The Feline Defence League was largely a one-woman crusade between 1902 and 1911, when the only form of "rescue" was the euthanasia of diseased and injured cats. LONDON CATS' BEST FRIEND. (Press, Volume XLIX, Issue 14698, 21 June 1913, Page 11) carried an obituary: The cats of London have lost their best friend by the death of Miss Kate Cording, the foundress of the Feline Defence League. Miss Cording, largely at her own expense, collected stray cats - lately to the number of 11,000 annually - and secured for them a speedy and painless death in her cats' home at Islington. It is stated that her work is to be carried on by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
“To Protect the Cats.” Sir, —With reference to a short account in your issue of to-day’s date of the London Institution for Lost and Starving Cats, it is only fair to point out that that institution is not the only one which undertakes the arduous and unpleasant work referred to. There is at least one other, viz., that of Miss Cording, No. 31, Trinity-street, Islington, N., whose efforts in the cause of humanity to dumb creatures are well worthy of public support.—Yours, etc., Oct. 13. HUMANITAS (London Daily News, 17th October 1904)
“To Protect the Cats.” Sir, —-A small paragraph under the above heading appeared in The Daily News a few days ago. It was there stated that the London Institution for Lost Cats is “the only one which collects lost, starving, injured, or diseased cats.” My own Cats’ Shelter is advertised in every Friday’s issue of “The Daily News,” and as my life is largely occupied in seeking out, and going to fetch stray cats for people in all parts of London, and employing a boy to do the same, as well as accepting the kindly services of voluntary helpers, who also collect cats for my Home, I trust you will be so good as to correct the mistake you have made in the paragraph referred to.—Yours, etc., KATE CORDING. Fellowship Cottage Lost Cats’ Shelter, Trinity-street, Islington. (London Daily News, 17th October 1904)
London’s Lost Cats.—The London Institution for Lost and Starving Cats to be made a limited liability company. Since it was established 127,095 cats, including “boarders,” have been received. Last year the number admitted was 13,314, and the receipts reached £l,808. (Cambridge Independent Press, 16th August 1907)
Friends of the Cat. A number of cats and dogs whose life story might furnish material for a 6 shilling novel were present at the Caxton Hall yesterday for the public meeting of the Animal Rescue League. Mrs Penn Gaskell, the president, spoke of the excellent work which had been accomplished Miss Kate Cording, the foundress of the league, und pointed out that nowadays the cat has an established position. Formerly, even animal lovers, she said, restricted their good offices to horses and dogs, leaving the unfortunate stray cat severely alone. “Even that awful creature, the errand-boy,” said Mrs. Penn Gaskell, “would rescue a cat sooner than fling a stone it.” The league has a home for stray cats and dogs at Islington, while such animals as cannot be sheltered are humanely destroyed. The home was opened nearly ten years ago, and no fewer than 91,855 animals had been received up to last April. (Sheffield Evening Telegraph, 9th May 1912)
Keep an Eye on the Cat. In every part of London cat thieves have suddenly become active, and, as result, a special warning has been issued to owners of cats by Mr E. G. Fairholme, secretary of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Black cats are not stolen out of a superstitious regard for luck, but for monetary profit. They are wanted for their fur. At the offices of the society it was stated yesterday that the collectors attached to the Animal Rescue League — the men who gather in the stray and homeless cats on the streets — are satisfied that there is a regular market in good cat’s fur. The thefts are usually perpetrated during the night — although daylight robbery is also not unknown. The greater number of the cats are stolen from doorsteps and area railings. A furrier’s advice to women who own feline pets is, “Keep your eyes on the cat, or you may later find it round your neck.” (Sunderland Daily Echo and Shipping Gazette, 8th November 1913)
“Over eighty abandoned cats,” we read, “were picked up in the London streets on Thursday by the Animals’ Rescue League.” We are not all sure that the expresion “abandoned cats is not libellous one (Framlingham Weekly News, 4th October 1913)
WILL OF ANIMAL LOVER. TO BE BURIED WITHOUT RELIGIOUS CEREMONY. RED FLOWERS AND NO MOURNING. Pall Mall Gazette, 15th November 1913, widely reprinted.). Miss Kate Cording, foundress of the Animals Rescue League, subject to a few specific bequests, left her estate to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and to them she left a list of names and addresses of subscribers to the Animals Rescue League, desiring that her rescue work of cats and dogs may be continued, and she directed that the shelters shall not be left to the management of uneducated caretakers, but to the care of gentlewomen who are also animal lovers.
She directed that her body shall be buried in silence and without religious ceremony, and desired her friends not to be distressed by the thought that she was an atheist, stating, “I am not (an atheist), but believe in a God and a future state for all men and animals, but as my religion has nothing to do with the Bible I do not desire any Christian service read over my dead body.”
She also desired that her funeral shall be plain and simple, and without flowers, but if any are used they shall be of bright red or any other colour but white, and no one is to wear mourning for her. If horses are used at her funeral she directed that they shall not wear bearing reins. She also desired that her lifelong mottoes, “laborare est orare” and “Deeds, not words ” (“which I have all unworthily tried to live up to”) shall remain hung on the walls of the headquarters of the Animals Rescue League, and not be taken down "because I, the humble foundress, have entered into the silence.” Miss Cording also directed that her pet animals shall be destroyed as soon as possible after her death. Her estate is of the gross value of £67 5s. 6d.
[An RSPCA report] Turning to the educational side, he said that NO FEWER THAN 26,000 CAUTIONS were administered. The work was really educational rather than punitive. The inspectors attended agricultural shows, fairs and other functions throughout the country. They had the Band of Mercy. [. . .] During the past year the Society had taken upon itself an entirely new scheme of work, and had made itself responsible for the continuance of the Animals’ Rescue League, which had taken during the past twelve months out of the streets of London fewer than 20,000 starving cats. (Folkestone, Hythe, Sandgate and Cheriton Herald, 30th May 1914)
ANIMALS AND HOLIDAYS, Sir, —The suffering of the starving and stray animals of our cities unfortunately constant throughout the year, but at this holiday season it is largely augmented by the selfishness and thoughtlessness owners of animals who go away to enjoy their own holidays forgetting not only the comfort, but even the necessities of their pets. Each year at this time the number of stray and starving animals is considerably increased by these careless and selfish people, who, if they think all, hope that their neighbours will relieve them of the trouble of looking after their animals. The fact that one centre of rescue of stray and starving cats — The Animal Rescue League, 397, City-road. E.C.. next door to the Angel tube station — last week dealt with no less than 720 of such poor animate makes one realise what the sum total of the suffering of these neglected creature means. (Western Mail, 1st August 1914)
479,000 CATS AIDED MAY WIN $30,000 (the Evening News, February 3rd, 1915) Charity of Two London Spinsters Claims a Stray Legacy
New York. Feb. 3 — How two English spinsters devoted their small means and spent their time riding through the streets of London Picking stray cats and in this way brought in $47,000 [479,000 cats, not $47K] in fifteen years, was told in the Surrogate's office yesterday when the report of a commissioner sent to London was filed in connection with the settlement of the estate of Miss Caroline G. McEwen [sic]. The testimony showed that the woman who originated this feline charity and often went without food to buy chloroform for use in the cat refuge, died a pauper in the anti-vivisection hospital at Battersea, England, on April 7, 1913. She was Miss Kate Cording.
[. . .] although the Royal Society, which took over [Miss Cording’s] work, has an Income of $280,000 a year, and the King and Queen of England are its sponsors. Mr, Fairholme objected toa question as to whether the Royal Society was not financing the litigation to get Miss McEwen's $30,000 and said: "We English think this is an impertinence."
Mrs. Zoe Constance Morgan, who was also a witness, testified that she occupied a small house in Camden town, a suburb of London, and that in 1898 she was approached by Miss Cording, who asked if she would provide a temporary home for the cats Miss Cording would pick up in the streets. Mrs. Morgan agreed to do so for ten shillings a year, and accordingly Miss Cording and Miss Clegg brought her twenty cats a week at first. All that were suitable to be raised as pets were provided with homes, and all the sorry specimens were chloroformed. As the number of cats increased larger quarters were provided.
Miss Clegg testified that Miss Cording was her dearest friend, and that when they started out in 1898 to pick up stray cats she rode a bicycle and Miss Cording had a tricycle. Both carried a basket strapped behind the wheel, and in the baskets they put all the stray cats they could catch. “We used to search the London squares and lanes,” said Miss Clegg, “and went into all the parks for the stray cats and then we’d take them to Mrs. Morgan at Camden town and' pay her ten shillings a year.” Miss Clegg said that when Miss Cording died she found no documents relating to her acquaintance with Miss McEwen, but did find five letters from Queen Alexandra relating to a blind girl in whom Miss Cording was interested. When asked how many cats she and Miss Cording had picked up by the time Miss Cording died, she said the number was 479,000. All efforts to shake her testimony on this point were unavailing and she said that up to the month of April, when Miss Cording died they got 11,000 in that year. She never heard of any woman named Renning who was interested in cats, she said, but Miss McEwen had once sent Miss Cording 10 pound.
CONTEST FOR $30,000 LEFT TO CATS HOME (The New York Times, February 3, 1915)
Two London Institutions Claim Legacy Contained in Will of Miss Caroline Ewen.
NAMES CAUSE CONFUSION. Records Show Miss Cording, Founder of a Home for Cats, Cared for 479,000 Felines in Her Time.
Miss Kate Cording, founder of a home for stray cats in London, England, died in poverty at the Battersea Hospital, in London, on April 7, 1913, according to testimony taken in England which was placed on the records of the Surrogates' Court yesterday. Miss Cording ministered to 479,000 suffering cats, the records show. This information comes in the report of a commission appointed last July by Surrogate Fowler in an effort to determine the beneficiary entitled to $30,000 left by Miss Caroline Ewen of this city to "The Cats' house (Miss Kate Renning), London, England." The legacy is claimed by the Animal Rescue League of London and by the London Institution for Lost and Starving Cats. No Miss Kate Renning is known at any institution benefiting cats in London. Miss Kate Cording, the record shows, was known as the founder of a "Cats' House" and a "Cats' Home," which later assumed the name of the Animal Rescue League of London and which is now a subsidiary of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
The testimony was taken before Richard Westacott, United States Vice Consul General in London, Edward George Fairholme, Chief Secretary of the RSPCA testified to knowing Miss Cording, to her humane and charitable instincts, and to her tireless efforts to relieve homeless animals.. The Secretary related how the society had discovered the work of Miss Cording, and, realising that her means were inadequate to cope with the situation, the society had made an arrangement with her whereby her Animals Rescue League was to become part of the royal society. Miss Cording was th be the manager, he said, and the cats' home was to be under her direct supervision. Mr Fairholme saisd that Miss Cording's home for cats had been known by several names, including the Feline Defense League, the Animal Rescue League, and the Home for Lost and Starving Cats. Since Miss Cording's death, he said, the woek has been continued by the RSPCA. The Society paid for Miss Cording's burial, the secretary said. Cross-examined, Mr Fairholme said that the society receives at least 50,000 letters yearly, many of them containing bequests, which aggregated about $280,000. he did not remember the letter from Miss Marshall, secretary-companion of Miss Ewen, notifying him of the $30,000 bequest.
Miss Zoe Constance Morgan of the London Institution for Lost and Starving Cats testified that she had started that institution as the "Cats' Home." Miss Cording chloroformed and then drowned the cats, she said. She knew no Miss Kate Renning, and it was her opinion that the bequest was intended for her institution. Surrogate Fowler is to review the testimony and pass upon the claim.
FIGHT OVER CAT BEQUEST. (The Washington Post, 6th February, 1915)
Two English Institutions Want $30,000 Willed to a Feline Home.
Charles Steward Davison, who was sent to England to find out which of two societies had the better claim to a legacy of $30,000 left by Caroline G. Ewen to “The Cats' House — Miss Kate Renning, London,” made his report yesterday to the surrogate. The Animal Rescue League of London and the London Institute for Lost and Starving Cats claim the money.
Edward George Fairholme, of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, told Davison the records showed no Kate Renning who had been interested Ii cats, but a Kate Cording. She died in April, 1913, when, he said, the Royal Society took over her Animal Rescue League. Fairholme said Miss Cording’s institution was known as “Fellowship Cottage,” “Islington Home,” “Cats’ Home,” "Cats’ House," "Kate Cording Home,” “Feline Defence League” and "Animal Rescue League.”
Zoe Constance Morgan, of the London Institution for Lost and Starving Cats, said her society was organised as “The Cats’ Home,” and was now known as “The Cats’ House, London,” and therefore was entitled to the legacy. She had never heard of Kate Renning.
GOT 479,000 CATS IN FIFTEEN YEARS. (The Morning News, 11th February, 1915)
Two London Women Made Captive These Animals Whenever Possible. A strange story of how two elderly spinsters of London, one on a bicycle and the other on a tricycle, searched parks and alleys of the English capital and collected 479,000 stray cats in 15 years is told in official documents received from London recently and filed in the Surrogate’s Court of New York. The documents contained the testimony taken before Richard Westacott, vice-consul general for the United States in England. Mr Westacott sat as commissioner appointed by Surrogate Fowler to decide whether the Animal Refuge [Rescue] League of London, now affiliated with the Royal Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is a beneficiary of the estate of Miss Elizabeth G. Ewen, who died in New York in 1913.
Miss Ewen left her residuary estate worth $300,000, to be equally divided between 10 associations, all of which had to do with the care of animals. A clause directed that a tenth be given “the Cats' House (Miss Kate Rennings, London. England. The Animal Refuge League claimed the bequest and so did the London Institution for Lost and Starving Cats. Surrogate Fowler appointed the commission to settle the disputed point. At one time an attempt was made to break the will on the ground that Miss Ewen was of unsound mind, but this failed. The fact that she has been married to a bogus baron, who turned out to be Otto von Koenitz, an ex-convict, was used in the effort to prove her insane. The marriage was annulled.
Among the witnesses summoned in London were Edward George Fairholm, chief secretary to the Royal Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Miss Elizabeth Clegg, a close friend of Miss Kate Cording, who established the Animal Refuge League, and Miss [sic] Zoe Constance Morgan, who was interested in cat rescue work. Mr Fairholm told how this society had taken over the Cording Cat Home, and said that the organization, backed by the King and Queen of England, received as high as $280,000 a year in donations. Then he related that Miss Cording had died a pauper on April 7, 1913, in an anti-vivisection hospital at Battersea. Everything she owned had been devoted to cats.
From the stories of Mrs. Morgan and Miss Clegg, it developed that in 1898 Miss Cording, woman with a small competence, bought a tricycle, attached a basket to the rear and made daily journeys from her home in Camden Town to London, where she captured cats, locked them in the basket and delivered them to Mrs. Morgan. The latter received 20 shillings a year for putting them out of their misery. Sometimes she sent the bsket by parcel post. In the latter part of that year Miss Clegg became interested in the charity and bought a bicycle, to the rear or which she attached a basket. After that the two women made journeys at all times of the day and night and brought back cats. So many animals were captured that it was necessary to hire a house. This was the inception of the refuge home, which changed its name many times.
When Miss Clegg was asked how many cats had been collected and put out of their misery, she replied that from 1898 to the date of Miss Cording’s death the two had caught 479,000. All efforts to get her to reduce the figure failed. She had her notebook with her and in it she had kept a complete record of the work. She asserted that between January 1, 1913 and the date of Miss Cording’s death they had taken over 11,000 animals. All these had been lugged, squalling and scratching, to the home where they were either fed to sleekness and farmed out or put to death with chloroform.
Little information was to be had concerning “Miss Renning.” A letter written by Mrs. Florence Garrison Marshall, of 45, West Ninety-second street, New York, companion to Miss Ewen, was produced, showing that Mrs. Marshall believed her employer meant to give $30,000 to the refuge home. No-one could find “Miss Renning,” however, and the surrogate will have to decide whether the institution is entitled to the money. The exhibits contain the prospectuses of many of London’s 40 cat hospitals and refuges.
27,000 CATS DESTROYED. Speaking at the meeting of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Mr. G Greenwood, M.P., said that in 1915 27,000 cats were destroyed at the headquarters of the Animal Rescue League in City-road. He thought cats should have to wear a collar with the address the owner. (Driffield Times, 22nd April 1916)
Unwanted Dogs And Cats. During the past 12 and a half years 437,429 cats and 31,217 dogs have been painlessly painlessly put to death at the headquarters of the Animal Rescue League in Islington, and the rate is now about 1,500 a week. The executioner-in-chief; as she humorously describes herself, is an elderly woman, Miss who, as the manageress, superintends destruction of the animals as they are brought to her from all parts of London by six lieutenants, all women over 50 years of age, who scour defined districts every day for unwanted cats and dogs. The animals are killed by electrocution, death being instant The cats are laid in the drawer of an apparatus resembling a table with the fatal switch on top; and the dogs before receiving the current, are fitted with collar connected with a swivel, through which the current passes. The dead bodies are removed daily to a crematorium managed by the Royal Prevention Cruelty to Animals (Nottingham Evening Post, 20th July 1925)
The Unwanted Cat. Electrocution the Best and Cheapest Death Cruelty has undoubtedly decreased immensely,” said the London Superintendent the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, yesterday. Thirty years ago 80 per cent of the complaints referred the ill-treatment of horses. Now it is the other way round, more than 80 per cent refer to other animals, chiefly dogs and cats. Of course, this is largely due to the way the tram and the motor has relieved the horse of his duties. “With regard to the killing of unwanted cats and dogs, drowning is not considered to be cruelty, but is not the best way. The Animals Rescue League, which has to kill over 200 stray cats and dogs a day, electrocutes them, which is the best, and, incidentally, the cheapest method. The next best method is chloroform." (Hartlepool Northern Daily Mail, 20th August 1925).
Cruelty to Animals. Annual Report OF R.S.P.C.A. Last year 3,428 offenders were prosecuted and convicted for cruelty to animals. Of these 978 were Metropolitan and 2,450 at provincial courts. Sixty-seven offenders were committed to prison, and 3,361 punished by fines. The convictions for cruelty were steadily declining, for the figures for the past three years were 4,153, 3,511, and 3,428. On the other hand, the number of cautions given to offenders shows increase from 20,968 to 21,753 last year. [. . .] Some 18,913 complaints of cruelty to animals were investigated; 221,692 essays were written by London school children on kindness to animals; 152 new Bands of Mercy were formed; [. . .] 68 lethal chambers were supplied; [. . .] 53,164 starving, homeless and diseased animals were painlessly destroyed by the Animals Rescue League; and 307 humane slaughtering demonstrations were given. (Gloucester Journal, 4th September 1926)
HOMELESS ANIMALS. Sir, Five years ago a few women met together to talk over what they could do to help the numbers of starving and lost animals that they were always seeing in the Cardiff streets and gardens. They had no rich friends to help them, so each put sum of money down to buy chloroform, and agreed to have a lethal box and use it in their own houses. They called themselves "The Animal Rescue League," and started work in this humble way. To-day they find that over 10,000 unwanted animals, monkeys, birds, etc., have been brought to their "shelters” (as they call their houses) and tenderly and painlessly put out of this cruel world. No charge is made: no animal turned away day or night or even Sunday; no distance is too far to for a cat or dog; none too diseased to touch, all tenderly handled. These unselfish women are spending their own money and time, looking for no reward but that money will be forthcoming to keep this little work alive long after they have "passed over." Could not their example be followed by other animal lovers in towns where no one cares for the waifs and strays of the animal world? (Mrs) Alice Hacquort, Hon. Treasurer A.R.L. The Cottage, Penarth. (Western Daily Press, 13th April 1927)
Surplus Kittens, 50,000 Killed "There are too many cats in London as well in other cities," said a R.S.P.C.A. official today on the suggestion of the Liverpool branch secretary that "all kittens should be destroyed at birth." At our City-road branch - the Animal Rescue League — 50,000 cats and kittens are destroyed each year, while nearly a like number are similarly dealt with [destro9yed] at the Mayhew homes at Kilburn. (Derby Daily Telegraph, 28th March 1929)
THOUSANDS OF UNWANTED CATS. In many of the larger towns in the country extended arrangements are being made to deal with the excessive number of homeless, diseased, half-starved, and unwanted animals of different sorts, mostly cats. In Liverpool a cats’ shelter is to be established, and arrangements made for the humane destruction of these animals. Few people realise the immense number of animals which are destroyed in connection with the work of the R.S.P.C.A., though even these totals only represent a small portion the sick and unwanted animals on the streets. Last year the Society killed altogether 144,929 animals, of which the lethal chamber accounted for 100,548. This total represents nearly double the number destroyed in the previous year. The Animal Rescue League in London alone destroyed 43,483 such animals, and there are other branches of the Society which are doing somewhat similar work. In London nearly all the animals thus destroyed were cats which were either brought the shelters by their owners or were collected in streets if they were obviously sick or unwanted. (Folkestone, Hythe, Sandgate and Cheriton Herald, 16th August 1930)
In the past year [. . .] 28,677 starving, homeless and diseased animals were painlessly destroyed by the Animal Rescue League. (Hastings and St Leonards Observer, 20th August 1938)