COMPENDIUM OF HEALTH. PART VII.
THE CAT AND ITS DISEASES.
BY E. M. HALE, M. D.,
Member of the Chicago Academy of Science, and of the Illinois State Humane Society.
ORIGIN AND HISTORY.
THE admirer of the cat inquires about the origin of the graceful pet which sings on the rug or lies so comfortably on the lap of its mistress, and he learns that "blue blood" runs in the veins of the large family, scientifically speaking, to which it belongs. It is a member of the great class of felidae, whose proudest representatives are the kingly lion and the royal tiger. In spite of much discussion, the question of the origin of the domestic cat is still without a satisfactory answer. It is very generally conceded that it descended from either the cat of ancient Egypt or the wild cat, but authorities are pretty evenly divided upon the two parts of this question. Mr. Wood says, "as far as is at present known, the Egyptian cat is the origin of our domestic cat," and we accept his conclusion, as well as his statement that it came to western and northern countries through Greece and Rome.
That it was known in very early times is shown by many allusions to it in the books of the Sanscrit language, which date back thousands of years before the Christian era. In ancient Egypt it commanded a veneration which staggers our credence. We are told that a Persian king captured an Egyptian city without opposition by resorting to the stratagem of giving a living cat to each soldier when going to battle, the enemy offering no resistance lest the sacred animal be killed. Stories of a like kind are mentioned in history, and we learn that the death penalty was inflicted on any one in Egypt who killed a cat. This animal held a high place in the public and private worship of that land, as we read in the pages of history, and as is further proved by the vast numbers of images and adornments representing it which have been discovered in later times. Hosts of them were embalmed, and that, too, by the costly process used on the royal families, so that it may be said that Egypt permanently preserved the bodies of her kings and cats.
We find that the Turks had and yet have a profound respect for this animal, handsome sums being devoted to hospitals for its care and treatment. In the tenth century Howell the Good, of Wales, imposed a heavy fine upon any subject who killed a cat. In the Middle Ages a different sentiment was rife, superstition connecting the animal with witches and Satan, especially if it were black - a superstition which is not unknown to-day. Great numbers were burned alive on St. John's Day in a certain quarter of Paris, the king starting the fire, Louis XIV being the last ruler to perform this proud royal act. To such superstitions and barbarities may perhaps be traced the prejudice of modern times against this innocent animal. In both ancient and modern Germany there has been a peculiar dread of a black cat and its supposed Satanic influences. In Sicily cats are held in almost extravagant esteem. In England and America not a few have ridiculous notions upon the curative properties of the blood, skin and other parts, to say nothing about fancied relations to Satan and witches.
Over against the repugnance to the cat which many profess, often because it is simply the fashion, one may mention, as a few of the great number who have admired and fostered the animal, Richelieu, Cardinal Wolsey, Montaigne, Fontanelle, Turner the painter, Tasso, Pierre Jean de Beranger, and Dr. Jonson. Adding the weight of the tastes of such men to that of the favors shown in ancient times, we catch the force of the saying that " a cat may look upon a king."
He who dispassionately studies the traits of the cat will recognize a measure of aptness in the old Arab's saying, that Allah had placed in the cat the spirit of a gentle woman, and in the dog the soul of a brave man. At the present time, however, any claim of gentleness for this animal is promptly met by the unsupported assertion, that " the friendship of years is suddenly and irreparably broken by an accidental tread on the tail," and an invidious comparison is drawn by alluding to the patient and forgiving affection of the dog. The cat is by far the more delicately constituted in the nervous system, and is thus exposed to the most exquisite pain and distressing shocks. But in spite of this, if she has been properly treated before, it takes but slight assurances that no harm was intended to call forth fully as much kindness as the dog will show. This difference is noticeable: the dog will hike pains to cultivate friendship with those who are indifferent or unkind, while the cat will cultivate it only where it is evidently mutual.
If those who harbor such a prejudice will exercise a disposition to learn the facts, they will probably corroborate the view of one keen observer who has said that he had " never known a cat to cement a friendship with any one without such friendship lasting till death." Dr. Stables has given a large number of instances in which she has staid by the sick-bed of her master or mistress, almost to the point of starvation; has evinced unquestioned loneliness in the absence of that one in the family who has shown her special kindness; has lain by the cradle of the babe and kept off other cats, and even dogs; and has been trained to such a point as to sport with and protect pet birds, when she would immediately devour any of their kind that she might find in their natural freedom. The testimony of that writer is fully sustained by any one who has been observant of the cat when it is kindly treated and trained. One frequently-cited evidence of her innate kindness is her nursing of puppies, rabbits, rats, and other animals. It is readily seen that, in addition to her proverbial attachment to places, which leads her to seek her home when taken away a long distance in the closest confinement, she is disposed to be as closely attached to persons and dumb creatures. Not only may she be educated to become the protector of animals which she is naturally prompted to destroy, thus disproving the existence of an alleged " ineradicable treachery," but her marked propensity to steal may be so completely overcome by training that her choicest food will be untouched in the larder to which she has access. Indeed, as we might infer from her delicate organism and high type of cunning, she has a docility which has a parallel in few animals, and it but requires pains to develop it. It may be safely said that those which display the disagreeable traits of petulance, theft and treachery are starved, ill-treated, spoiled, or at least much neglected. The strict cleanliness of body which they maintain, the noiseless and graceful demeanor, and the notable absence of a disposition to do willful injury to furniture and adornments, make cats peculiarly fit for drawing-room pets.
The prejudice of to-day is almost wholly due to a disregard of two points, namely, the selection of a proper subject, and the requisite care and training. One will necessarily form a low estimate of the animal if he bases his conclusions upon the stray representatives in whose veins runs the blood of all chance mongrel breeds, which have " shifted for themselves," and have had no protection against bad weather, bad food, bad dogs and worse boys. Heredity is as well defined in cats as in other animals, and good or bad habits will not only be transmitted, but may be confirmed or corrected by education. No more will this pet be agreeable and prized without training than others, nor will others more readily and fully reward one for the pains that he may bestow.
The varieties most sought as pets are the Angora (also called Angola, because some think that it originated in Angola, in Africa, instead of Angora, in Asia Minor); the Persian; the Chinese; the Spanish, or Tortoise Shell; the Chartreuse, or Blue; the Manx; and the Tabby.
The Angora is the most beautiful of all. It is large, and has long, silky fur, and a gorgeous, brush-like tail. It is generally perfectly white, but may be a pale-yellow, or almost olive-colored. Whatever the color, it is pretty, gentle and delicate.
The Persian is "beautiful in luster and color of its skin. It is a gray-blue, and as soft and shining as silk. The tail is of great length and covered with hair six inches long, which the animal throws over its back after the manner of a squirrel." The hair on the neck is also very long, and the color is said to be sometimes pure white.
The Chinese, which some claim is not properly a cat, is rather above the ordinary size, has fine, glossy fur, and hanging ears.
The Spanish, or Tortoise Shell, is white, black and reddish-brown mixed, and is very elegant in form.
The Chartreuse, or Blue, has long slate-colored fur, and a bushy neck and tail. This is perhaps what is popularly known as the Maltese.
The Manx has long, slim legs, close-set fur, staring, restless eyes, and no tail, there being only a knob in its stead. It is an unearthly looking creature, and " might fitly be the quadrupedal form in which the ancient sorcerers were wont to clothe themselves on their nocturnal excursions." There seems to be little doubt that some animals presented at cat-shows as specimens of the Manx are really common cats with the tails cut off. Indeed, not a few even yet say that the Manx is a myth, though some high authorities do not question its existence.
The Tabby is striped, like waved or watered silk, and may have any of a variety of colors. In technical language, we apply this name to those that have such marking, but it is popularly used for any grown cat.
In addition to the above, mixed breeds in great variety present almost every conceivable color, from perfect black to spotless white, and many of them are desirable as pets and valuable as mousers.
HEALTH OF CATS.
Most people never think that a cat suffers a loss of health that is worth notice, and they entirely neglect their pet until it is perhaps found dead in the alley. To expect an animal of such a delicate organism to be free from disease is most unreasonable. It is doubtless true that many have little concern, too, whether the cat suffers or not. Two classes will perhaps put a low estimate on a work which is devoted to the comfort and health of an animal which they lightly esteem. One class will be found in the country, where vile mongrel cats are the only ones known, and whose only redeeming characteristic is a fecundity that supplies the demand as rapidly as it is made by the deaths which ensue from neglect and cruelty. The other class will be those who cultivate the contempt for the cat which many profess, because they suppose it is popular, without reflecting that it is not an evidence of superior taste to despise what God has created. But the great admiration - often extravagant, of course - evinced for this animal by a host of good people, the high money value put upon it by such people and by most people in our cities, and the frequent applications made to the family physician when a favorite cat in the household is suffering, all point to a large class who will welcome the present treatise. Before the treatment is entered upon, a few hints are in order upon the care which is calculated to ward off in great measure the ailments to which this animal is subject. To preserve the health, the smoothness and gloss of the fur, and the temper, one must regard the food, drink, housing, and general management.
Food. - In this matter perhaps no error is more general than that of starving a cat to make it a good mouser. The practice has arisen from the mistaken notion that a cat kills mice and rats for food only, while the truth is that she does it quite as much because it is at once her sport and her nature, and that she will follow it up more faithfully if she is properly fed and kept in her normal health and spirits. If one wants his pet to become a thief and prowler, with an abundant stock of fleas and vermin, let him neglect to feed her regularly. Give at least two meals a day at regular hours. After each feeding remove the dish and never use it a second time without first washing it. The quantity that is requisite can best be determined by experience, but some breeds, the Angora in particular, require more than others.
Oatmeal porridge and milk, or white bread soaked in milk a little sweetened, will make a good breakfast. For a dinner, the same may be given with an allowance of flesh. Horse-meat is much used in Europe, and is good, though liver and boiled lights are better. Fish is the favorite meat of the cat, and should be at least occasionally provided, particularly during sickness. Oysters are also "well suited to its wants and are keenly relished by some. Raw beef is, of course, to be recommended. An excessive amount of flesh, however, tends to produce diarrhoea, liver being especially conducive to this derangement. Boiled eggs at regular intervals are desirable, as are also vegetables of any kind that the animal likes.
Though the' food should be ample for the needs of the cat, over-feeding is one of the most prolific sources of mischief. Sweet, fresh milk should always be given in abundance, and this, with the oatmeal or bread, will be quite sufficient in most cases. The mice which the cat will contrive to get will generally be an adequate supplement. Delicacies from the table are always to be withheld. It may be said in this connection that a cat's disposition is often spoiled by feeding it from the table while the family is eating. This should not be allowed, and a little training will induce her to patiently await her time, even if she sits by the table during the meal.
GRASS. - A lady writer says: "Cats will never prosper without grass to eat. It is, with them, a panacea for nearly all their ills. They eat it to keep the stomach in good order. It cools the blood, prevents humors, and aids digestion." It is supposed that the eating of grass helps the cat to get rid of the hair which it swallows in the process of washing. While licking itself, the loose hair clings to the tongue and is swallowed. In the stomach it tends to form hard balls, which interfere with digestion and act as an irritant to the stomach and bowels, causing fever, fits, vomiting and dysentery. The grass acts in such cases as a lubricant, like castor oil, enabling these balls to be easily thrown off by the stomach or bowels. Grass can be supplied to cats in the winter by laying by a few cuts of sod in the cellar, conservatory, or any warm place, being kept watered, and a small piece being given at a time. They will eat it greedily, and even swallow the roots. If it causes them to vomit no harm will be done. If a cat appear ill, tries to vomit, or vainly tries to evacuate the bowels, and no grass can be procured, give a teaspoonful of castor oil, sweet oil, or glycerine. The readiness with which most of them will feed upon asparagus in the garden should induce one to keep a supply in reach when practicable; and their natural preference for catnip will suggest a like course, for it is well-known that cats take delight in rolling about in catnip, whether dry or green.
DRINK. - Of milk we have already spoken; but it is a mistake to suppose that it is always preferred, since water will generally be chosen for the mere quenching of thirst. Both should be kept in a particular place, in different vessels, or in separate divisions of a double dish. The drinking-vessels must be washed at least once a day and a fresh supply be provided as often, for milk that is the least unsavory will not be taken by a well-bred cat, unless hunger forces it to accept it, nor will it drink water if it is not fresh and free from dust.
HOUSING. - If one is to have a cat that is fit to be seen in the parlor, or to be allowed in the house at all, he must give it suitable housing. If he turns it out at night, it will, in addition to becoming a thief and prowler, surely be gaunt, ugly, unhealthy, and covered with lice and other vermin from its visits to the roosts of poultry and birds. If properly fed and treated during the day, it will not be inclined to go out at night. Make a good bed. in a clean, cosy place, give free access to different parts of the house, and do not put your cat out at night unless it shows a marked desire to go. Many people turn it out to keep it from soiling the carpets, but this is unnecessary, for proper management will supplement its natural dainty cleanliness, and thus prevent this practice, unless sickness or too close confinement induces it. It is always well to place a sand-box in some remote part of the house, and to keep it accessible at all times. Not only can one train his cat to use it herself, but she will also teach her mates and kittens to do the same.
CARE OF THE FUR. - The Hindoo word for cat means " the cleanser," and an apt use of the term it is, for no other animal keeps itself in such exquisite cleanliness. No one should fail to keep the apartments in which the cat is kept as clean as possible. If she is compelled to wear a dirty coat for a considerable time, it will be the more to her credit if she does not become discouraged, careless and slovenly. At times the surroundings will be such that the soiling of the fur will be unavoidable, and it is then best to give an occasional bath with warm water and the mildest of soap, carefully drying with towels, in a warm room, to prevent the contracting of a cold. For obvious reasons, white cats will be more often treated in this way, and perhaps the water which gets into the ears, and the colds which are taken, aggravate the alleged liability of those of this color to become deaf - a liability which is grossly exaggerated by many.
To insure a clean, glossy coat, give at times an ounce or less of fresh butter. " It not only acts as a gentle laxative, but the grease, combining in her mouth with the alkalinity of her saliva, forms a kind of natural cat-soap, and you will see she will immediately commence washing herself, and become beautifully clean." When the fur is rough and " seedy," give a saucer of milk, warmed a little with hot water and slightly sweetened with sugar. If cream is smeared about the mouth or on the paws, the cat will lick it off and use it in dressing herself. To prepare her for shows, touch her all over with a sponge dipped in fresh cream, and she will clean and polish herself with a striking effect.
A begrimed coat is a source of poor health, and one that is rough and staring is generally the first symptom of disease. Hence, both in hygiene and treatment, attention to the fur is of much importance.
GENERAL REMARKS. - The health and temper of cats are seriously impaired by rough treatment of all kinds. No one can reasonably expect to have a pet that is fit for the drawing-room if it is harassed by dogs and street-boys, or continually teased by pulling its ears, tail and fur; nor, indeed, if it is treated as if it were merely suffered to be in the house, instead of being sought. That an animal is so patient as to allow children to smother it in their aprons and wraps, to carry it over the shoulder by the legs or head, and even to drag it by the tail, is a rebuke to parents who are so unfeeling as to permit such abuse. Her good nature merits some considerations of humanity. Her delicate nervous organism, too, demands protection against pain, fright, and all forms of rough treatment.
DISEASES AND THEIR TREATMENT.
Cats are subject to nearly as many diseases as the human race. But while the diseases of nearly all other animals have been studied with great care, those of the cat have been neglected, except by a few admirers of that animal. Yet there are thousands of people who would highly value any practical information, in order that they might save the life or preserve the health of a loved pet or valuable mouser.
Cats soon show when they are sick. Almost the first symptom is a neglect of their usual toilet. A cat that omits to wash and clean itself is surely ill.
Another prominent symptom is a rough condition of its fur. The hair no longer is smooth and glossy, but appears to stand out straight from the skin.
A hot nose is a pretty sure sign that a cat is feverish or has inflammation somewhere. I shall enumerate the disorders of cats in the order of their frequency, and give briefly the best treatment adopted by others, together with my own experience.
There is no reason why we should not treat the cat and all other animals with the same humanity with which we should treat our fellow human beings. Some physicians and surgeons take offense, or pretend to, if asked to prescribe for a cat or other domestic animal. No physician need feel any loss of dignity in doing a humane act. When a veterinary physician or some one who makes diseases of animals a speciality can not be procured, the family physician has no moral or humane right to refuse to prescribe. The writer, although an old physician of large practice, never refused such aid, and if the following hints shall enable humane people to relieve the suffering of their pets, he will be sincerely gratified.
When medicine is not given in the food, and is to be administered by hand, it is well to put on thick, stout gloves to avoid bites and scratches. Then wrap the cat in a strong cloth, carefully covering the feet; let an assistant hold it between his knees, and. open the mouth wide. Doses in a fluid form should be given little by little from a spoon. If a pill or bolus is the form, put it well back against the roof of the mouth. If tasteless powders or homoeopathic pellets are used, it is only necessary to place the dose on the tongue, when it will be absorbed or swallowed. In all cases, be gentle, so as to avoid fright and injury. Studiously clean off from the lips and fur all remnants of the medicine, for the cat will not lick it off if it is distasteful, and its presence will be annoying. It is a good rule to withhold food for two hours after a remedy has been given, unless special directions to the contrary are mentioned in any particular place.
CONVULSIONS. - FITS.
Among the causes of fits the principal is overfeeding with meat, especially when young. Cats should have but a small quantity of meat once a day. The best diet for a cat under one year of age is milk, oatmeal and milk, or plain bread and milk.
Fits are generally of such short duration that but little can be done for instant relief. If they last more than a minute, a whiff of chloroform, ether or ammonia may do good. In order to prevent them from running into the fire or injuring furniture or ornaments in their wild and delirious action, throw a shawl or sheet over them and hold them quiet. The preventive or after-treatment is the most important.
Treatment. - The diet must be carefully watched, and if they are fat, put them on a low diet. If they are poor and lean, give them regularly milk and a little raw meat twice a day. If the disorder arises from worms, give santonine (one-tenth grain in milk every three or four hours for two or three days). A cat with fits should be watched, and if her faeces or vomit contain worms, you may be sure that worms are the cause. If the cat is very poor and scrawny, give half a teaspoonful of cod-liver oil three times a day. If the fits are frequent and the cat is rigid, or stiffly convulsed, give nux vomica three times a day (a few pellets or grains of the third trituration, or a spoonful of a solution of one or two drops of the tincture in half a glass of water). If the eyes are red and blood-shot and the head is hot, give belladonna in the same dose as nux vomica.
Cats often have attacks of delirium, which may be mistaken for fits, though there are no true convulsions. The animal is discovered with staring eyes and bristly fur, rushing here and there in a terrible manner. It tries to climb up the wall or break through a window, and ends by plunging into the darkest corner, and mews piteously or screams frightfully. Here it will remain and die unless attended to.
Treatment.- Put on a pair of thick gloves or mittens, grasp the cat firmly by the nape of the neck, wrap a shawl around the body, and with a sharp pair of scissors clip or slit one of the ears slightly in the thin part; then with a sponge or rag wet the ear with warm water to cause the blood to flow, and a few drops will give relief. Give the cat some belladonna or hyoscyamus as directed above, put it in a cool, quiet place, and allow it to sleep. Do not allow it to be disturbed for several hours or a day, for the animal is left in a very nervous state, in which a slight sound will alarm it and bring back the delirium.
When cats are teething this delirium often occurs. In some instances the gums ought to be lanced. Feed the cat very sparingly with warm milk, not cream, for a few days. Place within its reach water to drink, and grass to eat.
If a cat suddenly becomes stupid, sleeps heavily and cannot be roused, and breathes with a snore, it has apoplexy. Bleed from the ear a few drops, and give one-tenth drop of opium (laudanum) every half-hour.
This is generally due to catarrh or injury. If it arises from catching cold, the eye will be swollen, the inside of the lids red and secreting a mucus which sticks the lids together and runs out of the corners. Give internally some pulsatilla or hepar sulphur. Locally apply a wash of weak borax-water, or a few grains of alum or sulphate of zinc to a teacupful of water.
CATARRH OF THE NOSE.
After catching cold, cats will sneeze and show all the symptoms of influenza. It is often epidemic. When influenza is prevalent among men and horses, dogs and cats are similarly affected. Give hepar sulphur, and if the case is severe, with sore, raw nose and a watery discharge, give arsenic or arsenic iodide, third trituration, or ten drops of Fowler's Solution in a half-teacup of water, a spoonful every two hours.
SORE THROAT. - DIPHTHERIA.
Sore throat arises generally from a cold, and is preceded by catarrhal symptoms. The cat will seem to have difficulty in swallowing food, will swallow when not eating, and the glands of the throat are swollen. Cats have diphtheria, which they often get from children by whom they are fondled. Give belladonna and mercurius, and wrap the throat up in flannel wet with cosmoline; or tie a strip of pork around the throat. If it is diphtheria, the same treatment will be ample, with a few grains of sulphite of soda in water.
INFLAMMATION OF THE STOMACH.
This is often caused by cats eating food that has been poisoned. If you are sure it is arsenic, give a few drops of peroxide of iron, or dialyzed iron, every half-hour. The symptoms are constant vomiting and retching, with great thirst. If it is not from arsenic, give a few pellets or a powder of arsenicum, third trituration, every hour or two. If this fails, give a grain or two of sub-nitrate of bismuth, dry on the tongue, every hour. But do not forget that all the symptoms of this disease are often caused by worms, and then nothing but santonine will save life.
Diarrhoea is generally caused by irregular or excessive feeding, or exposure to wet and cold. Fat meat, or too much liver or oysters will cause it. It soon reduces the cat to a skeleton, and will end in dysentery and death.
If caused by improper food, give pulsatilla and a diet of boiled milk, or no food at all, for a day or two. A few grains of bismuth will often avert it. If it comes from a cold, give mercurius, second trituration. If it is chronic and obstinate, give the following prescription
Tine, opii, one drachm.
Castor oil, one ounce.
Aromatic syrup rhubarb, one ounce.
Emulsion, two ounces.
Give one-half or one teaspoonful every two hours. In all severe cases of illness, put the cat in an empty room, not too cold, with a warm bed in it, and a box of sand.
Dysentery is an inflammation of the mucous lining of the intestines. It is attended by fever, pain in the bowels, crying and discharge of white or bloody slime, with straining.
Give aconite and mercurius, with colocynth if there is colic. If this fails, use the prescription given above for chronic Diarrhoea. A grain or two of powdered ipecac every two hours will be needed if the discharges are green and very bloody.
BRONCHITIS AND CONSUMPTION.
Cats are very subject to bronchitis, especially pet cats, if they are exposed to cold and wet. It begins with symptoms of a common cold, such as staring coat, shivering, and slight cough. The cat becomes very ill for a day or two with the acute stage, which soon passes into the chronic form. There is then difficulty of breathing; the cat is constantly coughing, with the tongue hanging over the lower lip; she has an anxious expression about the face, and her eyes are watery and filled with matter; she gets thinner and moons about, refusing all food, or at times eating voraciously, with depraved appetite.
Confine the cat to the house, in a warm room; feed her on beef-tea and bread, or milk and arrowroot-gruel. If she is constipated, give a small teaspoonful of castor or sweet oil, and prepare a mixture as follows: In half a glass of water put one drop of Fowler's Solution of arsenic, and five drops of tincture of gelseminum. Give a teaspoonful of this every hour until the feverish or acute stage has passed. If you have homoeopathic remedies, give a small powder of arsenicum (third) and six pellets of gelseminum (first), alternately one hour apart.
After the acute stage has passed into the chronic, and the cough is wheezy and frequent, give five drops of syrup of squills every two hours or six pellets of pulsatilla (second), alternated with hepar sulphur (third), two hours apart. In bad cases, with very difficult breathing and painful cough, give a small powder of tartar emetic, second trituration, alternated with six pellets of phosphorus, the third. If the cat is left with a cough, and. grows thin and weak, give half a teaspoonful of pure cod-liver oil three times a day. This generally acts like a charm, and the cat soon recovers her strength and flesh.
Consumption often results from neglected bronchitis and needs only good care, freedom from exposure, a diet of raw meat, and cod-liver oil.
DISTEMPER OR YELLOWS.
Lady Cust, writing of diseases of cats, says: - "This is different from distemper in dogs. It rarely occurs but once, and is a dangerous disorder. It begins with constant vomiting of bright-yellow, frothy liquid. Diarrhoea then comes on, which ends in dysentery." She advises "half a teaspoonful of melted beef marrow, free from skin," and says that one dose is generally sufficient to check the vomiting. But several of my cats had this disease and I treated them all successfully with calomel and ipecac. Put three or four grains of each into half a glass of water, and give a teaspoonful every hour, (or give a small powder of mercurius dulcis, second trituration, and the same dose of ipecac, second trituration, alternately one or two hours apart). Feed them nothing until the vomiting is checked ; then give them small quantities of warm milk, to which may be added a little mutton-broth.
MANGE. - RING-WORM ECZEMA.
The "mange" of cats is generally a species of "ring-worm" (which they often give to children, or catch from children). It is often a "psoriasis" or an "eczema." The skin becomes red and irritated in spots, where the hair soon falls off, or the skin becomes red, scaly and wrinkled. The poor animal presents an unsightly and even loathsome appearance in bad cases. In all instances the annoyance and irritation make the cat very unhappy, for the itching is intolerable, and her biting and scratching aggravate the disease.
I have been very successful in treating them just as I would a human patient. The diseased surface should be sponged with pure castile soap-suds, and carefully dried; after which, if the disease is mild, apply the following ointment:
Boracic acid (pulv.), one drachm.
Almond oil, two drachms.
Vaseline, two ounces.
Rub in thoroughly with the finger or soft rag. Repeat this every day and the eruption will soon disappear. In severe cases use an ointment of one drachm of sulphurous acid to one ounce of vaseline (or a wash of one drachm of sulphurous acid to one ounce of water). Nearly all varieties of mange are caused by microscopic fungi in the skin, and when they are destroyed the disease leaves. Carbolated cosmoline has been found useful, and so has an ointment of chrysophanic acid, ten grains to one ounce of vaseline, the latter being especially good in cases of ring-worm.
Internally the best remedy is arsenic, one-tenth of a drop of Fowler's Solution, three times a day, or iodide of arsenic, third trituration, a grain three times a day. Cod-liver oil is useful if the cat is much emaciated, since it readily restores the flesh.
CATS WITH KITTENS.
If you have a valuable and favorite cat pregnant, do not allow her to be pushed about, struck or kicked, or she may miscarry, or suffer during her confinement. Sometimes the kittens are still-born from such ill-treatment. See that the cat is well and regularly fed and properly housed.
When she has kittens, never be so hard-hearted as to destroy all her family at once. There is no other animal that exhibits more affection for its progeny. It will go hungry that its young may eat, and will face the most terrible danger in their behalf. If her children are taken from her, the mother will go about for many days in the most distracted and melancholy manner, filling the house with her piteous mewings. Therefore, be merciful and humane. Always leave her at least one baby until it has reached an age when it can find other food than its mother's milk. If a cat is deprived of all her young, she may suffer from painful enlargement or inflammation of the breasts, which sometimes suppurate. I have known many cases in which this retention of milk acted as it does sometimes in women when delirium and child-bed fever set in; and a cat maybe dangerous at such times.
A cat's litter may all be born dead, or may be eaten by some old tom-cat, or any other animal. If no kittens can be procured to nurse the mother, a little camphorated oil or phytolacca cerate should be rubbed on the breasts; if she has fever, give aconite and belladonna (pellets) alternately an hour apart. Sponging the teats with warm water will sometimes cause the milk to flow and relieve the swelling and pain.
If the mother dies and you wish to raise the kittens by hand, give them a little new milk sweetened with brown sugar. As a substitute for the mother's licking, rub them with a sponge, squeezed out nearly dry after being dipped in warm water that is a little soapy.
BRIEF MENTION OF VARIOUS AFFECTIONS.
BOILS. - Several of my cats have had an eruption like boils, probably from over-feeding. They need but little treatment, and measures for promoting the general health will be sufficient.
POX. - In the spring and autumn cats are frequently afflicted with a disease resembling chicken-fox in the human subject. The head and throat are the parts usually attacked, the hair falls off, and the animal's appearance is very miserable. Give hepar sulphur, third trituration, a few grains on the tongue every three hours, and apply the boracic-acid ointment mentioned under Mange.
FLEAS. - In some countries and towns cats are terribly annoyed by fleas. They are readily removed by a few applications of Persian Insect Powder, rubbed into the fur.
INJURIES, ETC. - Cats stand operations of all sorts very well. If a leg is broken and lacerated by a trap, and cannot be set and put in splints, cut it off. Leave sufficient flesh to cover the bone, and have ready a wire raised to white heat, to cauterize and stop bleeding; then bring the flesh together by a needle and thread. If the wound has been made with a knife or the teeth of some animal, sew it up. If an ulcer forms from any cause, touch it with some caustic or burned alum. Cats will persistently lick a wound or ulcer. In some cases it will be well to let them. In others it defeats healing. A fine wire muzzle is the only preventive.
END OF PART VII.