuable kittens substituted, first rubbing them against her own kittens so that they may not smell strange to her when she returns.
A valuable cat for her own sake should not bring up more than two, or at the very most three, kittens at a time, and therefore, even if she be the best of mothers, a foster is always useful, since few breeders have the strength of mind to destroy embryo champions, and so reduce the claims upon their pets.
Cats have nine weeks, or sixty-three days, of gestation, but kittens are often born a day or two before their time, and are not at all the worse. If, however, the cat goes beyond the sixty-three days, though obviously in kitten, and if she seems uneasy, veterinary advice should be sought. It is a great mistake to give aperients, such as castor oil, before kittening, and no amateur attempts at midwifery should ever be made with cats, as they usually resent interference very strongly.
Even if it does any good at the time, which is unlikely, it is almost, certain to set them against their kittens, and may mean desertion or even cannibalism, a thing that is unfortunately not unknown.
Some queens before kittening are extremely fidgety, not to say annoying. They will wander about making all manner of investigations in the most unsuitable places for depositing the new arrivals.
Considerable tact is needed, because if a self-willed and petted cat makes up her mind that the spare bed and no other place will suit her, she may resent any attempt at removal or disturbance very deeply. A wooden box with sides about eight or nine inches high, containing a nice bed of dry warm hay or a piece of soft flannel, which should be changed for a freshly aired and warmed clean piece during the mother’s first absence from her litter, is the best provision for kittening. It should be put in some secluded place, such as the bottom of a dry cupboard, whose door must be fixed slightly open, so as to preclude any fear of puss sharing the dreadful fate of Ginevra, or being shut away from her offspring.
Nature teaches the expectant mother not to eat much for a few hours before her kittens are born; and some cats are always sick shortly before the event. As soon as it is all over, the mother should have a good saucerful of warm gruel, made with Robinson’s groats and milk, and slightly sweetened. A few hours later she may have her usual meal of meat, and after this she will require very liberal feeding, and, indeed, cannot well be overfed during the suckling period.
It is very important to the health and size of the kittens that they should be nursed by their mother as long as possible, and to nurse them will do the mother no harm at all, provided she is thoroughly well fed and there are not too many in the family. As before stated, it is obviously bad for the cat to rear too many, and it is also bad for the kittens. It is much better to have — even supposing a foster-mother cannot be found, and some of the kits must be destroyed — two fine large healthy kittens than four or five weaklings. The majority of breeders, who wish to make a little profit out of their pets, find female kittens unsaleable, and may just as well destroy them to begin with as give them away later on, perhaps to doubtful homes, and with the chance of their further spoiling a market that is already over-crowded. There is no cruelty in drowning day-old kittens in warm water, for their spark of vitality is very tiny, and they have no developed consciousness.
KITTENS IN THE NEST.
For the first three weeks of their lives properly cared for kittens, with an attentive mother, should give no trouble at all if they are healthy. If they are not healthy it is much better to destroy them, as a kitten that has had a bad start in life is very seldom worth anything later on, and only has a miserable existence to look forward to. The bed on which they lie should be looked after, and a clean warm flannel given when necessary. If the cat is attending to them properly they will, very soon after birth, be quite dry and glossy, losing the wrinkled appearance they have when, they first appear in the world. Kittens that retain this thin baggy look, and that cry, constantly, are not being adequately fed, and must be transferred to a good foster-mother if they are to do any good. A small dog will generally rear kittens very nicely, though the converse state of things, that of a cat taking to puppies, is much more usual; and, of course, cat fosters are generally much more readily obtainable. Still, if there is a litter of toy puppies about, a kitten usually thrives splendidly under canine care.
Great care must be taken that the box containing the kittens is not visited by draughts or chills. The enclosed under part of the dresser in a warm kitchen is generally a good place for it, but wherever it is put, the temperature must be even. If a small room in the house can be floored with linoleum or cork carpet and given up to the cats as a place to keep their families, so much the better. In winter a fire will be needed, or some kind of hygienically planned oil-stove, as all young things need warmth. The mothers should not be, shut up in the room, but allowed to go in and out as they please. Some cats so resent coercion of any kind that the mere fact of being shut in with their kittens turns them against their offspring.
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COMPLAINTS OF KITTENS.
The great danger of draughts to young kittens in the nest cannot be exaggerated. ‘Bad eyes,’ those bugbears of breeders of show stock, may easily result from the slightest chill. Kittens may, and frequently do, develop ophthalmia neonatorum spontaneously, and merely from inherited weakness, but if draughts are allowed to play about them they are sure to go wrong in this or other ways, but most often thus.
An inherited strumous tendency that leads to inflammation of the eyes also often caused this symptom to develop a little later, when the kittens have left the nest, and this latter form of the trouble is intensely contagious and often very difficult to cure. If in litter after litter by the same parents we find eye trouble shows itself either in the first weeks of life or later, it is safe to conclude that one or both of the parents is strumous and unfit to be bred from. Should the mother appear perfectly healthy, she should be tried again with another sire; but should the trouble again recur, she must be held guilty of the strumous taint, and no longer used.
[note: strumous means scrofulous and referred to a variety of diseases with swollen glands including thyroid conditions and tuberculosis]
It is a wicked thing in itself to cause the bringing into the world of unfit and unhealthy creatures, setting aside the selfishness of desiring to make a profit by doing so. There will, of course, while the world remains this side of the millennium, always be breeders whose only thought is to produce and sell as many kittens as possible, no matter what disappointment they cause their buyers, nor what diseases they carry with them to infect other peoples’ healthy stock; but no one who really has true affection for such charming pets as healthy and happy cats can be, should let any false sentiment promote the production or survival of the unfit, to be a misery to themselves and their owners.
Bad eyes, when they are curable, which is often not the case if they arise from constitutional weakness, will generally yield to either boracic, zinc, or lead lotion. Any chemist knows the proper formulae for these, but as a rule, unless requested not to do so, will make them up with rose water, whereas for animals they are best made up plainly with distilled water. It is never possible to say which lotion will best suit individual cases, and they should be tried in turn or alternated.
Bathing, either with lotions or, as is often advised, with hot water or milk and water, is a great mistake. If the eyes are closed and the lids glued together with wet pus or matter, use a small pledget of aseptic dry cotton wool, to be had at all chemists, to remove the stuff, and burn the pledgets immediately. If the pus is dry and hard, moisten the pledgets with hot water, coloured pink with permanganate of potash, but only just sufficiently to soften hard matter, not to wet the face at all. If the hardened pus resists, smear the lids with boracic ointment and leave for a few minutes, then clear all the ointment away carefully with a pledget. As soon as the eye is cleaned from pus, drop into it two or three drops only of the lotion, using for the purpose a small all indiarubber bottle syringe. Do not touch the eye or lids with the point of the syringe, as, if it becomes contaminated with the septic discharge from the eye, it will infect any other kitten it touches. The eye should be treated with a drop or two of lotion every two or three hours. Supposing one kitten only of a litter shows symptoms of eye affection, it is worth while to take a good deal of trouble to segregate it and prevent, if possible, any contagion from affecting the others, for the patience of a greater Job is required to see a whole litter through an attack of conjunctivitis or ophthalmia.
Diarrhoea from chill or unsuitable feeding is about the only other frequent ailment of kittens, if we except common colds, to which they are as subject as babies of our own race.
Distemper, of course, carries off its thousands, but it does not come spontaneously to healthy meat-fed kittens. It comes with strange kittens we buy, or by contagion from a show, or by some side wind or other.
Diarrhoea is almost unknown in meat-fed kittens, but a very everyday affair among those fed on sloppy milk and cereal foods. It is caused in this latter case by flatulence due to indigestion, and over-distension from flatulence, being extremely painful, may make the kittens cry very pitifully. The obvious remedy is to change the absurd milk pudding and porridge for bi-diurnal small meals of finely minced raw meat, immediately after each of which a one- to three-grain pill of carbonate of bismuth may be given. In some cases an intestinal antiseptic, as an eighth to a quarter of a grain of beta napthol, given every four hours in pill form, is most efficacious.
If the diarrhoea is from chill, which is pretty sure to be the case if the patient is meat-fed, a piece of soft flannel should be put round the body and sewn down the back, and the kitten should be kept in one room quite secure from draughts. A teaspoonful of pure olive oil with a few drops of good brandy may first be given, and then the bismuth pills immediately after food. Diarrhoea in both cats and kittens may be set up by giving meat that is not perfectly fresh, and the greatest care should be exercised in seeing that this does not happen, as this form of diarrhoea is quite likely to end in peritonitis and death from ptomaine poisoning. Colds in both cats and kittens are very infectious for human beings, children especially. They must run their course, but a cat’s or kitten’s sneeze bears out the old tradition of calamity, for the cold is quite likely to run through the house when puss begins it. The little room on the sunny side of the house, with the linoleum floor and two or three comfortable old armchairs, is how more needed than ever as an isolation hospital, and the moment a sneeze is heard, away to it with the patient. A few days’ warmth and seclusion should follow with extra good feeding, and, for kittens, one grain of saccharated carbonate of iron and a quarter of a grain of sulphate of quinine made into a pill, twice a day. Full-grown cats may have three grains of the iron and half a grain of quinine. The pills should not be pearl-coated, as if they are, they are apt to pass unchanged through the digestive system.
Kittens and cats often suffer from sore throat with cold, and in addition to the above treatment, if the kitten is seen to swallow a good deal, its throat may be well rubbed with a little Elliman’s embrocation, or a trace of opodeldoc liniment, and adorned with a piece of red flannel — an old wives’ remedy, that is nevertheless, in this case, worth all the poultices in the world. A cough, or cold on the chest, should be similarly treated, but with a chest protector of flannel carried between the front legs and tied round the waist by tapes. When the time comes for those things to be left off they should be first loosened and then removed while the patient is still in hospital, so as to avoid chill. A sick kitten or cat always goes to the draughtiest place it can find, and may usually be looked for on the window-sill, or plastered against the crack under the door; therefore the cats’ hospital should have a precautionary wire-netting all over the window and a good thick mat outside the threshold. The beginnings of kittens’ ailments should always be most carefully watched, and any unusual dullness or sleepiness is particularly suspicious.
Teething fits are not at all uncommon in kittens, and generally not important. The afflicted one should be taken to a perfectly dark and quiet place, and a cold sponge may be applied to its head. Bromide of potassium, in three-grain doses twice a day, is the only drug that is recommended, but if the fit passes off quickly, it may not be required. An unhealthy kitten may go on having fits, at first slight, then gradually merging into epileptiform attacks, and finally into actual epilepsy, and when this occurs cure is hopeless.
For every reason it is much better to have only two or three kittens, at most, on the premises at one time. Where there are more, even if they have the run of house and garden, some illness is nearly sure to break out sooner or later. For instance, one kitten may have a slight cold or a trifling attack of diarrhoea, which, if it ended there, would be nothing. But it goes the round, and one or more of the other kittens is pretty sure to have it badly, and then they are all weakened, and the door is opened to further disaster. People who must keep cats in numbers should never lose an opportunity of placing their kittens separately, even if they have to pay for them as boarders, in families where they will be brought up and well looked after as the only feline pet of the establishment, for they will do infinitely better so, or in couples, than where there are more. It is so very pretty to see two kittens playing together, and they get so much enjoyment out of their games, that two may be preferred to one, but if a puppy playfellow is available, so much the better for the kitten.
The training of kittens to be clean in the house is, fortunately, not often a difficult task. All kittens, whether they have easy access to a garden or not, should have been first taught, in their earliest infancy, to use a box of earth, ashes, or peat-moss litter.
When they first begin to crawl in and out of the nest they should have a little pen made for them, with the nest box or basket at one end and the shallow box of earth at the other. A well-trained mother will do a good deal for them, and they have, if healthy, very clean instincts. But it is absolutely necessary that the earth, or whatever substance is used in the box, should be quite dry, and very frequently renewed. The kittens will not go near it if it is wet or dirty. Sawdust should not be used, as it gets on their paws and into their fur; if ashes are chosen, they must be finely screened. Nothing is better than powdered peat-moss litter, which is deodorant and very absorbent.
In catteries, and in town houses where the cats cannot get out readily, breeders always give them these boxes or shallow earthenware or tin or iron pans of earth, etc.; and when queens must be shut up it saves an infinitude of worry if they have been accustomed to them as kittens. When older, as when young, however, clean cats will never use pans in which the earth is not fresh, dry, and clean, so they must be frequently attended to.
The operation usually performed on male kittens is a most necessary one, if they are to be kept as pets. It should not be done too early, or they will not grow to the great size that is their chief beauty. Neuters make charming pets, as a rule, less independent than other cats, and very affectionate and docile. The operation, which is best done at from six to nine months old, is the affair of a moment, if performed by a
clever veterinary surgeon, and no other should be allowed to do it. No anaesthetic is actually required, though most surgeons prefer to use one, and the cat does not suffer, and need only remain with the veterinary surgeon for a day or two. The parallel operation, however, as performed upon the other sex, is far more severe, and does not obviate all the inconveniences it is designed to prevent. Only a very few practitioners claim to do it successfully, or advise it, and what little popularity it may have had among breeders is hardly justified by results, except in cases of hysteria, which is not uncommon in female cats. In these it may be very beneficial.
To show very young kittens is tempting misfortune, for as many bad colds as there are kits in the litter is the least return the Fates are likely to make, and no amount of prizes will compensate the cat lover who sees distemper introduced into the cattery on their home-coming. They may, of course, be sold at a show, though wise people who understand cats are chary of purchases straight out of a show, especially kittens, preferring to negotiate a little later on, when it is sure that the desired acquisition has not picked up distemper or anything else undesirable.
The show may be all that care can make it in the way of good sanitation, and there may not be draughts — though these usually abound — but who can protect baby kits against the dangers of the journey, and the, to them, harassing ordeal of a strange place in strange company? The true cat lover would like to see a final rule established altogether excluding kittens under five or six months from all shows. The public, of course, is of a different opinion, and the litter classes are always very popular.
Kittens of more mature age that are intended to be shown should have a little preliminary training as otherwise they may be frightened when they find themselves in a show-pen. These pens can be bought for a very small sum, from about eighteenpence each, and they are advertised in all the poultry papers. All that is necessary is to accustom the kitten to being in one, and this is easily done by putting it in for an hour or so round about dinner-time and feeding it there. Pleasant associations are thus engendered.
SHOWING CATS AND KITTENS.
Many novices have not the smallest idea how to set about showing a cat, therefore no apology is perhaps needed for directions that may seem to be a repetition of the obvious, to experienced exhibitors. The first thing to be done is to get a schedule. It will be sent, on application by postcard or note, by the secretary, whose address is always given in the advertisements of the show, and should be carefully read, both because show rules may vary to some extent, and because the cat or kitten to be entered may be eligible for some special prize. Besides this, registration with one of the Cat Clubs, of which there are several, may be necessary. The entry-form enclosed in the schedule is then to be filled up and sent in with the stated fees. After this nothing remains but to await the day, and meanwhile to get the exhibit into the best possible fettle. If the show is held in the summer, when almost all long-haired cats are out of coat, this condition in the exhibit is of less moment, as others will be as bad; but if it is a winter or spring show, an exhibit that unluckily happens to be out of coat will be much handicapped.
Neuters, with which other cats have often no chance of competing in the matter of coat and size, are always given classes of their own, and must not be entered except in their own stated section.
Very roomy, comfortable, and substantial boxes or baskets, well lined, warm, with easily fastened but secure strappings, should be used for show cats. The stewards who have charge of the un-packing and repacking at a show are generally careful, but they often have a very great deal to do, and in the rush a hamper of which the fastenings give trouble is apt to be neglected, and the inmate may escape, and perhaps be lost, or it may oven spend the time of the show in its basket, of course unnoticed by the judges, and worse still, unfed. Some exhibitors are most careless in this respect, perhaps expecting a busy show official to undo and refasten several yards of string with which they have laced together some old basket only fit to hold vegetables.
As a rule the schedule gives particulars of the way in which the exhibits will be fed, and if they are not to be dieted as the exhibitor desires, it is always best to put a card inside the lid of the package, on which the diet to be given is legibly inscribed, ‘This Cat to be fed on Meat only,’ for example. The food at shows is often very good, scraped or minced raw beef being very usual.
The disinfectants, however, which, of course, are to some extent absolutely necessary, are frequently overdone, and many exhibitors believe that illness after shows is often due to the cat’s or kitten’s being sickened with the tremendous volume of whatever antiseptic is in question. In this respect, as in that of feeding, is illustrated the very great advantage of an owner’s attending the show in person.
It is easy enough, if the pen seems to smell too strongly of disinfectant, to get it cleared out and wiped up, and to put in fresh hay or straw with a blanket or cushion if desired. Again, the cat exhibitor who has experience of shows generally takes some ready-made curtains, or a rug or shawl, with which to ward off draughts if the pen happens to be in a cold place.
At some shows there are rules regulating the amount of decoration that may be hung about the pens; at others, owners have free rein for their fancy, and make their exhibits perfect little bowers, more or less extravagantly draped with embroidered curtains and mottoes, and elaborately cushioned within. Occasionally there are classes for led cats, when it is rather a pretty sight to see a number of fine big neouters, more or less docile, going round a ring in collar and lead; but otherwise cats are always judged in their pens, and usually not in the presence of the public. Of course the judge may, and generally does, handle the exhibits, and takes them out on to a table, but only one by one, and in the presence of the stewards and officials only.
PREPARING EXHIBITS FOR SHOW.
Cats and kittens should always be thoroughly groomed, and sent or taken to a show in the best possible state of bloom and finish. White or light-coloured cats should be shown clean, and it is permissible to gain this end by rubbing fine flour, fuller’s earth, warm bran, or violet powder (starch powder) into their coats, provided it is thoroughly well brushed out again, and no particle remains that could be supposed to improve their whiteness or colour.
No kind of radical improvement, by plucking or cutting or pulling out hair, is allowed. Of course, the world being what it is, a certain amount of ‘faking’ by such means, and also by devices of colouring to improve existing colour or disguise faults, does pass unchallenged; but, on the other hand, there is always the risk of disqualification, and if the judge either does not, or dare not, penalise any offender, the other exhibitors are not likely to fail in detecting any such treatment, and in the end honesty is decidedly the best policy — apart from the moral considerations which should deter the exhibitor from illegal improvements.
Unfortunately, trials of temper to the perfectly straightforward exhibitor are by no means lacking at cat shows, and both judges and exhibitors frequently have entirely legitimate grievances, but in the end good temper and uprightness are certain to win recognition, besides comforting the conscience with self-approval. A very cross cat — there are, unluckily, a few such — is not a very satisfactory show possession. However good the specimen may be, it is hardly in human nature for the judge or visitor who has been soundly clawed when he put his hand in or near the pen to remain unresentful. Cat scratches are the worst of all minor wounds to heal, and the show-pen always seems to exacerbate whatever uncertainty of temper an animal may possess. Queens and neuters are very rarely savage, but stud cats occasionally suffer from pains in their tempers, and the novice will do well to remember this when going round a show.
A good brushing and combing, with, for short hairs, a finishing polish with a chamois leather, is desirable just before judging, as cats’ coats are not at their best after a journey and being shut up in a box or basket.
As a rule a cat is improved by being shown fat, and therefore a little extra meat may be given for a week or two beforehand. For bad doers, or cats not quite up to their best form for any cause, a little cream (not milk) daily is a good conditioner. It must, however, be really pure, and quite free from preservatives, such as formalin, borax, etc., or thickening matter, such as glucose, starch, and corn-flour.
To ensure purity, and yet get good double cream, the best plan in these days of uncertainty as to adulteration is to set a pan of milk — a quart in a very shallow dish will do - and let it remain for twenty-four hours, then skimming the cream from the top. If it only sets for twelve hours we get thinner cream: what rises in the twenty-four hours is good double cream, always supposing the milk itself to be pure and of good quality. A kitten may have two tablespoonfuls and a cat double that quantity in the day, given midway between the meat meals.
A new-laid egg is another good conditioner, but some cats will not take it. It should be slightly beaten up, but not mixed with milk or anything else. Luckily not even Chicago has yet solved the problem of egg-adulteration, and freshness or its converse is readily perceptible. Some writers advocate aperient medicines for kittens and cats on their return from shows, but if such drastic and irritating drugs as castor oil are given, any lurking intestinal mischief is only likely to be stirred into activity, whereas gentle exercise, warmth, and the comfort of being at home might otherwise have soothed it away. If constipation is suspected, a dose of olive oil, warmed, may be given.
Olive oil, provided it is pure — and it should always be got from a good chemist, never from a grocer, when required for medicinal purposes — is a splendid aperient, the best possible thing to give animals. It entirely removes any obstruction, mechanical or otherwise, causes not the slightest pain, is nourishing and most healing in its effect on the intestine, does not, like castor oil, clear away all the natural and healthful mucus coating of the intestinal membrane, thus setting up a worse subsequent condition of costiveness than that it was given to cure, and does not cause sickness or nausea. It is not nasty and many cats will take it quite readily if a couple of teaspoonfuls are mixed with a little minced boiled liver, or poured over a boned sardine, or herring roe.
Castor oil, oh the contrary, is a veritable poison in its irritating quality, and is certainly accountable for many evils worse than those it is supposed to cure, besides which it is horribly nauseous and very troublesome to administer. Like Epsom salts, another virulent but favourite drug with many, it ought to be banished with ignominy from the animals’ pharmacopoeia. The isolation of exhibits on their return from a show is a very wise practice. It is always possible that they may have brought distemper back with them, and until we are quite sure that they have not done so it is most desirable to segregate them from any other cats or kittens in the house. Their travelling baskets, or boxes, too, should be kept apart until it is certain that no contagion exists.
COMMON AILMENTS OF CATS.
For the cat owner to attempt, without skilled veterinary advice, the treatment of the more serious diseases, such as pneumonia, distemper in either its catarrhal or enteric forms, or gastritis, to which cats are subject, is only working in the dark. No amount of advice on paper is of any use where the treatment depends, as it must in these severe illnesses, entirely on the special symptoms, which vary in each case. There are only certain general rules which can be laid down. For example, when a cat seems to be unnaturally heavy and sleepy, indifferent to food, and tucking itself up with its head down and remaining motionless, though apparently contented and in no pain, for hours at a stretch, a competent veterinary surgeon should be asked to ascertain whether it is sickening for the enteric form of distemper, which resembles typhoid fever in human beings.
Or if a cold, more or less severe, which has been treated in the beginning by warmth and kitchen physic — really all that a conscientious adviser can recommend the amateur unlearned in medicine to do for ailments that it is so difficult to diagnose correctly as the chest and lung troubles of cats — seems to be getting worse about the end of the second day, a veterinary surgeon should at once see the patient. Any panting, with the mouth open, is a serious sign intimating pneumonia; and a desire to lie in draughts, close to the door or window, is always a token that the patient is quite ill enough to require skilled medical aid.
Young kittens that take distemper or any really severe illness are seldom able to get over it enough to be really strong and healthy in afterlife, and though it may sound heartless, it is never worth while to go through the anxiety and worry of nursing kittens through a severe illness, in order to preserve lives that will never be of much value to their sickly and stunted possessors. The survival of the unfit is no benefit — far from it — to the race, even on sentimental grounds.
A cat showing any signs of cold in the head and throat, as sneezing or gulping, should at once be put by itself in a sunny room, not too hot, but comfortably warm. It will be all the better if the room is not very large, so long as it is not draughty, as inhalations often do great good, but it is never worth while to struggle with a feline patient if it can possibly be avoided. More harm would probably be done by forcibly holding the cat’s head over steam than good by the inhaling, for we should then find puss resisting, and resentful on every subsequent occasion when it might be really necessary to give medicine or otherwise constrain her. Tact and gentleness are more needed in conjunction with cats than with any other sick animals, which is saying a great deal.
The best inhalation for a cold is one of oil of eucalyptus - and pinol. This latter is a somewhat expensive but very valuable extract, exceedingly soothing to the bronchial tubes, and most effective in combination with eucalyptus oil. A bronchitis kettle, or, for the matter of that, a little sixpenny tin kettle on a small oil stove, should be kept at steaming point, and a few drops of the two oils should be added now and then. The diet should be good — feed a cold — and anything the cat has a special liking for should be given. No going out must be allowed, and here comes in the advantage to a cat of having been trained when a kitten to use a box of earth.
Colds, once firmly established, must run their course, which cannot be greatly hastened. The only drug treatment desirable or permissible on unqualified prescription is the administration of a little quinine in the incipient stage, when a quarter to half a grain of sulphate of quinine, in pill form, every five hours, may cut the ailment short.
Again, after recovery from a cold there may be obstinate relaxation of the bronchial mucous membrane; shown by snuffling and persistent discharge, though the patient seems otherwise well. In these cases a course of iron often works wonders, as it has a very beneficial influence in toning up the mucous membrane. The saccharated carbonate is in most cases much the best form in which to administer iron to animals. It is a beautiful preparation in fine powder, quite non-constipating and tasteless, except for a slight sweetness, and is nearly, always readily taken on meat. The dose for a kitten is one grain, and for a cat about three grains, twice a day.
It is, of course, quite useless to give any form of iron spasmodically, or for only a short time. The shortest course likely to do good; is three weeks, and a course of at least six weeks is generally desirable.
Iron is a most valuable drug in the treatment not only of degenerated mucous membranes, but of all skin troubles arising from anaemia. Anaemia is, practically speaking, an impoverished or degraded state of the blood, which is deficient in red corpuscles. All cats and kittens fed too much on farinaceous food, and denied animal food, which contains certain mineral salts and an earthy element necessary to healthy blood, are more or less anaemic by force of circumstances. Their blood would normally take up these desired elements through the agency of numberless minute ducts in the intestinal canal walls. Failing to do so, they become anaemic, and in this condition the skin is not properly, nourished, and soon begins to deteriorate in health.
As a first step in the process of skin degradation we get a simple falling out of hair from weakness of the follicles, and a dry, scaly or scurfy, ill-nourished appearance of the skin. When in this state, if a cat or kitten picks up any ova of worms, either round, or, much more commonly, tapeworms, these horrible parasites find a most congenial lodging, and increase and multiply rarely, thus helping to increase the malnutrition and anaemia by their demands on the system. Advisers, quite ignorant of cause and effect, will now certainly be found in plenty, eager to assure the novice that the worms are the beginning and origin of all the patient’s evils, whereas, if the host had been healthy, the parasites could not have increased sufficiently to be anything more than an inconvenience at the worst.
Both in this initial stage and in more advanced states of skin trouble a course of iron and a strict but very liberal regimen of raw meat is the invariable prescription, and the only one likely to be successful. Great patience is always necessary in cats’ skin trouble — firstly, because their skins do not betray the constitutional trouble so soon as those of dogs, and secondly, because only very mild outward applications are possible in their case. We are debarred from the use of any carbolic or phenyl or tar derivatives, because all these are poison to cats, and so the sharpest weapons against most skin diseases per se are denied to us.
After the commencing stage of skin difficulty already described, the trouble may develop into dry or weeping eczema, or mange. There are two forms of mange, but luckily the worse of the two, follicular mange, is very uncommon in cats. Sarcoptic mange is rather frequently seen on the wretched strays and starved castaways of towns, and an otherwise well-cared-for cat that has been mistakenly fed and denied meat may very easily, when in the early stages of anaemia, pick up this form of mange from some undesirable acquaintance.
Mange is a dreadful word, but the disease is really easier to cure than many eczemas. The cat must be entirely covered with a dressing of warm olive oil and flowers of sulphur, mixed to a thickish cream. After this a coat of thin white Saxony flannel, made to fit closely round the body and over the chest — a bag drawn up round the neck, and with four holes for the legs, is perhaps the best rough-and-ready way of describing it — should be put on, and the patient must be strictly isolated in a warm room. The dressing will probably need repeating several times, at two days’ interval. When the patient has entirely ceased to scratch, and a new growth of fine hair is seen appearing — the coat falls off entirely in mange, so far as the disease extends — the cure is generally complete. As mange may produce some skin irritation in the hands of people who are susceptible — those who have a rheumatic diathesis especially — an old pair of gloves should be worn when handling or dressing a cat with the complaint.
The difference between mange and eczema is generally perceptible even to the inexperienced, as in the former disease the hair comes out in tufts, and very rapidly leaves comparatively large spaces bare, whereas in eczema one or more small bare places appear, and if neglected increase in number and slowly in size, and the hair does not fall in tufts, but disappears by degrees. Also the irritation of mange — which usually begins about the head — is much more severe, and there is a bad and peculiar smell that is unmistakable. Mange is always a cause of violent irritation, while in some forms of eczema there is little or no scratching.
When any cat starts a skin complaint and there is no competent veterinary surgeon at hand, the best thing to do is to pluck a small tuft of fur from the affected part and send it by post to a good veterinary surgeon for microscopic examination, as it is always important to know whether or not the disease is contagious. The amateur cannot be expected to be able to diagnose at sight where most experienced authorities would prefer to use the microscope before pronouncing a decided opinion, unless an obvious mange or ringworm be the trouble.
The several forms of eczema afflicting cats are roughly divisible into weeping or wet and dry or scaly eczema. The latter is much the most common.
A liberal diet of raw meat, as many freshly killed birds and mice as possible, no milk, no fish, no vegetables, and above all no farinaceous foods, together with a persevering course of iron, as before described, constitute the treatment necessary, whether the bare places that appear are sore and wet, sore and dry, or merely bare without any lesion of the skin. A sulphur lotion should be freely used, the following being a good prescription: Flowers of sulphur 2 ounces, bicarbonate of soda 2 drachms, boric acid 2 drachms, new milk to half a pint. Shake, well before using, and apply with a bit of sponge. Water should not, as a rule, be employed in making up any lotion intended for use on eczema patients.
When after a fair trial of several days’ steady use this lotion — which can never do any harm — does not seem to be conquering the trouble, break off with it, and for a few days use a lotion of pure methylated spirit, followed by a dusting of iodoform or ichthyol powder if the patient cannot lick the parts affected. If it can, use fuller’s-earth or pure starch powder. If the head is the seat of skin disease the front paws should always be hobbled, or tied loosely together, with a few twisted strands of Berlin wool or something equally soft, so that the patient cannot wash its head and face in the way customary with cats. By so doing it would infect the rest of its body.
In some cases where the skin is very scurfy and branny on the bare parts, and these are out of reach of the cat’s tongue, zinc ointment is a good application; but as a rule any greasy preparation like ointment should be, if possible, avoided, because the grease is apt temporarily to increase the irritation, and also the cat at once feels that a smeary application has been made, of which it is most intolerant, and which worries it terribly, and is sure to try all it can to get it off. Zinc acts as an emotic if swallowed in sufficient quantity, and no ointments, not even simple sulphur ointment, are ‘halesome faring.’
If zinc ointment is ordered, or is found to succeed where other things have failed — and in some cases we may have to try first one thing and then another for some time before we find the right one — great care should be taken to get it from the very best and most reliable source, as oxide of zinc is difficult to obtain pure. Veterinary surgeons who have not much practical knowledge of cats and their skin diseases will sometimes order what is to the patient a most obnoxious dietary, such as milk and liver, or oatmeal porridge, or bread and milk only, and it is said to have even occurred to some inexperienced practitioner — who was very probably a splendid horse and cattle doctor, but certainly knew as little as he cared about cats — to suggest boiled cabbage with salt on it, and fish. All these things regularly given would soon procure an attack of skin disease, if it were not already in existence, and salt in particular is so violently irritating to the feline intestine as to be quite capable of setting afoot a fatal attack of peritonitis. Fish, if fresh, is harmless as an occasional change, but most innutritious, and in quantity, or too often repeated, highly indigestible.
Vegetables, potatoes, or greens are not assimilated, and merely pass through the intestinal canal as so much bulky waste matter, incapable of being digested, and dangerous as being likely to set up fermentation and flatulent distension.
TUBERCULOSIS, PERNICIOUS ANAEMIA, AND OTHER WASTING DISEASES.
The first of these terrible diseases is not uncommon in cats, which are apt to suffer from the general or diffused and the intestinal forms of the affection. When a cat pines and wastes, or suffers from constant diarrhoea with increasing thinness, and shows drowsiness and disinclination for exercise alternately with fits of feverish activity, tubercle may be suspected.
It is hardly necessary to say that a cat so suffering should be at once destroyed as a public danger, apart from the fact that its death is certain, though it may be delayed, and that the victim must suffer greatly from increasing weakness, and in the case of tubercular disease of the bowels will have constant and sometimes severe pain. No doubt cats are often infected with tubercle from cow’s milk given to them as kittens or afterwards, for if they are at all run down they are very susceptible to such infection, just as are we ourselves.
There is, of course, a hereditary tendency also. For this reason, cats suffering from tubercle should never be bred from, and, indeed, it is not very likely that anyone would wish to breed from them, considering the risk run by those who live in the house with any animal suffering from this disease, if its presence were recognised. But as emaciation may arise from other causes, and the diarrhoea, which is a constant symptom of intestinal or general tuberculosis, will of necessity often pass unobserved in the case of a well-trained cat that can go out of doors if it pleases, tubercle is not always diagnosed. The one certain sign, easily to be read by anyone, is the continuous variation of temperature.
All cat owners ought, to be able to read a clinical thermometer, but as a good many people do not even employ this invaluable little article for themselves or their children, it is improbable that the average cat lover is versed in it.
However that may be, if a cat is seen to be suffering from progressive emaciation, to be alternately gay and dismal, to show at one time extreme hunger and at another a capricious distaste for food, and to give signs of frequent diarrhoea, the clinical thermometer should be applied to every day for its verdict; and if it betokens a persistently low morning and high evening temperature, the indications are very strong in favour of the presence of tubercle, and a competent surgeon should be called in to pronounce. Not for one day should the most affectionate owner keep a tuberculous cat alive; even if life offered any attractions to the poor creature itself, it is exposing all around it to grave risk.
The cough, which unlearned people think must be associated with any case of consumption, is of course not present in tubercular disease of the bowels, and primary lung tubercle is rare in cats. They may and do get tubercular deposits in the lungs when they have them in other parts of the body — general tuberculosis — but what is commonly called chest and lung consumption is much less common than the mesenteric form, or else so quickly becomes general that it is not diagnosed while it is still only local.
Of course we might try to cure a cat of consumption, and might possibly succeed, but as a rule the illness, like most other severe maladies in these animals, is not noticeable or noticed until it has gone very far. With dogs it is much easier to see a difference between one kind of ailment, and another, but with cats the initial stages of most severe illnesses are much alike, and the instinct of concealment of suffering very strong. The nervous system, also, is less highly organised than that of dogs, and the cat on this account actually suffers less pro rata, besides being less willing to confide its miseries.
Supposing, however, that a very favourite cat has been pronounced to have a tendency towards tubercle — though it is to be feared the surgeon clever enough to make the diagnosis accurately is not to be discovered in every veterinary infirmary — the treatment would be much the same as that we should adopt for the wasting of anaemia or chronic catarrh, and this latter is fairly often met with, so that it is worth while to detail it. Fresh air is the great desideratum, and sunshine a grand medicine. A sickly, ailing kitten will sometimes pick up in a wonderful way if it is sent, like a sick child, to the seaside, and allowed to be much out of doors. Naturally a weakly animal cannot, and must not, be about in rain and snow, or sitting and lying on damp grass, without injury, but dry cold is not injurious. In fact we may reasonably suppose that the latest modern cure of a Davos Platz climate would benefit a consumptive cat as much as it does a human patient.
People are far too apt to suppose that dogs and cats are made of something quite different to themselves; flesh, blood, and bones, all of a distinct calibre, whereas all these are in their constituents just the same as our own. Even the substance of the brain is similar — only there is not so much of it, and it is much less highly organised.
Hyper-nutrition — which is not quite the same thing as over-feeding — is desirable, generally necessary, in the tubercular and wasting diseases of cats. It is no use to cram in more bulk of food than can be digested, and there is a certain amount of ‘will not’ also concerned, the cat being as a rule a self-willed and very determined creature, and having a power of rejection of food at will denied to the human race. Also, we cannot bring moral force to bear on the question, and no wasted cat will eat one mouthful more than it wants to, unless we use physical constraint, and this again is bad for the patient. But what we can do, is to study most carefully the question of getting as much nourishment into small bulk of food as we possibly can. Once down, the patient’s future appetite is not affected by the fact of its having had a very nutritious or innutritious meal: it will probably be ready for more as soon or sooner after an ounce of the best rump-steak as after the same quantity of boiled lights. The former will have done good, imparted some modicum of vital force, while the latter will merely have kept the digestion employed, disappointing the system.
Milk is useless in cases of wasting, because, although the fat it contains is good, all the rest of it is innutritious, and it is too bulky for the digestion. Cod-liver oil and cream are both highly desirable and useful, but the value of the former is often discounted by its aperient effect. It is generally liked by cats, or if they do not care enough for it to take it, it can be mixed with a chopped-up boneless sardine, which generally carries it down easily. Cream has all the best properties of cod-liver oil, and does not share its faults. It does not smell disagreeably, and it is not aperient; but it is very difficult to obtain ‘pure rich thick cream.’ What we may have regarded as such is too often, according to analysts, a more or less elaborate compound thickened with starch or glucose or gelatine — by this latter I am afraid horse-hoof parings is meant — and prevented from turning sour by additions of formalin, boric acid, or some other tasteless but not harmless ingredient. Double cream — cream from milk that has stood twenty-four hours while it rose — is a pricelessly valuable help in the wasting sickness of cats, and separated cream, if pure, is probably as good; but Devonshire cream, which is obtained by applying gentle and gradual heat while the cream is rising on the milk, is not quite so digestible, or at any rate is rather more likely to make the patient sick or bilious.
Both oil and cream are to be looked upon as food, not medicine, and to be given in very tiny quantity at first, and gradually increased. The patient will digest more readily, and profit much more by, very small repeated meals, each of something much liked, than by one big meal. The food is to be given little and often when it is a question of either building up or keeping up the strength.
Sometimes both cod-liver oil and cream disagree, and the thin, miserable, wasting patient is only further tormented by bilious attacks if they are given with the always necessary meat meals alternative. In this case we must try and get hyper-nutrition otherwise. A teaspoonful of plasmon powder may be dissolved and slowly cooked in a very little very strong meat stock made without salt, or a tablespoonful of strong beef-tea, which latter in itself is a stimulant, but not of any value to speak of as nutriment. Of the resulting liquid a teaspoonful can be added to a small meal of minced raw beef, given twice in the day. This recommendation, it may be added, is only for use in cases of really serious wasting, as for the healthy cat, or for kittens merely thin without being unhealthy, the combination of milk, either liquid or in powder, and meat is not desirable.
Sometimes a sick cat will digest mutton where beef disagrees, and vice versa. Fish is not at any time suitable for sick cats, unless they positively refuse anything else, when it is better than nothing, on the principle that what an invalid eats willingly, even if unsuitable, may be assimilated better than something much more wholesome that has to be forced.
In all the wasting states live food - or the nearest approach to it, freshly killed food — is most essential. A cat that has almost starved itself to death from weakness and disinclination to feed will sometimes brisk up and eat quite heartily if a freshly killed sparrow or young pigeon is offered to it, and there is something in this food that works wonders: it is Nature’s proscription, exactly suiting the digestive powers. The healthy cat is benefited by the smaller feathers and down which it swallows, but for a sick cat the prey should be plucked or skinned.
Drugs are of little or no use in wasting diseases, as they are so apt to upset the stomach.
Colitis, or a chronic inflammation of the small intestine, is a disease that may affect cats, and kittens weaned too early, and sometimes causes wasting; in this, and in mal-assimilation of food from anaemia, from, obscure stomach trouble, and in certain unusual but possible forms of indigestion, an intestinal antiseptic is very useful. Whenever diarrhoea is one of the symptoms, it will be safe and may be of great use to try one, and the best in many cases is beta-naphthol, given in pill form, and in doses of one-eighth to one-quarter of a grain, two or three times a day. Should it seem to disagree — it is occasionally a little too irritating — -salol in the same or very slightly larger doses can be tried, but only by an owner who has some experience in watching the effect of drugs.
The cat owner, novice or otherwise, is always wise in calling in expert advice directly the case gets in any way beyond kitchen physic, but may be consoled by the reflection that nursing is half the battle, and the very best and cleverest of doctors requires the nurse as an ally in order to fight disease with any chance of success.
Pernicious anaemia, as distinguished from the ordinary anaemia of malnutrition, is a very rare disease, depending upon changes in the blood, and need not be further noticed, as the treatment, by change of air, sunshine, an open-air life, and hyper-nutrition, is the same as that for tubercle already detailed, while medicine should be given under expert guidance only.
Chronic catarrh is not in itself a wasting disease, but it causes great weakness and emaciation in its later stages, and calls essentially for a kitchen physic treatment. It is a very troublesome condition to overcome, and, even if a cure of the constitutional symptoms is made, the patient is left with more or less degeneration of the mucous membranes of the nose and throat, and is always snoring and snuffling to a greater or less extent, but generally most when the weather is cold and damp.
This complaint, vulgarly known as ‘the snuffles,’ is sometimes, as related under ‘Colds,’ a sequel to a bad or neglected cold. But much more often it is only a symptom of the scrofulous diathesis. Many kittens, the offspring of badly fed parents, or those kept in unnaturally heated-up catteries, or those that are themselves the subjects of struma, are born scrofulous. It is these kittens that most often have obstinate ‘bad eyes,’ and these kittens that early fall victims to distemper. If they live — and often, despite their constitutional taint, they do live, because the sufferers from this complaint generally combine with it a sort of tenacity of life that carries them through an astonishing number of the disease-storms that periodically rend their poor little frames - they are generally rather small and thin-limbed, and have pinched faces, nostrils always more or less clogged with purulent secretion, frequent cough, and watery eyes.
Abscesses are a constant scourge to them, and they are apt to have diarrhoea on the smallest excuse of chill or indigestible food.
Two kittens, one strumous and the other constitutionally healthy, may look just the same when they are eight or ten weeks old, and the untainted one has first managed to catch a bad cold, and then has been somewhat neglected; but the snuffles of the latter may, with the open air and feeding-up treatment, be either quite cured or eventually reduced to mere occasional fits of coryza (cold in the head), with rather more and thicker discharge than is normal; while the former will probably always be, ailing. Luckily, as rational feeding becomes more widely practised, strumous kittens are getting much rarer than they used to be.
DISTEMPER AND GASTRITIS.
As in the case of dogs, any virulently contagious disease that quickly claims the victim is sure to be called distemper. The two diseases that are most commonly about, and often follow show exhibits home, thus sharing the onus of the title, are broncho-pneumonia and gastro-enteritis. It is quite practical for the cat owner to lump these together, including a number of their modifications, and a few cases of peritonitis, and call them all distemper, for if distinctions were drawn and diagnosis obtained it would not make any difference, beyond such sort of satisfaction as accrues to accurately minded people from knowing, by post mortem, exactly and precisely what causes death.
A case of any of the above diseases means — firstly, that skilled veterinary assistances absolutely necessary; secondly, that the most careful nursing will be needed, with stringent quarantine precautions; and thirdly, that, after all is said and done, a cat is seldom worth having afterwards.
The catarrhal type of distemper so called is a mild disease compared with the above mentioned, and is only cited because, if cats have a bad cold and bronchitis, some authorities may declare them to have had distemper. This kind of attack does not, naturally, immunise an animal against either of the others; but as a rule, when a cat has pulled through gastro-enteritis, it does not get it again, even though exposed to a subsequent contagion.
The most useful hint that can be given with regard to distemper is that care in the early stage is all-important; and that half the battle lies in keeping up the strength from the very first. In gastro-enteritis there is, to begin with, inflammation of the stomach, which at first makes the cat very dull and quiet, and prompts it to refuse all food. When fed, it is at once sick. But even when this happens, often a tiny modicum of food manages to get digested, though the bulk is rejected.
In the lung diseases classed as distemper there is often an equal disinclination to take food, on account partly of general malaise, partly of heightened temperature, and partly because the nerves of the stomach may be exacerbated. In this latter case there is always a painful restlessness.
Until the surgeon comes to make his diagnosis and prescribe, the safe course will be, in all these cases, to put the oat in a very cosy warm room, where it cannot find a draught to lie in, if possible keeping it quite off the floor. The body should be wrapped in flannel, neatly sewn on, and very small quantities of concentrated nourishment should be given frequently. Thus the patient may have a small teaspoonful of Brand’s essence; two hours later two teaspoonfuls of Bengers’ food or raw meat juice, with a few drops of brandy if there is much weakness; two hours later again two teaspoonfuls of warm milk mixed with white of egg, to which a pinch of bicarbonate of soda has been added; then beaten yolk of egg and brandy or port wine, and so on.
This expectant treatment alone, without drugs or diagnosis, has been successful in pulling through bad cases, and, in any event, it is much better to avoid medicine altogether than to give the wrong thing. After-care in these cases is most important, and when the patient is out of the doctor’s hands it must still be very assiduously looked after.
The despairing question, ‘But how are we to know when puss has the distemper?’ is inevitable, but impossible to answer. The most skilled observer cannot tell, at the onset whether a cat has gastritis, or gastro-enteritis, or merely a bad chill. It is by carefully noticing every symptom as it occurs during the first day or two of illness, recording these, and then getting a skilled opinion, that we must arrive at the truth. Of course there are some unmistakable signs. If a cat first vomits — that is, brings up with a rush the whole contents of the stomach — and then retches several times at intervals, bringing up at first bright yellow stuff that gradually, changes to a dark green fluid, it is certainly bilious. It may only be having a common attack of slight congestion of the liver, and after the sickness has passed off, and also the shivering chilliness usually accompanying it, the patient will suddenly become hungry, and its troubles will end there.
On the other hand, the liver upset may be only the preliminary to more serious illness, in which case the patient will go on getting worse. But directly the doctor comes, if he is told that there has been bilious sickness, as distinguished from the frothy white sickness of stomach trouble, he will be able to form an opinion at once, and to prescribe much more satisfactorily than if he had been obliged to guess at the early symptoms. For this reason, among many others, always at once shut up and isolate an ailing cat in a comfortable, warm place, and begin to nurse it at the very commencement of its illness.
Gastritis is a dreadful and most fatal complaint, with a very bad prognosis in all animals attacked by it with severity, and especially in cats, which, charming as they are, are usually most intractable patients. The worst feature of the disease is the spasmodic retching that immediately follows the ingestion of any food, liquid or solid. The lining membranes of the stomach are inflamed, and they will not tolerate any contents, not even the mucus they themselves secrete. This, even if nothing has been taken in the way of food or drink, is vomited as it collects, coming up as a whitish slimy froth.
It is natural and proper for the stomach to secrete when food is taken, but quite contrary to health for the mucoid secretions to be vomited up without food accompanying; and the only advantage, if it has any, of the occurrence is that the disease can be easily diagnosed. The inflamed condition of the stomach creates a spurious thirst, which is very severe.
The cat, if allowed, will sit over the water-bowl drinking languidly but persistently, and only leave it to bring up what has been drunk, then returning to drink again. Of course the patient must be fed somehow, and is usually forced to take very small quantities of highly nutrient substances, as in other illnesses where appetite fails, choosing always such foodstuffs as irritate the least possible. The raw white of egg with just a trace of the yolk will sometimes be kept down better than anything else.
But I believe that cases of gastritis would often do better if the stomach were from the first given rest in favour of nutrient enemata. These, when undertaken by amateurs, are almost always too bulky, which causes their rejection. The doctor in attendance may be asked whether he will not give his consent to the patient having first an injection of plain tepid water, and as soon as this has washed out the lower intestine, a very small nutrient injection of raw meat juice or raw egg.
Sometimes the addition of a few drops of good brandy helps the retention of the nutrient. These enemata are not, or should not be, given by means of a syringe, but by a glass funnel and long rubber tube of rather small calibre — about half that of the tube of an ordinary Higginson syringe. The nozzle of the tube is soft and flexible, and should be well greased with white vaseline.
After it has been introduced, the funnel is held up and the nutrient substance in it flows gently down the tube and into the intestinal canal.
No pain or disturbance is caused, and it is really easier to feed a sick cat in this way than by the mouth. At the same time these nutrients, though excellent in their way and for a time, do not nourish the whole system in at all the same way as food normally ingested, and directly the acute stomach inflammation subsides very small doses — they really are such — of invalid food should be given by the mouth.
What people usually do when stomach trouble first becomes evident is to give a large dose of castor oil, and this generally finishes a kitten or weakly young cat, directly or indirectly, by increasing the inflammation and carrying it on into the intestine—gastro-enteritis.
The pain in this latter disease is very severe, but cats nearly always bear bad pain in silence. The head is tucked down and the coat stares in points like camel’s-hair brushes, and the patient resists movement — that is all we see. The cat would look much the same if it had an abscess or any other painful affection. There will, however, have been, probably, some history of gastric disturbance, and in any case a clever veterinary surgeon can easily diagnose the dreadful and most frequently fatal disease.
Hypodermic injections of morphia are often useful in these cases, and bismuth is the most commonly used drug for internal administration by the amateur, but I purposely refrain from suggesting drug treatment, as all such cases should be specialised and treated on their own merits by someone qualified and on the spot. Amateur, rough-and-ready, or experimental treatment causes far too much suffering where pain is already intense.
Milk diet is often ordered, but milk is too bulky in proportion to its nutriment, and quantity is just the thing to avoid putting into the gastritis patient. A little absolutely pure cream mixed with an equal quantity of plasmon (milk powder) solution — e.g. plasmon gently cooked in water to the thickness of thin cream, as recommended in the leaflet enclosed in the boxes of this useful substance — and with a pinch of bicarbonate of soda added, will be much better than plain cow’s milk. It should be given quite cold, as should all foods in these cases, and the quantity given at one time should not exceed two teaspoonfuls.
In conclusion, it cannot be too strongly impressed upon the cat owner that, whether with cats or kittens, the onset of illness should not be met by giving strong or irritant purgatives.
The panacea, the heal-all, of some catteries is, I know, castor oil, and other owners fly to Epsom salts. In nine cases out of ten this fetish of ‘clearing out’ is a terribly false god and disaster follows: congestion is advanced to inflammation, inflammation is increased, and the patient is tortured, firstly by the struggle against the nauseous draught, and afterwards by fourfold pains. In the remaining case the ‘clearing out’ does do some good, but not so much as would have been effected with half the struggle and no pain at all by a rectal injection of pure olive oil. This can never do any harm, and it is healing and soothing to a remarkable degree — as comforting as castor oil is irritating.
Bicarbonate of soda, when used for any medicinal purpose, such as mixing with the milk or cream — in the retention of which it is a great help — should be procured from the very best chemists only, as it varies greatly in quality and only the best is efficacious. It is so exceedingly cheap that no one need grudge its highest price!
WOUNDS, ACCIDENTS, AND EMERGENCY APPLIANCES.
The most common accident to a cat is to have its ears torn in fighting, and the next in frequency is, perhaps, for country cats to be caught in a trap, a misfortune usually resulting in injury to the legs. It is not unusual for a cat to lose a foot after being in a trap, which is, of course, very distressing.
Amateur surgeons cannot do much in serious accidents beyond keeping the wound clean and applying temporary bandages, or splints if there is a fracture. If a cat comes in with a clean cut, such as might be made by glass on the top of a wall, the best thing to do is to wash the wound, using warm water coloured bright pink with permanganate of potash, just bathing it sufficiently to make sure there are no splinters in it. Then allow it to bleed a little (the object of bathing with warm water as against cold is that the bleeding may not be entirely checked), and if it is in a place possible to be bandaged, bind it up with a simple strip of aseptic gauze, so that the blood dries on the cut, and then paint the gauze over with collodion.
Of course, if a cut is deep, and particularly if it happens to be in the flank, a place where barbed wire or glass not unfrequently does do cats a mischief, it may be necessary to put in a stitch, and, until the surgeon can be fetched to do this, we must not let the cat bleed too much, and if the haemorrhage is profuse a very cold antiseptic lotion should be used.
But simple clean cuts about the legs heal better ‘in the blood,’ so to speak, than when dressed in any other way. The blood of a healthy person or animal has very strong aseptic properties.
To check violent haemorrhage, anyone with a slight knowledge of anatomy would make pressure with the fingers or with a tourniquet above the injury in such a way as to close the large vein or artery from which the blood is either flowing steadily (from the vein) or spouting in jets (from the artery). Arterial bleeding is, of course, very dangerous, and soon drains away the life.
A tourniquet is a simple means of arresting serious haemorrhage in the limbs, one of the first things learned by those who attend ambulance classes, and consists in effect of any kind of bandage put round the limb and tightened by twisting round a stick or any small article, such as a penholder, that has been slipped in between the leg and the bandage. ‘First aid’ is quite as useful knowledge to the animal lover as to the humanitarian, and sure to come in handy sooner or later.
It is not a good thing to let a cat lick its wounds, the old idea that the tongue heals being a fallacy. It is much more likely to make the wound septic — in popular parlance to cause it to fester and discharge. If the patient takes off the bandage and persists in teasing a wound, a wire-cage muzzle is the only remedy, and it is worthwhile to subject puss to this rightly resented ignominy for a day, or two if we can thereby get a wound of any importance to heal by first intention.
By this is meant that quick healing of the, two surfaces together, and of the skin simultaneously as opposed to healing by granulation beginning at the bottom of the wound and gradually filling it up to the surface with fresh tissue. This latter process is what takes place where lacerated wounds or deep cuts have been neglected or have not healed kindly at once. Wounds healing by granulation may at any time become septic, and secrete and discharge pus; and when in this state there is always the possibility of this unwholesome or septic pus being absorbed into the blood and causing severe illness or death from blood-poisoning.
Lacerated wounds should be well bathed with any antiseptic lotion except carbolic, which does not suit cats, and then dusted with chinosol or euthymol or boracic powder; and the patient must be restrained from touching them. Wounds of the under eyelid are not uncommon after a fight between cats, and a stitch is often needed here, or in some cases the surgeon may use strips of gauze, rendered aseptic by sublimate or otherwise, laid on the surface of a wound whose edges are well together, and painted over with collodion. Where a paw has been caught in a trap and is partly severed, the patient should be seen by a skilled practitioner without any loss of time, as it may sometimes be possible to save the limb in its entirety, when to the unskilled eye the wound looks hopeless for anything but amputation.
All owners of several cats, and, indeed, all homes in which any animals are kept as pets, should have some small supply of dressings and medicaments in store in case of accidents, especially in the country, where a pet cat that gets into a trap or meets with some injury may at any time come home needing instant attention.
As regards drugs for internal administration, the cats’ medicine-chest can scarcely be too simple, for the possession of a row of neat bottles only tempts the cat owner, to make experiments with these, and the pernicious habit of drugging in driblets always brings, misfortune.
But in many well-ordered houses there is an absolute lack of the most common necessaries of household surgery. A shelf in the cattery, if it boasts a cupboard, or one in any such handy place, should be stocked, and then kept under lock and key - always with the proviso that the key is to be easily accessible. If left open, stores of this kind have a most marvellous knack of disappearing! No one takes them - the household in general only ‘borrow’ a bit of plaster or a scrap of lint, forgetting to replace the roll afterwards. The housemaid finds a fragment of nice soft lint excellent for cleaning brown boots, and the cook’s cut finger accounts for the plaster. Even the impeccable ‘herself’ is not above finding the cats’ cupboard useful in human surgical emergencies, which is certainly no argument against it.
The contents should include a clinical thermometer, two or three enamelled iron basins of different sizes and shapes, one deep and one shallow, and one of the open flat shape of a photographic developing dish - indeed a celluloid developing dish itself, full plate size, will1 well answer the purpose, that of receiving instruments or sponges to be rendered aseptic — several small sponges, sterilised cotton-wool, a tiny sponge on a bone handle, called an aurilave, a Higginson syringe, a glass funnel with long tube of soft pliant rubber, several soft old towels, a rubber hot-water bottle (useful for putting in the box with newly born kittens should any delay keep their mother from them, and may also be of service in-severe illness such as pneumonia or gastro-enteritis with collapse), a small rubber bottle-shaped syringe with a flat base, for eye lotions, a roll of thin bandage, one of lint, and one of sal-alembroth or absorbent gauze, a block of half-inch linen tape, a large bottle of methylated spirits, and one of pure olive oil, a bottle of collodion and camel’s-hair brush, a pair of dressing forceps, a good pair of scissors, a roll of diachylon plaster, and one of some stronger and more adhesive plaster spread on chamois leather, and, finally, a strong woollen table-cloth or blanket.
Some permanganate of potash crystals should be kept in a box ready to make a solution at a moment’s notice, for washing wounds, etc., and small tins of chinosol powder and boracic powder should also be in store.
All this paraphernalia, though it sounds rather imposing, need cost but little. The Higginson syringe, in white seamless rubber, costs from 2s. 9d. to 3s. 6d., and should always be hung up when not in use, first being washed out with plain water. If coiled up or kept in a box the rubber perishes much more quickly, and nothing is more tiresome than to find a syringe, perhaps fetched in haste to a case of obstruction, kinked or blocked so that it will not work.
The india-rubber hot-water bottle, in an oblong flat shape, 10x8 inches, costs. 3s. 6d., and should have a thick flannel washable case made for it; what is known as cricketing flannel is the best material, or white frieze.
The scissors should be what are called nurses’ blunt-pointed scissors, price about 2s., and the most generally useful forceps is that known as a splinter forceps, price 1s. 1d. If the novice wishes to be very businesslike, a regular pair of dressing forceps, like Scissors as to the handles, and with corrugated jaws, may be added, but they are not often wanted. The antiseptic powder, for dusting over wounds, etc., should be kept in a small wooden box called a dredger, price about 9d., and it is thus all ready at short notice.
The ordinary cheap enamelled iron basins, preferably white, are most useful and extremely cheap. One deep round one, about six inches across, and one open shallow round one, about double that diameter, will only cost 6d. each. The cotton-wool, sterilised, is generally sold in packages costing about 7d. for a quarter of a pound, and the only fault of the boxes or tubes in which we get it is that some of them are so tightly and neatly arranged that it is impossible to pull the wool out in a hurry.
The gauze for dressing, laying over wounds, etc., which may be either alembroth, boracic, or plain absorbent, as the cat owner prefers, costs at stores prices respectively 10d. and 9d. for a packet of six yards, while boracic lint is 6d. for a quarter of a pound.
Colton-net bandages, two and a half inches wide are 2-and-ha’penny a yard, and bleached cotton ones, which are stronger, cost 8d. a dozen yards if they: are one inch wide or one bandage, three yards long, costs 1d. The two-inch width, at exactly doubler the price, is also often useful in cats’ accident cases.
The clinical thermometer, which is the most indispensable of all the medicine cupboard’s contents, may either be a ‘human’ one, or one specially prepared for veterinary use. The latter is preferable, because it has the cats’ normal temperature marked on it, so that the most forgetful owner cannot go wrong when assessing puss’s condition of febrile disturbance or normality. These veterinary thermometers are made by Messrs. F. Pizzala and Company, 388 City Road, London, E.C., and the four-inch size, which is the most suitable for our present purpose, costs 1s. 6d. They are marked for other animals besides cats, but that is of no consequence.
Attention must be paid to the length of time the thermometer takes to register. Some human clinical thermometers nominally arrive at the correct temperature, after they are introduced, in half a minute, some in one minute, some in two minutes; those which take longest have, as a rule, the largest and clearest figures, and are most easy to read, but those which record most quickly are the most practical in use. Veterinary surgeons almost invariably take the cat’s temperature rectally, but the owner will probably prefer to do so by putting the thermometer in between the cat’s thigh and the body, and keeping the leg well pressed down over it, so that the two surfaces touch, with the thermometer between. This is accurate enough if he animal keeps still, and if the thermometer is kept in situ well beyond the time it is said to occupy in registering the temperature.
Reading a very small, fine, short-time thermometer often puzzles the novice, so it is better to have a good, clear, rather large one to begin with. The mercury rises in the tube precisely as in the ordinary flat thermometer used for rooms or baths, but in so very minute a thread in the small examples as to be only just visible, and there are puzzling reflections from the glass and figures.
Permanganate of potash has been suggested as a very cheap and generally useful substance to use in solution as a disinfectant or antiseptic lotion, but it has the fault of staining and colouring dark brown everything it touches if a few grains are dropped or used in excess. When a solution is hastily made in a basin, for instance, the smallest possible pinch of the dark red crystals is dropped in and cold or warm water added. The crystals mostly dissolve instantly, but there are always two or three at least which try to lurk at the bottom, dissolving later, and, unless watched, perhaps making the solution finally too strong, or else coming up with the sponge in a partially dissolved state, and staining the fingers of the operator.
Chinosol makes a good, safe, and useful antiseptic lotion, especially delicate and very efficacious. It can be had in compressed tablets at 10-and-ha’penny a bottle, and these are to be dissolved in water for use.
As regards sponges, the penny slate sponges some stationers keep are useful, or, in a very well-ordered cattery surgery, those sold at Harrod’s Stores as aseptic sponges, six in a box for 1s. 6d., may be preferred, and they are certainly very neat and handy.
A spirit stove is always a useful thing to have in the cattery medicine cupboard, with a small tin kettle of the flat, round shape that boils quickly, and also a little saucepan.
One of the lock-to-the-wall patent match-boxes is a luxury that may be found intensely convenient.
A Clarke’s food-warmer, with a box of Pyramid lights, is indispensable if there are many kittens to be reared, and saves trouble in feeding the mother for the first day while warm gruel is her diet.
It may seem absurd to make such a collection of appliances for a few cats which may never be ill at all. But there is satisfaction in the knowledge that if illness or accident does fall suddenly on the cattery, there will be no wild hurry- scurry to find this, that, and the other urgently needed. All the things mentioned are such as can be utilised for other animals or human beings.
Only two precautions against fate remain to be suggested —firstly, in the provision of a bottle of symp of chloral, to be given in case of strychnine poisoning. Apomorphia, in solution of one grain to one teaspoonful of distilled water, with half a grain of boracic acid, is a splendid preparation to keep for the same purpose if someone can be found capable of giving five to ten drops of it as a hypodermic injection, when it is more certain and more quickly efficacious as a strychnine antidote than anything else, and has been recommended as such by leading authorities on veterinary medicine. The other emergency drug that it is well worth while to keep in any good-sized town cattery, and certainly in any country one, is the Parke Davis Chlor-anodyne, which will relieve abdominal pains of any kind, except, of course, those of parturition, which are natural, and must not be interfered with.
This preparation is most useful for diarrhoea and dysentery from chill, and may be given every four hours to adult cats in doses of from two to three drops in a small teaspoonful of water with a few drops of wine or brandy. Kittens may have one to two drop doses. The preparation is not always obtainable from country druggists, but can easily be procured by them from the proprietors, Messrs. Parke Davis and Company, 111 Queen Victoria Street, London, E.C. Finally, it will not be superfluous to say that plaster, lint, gauze, and bandages should be kept in an air-tight tin, or, at any rate, in one that shuts firmly, excluding all dust and moisture. They will then be in a proper condition for application to wounds.
Before touching a wound, any instrument that is to be used, and also the hands of the operator, should be washed in methylated spirit and afterwards in a weak permanganate or a chinosol solution. It may seem faddy and wearisome to take so much trouble, but if what is called surgical cleanliness is preserved at the beginning, enormous saving of future misery for both patient and nurse results. The most ghastly-looking wounds, if rendered aseptic by cleaning and washing with antiseptic lotion, and then properly dressed with aseptic materials over a dusting of chinosol, boracic, or euthymol powder, will heal with marvellous rapidity.
These powders are only some of the available agents of the kind, and are mentioned as being useful and innocent. Iodoform powder, which is a great favourite with some surgeons, is a little apt to be absorbed, and if used in too great amount, or on some specially susceptible subjects, may cause poisoning by absorption, and therefore the amateur surgeon is safer without it except in the case of very small wounds. None of the antiseptic agents should be licked, but chinosol is non-poisonous if the animal does manage to get at it.
Sometimes we may find a cat with a sluggish wound that will not heal. This is particularly the case with wounds of the tail and ears, especially if they have begun with an eczematous sore that has been worried by attrition, and by the patient’s constantly licking or shaking it. A low, anaemic condition is most favourable to sluggish wounds, as it is to indolent ulcers. It may be necessary to put the tail in splints, or to make the cat wear a cardboard collar, shaped like a saucer, with a hole in the middle for the head, which veterinary surgeons call, with apposite irony, an Elizabethan collar.
Splints should only be used under medical orders, as there may occur mischief under them, unnoticed by the inexperienced, so severe as to end in gangrene or blood poisoning. But the indolent wound must, if it is in any way possible, be carefully protected, though bandages should not be too tight, and should be undone every day to see that all is going on as it should.
A healthy wound is bright red, but an unhealthy one is livid and bluish, with matter or pus oozing from it; and wherever pus is observed, there is reason for the greatest care and most solicitous attention. A neglected wound, however, will brighten up wonderfully after two or three dressings, thorough cleansing with an antiseptic lotion, dusting with antiseptic powder, and the touching up of its sloughy edges with nitrate of silver. Obstinately indolent wounds sometimes yield to a daily application of a weak solution of the colourless iodine, which may be painted over them with a camel’s hair brush, but the edges, if the wound is of any size, should be treated first.
If a cat has had a shock, such as a blow producing a wound, or has been operated on, as the vulgar saying has it, ‘with the knife,’ it often will not eat, and care must be taken that it is not allowed to run down from lack of food, but is fed forcibly by the mouth, or given nutrient enemata for a day or two.
The glass funnels used for giving nutrient injections are procurable of instrument makers, or they can be bought very cheaply at many photographic dealers. The tubing, which is very soft and flexible, must be bought at the instrument- maker’s shop; it should, for cattery purposes, be about 18 inches long. One end is pushed over the nozzle of the funnel, and the other has a blunt point with a few holes in it.
Like all appliances used in nursing, this tubing must be kept perfectly clean, surgically clean, as regards the point, if it is to be used for different patients. To be surgically clean means to be aseptic, and to be aseptic means that there has been such thorough cleansing with a bactericide or germ-killer, that no bacteria or germs remain alive, and the article cleaned is then said to be sterilised. Methylated spirit, of which the cattery surgery has a supply, is one of the very best germicides; it, and a solution of methylene blue, are used in major operations on human beings for cleaning and sterilising the skin of the part to be operated upon. If, after use, the appliances are first washed in methylated spirit and then in water coloured pink with permanganate of potash, and carefully dried, there will be no risk of conveying any infection or contagion by them from one cat to another.
Carbolic lotions, which are generally recommended for disinfecting after illness in a cattery, are excellent for use in large quantities where it is a case of washing out houses and baskets, boxes and sleeping-places, and for such purposes nothing is better than izal, which is pleasant and economical in use, and absolutely reliable. But for any direct or indirect personal applications to a cat’s body, no carbolic derivative should be used, for, as has been mentioned before, cats are antipathetic to carbolic acid, and it may poison them if absorbed in the smallest degree. Creosote and all other tar derivatives, also, are contra-indicates, and we are, in the cattery, cut off from employing what in ordinary veterinary practice is very useful, or at any rate very much used, a tar-water lotion for some eczemas.
Of course it is neither possible nor necessary to make any attempt at keeping all the surroundings of a wounded patient aseptic. So long as the wound itself has been rendered so, and is then properly covered with a dressing and bandage, the patient does not run any risk from moving about in the ordinary way and surroundings. A sick-room, if the wound is of a nature — a broken leg, for instance — to make it desirable to confine the cat to one room, should be kept very clean and airy, though comfortable and by no means draughty, but it need not be fumigated or disinfected or anything of that kind. Even in abdominal cases after operation, which are the cases requiring the most scrupulous precaution, it is quite enough to wash over the floor, which should be covered in all cattery rooms with oil-cloth, or cork carpet, with soap and water.
APPLIANCES OTHER THAN MEDICAL.
Some owners of pets are never so happy as when they are devising some treat or comfort for their favourites. Cats, unfortunately, once their houses, if they have them, are planned and built and provided within with such fittings as have been already mentioned, do not give much scope for further generosity. They are too independent to care much, as a rule, about the baskets that dogs like, and usually prefer to choose their own cosy corners. They generally like to lie on something well above the floor, which is fortunate and wise, for we, who do not use it, have little conception of the extreme discomfort it offers as an abiding-place. Anyone who doubts that the floor is a constant meeting-place for draughts from every imaginable quarter should try lying down on it — without a cushion — for half an hour, when he will certainly arise, if not with a bad earache, at least with altered convictions.
In houses where there are thick skin mats outside every door, it is not, of course, so airy on the floor as where the cold draught rushes in unchecked — and the draught is cold, even in summer, because a room is nearly always much warmer than the passage or hall outside — but there are always some currents playing about, whether they come from under the skirting boards, or through the cracks in the floor boards, or down the chimney. A table, or the arm of a chair, or the window-seat, is generally a cat’s chosen place, and lined baskets are often adopted if they are put in one of the favourite corners.
If a cat is fond of sitting at the window, care should be taken to put a sandbag or a cushion there if necessary, for in some houses a most terrific draught rushes up under the lower sash, or in between the halves of a casement. Few animals will move away from a place they like because there is a draught there, and yet they suffer, nearly if not quite as much as we do ourselves, from such exposures.
The ordinary round open dogs’ baskets, in the smaller sizes, are very nice for cats, especially if softly lined with some gay woollen stuff. Some cats show a most distinct liking for bright colours, though it is probably not for this reason that they will often pull about the flowers in vases. In this latter respect a petted neuter, accustomed to amuse himself at his own sweet will about the house, is often quite a tyrant. He may specially like or dislike some particular kind of flower, and if, for example, roses are his penchant or his béte-noire, will invariably drag them all out of the vases, bite them up, and scatter them about the room. This may sometimes be from a desire, in town cats, for grass or some green thing answering the same purpose, but it is done by cats living in the country, who can easily obtain all they want.
It is a very good plan for the pet cats of a household to be fed in the dining-room at mealtimes, and in their own dishes, as this ensures their having their food regularly and in clean utensils. If they are fed by servants in the kitchen, it usually means that they lick all the plates, which is not good from any point of view, One cat, too, may be a very slow and delicate feeder, while another is greedy and ravenous: differences like this are rarely noted in the kitchen, and the dainty pet suffers in favour of the glutton. The heavy, little, round, earthenware dishes marked ‘Pussy’ are apt to excite risibility and even a mild contempt in the non-enthusiast of cats, but they are desirable, because it is impossible to divert them from their own particular purpose; they cannot appear undetected on the table containing a pudding! Also, they are durable and easily kept clean. Cats are naturally dainty feeders, and should not be fed anyhow: they are mannerly animals, deserving of consideration in this respect.
Collars, which are desirable for short-hairs, cannot be worn by long-haired cats, because they spoil the frill. But it is often useful to have a bell on the cat, though not for the proverbial purpose. When it comes to bedtime, and the cherished favourite is illegally absent, a chilly and weary half-hour of searching the garden can often be avoided if puss can be traced by her tinkle. A small silver bell on a thin silver chain will do the frill no harm, and be frequently of service. The small round bells like those on a baby’s rattle are suitable, or the Burlington Arcade in London is a happy hunting-ground for the cat owner desirous of more recondite adornments for pussy’s neck. The chain, or collar, must never be very loose, otherwise the cat may strangle itself if it gets its paw in between the neck and the circlet.
Short-hairs-look well in narrow, coloured, leather collars, and these allow the owner’s name and address to be engraved on them, as some safeguard against loss. If a ribbon is used to suspend any ornament round a cat’s neck, it should first be firmly knotted at the back of the neck, and then tied in a bow, as by this means it is much less likely to come undone.
A useful appliance for an establishment, where several queens are kept, and kittens often expected, is an artificial foster-mother. Opinions differ a good deal as to the amount of success obtainable in rearing kittens entirely by the aid of these ingenious things, but there is no doubt that they may often save lives that would otherwise have been inevitably forfeit. There are two or three patterns of patent foster-mothers, but the principle in all is the same: a round or bolster-shaped receptacle, heavy, enough for the kittens to pull against, in which warm milk is put, to be drawn off through teats fixed where the kittens can easily hold them. One patent has a very ingenious bit of soft fluffy fur attached, thus inducing the kitten by means of more realism to believe it is getting its nourishment in quite the right quarter.
ABSCESSES IN THE HEAD AND TOOTHACHE.
Cats are rather subject, to abscesses at the roots of the teeth, and often suffer very severe pain from this cause. The face generally swells, and the cat rubs its head and cries pitifully, and can only eat half liquid or finely minced food. As any interference, with the mouth is hotly resented, these cases are difficult to deal with. The cure is to remove the offending tooth, and if this is not done the patient must suffer agonies until the abscess, as it will eventually do, points externally somewhere in the cheek, and is either lanced or breaks spontaneously. After such an ordeal a cat is always sure to be very weak and much run down, needing a course of iron and a very liberal raw-meat diet.
Abscesses sometimes form in the face and head which have no connection with the teeth but are evidence of a strumous constitution. These cause much less pain than dental or maxillary abscesses, but they are very nasty things, as they show that the patient is constitutionally diseased, and they generally run a very, tedious course. The cat suffering from any kind of abscess must be thoroughly well fed up, and carefully watched by a skilful surgeon, who will know when relief by lancing is possible, and be able to afford it at once. A cat suffering from tuberculous abscess, which sometimes occurs in the glands at the sides of the neck and elsewhere, should be at once destroyed as a hopeless case, a misery to itself and very dangerous to the rest of the world. Small abscesses occurring from some accidental infection, as a bite or scratch, in healthy cats, should be treated by hot fomentations — a small sponge repeatedly steeped in very hot water, squeezed nearly dry, and held on the place — followed by lancing as soon as the abscess comes to a head and points. A little laudanum dropped upon the hot flannel or sponge of the fomentation and held to the place will sometimes help to ease the pain. Abscess in the ear should never be neglected, as regards timely and skilful opening, otherwise the external ear may be de- formed-by the contraction of the healing scar.
GROWTHS AND TUMOURS.
These are fortunately not very, common among cats, but they do occasionally appear, more often about the head than elsewhere. Adenoid growths and polypi may block up the nasal passages, causing apparent snuffles, and there may be growths of a non-malignant nature in the ears. These are sometimes flat at the base and rounded, like a split pea, and sometimes on pedicles or stalks. In the latter case they are much more easily operated upon than in the former, but in all cases where such things have to be removed it is necessary to apply to a clever surgeon, who will, of course, do the operation under an anaesthetic. Chloroform is generally employed, and cats, as a rule, take the anaesthetic well, not being usually afflicted by the after-sickness which makes so much misery for the human subject. The operation for removing adenoids, which are fleshy and very vascular growths, is a troublesome though not a dangerous one, because the nasal passages in the cat are very small and delicate, but it is sometimes absolutely necessary to perform it if the growths interfere with breathing. A cat or kitten with this trouble keeps its mouth open in order to breathe, and often has what seems to be fits of choking and sneezing, and there may also be a certain amount of discharge, usually clear and not foetid. A solution of adrenalin (Parke Davis formula), 1 in 2000 (which means one part of adrenalin to 2000 parts of distilled water), should be made and a few drops thrown into the nostrils with a nasal injector (from any chemist), in all cases where there is doubt as to whether the kitten or cat is only suffering from a chronic cold (catarrh) or is the subject of adenoids. This treatment, kept up once daily for a week or two, may cure the case, and should be given the chance to do so. The adrenalin acts by driving away the blood from the mucoid surface, and blanching it, and is a splendid preparative for use before operation, as it prevents haemorrhage. It is also very efficacious in catarrh and coryza (the early stage of catarrh, called a common cold), but as it is a very powerful remedy, it should only be used, for the first time or two, until the operator of the nasal syringe or injector knows exactly how to do it, under skilled supervision.
Comparatively few veterinary surgeons take sufficient interest in their feline patients to trouble about such niceties of practice as the employment of this and other up-to-date drugs, and they often think it not worthwhile to save a cat pain by using the more or less expensive formulae, unless the owner insists.
But there is great interest, to the true lover of animals, in adapting to their use the modifications of surgical and medical practice that so mercifully obviate pain in the human subject. Once upon a time no human being — and not so long ago — could be eased by anaesthetics; then human subjects had them, but animals went without; now nearly all veterinary surgeons use them as a matter of course; and no doubt in time it will be a constant study to avoid giving any pain or even inconvenience at all to animals, as to man. For small growths on pedicles in the ear — which are best removed, although they not infrequently recur, because they may make the cat deaf; and even if this is not considered a matter of consequence, the presence of one is apt to lead to more — a local anaesthetic such as cocaine is often enough. Those which are not pedunculated, but are, as it were, involved in the substance of the internal ear, are best left alone.
The removal of any growth which, after it once appears, remains stationary, is not often urgent; if the size does not increase perceptibly, the growth is almost certainly a benignant one. But if a lump, appearing anywhere about a cat’s face or head, or pushing out the eye from its socket, or indeed anywhere else, rapidly enlarges, it is probably a form of cancer, and the only remote chance of cure lies in removing it completely and immediately, before it involves structures that cannot be excised.
Any growth that rapidly deforms the face or mouth is almost certainly hopeless from the first. Such things sometimes spring from a tooth-socket, and cats with bad teeth should be avoided as purchases, no matter how beautiful otherwise. Small fatty tumours on the mammae of queens are not uncommon, and unless they are unsightly should be left alone.
It cannot do any harm, when a small lump first appears anywhere, to paint it with strong tincture of iodine, and this may disperse it. If a pale chinchilla or light-coloured cat is in question, disfiguring by staining can be avoided by using the colourless iodine, which is easily procurable.
Cysts, which are tumours or swellings containing water or a thin gelatinous substance, sometimes appear on the external ears or the gums of cats. They should be treated with iodine, and if they do not yield to being painted therewith, a surgeon will inject iodine into them. If this fails, they have to be opened, which is a simple and successful operation in skilled hands.
Fortunately internal cancer is almost, if not quite, unknown in cats. But apart from the pain a patient with any external malignant growth often suffers, and the inconvenience it must always endure, a cat with cancer or rodent ulcer, which is an open cancer, should be destroyed rather than submitted to operation, because we do not yet understand how cancer is transmitted, but it is now a conviction with most medical authorities that it is certainly, in some way or other, contagious. Whether the canker on a fruit-tree, that acts in precisely the same way to its host, has anything in common with the cancer of an animal, or whether the animal’s cancer can be imparted to a human being, is very uncertain. But there are very strong arguments in favour of the latter theory, at any rate, and when we consider how very unlikely it is that the malignant disease, having once fastened on its victim, will ever be completely eradicated, and how few chances the patient has even if we submit it to early operation, we must conclude that anything in the shape of a malignant tumour should be the signal for euthanasia.
After all, animals have nothing to dread in dying – a most consoling reflection in the loss of our pets.
There will sometimes be seen in the corner of a cat’s or kitten’s eye a red swelling, which may cause great alarm. This, however is nothing serious as a rule, and soon yields to a boracic lotion. The fold of membrane at the inner corner of the eye, which is supposed to be a relic of what is called in creatures possessing it to perfection the nictitating membrane, to be drawn all over the eye at will, inflames, and becomes enlarged. This is sometimes the consequence of a cold, and sometimes follows nest opthalmia in kittens. If it persists, a very slight operation may be needed, but it is very unusual for it to do so.
This tiresome disease is not infrequently seen in cats, and may be picked up by them in course of their rambles, from other cats, from dogs, or in some stable, as badly kept horses often suffer from it. It is not difficult to diagnose, which is more than can be said for most skin diseases. What characterises it is the appearance of small round bare places, no bigger to begin with than shot, but rapidly enlarging. There is no soreness, though there may be slight redness in the centre, but on looking closely it will be seen that the stumps of the broken-off hairs are clearly visible in the skin. The disease is a fungoid one.
The best remedy is to paint the spots directly they are seen, with the strongest tincture of iodine, using a short camel’s-hair brush and rubbing the iodine well into the skin with it, and also going beyond the edge of the patch all round. Two or three applications at twenty-four hours’ interval generally effect a cure. Cats’ ringworm is exceedingly contagious to other animals, but does not affect human beings, so no uneasiness need be felt on that score.
CONGESTION AND CANKER IN THE EARS
Congestion, which if neglected goes on to inflammation, and the inflammatory discharging condition of the membrane lining the outer and middle ear that is known as canker, is a very common trouble of cats. It arises in the first place generally from cold, and a kitten o cat may get it by lying in a draught, just as a child gets temporary congestion and has earache from a similar cause. It is brought about, also, by lying near a hot fire and then going out into the cold. It may also occur spontaneously if the cat is a little below par.
In its earlier stages it is very easily cured. The inside of the ear appears rather red, and if the trouble is of any standing, there may be some dark brown discharge visible, which is partly dried or inspissated pus.
In very bad cases, where the trouble has been allowed to spread and attack the middle ear, there will be a great deal of this dark brown half-dry substance, and also some exuding yellow pus, and severe pain. At an early stage the cat shows discomfort by shaking its head, holding it on one side, and scratching at the ear, with occasional little cries of pain while doing so. A small lump of boracic ointment, about the size of the top of a lead pencil, should be taken on the, tip of the little finger, and put down as far as possible, with extreme gentleness, into the ear passage. The back of the root of the ear, outside, should then be very gently kneaded, so as to encourage the ointment to melt downwards into the meatus as far as possible.
Next day take a very soft bit of clean cambric rag over the tip of the little finger, or a little rolled pledget of soft septic cotton-wool, and wipe-Out the ear with it. Repeat the insertion of the boracic ointment, and on the following day the ear will very likely be found clean and free from discharge; but if not, the whole process must be continued until there is an improvement.
Nineteen cases out of twenty yield at once to this very simple treatment, but it is sometimes, necessary to resort to the alternative plan of using a lead lotion. To a wineglassful of distilled water add a teaspoonful of Goulard's extract of lead. Put this mixture into, a small phial, and before using any of it for the ear warm it well by standing the phial in a basin of very hot water. It must never be used cold, because cold applications into so intensely sensitive an organ as the ear are likely to cause considerable pain, if not to do permanent mischief.
Get someone to -hold the cat, its body and legs firmly rolled up in a woollen table-cloth or a large Turkish towel, on its side, and pour a few drops of the warmed lotion — not too hot, of course, but just at blood heat — into the ear. The patient must still be firmly held for several minutes succeeding, as it will manifest its objection to the proceeding very vigorously if released too soon, and before its feelings have calmed down.
No pain whatever is caused when the lotion is at the proper warmth, but the sensation, fleeting as it is, of moisture in the ear is one of which both dogs and cats are generally most intolerant. A few daily repetitions of the lead lotion will usually cure any case, but in some cats who have a constitutional tendency towards local inflammations, the congestion returns from time to time, always yielding, however, without much trouble, to treatment. No doubt some counsellor will not be lacking to insist that ‘too much meat’ is the cause of this, as of any skin disease that may occur, but a deaf ear should be turned to these exponents of a thoroughly disproved old fallacy, that like some other unfounded ideas, originally springing no one knows whence, has a most tenacious hold on popular superstition.
Liver disease of any serious kind is rare among cats, but they not infrequently suffer from temporary congestion of the organ, usually the result of a chill.
Bilious attacks are easily recognised, as the cat shivers, has a low temperature, and brings up first any food that may be in the stomach, and afterwards small quantities of a yellow frothy mixture of mucus and bile. A slight feeling of biliousness generally induces the cat to go out and take an emetic in the shape of grass, and beyond one upbringing of this mixed with yellowish mucus, no signs may be seen, and the attack may pass off as quickly as it came on. Sometimes there is a slight constitutional disturbance, indicated by some diarrhoea along with or after the vomiting and if the attack persists beyond an hour or two, bismuth and soda should be given: 3 grains of carbonate of bismuth, 5 grains of bicarbonate of soda for a full-sized cat, either as a pill or in a capsule. Capsule cases can be bought empty, and filled as desired, which is often a convenience.
The cat’s normal temperature is between 100F and 101F, and kittens may be a few points (not degrees) higher without being ill. If a cat presents the symptoms described and has a temperature of about 99, or a normal one, we may feel pretty sure it has eaten something that has disagreed with it – fat, high game, too much chicken-liver and gizzard, or the like - or has a chill on the liver. The bismuth and soda acts by the former drug’s soothing the stomach and intestine, while the latter sets free any flatulence present.
But sometimes the first dose of soda acts as an emetic, which, if the stomach still retains something it has not been able to get rid of, is an advantage. The pill can be repeated in four hours, and meanwhile the patient should be comforted with quiet and a warm blanket, as a sick headache has the same effect of miserable chilliness on a cat as on a human being.
The absurd fuss some people make about these internal parasites renders it necessary to devote some lines to them, otherwise it might be supposed that their traditional importance was endorsed, though they were not dealt with, by an oversights. The fact about the tapeworms of the cat is briefly this: in a healthy meat-fed cat they never exist in sufficient number to do any harm to their host, and if at any time they seem unduly abundant and cause inconvenience by manifesting themselves as short segments, externally, they can always be got rid .of by a dose of five drops of male fern, given in a capsule (never free as this is a very nasty-tasting drug) before the cat has been fed in the morning.
The dose can be repeated at ten days’ interval, as often as seems desirable, and a course of iron, Parke Davis nucleate of iron tablets, or the saccharated carbonate of iron in five-grain doses once a day on meat, should fill up the intervals and continue for five or six weeks. Cats fed on farinaceous foods, and sloppy milk foods, are sure sooner or later to have worms, and in their ease the same treatment, with a liberal meat diet, will certainly prove quite effectual.
Under no circumstances whatever should young kittens be given worm medicines. It is certainly no exaggeration to say that thousands have been killed by inflammation of the bowels caused by irritant drugs — castor oil, areca nut, santonin, even turpentine and cowhage, and similar mechanical expellants.
If worms are present in any number causing injury in kittens, it is a sign that the mother has been badly fed and managed. The kittens must have especially good nourishing diet, which means the plasmon mixture and the best raw meat, and be given plenty of time to develop and gain strength before such a thing as attacking the worms is thought of.
THE RARER DISEASES AND SOME ABNORMALITIES OF CATS.
There are some diseases of occasional occurrence which need only be briefly mentioned, because they are beyond amateur treatment, though it is as well for the cat owner to be able to recognise them and to understand something of their causation. A cat may, for example, become paralysed in the hind quarters, and the owner should learn that the paralysis is not itself the disease, but a symptom. Paralysis may be brought on by various causes, of which brain disease, diphtheria, and accidental injury to the spine are examples.
When a previously healthy cat drags itself home, obviously ill, and develops paralysis of the hind quarters at once we may safely conclude that it has either jarred or injured the spinal vertebrae, or possibly there is even a fracture.
Perhaps it has been hunted by a dog or boys, or has been in mischief not unconnected with some one’s pigeon-loft or poultry-house, and has had occasion to jump from a very high wall, coming down with violence, and thus doing itself an injury. Perhaps it has received a blow from a stick, or a nip across the loins. In any case it should be taken to a competent veterinary surgeon, and he will be able to assess the damage, It is possible to operate with complete success on fractured vertebrae, and if the injury is less serious, such treatment as rest, with a little sedative medicine at first, and later a nerve tonic such as strychnine, perhaps massage or the electric battery, and the application of a conium ointment by rubbing it in along the spine, will be advised. The brain diseases that bring on paralysis most frequently are abscesses, from a blow on the head or from some obscure cause, and the development of epilepsy.
Stone in the bladder is a painful and harassing disease which is not very uncommon in male and neuter cats, but very seldom affects females.
On the other hand, female cats sometimes have the equally painful disease metritis, or uterine inflammation. It is not, as a rule, seen in those which have had regular litters of kittens, or in those that have been kept altogether from breeding, but affects cats who are, as it were, stopped midway in their production of offspring.
A Cat who has had her yearly litter, but is not old, and is still in full health and condition, may be sold as a pet; her new owner may not wish her to breed, though she is most desirous of doing so, and the result may be metritis, which is characterised by a rapid rise in temperature, swelling of the body, dullness with restless movements indicative of much pain, and a profuse discharge of thick creamy muco-pus.
The treatment consists of rest, douches of warm weak antiseptics of a soothing character locally, and later of astringent antiseptic injections; but the disease is entirely one for the most skilled veterinary surgeon to undertake.
As for stone, it is a disease that is best cured by operation before the patient has time to become weak. The operation, of which there are two forms, is a serious but not very dangerous one, and patients generally make a rapid recovery. The symptoms of the disease are that the cat licks its loin or flank persistently, drags about languidly, sometimes makes quick movements unguardedly and then cries with pain, and there may be some passing of blood.
Cats showing any symptom of this disease, or having once had it, should never be allowed to drink hard water. Distilled water is very cheap — from fourpence to sixpence a gallon — and it does a good deal towards preventing recurrence. Bicarbonate of potash is generally prescribed, and may be given in tabloid form, and also barley water; but directly a cat is seen to be in pain or to pass any blood it should be submitted to an expert’s opinion and treated accordingly.
Difficult confinements in healthy female cats are so unusual that they may be classed among rarer diseases, although, of course, a normal confinement is not an illness at all, but merely a natural function. Occasionally a kitten cannot be born because it presents crosswise, or there may be a dead kitten, perhaps of large size (this is likely to happen if the mother is too young), or the birth may have been delayed by reason of some hysterical agitation on the part of a very nervous animal distressed by being removed or some disturbance. Or the mother may be rather small in build and the kittens’ heads very large. In any or all of these cases, or where help is not at hand, or is unskilful, or the instruments used are not surgically clean, septicaemia (blood- poisoning) may result, and it is sure to be fatal. Where a cat has died from this cause; no other cat should be allowed to kitten in the same house, basket, or room, until a thorough disinfection of all articles used or touched has been made.
Diphtheria is a, terrible disease to which cats are subject, and which they can convey to human beings. All the symptoms of a very sore throat are present, constant efforts at swallowing, stretching out of the neck as if about to be sick, abnormally low or high temperature, according to the stage of the disease, inability to eat, great weakness, staggering, and a look of strained misery in the face. The same remedies as for human diphtheria are indicated — anti-toxin serum, which a veterinary practitioner can procure, and such local applications to the membrane in the throat as nitrate of silver or hydrochloric acid solutions sprayed in, and flowers of sulphur. Whoever attends a cat in this disease runs a risk of catching it, and therefore the most careful precautions should be taken: the mouth and nose of the person performing any operation such as spraying the throat should be covered with a cloth dipped in a carbolic solution or methylated spirit, and the hands should afterwards, be thoroughly washed in the same.
Ill-kept fowls are subject to diphtheria, and a cat may get and spread the disease if it comes in contact with them, a fact not generally known, and a danger unrealised by those who cram a dozen hens into a tiny town back-garden, where, in a six-foot run, there is not proper room for one, and where the damp uncleanliness and stench only unhealthy fowls can create quickly reigns.
Kittens with some abnormality or deformity, Such as absence of lens in the eye, cleft palate, hare-lip, supernumerary limbs, and excess of toes are occasionally born. Operation may remedy the lip or palate, if the kittens can be reared until they are old enough to be operated upon, which is doubtful, because they cannot usually suck properly but only a very remarkable specimen is worth the trouble of thus preserving, and only a very clever surgeon will undertake such delicate operations on such small creatures.
Sometimes people are quite proud of possessing a kitten with a few superfluous toes, and may even imagine that they have founded a valuable strain when these little minor monstrosities continue appearing, but beyond the fact that extra digitation is luckily not common there is nothing in it; it is only one of those eccentricities of prenatal development for which there is no accounting.
Where a cat receives an injury to an eye necessitating its removal, it is possible to insert, with success and without discomfort to the patient, a glass orb; but these imitations never completely deceive, because the socket always contracts after the operation, and therefore the artificial eye invariably looks smaller than the other. In the case of kittens with one imperfectly developed eye there may sometimes be a desire to do something of this kind to improve an otherwise perfect specimen - it is always the perfect ones that do have these blemishes — but it is not worthwhile for the above reasons.
A kitten born blind, or rather, for they are all born blind, born without the capability of sight, may get on wonderfully well, its other senses; developing so as to make up to some extent for its abnormality; but it is really best to destroy any poor little things thus handicapped as it is nearly certain in the end to meet with some accident more or less painful.
A large number of cat owners, who wish to keep more cats than can be about the place at large, do so by haying houses built, in which the stud cats live singly; and queens usually two or three or more together. There are advantages in having a cattery, as the trouble of shutting up queens is avoided: and even where there is no regular cattery it is a very good plan to have one cat-house for the occasional use of queens.
But no novice should set to work to make a start by building a number of houses and filling them with cats, under the impression that this will be a profitable business; As a rule, directly the cats become numerous away flies all profit, either because they cost more to keep properly than they bring in, or because, if economy is studied in feeding them, they fall sick and others follow suit. In a large cattery, if the cats are at all crowded, perpetual illnesses are apt to take away all the pleasure of keeping the cats as pets, and to interfere seriously with hopes of profit. Again, where there are many cats, either the owner must give up her whole time to them or outside help must be obtained, and hirelings very seldom take the same interest in pets as those to whom they belong. Of course it is beyond question that some owners of catteries do make their hobby pay well, but it is probable that this is almost entirely on account of the fees the stud cats bring in. It is not, however, of the least use to expect fees for any but a really first-class stud cat, and he must have won largely or he will not tempt breeders.
Many of the dog-houses sold by good makers, are suitable for cats ; but, on the other hand, some of the patterns, especially among the cheaper houses, are far too draughty, and do not give nearly enough protection from cold.
A cat’s house should always be made of three-quarter inch wood, whereas the cheap houses or kennels and runs are usually constructed of half-inch matchboarding. This is not thick or substantial enough to keep out the cold, though houses of this calibre will do very well if they are ranged under a large shed or put up inside some disused stable or other substantial building. It is, however, better to have good, strong, well-made houses standing out of doors, and well separated, as in this case no contagion is communicable, as it would be if a case of infectious illness occurred in one of several houses under a common roof-tree.
Each house should be in two parts: a cosy bedroom, with a door of access for cleaning out, in the middle of which there should be a pane of clear glass to serve as a window, the door itself being large enough for a person to get in at, and a small door of communication with the other part, which is the run. The latter may have the upper half of one side made of strong small-meshed wire-netting, and for the rest it should be of the same substantial draught-proof character as the bedroom. The side which is half wire should face the south. The house may be either span-roof or lean-to, but should never have a flat roof.
There should be a wide shelf about a foot up in the bedroom, on which puss will appreciate a cotton cushion loosely stuffed with chaff. This shelf is best made removable, so that if the house is to be used for a queen to have kittens in, a three-sided box on the floor can be substituted, as the kittens might fall off any elevated place. Both bedroom and run should have sound wooden floors raised at least eight inches off the ground. A cheap and easy way of raising these houses without any trouble of making foundations, etc., is to stand them on old railway sleepers which are well seasoned, and can easily be cut to length. They are sold by several firms who make poultry and dog houses, and cost a very small price. No houses with open sides, through which the wind can whistle cheerlessly, should ever be used for cats, or, for the matter of that, for any livestock.
Cats dearly love sunning themselves; hence the desirability of making their houses face south. Any heating system in these houses is a mistake. If cats can get sunshine, and their houses are dry and free from draughts, they will be all right, and cold will not hurt them. But directly artificial heat is resorted to they are sure to do more or less badly, and colds and lung complaints are nowhere so rife as in the artificially warmed cattery. Tubercle, too, loves and riots in such an atmosphere.
If there is plenty of space available, it is a good thing to have to each cat-house a further enclosure of wire-netting only, built over growing turf, for constant use in warm summer weather, when the cattery inmates will greatly enjoy their 'gardens,’ in which they may also take a short daily promenade in winter. Failing this, cattery cats must be often given fresh grass, tied in bunches, at which they can bite and pull. They must, of course, have pans or boxes of constantly changed earth, or other substance as preferred, and a branched piece of young tree-trunk should be set up in each house or other enclosed division, as they will much enjoy exercising on it and lying on the branches.
At the best cattery life is dull, the cat being an animal that is often frivolously fond of movement, society, and the pleasures of the chase. Shut-up cats should therefore be given as much amusement as possible, by means of toys and visits from their owner, and variety at meals. Quite a staid old matron is often not at all above playing enthusiastically with a bunch of hens’ feathers tied on a string, and the gift of a fresh duck’s head — cat owners should always make interest for these and the heads of any other birds with their poultryman — means an hour or so of pure bliss.
Cats are of a somewhat gregarious turn of mind, and queens are usually happier two or three together in a house, provided they agree, which must be ascertained, as one domineering animal can make it nearly as disagreeable for the others as must have been the life of that unfortunate member of the feline race once upon a time condemned to act companion and souffve-douleur to a big ape in the Zoological Gardens. The monkey had a hut on the floor of the large cage shared by the ill-assorted couple, and did puss but make essay to move within reach of the door thereof, a long sinewy arm shot forth and dragged her by the tail, miauling and protesting vainly, into the dark recess, whereupon issued dolorous yowls, vainly appealing for rescue.
Sometimes a stud cat of particularly gentle or genial disposition is happier if a kitten is allowed to share his house, but as a rule male cats are best alone. Cattery cats should have a daily grooming, otherwise, if they are long-hairs, they will make themselves ill by swallowing fur, and, needless to say, their houses should be kept perfectly clean and sweet by the most regular attention. Their meals should also be regular, as they soon get to know exactly when they are due, and to look out eagerly for them. Some owners take their stud and cattery cats for walks on a lead, and no doubt this is a pleasant break in the monotony of their lives. Almost any cat can be trained to go on a lead and collar quite nicely, although the feline nature is not so well suited to the process as is that of the dog.
THE DIFFERENT VARIETIES OF CATS.
There were, no doubt, originally two great families of long-haired cats, the European and the Asiatic. But from a time before the memory of any living person these two races have been so mingled that any division or classification is quite impossible. People sometimes talk of Angoras and Persians, as if they could be differentiated, but the Angora was only, in the first place, a local variety or strain, which had a rather heavy locky coat, more like the soft fleece of the Angora goat.
The celebrated old breed of French blue long-haired cats, which the monks of the Chartreuse made an article of profitable commerce for many years, was probably manufactured by crossing Angoras and Persians, and breeding to colour. It certainly was not any new animal as it was discovered by the reverend fathers, but they then enjoyed a monopoly of the art of breeding by selection, which is nowadays no longer a mystery to English pet lovers. On the Continent generally it is neglected in the case of many of the ‘fancies’ we should over here only think of regarding with interest when of pedigree stock.
We take great pains to keep to pure strains and breed for points even with mice, but the continental pet keeper as a rule only troubles himself thus where roller canaries are concerned — cats, dogs, and rabbits are mostly bred haphazard.
What is sometimes called the Russian longhaired cat, again, is only a variety with rather stiffer fur, due no doubt to the influence of climate. But were we to take four long-haired cats respectively bred in their own countries, as an Angora, a French long-hair, a Persian, and a Russian long-hair, in all probability a jury of experts would be mightily puzzled to decide which was which. Classes at English shows are not given for them as separate varieties, but are divided into sections for long-hairs and short-hairs respectively, and it is the recognised thing for all our long-haired cats to be Persians and no more.
Long-haired cats are divided and classified according to their colour — White, Black, Blue, Smoke, Chinchilla or Silver (subdivided into self-silver and shaded silver), Orange, Cream, Orange tabby, Silver tabby, Brown tabby, Tortoiseshell, and Tortoiseshell and white.
POINTS OF LONG-HAIRED SHOW CATS.
Whatever the colour of a long-haired cat may be, there are certain points that are essential to a good specimen, and anyone who aspires to own a cat that experts would admire must master these. Certain head properties, for instance, are most stringently insisted upon. The skull must be round and broad between the ears, the face short and wide. A long snipy face and narrow skull, with a sour expression, would spoil the chances of the most splendidly coated cat in the show-pen.
The wide massive head is generally, and always should be, accompanied by sweetness of expression, particularly marked in kittens. This sweet expression greatly adds to the charm of a cat or kitten from any point, of view, and breeders have really doe the race a great service in insisting upon it. Male cats and kittens have, of course, generally bigger and rounder heads than females, but wedge-headed queens are very objectionable, and are fortunately becoming more and more scarce as the much-admired point of head beauty increases by selection in breeding. The ears should be small, and well covered within and without with fur, and good ear tufts are prized. The eyes should be as large and full as possible, and their colour, which is arbitrarily determined by that of the coat, is a most important point. The body should be cobby in build, though not too short in back, plump and well rounded, and the legs sound, the forelegs thick and strong and perfectly straight, the paws round and firm with close toes. A too long-backed and short-legged cat looks as if it carried more coat than it actually does, but is unpleasing when seen in movement; while a cat that is too leggy always has an air of being short of coat.
It is in this latter that the full glory of the Persian appears — when it is in perfection, which is unfortunately but a fleeting yearly show.
The frill round the neck is the crowning beauty of the body, and it and the stately plumed tail, ending in a delicately pointed tuft and not cut off squarely, must be as amply furnished as possible. The hair on the face should melt into the outstanding frill all round, showing no hiatus suggestive of the startlingly small thin neck underneath all this woolly wonder.
The frill should be full and bushy from the back of the head and ears, covering the shoulders well, and in front it should also cover the chest. The body coat should be so profuse as to flow well, avoiding any appearance of slab-sidedness. The larger the cat the better, other points being equal, but queens are usually smaller than toms, while the latter shrink into comparative insignificance beside the enormous neuters. The hair on the face should be very soft, and by no means short or stubbly.
THE CHINCHILLA, PERSIAN.
The chinchilla or self-silver Persian deserves to be first mentioned, in order, because it is the rarest, and, in the opinion of most cat lovers, the most beautiful of long-haired cats. A good self-silver has fur that is white at the roots and shades softly to a faint grey at the tips. The colour is rather that of the old-fashioned silver lustre ware than of modern silver. The ideal self-silver must have neither markings nor shadings, nor must there be any black tips to the hairs either on the back or in the tail, or elsewhere. Nor must there be any brown or yellowish shading about the coat. It is, however, a very rare thing to find a self-silver quite free from one or other of these faults, and perfect specimens are few and far between, and consequently very precious.
Chinchilla is not a very good description for these cats, as they are generally a good deal lighter in colour than this fur, though they look something the same in general effect, especially those called shaded silvers, which are like the self-silvers, except in having darker cloudings or shadings on their heads and faces and backs, while their legs are also darker.
They must not have stripes or spots of darker marking, as, if they possess these in quantity, they become silver tabbies. A few such markings only, more or less, spoil a shaded silver, and do not entitle it to a place among good silver tabbies. All silvers and silver tabbies should have emerald eyes, which are exceedingly lovely. A good many, however, have orange eyes, and a really good silver, clear and pale in colour, and free from objectionable brownness or black hairs, but having yellow eyes, would be put above one that had these faults of coat, but rejoiced in the desired green eye.
Silvers are apt to be rather small, and they are also often a little narrower in head than cats of other colours, especially the queens. They are delicate, dainty things, and it would be wise for a beginner to try a more robust strain of colour at first, as it takes some knowledge and experience to rear good silver kittens with complete success. If this can be done, they are profitable, as they sell well, and are universally admired.
A silver queen of any quality should never be wasted by being mated with any other colour, and yet in-breeding at first is responsible for much of the delicacy of silvers, for at one time everybody wished to secure the services of one particularly beautiful stud cat of this colour.
Silver kittens, or rather kittens which are going to be silvers, are nearly always born black or a very dark mouse-colour, so no disappointment need be felt on first viewing a nest full of funny little objects offering no resemblance to the loveliness of their progenitors. The hair of a silver is specially fine and delicate, so that their coats often do not look so profuse as they really are.
If it were not for the great difficulty of keeping these exquisite creatures clean, more of them would no doubt be seen about. Even at shows one not infrequently meets them in a condition very far from the snowy purity that is their perfection. They often carry tremendous coats, and as a rule have good massive heads and nice small ears. Their chief fascination, however, lies in the jewel-like blue eyes, beautiful beyond description, which are essential in show specimens.
No one who has not seen a really good blue-eyed white can imagine how fascinating these sapphire eyes are. A good many odd-eyed white cats exist, and the novice is apt to imagine he has found a treasure if he picks up one of these; but they have no value at all for the initiated; neither is it really at all pretty for a cat to have one eye blue and the other green or yellow. An orange or gooseberry green or pale yellow-eyed white is valueless for show, though it may be pretty enough as a pet. A really good blue-eyed white kitten is always saleable, and at a good price, but so many with unsatisfactory eyes crop up that it would hardly pay any one to go in for breeding this variety alone for profit.
Besides this, the kittens are rather apt to come with black or grey markings, especially about the head and ears; and though these may be only skin pigmentations that do not colour the hair after the first kitten coat is gone, they may, instead of disappearing, persist, in which case the cat is worthless.
The eyes do not, of course, show their true colour while the kitten is very young, and if a white kitten is bought just after weaning, and while its eyes are still of the faint misty blue of infancy, which is common to all varieties alike, it may cause disappointment by eventually becoming yellow-eyed, or, worse still, having orbs of the detested hue graphically called gooseberry. The infantile blue does not in any way represent that glorious colour of ‘blue violets washed in dew’ that always evokes a loud chorus of admiration about the winning pons at shows.
The blue Persian has from the very first taken great hold on popular favour. There is little doubt that at some early period in its history it was crossed, for the sake of the colour, with a short-haired blue of the variety that many people call Russian, though short-haired blues are not confined to Russia or any other special place of origin. Probably to this cross is due some of the vigour of constitution it possesses, for, if properly fed and treated, most of the existing strains of this colour are very robust.
To call these cats ‘blue’ is of course only a technicality, as the colour is a bluish grey at most; but they are very beautiful, and it is not very difficult to get them quite sound in colour, that is, without shadings or markings of any kind on head, body, or legs, and of an even rich colour throughout.
The lighter the colour the more it is prized, but many people who put their individual artistic taste before their appreciation of fancy points, prefer what an exhibitor would call a medium blue, neither the darkest nor the lightest to be found. Kittens of one litter may quite frequently vary greatly; there will often be a dark blue, a medium, and a pale blue all in one family: as a rule blues breed fairly true to colour.
There are plenty of good blue stud cats; and if the amateur wishes to try to make a profit, the best chance of it is to buy one or two really good healthy blue queens of the best pedigree possible, and while letting them have all the privileges of pets, to mate them to one of the leading blue males.
The faults likely to crop up in blues are markings, shadings, or tabby spots of a different colour to the rest of the coat, and particularly brownish shadings; white hairs in the coat, frill, or brush; patches of white under the chin or on the chest; large or badly shaped ears, and bad-coloured eyes.
It is absolutely essential that a blue cat should have deep orange or amber eyes of large size and great brilliancy. Gooseberry or washed-out greenish yellow eyes spoil a blue cat completely; and while green eyes, if they were of the true bright emerald, which they scarcely ever are, would be rather pleasing to the artistic sense, they are not at all correct, and pale green orbs are much disliked.
As with all other varieties, the eyes should be not only as large as possible, but they should be level set in the face, as eyes set aslant give a very disagreeable expression. The head should be, and in blues generally is, very massive, with a sweet short face. These cats often have a beautiful cobbiness of build.
A blue should never by any chance be bred with a smoke, as the shaded fur of the latter, much paler at the roots than at the tips, would perpetuate a failing that some blues already have in this direction.
A blue Persian’s coat when stroked the wrong way should be of exactly the same colour through-out, and the frill also should never be paler in one part than another. The ears should be well adorned with the basal tufts that add so much to the beauty of facial expression, and they should be small and thickly covered, not thin, parchmenty, large, and pointed. The brush should be very thick and bushy, and not too long.
For some reason neither smokes not blacks are general favourites, and yet a good smoke has a charm and piquancy no other cat approaches. Perhaps they are less liked because their points are not so easy to learn as those of the other varieties or rather, though the points might be quite simple if all authorities were agreed about them, the facts that one judge will put down what another will exalt, and that there is not much certainty in exhibiting them, are against them. It is not easy to make any hard and fast division, but that there are light or blue smokes and dark or black smokes, the latter generally being more favoured in the show-pen, is as near as we can get to a clear explanation of the matter.
A black smoke should have fur that is almost white at the roots, then black, and smoky dark grey at the tips. His frill looks grey nearly all its length, and shows up palely against his body coat. His ear tufts are also pale.
The blue smoke carries out the same scheme, from white at the roots to faint grey, and grey a shade or two darker at the tips, and has a pale frill and ear tufts.
In both cases the face and legs are very dark, in fact quite black in a black smoke, and dark blackish grey in a blue smoke. All smokes should have orange eyes. They are generally fine big cats, not quite so domesticated perhaps as the blues. As in the case of all the self-colours mentioned, smoke should be bred; with smoke, and it is much better to mate two black smokes or two blue smokes than to mix them up.
These cats depend for their beauty mainly on purity and richness of colour, and when this is perfect, deep and lustrous, and free from the slightest tint of brown or reddish rustiness, and also quite free from grey shadings and white hairs, it is extremely beautiful. Of course a black Persian out of coat, with temporarily more light rusty brown than black about him, is rather more unsightly than the lighter coloured long-hairs are when they moult; but as the blacks are strong and healthy as a rule, they usually get their moults over with tolerable celerity. If someone could only invent a strain of long-haired cats that would keep in coat ten months out of the twelve, the good fortune of the grand prix would be his.
The crowning beauty of the black Persian is, or should be, the glorious deep orange or copper eyes which are splendidly set off in the velvet-black face. A black with pale eyes is quite spoiled, and though emerald eyes are not ugly in themselves with black as washy or boiled gooseberry ones are, they are correctly banned, for they are not half so attractive or expressive as orange ones. Blacks’ coats, if they are properly rich and shining, will be found to be of very fine hair: a black cat with coarse hair never looks a good colour. Blacks are sometimes used in breeding to improve other colours, as where a tortoiseshell or tabby fails as regards its black markings. They have not the property of coming out in undesired patches, so to speak, on their progeny that whites too often possess.
Despite the opinion of many authorities that tabby is not a true Persian colour, that tabby cats have the honours of primogeniture, however obtained, is fairly evident, from the persistent way in which tabby markings come out, from generation to generation, and often where they are least wanted. Tabby Persians, with the exception of silver tabbies, are less favoured and less saleable than the whole or self-colours, but they are handsome cats nevertheless, and have the advantage, for the most part, of being very robust and of good constitution.
Silver long-haired tabbies are extremely pretty cats, though, of course, their markings do not show up nearly as well as short-hairs.
In all tabby cats the markings follow the same plan — or should do so — and there are only two divisions or varieties, striped tabbies and spotted tabbies, in short-hairs and long-hairs alike.
Silver tabbies are silver with black markings, and their beauty lies in the purity and richness of the black markings showing up vividly on the silver groundwork, which may be lighter or darker, but is liked as pale as possible. The markings should be sharp and clearly defined; they consist, in the case of striped tabbies, of a horizontal line each side of the backbone, and tiger stripes vertically down each side. Narrow stripes run over the head from the nose to the nape, and ring or surround the neck, the legs, and the tail. Breaks in these stripes are bad.
A spotted tabby is exactly the same thing, but with the stripes broken by regular intervals, so that they are lines of spots instead of uninterrupted bars. A quite ideally perfect spotted tabby is, however, practically unknown, as slight irregularities always occur.
There are, besides silver tabbies, which ought to have green eyes, brown tabbies (orange or green eyes, though they are much more often an undesired hazel), and red and blue tabbies. The former are much the most common, in the sense of numbers, among tabby cats, and some writers subdivide them into fawn, brown or sable, and chocolate tabbies, according to the shade of brown that forms the groundwork for their black markings. All alike go into brown tabby classes at shows, so there is little or no use in such fine-drawn distinctions.
Though, or perhaps because, as stated, these are the most common of a numerous race, they have not had much attention from breeders for show. Only a very few exhibitors have made them their special hobby so far, but there is always a chance that fashion may turn their way and bring them into prominence. Besides being bred for markings, they need all the points of abundant coats, short faces, small wide-set ears, unbroken frills, good bone, bushy tails, etc., that other Persians must show, so that they are sufficiently difficult to produce in anything near perfection to make it well worthwhile to breed them as an interesting hobby; and when beginning to do so, a most important point is to choose stock with a good ground-colour. It may be any one of the several shades of brown mentioned, so long as it is clear and rich and bright, but it must not be an undecided drab or a dirty grey.
One great blemish that spoils many and many a good tabby, long or short haired, and is ever-lastingly cropping up, is a light or white chin. Like the white patch on the chest that is such a persistent blemish in dogs, a white chin seems unconquerable in any tabby strain of cats. It is hateful and detested of judges in all cases, but doubly so in a brown or red tabby. A white lower lip, however, has to be endured, so universal is it. Heavy solid masses or patches of black instead of stripes or spots, especially on the back, also spoil many otherwise good tabbies. The chin and neck should show no difference in ground colour to the shade that covers the rest of the body. Red tabbies have markings, not of black, but of reddish brown, and among them are found some of the finest, largest, and handsomest cats alive. The aim in breeding them is to get a groundwork of the richest deep orange, with the darkest possible mahogany or chestnut red markings; and these are the only cats except creams in which hazel eyes are allowable, though deep orange eyes are preferred. They are often called golden tabbies, a pretty and highly descriptive name, though the ‘Red gold’ of antique ballads must be understood, for pale gold would argue a cat of rather light orange colouring — marmalade colour — which is not at all liked by experts, either in long-hairs or short-hairs. All remarks made upon the markings of the long-haired tabbies apply equally to the short-hairs, which will presently have their turn of notice, but will not need to have their colour and marking points recapitulated. All long-haired silver tabbies have frills and ear tufts of the colour of their groundwork, and their eyes should be set in a rim of jetty black, which much enhances the beauty of their usually very sweet faces.
TORTOISESHELL AND TORTOISESHELL AND WHITE, OR TRICOLOUR PERSIANS.
Some years ago we used to see at shows, in the tortoiseshell classes, cats that were really brindles. They had coats composed in equal measure of darkest brown or black, red, and yellow hairs, all mixed together. Nowadays tortoiseshell means something quite different and much handsomer, for the ideal is a cat covered with even clearly defined patches, all the same size, and all with clear sharp edges, of black, yellow and red, or black, white, red, and yellow, respectively, the latter having white feet, chest, and abdomen. There is a general idea that no such thing as a tortoiseshell Persian tom has been, or can be, bred; and it is certainly not worth any writer’s while to make any assertions to the contrary. All that need be said is that to breed a good tortoiseshell long-hair tom would certainly prove most highly profitable, just as it would be, though in much lesser degree, if our cattery produced many first-class red tabby females.
Long-haired tortoiseshells are very pretty cats indeed, though usually small, and often not very amiable; but, of course, the tortoiseshell markings are not nearly so distinct in them as in short-hairs, the very length and abundance of the coat being bound to blur them.
The faults generally found in these cats are snipy faces, narrow heads, blurred markings, spots and stripes of tabby markings, faintness of colour in either the red - which must not be orange or yellowish - or the yellow - which must not be cream - and sprinklings of white hairs in the coloured parts. Deep orange or bright yellow eyes are a sine qua non here. The uncertainty as to what you will get from these cats when they are bred with has caused some breeders positively to play at lottery with them, crossing them in all sorts of ways, either with ideas of improving or producing such colours as blacks, reds, and creams, or in the hope of producing tortoiseshell toms by mating with cats of either of the three tortoise colours.
It is more to the point to mate well-marked evenly patched specimens together, so as to try for perfect tortoiseshells, as these are really most attractive, and, to fanciers at any rate, very valuable if they approach perfection. But as a litter from a tortoiseshell female, whatever the mate may be among self-colours, is likely to contain several self-colour kittens, perhaps all different, people who like variety should keep a good queen of this colour. Then, again, a tortoise queen may, if judiciously mated, breed a more or less unmarked cream, which is a valuable acquisition. To this end, mating with a cream or a pale blue is the most likely means, or an orange Persian, as nearly clear as possible, may be chosen. A good tortoiseshell cat must not be too heavily marked with black on the back: here the proper patches are very apt to fail in favour of a heavy black saddle, which is as bad a fault as in a tabby. The face should be more or less Dutch-marked - that is, in a tortoiseshell it should have a triangular patch of the palest colour, the yellow, the base of which is at the nose and the apex between the ears in a point, joining the back of the neck. In a tortoiseshell and white this marking should be in white. The sides of the head and cheeks should be in the colours, as even as possible, and with nice curves as seen — they really are indescribable in print — in any decently marked Dutch rabbit.
ORANGE AND CREAM PERSIANS.
The self-orange Persian is more of an ideal than a reality, for it is actually a red tabby without the tabby markings, and at present it is a case of ‘more or less,’ the upshot being that the least marked cat in the class takes the prize. The ideal is of exactly the same colour all over, above and below: the real is often much lighter under its body, beginning at the under lip.
A white chin or under lip, however, is a dreadful fault, spoiling it completely. A pink nose is objectionable, though very usual; and these cats, like the red tabbies, their brethren in blood, are apt to be leggy and bony-looking, and to have long narrow heads and large pointed ears, all of which disqualify for the admiration of any good judge, Curiously enough, though they are often long-limbed and a little coarse they are not specially strong cats, much less so than the blues, and the queen kittens are often rather difficult to rear. The few really first-rate unmarked orange cats that exist are, however, so very lovely that no one seeing them can help wishing to own, if not to try and breed, anything so beautiful.
Cream Persians originally came, it is supposed, from an orange and blue cross, and later the tortoiseshell has had a good deal to say to them, and is certainly very useful in producing them. These are royally lovely cats, and a good one is never likely to be long without a buyer, but, like the equally saleable (if good) silvers, they really need an experienced owner to make anything of them.
As a pet, a neuter cream could not be surpassed for loveliness, and it is not at all surprising that many writers on cat subjects have rhapsodised over the exquisite contrast and harmony a blue and a cream Persian would make as a pair of country pets.
Creams, like whites, are not good town pets, however. Like the oranges, they are apt to run to length of face, and the blue cross is desirable to improve this defect if it has come from tortoiseshell and orange ancestors. Whites are sometimes also used to breed creams, and a white mates well with one of the darker creams some fanciers call fawns. Very deep orange eyes, sometimes almost brown, enhance the beauty of these cats. The chief point, as in other self-coloured cats, is that the plentiful coat shall be even in colour. A ‘curdy’ look of white locks showing among the cream fur is very ugly. The frill is, as usual, a little lighter than the body colour, which may be either the hue — so far as it can be described — of Devonshire cream, or a deeper shade such as would be got if a very little coffee and a drop of carmine were mixed with some rich raw cream.
The face, chin, and chest must not be paler than the rest of the body, and there must not be a wedge, or smudge, of dirty grey on the head or nose—a fault often seen in all light-coloured self cats.
Although they have not the peculiar charm which makes so many people prefer the longhaired cat, short-haired or, as the European varieties are often called, ‘English’ cats, in contradistinction to the equal misnomer ‘Persians’ that is now indiscriminately applied, for convenience sake, to all long-hairs, are in many ways much more satisfactory as pets. They are far stronger and more robust, giving as a rule no trouble at all to the breeder, except in the matter of restraining the queens, who are quite as wilful as, and much more independent than, their long-haired sisters.
They are clever and companionable; in the case of the three Asiatic short-haired breeds, Manx, Siamese, and Abyssinian, most exceptionally and delightfully so. They stand bad weather much better, and do not need nearly so much looking after in the way of drying when they come in wet and so on, for, naturally, their close short coats do not soak up moisture as does the Persian cat’s long and lovely jacket.
Lastly, they are always, or nearly always, in show form. They moult, of course, twice a year, just as long-hairs do, but one of these crises is generally so slight that it passes unnoticed, and the other or principal change of coat is, at the worst, signalised by short hairs everywhere on one’s clothes and the furniture, and a rusty tinge about the cat, with an absence of bloom and shine, for three weeks or thereabouts. In breeding all short-haired cats, English or foreign, like-to-like is the rule, unless, in the case of tabbies, a black cross is resorted to for the sake of improving the markings.
BLUE SHORT-HAIRED CATS.
Many people still call these very attractive cats Russians or Archangel cats. There is no reason why they should not do so if it gives them pleasure, but the real fact is that the short-haired blue is a freak or fluke, to which short-haired cats are alike subject everywhere. Very likely more of them were to be found in Russia, before cats were taken much notice of in this country, than in England; but far too many authenticated instances are known of blue short-haired kittens having been born here among kittens of other colours, such as tabbies and blacks, to allow of the slightest doubt that to call them by the name of any foreign country in which they also appear is only making a species out of a merely localised variety.
Nearly all black animals throw blues sometimes, and one of the very finest of modern show ‘Russians’ has been over and over again openly stated by his owner to have been one of a chance litter from an ordinary short-haired English tabby queen and probably a black tom, - certainly not a blue one.
Short-haired blues are very nice cats indeed for pets. They are extremely handsome, sufficiently popular among exhibitors and others to make it fairly easy to dispose of kittens, and decidedly robust once they are over the critical times of weaning and teething, at which they need care.
They vary to some extent in shade of colour, and may be roughly classified as dark and light, though all shades compete together when they are shown. Some owners prefer a rich dark blue, some a medium, but most desire the palest and most silvery shade obtainable. The darker coated cats, however, provided their colour is rich and sound, show off the very grand deep orange eyes that are essential to their charm very beautifully. Small, squint, slanting eyes are a great fault in any cat, and quite spoil the sweet expression that is so greatly valued, and these, or pale gooseberry orbs, are most unpleasant in a blue short-hair. The eyes should be as large, as round, as owl-like as possible, and quite level-set in the face.
A blue, as indeed any other good cat, must have a massive round head, tiny thick ears, a broad, short, sweet face, a cobby body, straight, rather short, and thick front-legs, round paws well-padded and cushioned, with short toes close together, a tail not too long or thin, and not ringed with tabby markings, and a coat of even shade throughout. There must not be any grey or brownish shadings, and the coat, though it shines with a lovely bloom, must not be sleek and velvety like that of a black English cat, but resemble good Utrecht velvet, which has an erect texture.
The ears should be particularly small and neat. It is a very curious thing that all blue sports in the animal world are liable to have bare ears. For a long time the breeders of toy Pomeranian dogs were quite in despair because their pets would come with these curious bare ears, and blue cats are no exception, and often show this peculiarity. It is prettier for the ears to be covered with fine soft fur, but if the bare ones are not too big they do not look badly. Blue short- haired kittens often show plenty of tabby markings at first, and they are also usually born quite a different colour to that which will eventually be theirs, so the inexperienced breeder should never be in any haste to destroy or part with ugly ducklings that may blossom into the ‘fairest of fair daughters.’
BLACK AND WHITE SHORT-HAIRS.
A good black short-haired cat is ruined in the opinion of the fancier by any other than a fine deep orange eye. With this he is a very magnificent creature. In fact, there is really nothing in the cat world much finer than a big black neuter, with great golden globes of eyes in his massive head. Blacks are rather good in head as a rule, often showing the chubby fat cheeks and seraphic expression to perfection. They also bloom and shine in coat to great effect, and are generally very robust cats.
It is the greatest possible mistake to cross a good short-haired black with a Persian, black or otherwise, in the hope of getting ‘pretty’ half-bred kittens. The kittens are spoiled both ways, and lose the trim perennial smartness and well- groomed look of the short-coated parent without gaining the brief perfection of the other party’s season of beauty. A half-bred kitten is nearly always ‘locky’ and patchy in coat. Blacks, however, are useful for crossing with some other short-hairs, as they are likely to improve poorly marked tabbies if judiciously used. No rusty or brown tinge must be seen in a black cat’s coat, but if underfed, or kept without meat, or out of sorts, this objectionable brown tinge is apt to occur, and also during the moult.
White short-hairs depend for their beauty on size, the purity of their colour, and the lovely blue eyes they ought to boast. It is rarer for a short-hair to have the deep jewel-blue eyes that are so especially exquisite than for a long-haired white puss to boast them.
Short-hairs more often have forget-me-not blue eyes, and many have eyes of too pale a blue, that is washy, and not attractive. Like the long-hairs they sometimes have orange eyes; sometimes, worse than all, pale yellowish green, or odd ones; and sometimes, but very rarely, deep emerald eyes, which are beautiful-if not correct.
Kittens are often marked with spots and smudges of grey or black: if these persist, they spoil their value entirely. Pink-rimmed eyes, red noses, and long thin wiry tails may often disfigure white cats; or if a cat of this colour is afflicted with the lazy spirit informing some feline breasts and forbidding them to take proper trouble with their toilets, he is apt to be a very disreputable-looking being.
Some owners wash their white cats, but it is a great pity to do so; as not only is soap and water, especially hard water, very bad for both skin and fur, but the coat is left in a dry and harsh state that makes it attract dust, and soon grow more grimy than before.
TABBY SHORT-HAIRED CATS.
As regards markings and colouring, the same points are to be observed for the long-hairs and short-hairs. Certain markings, such as the ‘Lord Mayor’s Chain’ and other rings round the neck coming close up to the chin, and the rings that ought to go round the tail and legs quite regularly and at even intervals, are much better seen in the short-hairs, the frill and-length of hair naturally obscuring them in the Persian.
It is no use to send any tabby short-hair to a show to compete in a tabby class if it has a white patch on its breast or a white chin. Nominally, even a light-coloured chin or a white under lip should prevent its winning; but as a matter of fact these latter two faults occur in nearly all brown tabbies and in many of the other colours. They are especially noticeable, though, in the browns and the red tabbies.
A really good silver tabby short-hair is a most precious possession, whether he is a striped or a spotted tabby. These are beautiful cats, and unfortunately seem to be growing more and more rare. The rich black marking on the pale silver ground shows up with almost startling vividness, and green eyes should enhance its effect.
Red tabbies with a bright deep orange ground and mahogany markings are also rare, and very seldom really well marked. A pale sandy cat with a few indistinct tabbyings is not what is meant by a red tabby, but it is what is infinitely more common, and, moreover, it generally boasts a1 long thin hatchet face, hollow under the eyes, with a resulting expression of supreme sourness, and large pointed ears.
It is just as easy to keep a pretty cat as an ugly one; except from the point of view of getting it stolen - which unfortunately too often happens; in towns - and the lean hungry air that these pale yellow ‘tilers’ generally have is so irritating that one wonders at their continued existence.
White patches are bad on all tabby cats unless they are classed as tabby and white, a classification some shows give, though many cat owners think it is a great pity to encourage white markings at all. A tabby and white must have its tabby parts well marked and up to their respective standards, and its chest and all four paws white.
Brown tabby short-hairs are very handsome, but so many thousands of badly marked cats of this colour exist, and have done so for generations, that it is rare to find a well-marked example, and difficult enough to breed one to make doing so a great credit, and a sporting matter. These are, perhaps, the strongest of all cats. They show their quality early, but the brown and silver kittens sometimes seem to promise perfection in markings just as they are leaving the nest, and then disappoint their owner later.
Red tabby kittens, on the other hand, are often born a very poor dull colour, and may improve greatly as they get older.
A good black and white or magpie cat is not to be despised, though at a show it is relegated to an ‘any other colour’ class, and there is no special standard of beauty for it beyond size, regularity of marking, whatever it may be, and the ordinary cat points of good shape of head and body and so on. Now and then very prettily marked cats turn up, which fanciers call Dutch-marked. These have the Dutch rabbit markings in more or less perfection. The body is half black and half white, the black being the hinder portion. The line of demarcation ought to go straight round the body as clearly as if painted with a brush - this is called the saddle. The face has even cheeks of black, and a white blaze up the nose and forehead, which meets the white of the neck at the back of the head. The ears are black. To carry out the rabbit markings completely, the hind-feet should be black, the colour going halfway up the leg, but this is not a cat marking.
The points for these are exactly the same as in the long-hairs. Tortoiseshell-and-white short-hairs are not uncommon, and are an old-fashioned English breed deserving of great encouragement, as they are both showy and beautiful.
They often crop up as cottagers’ cats, mostly very small, often snipy-faced, but generally dazzlingly clean as to the white parts, and very gay in their patches of yellow, black, and red. If a cat of this colour is seen anywhere, and on examination proves to be nicely marked with well-defined patches about the same size and evenly divided on its head and body, and without any excessive amount of black, it will pay the would-be cat owner or exhibitor to buy it if a fairly moderate price is accepted.
Some of the loveliest of winning short-haired cats have been, as it were, picked up by the wayside. One of the most perfect self-cream short-hairs, a sub-variety of the rarest ever seen, appeared as a quite unvalued sport in a litter of farmhouse kittens and was purchased by a casual visitor for five shillings — which the goodwife considered an extravagantly generous offer for ‘the ugly thing.’ Cat lovers should always keep their eyes open for bargains and finds — the only drawback to doing so being the bitter disappointment occasionally experienced when we are, told that some perfect specimen, though not in the least valued for its looks, cannot be parted with ‘because baby likes it’ or some equally admirable but unbusinesslike reason.
There is an absurd story that Spanish wrecked galleons discharged Manx cats on the Isle of Man. But as tailless cats or cats with rudimentary tails are not at all uncommon in 'the East, whereas no one, apparently, has ever seen a tailless cat in Spain, it is much more probable that a tailless race first found its way to Man’s shores in exactly the same way as it did to these — by ordinary importation. Then when tourists began to talk, of this indigenous cat, astute inhabitants began to manufacture it, for many a traveller has had the chance of buying, in Manx-land, what is certainly more or less tailless, but has not the real characteristics of the doubtless originally Asiatic breed now universally known as Manx eats.
It is curious that while another Asiatic cat, the Abyssinian, has fur like a rabbit, though not resembling it in shape, the Manx cat, which may be of any other cat colour, but never is ticked or rabbity in coat, is like the active little ‘coney’ in the shape of its hind-quarters, barring the absent tail, and moves as a rabbit does, springing on long hind-legs. The hind-quarter of a Manx cat should be neatly rounded off, without the least ghost or semblance of a tail, or a stump, or even a tuft.
A cat with ever so short a stump is not a real true Manx in a judge’s eye, and kittens born with stumps should be destroyed, as they are divagations from the pure type, just as is a Schipperke dog with a stump. The black Manx, in fact, is the feline Schipperke, and comically resembles what we may imagine is its own particularly appointed hereditary enemy — were there anything in the supposititious dog and cat feud. Manx cats are very doglike in their ways, and, like other Asiatic cats, more devotedly companionable and less independent than the European race as a whole. They are not easy to breed in any number, and a female Manx does not give nearly so much trouble in the way of needing to be protected as do queens of other varieties.
In fact, in order to get any Manx kittens, it is best to keep a pair of adults, for the Manx tom is sometimes, what no other tom can be said to be, tolerable as a permanent house pet. If the Manx queen has to be reared away from her home and sent among strangers, as other queens are, she will, more likely than not, simply fret and refuse to have anything at all to do with the selected mate.
Manx may be of any colour, though an erroneous idea prevails that they are always black. White is rare, but not by any means unknown, and broken colours and tabbies are common enough in the breed. A Manx cat should be short in the back and rather higher in the hips than in the shoulders, on account of the extra length of the hind-legs. The eyes should follow the colour, as in other cats, but a good judge takes the points in the following order: putting entire absence of stump and the proper rounded formation of the rump first; then body shape and Manx character; then coat, colour, marking, and eyes, as enumerated.
This very distinct and extremely handsome variety is, though favoured by many exhibitors, practically unknown to the general public. People who do not attend any cat shows are never likely to see a good Siamese sitting on a window-sill, or washing its face on the area steps. Its beauty and its marked individuality would probably tempt a thief at once, and then he would probably find he had committed a crime all to no purpose, as the voice of the victim would be nearly sure to betray him as he hurried away — or else, protesting unheeded, the poor cat would pine and die in a few days.
The chief characteristic of the breed is its doglike devotion to one particular person, combined with more than the usual feline affection for its home. This has its disadvantages as well as its attractions, since the powerful howling voice of the exile, quite different to that of any other cat except the Abyssinian, which has the organ in a less degree of development, never fails to add to a cat show the one element in which it otherwise has to bow before a like congress — canine uproar. A Siamese cat’s request is more like a small raucous bellow than a miaow; and when his feelings are exacerbated, his language is lurid and prolonged.
Siamese kittens are all born white, and gradually turn to a clear beautiful fawn, which is the ground or body colour. Then, by degrees, the markings develop into full beauty. These are of the darkest sealskin colour, making a most lovely contrast with the pale fawn parts, from which they should be sharply divided. As the cat ages its beauty generally declines, for which deterioration the owner may be compensated by the creature’s increasing devotion and cleverness, and the proud consciousness of having kept a Siamese cat to a respectable age. The eyes of these cats are marvellously beautiful, large, intensely clear, and of the brightest china-blue.
They have the wedge-shaped Eastern type of head, thus making a pleasing change — since in their case this formation does not entail any sourness of expression — from the universal, though charming and entirely admirable, roundness of head and shortness of face of other show cats. There is an analogy between Siamese cats and Himalayan rabbits in the matter of markings, and anyone who has kept this interesting breed of bunnies will understand exactly how the dark parts of the cat gradually draw out as the kitten grows, and how, if the animal is ill, its dark markings change and grow misty and dull, and sprinkled with light hairs, while, when it grows old, all its beauty often becomes blurred and muddy. There is a variety of Siamese in which, instead of pale fawn, there is chocolate colour; while the markings, which include all four legs, the tail, the ears, and face, instead of being darkest, brown, are jet black; but this is very uncommon in England, probably because it is not nearly so attractive as the fawn and seal or ‘Royal’ Siamese.
Although their constitutions are not otherwise frail, these cats suffer; very much from lung delicacy, and it is therefore almost impossible to keep them in heated catteries, or in any degree of confinement. Their most emphatic need is fresh air in abundance, and freedom is the breath of their nostrils. At full liberty, and with a sunny garden at their command, they do very well, and may live to a considerable age, making the most charming and desirable of pets and companions.
But to start a heated cattery — always and in any case a foolish thing to do - and to stock it with Siamese cats, is only courting absolutely certain failure. It is, of course, necessary to acclimatise an imported Siamese, but this is best done, not by shutting it up with a stove, but by putting on a coat like a toy dog’s made of flannel, if it is chilly weather, when the cat goes out, as it should do for several hours daily, seeing that it does not come in and sit about with wet feet, and generally watching it for the first few weeks.
It is not a good thing to make a first essay with these cats in winter, however. Neither is it necessary to undertake the worry and comparative difficulty of importing them, for there are several breeders in this country who bring up their kittens on rational principles, and they are quite able to supply healthy specimens only needing to be sensibly treated to do well.
These are seldom seen except at shows, but a good many exist in the collections of cat fanciers who like variety. They very much resemble the Siamese in disposition, and are remarkably sensible, and affectionate in a way, but very independent. They are short-haired, but the coat is very thick and erect and the colour curious, as it exactly matches that of an English wild rabbit. These cats are extremely lithe and graceful in their movements, and enjoy plenty of liberty, being active in disposition and impatient of confinement, in which they fret. Their chief beauty is in their extremely smart and neat appearance, like that of a very well-groomed cob. They are small in size, with somewhat narrow heads, and slender fine legs.
HOW TO BEGIN KEEPING PET CATS.
Many people are, doubtless, turned away from what might have been a pleasant, perhaps even a profitable, hobby by some disaster at the beginning. They may make up their minds, for instance, to buy a Persian kitten, and after a good deal of doubt and hesitation they answer some advertisement and send the money, perhaps two or three guineas.
When the purchase arrives it is already in the grip of disease, a wretched-looking little object, only half the size it ought to be, dirty, with a staring coat and eyes half full of matter. It has been sent in a crazy box, gaping with cracks, and what little life it had in it when it started is soon snuffed out by the bad cold it has caught on the journey. If there are any other kittens in the house they probably acquire the cold or distemper and go wrong too, perhaps keep the miserable little stranger company in its last journey of all.
This is by no means a fancy picture, and almost all cat breeders who have had much to do with buying can remember one, if not more, of these unhappy experiences. That a very glowing description of the kitten is given, not only in the advertisement, but in the subsequent letter written in reply to the request for particulars, is sure to have been an essential part of the business. It is sad to be obliged to state, in addition, that the letters in question do not always betray an uneducated writer. Their plausibility may be assisted by every evidence of respectability. The fact is that to some owners all their worst, their greenest geese are the whitest of superb swans, and it is quite possible to produce the most undesirable and unhealthy kittens in catteries of considerable pretension, if a wrong method of feeding is practise, and the place is too full of cats crowded together.
On the other hand, many owners of catteries justly pride themselves on never sending out a kitten otherwise than in the pink of health and condition.
As a general rule the novice, buying a first kitten, will find it much the wisest plan to try and get one which can be had without a journey; or if a journey is inevitable, it will probably be money saved in the end if the buyer goes to fetch the new pet, and watches over it, in close company, all the way.
A kitten at hand, in this case, is worth two from a distant source. For one thing, a long or even a moderate journey often upsets the healthiest kitten by frightening it thoroughly, if not by making it in any more active way physically ill. Cats are extremely sensitive creatures, and when their nervous system is first over-stimulated by excitement and noise and subsequently, by the strangeness of a new abode and homesickness, correspondingly depressed, they are quite likely to lose their appetites, fret, and lay themselves open to any passing contagion which in their normal state they would easily have resisted.
Many perfectly straight and trustworthy breeders will not send their kittens on approval, on the principle that, if one journey is likely to distress them, two will certainly do so; therefore it must not be concluded that, if a seller refuses to send on approval, he is necessarily unreliable. If we were buying a cat’s house, or even a strong adult neuter cat —neuters have placid dispositions as a rule and do not suffer from nerves — we might reasonably suspect that a disinclination to let us see our purchase before concluding the bargain was justified; but with kittens it is not so, and the buyer cannot expect to have an unfair advantage over the seller.
The purchaser’s remedy is this: Supposing a written and signed guarantee that the kitten is healthy, robust, in good condition, and ‘as described’ in colour, points, etc., has been obtained, as it always should be, from any unknown seller, and supposing that when the purchase arrives it proves to be not as described in any of these respects, it can be as soon as possible returned and the repayment of the price demanded.
Common humanity would cause the buyer to feed it first and let it rest before sending it on a return journey, but a telegram should be despatched the instant the kitten has been looked at and found wanting, otherwise a shifty seller might argue that any detention at all meant that it had been approved. Buyers, however, are so often very tiresome in their ways that sympathy is not a white more with one side than another, taking vendor and purchaser together.
You may, for instance, receive a letter inquiring for a smoke kitten, with a long list of excellences demanded, and you may be able to supply exactly what is described. What, then, is your satisfaction when, on the kitten’s arrival, a letter comes informing you of its immediately’ impending return, because the buyer had never seen a smoke before, and does not care for the colour!
This buyer, of course, would argue that her inexperience precluded her knowing what she wanted, but people have no right to expect to gain experience at the cost of others. Her proper course would have been either to go and see the kitten she proposed buying, or to wait and learn her own wants by attending a show; or visiting some cattery within reach.
Shows are exceedingly useful in the way of initiating the novice into cats’ points and beauties, but it is not a good plan for the beginner to buy a kitten direct from a show.
An arrangement can generally be made with the owner to take it home and let it develop any complaint it may have acquired, in its accustomed surroundings and under an experienced eye. It is well worth while to agree to pay an enhanced price for it at the end of this, say three weeks, quarantine. If the owner does not care to do this, perhaps preferring to sell the kitten elsewhere at once, it is really better for the novice to give it up than to run the risk of being distressed and disgusted at the very outset by its death, and the destroying of cherished hopes.
Of course, all kittens that go to shows do not die, and where small country affairs, such as are numerously held in the outskirts of most provincial towns, are concerned, they seldom suffer at all. These shows, held generally in high summer, lasting usually only one day, and comprising only a moderate number of cats in a few classes among many other classes of varied bird and rabbit and poultry exhibits, are very different to the big shows of cats only, where hundreds are gathered together, perhaps in winter, so that the long-hairs may be in coat. It is impossible to promise that where there are so many cats there may not be at least one that develops some contagious disease after it has passed the veterinary entrance examination, and latent disease rapidly comes out under excitement and the close restraint of penning.
Now that the breeding of good cats is so common, it is by no means unusual to find quite excellent kittens in the possession of people in provincial towns who only do a little exhibiting now and then at the local poultry galas.
These kittens, probably bred from the one queen kept at perfect liberty as a well-fed favourite, often make splendid material for the beginner. But if one is to be bought from a distance, have a clear understanding that it is to be packed properly in a well-lined basket, or a sound box with plenty of hay, and sent by a specified train, which is to be met on its arrival.
Avoid arranging for a journey with changes, if possible, and if such a one is inevitable, and the traveller has to be transferred from one railway company to another, especially in London, the expense of a messenger-boy or a commissionaire to effect the transfer will be a wise outlay. The delays of one railway are fiftyfold enhanced when two, and perhaps two not altogether friendly in rivalry, are concerned.
Kittens or cats, before they are sent off on journeys, should have small meals of underdone roast or raw meat, and be allowed a run in the garden, and an opportunity of drinking water. Cats suffer much from thirst, though not quite to the same extent as dogs.
It is wise to begin cat keeping with a kitten, or even two, because they keep one another company, but on no account more. The safest age at which to buy kittens, so far as their health and strength goes, is at about eight months, when, their growth and teething are practically complete, and they are over the trials of infancy. But a younger kitten will settle down more quickly, and there is no fear of its straying away, as the older one may do if at all wild or timid. A permanently timid cat is not at all a desirable possession, but the most confiding kitten, when beyond early infancy, is rudely shaken by a change of homes, and may easily be so upset in mind as to be extremely shy when it first arrives on a novel scene.
The nicest pet by far is a male cat made neuter at from six to nine months old, as he gives no trouble whatever; but, of course, it remains at that, and there is no excitement or possible profit, so that many people prefer queens.
Queens are often exceedingly affectionate and sweet in their ways, so long as nature does not call them to their own domestic affairs; but the moment they begin to think of these, they are lost to all other considerations. No one who likes to go away much, and is not prepared for constant care and watchfulness, should try to keep a valuable queen, for the attempt is sure to end in disaster.
Left to herself she will either have constant families of mongrel kittens, growing poor, and, if a Persian, coatless and ugly after each litter, or she will wander about, bring in strange cats, and perhaps finally get stolen.
A tom cat is frankly impossible as a pet, and people who keep their male kittens too long will quickly find out the whys and wherefores of their undesirability. It is not, of course, an unknown thing for ardent cat fanciers to have a tom or two in the house, but most people, aware of their presence the instant they set foot in the establishment, would suffer much rather than endure anything so strongly resembling the atmosphere of the lion-house at a Zoo.
Still less is keeping ‘a pair of cats’ - as an innocently enterprising lady proposed - a possibility. Two cats are all very well, and more amusing than one, and they certainly enjoy each other’s society, provided they have been brought up together.
Directly the novice begins to find that one or two kittens or cats are a pleasure, however, the impulse seems inevitable to have more. This is a great mistake, as a rule, and I recommend everyone who wishes for the maximum of pleasure in cat-keeping, and is not one of those strenuous beings taking delight in actually working, not to say toiling, at a hobby, to buy two male kittens, one a long-hair and the other a short-hair, and, when they are old enough, to have them made neuter. By this means the owner enjoys all the pretty gambols of the little things, which get thoroughly settled down and become very affectionate, and in later life make great, placid, splendidly handsome, and contented pets.
If, however, the would-be owner is a strenuous soul, and wishes for the excitement and interest of breeding kittens, care must be taken not to buy a queen that will not breed. Some queens, especially among the more delicate varieties — silvers and silver tabbies particularly, and also Manx — though they give just as much trouble as their more prolific sisters, never have families.
If a female cat is to be sold at about two years old, and has not had kittens, it is rather to be suspected that she never will. Sometimes, too, breeders have to choose between letting their queens kitten at nine or ten months old, which is too soon, or running the risk of their proving barren later if withheld from breeding when they first wish to do so.
On all accounts it is best either to buy a queen as a young kitten, so as to be sure that she is well reared, and wholesomely fed with plenty of good meat to make her as strong and healthy as possible, or else to buy one that is known to have been a successful mother. Queens that are breeding do not resent a change of home nearly so much as kittens or adult neuters, or even stud cats. Their interests are more with their families, actual or prospective, than bound up with their homes and the human friends about them.
Do not buy a queen in miserable condition on the excuse that she has ‘just left her kittens.’ If properly fed and cared for, she should not suffer at all, except perhaps in coat, from rearing a moderate family; and if her late owner has let
her rear too many for her strength, it is proof positive-that he is not a breeder who studies the interests of his stock, either as regards the queen herself or her kittens. In buying young kittens there is: always a certain amount of ‘lucky bag’ about the coat and colour; kittens often change completely in colour as they grow. Silvers and blues are born black or dark grey or a nondescript rusty mouse colour; orange kittens may be a dull brown; or, on the other hand, a tabby may look much better in markings as a kitten with only the tips of the fur grown than it does when the coat is complete.
Young Siamese often look lovely, with the white coat of the nest only faintly turned fawn, and the seal-coloured markings more intensely dark and bright than they will ever be later, thus presenting a lovely clear contrast and sharp lines, which later get blurred, while the fawn-coloured parts darken and grow muddy.
A rusty tinge may come at the ends of a long-haired self-coloured cat’s adult fur, and the tortoiseshell never looks so brilliantly clear and sharp in patch definition as it does in kittenhood.
Therefore, if a kitten purchase turns out less pleasing in coat or colour than was anticipated, we can only reflect that many owners have sold ‘off-coloured’ kittens at very small prices, or even given them away, only to find later on that they had turned into something so ‘rich and strange’ as to be greatly regretted.
If dogs are already in possession where it is proposed to start cat keeping, a young kitten should be procured rather than a half or fully grown cat. Even the most sporting of dogs, who never lose a chance of treeing puss when they meet her abroad, will almost always tolerate a baby kitten in the house and never think of hurting it, provided it is properly introduced to them as their own cat.
GENERAL HINTS TO CAT OWNERS.
One of the most deeply rooted common errors or popular cat superstitions is that cats will catch mice better if they are not fed This is not the case; but even if it were, a starved cat is more likely to catch something else much less desirable in the course of long chilly waits outside mouse-holes. Some cats are good mousers by nature, others are not, and though starvation may possibly drive the cat that does not care for sport, and has not inherited the aptitude for it that runs in families, to try and pick up a mouse to eat, it will never give him the natural keenness of a good sportsman.
Being desperately hungry, however, is very likely to make a thief of puss, and draw him illicitly to the larder shelf or the kitchen table; or else it makes him a stray, miserable at home, and so wanderings to yowl plaintively at someone else’s door until he finds a better provided situation.
One thing is certain — an underfed cat cannot possibly display the determination, energy, strength, and patience of the expert mouser in the full vigour of a well-nourished frame. People who ignore the fact that if their cat cannot find a mouse it must suffer tortures of hunger, are akin in what we will charitably call thoughtlessness to those who leave their pets in empty houses without making any provision for them.
Persian and other valuable cats score here, because the fear of losing them generally induces their owners to take some trouble about boarding them out, though even they suffer much when their temporary homes are badly chosen, and from a good meat dietary they decline on to ‘a drop of milk ’ and a few herring bones.
It is a great mistake to board one’s petted and well-cared-for cats with poor cottagers. No matter what injunctions are given them, or what promises they make, people in this position are not at all likely to feed the cat on meat. They would eat it themselves if they bought any: it is only human nature that they should.
Again, though servants and people of the servant class may be, and often are, very kind and genuinely devoted to the household pets, it is not in them to observe any regularity or method in feeding animals. They will always, if left to themselves, go on the principle of a few scraps on the floor, perhaps once, perhaps twenty times a day. For themselves they much prefer ‘a cup of tea and a bit of something tasty’ kept about on the table all day long, to the regular meals of the gentry; and therefore they are bound to go on the same principle in feeding cats.
Cats left to kind servants are not at all likely to starve, but they are sure to be either overfed or irregularly and improperly fed, unless someone who is really to be relied on is most carefully instructed and induced to observe such injunctions. Then, it is the most difficult thing to persuade servants not to give cats milk at all sorts of odd times. Milk is not a wholesome food (or drink) for any but very young kittens between weaning and the complete growth of their first sot of tiny teeth, and even then it needs very careful preparation.
For older cuts it is only a quantity, more or less, of innutritious and rather indigestible fluid put into stomachs made for a small bulk of solid concentrated nourishment. A mass of milk curdled, as it always is, in the stomach may easily give a delicate cat very severe indigestion, and it will in any case tax the digestive powers.
Then we have not only to consider that the milk itself is not a suitable food, but that it is quite likely to be loaded with borax or salicylic acid, or, worse than all, formalin. Town milk especially is nearly always thus ‘preserved,’ and if, as some eminent authorities believe, it is this ‘preservation’ that is largely accountable for our human trouble of appendicitis, that is nowadays becoming a more and more common disease among children, is it not even more likely to bring about trouble in the system of an animal that is not even, as we are, omnivorous?
Nearly as bad as neglect, and the leaving of pets to uninterested hands is the overdosing and fussing about often imaginary ailments that goes on in some establishments - generally those where too many cats are kept, and therefore the standard of health is unnaturally low. From bark and castor oil to the subtleties of the homeopathic medicine-chest — from Peru to China — there is a fearful array of drugs recommended for the unfortunate invalid cat.
As before remarked, cats, if properly fed on meat and not crowded, have practically no diseases, and, if they had, they are such bad patients that the constraint of being nursed, and worse still, the obligation of taking any medicine at all, is sometimes more likely to increase the malady than otherwise. A cat has a remarkably small gullet, and the swallowing of large boluses, in particular, or of more than a very few drops of fluid at a time, in both difficult and dangerous to it.
Therefore, instead of giving drenches, especially of oil, capsules, or tabloids, or rectal suppositories should be used. The latter are sometimes useful; they are cone-shaped and made of some pure fatty substance of a quickly dissolving nature, but are difficult to obtain in sizes small enough for cats. A pure glycerine suppository, or small enemata — about four tablespoonfuls for a cat and two for a kitten of pure olive oil from a chemist, not nut oil, often sold as from Lucca at grocers’ shops — are the quickest, easiest, and safest remedies for constipation in cats; far better than giving medicine by the mouth, which entails a struggle and much subsequent agitation and disgust on the purl, of the patient.
Constipation, however, is a regular bogey with many pet owners. They are everlastingly imagining it, and persuading themselves that their cats need dosing, and, worse than all, putting their theories into action, A constipated condition is, as a matter of fact, an exceedingly rare one in cats, which are naturally disposed quite otherwise. It may occasionally occur if a clean cat has been too long shut up indoors or at a show, but in this case it is generally due to a slight and temporary paralysis of part of the intestine or to some slight impaction, and yields at once to a purely mechanical stimulus like that of a small quantity, of olive oil injected.
That form which proceeds from non-action of the liver is excessively rare, though many fanciers of cats think otherwise, and are fond of dosing their favourites with pink and green and blue pills and all manner of quackeries.
Cats do, of course, now and then get a congestion of the liver from chill or overfeeding, shown by dullness and yellow sickness, and then a little teaspoonful of that useful and harmless compound, Pepper’s Taraxacum and Podophyllin, will do them good. It has nothing in the least harmful in it; but there is always the possibility that remedies of unknown composition may contain calomel, which is a very dangerous thing to give to animals. Before giving even this gentle and efficient remedy, however, for constipation not accompanied by bilious vomiting, the more acceptable dose of a liberal meal of boiled bullock’s liver may be tried. This is often a complete success as an aperient, though by no means satisfactory as nutriment in a general way.
It need not be supposed that a cat is ill because it may occasionally retch as if it wanted to bring up something. The difference between retching and vomiting is this — in the latter case there in a spasm or two followed by a quick and copious expulsion of the contents of the stomach, while in the former the patient continues making efforts which are fruitless or only result in a little froth or phlegm. These may be due to a slight cold, or they may be caused by the cat’s having swallowed long hair in licking itself, and Persians constantly do this if not well and thoroughly groomed daily. Sometimes a neglected cat will get so much hair into its stomach that an emetic, in the shape generally of some zinc sulphate, is necessary.
The popular idea, that buttering a cat’s paws makes it stay in a new home, has for once some foundation. The annoyance of feeling greasy — so great a one to a cat that it counter-indicates the use of ointments in skin diseases where it is at all possible to avoid them — overcomes the cat’s first irritation and excitability at finding itself in a new place, and it may, by the time it has cleaned off the objectionable substance — not, as many people suppose, enjoyed the butter very much — have calmed down as regards other disturbing circumstances.
Cats are indubitably, a terrible nuisance in gardens, and cat owners might have a good deal more mercy and consideration than they frequently show in the matter of letting their pets stray upon other folk’s borders.
There is something about a newly raked and sown flower-bed that is irresistibly attractive to puss, and she will come in her dozens to any particularly neat and well-kept town garden. Cats get no good from being allowed to wander at their liking in towns and on alien premises, though liberty in a country garden is health and paradise to them. But in towns they only catch diseases and learn bad manners from low company, and people who keep cats in a town should either (to be thoroughly Irish) not do it if they have no proper accommodation of their own, or else have their own plots properly wired in so that their pets have to stay at home. There is absolutely no means of preventing cats from raking up seeds, etc., unless the plots can be wired in, and, after all, most cats have been taught in their youth to resort to fine dry soil in boxes, so that they cannot be blamed for preferring it when older.
The secret, of keeping them either out or in with wire consists in using netting that is strong, but not of too small a mesh, and sloping it so that it does not stand straight up from the ground or top of a wall. It is easily fixed in the ground by means of bamboos stuck in at an angle of 41 degrees, and at the top of low walls or fences, by iron wire stanchions, likewise sloped. If, however, the mesh is a half-inch or even an inch one, cats will sometimes walk on it quite unconcernedly.
It is the more desirable to keep our pet cats at home in towns because they run some risks of being poisoned if they stray about. Strychnine is almost invariably the lethal drug used by those who wish to do other people’s pets to death, and it is also the active ingredient of most rat poisons; and the only likely way for a cat to get poisoned in for it either to take drugged meat, or to eat a mouse that has boon destroyed by vermin-killer. The antidote to strychnine is morphine, and syrup of chloral is the best thing to give a cat showing sudden signs of poisoning, convulsive struggles, rigidity, etc. A fit is the only thing likely to be mistaken for strychnine poisoning, and this drug is also valuable in the case of any such seizure, and therefore no hesitation need be felt in administering it. If it can be ascertained with absolute certainty that the cat attacked by convulsions has just eaten anything at all likely to be poisoned, an emetic may be given first, and a little mustard in warm water will do as well as anything, but, as its administration is often very difficult owing to the clenching of the teeth and the cat’s naturally small swallow, there is seldom time for it.
The dose of the syrup of chloral — which should always be kept where it can be readily got at — is one teaspoonful, mixed with one teaspoonful of water, for a full-grown cat. If it does not stop the convulsions it is to be repeated in an hour and a half. It will, of course, make the patient very drowsy. Supposing that the cat is either unable or determined not to swallow, the nearest doctor should be induced to give a hypodermic injection of morphine, unless a qualified veterinary surgeon is at hand, using about one-eighth the quantity that would be given to a person.
Cats are wonderfully tolerant of this drug, however, and can with impunity stand large doses of it when taken internally. It is as innocent towards them as carbolic acid and its derivatives are the opposite.
The administration of morphia has sometimes been suggested as a gentle and kindly method of destroying cats, but in effect it is by no means ideal, as one cat may succumb to a moderate dose, while, another may take enough to kill several human beings and remain quite unmoved by it.
Two drops of Scheele’s prussic acid, which a chemist may be requested to administer, is by far the quickest and most merciful of lethal doses. Amateur chloroforming is not as a rule a great success with adult cats, though it may be easily performed with young kittens, which only need to be put into a fairly air-tight box containing also a sponge or pad of wool soaked with about half an ounce to one ounce of chloroform, which should have been in the box for some minutes first, and left for an hour.
With adult cats this process not infrequently ends in resuscitation after an incredible time and a comparatively tremendous expenditure of chloroform, but with kittens some people prefer it to drowning.
This latter, however, is really not in the least cruel if the kitten’s eyes are not open, and if warm water is used. Before the little things open their eyes they are very slightly sensitive to any outside impressions, their nervous system being practically undeveloped, and they also then have but little vitality — much less than puppies, which can generally withstand far more exposure without loss of life.
The idea of the great hatred cats are supposed to have of water is probably not founded on any fact, but dates back to the superstition that cats were the chosen associates of wizards and witches, ergo of Satan, and that they shared with their lords and overlord a wholesome terror of holy water.
Far from disliking it, many kittens will play with a bowl of water, dashing their paws about in it until they wet themselves all over; and it is not an unheard-of thing for a cat to cross a ford or a river by swimming. To suppose they do not need water to drink is a far more serious error, for some cats are very thirsty animals, and all will take a fair amount of water unless they are, in utterly mistaken kindness, obliged to have milk instead.
It is a mistake when feeding adult cats to cut up their meat too finely. It should neither be very finely minced nor cut into pieces so large that, if too hastily swallowed, they will stick in the throat and choke the eater. A cat gets a great deal of pleasure out of chewing and gnawing a lump of meat altogether too big to be swallowed at a gulp, and, where it is possible, to feed the cats of the household by giving each his three or four ounce allowance of raw meat in one piece on the lawn, and not on plates indoors, is a very good plan. The masticating of food in this way also keeps the teeth clean and preserves them, but of course it would not do to begin this method of feeding with an old animal that had always been used to cut-up food, or with a kitten in the teething stage.
The superstition that yellow cats are unlucky may or may not be true, though no evidence in confirmation of the statement is at hand.
That white cats are deaf is a sweeping statement not justified by the undoubted fact that a few of them have this infirmity. It does not really make much difference to a cat whether it can hear well, ill, or not at all, but as some owners have an objection to dullness of hearing in their pets, inquiry should be made on the point when buying a white cat, especially if it is wanted for catching mice. In this sport, no doubt, deafness is some handicap, though it is probable that increased power of sight and scent, and a realisation of vibrations by more highly sensitised body nerves, would if a great extent take the place of hearing in a cat naturally keen for sport, and make up the deficiency.
Allusion to the proverbial nine lives of a cat may not inaptly close our theme. The very thin abdominal walls of cats are strangely strong and elastic under pressure. A cat will take twice as much running over as would kill a dog, and appear unhurt, though agitated and annoyed, at the end of it. The cat also possesses wonderful recuperative power from starvation or ill-usage, a fact by no means justifying cat-owners in expecting their pets to fend for themselves, or to live entirely on exiguous mice and rats. They certainly possess two extra lives in these respects, but wherein the other seven consist I am unable to say.
One thing is certain: the one life of a cat, if properly regulated, may be a source of the very greatest pleasure to the animal itself and to its owner, and if any hint contained in these pages helps to that end, this book will not have been written in vain.