FIT FOR A QUEEN
By Mrs. Elsie Hart
From "Our Cats" (UK) March 1949
I spotted this article about (un)suitable travelling boxes for cats in an old magazine. Modern breeders and owners might be amazed at the types of cat carriers still in use in 1949, not to mention the practice of sending cats as unaccompanied rail cargo.
S.O.S. from Stud Owner - " For goodness sake print something about suitable travelling boxes for visiting queens." So here it is - from the experienced pen of Mrs. Elsie Hart, popular Fancier and Hon Secretary of the Siamese Cat Club.
It does seem extraordinary that so many owners of female cats convey or send them to the stud owner in such deplorable boxes and baskets.
There is no excuse these days for using any old crate. Boxes and baskets may be bought from most of the big stores and pet shops. The most suitable is the medium-sized rabbit box with an inner compartment. This gives adequate ventilation without draught. It should be large enough for the cat to sit comfortably.
A basket is also quite suitable provided it is covered with strong brown paper to keep out the draught. Leave the top uncovered for air. Do send a clean blanket ; your cat will much prefer to have her own.
These instructions seem quite simple, but this is what we often get : Fancy baskets with one strap only so that the stud owner has to sew up the whole lid to keep the cat inside when she returns. Another queen arrived in a tiny ferret box pushed down flat. A third was packed in a flimsy chicken box with no blanket to lie on, not even a sheet of paper. Airspace was nil and the box inside covered with chicken droppings, old bran and cobwebs. When opened, it collapsed, as it was only tied with one piece of string.
All three queens were really nice specimens and worthy of better treatment. The little lady of the chicken box was so pleased with the bed and hot bottle provided for her that she just sat tight cuddling it and let the stud go hang !
Avoid using wooden boxes which have to be either nailed of screwed down. The stud owner's language is not very polite when a hammer or screwdriver has to be found before the cat can be liberated. Many a poor queen is terrified when she is again put in and the lid hammered down.
And then there is the enormous receptacle weighing nearly a ton ! All stud owners do not possess cars, and the picture of the staggerer carrying a huge box on to a bus is amusing to the onlookers only. I have recollections of descending to the station at about 10.30 p.m. to collect a queen and finding her in an outsize dog kennel. it was during the war ; my cat was laid up and it was just one big joke to hope to get a taxi. I struggled with this contraption through the unlighted streets accompanied by the love calls of the queen and the ribald remarks of the armed forces emerging from the various " locals. " Up the hill (one in three gradient!) towards home I staggered - and so to bed !
But I think I can cap even that experience with the queen who was brought loose in her owner's car, and as the visitor arrived at an entirely different hour to the appointment, I was not at home. When I returned - it was winter and very dark - I was met by a neighbour with the happy news that the cat had leapt from the car as soon as the door was opened and disappeared into the forest at the bottom of my garden. The owner had departed leaving the message, " Would I phone when i had caught the cat !"
Yes, I did eventually catch her; in spite of the stalking tactics of a designing tabby and white full male from next door. Stud owners earn their money!
A final word or two about making the necessary arrangements beforehand. Do not wait until your queen has been in season about three days and then contact the stud owner, expecting to be welcomed with open arms. Decide on your stud beforehand, write the owner, and then get in touch with him (or her) the first day of the call, and you will then be told when to bring or send your queen. Once more, although the majority of potential breeders do not seem to think so, stud fees are payable in advance, and if the cat has to be returned by rail do not forget that another fare is involved.
Observance of these seeming small by vital points will make life much more pleasant for all the parties involved - the owner of the queen, the stud owner and the little lady in the travelling box.