THE SIAMESE CAT
By Phyl Wade, Chairman of the Siamese Cat Club
With an Introduction by Compton Mackenzie, President of the Siamese Cat Club
This book is dedicated to m cats Vilo, Nigger, Yo Yo of Bedale, and Cedronetta of Henley, and to the memory of Ki Ki – my first Siamese friend - and Chanti. - Phyl Wade
I want to thank my husband who has read and corrected the proofs of this book for me; who has encouraged and helped me in every way; and who has always endured having his house filled with a large and various assortment of animals. Then n I must thank Mrs. Ellaby for giving me a gift beyond price —Vilo. And I must thank Vilo – the best and most beautiful Siamese lady in all the world. She has sat beside me all the time this book has been written. It is Vilo who has stolen my heart so that forever the Siamese cat will have first place there, and it is for love of her that this book Has been written, in the hope that it may help her family - Vilo who for the last five years has so loudly given me all the love of her loyal heart. And lastly, I want to thank the Committee and members of the Siamese Cat Club who have always been so kind to me — their friendship is one of the best things I possess, and I hope to remain their servant for as long as I can serve them.
30 Hamilton Gardens,
St. John’s Wood, N.W.8
Introduction by Compton MacKenzie
I. General Management
II. Adult Feeding
V. The Stud Cat and his General Management
VI. Travelling and Exhibiting
VII. (i) Infectious Enteritis and (2) Distemper of the Cat
VIII. A Few Common Ailments and Treatments
IX. Skin Troubles
X. A Few Hints
XI. Disinfectants ....
XII. The Neutering or Castrating of Cats
XIV. The Cat Fancy
XV. The Siamese Cat Club
Mrs. Wade’s Vilo - Frontispiece
Miss Gold’s Pair of Recently Imported Siamese, Oriental Minoo Pinklepurr (Female) and Oriental Nai Tabhi (Stud)
Mrs. Goldthwait’s Female Kitten, Nancy Nance, Best Exhibit in Show, Kensington, 1934
Miss F. Dixon’s Young Stud, Pita, Best Siamese in Show, Cheltenham, 1934. Reserve Best Siamese Kitten, Crystal Palace, 1933
The Countess, Of Hardwicke’s Females, Tulkit and Champion Rag Tag.
Mrs. Duncan Hindley’s Stud, Hoveton Ruler, as ye unshown.
Miss F. Dixon’s Kittens by Southampton Darboy out of her Aouda
Mrs. Duncan Hindley’s Female, Champion Prestwick Perak
Of late years there has been a definite set-back to the champions of dogs against cats, and at last a cat lover is able to feel less on the defensive. Probably one of the causes of this is the realization that an outdoor life is the real life for a dog, and human nature being what it is some animal has to be found for companionship. Far be it from me even to appear to criticize dogs, for I have had too many good friends among dogs to take up a hostile attitude towards them; but there is no doubt that a dog in a city involves nowadays a responsibility which everybody is not prepared to support as he should. The introduction of motor-cars told against the dog for one thing. Real exercise is not provided so easily as once upon a time. Simultaneously with the discovery that the dog was not the ideal “pet” for cities came the realization that the cat was much more of a companion than people had begun to suppose – I say begun to suppose, because by earlier generations the virtues and intelligence of the cat were fully recognized. I need only cite the fairy-tales of our youth to press home this point. There is no fairy tale in which the dog occupies the central position. It was Dick Whittington and his Cat, not Dick Whittington and his Dog. It was Puss in Bots whose initiative turned the miller’s youngest son into the Marquis of Carabbas. Then there is the beautiful story of The White Cat, which is not so well known a tale among children as it should be.
Turn to nursery rhymes. You will remember the cat that went up to London to see the Queen, the cat that ran up the plum tree, and the cat that threw the children of a village into a state of excitement by falling down the well — Ding dong bell, Pussie's in the well. With approval we look back on the generous behaviour of little Sammy Stout who took her out, and with disgust we regard the despicable conduct of little Tommy Green who put her in. I am trying to recall some nursery rhymes in which the dog is mentioned in equal terms. I can remember only that versatile, but underfed, dog of Mrs. Hubbard’s. Compare the behaviour of the dog with the behaviour of the cat in Hey Diddle Diddle. The cat was an artist who by its playing persuaded the cow to jump over the moon and the dish to run away with the spoon, whereas the little dog only sat in a corner and laughed to see such sport — a good audience that dog, but not an artist. In Struwwelpeter we get the self-righteous animal good dog Tray, but he always seems to me an inferior figure beside the two cats who warned Harriet not to play with the matches, and who wept beside all that was left of her after she was burned — a pair of red shoes.
Even in the proverbs you find a great respect accorded to cats. “Give a dog a bad name and hang him” implies contempt. “A cat may look at a king” implies respect. I insist upon these examples of our forefathers’ attitude to the two animals, for somehow during the Victorian era dog lovers managed to arrogate to themselves a moral superiority. It was only a few years ago that a lover of cats was apt to be regarded as an eccentric if a man or if a woman as a fussy old maid.
Undoubtedly the more honourable position accorded to dogs was bound up with the same honourable position accorded to the male himself. The dog was a habitual reminder to man of his own nobility. I shall not suggest that a dog-like devotion is nothing more than servile flattery, but I feel bound to point out that some of the greatest bores of my acquaintance bask in the affection of their dogs. A cat does not flatter except when like the woman of whose nature it often seems to partake it has a definite end in view; and with cats the flattery is always subtle and graceful without a hint of fawning. However, I repeat that I have no desire to exalt the cat at the expense of the dog, although I shall continue to insist that the virtuous qualities of the dog are those which seem to bring out the less admirable qualities of his human master. When you come to think of it, no one ever talks about a cat’s master, in itself a tribute to the cat. The extravagant dog lover will repeat that old tale about a cat’s preferring the house to the people in it. Actually there is no truth in this assertion, though it would often be easy enough to forgive the cat if such were its attitude. We may judge the character of a man to some extent by the character of his dog, but by the character of a cat we may judge infallibly those who profess to own it. I have never known a cat that responded to a completely worthless human being, but no man is so base that he cannot secure the devotion of a dog. That is always accounted to a dog’s credit. Perhaps I am too sympathetic with a cat’s point of view to understand why this should be so. A cat demands something in return for the companionship it offers, and man, that chief of egotists, discerning a rival egotism, loves the selfless dog.
A cat demands wooing as a woman demands it, but like a woman is capable of what man calls ingratitude and what woman with more justice calls independence. I have often speculated what are the particular characteristics of the human being to whom cats are attracted as a matter of course. I cannot pretend that there is any innate sympathy between the cat lover and the cat. In fact, I repeatedly hear people protest that they dislike cats, but that cats always come to them, and there is frequently a suggestion that in doing this the cat is actuated by a kind of perverse malice. My own theory is that cats always seek out restful people, a further example of their egotism in that they choose the people whose habits are pleasant to themselves. Dogs, on the other hand, are rather like fidgety people. When all is said and done even the most miserable little hairless black-and-tan is not at home indoors, and any movement that suggests the open air is welcome. The domestic tabby has always a profound attachment to home. To see a dog turn round and round on a hearthrug before settling itself to lie down makes one realize that the animal is still so essentially unaccustomed to a roof above its head that it is instinctively clearing away the grass of the open field. To be sure many breeds of the dog family, like the fox, have their homes, but in spite of that the dog is an animal of the pack. A dog is a socialist; a cat is an individualist.
Yet, although the first superficial attraction of the human being for the cat may be nothing more than his ability to sit still and offer a peaceful lap and a tactful hand, a cat is very quick to respond to intelligent appreciation of itself, and that mysterious aloofness soon demonstrates itself to be nothing more mysterious than a judicious reserve. The incomprehensibleness of women and the incomprehensibleness of cats are stock opinions of the commonplace mind; but actually neither the woman nor the cat is in the least mysterious. Half this mystery is merely a sudden obedience to a whim which it is too tiresome to explain. I have watched cats by the hour, and I cannot recall any behaviour which completely puzzled me. A cat will contemplate for a long time the value of the slightest action before it commits itself. You will see a cat lying on a comfortable cushion watching a bluebottle on the window-pane. You will see that cat debating with itself whether the pleasure of catching the bluebottle is worth the trouble of abandoning the comfort of the cushion. I have never seen a dog do that. This is not to attribute a more rational intelligence to the cat, but it does suggest a cat’s greater capacity for deliberate choice. This deliberation is evident in the proverbial curiosity of the cat, a curiosity, I might add, which is not extended as a rule to human beings or other cats. Except for that dignified and admirable dog the Chow, it is impossible to imagine two dogs meeting in a country lane without saluting each other in the usual way in passing. The invariable first instinct of a cat on meeting another cat is to spit: not as a preliminary to battle (for the battles of cats are amorous encounters held as much according to strict rule as medieval tournaments) but as a warning each to the other not to obtrude its probably undesirable personality.
It is delightful to watch a female cat’s behaviour towards a male with whom she is living a kind of married life. The male is never allowed to suppose for one instant that his company is pleasant, his behaviour attractive, or his influence recognized. The male cat’s existence is as apologetic as a henpecked husband’s. If he has been out for a walk the curiosity of his wife overcomes her indifference and you can see her quite plainly asking him where he has been and what he has been doing and you can also see that the immediate assumption of the female is that the male is lying. His ears are boxed, and with upright haughty tail she retires to her cushion again.
I had a half Siamese cat once. She was a tortoiseshell with large green eyes called Pauline, who lived for many years with a rather common husband, a white and ginger South Italian cat called Pinkie. Pinkie had a dog’s life of it — there, the phrase slips out before one can stop it. No cat could have been more faithful than Pinkie but I never once saw his own story of his whereabouts accepted. There was no question of jealousy. His wife thought nothing of introducing half a dozen lovers into the place whenever it suited her — in fact, she often went so far as to bring them in and invite them to eat her own husband’s dinner. No, it was a magnificent demonstration of how to keep the upper hand by being continuously disagreeable, until ready for bed, when Pinkie, who was a sentimentalist, was rewarded to find himself being used as a pillow. One of Pauline’s devices for making a dull dinner edible was to dare the unfortunate Pinkie to try to steal with his paw a tit-bit from her plate. He did not want to do this, but being under his wife’s domination he had to obey, whereupon he would receive a terrific box on the ears and be compelled in wait blinking while Pauline ate with added relish from her husband’s dish.
I have never seen this kind of comedy played Between dogs. If you had a dog and a bitch living with you, both would be competing for your favour, But, unless exceptionally, their own intercourse would not go beyond chasing the same rabbit at the same time, or pulling at the same stick in different directions. The family life of a cat is of absorbing interest, and those cat lovers (by far the larger number) whose knowledge of them is confined to a female cat and her kittens miss a great deal of amusement. The nervous paternity of the male when he pays his first visit to his children, with considerable trepidation as to whether or not his wife is going to allow him to call himself a father, always provides good comedy. Still more is that drama in the Ibsen manner when the wife tells her husband that she can no longer stand the sight of him doing nothing, earning nothing, catching nothing, and departs, taking her family with her, to some crack in a wall or crevice in a rock. I fancy that the general explanation of these abrupt departures and changes of residence is that the female cat is afraid lest the male should devour the young. I do not believe this. I believe it to be a part of the elaborate domestic life of the cat in all its variety, a deliberately staged warning by the female that the male cannot afford to suppose that the kittens are his for the rest of time.
Owing to the inconvenience of the noise less than justice has been done to the courtship of cats. It is as elaborate an affair as a Provencal court of love. Some three weeks or a month before the lady has decided to wander abroad by the light of the moon various gentlemen in the neighbourhood come and sing aubades and serenades to her. By the way, it is a delight to watch the expression on the face of a female kitten when she hears her first troubadour. After various songs have been sung for about a week the suitors apparently decide that they will cheapen themselves if they continue their music too long, and they all assume an attitude of indifference to the fair. Then the lady starts singing, the object being to gather the males round her for combat. Pauline, to whom I have already referred, was the belle of Capri and I have seen her perched on the top of a pergola with no less than seventeen male cats sitting as still as marble on the terrace below. There never seems to be a general melee. Apparently two of no matter how many males gradually assert a moral superiority over the others who slink away like shadows to leave the last two for mortal combat. Even that combat is conducted with ritualistic solemnity which includes sitting opposite to one another on a wall or on the bough of a tree, nose touching nose, heads bowed, in what but for the moaning would seem a trance. Then the fight begins, and at a certain moment one male knows he is beaten. Yet, after all that the well-beloved has made her swains perform, she is still unwilling, and the amorous contest is prolonged sometimes for a week, but always with an elaborate ritual. The musical side of the affair has aroused the antipathy of the industrial slaves it robs of their sleep, but I am sure that if people gave themselves an opportunity to study the procedure they would soon forget all about the yowlings and the moanings in admiration of the drama, which is as poetically contrived as Romeo and Juliet.
I note that Mrs. Wade seems inclined to attribute the origin of the Siamese cat to Egypt, but I should prefer to suppose that the qualities which distinguish the Siamese cat from other cats are due to its having no connexion with the Egyptian cat or the European wild cat or the Persian. I maintain that the Siamese cat is a selected and inbred variant of the Malay Jungle cat. It is, in fact, a semi-albino, and it is noticeable that the same kind of colouring has been produced by selection and inbreeding in the Jersey cow. The only other cat in which I have detected a marked affinity with the Siamese is the Manx cat, and is there anything to contradict the theory that the Manx cat itself dates from the introduction to the Isle of Man of a Malay jungle cat which may have been brought over by a sailor? Both Siamese and Manx cats assert themselves in any neighbourhood where the males are given a free range, and any Manx or Siamese male is liable to produce a number of tailless cats. I know of no instance in which the offspring of a Siamese cat mated with an ordinary cat has inherited the Siamese colouring. I do not even know of any instance in which the blue eyes of the Siamese have been handed on, and this is surely an argument in favour of albinism. I believe I am right in saying that a cross-bred Jersey never shows in the colouring. The tendency nowadays is to breed out the kink from the Siamese tail, which I maintain is a mistake, and I shall be so bold as to lay down the rule that the more marked the kink in a Siamese cat’s tail, the more definite the Siamese temperament. However, even if the Fancy succeeds in breeding out the kink in the tail, those straight-tailed Siamese when mating with other cats may continue to produce kinktailed offspring and even tailless offspring.
I shall be the last person to depreciate in any way the intelligence and charm of the Siamese cat, but I wish people would not assume so easily that the ordinary cat is as ordinary as they think it. Those who acquire Siamese cats have often paid fairly large sums for their pets and therefore instinctively give them more attention. Moreover, if the Siamese does not get the attention it demands it makes such a nuisance of itself that the owner has to get rid of it, and at this point I should like to warn anybody who thinks it would be fun to have a Siamese cat that unless he is prepared to give it personal devotion he had better keep goldfish instead. Those who cannot afford to indulge in a Siamese cat may have intense pleasure from any ordinary cat if they will take the trouble to bring that ordinary cat up with personal devotion from kittenhood. A Siamese cat has a great reputation for the ease with which it may be taught to accompany its owner on walks, even on the lead in crowded streets. An ordinary cat could quite easily be taught to do this — or rather habituated, because nobody can teach a cat anything. Anyone, however, wishing to make a walking companion of a cat must remember that a cat’s progress is never steady, and that, though it can walk miles at its own pace and in its own fashion, to make it trot for even four hundred yards at a stretch is liable to throw it into a convulsive fit. Anyone, therefore, who takes cats for a walk must carry them for a bit every hundred yards or let them rest from time to time. The pleasure a cat takes walking in human company may be tested by anybody who strolls round the streets of London in the night time when he who cares for cats may have a succession of companions. Unfortunately the bestial habit of inciting dogs to bait cats has made them timid and suspicious. Occasionally a conviction against this kind of cad is secured but too many of these rascals perform with impunity. A fine for such a one does not satisfy my desire for vengeance. I long to hunt him round a London square with a couple of black panthers.
On the whole, we can congratulate ourselves that deliberate cruelty to animals is not conspicuous in this country, but there is an immense amount of cruelty to cats, due to ignorance and lack of imagination. The habit of leaving a cat to look after itself while the family take their annual holiday is still disgracefully prevalent. The cat is not a scavenger by nature and those who drive it into scavenging should be driven to eat potato-peelings themselves. There is another superstition that the well-fed cat will not kill mice and rats, the truth being that the better the cat is fed the more mice and rats it will kill, because the cat kills mice and rats for sport, not for food. I have never yet seen a cat eat a rat or a mouse with any relish. Moreover, the ill-fed cat often lacks the strength to tackle a big rat, but a well-fed cat will tackle anything. One of my Siamese enjoys nothing better than a battle with a big stoat, which will make a terrier think twice before attacking it.
The cat is always credited with being a thief, but the cause usually is to be found in insufficient or inappropriate feeding. A cat enjoys the best of food as much as the human being with his sophisticated palate. Prawns, lobsters, caviare is the kind of food that makes a cat really sit up and take notice; but a cat usually does not like game, and this alone should be a warning against feeding it with what are euphemistically called scraps. Usually a cat hates vegetables as much as a child, but a kitten I was bringing up last year, not a Siamese, developed an astonishing passion for melon and would growl over a slice of melon more viciously than over a slice of raw meat. I had another cat which ate gooseberries, picking them for itself off a bush. I used to wonder if the hair suggested some animal. Another cat I had — one of my Siamese — never could resist eating the primrose-scented Algerian iris, stylosa or unguicularis. Most cats have a voluptuous love of scented flowers, pinks and carnations being their favourites. At the moment I am wondering whether it would be possible to teach a cat to take snuff, for many of them show signs of enjoying tobacco smoke, which to every dog is poisonously offensive. Another smell which will drive a dog nearly mad but which seems to have no unpleasant effect on the cat is that of an orange. I have seen a dog jump twice its height in the air rather than pass over a piece of orange peel. A cat hates the smell of a goat, with which we can
sympathize. I remember a little girl friend who had a pet goat coming to visit some kittens of mine that were turned into diminutive furies by what was evidently a suggestion of goat on her clothes.
When I brought my Siamese cats from Jethou to Inverness-shire, all of them were horrified by their first sight of a horse and would run and hide themselves if a horse and cart came to the door, whereas although they had never seen a motor-car the fact that they had been for rides in a motor-boat and had seen an electric-light engine working gave them perfect confidence and they would all get up and sit in any car that had been left waiting in the drive. What horrified them, however, even more than horses was their first sight of roe-deer, which I think they must have thought were super-rabbits sent to avenge innumerable murders in the past.
One of the mistakes people often make in dealing with cats is not to talk to them. And that reminds me of the importance of giving a cat a name. It takes a cat longer apparently to answer to its name than a dog. This is not through any lack of intelligence but on account of the non-servile nature of the cat. It is wonderful when it realizes the value of admitting a name how much it enjoys conversation. If my cats were lying seemingly asleep on their cushions and I mentioned the name of any one of them there would be an immediate response with the flick of an ear, or the twitch of a tail. That is another superstition, by the way, the belief that the movement of a cat’s tail denotes displeasure. If a cat is angry it will lash its tail, but generally the movement of a cat’s tail denotes pleasure. If you watch a cat drinking cream you will always see the enjoyment signalized by a rhythmic movement of the tail’s tip, and any sentence I address to my cats is immediately responded to with the tail just in the same way as a dog responds, although, of course, not with the same rapidity of motion. For a long time I believed it was only Siamese cats that showed pleasure with their tails, but I found that when I treated the ordinary cats as I treated my Siamese they responded similarly. It is not easy to teach a cat to beg. Last year I had a kitten (the same one that liked melon) which I taught to sit up and beg and I have just found that one of her daughters aged five weeks shows a natural tendency to learn the same trick. Moreover, cats do not take kindly to tricks and we must admire an animal which after all those years of association with human beings has not been corrupted by human behaviour.
The increasing popularity of cats, due, as I have suggested, to the growth of urban life, demands that they should be accorded as much protection as a dog secures by being licensed. I recognize that the result of the imposition of a cat tax would involve the destruction of many cats, and before any cat tax were imposed it would be necessary for the Government to arrange the painless destruction of cats for which their owners were not prepared to pay. It is the prospect of this wholesale destruction which prevents many cat lovers from supporting the proposal of a cat tax. The ultimate benefit of such a tax seems to me inestimable. For one thing, it would at once put an end to this abominable habit of deserting cats in London and other great cities. Nobody ever deserts a dog or leaves it to fend for itself, though actually a dog would be much more capable of finding the wherewithal to feed itself suitably than a cat. A cat tax could regulate the number of males, for it would be advisable to treble the tax on entire males. Such a tax would put an end to the present treatment of kittens, for with the proceeds it would be possible to provide every locality with the means of painless destruction for unwanted kittens. I need not stress the moral effects of such a tax, for it is sufficiently obvious that human nature always esteems what it has to pay for more than what it gets for nothing. My own impulse would be to forbid dogs absolutely in cities, but I suppose that such a prohibition would never be achieved without a social revolution. However, surely the cost of a dog licence for a city dog might be doubled. Needless to say, in these days when the community is being taxed on all sides by the tyrants of bureaucracy, it goes against the grain to suggest the infliction of any more buff forms on suffering humanity. Yet the problem of the great increase in cats recently must be faced and cat lovers should not allow sentiment to interfere with practical charity. Nobody who loves cats can be anything but appalled at the unnecessary suffering which is inflicted upon them nowadays. Every cat like every dog ought to bear the name and address of its owner.
That would cure people of turning their cats out into the street because they are too lazy to provide for the wants of the cleanest animal on earth. It may be pleaded that cats are a necessity in cities and dogs only a luxury. If that is so, the cat is entitled to all the more care and respect. It will be argued that poor people should not be compelled to pay for a necessity. Some allowance could easily be made, but whether it be paid for or not at the full rates nobody should be allowed to keep one cat without a licence. I do not want to raise the exasperating topic of vivisection, but it must be clear to every cat lover that the careless state in which cats are kept must expose them to danger. Those who advocate extended protection to animals and birds are always accused of sentimentality. There is another aspect of the question. Those who keep animals and birds often keep them at the expense of their fellow-citizens’ comfort, and there is really no reason why anybody should keep an animal or bird unless he is prepared to accept the responsibility for its proper maintenance. The courtship of cats is a fascinating affair from one point of view: from another point of view it is an infernal nuisance, and that nuisance could perfectly well be, if not entirely abolished, mitigated.
For some reason or other the Fancy as a whole is opposed to the licensing of cats. The only effective argument I have heard is that such a measure would immediately involve widespread destruction with the barbaric methods of destroying cats unfortunately in vogue now. That can be guarded against, and I do not understand how any member of the Fancy can contemplate with equanimity the wretchedness to which under present conditions thousands and thousands of cats are continuously exposed. I have often heard it uttered as a reproach against the cat that it cares only for its own comfort. Such criticism sounds ludicrous in the mouth of a human being. It does not ever seem to strike these critics that the very dependency of a cat on its own comfort should compel the moral man to do all he can to provide for that comfort. The logical alternative is to destroy all cats, and not even the hater of cats would support such an action. No animal suffers so rapidly and so much from neglect. A cat exposed to the humiliation of nosing about in garbage leads a life of misery. A cat is not as capable as a dog of standing exposure to rain and wind. A cat possesses every virtue that an animal can possess for civilized man. A dog is more valuable in more primitive conditions. It is clear that manners are tending towards a life of increasing artificiality to which a cat is much better able to adapt itself than any other animal. The sooner we take the necessary steps to protect this most domestic of all domestic animals, the sooner our enjoyment can profit from it.
I have not insisted on the beauty and grace of the cat because they have always been recognized. Yet the aesthetic value of such beauty and grace has not been over-stressed. Few parental virtues are more irritating than the fondness with which the parent will regard some wretched child of two mauling about a kitten. The correct parental attitude should be an admonition to their child to observe with reverence the grace of the kitten, and then to kneel down and ask its Maker to give it a small percentage of such grace. There is no reason why a child should be encouraged to treat a kitten with less respect than it would treat mother’s favourite vase or father’s case of razors. Puppies like being mauled about by children. Kittens do not. If a child were encouraged to play properly with kittens, nothing would educate its taste and cultivate its imagination better. The whole future of a cat will depend on its treatment as a kitten, and no animal responds more quickly to imaginative games. It is fairly easy, for instance, to teach any kitten to retrieve a ball of paper. In fact, a kitten for enjoyment and novelty in the way of pastime is insatiable, and to encourage a child to invent novelties is a wonderful training for the child. It is the finest cure for childish egotism, because the egotism of the child is continuously competing with the often stronger egotism of the kitten. It is noticeable too, that almost every normal child prefers a kitten to a puppy, the reason for which may often be the recognition of a richer personality, a personality nearer to its human self. The mauling about of kittens is usually a misplaced affection, and if parents would only exercise a little imagination the development of the kitten and the development of the child might be of the greatest possible mutual benefit.
The tranquillity of a cat in these times of ever-increasing noise and restlessness has almost a hygienic value, and I am sure that therein may be found another contributory cause to the increasing popularity of the cat. Some people may ask what evidence there is of the cat’s increasing popularity. I can only reply by referring them to the increase in the number of cat clubs and societies, to the greater attention given to cats in the daily Press, and to the larger number of professed cat lovers whom I am always meeting. Even ten years ago to say that one preferred cats to dogs was to be stared at by most of one’s hearers incredulously. You find it much less noticeable now.
We still lack a complete history of the domestic cat. Probably because the authentic material is curiously slight, legends and fairy-tales abound, and these have interfered with hard facts. Nobody, so far as I know, has ever succeeded in producing an authoritative history or authoritative photographs of the British wild cat at home. Only the other day I was reading in the correspondence of a Scottish paper a statement that there were no genuine wild cats left. That, of course, is nonsense. There are still a few, but at the rate they are being trapped there will soon be none left, and we shall remain for ever ignorant of what their life really was. All accounts of the origin of the Siamese cat are largely speculative. I do not know where we can put our hands on a good account either of the Abyssinian cat or of the Mexican hairless cat. The so-called Russian cat — where did that come from? What gives their peculiar characteristics to the Persian and the Angora cat? Why have all southern Italian cats much longer tails than others? Are there any unmixed descendants of the early Egyptian cat? No doubt answers to these questions exist, but they have not yet been written down in any book that I know. Even the origin of the Siamese cat is not definitely established. Mrs. Wade has not attempted to answer various perplexing questions, for the answer to which perhaps a lifetime of research might not suffice. She has, however, written the most practical guide to keeping a cat in good health and in good spirits that I know, and this is really a more valuable service at the moment than historical research. Ignorance about the treatment of domestic cats is widespread.
I hope I have said enough to show that my devotion to cats is not confined to Siamese cats, and that I believe any ordinary cat, or at any rate any ordinary short-haired cat, is as capable as a Siamese of responding to intelligent treatment. I do not feel quite so sure about Persians, and I have certainly observed that a half-Persian is always a much better companion than a full Persian. The vanity of the Persian is perhaps excessive. I had a half-Persian, half-Manx female cat who once jumped up on a table where a fly-paper was lying, jumped, indeed, right into the middle of the fly-paper and never recovered from the mortification. She moped for the rest of her days, having taken a profound dislike to all fellow-cats and all human creatures.
The fundamental difference between the point of view of the Siamese, and (Manx cats excepted) cats of other breeds is their utter dependence on human companionship. I have been told that of the larger cats the puma, even in a wild state, will deliberately attach himself to man for the sake of companionship and act as his guardian in the jungle, but I never knew anybody who kept a domesticated puma, and I cannot say how far they are to be trusted.
The Siamese cat has for so many hundreds of years been accustomed to attention that it expects at least as much intelligence in human beings as it possesses itself. Hence the pertinacity with which it will try to explain vocally what it wants. Strangers to the habits of Siamese often get rid of them after a brief experience of their habits, because they are unable to keep them quiet. Now, the first thing anybody with ambitions to own a Siamese cat has to learn is the meaning of his pet’s contralto miaows. Sometimes, I admit the requests are unreasonable as when a Siamese will stand and make loud noises in an open doorway because it is raining outside, and it wants you to turn the rain off. The only way to deal with this kind of exigency is to find some diversion to take the place of the walk your pet had proposed for himself and you. Usually, however, these insistent miaows express an easily gratified want like a saucer of water. My half-Siamese, Pauline, puzzled me for a long time by sitting on her haunches in the middle of the salone of our house in Capri and miaowing deeply at a large oval mirror in a heavily carved gilt frame. Finally I discovered that she wanted to be lifted up on this frame in order to climb all round it. Then having proved to her own satisfaction that the convolutions and foliations of this florid piece of furniture lacked interest she never gave it another miaow.
Pauline was a most determined cat. She hated to be left alone, and she would have accompanied us all the way into the town of Capri if we had not always sent her back where the steps climbed up from the cliff path into the urbanity of the Via Tragara. On one occasion, however, she was too smart for us. We were going to tea with a friend who had a villino, about a mile along the Tragara, and more than a mile and a half from our own house. The sitting-room of Mrs. X opened directly on a small terrace, but as it was a gusty day in spring when the dust from the terrazza would have been whirled into the room the door was shut. It was the usual Capri tea-party of April, with two or three visiting English old maids as the guests of honour. Our hostess kept a couple of tiresome small Belgian griffon dogs, and these were at their usual trick of cadging bits of bread and butter from those who were strangers to their greed, when there was a loud tap on the door.
‘Come in,’ said Mrs. X.
There was another loud tap.
‘It must be Mrs. Y,’ one of the visiting old maids suggested. ‘I expect she found it too windy for painting.’
Mrs. X went across to open the door and let in the new visitor.
In stalked, tail erect, our cat Pauline. There was a howl of pain from one of the griffons, a howl from the other, as both of them rushed, yelping, out into the garden, unpursued by Pauline, who had merely boxed their noses to establish a moral superiority. She then looked round the room, noticed that one of the old ladies was about to put a piece of bread and butter into her mouth, leapt lightly on her knee, struck it out of her hand with a paw, jumped down again, and proceeded to eat the piece of bread and butter on the best rug. Yes, she was a determined cat, Pauline. I apologize for these anecdotes. I have a notion that anecdotes about one’s own animals have the same effect on other people as telling them one’s dreams. But I must quote from a letter I received some years ago about somebody else’s Siamese cat:
‘This beloved cat lived a most adventurous life with us in India for many years and went everywhere with us. I have carried him on my horse, he has ridden on a camel, camped out, lived on a house-boat in Kashmir, motored and trained thousands of miles . . . after the war I had to leave him with a friend in India. Returning after two years he knew me at once. We brought him home . . . and he only died this February, being fifteen years old.’
I have heard it said that Siamese cats were originally kept as repositories for the souls of transmigrating Siamese Royalty. I have read somewhere that the original kink was made by a Princess of Siam to keep her rings from being swished off her favourite cat’s tail when she hung them there while she was bathing. These no doubt are legends, but they illustrate a long intimacy between these cats and human nature. Nobody who has once been admitted into this intimacy can ever love any other animal quite so dearly. Siamese cats are jealous, greedy, and I suppose I must add destructive, for any piece of fine embroidery only exists in their fancy as a suitable toy for their claws. But, as I have already written, what are their faults compared with their virtues — with their sense of humour, their fidelity, their dauntless courage (except of the unknown), their playfulness, their conversational powers, their awareness of themselves, their honesty (by which I mean they will take a lobster off a table in front of you), their continuous passionate interest in all that is going on around them, and their depth of affection, which they are able to show in so many exquisite ways?
THE ORIGIN OF THE CAT AND EARLY HISTORY
THE origin of the cat is wrapped in mystery, although historians tell us that it came into existence about the same time as the horse. Moncrief relates a curious legend which was told to him by Mulla, a minister of the Mussulman religion. ‘For the first few days of residence in the Ark each animal, frightened by the motion and the strange surroundings, remained with its kind. The ape was the first to tire of this restricted life, and made advances to a young lioness, and it was from this amour that the first pair of cats sprang.’
In Sanskrit writings over 2,000 years old we find reference to the cat, and there we find the legend that the Huntress Diana — who is also the Moon, and identical with the Goddess Bast of the Egyptians — took the feline form when the gods fled from the giants. In this shape she was able to assist her friends by acting as a spy.
Our domestic cat probably came to us from the East, and is a descendant of the old domestic cat of Egypt, which country as being the granary of the ancient world, may well have been the country to first consider the advantage of taming such an animal. It is mentioned in inscriptions in Egypt as early as 1684 B.C. and was certainly domesticated thirteen hundred years before Christ. The earliest known representation of the cat as a pet is at Leyden in a tablet of the 18th or 19th dynasty, where we see it sitting under a chair.
Animal worship was probably introduced into Egypt by Chorres, the second king of the 2nd dynasty, and the cat appears to have held the first place in their worship, and was a venerated inmate of their temples. The Goddess Pasht, or Bubastes, the goddess of cats, was represented, under the Roman Empire, as having a cat’s head. In the time of Thothmes IV — 1500 B.C. — a temple at Beni-Hassan was dedicated to her. Behind this temple the sacred cat was buried, and many cat mummies have been found there, as well as at Thebes, Speos, and Artemidos, but most people seem to have preferred to have their pets embalmed and sent for burial to Bubastes. According to Herodotus this was the finest temple in all Egypt, and there was worshipped the Goddess Pasht, the goddess of cats. It is thought that our common word ‘Puss’ is a debased form of the word Pasht.
The Etruscans, the inhabitants of Taranto in Southern Italy, were the first Europeans to make use of the cat. It was imported from Egypt and was kept not only as a rare and petted favourite, but as a destroyer of mice. There are signs that it was introduced into Greece about the same time, again from Egypt.
The story of Pangur Ban was written in the eighth century by an exiled Irish student who sat over his books in the distant monastery of Carinthia and wrote upon the margin of his copy of St. Paul’s epistles this poem to his cat, which is so charmingly translated by Robin Flower in the ‘Poem Book of the Gael’:
I and Pangur Ban, my cat,
’Tis a like task we are at;
Hunting mice is his delight,
Hunting words I sit all night.
Better far than praise of men
’Tis to sit with book and pen;
Pangur bears me no ill-will
He, too, plies his simple skill.
’Tis a merry thing to see
At our tasks how glad are we
When at home we sit and find
Entertainment to the mind.
Oftentimes a mouse will stray
In the hero Pangur’s way:
Oftentime my keen thought set
Takes a Meaning in its net.
’Gainst the wall he sets his eye
Full and fierce and sharp and sly;
’Gainst the wall of knowledge I
All my little wisdom try.
When a mouse darts from its den,
O! how glad is Pangur then:
O! what gladness do I prove
When I solve the doubts I love.
So in peace our task we ply,
Pangur Ban, my cat, and I;
In our arts we find our bliss,
I have mine and he has his.
Practice every day has made
Pangur perfect in his trade;
I get wisdom day and night
Turning darkness into light.
The word ‘cat’ is said to be derived from the Latin word ‘catus.’ The female cat (‘catus femina’) is always spoken of as a ‘queen.’ This is almost certainly the debased form of the Saxon word ‘wheen’ which was used to signify the female sex.
In the time of Hoel the Good, King of Wales, who died in 948, strict laws were made for the preservation of animals, and cats were included as being of great value on account of their scarcity and utility.
The origin of the Siamese is even more obscure, but the body and skull structure are very like the cat mummies of Egypt, and in Cleopatra’s time we know that there was an extensive trade between Egypt and the Far East, and surely it is probable that cats were sent out with the grain ships to protect them from rats. In the ‘Mysteries of Religion and Magic,’ M. Oldfield Howey says: ‘For two hundred years Siamese cats were only to be found in that portion of the Royal City of Bangkok where the monarch and his court resided. But though we can trace the variety for so long a period, its origin remains obscure. The Hon. Russell Gordon, who made a study of the subject, considers it is derived from a cross between the sacred cat of Burmah and the Annamite cats that were introduced into the religiously sealed and guarded Burmese and Cambodian Empire of Khmer when this succumbed to the attack of the Siamese and Anna- mites in the seventeenth century.’
George Mivart in ‘The Cat,’ published in 1881, says: ‘The Royal Siamese cat is one of uniform fawn colour, which may be of a very dark tinge. There is a tendency to a darker colour about the muzzle — as in pug-dogs. It has also remarkable blue eyes, and sometimes at least two bald spots on the forehead. It has a small head.’
The following quotation is from Harrison Weir in Our Cats, published 1882. The standard of points is laid down by Harrison Weir at this date. I have included it because I think interest will be found in comparing it with the present standard of points as drawn up by the Siamese Cat Club in 1933 which I give at the end of this book. ‘According to the Crystal Palace catalogues from the years 1871—87 fifteen Siamese females and only four males, some of these not entire, were shown. The males were not allowed to be exported and were only got by those so fortunate as a most extraordinary favour, as the King of Siam is most jealous of keeping the breed entirely in Siam as Royal Cats.’
Points of excellence as given by Harrison Weir in Our Cats, published 1892:
ROYAL CAT OF SIAM
Head. 10 points.
Small, broad across and between the eyes, tapering upwards and somewhat narrow between the ears: forehead flat and receding, nose long and somewhat broad, cheeks narrowing towards the mouth, lips full and rounded, ears rather large and wide at base, with very little hair inside.
Fur. 10 points.
Very short and somewhat woolly, yet soft and silky to the touch and glossy with much lustre on the face, legs, and tail.
Colour. 20 points.
The ground or body colour to be of an even tint, slightly darker on the back, but not in any way clouded or patched with any darker colour; light rich dun is the preferable colour, but a light fawn, light silver grey, or light orange is allowable; deeper and richer browns, almost chocolate, are admissible if even and not clouded, but the first is the true type, and the last merely a variety of much beauty and excellence; but the dun and light tints take precedence.
Markings. 20 points.
Ears black, the colour not extending beyond them, but ending in a clear and well-defined outline; around the eyes and all the lower part of the head, black; legs and tail black, the colour not extending into or staining the body, but having a clear line of demarcation.
Eyes. 15 points.
Rather almond shape, slanting towards the nose, full and of very beautiful blue opalesque colour, luminous and of a reddish tint in the dusk of evening or artificial light.
Tail. 5 points.
Short by comparison with the English cat, thin throughout, a little darker towards the base, without any break or kink.
Size and Form. 10 points.
Rather small, lithe, elegant in outline, and graceful, narrow and somewhat long; legs thin and a little short than otherwise; feet long, not so round as the ordinary cat; neck long and small.
Condition. 10 points.
In full health, not too fat, hair smooth, clear, bright, full of lustre, lying close to the body, which should be hard and firm in the muscles.
Total 100 points.
The first Siamese that we have any record of were brought to England in 1884 by Mr. Gould, who was Consul General in Bangkok about this time. About 1886 a pair of cats and two kittens were brought to England by Mrs. Vyvyan. They had been procured as a great favour and after much delay from the King’s Palace in Bangkok. About the same time Miss Walker, the daughter of General Walker, managed to bring over one male and three females.
They were obviously very difficult to procure at this time, and were only kept in the Royal Palaces and Temples of Bangkok and were given as presents of great worth to a few highly honoured people.
I have little doubt that the ancient Egyptian cat is the ancestor of the Siamese cat, and that climatic and geographical conditions, together with very careful and selective breeding, has produced the Siamese as we know it.
Darwin says in Variations of Animals and Plants, Vol. I: ‘Throughout an immense area, namely, the Malayan Archipelago, Siam, Pegu, and Burmah, all the cats have truncated tails about half the proper length, often with a sort of knot at the end.’ Probably the kinked tail sometimes found in Siamese is the result of a palace cat having got out and mating with a Malayan cat. This is why the Siamese Cat Club looks askance at a badly kinked tail.
CHAPTER I. GENERAL MANAGEMENT
First of all remember to treat cats individually and never collectively. Every cat is different, with different likes and dislikes. Learn your cat’s individual tastes.
A varied diet is almost essential and regular meals at regular times are a necessity. Never leave unfinished food lying about. What is not finished at a meal should be picked up and thrown away. Feed always in scrupulously clean dishes. Remember that flies are great carriers of disease, and food should be guarded against them.
Fresh water must always be accessible, and whenever possible an abundance of coarse, fresh grass. Always supply a warm, comfortable bed somewhere for each pet.
Siamese cats are naturally the cleanest of animals, and if you find a dirty one, you can generally blame yourself and not the cat. Supply a deepish enamel bowl filled with desiccated peat-moss, dry earth, or sand for the purpose of an earth box. I do not advise sawdust, it gets into the coat and then is licked off and gets into the throat hence causing a cough and sometimes serious internal trouble. Keep this lavatory clean, and I say have it of enamel because it is easy to scald this out every morning with boiling water and disinfectants. Keep it always in one place so that the cat can find it easily.
Sunshine and fresh air are absolutely necessary. Kittens will never be reared in a basement, so do not waste time trying. Cold will not kill an adult cat, but draughts and damp will. Exercise is another important factor. Siamese are the most active creatures imaginable, and perpetual confinement in a small place is not only cruel, but very stupid.
Last, but in no way least, remember that a Siamese must have human love and human companionship. They are very much a one person’s pet, and will attach themselves to that person in exactly the same way as will a dog, and can be trained easily to follow, and to go on a lead. Motoring is also keenly enjoyed by these cats. Sometimes, however, they will fret themselves to death without their owner, and Siamese do badly in boarding kennels for this very reason; if they must be parted from their owner, try not to add to their grief by also separating them from their known surroundings. On the other hand, they are excellent travellers and will settle down anywhere so long as their owner is with them. Treat your Siamese as you treat your dog — he is more intelligent and will give you just the devotion, but as Oliver Hertford says: ‘The dog is everybody’s friend,’ not so the cat. What we call instinct is the knowledge learned in the thousands of years behind them, for cats have long memories and have survived all their various vicissitudes of fortune because they never forget what their ancestors learned. As Carl van Vechten says in ‘The Tiger in the House’: ‘We may dominate dogs, but cats can never be dominated except by force. They can be annihilated, at least a few of them can, but never made servile or vulgar. He will not even permit God to interfere with his liberty and if he suffers so much as a toothache he will refuse all food. He would rather die than endure pain. Thus, like the Spartan, he preserves the strength of his stock. He may at any moment change his motto from Libertas Sine Labore or A mica Non Serva to Quand Meme. There is, indeed, no single quality of the cat that man could not emulate to his advantage. He is clean, the cleanest, indeed, of all animals — absolutely without odour or soil when it is within his power to be so. He is silent, walking on padded feet with claws withdrawn, making no sound unless he wishes to say something definite and then he can express himself freely. He believes in free speech, and not only believes in it, but indulges in it. Nothing will make a cat stop talking when he wants to except the hand of death. He is entirely self-reliant — the cat neither gives nor accepts invitations that do not come from the heart. If he tires of his friends sometimes, so do I. If he wishes to move he does so. The cat is virile and virility is a quality which man has almost lost. St. George Mivart insisted that the cat rather than man was at the summit of the animal kingdom, and that he is the best fitted of the mammalians to make his way in the world. I do not see how it is possible for anyone to disagree with him. But the cat makes no boast of his pre-eminent position: he is satisfied to occupy it. He does not call man a “lower animal,” although doubtless he regards him in that light.’
CHAPTER II. ADULT FEEDING
Cats are carnivorous animals, and need fresh raw meat, and unless they can do their own hunting, raw meat must figure largely in the menu. I suggest two good meals a day of as much as the adult cat (i.e. a cat over nine months old) can comfortably eat. The diet should be as varied as possible. I find that few adult Siamese like milk or milky foods, but of course if they will eat this kind of food an excellent breakfast can be provided with well-boiled oatmeal, Robinson’s Patent Groats, cornflower or arrowroot made with milk and made thick, or brown bread and milk. Sloppy milk meals should be avoided as they are inclined to cause diarrhoea.
‘How lucky is the cat,
Free to accept — or refuse
What is offered.’
So failing milky foods, I substitute cooked fish. Fish put in a deep dish with a little water or milk, and rice or pearl barley, the dish covered over and cooked slowly in the oven, is an economical and palatable meal, but do not put too much liquid — the juice will come out of the fish in the process of cooking and make liquid enough, and in this way all the nourishing juices are utilized. Never feed with sloppy food.
Often it is possible at the big stores in London to buy venison very cheaply, and this makes an excellent variation. Sheep’s head slowly boiled with pearl barley or rice is most nourishing. Tripe stewed in milk is very digestible and excellent for those cats that like it.
Green vegetables such as boiled cabbage and lightly-boiled lettuce should be used with any of the above, and so should a little scraped raw carrot. Force or Spratts No. I Weetmeet biscuit mixed with any of the above ekes out the food and is good soaked in the liquor.
Liver is a purgative if used too freely. It is excellent for a constipated cat and should be used occasionally well boiled or steamed. There is no nourishment in lights and they are apt to introduce worms into the intestine of the cat and should be avoided. For the same reason all uncooked offal or intestine is to be avoided. Chappel and Co. put up very excellent tinned foods called Ken-L-Ration and Kit-i-Ration, which cats enjoy and which make a good stand-by in hot weather when it is difficult to keep fresh meat from going bad, for any tainted food is terribly dangerous. Boiled rabbit is probably the favourite dish and should be used when procurable. I advise removing all game bones because they are very sharp and if a cat is inclined to bolt his food, he may so easily swallow a piece of sharp bone which may cause an internal perforation. Best of all is lean raw beef, and because it is necessary for a cat to exercise his teeth and jaws, it is often advisable to give this in large pieces so that he has to work to eat it.
A queen in kitten needs an extra meal a day, and all meals should be well balanced as to food values and full of nourishment; quality not quantity is necessary if the kittens are to be strong and healthy.
CHAPTER III. KITTENS
Siamese kittens are born pure white. The kitten’s nose, legs and tail are smutty-looking at about a week, and so the markings gradually develop. Providing the kittens are thriving, and the mother cat is not getting run down, they are better left unweaned till 4—5 weeks old, and it is a mistake to over-encourage them to lap. But if the kittens in the nest should cry unduly it is a sure sign that they are hungry or that the mother’s milk is not agreeing with them. This is an entirely different matter, and then they must be either hand fed or given to a foster to bring up. If the mother’s milk is acid this will cause the kittens to have indigestion. This can generally be prevented if the mother is given a pinch of citrate of soda or Philip’s Milk of Magnesia for a fortnight or three weeks before the kittens are born and continued whilst she is nursing her family. Should the kittens have acute pain, and be swollen or blown out in their stomachs, a drop of liquid paraffin will nearly always ease them. This can be given at two weeks of age.
The ideal food for kittens is goats’ milk and if it is procurable, start the babies on this, giving one meal a day for the first two or three days. As it is impossible for most people to get fresh goats’ milk, Cow & Gate, Ltd., now put up a powdered goats’ milk called Caprolac which is an excellent substitute. Ambrol or Casol are both good. Some kittens do best on ordinary cows’ milk undiluted but slightly sweetened, to which a little cream can be added. A pinch of citrate of soda added to every feed will generally prevent diarrhoea.
Gradually the meals should be increased to three a day, and Robinson’s Patent Groats and Patent Barley can be added to the menu, and a few drops of lime-water added to the milky food proves beneficial. Rice pudding and custard (made with eggs) makes a change. At about six weeks, boiled fish and rabbit can be included, and the meals increased to four a day. People are inclined to over-feed small kittens. The stomach only being about the size of a walnut cannot deal with too large quantities at a time and acute indigestion and diarrhoea are the result, if the feeds are too big.
The question of feeding on raw meat, and the time when it should be included in the kittens’ diet is always debatable. Many people give scraped raw meat at six weeks old, and often kittens thrive on it. It is said to be the natural diet, but actually a cat brings her babies in a small bird or a rat, etc. She does not bring them dead cow or sheep. When four or five kittens are fighting over one bird each actually gets very little, also this is given with the feathers or fur on and it is absolutely fresh, and is, of course, the natural diet. Beef is more difficult to digest than ‘game’ and if given, must be absolutely fresh and of the best quality. It is impossible to lay down hard and fast rules, and each breeder must buy her own experience. Lately I have not given meat until the kittens are three months old, and I find they do better than when it is given very early. If it is given, only a very little should be given — scraped — to begin with, or in a large lump so that they can only suck it and learn to use their jaws. Rabbit is good for small kittens, and Force or Spratts Weetmeet can be added to the gravy.
Yoghourt (which is a specially prepared form of sour milk) is a food and a most valuable intestinal disinfectant and if a kitten is suffering from diarrhoea, it will probably recover quickly if given this and nothing else for a day or two. It can be obtained from any large dairy. Milk should not be given till three hours after meat. Fresh water must always be accessible.
Cod liver oil should be given daily, starting with a drop or two at first and gradually increased, but if it makes the bowels too loose, decrease again at once. I have found Parke Davis’s Haliverol far more digestible and better in every way, except that it is very expensive. I start my kittens with two drops daily at six weeks old. For delicate kittens, Vitmar, Virol, Cod liver oil and Malt are all most useful. Parke Davis have just put Irradex on the market and I have had wonderful results with this for backward kittens, using the dose as directed for infants.
Kittens need rest and quiet sometimes just as babies do, and they should not be put in the sun without providing some shade for them to go to if they want it.
Although I do not believe in any cat being a ‘hot-house plant,’ I am convinced that kittens cannot stand cold. Indoor kittens often do better than cattery-reared ones, because the outdoor houses are difficult to keep warm on chilly nights and chillier mornings. An outdoor cattery should not be at a temperature lower than 5 degrees Centigrade. Paraffin lamps are always a source of anxiety, but sometimes they must be resorted to, and G. F. Hackney, lamp maker, 19, Shudehill, Manchester, makes a safe two-wick lamp for catteries. On cold nights a large metal hot water bottle, wrapped in thick newspapers will retain the heat for about nine hours and should be put into a really warm and comfortable bed for the kittens.
Kittens have two sets of teeth. The milk teeth appear two or three weeks after birth. The incisors come first, then the canines and lastly the molars. There are fourteen teeth in the top jaw and twelve in the lower, and these are all through when the kitten is about six weeks old. These teeth come out in the same order in which they appear. At about three to four months the permanent teeth begin to come and generally the whole permanent set is through at about seven months and then there are sixteen in the upper and fourteen in the lower jaw. Some kittens cut their teeth badly, and sore and swollen gums appear, or a baby tooth needs pulling out. Sometimes the neck glands swell and the kitten is off his food for a day or two. Large bones or lumps of meat are necessary at this age to help the teeth to form.
Kittens are born with their eyes closed, and these open about the eighth day. Their eyes are so delicate that they should not be exposed to the full light at first. This is why a mother cat always chooses a dark place to have her kittens in. Many cases of sore eyes are due to exposure to bright light. The mildest form of eye inflammation is catarrhal. The eyes water or there is a discharge, and the lids are swollen and sore. This most often appears in a weakly kitten or it may be caused by an injury, but it may also be a sign of distemper. The eyes can be cleaned with a weak solution of boric acid lotion, and then open the eye and squeeze into the eyeball a little of Parke Davis’s Neo Protosil Eye Ointment. Witch Hazel in an equal quantity of warm water will sometimes clear up the eyes at once.
Crookes’ Collosol Argentum dropped into the eye three hours daily, five per cent solution of Argyrol and the following prescriptions are all useful:
Cocaine hydro-chl. - 2 grains
Ac. boric - 5 grains
Aq. rosai - 2 drams
Aq. dist. - 1 oz.
Zinc sulphate - 5 grains
Ac. boric - 20 grains
Aq. Distil - to 3 oz.
Two or three drops in the eye once a day.
There is an infective ophthalmia in kittens, which is very contagious, and once it appears in a cattery it is difficult to get out. Certain queens appear to have this trouble in every litter. There is a swelling of the eyelids which are often glued together. The inside of the eyelids is very congested, red and swollen. Sometimes the cornea is found to be whitish or greenish and swollen. Unless treated quickly the cornea will ulcerate, and the eyeball may burst and become permanently lost.
A pinch of salt in food for both cats and kittens is good for them, and is said to keep away worms. A regular course of liquid paraffin—from a salt-spoonful to a teaspoonful, according to age and size, once a week will also probably keep away worms, and these certainly are one of the biggest trials we have to contend with.
Siamese kittens are often terribly homesick when first they go to new surroundings. They go off their food, and cry incessantly, and time and patience and an infinity of love must be expended to make the poor little creatures settle down.
CHAPTER IV. BREEDING
Anyone who is going to commence breeding should select the best possible female that can be obtained for the price she can afford to pay. Not only should the queen herself be excellent, but her pedigree must be above suspicion. Probably the female has a greater influence on the progeny than the male; anyway, the best stud in the world cannot be expected to sire first-rate kittens from an indifferent female of indifferent pedigree.
Occasionally a Siamese is born with a white toe or toes. These should never be bred with, and any cat which has this fault in the pedigree should be carefully avoided. The same applies to a badly kinked tail. The club allows a small kink at the tip of the tail, providing the tail is long and tapering, but a tail like a corkscrew, or a tail that is shortened and thickened by a kink or kinks is looked on with disfavour. The male should be carefully selected, and not chosen only because he won a championship certificate at the last show. His pedigree should be studied, and this can be done for some fifteen or twenty generations in the Cat Registers obtained from the Siamese Cat Club. What the queen lacks, the stud must have, not only in themselves but in their pedigree. Sometimes it is advisable to ‘inbreed,’ but it should be remembered that inbreeding not only emphasizes the strong points of both cats, but the weak points too, and inbreeding without the constant introduction of fresh blood, is not advisable.
Having selected the stud that is to be used, the stud’s owner should be written to and a mating ‘booked.’ Stud owners dislike a queen to arrive first and the arrangements for her mating to follow, and are within their rights to return such a queen immediately unmated. Stud owners will keep a queen for a week if she will not mate, but if after that time she still will not mate, the stud owner is entitled to charge for the board, or to return her unmated. Stud fees must be paid in advance, together with the return fare. If the first mating is unsuccessful stud owners will nearly always give a second and sometimes a third mating free, but owners of females must realize that this is an act of generosity, and in no way a right which can be demanded, or taken for granted.
Queens generally come into season first at about eight months old, but sometimes earlier, sometimes later. When a female is ‘coming in’ she will become restless and fussy, anxious to get out and very affectionate. She should then be kept in and watched. When she is really ‘in’ her voice becomes very loud, and she will give forth terrible yowls. She will crawl along on her belly, roll about, and when stroked she will kick out her back legs. Now she must be kept carefully shut up, for she will bolt out and find her own husband on the first opportunity. If possible keep a small young queen unmated till she is ten months old, but if she is perpetually ‘coming on’ she will get thin and hysterical if she is kept back, and besides, no household will stand an unmitigated dose of Siamese love songs, so it may not be practical to wait till this age, because she may call every fortnight. She may be ‘in season’ for three days or she may be ‘in’ for seven days. It is impossible to say. She may not ‘call’ again for a month or even longer. She does not adhere to any hard and fast rule in these matters. Two litters a year are quite enough for any queen to rear satisfactorily and the most propitious time of the year for breeding is in the spring, when the kittens have the warmer days ahead of them so that they can flourish in the sunshine and fresh air.
A queen should be wormed before mating, but it is inadvisable to worm a pregnant queen. Gestation is from sixty-three to sixty-nine days, but mostly the kittens come on the sixty-fifth day. A pregnant queen should have complete liberty, or as much liberty as is practical. A fright to the queen before the kittens are born may result in the litter being born with open eyes. Such kittens are seldom any good and are better destroyed at birth.
A little liquid paraffin daily for a week before the kittens are expected is helpful. Sometime before the kittens are due, their bed should be prepared so that the mother is used to it, and approves of it. Probably the best bedding for a confinement is newspapers. They are warm, easily taken out and burned, and the printing makes them slightly antiseptic. The box should be in a darkish place, and should have plenty of ventilation. Never lift a pregnant queen without placing a hand under her hind quarters so as to relieve the weight of the body.
When the kittens are arriving the mother is best left to herself if she will settle down alone, but a young or excitable queen often insists on having her owner by her. Most cats will manage the whole birth by themselves, and if they will, it is far better left to them, but if the mother will not clean up the baby or get it out of the sac, this must be done at once. Break the sac immediately with finger and thumb, a live kitten will then generally struggle out, wipe the inside of the mouth and nostrils with cotton-wool to clear them of mucus. Each kitten is born in a separate sac, and each has a separate placenta, or after-birth. A good mother will separate this, but if it has to be done for her, I do not advise cutting the cord, as this is apt to cause haemorrhage. Hold the cord between finger and thumb of both hands with a bit of cotton-wool, not too close to the kitten’s body, and take care not to jerk the end attached to the belly or a hernia may result, so with the finger and thumb nearest this, prevent any pull on the kitten and holding this end tightly, pull with the finger and thumb nearest the placenta gently, and you will find the cord breaks easily and there is little or no bleeding. Care should be taken that each placenta comes away from the mother cat with each kitten, as a placenta left behind may cause septicaemia. Each kitten must be rubbed fairly hard with a rough towel to get the circulation going, and kept warm till the whole family has arrived. If the kittens are limp and apparently lifeless, the Countess of Hardwicke puts them in a frying-pan over a very low gas flame to get them really warm, and has found this method most advantageous.
When all the litter has arrived take out the dirty bedding and put in a soft, warm blanket, and a hot bottle is to be recommended anyway for the first few days of the babies’ lives — warmth is as necessary as food to tiny kittens. Underneath the blanket it is a good thing to sprinkle Pulvex as this helps to prevent fleas from coming. Give the mother a drink of egg and milk and see that she takes to her family. If a good deal of human interference has been necessary there is some risk that she may refuse to settle with her kittens, and then a foster mother must be searched for. Siamese are excellent mothers as a rule.
If the kittens are some days overdue or if a birth takes a long time, and the cat is getting exhausted, skilled veterinary aid should be called in, for the queen may die without it.
Feed the queen plentifully, but for the first day keep her off meat, and give as much warm milky food as she will take.
Handle the kittens as little as possible till they are about three weeks old. The male kittens will sell well, but females are difficult to dispose of, and it is kinder to destroy them at birth than to let them add to the ghastly horde of unwanted cats. Should a female lose her kittens at birth, then all milk food should be withheld, because this will only add to the milk supply. Should the milk glands become inflamed, or should the cat be in discomfort from the unwanted supply of milk, bathe the glands with some cold astringent solution such as alum. Belladonna ointment is useful for reducing the milk supply, and should be gently massaged into the breasts if necessary.
Directly the kittens leave the nest the mother trains them to go to the earth tin, so a shallow tin which the kittens can climb into easily should be accessible for them, so that they can start their training in cleanliness immediately. A dirty Siamese is nearly always the result of neglect on the owner’s part during kittenhood.
CHAPTER V. THE STUD CAT AND HIS GENERAL MANAGEMENT
By Mrs. H. W. Basnett, 16 Byron Road, Selsdon, South Croydon.
Before undertaking stud work, it is most important to choose a suitable house in which the stud cat is to live comfortably and receive his visiting queens. It should be as lofty, roomy and airy as possible and built of good strong material to keep it thoroughly damp-proof and warm in winter. The best type of house is one that can be divided into one or more roomy compartments or cubicles to be occupied by the visiting queen. A door should connect the stud cat’s quarters and fine mesh wire-netting be let into the framework to enable the queen to see and get acquainted with the stud that will eventually mate her when she is ready. A sunny position must be chosen for the house and its windows be large to allow as much light and sunshine in as possible. Attached to the house a large wired-in run is necessary for exercise and provides a place where grass can be grown for the cat to eat when he wishes. I do not approve of a stud cat being put at public service which is allowed to roam at large, as it is impossible to keep any control over the animals with which he comes in contact or the condition of a number of queens he finds during his wanderings. A fully matured Siamese male when managed sensibly is a very loving animal, but he is quickly roused to a fury at the sight of another breed of feline male, and females also, if they are not in season, and with Oriental blood to deal with the common cat usually pays the penalty!
When possible, it is better to bring up one’s stud from a kitten to the life he is to live when mature, or purchase one already accustomed to stud life. In the latter case it is most important to treat the new stud very gently and quietly, as at first he might be anything but friendly being nervous of his new owner’s voice and appearance. Everything is so very intense to the Siamese cat, male or female, and changes are a great shock to most of them — a quiet manner soon wins the confidence and friendship of these very affectionate but sensitive creatures. A would-be purchaser of a stud will find the various cat shows a useful guide as to what to look for in the right stud cat, particularly at the annual Siamese Cat Club’s show.
Opinion seems to differ as to whether a visiting queen should be kept in one’s own home until ready or in the stud house. Personally, I prefer after examination to put the queen in the stud house where she can see and meet him through the wire door and in her own comfortable compartment with only the stud to be interested in, there she can settle down to the purpose of her visit undisturbed by the strange noises and surroundings of one’s own home. I strongly disapprove of putting stud and queen together without allowing them first to get used to each other, and unless a wire door separates queen and stud the former can be very spiteful and injure the stud in her excitement before being properly ready to mate. Great patience is most essential for the stud owner to possess, as visiting queens vary so much in temperament and are highly strung, and more than once I have been nearly torn to pieces on the arrival of nervous, terrified-after-a-journey queens that have come to me with a bad reputation, and I have proved by careful management that it was not temper but just nerves, and have had the satisfaction of returning them with quite a different reputation.
Meetings should never be hurried as it is sometimes days before a queen, although fully in season, will allow herself to be mated, and to try to force a queen against her will is madness, as it only results in a panic, and the stud, and possibly oneself, will be injured. There should be a perfect understanding between the stud cat and his owner, difficult matings are then made much easier as queens can be petted and coerced when their friendship has been won and when the time is ripe the stud can be quietly called in to perform his job and the queen is thus often taken by the stud before she is aware of what has happened. As a rule it is safe to let the stud and queen meet unrestricted only when the queen croons ‘answers’ to the stud’s ‘questions,’ but queens should always be watched as after mating, some will, due to the excitement it has promoted, attack the stud very spitefully and he must then be discreetly and carefully removed from her presence — I repeat discreetly and carefully as queens in that state will jump at the stud, or oneself, when removing him. Never attempt to touch a newly-mated queen; she must be allowed to recover from her state of excitement. Another reason why the stud owner should see a queen mate, at least once, is, because it is only fair behaviour to the owner of the queen who usually pays in advance.
When the stud has mated a queen satisfactorily she throws him off and he usually jumps to a safe distance where he blows and snorts. It sometimes happens that a queen does not hold although she appears to mate quite satisfactorily. If such is the case, the stud owner, when notified in due course, usually offers a second service free, but of course it is not a compulsory action. Usually one mating one day and another the following day is sufficient for the average queen, but in very persistent cases a third mating can be allowed — queens will mate and mate if left with the stud, it is quite unnecessary and only exhausts both.
It is difficult to say at what age a cat should be used for stud purposes, development is much earlier in some than others, but for public service a cat of two years is more suitable than one younger. Care should always be exercised as to the number of visiting queens; too many will mean contempt, or poor progeny. The stud cat’s food should be mostly raw meat, but changes are most beneficial. Two good meals, one night and morning are sufficient as a rule, but when visitors are numerous a midday meal should be added. The stud should always have a bowl of clean water handy as stud work is thirsty work. When the visitor goes home everything should be thoroughly cleaned before another is introduced and the stud house should be kept scrupulously clean and sweet.
Because a cat is used for stud purposes it must never be forgotten that he is a most intelligent and affectionate animal and keenly appreciative of all the petting one can give him, and he is not savage and spiteful if his handling and management is right, but he is naturally a spirited animal and resents rough and noisy treatment. When visiting queens are scarce a queen of one’s own should be put into the guest ‘room’ as Siamese pine for companionship, which they must have. It is advisable when people call to see the stud cat to refuse him to be handled by anyone but oneself, as some people have a particularly objectionable way of handling a cat. I speak from experience and it is only due to the sweet disposition of my stud cats that some people have not been bitten. I do not allow my cats now to be touched by any strangers.
CHAPTER VI. TRAVELLING AND EXHIBITING.
Draughts are fatal to cats. Let them travel for choice in a properly constructed travelling-box such as are made for rabbits which are ventilated at the top of the lid, and all direct draught is avoided. If a basket is to be used, the outside of the sides and bottom should be covered with thick brown paper, leaving the top free for ventilation. Proper cat’s travelling baskets can be obtained from St. Dunstan’s. A heavy meal before travelling should be avoided. It is always worth insuring the cat with the railway company as generally this means less risk of the cat being overlooked and so missing a connexion. The box or basket should be clearly marked ‘Live Stock.’
To clean a cat for the show pen, plenty of very hot bran is useful. This should be well rubbed into the coat, and care must be taken to brush every bit out again, otherwise when the cat licks himself he will get bran down the throat which will cause a severe cough. The coat should then be polished hard with a chamois leather or a pad of velvet till a good gloss is obtained. All loose coat must be got out before showing, using a brush. The best brush I have found for this purpose can be bought at Woolworths’ and is called ‘The Doggee’ doublesided rubber brush. It is entirely made of rubber.
Arrive at the show with the exhibits in good time, and when they have passed the veterinary examination their pens should be found, and cleaned thoroughly with methylated spirit. A white blanket is permitted on which to pen the cats. The show authorities will feed cats during the show if so desired, but adult cats are often better if they are not fed till their return home unless, of course, they have a long journey to and from the show, and kittens need only very light feeding, and this is better seen to by the owner, but do not over-feed at a show. Do not carry young kittens about the show and allow them to be handled by everybody.
On the return from a show give each cat or kitten a teaspoonful or two of warm milk with a few drops of brandy in it, and if possible let them have a run out of doors, weather permitting. Cats or kittens that have been at a show should be isolated for at least fourteen days because of the risk in bringing back that dread disease feline distemper, which is terribly infectious. It is a good plan to give each kitten two grains of veterinary Dimol, and each cat three grains night and morning for a week following a show. Dimol is a most useful intestinal disinfectant, and should always be at hand. It can be obtained from Sanger’s, Ltd., 258 Euston Road, N.W.1. After a show all boxes, baskets, and blankets should be thoroughly disinfected and if possible, left in the open air for a few days. Feed the exhibits up, and see they do not go off their food and watch for any signs of their being ‘off colour,’ and if they should show such signs, no time should be wasted in getting in expert veterinary aid.
CHAPTER VII. (1) INFECTIOUS ENTERITIS and (2) DISTEMPER OF THE CAT
There is a difference of opinion as to whether these two diseases are distinct entities or whether they have the same primary cause. One thing is certain, and that is, they present a different clinical picture, so for the purposes of this book we shall treat them as distinct diseases.
(1) Infectious Enteritis.
The Cause of this disease is in all probability a filterable virus and the various micro-organisms found in association may determine the course of the infection.
Incubation. The period of incubation appears to be about two to four days.
Symptoms. Refusal to feed, great depression, marked constipation with the evacuation of mucus per rectum, frequent vomiting and rapid loss of subcutaneous fat. Death occurs in about 80 per cent of cases, usually within forty-eight hours.
Post-Mortem. On post-mortem examination there is constantly found some abnormal condition of the small intestine varying from mild congestion to intense enteritis. In some cases gastritis, and others, peritonitis of a purulent character is present. The mesenteric lymphatic glands are oedematous.
Treatment. There is no specific for the disease, and symptoms must be treated as they arise; but in the majority of cases death is so rapid that any form of treatment is useless. Nursing is of paramount importance; the cats should be comfortably housed, and kept in a warm, even temperature. Those which will retain food must be forcibly fed with concentrated foods such as Brands’ and Valentine’s Extracts. Yoghourt is most useful, and is sometimes retained when other foods are promptly returned. Glucose given by mouth, per rectum, or by subcutaneous injection is often of decided benefit.
N.B. It is of interest to observe that this disease is at present being investigated at a well-known laboratory with a view to the preparation of an efficient preventive inoculation, and we hope in the near future such a preparation will be available so that at least we may exercise some control over the disease.
(2) Distemper of the Cat.
Cause. Provided this is a distinct disease, the cause is at present unknown. Possibly another filterable virus.
Symptoms. The symptoms first observed are usually sneezing, followed by discharge at the eyes and nose, at first clear and watery, later thick and purulent. There may also be present stomatitis (evidenced by profuse salivation) bronchitis and even pneumonia. Mortality is about 25 per cent to 30 per cent, death usually being due to pneumonia.
Treatment. Again nursing is of primary importance. Quinine pills one-half gr. and 1 gr. are useful. Inhalations of medicated steam assist the catarrh of the nose. Subcutaneous injections of nuclein are of decided benefit, but treatment should be controlled by a veterinary surgeon.
CHAPTER VIII. A FEW COMMON AILMENTS AND TREATMENTS
This book does not pretend to be a veterinary treatise. When in doubt call in a good veterinary surgeon, and do not wait until the animal is too ill to be saved. Do not turn your cat’s inside into a repository for all manner of drugs.
Constipation. Try and overcome this by natural means if possible, by feeding on liver lightly cooked, or sardines with plenty of olive oil, and stop all starchy food. Be careful that the cat really has got constipation; generally if he has it is possible to feel the distended bowel through the stomach wall, but if the cat has not eaten any food for some time he will have no waste matter to pass out, so it is useless to dose him. Sometimes retention of the urine will make it impossible for him to evacuate his bowels. This is a serious matter, and unless he is given skilled attention he may die. Obstruction may be caused by some foreign body such as string or a hair-ball, large collections of worms or an abscess in the rectum. If it is certain that the cat really has nothing wrong with him other than constipation, and if diet does not help him, liquid paraffin up to three teaspoonfuls a day might be given as necessary. Calomel pill from one-half-grain to three-quarter-grain for an adult, and in a very obstinate case an enema of warm soap and water run in slowly might have to be resorted to. Castor oil should never be used. It is a dangerous drug for cats, and poison to most kittens.
Hairball. This is caused by the cat licking the loose coat and so taking it into the stomach. When a cat is moulting he should be thoroughly brushed daily, so that most of the loose coat is removed. Prevention is better than cure. A cat that can get fresh grass will generally eat this and sick up the hair. In bad cases a large teaspoonful of glycerine given three mornings running, and on the fourth morning a large teaspoonful of liquid paraffin will often pass the hairball out. If this is useless, an emetic will have to be given by a veterinary surgeon.
Diarrhoea. The cause of this complaint needs establishing if possible before treating it. It is so often the first indication of distemper. Worms will cause diarrhoea, so will foreign bodies. Overfeeding and acute indigestion are common causes. For an ordinary, straightforward diarrhoea feed as far as possible on starchy foods; yoghourt, cornflower, Benger’s, or arrowroot are excellent. White of egg beaten up with a little sugar is very soothing. Dimol from 1 grain to 3 grains according to the age of the kitten or cat given two or three times daily. Parke Davis put up an empty capsule which is most useful to fill with powders or medicine, and it is much easier to use these when dosing has to be resorted to, because liquids or powders poured down the throat may go the ‘wrong way’ and set up a mechanical pneumonia. So, have a supply of these empty capsules, size number 4, and for diarrhoea fill one with carb. bismuth and give two or three times daily. Kaolin may be used in the same way. Dr. Boucard’s Lacteol tablets given as directed for infants are also excellent.
Worms. Worms are the dreaded pest of every cat breeder, and although of course they must be got rid of, yet I believe the drastic dosing for worms that is often resorted to kills far more kittens than ever the worms do. Baby kittens cannot stand worm medicines, and liquid paraffin is all that dare be advised. The round worm and the tapeworm are the two common forms in cats. A cat may vomit and expel worms in the vomit, or they may set up diarrhoea and be expelled by the rectum. A wormy cat often has a harsh coat, may be thin. Kittens are nearly always ‘pot-bellied.’ The appetite varies — sometimes a wormy cat is hungry, sometimes they eat very poorly. The haw often appears in the corner of the cat’s eye, sometimes half covering the iris.
There are many proprietary worm medicines on the market. I have used Nema worm capsules (for cats and kittens No. 188) put up by Parke Davis. These seem safe if the directions are carefully followed, and no oils or fats of any kind given for some days prior to dosing.
Ralph Wilson (chemist), 45 Main Street, Uddingston, and Wilson’s Ltd., The Old Vicarage, Old Woking, Surrey, put up worm capsules which I am told are good. For tapeworm I have always found Tenalin most excellent. The dose is from 8-20 minims according to age and weight of the cat. For an ordinary-sized adult I use 10 minims of Tenalin mixed with 10 minims of glycerine and 10 minims of water, made up by a chemist, but the Tenalin used must be fresh, and not have been kept in stock for months. It is necessary for this as for all worm medicines that the stomach shall be entirely empty before giving it. No food or water should be given for at least 12 hours prior to the medicine. About 10 minutes after the Tenalin the cat will generally pass out the worms. Then give a light, warm feed. Like every other efficacious worm medicine, it is drastic, and some risk is entailed. Cats should be kept warm and shut up for 24 hours after dosing for worms.
If a cat is thus dosed when it is really ill it will almost certainly die. He should be fairly well before he is dosed, unless it is resorted to as a last resource. The eggs of the expelled worms often get entangled in the cat’s coat, and this is probably how they get introduced into litters of baby kittens.
Canker. This is a very common complaint and is caused by a tiny parasite, and if cat owners could examine the dark brown dirt which is so often found in cats’ ears under a microscope, they would see thousands of these tiny parasites moving about, and would, I think, be so shocked that in future the cat’s ears would be kept clean. When canker is present the cat will scratch the ears violently with the hind legs. He will often shake his head, and sometimes he will drop his ear and hold his head on one side. I have seen litters of tiny kittens with the ears entirely blocked up with canker. Cats which have never been in contact with other animals will contract it. The ears must be thoroughly cleaned with cotton-wool wrapped round a small pair of forceps or round an orange stick, and dipped in warmed olive oil. Great care and gentleness must be used, for the ear is most sensitive. When the ear is clean, dry lightly with cotton-wool, and Sherley’s canker powder is quite a good preparation to put into the ear after it has been cleaned. For a badly discharging ear I have found Phenolaine ear drops, put up by the Phenolaine Company, most excellent.
Ketosis. Although this is not a common complaint, it is a complication of feline distemper and I think it is worth quoting in full the experience of Dr. and Mrs. Stewart which they kindly sent me:
‘A litter of four healthy kittens, aged 11 weeks, developed a severe infective gastritis, with no enteritis or respiratory trouble. All died. One, just before death, was noticed to have a strong smell of acetone in his breath. Their mother, aged 15 months, developed a mild form of the disease. A little vomiting and bad for one day. Next day she was better, appetite returned, and more lively. That evening and next morning she was much worse, completely off her food and drink, unwilling to move and with heavy respirations. The smell of acetone, which is a characteristic, sweet, heavy, rather fruity smell, sometimes described as like new-mown hay, became noticeable. This indicates ketosis, so-called acidosis. Treatment consisted simply of glucose with a little soda bicarb., given in solution and as a powder every two hours. One ounce was given in twenty-four hours. The odour steadily decreased and was imperceptible after this time. Eighteen hours after starting the glucose the cat looked better and began to eat. Recovery after this was rapid, but smaller doses of glucose were given for some days.
‘I report this matter as it is not referred to in any of the ordinary small cat books, and breeders may not be aware of the condition. I do not know whether ketosis is a common complication in cats. I had two cases in five complicated by it, which looks as if it might not be so rare, but it may be only chance. It might easily be missed if not looked for. The condition is induced by starvation and gastro-intestinal troubles, and aggravated by loss of fluid. All these possible causes are common in sick cats. It would probably be fatal if left untreated. Withdrawing fats and giving glucose should cure it. In this case, if undiagnosed, the cat would have died, and the cause put down as a relapse due to over-feeding. In the last two years I have only seen glucose once referred to with reference to cats, and that was by Mr. Stewart at the recent conference on cat distemper. Where forcible feeding is required might it not be of use? It is the simplest possible food requiring absorption only and no digestion. It has a very high energy value. It can be given by mouth, rectum, or in 5 per cent solution by subcutaneous injection.’
Yoghourt. This is an excellent food and remedy for so many intestinal complaints, but people living in the country have difficulty in buying it. Mrs. Rockingham, 27 Normanton Road, Croydon, has made a study of it, and has kindly given me the following notes on it.
‘Yoghourt is scientifically soured milk prepared by the introduction of a culture of the bacillus known as the Bacillus Metchnikoff, or the lactic acid bacillus, which, when added to sterilized milk and kept at a suitable temperature, produces lactic acid, which acid causes the souring of the milk. This action continues in the digestive tract after the Yoghourt is taken, thereby rendering the contents acid in reaction; and since the microbes of putrefaction can only multiply in an alkaline medium, the lactic acid-producing bacteria are antagonistic to intestinal putrefaction; and for this reason Yoghourt is useful in all maladies associated with fermentation and putrefaction of the intestinal contents. It is used, therefore, for summer diarrhoea of children, and all infective disorders of the intestine, such as enteritis, colitis, typhoid, and latent appendicitis.
‘From this one can imagine possibilities of its successful use in cases of infectious enteritis and similar maladies of cats. If, however, Yoghourt is unobtainable, quite a good substitute from a children’s hospital recipe, using lactic acid in place of the culture. Lactic acid is a thick, colourless liquid which can be bought at all chemists for about sixpence an ounce.
‘One pint of milk should be brought to boiling-point and kept there for at least two minutes to ensure complete sterilization. It should then be cooled as rapidly as possible by standing in a vessel of running cold water till quite cold. Then sixty minims (drops) of lactic acid should be added, drop by drop, stirring the while with a fork. It is then ready for use, but should be warmed slightly by standing in a pan of hot water before giving to the cat. If warmed directly in a pan it will separate into curds and whey. It may be sweetened with glucose if necessary, which gives it an added value as a nutrient. I understand babies show wonderful improvement when placed on this diet.
‘Yoghourt can be obtained from all branches of the Express Dairy. Capsules containing a culture of the lactic acid bacillus can be obtained to order from any chemist, and these can be used in place of lactic acid by a slightly different method, but this is not quite so simple as the method I have described. However, I should be pleased to give any further information should any one desire it. (60 minims [or drops] = 1 teaspoonful.) Minim measures can be bought at Boots for 6d.’
CHILLS AND THEIR COMPLICATIONS.
A cold should always be looked on with grave suspicion, because it is a symptom of the most dreaded of all feline diseases—distemper. The most common causes of a cold are extreme changes in weather, washing without properly drying, too many animals confined in a small place without sufficient fresh air, damp, fatigue or anything that lowers the animal’s vitality. The cat becomes languid, is not inclined to play, and has little or no appetite. He may have a little discharge from eyes and nose, he may have a temperature, but not always, and his nose is probably dry and warm.
In any kind of chill, whether it is of the respiratory organs, bladder or liver, warmth is essential. A comfortable, warm bed with a hot-water bottle in a well-ventilated room should be provided directly any symptoms are apparent. In all cat illnesses it is necessary to take care of the animal directly the first signs of being ‘off colour’ appear, and not wait until the cat is really very ill.
For colds in the head hot inhalations of friar’s balsam give great relief. The easiest way is to shut the patient in a cupboard, or in a covered cage with a jar of boiling water to which friar’s balsam has been added, and leave him there for 10—15 minutes. This should be done several times daily. A dose of aspirin given at the beginning of a cold is excellent and may prevent any further trouble. The dose is half a 5-grain tablet for cats and a quarter for big kittens, but this is not safe to give to small kittens. Aspirin should not be given more than once daily, and it should not be given for longer than two or three days.
Homeopathic tincture of aconite is very good for colds. The dose is two drops for a cat and one for a kitten. Camphor pills, two grains for a cat and one for a kitten, can be given four times a day, and when the cat is improving, 1-grain sulphate of quinine pills for a cat, half-grain for a big kitten and quarter-grain for a smallish kitten is excellent and acts as a tonic in helping to restore the appetite. This may be given three times daily. Noses and eyes must be kept clean, and should the throat become ulcerated, Branalcane is excellent to swab it out with.
If a cold is severe and breathing is at all laboured, it is best to put the cat into a coat which can easily be made out of a strip of flannel. Cut two holes for the front legs to go through. Put the cat’s legs through these and sew the coat up at the back. If he will stand it, line the coat with Thermogene wool as a preventative to pneumonia and pleurisy, but if he is uncomfortable in the Thermogene he will not rest and so it is best left off.
Feed with light, nourishing food, such as cooked brains, stewed rabbit, Benger’s, arrowroot, etc. If necessary the patient must be fed by hand with Valentine’s, Brand’s, arrowroot, white of egg and milk, etc. Most cats will take meat juice made in the following way: Grill a piece of the best rump steak quickly so that the juices are sealed and kept inside. Cook it very little, and then put it on a plate, and cut it in several places, and the red juices will come out. Collect this, as most cats prefer it to any other form of invalid food.
If the chill settles on the liver the cat’s motion will be grey, or the cat may be constipated and he will be drowsy. Give an adult cat one dose of half-grain and a kitten quarter-grain of calomel at the outset. Keep the cat warm for some time after he has recovered, and feed lightly. A cold in the bladder is indicated by a frequent desire to make water, although the cat may not be able to do so. Keep him very warm and give barley water to drink and patent barley made with milk to eat with a pinch of citrate of soda added to his food three times daily.
Pleurisy and pneumonia often follow a neglected cold. With pleurisy there is generally a high temperature. The cat shows signs of pain when picked up, there is often a short, dry cough, and breathing is very laboured. With pneumonia also there is a high temperature, breathing is very difficult and quick. For both complaints no time should be lost in calling in a veterinary surgeon. A warm bed of blankets and a hot-water bottle under the blanket, and fresh air are important. The cat’s strength must be maintained and he should be tempted to eat anything he fancies, or hand fed.
Sometimes he will eat high game when everything else fails to tempt him, because a sick cat loses his sense of smell to a great degree, and sometimes he will eat if only he can get the smell of the food offered to him. Give plenty of fresh water to drink.
Great relief is often obtained by the application of Antiphlogistine. This must be spread on muslin and then applied to the chest as a poultice as hot as possible. The muslin must be put on next to the skin, otherwise the Antiphlogistine gets into the hair, and is a great trouble to get out when the poultice is removed — and kept in place by a bandage, and a jacket lined with cotton-wool should be put on. When the cat is better care must be exercised in not removing Antiphlogistine, cotton-wool, and jacket at once. Take these off, gradually leaving off one at a time, otherwise he may get a fresh cold. Camphor and ether injections are very valuable, but these should be given by the veterinary surgeon.
Snuffles are often left after distemper or a severe cold in the head. This can be most troublesome and difficult to cure. Slight cases may respond to Rhino-Lacteol put up the nose three or four times a day. One teaspoonful of iodized salt added to a teacup of warm water, and a little squeezed up the nose three times daily sometimes acts miraculously. In the obstinate cases, or cases of long standing, it is best to have a vaccine made from the mucus from the animal’s nose and have him inoculated with this. Although this too, may fail to work a cure, it is certainly worth trying.
CHAPTER IX. SKIN TROUBLES
Ringworm is fairly common in cats, probably because a large percentage of mice suffer from it, and also it is very common in cattle. If cats are bedded on hay or straw through which infected mice have run, they may contract it. Elastene obtained from The City of London Wood Wool Co., Ltd., Plover Works, Hackney Wick, E.9, is cleaner and safer than hay as a bedding. Another way in which cats may be infected with ringworm, is by rubbing themselves on posts or doorways which have come in contact with infected cows or horses. Human beings can catch ringworm from animals and can also infect animals with it. In an adult cat it is generally found first on the feet and elbows, but because of the cat’s method of washing it soon spreads to the head and neck. In kittens it is generally first found on the head and neck.
The following is copied from Veterinary Pathology and Bacteriology, by Gaiger and Davies (Bailliere Tindall & Cox, 1932):
‘Ringworm in man and animals is caused by parasites belonging to two genera:
‘1. Trichophytin tinsmans, and many other species of the large-spored type.
‘2. Microsporum Andonini and other species of the small-spored type.
‘Animals susceptible: Ringworm occurs in all animals. It is commonest in cattle, occurring chiefly in calves, then, in order of susceptibility, come horses, dogs, cats, pigs, sheep. The young are more susceptible on account of their finer skins. Infection may be transmitted from one species of animal to another, and to man. The period of incubation is from one to four weeks.
‘Lesions and Course: The parasites grow round the hair stalks, and may be in such numbers near the base of the stalks that it can be made out as a fine white covering. At the commencement of a case, rounded areas without hair, or only a few broken hairs are seen. There is mild superficial inflammation of the skin, with slight exudate, and a little nodule or vesicle at each follicle, also there is proliferation of the epidermic cells. The result of this is that greyish scales and, later, thick crusts and scabs form, and beneath the scabs is often found a suppurating surface.
‘Favus: The cause of favus or honeycomb ringworm is the achonin schoenleinii and other species. This is a rare disease. It occurs in the cat, dog, rabbit, mouse, and man, and is more common in the young. Mice are more commonly attacked than other species and cats get the disease from them.
‘Lesions: There are well-defined, thick, yellow, crateriform scabs or crusts called scutula, on the skin. These scutula consist of masses of the parasites, and have a depressed centre owing to their development being greater at the periphery.’
Certain diagnosis can only be obtained in the early stages of all ringworm by a microscopic examination.
The best way to treat it is to cut away all the hair round the infected places, and remove the scabs and scurf, taking great care to collect these carefully and to burn them at once. The infected places should be rubbed every other day with tincture of iodine — and just a word of warning, although tincture of iodine is one of the most useful applications, it must be used with care and discrimination. If used too freely the animal will absorb too much or lick off a great deal with the result that nephritis (i.e., inflammation of the kidneys) will be caused. The moment a cat that is being treated with iodine gets lethargic, knock off the iodine immediately. Another way to treat ringworm is to bathe the cat every day in a bath of sulphurated potash, 2 oz. to a gallon of water. This is dangerous treatment for kittens, or for that matter, for cats, unless they can be kept very warm after the bath. Another prescription is to make a solution of half-oz. salicylic acid, 1 oz. glycerine, up to 10 oz. methylated spirit. Run the solution into the affected places.
Constant watch must be kept for new places to appear. Infected animals if running together will re-infect each other. Fresh bedding and boxes must be given each day, and the old ones burned because of getting re-infection from them, and the cage must be scrubbed daily with disinfectant, or, better still, run over with a painter’s blow-lamp every other day.
This is not a dangerous disease, but it is tiresome to cure, and almost impossible if allowed to spread unchecked in a large cattery, but if taken in hand at once it should be cured in about six weeks. When the hair is growing on the scars, you may be fairly certain it is cured.
Mange is seldom seen in well-cared-for cats. Dirt and neglect are the great friends of mange, but the cause is a direct infection. Stories are told of hereditary mange, but I believe these are quite unfounded on fact. It is true, however, that the mange parasite may lie dormant for several months. Mange nearly always appears first on the head, and generally the first places to be attacked are round the eyes and round the edges of the ears. Intense irritation is caused, and the cat will scratch and tear at itself. The skin then becomes thickened and crusted with blood and finally the skin grows wrinkled. If unchecked the mange parasites will spread all over the body and the cat will go off his food, become lethargic and will eventually die after many weeks of suffering. A qualified veterinary surgeon should be called in to treat mange, because so many efficient preparations are highly dangerous to cats. Greasy dressings make a cat so miserable that generally they make him go right off any food. Macdougalls’ Kur Mange baths are good, and will generally effect a cure in the early stages. The Kur Mange needs to be very well rubbed into the skin, and the rubber nail brushes from Woolworths’ are excellent for this purpose. Mange is highly infectious, and the most to be dreaded of all skin troubles. After each bath or application of skin dressing, fresh bedding must be given, and the old burned to avoid re-infection.
Fleas are blood suckers, so an infestation of fleas will make a cat anaemic, besides the constant irritation causes the cat to get no rest. Fleas also make the coat dirty and harsh. I have found the best treatment is Macdougalls’ Pulvex Powder used as directed. The female flea usually leaves the cat to lay its eggs in dust and dirt in the cracks of floors or sleeping-boxes. This is why fleas are so difficult to eradicate once they arrive, and a constant watch must be kept and treatment continued, and clean boxes and bedding supplied daily.
Pulvex seems to have no ill-effects even if used on very small kittens. The flea acts as an intermediary host for the tape worm, and because in the course of washing cats may lick in fleas and so take in tape worm, watch should be kept for signs of worms after an epidemic of fleas.
CHAPTER X. A FEW HINTS.
Many drugs which are harmless to dogs, are poison to cats. This also applies to harmless drugs prescribed in excessive doses by well-meaning dog breeders or chemists. A cat must never be given morphia or opium. Instead of acting as a sedative it has the very reverse effect. Dressings for wounds, etc., must also be chosen carefully. The following can be safely used — peroxide of hydrogen, Condy’s fluid, and glyco-thymoline (the latter to be diluted and never used stronger than 1 in 3). Avoid any cleansing powder which contains a large proportion of boracic, or zinc powder. Cimolite powder or any other form of fuller’s earth is safe. Sulphur must be used very carefully if at all, as it sometimes causes diarrhoea, but an ordinary sulphur ointment is safe to use, although I prefer Iodex ointment well rubbed into any sore, or spot of eczema or other skin trouble. Never use ointments containing lead or zinc.
Ultra-violet rays are sometimes very useful in cases of rickets, chronic eczema, chronic snuffles, and general debility. The eyes must be carefully shielded from the rays, and it must only be applied for short periods at a time.
Radiostol is the easiest way to supply vitamin D. It has anti-infectious properties, and is a useful tonic for backward or convalescent cats and kittens. Haliverol and cod liver oil also contain Vitamin D. Vitamin D is necessary to growth, and it helps the organism to use the calcium and phosphorus that are in the body to the best advantage. This vitamin is destroyed in boiled milk. Calcium is a bone former and can be supplied in lime-water. Vitamin C is anti-scorbutic. The lack of it causes scurvy and other skin irritations. It is found in vegetables and fruit; orange and lime-juice are very rich in this vitamin.
Bemax contains vitamin B. Lack of this leads to atrophy of the reproductive organs, and to sudden loss of appetite and vitality. Vitamin B promotes growth. Much cooked cereal food lacks both vitamins D and B. However the loss can be made up by giving a half-teaspoonful of Bemax daily, and it has a very beneficial effect on weakly kittens.
Grass is necessary for cats. If no garden is available it should be grown in pots, or grass seeds should be planted on damp flannel and grown for the cats.
Meat and milk given together cause acidity and indigestion. Indigestion can often be cured by giving a pinch of bisurated magnesia on the food, or Braggs’s charcoal, either in a capsule or as much as will go on a threepenny-piece twice daily.
Homeopathic nux vomica (the pilules required known as No. three X) is good in cases of biliousness for any liver trouble. Grey motions are a sign of liverishness. The dose for an adult cat is 2 pilules night and morning. For a big kitten, one night and morning, and for a smallish kitten one daily,
Virolax contains liquid paraffin and cats generally like it. Dose for an adult cat is $-teaspoonful daily. Petrolagar or Agarol are both good in cases of chronic constipation, dropsy or enlarged liver.
Overheated blood, give 1 eggspoonful of fluid magnesia in a spoonful of milk. For poorness of blood and anaemia — as shown by white gums — give any digestible form or iron such as a quarter-teaspoonful of Collosol Ferro-Malt in milk twice daily, or a pinch of saccharated carbonate of iron on the food twice daily. Indigestion, overheated blood, constipation, poorness of blood, may all cause eczema or skin irritation.
Dimol. This is an excellent intestinal disinfectant; although it is not a vermifuge it certainly helps to dislodge these pests. If a cat or kitten is in a very low condition from the diarrhoea caused by worms, it is safer to give a week’s course of dimol, giving 1—3 grains according to the size of the cat or kitten, three times daily after food. If this is followed by a week’s course of carbonated bismuth which has a soothing effect on the intestines, it will then probably be found that the animal is in a better state to stand worming. Dimol and Lacteol should always be kept at hand.
Lactogol is excellent for a nursing queen if she has a scarcity of milk, and a quarter-teaspoonful should be given three, times daily to increase the milk supply.
If a queen persistently neglects one kitten in the nest, or is continually throwing it out, and will not feed or attend to it, there is generally something radically wrong with that kitten, and the mother knows that it is better dead.
Sore or inflamed throats can often be considerably eased by using either of the following and applying them to the throat with a curved camel hair brush. Pigmentum Iodii Co. or one paft iodine to three parts glycerine.
Ulcerated mouths and tongues in kittens. These are fairly common and are usually due to stomach trouble. They are unable to eat solid food, which is as well, as probably the stomach is not in a fit state to deal with solid food. Sore mouths also sometimes occur during teething. Feed on light food, and the mouth can be swabbed with one part glyco-thymoline to three parts warm water or with weak Condy’s, several times daily.
A cat’s teeth sometimes need scaling, and they should be looked to periodically, and if necessary, a veterinary surgeon should be consulted. Bad teeth cause indigestion and foul breath.
Neo-Protosil is not only a very useful eye ointment but is also useful to apply to the ear for canker.
Always have a supply of empty capsules handy in which to put oil, powders or other necessary medicines. There is a very real danger when pouring liquids out of a spoon down a cat’s throat that they may go the wrong way, and so get into the lungs, and set up a mechanical pneumonia.
A cat’s normal temperature is about 101.6 Fahrenheit when taken per rectum.
Telegony. There is a superstition that once a cat or dog is mated away from its own breed that future litters are affected. To disprove this I will quote Professor Marshall of the Royal Society.
‘It used to be supposed that the spermatozoa of an animal on being introduced into a female of the same kind, besides fertilizing the ripe ova and producing young, were capable of exercising a permanent “influence” over the mother, and so transmitting certain of their characters not only to their immediate offspring but to future offspring by another sire. This phenomenon, in which many practical breeders still believe, was called telegone or infection, and the female was said to be infected by the previous sire. In recent years Ewart has repeated the experiment, employing a Burchell’s zebra and a number of different mares. These experiments were supplemented by others in which various kinds of animals were used. As a result of his investigations he has come to the conclusion that there is no evidence for the existence of telegone. A microscopic examination of the structure of the hairs of the subsequent foals bred by Professor Ewart provides further negative evidence.’ Minot also made a long series of experiments upon guinea-pigs and found no indication of any telegonic influence.
I am constantly asked to advise a boarding-house near London for cats. I often send mine to Miss Morton, 240 Addington Road, Selsdon, South Croydon, and they come back to me in better condition than when I send them, and if possible — even more spoiled! Miss Morton has had a long experience with cats, and really loves and understands them.
My own cats live in the house, and I have not got a cattery. But if anyone wants to start breeding in a big way a cattery will be necessary. To get an idea of what the ideal cattery should be like I would suggest visiting Miss Gold, ‘The Oriental Catteries,’ Mayfield Lodge, Haslemere, or Mrs. Duncan Hindley, ‘The Prestwick Catteries,’ High Prestwick Farm, Chiddingfold, Surrey. On a much smaller scale, but just as ideal, is Miss F. Dixon’s Cattery, South View, Station Road, Thames Ditton.
CHAPTER XI. DISINFECTANTS
Because cleanliness is so essential to cats and catteries, a word on disinfectants will not come amiss. The primary thing to remember is that all products of coal-tar are particularly dangerous to cats. Carbolic, creosote, tar, naphtol and naphthalin, Jeyes, lysol are amongst the most dangerous of this group of poisons. Carbolic acid is used in the manufacture of carbolic soap, and should be carefully avoided. Many disinfectant powders contain carbolic. Many cats are poisoned from scavenging in dust-bins the contents of which have been disinfected with this powder. Poisoning may occur from a cat licking its cage, or getting its coat and feet soiled in a cage which has previously been whitened with a mixture of lime and carbolic.
A safe disinfectant is Newlands Pine Oil put up by Newlands & Mumford, 141 Kensal Road, W.10. So is liquid Sanitas.
Eucalyptus oil is a fine disinfectant, but it is too expensive to use in large quantities. After an outbreak of feline distemper (in the house) it is best to get the sanitary authorities to come in and fumigate the rooms which have been used by the sick cats. In an outside cattery this is not necessary if everything in the cattery including the walls and floor can be gone over thoroughly with a painter’s blow-lamp.
CHAPTER XII. THE NEUTERING OR CASTRATING OF CATS
For many obvious reasons it is impossible to have an entire adult male about the house, and so there comes a time when male kittens must be castrated. The best age for this is between the ages of four and seven months. If it is done before this age it will be found that either one or perhaps both testicles have not descended, and even if they have, they are so very small as to be difficult to handle. After the age of six months the veterinary surgeon must use an anaesthetic for castration. The Animals5 Anaesthetic Act 1919 states: ‘A dog or a cat over six months of age shall not be subjected to castration without being under the influence of a general anaesthetic.’ It is a simple operation, providing care, skill and asepsis are forthcoming, and a skilled and properly qualified veterinary surgeon is employed.
Ether is a safer anaesthetic than chloroform as a general anaesthetic.
Of late years the practice of castrating female cats has come into use. This consists of removing the healthy ovaries with the object of preventing oestrum and pregnancy. It is a serious operation and one which a good veterinary surgeon will not take on lightly, or without warning the owners of the risk run, and I would personally not recommend it.
CHAPTER XIII. NURSING.
If a sick cat is to be pulled through an illness it is of the greatest importance that he shall be nursed by the people he loves and trusts. If he is sent away to strangers he will probably stop fighting to live and ‘throw his hand in.’
I never cease to be amazed by the utter selfishness of many animal owners. They will accept as their right all the love and affection of their animals for just so long as they remain no trouble to them, but they cannot possibly put up with the slightest inconvenience, and if their animals are ill they would not dream of having the bother of nursing them. These are the kind of people who turn out a female cat when she is in kitten because ‘She is such a nuisance,’ or give her away to any kind of home simply to be rid of her. I trust there is a specially uncomfortable hell for such people, where they will be forced to use their imagination, and where they will feel the mental sufferings which they have caused their animals.
If an animal is suffering from an incurable disease and the veterinary surgeon gives no hope of recovery, do your pet the last service of having it mercifully put to sleep. It is sheer selfish sentimentality to allow an animal to linger on in pain because the owner has not got the moral courage to sign the death warrant. An animal’s one privilege over us is that we have the right to put it out of its misery when life ceases to be any pleasure, and I feel sure that we are wrong if we deprive an animal of that right. But it is up to us to make sure that we send our pets into the happy hunting grounds with the very minimum of pain and discomfort, and a humane veterinary surgeon will do this.
Cats are very sensitive and are affected by voices. A quiet voice is soothing to a sick cat. He must be given encouragement and never let him feel that you think his case is hopeless. Siamese are bad patients, because they would so much rather die than endure the discomfort and indignity of being ill. Fresh air and warmth are necessary, so an ill cat should be kept in a warm bed (preferably the bed in a raised cage, so that when he gets out of bed he does not lie on a cold, draughty floor) and the room should be kept at an even temperature.
A sick cat should be disturbed as little as possible, because rest and sleep are very essential. Dosing, feeding, re-filling hot water bottles, and cleaning up the patient and the bed should all be done at one time.
Do your best to tempt the patient to eat. I am sure that many sick cats refuse food because their illness has impaired their sense of smell, and if something with a strong gamey smell is offered, they may accept it. It is worth while trying game, hare, pigeon, cooked rabbit, herring roes or raw liver. If hand feeding has to be resorted to, glucose is nourishing and needs no digesting. The blood from meat, beef tea, white egg and milk, port wine and milk, brandy and milk, Brand’s Essence, Valentine’s meat juice, barley-water and Yoghourt are all good. Clean fresh water should be given.
A great deal of heart burning and anxiety can be avoided if only illnesses are taken in time. Common sense must be used, and a sick cat needs nursing in the same way as a sick child. Miss Langston has very kindly given me permission to print the lecture on the nursing of feline distemper which she gave at the recent Feline Distemper Conference, and which was pronounced by the veterinarians present to be of great value and assistance.
MISS LANGSTON’S ADDRESS.
‘You will have heard that there are many forms of feline distemper, some less severe than others, and that the most severe and fatal kinds are frequently caused by secondary infection. “Show fever” is really not a good name for this illness, but as many of our kittens only contract it, especially the more severe forms, after attending shows, this name has become associated with distemper of the worst kinds. In all the less acute forms it is possible to save practically all cases, and even in the worst kinds a certain proportion can be saved, provided the correct treatment and nursing are given, and provided treatment is begun at once.
‘Many kittens die because their owners will not look facts in the face. They prefer to make light of the slight indisposition which is the first sign of distemper, and, in fact, in some mild cases the only sign. Then a set-back, perhaps, occurs, secondary severe infection sets in, and then the owner realizes. Even then some people will not own up that their kittens have died of infectious illness, but try to delude themselves that their kittens have died purely “natural” deaths from worms, chills, poison, bad food, etc. Such people are a danger to their cats and to the Fancy. It is much safer to regard any illness shared by more than one kitten as being possibly infectious than to make light of it. In other words: “It is better to be safe than sorry.”
‘Broadly speaking, distemper comes out in three forms —intestinal, respiratory, and pharyngeal. Usually the ulcerated throat, tongue and gums are present, not only in the pharyngeal, but in the other two forms. I will take the intestinal form first. The question of diet is most important in this form, and I am sure many cases prove fatal because breeders try to fight the natural instinct which tells the kitten to abstain from food and tempt it to eat by offering favourite foods. Keep the kitten warm and quiet and do not attempt to force the appetite. A couple of days’ starvation often works wonders, and at least thirty-six hours’ abstention from food should be given at the first signs of sickness or diarrhoea. A small dose of medicinal paraffin should always be given at the onset, then give every four hours, rhubarb, bismuth, and soda tabloids and Dimol. For a small kitten give quarter of a tabloid, a kitten of four to six months can have half a tabloid, and a big kitten three-quarters of a whole tabloid, according to size. Dimol is made up for animals under the name of Dianomal. For kittens up to six months the three-quarter-grain size is correct, but a very young kitten should have only two or three in a day. A well-grown kitten of four or five months can safely have a dose every four hours along with the rhubarb, bismuth, and soda tabloids. For a kitten of six months, or older, use the one-and-a-half-grain size and give from three to four daily, according to size of kitten.
‘Do not attempt to give any nourishment for at least thirty-six hours — better, forty-eight hours. To quench thirst, provide lacteolized water. This is made by dissolving tablets of Boucard’s Lacteol — 1 tablet to a tablespoonful of water. A coffee-spoonful of this may be given from time to time, and is most beneficial in keeping the mouth, throat and intestines clean and sweet. In all forms of distemper Lacteol is invaluable, as it has the advantage of being tasteless. It is advisable to add a few drops of brandy at bedtime. After the first forty-eight hours very careful hand-feeding should be resorted to, provided, of course, the kitten will not feed itself. The food should consist of Brand’s Essence for the first day, and, if this is tolerated, alternate the next day with milk and brandy. Give 1 teaspoonful at a time every four hours. Should milk upset the kitten, give white of egg instead. Raw beef-tea is also useful. After every feed swab the mouth out with a weak solution of glyco-thymoline. If the kitten is going on well and keeping the nourishment down, the quantities may be very slightly increased. As it progresses, try to interest it in food, but do not let it take any solid food till at least twenty-four hours after it shows desire to do so. At this stage a little arrowroot made with milk can be given.’
DANGER OF OVER-FEEDING.
‘The first solid food should be very soft, steamed fish. Give the tiniest quantity twice a day and go on with the arrowroot, Brand’s Essence, or milk and brandy in between. Then a teaspoonful of finely scraped raw beef can be given. The danger at this stage is over-feeding. You cannot go too slowly. One undigested meal may mean a relapse and a fatal result. As the kitten becomes convalescent he becomes ravenously hungry, and it is difficult to harden one’s heart and refuse to give a little more. The increase of food must be gradual in the extreme, and if this is adhered to recovery is quick and lasting. After bad diarrhoea there is sometimes constipation. Should this happen, a small daily dose of paraffin should be given.
‘Now for the respiratory form. Usually, but not always, there is sneezing as a first sign. Then there is a rise in temperature, the eyes often become inflamed, and soon there is thick discharge from the nose and eyes. The great thing is to try to prevent the lungs becoming involved, and every effort should be made to ease any bronchitis. At the first sign of sneezing begin dosing with sulphate of quinine, a quarter-grain pill for young kittens and a half-grain for larger ones. Give a pill, four times a day. Rubini’s Camphor Pills can be given with the quinine and are very helpful. Inhalations should be given at once, and their timely use frequently prevents bronchitis. Get a 2-lb. jam jar, fill it with boiling water, and add I teaspoonful of friar’s balsam. Shut the kitten in a cupboard or cage, where air can be excluded, and leave it with the inhalation for about twenty minutes. Of course, the kitten must be kept warm, in a warm, ventilated room, and a hot-water bottle in its bed. In slight cases one inhalation at bedtime is enough, but if there is any sign of the chest being involved, inhalations must be given every four hours. In severe cases the steaming must be done very frequently, both night and day. All discharge from the nose must be kept away by frequent swabbing of the nostrils with solutions of glyco-thymoline and hot water. A little of this should be squeezed up the nose with a tiny piece of cotton-wool, and a drop of Mistol in the nostrils helps to keep them clear during the night if given at bedtime. Use warm boracic solution to keep the eyes clean and drop in Collosol Argentum two or three times a day; also swab the mouth out with glyco-thymoline.
‘Try to tempt the patient to eat or drink any light nourishing food. If it refuses, give a teaspoonful of Brand’s Essence, alternated with two or three teaspoonfuls of milk and brandy every three or four hours. Beaten-up egg and milk is also useful. From the first give a dose of paraffin in a capsule and a dimol tablet daily. In very severe cases of bronchitis injections of camphor and ether have a splendid effect. They help the bronchitis and act as a stimulant. These camphor and ether injections are most useful in all cases of weakness and collapse, and I have saved a practically dead kitten with injections, three or four times a day and one in the night. This kitten completely collapsed several times, but revived after each injection, and he is now a fine, big cat.
‘As the fever subsides, appetite returns, and every effort should be made to increase strength with small nourishing meals, given often. A useful cough mixture is Angier’s Emulsion, a coffee-spoonful given in a little milk thrice daily. Later on a capsule of cod liver oil can be given twice daily, provided it does not make the kitten bilious. The quinine should be continued in less frequent doses until the kitten has had a normal temperature for about ten days.
‘When the throat is the seat of illness it is worse than useless to attempt to feed. Keep the kitten warm and quiet and give inhalations as in bronchitis. If possible to swallow, give a quinine pill three times a day, and put in the mouth half a Lacteol tablet from time to time. Hold the mouth shut until the tablet is dissolved. Also swab the mouth and throat with glyco-thymoline or weak Condy’s fluid, but do not use either of these at the same time as the Lacteol or the effect of Lacteol would be nullified. After forty-eight hours try to feed a little milk and brandy if the kitten can swallow. If not, do not try to force it down; but wait until it can. This form of distemper is very severe and rapid, but the sufferers recover very rapidly once the throat is better, and I have seldom lost a kitten since I adopted this method of Lacteol and starvation. I have had a kitten with a temperature of 108 eating three days later, and quite well within a week.
‘In nursing, always do feeding, dosing, changing of bottles, etc., together, so as to disturb the patient as little as possible. Except in very severe cases, do not disturb the kitten in the night, but attend to it last thing at night and first thing in the morning. Also, if a kitten is fast asleep, do not wake it. The most hopeful sign possible is to see a kitten sleeping curled up.
‘Nurse sick kittens yourself. A cat very easily gives up the ghost, and if it is very ill and finds itself in strangers’ hands, it just thinks life is not worth living and dies. Always be very gentle and caress it when attending to it. Keep it clean; a cat hates to be dirty, and when it is too ill to make its own toilet do your best for it. Wipe its face with glyco-thymoline after each feed, and, if trousers are dirty, clean with green soft soap and hot water, and dry with cotton-wool.
‘Never forget the psychological factor. If the kitten feels it is loved it will make a big fight for life. I once had a kitten which was prostrate for five days. She lay on our laps, in turns, and the only sign of life she gave was to curl her paws faintly round a finger. She recovered, and I am sure it was because she felt we held her to life. So don’t put your kittens into strange places when ill, or, if you do, let them be nursed by some one they know and love.’
CHAPTER XIV. THE CAT FANCY.
The Cat Fancy is ruled by the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy, in much the same way as the Dog World is ruled by the Kennel Club. The Governing Council is composed of the delegates from the various cat clubs which are affiliated to it. Each club may send one delegate per every fifty members, but no club may have more than four delegates. The delegates are elected yearly by the club members. All championship shows and certain other shows, are held by licence of the G.C.C.F., and their rules must be adhered to, and they are the final court of appeal in all matters relating to shows.
Every cat shown at any show held under the rules of the G.C.C.F. must be registered with them, and forms for the purpose can be obtained from the Secretary, Mr. H. F. Barrat, 14 Coleherne Road, London, S.W.10. Registered cats which change ownership must be transferred into the present owners’ name.
All the shows are run by the various cat clubs, and each club has its own rules. The G.C.C.F.’s rules, and the show rules, are printed in every show schedule and, should be carefully read by each intending exhibitor. Champion certificates are issued only by the G.C.C.F. and for a cat to become a full champion it must have won three championships under three different judges.
CHAPTER XV. THE SIAMESE CAT CLUB
The Siamese Cat Club was founded in 1901. The hon. secretary was Miss Derby-Hyde, and the hon. treasurer was Mrs. Backhouse. The first committee consisted of Mrs. Parker Brough, Miss Forestier Walker, Mrs. Spencer, Mrs. Robinson, Mrs. Carew-Cox, the hon. secretary and the hon. treasurer. The first list of members was drawn up in 1902; the membership was then thirty-one, and includes such names as Mr. Gambier Bolton, Lady Marcus Beresford, Miss Cochran, Mrs. Vyvyan, the Hon. Mrs. McLaren Morrison.
In 1904 Mrs. Robinson became hon. secretary, which office she held until her death in 1923, and the Club owes her a very real and deep debt of gratitude — for nineteen years she fought to keep going what was then a very little known variety of cat, and she carried on through the difficult years of the war, and I notice that the membership had dropped from thirty-three in 1914 to nineteen in 1915. As long as the Siamese Cat Club exists her memory will be kept before us by the Mary Robinson Trophy, which is one of the most beautiful cups which we possess, and was given to the Club by the members in memory of her.
Miss Busteed, who was hon. secretary from 1924 till her resignation in 1927, did a very great deal for the Club and should be remembered with much gratitude for all her work in the past.
The first standard of points to be drawn up by the Club was in 1902 and reads as follows:
STANDARD OF POINTS OF THE ROYAL CAT OF SIAM.
Body Colour as light and even as possible, cream being the most desirable, but fawn also admissible, without streaks, bars, blotches, or other body markings.
Points, i.e., mask, ears, legs, feet and tail, dark and clearly defined, of the shade known as seal brown.
Mask complete, i.e., connected by tracings with the ears, neither separated by a ring (as in kittens) nor blurred and indistinct, the desideratum being to preserve ‘the marten face,’ an impression greatly aided by a good mask.
Eyes bright and decidedly blue.
Coat glossy and close lying.
Shape, body rather long, legs proportionately slight.
Head rather long and pointed.
General appearance with points emphasized above, a somewhat curious and striking-looking cat of medium size; if weighty not showing bulk, as this would detract from the admired svelte appearance. In type, in every particular, the reverse of the ideal short-hair domestic cat, and with properly preserved contrasts of colour, a very handsome animal, often also distinguished by a kink in the tail.
The points of the Chocolate Siamese 5 to be the same as above, except in colour of body.
Value of Points
Body Colour -20
Shape - 10
Coat - 10
Head - 10
Eyes - 20
Mask - 15
Density of points - 15
Total – 100
In 1923 Major Woodiwiss was elected hon. secretary, and in 1924 he inaugurated and carried out the first Siamese Cat Club Show. This show was the first championship show ever held by a specialist club in the cat fancy confined entirely to one breed, and was a great success. On April 30th 1924 Major Woodiwiss published the first Siamese cat register, which is a list of all the registered Siamese cats in England, giving as far as is known their sires and dams, dates of birth, breeders and owners. In 1927 he published Volume II of this register. There was an immense amount of work involved in these books, and these stud registers which are now published every three years are quite invaluable to breeders in tracing pedigrees. They can be obtained from the Club’s secretary.
The Siamese Cat Club today is the largest specialist cat club in Europe, and probably in the world. It runs its annual show in London, and possesses thirty very beautiful challenge cups and trophies which are offered to members all through the show season. The president of the club is Mr. Compton Mackenzie, who has done very much to make the Siamese cat popular. His help and kindness to the Club is constant and unfailing. Advice is given to anyone who owns a Siamese cat, and help given in buying and selling kittens. The Siamese Cat Club with the National Cat Club are the only clubs that have the right in perpetuum to have four delegates on the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy, irrespective of the number of members the club has. The present hon. secretary is Mrs. Dermot Morrah, 1 Gayton Crescent, N.W.3, and the annual subscription is 5 shillings with an entrance fee of 5 shillings, or life membership of £3 3s.
The present extremely strong financial and numerical position of the Club is very largely due to Miss F. Dixon, South View, Thames Ditton. She was elected hon. treasurer in 1926, which position she still holds. Loyally and unselfishly she has fought and worked for us through our many difficult times, and it is due to her that today we hold such an unassailable position. She has bred some of the finest Siamese, and she will always give freely of her time and experience. Miss F. Dixon will be remembered as one of the greatest friends the Siamese Cat Club has ever had or is ever likely to have, and the debt which we owe her can never be paid.
And now here is the present standard of points by which our Siamese of to-day are judged, and which is the ideal for which we must strive.
VALUE AND STANDARD OF POINTS
Shape - 15 (Body 10) (Tail 5)
Medium in size, body long and svelte, legs proportionately slim, hind legs slightly higher than front ones, feet small and oval, tail long and tapering (either straight or slightly kinked at the extremity).
Head, Ears – 15
Head, long and well proportioned, with width through the eyes, narrowing in perfectly straight lines to a fine muzzle, giving the impression of a marten face. Ears, rather large and pricked, wide at the base.
Eyes - 20 (Colour) (Shape)
Clear, bright and decidedly blue. Shape Oriental and slanting towards the nose. No tendency to squint.
Body Colour – 15
Even, pale, fawn, shading gradually into cream on the belly and chest. Kittens paler in colour.
Points – 15
Mask, ears, legs, feet and tail dense and clearly defined seal brown, mask complete, and (except in kittens) connected by tracings with the ears.
Coat - 10
Very short and fine in texture, glossy and close lying.
The points of the ‘Blue Siamese’ are the same as above, except for ‘seal brown’ read ‘blue.’
It has always been the boast of Britain that we import and perfect a breed of livestock, and we still can export the very best. We have certainly done this with the Siamese cat. The specimens shown today are better than they ever have been. We have deepened the eye colour enormously, and now the wonderful sapphire blue eyes of most Siamese are something to marvel at. But the shape of the eye is often too round, and breeders must concentrate on getting the real Oriental or almond-shaped eye, which gives the Siamese that mystic Eastern look. There is a tendency to get coats too white in most kittens that are shown. The ideal colour is a pale cream. With the white coats we are inclined to lose density of points.
Very few people outside the cat fancy have seen a Blue Pointed Siamese. These can be most beautiful, with their blue instead of seal brown points, and a bluey tinge on the coat. They are apparently ‘sports,’ for no one quite knows how they come and one cannot definitely breed them. Certain studs sometimes throw them, although there may be nothing in their pedigree to account for this. One such stud, Mrs. Colbeck’s Ching Soo, is the sire of Chinky Blue — one of the most lovely Blue Pointed kittens I have ever seen. Chinky Blue is now at stud, and is the property of Mrs. Cox Ife. But even the best Blue Pointed cannot, I think, equal in beauty our Seal Pointed cats, and I can see no great object in trying to breed them. Their value at the moment is in their scarcity, but I do not believe there will ever be a great demand for them.
So let us concentrate on breeding perfect Siamese with deep seal points, long, wedge-shaped heads, and marvellous blue Oriental-shaped eyes. We can never better that quite lovely colour scheme.