HISTORY OF CAT RESCUE IN THE USA
Depending on the individual society, "SPCA" stands for either "Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals" or "Society for the Protection and Care of Animals". They are also known as humane societies. For laws which protect animals, see the Cat Care Retrospective Index.
HOMELESS CATS IN AMERICA
In America, the plight of stray cats was equally desperate. In New York City an estimated 60,000 stray cats subsisted on garbage and vermin. In 1874, an animal shelter (not restricted to cats) was founded in Philadelphia to bring relief to dogs, cats and other unfortunate creatures and to offer a painless death. In 1889 this became the Morris Refuge for Homeless and Suffering Animals. This engraving from The Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News in 1875 shows "Mrs Goodman's Hospital For Cats, New York." It accompanied a description of the pioneering work of this American cat lover.
The New York Times, March 19,1876 details "HOME FOR CATS. AN OLD LADY’S PHILANTHROPY - HOSPITAL FOR THE RELIEF OF AFFLICTED AND HOMELESS CATS" in New York City:
The current of eccentric benevolence would seem to have almost wholly diverted from the consideration of the misfortunes of the feline face. In England there are institutions where canaries and parrots, terriers and bull-dogs, who, through sickness or adversity, become objects of compassion, find shelter, food and medical treatment. Cabmen have their coffee-houses, each donkey is cared for by its costermonger, but the cat who, by nightly misconduct falls from a roof, or wanders off into a labyrinth of empty or unfinished houses, finds no succoring hand stretched forth, and dying in solitude, is interred in the ash-heap, which has aptly been called the Potter’s Field of the animal kingdom. Here the state of affairs is much the same. Horses and dogs find a firm friend in Mr henry Bergh and the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, some ladies have furnished hot coffee to the street-car drivers, but the cats are still ‘eft exposed to the murderous missiles of enraged housekeepers and the tortures of barbarous boys. It was, therefore, with feelings of surprise and doubt that a TIMES representative learned of the existence in this City of a lady who for some years has devoted nearly all her time to alleviating the condition of cats. In search of her he traversed nearly all the City, and found that among the greater portion of our population the existence of such a person was regarded as a pleasant fable, designed by some astute cat in order to soften the sufferings of some of his fellow creatures. Finally, however, in a drug store at Seventh avenue and Thirty-sixth street he was informed that the lady resided nearby and bought her cat medicine in the store. Mr Burdge stated that the lady chiefly purchased catnip, buckthorn syrup, spermaceti ointment, simple cerate, Poor Richard’s salve, and simple lotions for the purpose of relieving her afflicted friends. The druggist stated that the lady searched the empty houses for abandoned and starving cats, picked up maimed tabbies in the street, and charged with irresistible fury and ultimate success upon the boys who indulged in worrying a kitten. The name of this eccentric lady is Mrs Steiner, and she lives on the top floor of No 306 West Thirty-sixth street where the reporter saw and conversed with her.
Mrs Steiner is about fifty years old and quite communicative regarding her efforts in the cat cause. The walls of her sitting-room are covered with pictures of cats, and a large picture of Mr henry Bergh hangs over the mantel. In response to a question from the reporter, Mrs Steiner said, “My name is Mrs Anna W Steiner, and my husband was educated for the ministry. I was born in Hopkinton, NH, and all my folks are New England people. I have tried to do all I can for the poor creatures for the last ten years, for I take a great interest in cats. You see, cats are different from dogs, for dogs can bite and the poor cats can’t, and I don’t see why folks prefer having a big, ferocious dog to a nice, beautiful cat.” At this period of the conversation the attention of the reporter was attracted to four tiger-like tortoise-shell cats eating from a large bowl of bread and milk. “Yes,” continued Mrs Steiner, “I try to do all I can for the dear things, and bread and milk is so fattening. But I want to speak to you about those horrid boys. Don’t you think that something can be done with them? Their cruelty is something awful. Now, the other day I went out, and there a lot of boys had a poor tiny little kitten tied to a railing so that it was standing up and could not sit down, and one big hulking boy had a brick in his hand and he said, ‘I’ll bet you tenpence I hit her in three shots, Jimmy,’ but I just hit him over the head with my umbrella, and when i took the poor little thin in my arms she was actually crying. And then there was a splendid big cat; some boys had beaten and injured its spine. i nursed that cat for three weeks, just like a human being, but finally it died, and I felt so sorry. Now people in moving often leave cats behind them locked up in the house to starve. One day I was looking out my back window, and in a house in the rear I saw a poor cat jumping up at the window-sill and mewing to get out. I went and got the keys of that house, and there was such a lovely Maltese cat, with such superb features, and oh, such a beautiful expression of face. You would be surprised at the number of valuable cats that uncared for - Maltese cats, Angoras, and those beautiful Manx cats without any tails. And there are a great many people who do not know how to take care of cats. For instance, there was a poor cat in this house that was very sick, and going to have kittens, so I took her and wrapped her up in warm flannels and saved her life. I suppose you want to know what i do with the cats. Well i find good homes for them. There’s a dear good butcher on Sixth avenue, between Thirty-sixth and Thirty-seventh streets, who had taken care of five or six for me, and ladies who wanta nice cat often come to me for one. Now, i want to make a suggestion to you. Don’t you think it would be a good plan if Mr Bergh had a number of little cards printed, ‘Boys, don’t hurt the cats; the merciful man loveth his beast,’ or some other nice quotation, and have them distributed through the City. you know that when boys are cruel in their youth they are likely to make bad men and criminals. Now about feeding cats. A little cat nip is very good for them, and in hot weather they should be given a little sulphur and molasses. They should always have plenty of water to drink, and bread and milk, meat, or some other nutritious food. Now I hope if you hear of any kind person who would like to have a nice cat you will send him to me.”
SUPPRESSING THE CATS. MR. BERGH’S ORDINANCE PASSED BY THE BOARD OF ALDERMEN.
The New York Times, August 4, 1880
The ordinance prepared by Mr. Henry Bergh about a fortnight ago, authorizing the seizure and destruction of all cats that may be found in any of the streets, avenues, parks, lanes, or alleys of this City, was presented to the Board of Aldermen yesterday by President Morris. Alderman Robert Hall said cats were necessary animals and should not be hunted down and killed. “I think,” he added, “that if the gentlemen who want this ordinance passed would only visit the section of the City east of Avenue A they would soon be convinced of their error. They would see plenty of cats there, and they would. also see how useful they were in destroying vermin. I think the whole subject should be laid on the table.”
Alderman Marshall said he had received a letter from Mr. Henry Bergh in relation to the ordinance, and had had an interview with that gentleman on Monday night in regard to it. It was well known, h continued, that dogs could be easily captured, but it was not so with cats, which resorted to places that were inaccessible. Now, in order to prevent cruelty to such animals, it would be necessary to appoint suitable persons to carry out the law, and to prevent children under 16 years of age from seizing cats. That would take the matter out of the hands of children.
President Morris - It is not at all likely that Mayor Cooper would select children under 16 years of age to catch cats. [Laughter]
Alderman Marshall said his object was to prevent cruelty, and therefore he would suggest an amendment to the ordinance, that Children under 16 be not appointed to capture cats. Mr. Bergh had approved of the amendment. He wished also to state that he had sent a letter to Mr. Bergh in which he referred to the whole subject. A copy of the communication was then produced. After referring to the ordinance, it says to Mr. Bergh:
“I venture to ask you , and I do it simply for information, whether you may not have omitted to consider that the proposed ordinance may, perhaps, in one respect be productive of suffering to the class of animals with which it proposes to deal. The persons employed to capture stray cats and. take them to the Pound will probably be of the same class as that of those who devote their energies to the capture of stray dogs. Now, the difficulties in the way of catching the cat are greater than those in the case of the dog, for the reason that the cat possesses qualities which will enable it to elude its pursuers with more facility. A cat can run up a tree or a fence, or take refuge in places which would be inaccessible to a dog, and, as a consequence, the means to be used must be more rigorously exerted than with the dog, and when these means are in the hands of a number of thoughtless boys, I question, though I may be wrong,, whether there might not be cases in which cats would be maimed or mutilated before their pursuers succeeded in capturing them. One of the amusements of boyhood used to be, if It is not now, the stoning of cats, and I can well remember, With a pang of remorse, that at least 30 years ago, I assisted at one of these performances. Would not this proposed ordinance have a tendency to legalize such treatment, or at least to give it such a color of lawfulness as to prevent those who, while carrying out the law’s provisions, may act cruelly or harshly from being punished therefor. It must be remembered, also, that in some respects the cat is not as domestic as the dog. Its disposition to roam about and its movements generally cannot, as you are aware, be controlled in the same way as those of the dog. And therefore the same protection and precautions which would suffice to retain a favorite dog at home would not be sufficient for a pet cat, which is naturally desirous of leaving temporarily its place of habitation, and which possesses far greater facilities for graifying its desire for roaming than the dog can possibly have.”
The letter compliments Mr. Bergh for his life-long devotion to the work of ameliorating the condition of the lower animals, and says the writer knows that nothing would induce Mt. Bergh to write a line or advocate a measure that would cause a needless pang to a single living creature. Mr. Bergh, in. his reply to Mr. Marshall’s letter, after referring to the provisions of his ordinance, says that by the first section of it it would be seen that the means of carrying out its purposes “were left to the Mayor, subject of course, to the co-operation of an enlightened and humane Board of Aldermen.” Alderman Marshall then moved that children under 16 be not appointed to carry out the ordinance, and the amendment was adopted by a vote of 18 to 8. The ordinance, as amended, was next submitted and passed by the following vote;
Affirmative – Aldermen Morris, Foster, Finck, Goodwin, Haffen, Helbig. Keenan, Marshall, McClave, Perley, Sauer, Strack, and Wade - 18.
Negative - Aldermen Coggey, Hall, Haughten, Jacobus, Kirk, Murphy, Sheils and Slevin - 8.
A PLEA FOR HOMELESS CATS.- The New York Times, August 24, 1880: Mr Bergh’s ordinance for the destruction of stray cats called forth numerous letters of protest from the friends of this animal. It seems that they do not prove themselves to be true friends, however, for instead of coming practically and effectively to the rescue of their favorites, they show their regard and friendship by empty lamentations. Strange as it may sound, there should be in a large City like New-York a home or shelter for stray cats and dogs. There is one In London; also one in Philadelphia, called the refuge, or shelter, established by the women’s branch of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. This is not supposed to be a home where they spend the remainder of their days in luxury - but a place, a building in which they are kept a certain length of time; when, if not claimed by the owners, they are sold, or if not sold, destroyed in the most merciful manner, not by drowning,, but by carbonic acid gas. It is very apparent that there are innumerable stray, homeless cats and dogs in New-York City. Who has not often been followed in the streets by these melancholy, forlorn, lost dogs, and at night been disturbed by the howlings of houseless cats. In summer this latter nuisance is doubled, from the fact that it is the custom with many people who go away in the Spring, to turn pussy out of doors. This is very hard upon her her, as she is so much attached to her home. Therefore the pet cat having been all Winter safely ensconced by the fire; suddenly finds herself or himself a homeless tramp, and wanders about all Summer disturbing the neighborhood by nightly howls and shrieks. The homeless dog, tormented by bad boys and wandering in the hot streets where there Is no means of quenching his thirst, has his revenge by biting in his madness the first individual be meets. These two domestic animals. being completely in the power of the higher animal, man, have their revenge in different ways for the neglect and abuse they suffer at his hands. Why do not some of the wealthy woman of New-York who lavish so much fondness on their pet cats and dogs, prove their appreciation by assisting the less fortunate of the species. Let them establish a shelter or place of refuge for stray animals, similar to those In London and Philadelphia; they would thereby not only benefit these unfortunate animals. but the inhabitants of New-York City would be immensely relieved, proving the truth of the remark so often made, that whatever benefits animals tends indirectly to the benefit of the human race. P. THURSDAY, Aug 19th, 1880.
A POUND FOR CATS - The New York Times, June 21, 1884: Our city has kindly given us a dog pound. Why can we not also have one for cats? Our streets are, in some localities, infested with these miserable, half-starved, ill-treated creatures. But they are not the only sufferers. They make night hideous with their unearthly howls and melancholy invitations for "Maria to come over in our back yard." When Maria comes, then begins the usual fisticuff, claw to claw fight, which drives all the sleep from the eyelids of tired and suffering citizens. At best we Americans are poor sleepers, but to be deprived of sleep by a set of miserable cats is very aggravating. Can nothing be done? - M, Monday, June 16, 1884.
In Boston, in 1884, the Ellen M Gifford Sheltering Home For Animals was founded following a bequest from Miss Gifford. "If only the waifs, the strays, the sick, the abused would be sure to get entrance to the home, and anybody could feel at liberty to bring in a starved or ill-treated animal and have it cared for without pay, my object would be attained.". According to a Miss Winslow (Helen Winslow was author of "Concerning Cats" in 1900), writing to Frances Simpson, there were several cat asylums and refuges in the American Far West and a Sheltering Home in Brighton, Massachusetts. In 1901 Mrs Leland Norton founded a Cat Refuge in Chicago.
American Helen M Winslow was the editor of "The Club Woman" and the author of "Concerning Cats" (published 1900), a book on cats and the cat fancy in America. In her summary of cats in England, Winslow wrote "England was the first […] to care for lost and deserted cats and dogs. At Battersea there is a Temporary Home for both these unfortunates, where between twenty and twenty-five thousand dogs and cats are sheltered and fed. The objects of this home, which is supported entirely by voluntary subscriptions, are to restore lost pets to their owners, to find suitable homes for unclaimed cats and dogs, and to painlessly destroy useless and diseased ones. There is a commodious cat’s house where pets may be boarded during their owner’s absence; and a separate house where lost and deserted felines are sheltered, fed, and kindly tended." Winslow elaborated on American cat refuges (prior to 1900) and some other European countries' arrangements in a later chapter of the book, "Concerning Cat Hospitals And Refuges":-
At comparatively frequent intervals we read of some woman, historic or modern, who has left an annuity (as the Duchess of Richmond, "La Belle Stewart") for the care of her pet cats; now and then a man provides for them in his will, as Lord Chesterfield, for instance, who left a permanent pension for his cats and their descendants. But I find only one who has endowed a home for them and given it sufficient means to support the strays and waifs who reach its shelter. Early in the eighties, Captain Nathan Appleton, of Boston (a brother of the poet Longfellow’s wife, and of Thomas Appleton, the celebrated wit), returned from a stay in London with a new idea, that of founding some sort of a refuge, or hospital, for sick or stray cats and dogs. He had visited Battersea, and been deeply impressed with the need of a shelter for small and friendless domestic animals. At Battersea there is an institution similar to the one the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in New York have at East 120th Street, where stray animals may be sent and kept for a few days awaiting the possible appearance of a claimant or owner; at the end of which time the animals are placed in the "lethal chamber," where they die instantly and painlessly by asphyxiation. In Boston, the Society of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals have no such refuge or pound, but in place of it keep one or two men whose business it is to go wherever sent and "mercifully put to death" the superfluous, maimed, or sick animals that shall be given them. Captain Appleton’s idea, however, was something entirely different from this. These creatures, he argued, have a right to their lives and the pursuit of happiness after their own fashion, and he proposed to help them to enjoy that right. He appealed to a few sympathetic friends and gave two or three acres of land from his own estate, near "Nonantum Hill," where the Apostle Eliot preached to the Indians, and where his iodine springs are located. He had raised a thousand or two dollars and planned a structure of some kind to shelter stray dogs and cats, when the good angel that attends our household pets guided him to the lawyer who had charge of the estates of Miss Ellen M. Gifford, of New Haven, Ct. "I think I can help you," said the lawyer. But he would say nothing more at that time. A few weeks later, Captain Appleton was sent for. Miss Gifford had become deeply interested in the project, and after making more inquiries, gave the proposed home some twenty-five thousand dollars, adding to this amount afterward and providing for the institution in her will. It has already had over one hundred thousand dollars from Miss Gifford’s estates, and it is so well endowed and well managed that it is self-supporting.
The Ellen M. Gifford Sheltering Home for Animals is situated near the Brookline edge of the Brighton district in Boston. In fact, the residential portion of aristocratic Brookline is so fast creeping up to it that the whole six acres of the institution will doubtless soon be disposed of at a very handsome profit, while the dogs and cats will retire to a more remote district to "live on the interest of their money." The main building is a small but handsome brick affair, facing on Lake Street. This is the home of the superintendent, and contains, besides, the offices of the establishment. Over the office is a tablet with this inscription, taken from a letter of Miss Gifford’s about the time the home was opened - "If only the waifs, the strays, the sick, the abused, would be sure to get entrance to the home, and anybody could feel at liberty to bring in a starved or ill-treated animal and have it cared for without pay, my object would be obtained. March 27, 1884." The superintendent is a lover of animals as well as a good business manager, and his work is in line with the sentence just quoted. Any one wanting a cat or a dog, and who can promise it a good home, may apply there. But Mr. Perkins does not take the word of a stranger at random. He investigates their circumstances and character, and never gives away an animal unless he can be reasonably sure of its going to a good home. For instance, he once received an application from one man for six cats. The wholesale element in the order made him slightly suspicious, and he immediately drove to Boston, where he found that his would-be customer owned a big granary overrun with mice. He sent the six cats, and two weeks later went to see how they were getting on, when he found them living happily in a big grain-loft, fat and contented as the most devoted Sultan of Egypt could have asked.
None but street cats and stray dogs, homeless waifs, ill-treated and half starved, are received at this home. Occasionally, some family desiring to get rid of the animal they have petted for months, perhaps years, will send it over to the Sheltering Home. But if Mr. Perkins can find where it came from he promptly returns it, for even this place, capable of comfortably housing a hundred cats and as many dogs, cannot accommodate all the unfortunates that are picked up in the streets of Boston. The accommodations, too, while they are comfortable and even luxurious for the poor creatures that have hitherto slept on ash-barrels and stone flaggings, are unfit for household pets that have slept on cushions, soft rugs, and milady’s bed. There is a dog-house and a cat-house, sufficiently far apart that the occupants of one need not be disturbed by those of the other. In the dog-house there are rows of pens on each side of the middle aisle, in which from one to four or five dogs, according to size, are kept when indoors. These are of all sorts, colors, dispositions, and sizes, ranging from pugs to St. Bernards, terriers to mastiffs. There are few purely bred dogs, although there are many intelligent and really handsome ones. The dogs are allowed to run in the big yard that opens out from their house at certain hours of the day; but the cats’ yards are open to them all day and night. All yards and runs are enclosed with wire netting, and the cathouse has partitions of the same. All around the sides of the cat-house are shelves or bunks, which are kept supplied with clean hay, for their beds. Here one may see cats of every color and assorted sizes, contentedly curled up in their nests, while their companions sit blinking in the sun, or run out in the yards. Cooked meat, crackers and milk, and dishes of fresh water are kept where they can get at them. The cats all look plump and well fed, and, indeed, the ordinary street cat must feel that his lines have fallen in pleasant places. Not so, however, with pet cats who may be housed there. They miss the companionship of people, and the household belongings to which they have been accustomed. Sometimes it is really pathetic to see one of these cast-off pets climb up the wire netting and plainly beg the visitor to take him away from that strange place, and gives him such a home as he has been used to. In the superintendent’s house there is usually a good cat or two of this sort, as he is apt to test a well-bred [pedigree type] cat before giving him away.
Somewhat similar, and even older than the Ellen Gifford Sheltering Home, is the Morris Refuge of Philadelphia. This institution, whose motto is "The Lord is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works," was first established in May, 1874, by Miss Elizabeth Morris and other ladies who took an interest in the protection of suffering animals. It does not limit its tender mercies to cats and dogs, but cares for every suffering animal. It differs from the Ellen Gifford Home chiefly in the fact that, while the latter is a home for stray cats and dogs, the Morris Refuge has for its object the care for and disposal of suffering animals of all sorts. In a word, it brings relief to most of these unfortunate creatures by means of a swift and painless death. It was first known as the City Refuge, although it was never maintained by the city. In January, 1889, it was reorganized and incorporated as the "Morris Refuge for Homeless and Suffering Animals." It is supported by private contributions, and is under the supervision of Miss Morris and a corps of kind-hearted ladies of Philadelphia. A wagon is kept at the home to respond to calls, and visits any residence where suffering animals may need attention. The agent of the society lives at the refuge with his family, and receives animals at any time. When notice is received of an animal hurt or suffering, he sends after it. Chloroform is invariably taken along, in order that, if expedient, the creature may be put out of its agony at once. This refuge is at 1242 Lombard Street, and there is a temporary home where dogs are boarded at 923 South 11th Street. In 1895, out of 23,067 animals coming under the care of the association, 19,672 were cats. In 1896, there were 24,037 animals relieved and disposed of, while the superintendent answered 230 police calls. Good homes are found for both dogs and cats, but not until the agent is sure that they will be kindly treated. In Miss Morris’s eighth annual report she says:
"Looking back to the formation of the first society for the prevention of cruelty to animals, we find since that time a gradual awakening to the duties man owes to those below him in the scale of animal creation. The titles of those societies and their objects, as defined by their charters, show that at first it was considered sufficient to protect animals from cruel treatment: very few people gave thought to the care of those that were without homes. Now many are beginning to think of the evil of being overrun with numbers of homeless creatures, whose sufferings appeal to the sympathies of the humane, and whose noise and depredations provoke the cruelty of the hard-hearted: hence the efforts that are being made in different cities to establish refuges. A request has lately been received from Montreal asking for our reports, as it is proposed to found a home for animals in that city, and information is being collected in relation to such institutions."
Lady Marcus Beresford has succeeded in establishing and endowing a home for cats in Englefield Green, Windsor Park. She has made a specialty of Angoras, and her collection is famous. Queen Victoria and her daughters take a deep interest, not alone in finely bred cats, but in poor and homeless waifs as well. Her Royal Highness, in fact, took pains to write the London S. P. C. A. some years ago, saying she would be very glad to have them do something for the safety and protection of cats, "which are so generally misunderstood and grossly ill-treated." She herself sets a good example in this respect, and when her courts remove from one royal residence to another, her cats are taken with her. There is a movement in Paris, too, to provide for sick and homeless cats as well as dogs. Two English ladies have founded a hospital near Asnières, where ailing pets can be tended in illness, or boarded for about ten cents a day; and very well cared for their pensioners are. There is also a charity ward where pauper patients are received and tended carefully, and afterward sold or given away to reliable people. Oddly, this sort of charity was begun by Mademoiselle Claude Bernard, the daughter of the great scientist who, it is said, tortured more living creatures to death than any other. Vivisection became a passion with him, but Mademoiselle Bernard is atoning for her father’s cruelty by a singular devotion to animals, and none are turned from her gates.
This is the way they do it in Cairo even now, according to Monsieur Prisse d’Avennes, the distinguished Egyptologist : - "The Sultan, El Daher Beybars, who reigned in Egypt and Syria toward 658 of the Hegira (1260 A.D.) and is compared by William of Tripoli to Nero in wickedness, and to Caesar in bravery, had a peculiar affection for cats. At his death, he left a garden, ‘Gheyt-el-Quoltah’ (the cats’ orchard), situated near his mosque outside Cairo, for the support of homeless cats. Subsequently the field was sold and resold several times by the administrator and purchasers. In consequence of a series of dilapidations it now produces a nominal rent of fifteen piastres a year, which with certain other legacies is appropriated to the maintenance of cats. The Kadi, who is the official administrator of all pious and charitable bequests, ordains that at the hour of afternoon prayer, between noon and sunset, a daily distribution of animals’ entrails and refuse meat from the butchers’ stalls, chopped up together, shall be made to the cats of the neighborhood. This takes place in the outer court of the ‘Mehkemeh,’ or tribunal, and a curious spectacle may then be seen. At this hour all the terraces near the Mehkemeh are crowded with cats; they come jumping from house to house across the narrow Cairo streets, hurrying for their share: they slide down walls and glide into the court, where they dispute, with great tenacity and much growling, the scanty meal so sadly out of proportion to the number of guests. The old ones clear, the food in a moment; the young ones and the newcomers, too timid to fight for their chance, must content themselves with licking the ground. Those wanting to get rid of cats take them there and deposit them. I have seen whole baskets of kittens deposited in the court, greatly to the annoyance of the neighbors."
There are similar customs in Italy and Switzerland. In Geneva cats prowl about the streets like dogs at Constantinople. The people charge themselves with their maintenance, and feed the cats who come to their doors at the same hour every day for their meals. In Florence, a cloister near St. Lorenzo’s Church serves as a refuge for cats. It is an ancient and curious institution, but I am unable to find whether it is maintained by the city or by private charities. There are specimens of all colors, sizes, and kinds, and any one who wants a cat has but to go there and ask for it. On the other hand, the owner of a cat who is unable or unwilling to keep it may take it there, where it is fed and well treated. In Rome, they have a commendable system of caring for their cats. At a certain hour butchers’ men drive through the city, with carts well stocked with cat’s meat. They utter a peculiar cry which the cats recognize, and come hurrying out of the houses for their allowances, which are paid for by the owners at a certain rate per month.
In Boston, during the summer of 1895, a firm of butchers took subscriptions from philanthropic citizens, and raised enough to defray the expenses of feeding the cats on the Back Bay, - where, in spite of the fact that the citizens are all wealthy and supposedly humane, there are more starving cats than elsewhere in the city. But the experiment has not been repeated.
Hospitals for sick animals are no new thing, but a really comfortable home for cats is an enterprise in which many a woman who now asks despondently what she can do in this overcrowded world to earn a living, might find pleasant and profitable. A most worthy charity is that of the Animal Rescue League in Boston, which was started by Mrs. Anna Harris Smith in 1899. She put a call in the newspapers, asking those who were interested in the subject to attend a meeting and form a league for the protection and care of lost or deserted pets. The response was immediate and generous. The Animal Rescue League was formed with several hundred members, and in a short time the house at 68 Carver Street was rented, and a man and his wife put in charge. Here are brought both cats and dogs from all parts of Boston and the suburbs, where they are sure of kind treatment and care. If they are diseased they are immediately put out of existence by means of the lethal chamber; otherwise they are kept for a few days in order that they may be claimed by their owners if lost, or have homes found for them whenever it is possible. During the first year over two thousand cats were cared for, and several hundred dogs. This home is maintained by voluntary contributions and by the annual dues of subscribers. These are one dollar a year for associate members and five dollars for active members. It is an excellent charity, and one that may well be emulated in other cities.
There are several cat asylums and refuges in the Far West, and certainly a few more such institutions as the Sheltering Home at Brighton, Mass., or the Morris Refuge would be a credit to a country. How better than by applying it to our cats can we demonstrate the truth of Solomon’s maxim, "A merciful man is merciful to his beast"?
The New York Times of January 18, 1895 reported: HOME FOR STRAYED DOGS; Cats, Too, Find the Best of Care in This S.P.C.A. Shelter.
GREAT IMPROVEMENT OVER THE POUND. The Animals Are Kept a Reasonable Time for Owners, and Then Are Either Killed or Given Homes. An unpretentious one-story frame building, about 60 feet long and 14 feet wide, well-lighted, heated, and ventilated, stands upon piles at the foot of East One Hundred and Second Street, directly opposite the charitable institutions on Randall's Island. A sign board announces it to be "The Shelter for Animals." For some days the following advertisement has appeared in the newspapers:
ALL PERSONS WHD HAVE LOST THEIR dogs or cats should immediately apply in person to the ASPCA Shelter for Animals , foot of 102d St and East River. – JOHN P HAINES, President.
This is about the only information that has been furnished the public in connection with this novel institution up to the present. A reporter for The New-York Times yesterday inspected the establishment at the foot of East One Hundred and Second Street, and obtained from President John P. Haines of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals some facts in connection with the object and scope of the institution. "The establishment which is now known as the ‘Shelter for Animals’, " said President Haines, "Was formerly the ‘City Dog Pound’ in which the barbarous and inhuman dog catchers imprisoned all dogs found wandering in the streets. In order to put an end to the cruelties which had been so long inflicted on the canine race, and the trouble and annoyance caused to their owners, at the last session of the Legislature I obtained the passage of a law authorizing the establishment of the institution.
With the exception of the one at Battersea, for the City of London, it is the only institution of the kind in any Country of which I know. I can furnish no details yet as to the number at cats and dogs that have found a refuge in the establishment, since it was opened last May, but I may state, however, that the number of dogs sheltered in London every year is nearly 18,000, and the statistics of the establishment up to the present indicate that about three times the number of homeless animals will be taken care of yearly in the establishment here.
“ I have received letters." continued President Haines, “from scores of citizens expressing their approval of the institution, and thanking me for the care taken of their household pets that had been picked up on the streets by the officers at the society." President Haines said that, in accordance with the provisions of the law, dogs and cats found wandering in the streets are held for redemption for forty-eight hours, after which period, if not found to be proper inmates for the institution, they are destroyed by the painless process of anesthesia.
Under the new law, every person "who owns or harbors one or more dogs within the corporate limits of the city must procure a yearly license for each dog," for which the sum of $2 is charged. Renewals of this incense may be subsequently procured for S1. The law is more stringent in regard to cats, it being provided that "any cat found within the corporate limits of the City of New-York without a collar about its neck, bearing the name and residence of the owner thereon, will be seized.”
Cats and dogs seized by the society’s officers for violation of the law, that are regarded as worth being preserved, are properly cared for until they are redeemed by the owners, and if not claimed, they are provided with homes. It costs S3 to redeem each animal taken into custody by the society.
The reporter found about twenty-dogs of all varieties, from the Newfoundland to the tiny household pug, and about as many cats, in the shelter for animals. Just as he entered an execution took place, the subject being a vicious white terrier, who was cast into the anesthetic chamber provided for that purpose. It was merely the work of a moment. One of the keepers raised the lid of the chamber by means of a rope and pulley, while another official took the terrier by the tail and swung him into the box. The lid was instantly closed, and the dog perished without emitting a single sound.
The dogs and cats deemed worthy of preservation are well fed and carefully attended, until some final disposition is made of them. The animals in the establishment, especially the cats, appeared to be well satisfied with the management. All of them appeared to be in good condition. The impression is general that the present system of caring for homeless cats and dogs is a great improvement on the method formerly employed under the dog-catchers' regime.
Among the stories told to illustrate the terror with which the dogcatcher was regarded is one that is based on an incident that occurred shortly before the new system went into effect. A family living in the vicinity of Mount Morris Park had a pug dog, which was a great pet., and possessed of wonderful sagacity. Cris was the dog‘s name. If his master went from home and remained absent a week, Cris could recognize his footsteps as soon as he approached the house, and would bark and leap tor joy because his master had returned. In other ways the dog showed remarkable Intelligence. But Cris had his failings, and one of them was an ungovernable desire to prowl around the streets. One day he was picked up by the dog-catcher and taken to the Pound. Had a member of the household died suddenly the grief of the family could hardly have been greater, though the dog, luckily, was finally recovered.
Now that this new system of caring for dogs found in the streets has been established, those who are aware that they are under the protection of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, manifest no uneasiness as to the fate of their household pets.
[WASHINGTON] CAT CLUB. - The Morning Times, March 19, 1899.
Washington's efforts for the betterment of cat kind took the humane shape of a home instead of a club when it was established several years ago, mainly through the influence of Miss Bertha L. Barber, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. A. L. Barber, of Washington, and Ardsley-on-the-Hudson. N. V. It does not undertake to cultivate high-toned cats for prize shows — in fact, a feline, fat and pampered and full of purrs, would get her back up in disgust the very first minute her round yellow eyes caught sight of the humble “home” unless she were sick and wanted careful nursing. The Cat Club of the Capital is open to every homeless tabby in the District, regardless of color, sex or size. If you are walking in the park or along the streets and see a mite of a kitten starving in the grass or gutter, if you will take it to the Home, or to your own and drop a postal to the managers they will call and take the little thing away. There are always families who go among their neighbors wailing for a good mouser and the Home supplies them free of charge. Many owners of a household pet go away from the city without the first thought for the little animal, or with the foolish impression that it can live by prowling. It is almost as hard for a petted, home-reared kitten to be turn out in a strange alley as it is for a petted home-reared youth or girl to be turned out in the world — and the managers of the Home knowing it, have earnestly requested such owners to send them a word and they will come and take the little shelterless thing to where it will be cared for and provided with a new owner. Cats can also be boarded for a small price during the absence of their owners, sick cats can be doctored and incurable cats can be mercifully put to death without pain.
HOME FOR STRAY CATS - The Inter Ocean, September 2, 1900
Mrs. Leland Norton's Refuge for Friendless Mousers. Is on a Large Scale. Founder Expects to Use Ambulance in Her Work. One Feature of Project is the Finding of Permanent Abodes – Many Ready to Help.
The homeless tom cat will no longer howl in the alleys and be the target at which boot-jacks are hurled. The friendless puss will no longer prowl around garbage boxes in search of food and be chased by dogs. Cats are to have a home where they are assured three square meals a day, a comfortable bed to sleep in, plenty of string to play with, and pictures of dead and dying dogs to look at. Rats and mice will be provided by the score for them to catch and every amusement that could be desired will be afforded them.
The founder of this home for cats is Mrs. Leland Norton, president of the Chicago Cat club. She has recently moved from No. 4011 Drexel boulevard to No. 4630 Grand boulevard in order to obtain more room for her kennels, which are the largest in the world. A building, to be known as the Chicago cat refuge, is already under construction and will be finished October 1st. This move on the part of Mrs. Norton has created great interest among cat lovers in the city. The police department has been asked to co-operate with Mrs. Norton in caring for homeless cats and has signified its intention of doing so. Soon reports will be received by Chief Kipley as follows:
“Englewood Police Station — Sir: The patrol wagon of this precinct was called to the corner of Clark and Sixty-First streets at 8:23 o’clock this morning and found an angora cat, which purred softly when called Kitty, in great distress, officer McDonald stroked the cat’s fur the right way and took the police station mouse from under the seat of the patrol wagon sod endeavored to amuse the animal. All efforts were futile, however, and the cat was removed to the Chicago Cat refuge, where the attending nurses said she might recover. Respectfully, Anson Bockus, Lieutenant Commanding."
In addition to caring for piqued, eccentric, and sick cats the refuge will act as a home-finding association. Mother cats, with families too large to support in comfort are to be requested to visit the refuge. Baby kittens will be given excellent care during their mother's stay, and fine homes will be found for them as soon as possible. No kittens will be asked to go into homes where there are dogs or mischievous boys. Efforts will be made to place young kittens in houses where the mice are small, so that they will not be given tasks too hard for their strength. Old cats, which have become somewhat shop-worn and faded from unkind use, are also requested to visit the refuge. Homes with old maids will be found for these animals and they will be provided with plenty of catnip to soothe their declining years.
“I have long felt the necessity for a home for cats, where they might be cared for the same as other more fortunate dumb animals,” said Mrs. Norton yesterday. “One always hears people talking of relief for the sick and abused dogs and horse, but never a word is spoken on behalf of the poor cat. It is my purpose to construct a hospital, offering ample accommodations for every cat in Chicago, and I will personally superintend the management. One of the good features of the new venture will be the tendency to do away with the ‘alley’ cat, which is the bane of so many people. If there are any people in the city who have cats that they are not willing to care for and will bring the animal to my hospital the cats will receive the best attention until a home can he obtained for them.
“One of the benefits of the refuge will be the facilities offered for the disposal of cats that are injured and diseased. We will take them in our refuge and give them medical aid unless their condition is hopeless, is which case they will be chloroformed and disposed of in a manner that will he the most humane possible.
“When a cat comes to the refuge it will be assigned to quarters, and every effort will be made to find a home for it. Persons taking cats from the refuge will not be required to pay for them. However, if they desire to contribute anything to the cause it will be thankfully received.”
Many persons outside the city are becoming Interested in the movement, and come are signifying their intention of making substantial donations to the refuge. Mrs. Norton has received a letter from Mrs. C. L. Wagoner of Sandusky, Ohio, containing a check for $50, in which the writer cays that she is proud to be the first contributor to such a worthy enterprise. Every effort will be made to promote the enterprise in other cities, and circulars will be sent out at once to almost every town in the United States. Wednesday afternoon of each week will be receiving days in the new hospital.
Mrs. Norton has in her kennel, which will be separate from the refuge, about forty cats of the Persian and Angora varieties, and she has fifty more on the Pacific ocean coming direct from the Orient. The proceeds of the sales of these fine mousers will he devoted to the enlargement of the hospital. The benefactor hopes to have an ambulance in connection with the refuge as soon as the winter season opens. The movement will he operated Independently of the Humane society.
TO CARE FOR STRAY CATS - MRS LELAND NORTON BUILDING REFUGE FOR FELINES. (Chicago Tribune, September 2nd, 1900). Has Moved From Drexel To Grand Boulevard In Order To Get Space On Which To Erect Structure That Will Be At Once Home And A Hospital For All The Stray Animals of The Furry Sort In Chicago – She Also Has Under Construction Largest Kennels.
Mrs. Leland Norton, President of the Chicago Cat club, has begun the construction of a cat hospital at 4630 Grande Boulevard. The new institution will be known as the Chicago Cat Refuge and it is the intention of Mrs. Norton to have it ready to receive friendless and superannuated cat about Oct. 1 . All cats that are ill or who suffer from injuries received in accidents or from the unprovoked assaults of dogs will be received at the hospital and ministered to by skillful physicians. Cats temporarily out of work will be taken into the Chicago Cat Refuge and permitted to catch rats for their board.
Mrs. Norton says that many people outside of the city are becoming interested in the cat hospital and that she is receiving many donations to the cause. Mrs C. L. Wagoner of Sandusky, O. sent a check for $50 to be used in endowing two cots. Wednesday is to be receiving day, at which time friends of the cats will be permitted to call with dainty offerings of Jersey cream and fat white mice for the patients. Mrs. Norton, who formerly lived at 4011 Drexel boulevard, has recently removed to 4030 Grand boulevard In order to secure grounds large enough on which to erect the cat refuge and also to erect private cat kennels, which she says will be the largest in the world. Mrs. Norton now has forty cats of the Persian and Angora varieties in her kennels, with fifty more coming direct from the Orient,
Mrs. Norton said yesterday; “it is my intention to construct a hospital offering simple accommodation for wvery cat in Chicago, and I will personally superintend the management. I also intend that homeless cats shall be taken care of. Anybody in Chicago that has a cat they are not willing to care for and will bring it to me the cat will receive the best attention until a home can be found for it in some good family.”
The neighbors in the vicinity of the cat hospital are somewhat apprehensive as to just how many privileges will be permitted the inmates of the Chicago Cat Refuge. Next door residents are laying in large supplies of bootjack, and one many says that when Mrs. Norton starts the cat hospital he is going to start a cat cemetery. [The report then becomes cynical:] It is understood that the inmates of the refuge will be surrounded with every luxury, and every cat upon being received will be given abath and have its whiskers trimmed by a fashionable barber. Meantime every dog in Grand avenue is keeping an eye on No. 4630.
HOSPITAL FOR CATS – various, October 5, 1900
Chicago, October 5 .— Mrs. Leland Norton, president of the Chicago cat club, has just established an institution known as the Chicago Cat Refuge. It is a home for sick and injured cats, where they are to be given medical treatment. The institution is located at 4620 Grand boulevard, a most aristocratic portion of the city. She has some very fine Angora and Persian varieties now and hopes to soon have the largest cat kennels in the world. She says she hopes the people of Chicago will no longer turn their uncared for cats out, but will bring them to the Refuge. She has received financial aid from philanthropic cat lovers to help keep the home. There will be an exhibition every Wednesday.
REFUGES FOR STRAY TABBIES - October 14, 1900
CHICAGO. Oct. 14.— Tabbie and her brother Thomas cat will have no excuse for living under sidewalks and in other uncomfortable places after the Chicago Cat Club carries into execution its plan of district refuges announced yesterday for the first time. The feline fanciers agreed that with the establishment of homes for houseless animals of the tribe, commiseration for the wayward pussy that frequents the garbage can would be only so much time wasted. It is the intention of the club to lease a barn in the center of every ward in the city before winter sets in. so that no neglected feline may suffer from chilblains or cold feet. Heating plants of warmth-producing qualities to take the frost out of the air will be placed in these quarters. Custodians of both sexes will be selected to see that every boarder is in its bunk by 10 p. m. and that every saucer has its quota of pure milk at least twice a day.
The club members announced that from a psychological standpoint they were unanimously opposed to the notion that the cat is by nature restive and discontented. According to every speaker the tramp cat is a victim of an unfeeling world and forced to resort to methods of securing a livelihood that are not regarded as wholly conventional. The best authorities in the club insisted, however, that there were a few pussies of uncontrollable disposition that could not contain themselves within the narrow confines of a refuge. It was agreed to let these unappreciative cats eke out their existence as their inclinations prompted them.
The Chicago Cat Club among other things went on record as ready and willing to cooperate with the Anti-Cruelty Society. There was no disposition to join the pound-master in his crusade against unlicensed dogs, as the members on many occasions have individually expressed themselves as opposed to that method of restriction. It was even proposed to set aside a separate quarter in the cat homes for the accommodation of dogs that had lost their wav and were not disposed to tear down the partition in order to dishevel some Angora's mane.
Mrs. C. L. Wagner of Sandusky, O., was the guest of honor. She told of her delights in the possession of 28 magnificent specimens of the feline race. Her pets are known for miles around Sandusky and her cat shed with its exercise room for Maltese and Angora is the Mecca for all cat lovers.
Mrs. Norton was selected by the club to represent it on the board of judges at the big Buffalo cat show to be held next week.
CHICAGO'S HOME FOR CATS – Lead Daily Call, November 19, 1900
Chicago is to have a home for cats, a refuge where abandoned felines may find food and shelter and where those physically afflicted may be nursed back to health, or, if this is impossible, may be humanely killed. The originator of this movement is a Mrs. Leland Norton, president of the Chicago Cat club. The institution which she is establishing on Grand boulevard will be the largest of Its kind in the world, and according to present plans will be formally opened Oct. 1. Many well-to-do persons are said to favor the plan and are willing to contribute financial aid. Efforts, too, it is stated, will be made to establish similar homes in other cities.
It seems to us, no matter how worthy the plan, that there are higher duties and more binding obligations in life than caring for cats. It suggests itself to us that human beings, stamped with the image of their creator, are worthy of a thought and of an effort in their behalf. We know that in the city of Chicago there are many thousands of human beings, whose lives are failures, whose hopes are dead, whose souls are warped in an atmosphere of sin and corruption, and yet who might be encouraged to regain their lost manhood and womanhood were as much effort made for them as apparently is to be expended in the care of cats. We know that in that great city there are thousands of children whose minds are being poisoned by contact with crime, whose footsteps are being guided into the broad path that leads to moral ruin and yet who could be saved by efforts such as those which Mrs. Norton is making to shelter homeless felines. [. . .] We believe that ministrations such as these are more consistent with our Christian duties here than caring for cats. They are old-fashioned to be sure — but their origin is divine. [Note: No mention of “sees the meanest sparrow fall”!]
CAT CREMAATION - The Inter Ocean, December 23, 1900
Mrs. Norton is obliged to perform this grewsome office [cremation] every little while, for, besides her cattery, where every variety of the blue-blooded puss is raised, she conducts a cat refuge. To this haven of warmth and shelter comes every description of sad-eyed, homeless, sick, and miserable cat waif. Some have reached a pitiful condition of ill-health simply from exposure and hunger. Others, minus an eye or tail, with fractured limbs and broken jaws, might still have been fine, healthy specimens but for some unfortunate encounter with brutal boys. When these sick and battered cats are in too great a condition of suffering Mrs. Norton puts them out of their misery. She has had made for the chloroforming process a box of galvanised tin two and a half feet square. The lid is removed and her sick cat placed carefully within. The box is tightly covered and into an inserted funnel is poured two or three ounces of chloroform. In a few moments pussy’s soul is going out cat-heavenward — that is, if animals have souls and if there is a special heaven for the feline family.
SUMMER HOME FOR CATS - It Is The Project of the Chicago Cat Club (The Chesterton Transcript, Saturday May 25, 1901): Chicago is to have a summer hotel for cats, a place where the pet felines may be sent to spend the months that the families are out of town at the various sea shore and mountain resorts. this will keep the pussies from being thrown upon a cold world as a stray, to become daily wilder, thinner and dirtier, until they reach the tramp stage and are killed by dogs or maimed by boys. The scheme for a summer home for cats emanates from the Chicago Cat Club. At a recent meeting of its 80 members it was decided at the instigation of its president, Mrs. Leland Norton, to undertake the humane work at once. The objection so often raised, that the care given to a stray cat had better be bestowed on a homeless child, was put to Mrs. Norton the other day. In reply she said simply: "There are many women who have no aptitude for caring for children who thoroughly enjoy looking after a cat. There is need -and room - for both classes of workers."
CURING FELINE ILLS
San Francisco Chronicle, March 16, 1902
Never more will the citizens of Belvedere or any other place adjacent to San Francisco be forced to call upon the Trustees or Supervisors to do away with stray cats. The time has passed when the friend of the household will ever be considered a nuisance. Mrs. Clarence Martling and other members of the Pacific Cat Club have within the last four months, by establishing “The Cat Refuge,” shown themselves to be friends in need and friends indeed of Mistress Tabby. The Cat Club and the Refuge are new organizations on the Coast, but the idea is not an original one. There is a cat club in Chicago that has been very successful, and in England thousands of cats have been taken care of and tenderly treated.
The Refuge is what its name implies. It is a shelter for homeless and sick cats where they receive humane treatment when in distress and suffering. The fund for the refuge was established shortly after the incorporation of the Pacific Cat Club. Money received and various sources of income over and above the actual running expenses has been put aside for this fund, and the amount is not sufficiently large to guarantee permanancy to this excellent work. The expenses are borne by members of the Pacific Cat Club and by public subscriptions, and Mrs. Martling has made the back yard of her residence at Haight street, for this purpose, and on a sunny slope, has been erected large and substantially constructed arrays of framework and wire, with [illegible] sleeping-houses for this most domesticated of household pets. The refuge has been started only about four months, yet in that short space of time over a hundred cats have been rescued and disposed of in different ways. Some were in such a physical condition that death was necessary, but all the others, with the exception of two that will remain in the Refuge, have been settled with good homes.
It is not only a refuge for homeless, stray and forsaken cats of San Francisco, but kitties used to luxurious living may be boarded here while their mistresses leave the city for their annual summer outing. There are two meals a day served in the feline boarding-house, Breakfast consists of chopped meat, mixed with [rice?] and biled in soup stock. This is varied by boiled fish and liver. Dinner consists of a light meal of puppy cake, with bread an milk for a change of diet. Ailing cats are also treated here, but those with contagious diseases are sent to another part of the city. Those taht are incurable aare put to death by the honorary veterinary, Dr ? Q. Steers. A towel enveloping a leather folded into a cornucopia filled with cotton batting saturated with chloroform is used for the purpose. The cat’s head is shoved into this, and, in a few minutes, exit Mistress tabby.
Cats with broken legs, dislocated joints and other injuries have been brought to the Refuge for treatment. Nearly all have been cured. Sometimes the furry invalids object, and in such cases tin muzzles are used. These are slung over the head, and, fastened in the back they protect the doctor and his attendants from protesting claws and wicked sharp teeth.
[Next section is illegible and is about pneumonia and distemper] to get an cat into the refuge is to notify Mrs. Martling or any other member of the club, and some one is sent for the new inmate. If it happens to be a stray cat, it goes through what might aptly be called a renovating system. Dr. Steers has a peculiar compound of his own, a liquid, qith which he washes off the cat thoroughly. This is healing and kills any vermin. In about half an hour the new boarder is thoroughly scrubbed with warm water and castile soap, dried and then the fur is brushed. The next morning the bath is repeated, and then the little stranger is allowed to make the acquaintance of the other inmates of the home.
The old saying that a cat has nine lives really means taht it has great vitality, and this vitality consists of nothing but nervous force. When that collapses a cat succumbs to diseases that in other animals coulkd be easily cured. By the number of orders for cats that are waiting to be filled one might easily think that there were not a sufficient number of these household pets in San Francisco to supply all the families desirious of obtaining one. But there is one kitten at the Refuge that will never leave there with the consent of the ladies interested in the novel institution. It is small and black, and answers to the name of “Mascot.” Mascot called, unbidden and unlooked for, the night the Refuge was opened. The kennels were then unoccupied. He sat down on top of one of the empty cages, and although it was raining, remained there the whole night through, tellining his woes and discomforts in pitiful mews that graduated into howls as the night advanced. In the morning, Mrs. Martling found him still there. He was taken in, fed, christened “Mascot,” and given a comfortable home for the rest of his life.
And this will be the fate of any cat that strays to the Refuge, or is brought there or comes under the notice of the humane organization. It looks as though bootjack days were o’er for kitty for everything that is done for the Pacific Cat Club and the Refuge is purely a labor of love. The Pacific Cat Club was organized July 17, 1900. Its purpose is to afford its members an opportunity for acquaintance with advanced ideas in scientific breeding and selection, and to establish a standard classification analagous to that now placed upon horses, dogs and other pet stock. It enjoys the distinction of being the only incorporated cat club in California. It started with but fifteen members, but the number has steadily increased, until now there are over one hundred. A carefully regulated studbook is kept. In this a record of pedigrees is entered, an accurate description and history of the animal, name and address of owner, and transfer of owners.
Within the next eight weeks the Pacific cat club will give a cat show for the benefit of the Refuge. This will be the first regular cat show ever given in San Francisco. Elaborate preparations are being made and considerable expense assumed to make the affair a success in every way. Judges from the East will come to San Francisco to discuss the different merits of the many animals and award te prizes and ribbons. The present officers of the club are: Mrs. C.E. Martling, president; Miss Maud Smith, vice-president; Mrs. W.C. Morrow, financial secretary; Mrs. W.A. Deane, corresponding secretary, and Mrs. C. Hildebrand, treasurer.
A BOARDING HOUSE FOR CATS - Pittsburgh Daily Post, April 6, 1902 - By Frederick Moore, Special Correspondent of The Post
(also printed as ARISTOCRATIC CATS OF WASHINGTON - The Times, Washington, April 13th,1902)
Washington, April 4 – The new Capital Cat club has brought out some generally unknown. And to those unknowing, some interesting facts about felines. To begin with, Washington possesses the finest cats in the country. There is one of these creatures the number of whose ancestors many a parvenu here covets. The pedigree of Mrs. Mary Cornish Bond’s prize Persian, Menelik III., dates back thirty generations. Menelik has just returned from a tour covering New York, Troy, Rochester, Cleveland, Chicago, Nashville and other cities, and while his beautiful silken black coat is much ruffled from wear and tear on the sides of the box in which he was transported, his temper, from the wear and tear at the shows, is much improved at being once again returned to his beloved mistress. He took first prizes at each of the cities visited, and brought back meals and vases galore and the sum of $500.
Who would thing there is money to be made in cat culture? These mongrel, maltreated creatures which furnish many a cur canine’s only excuse for life, in that the latter furnish a pastime for cruel men and boys in their chase of cats, and than which they have no more right living – and less, for cats do more to rid us of rodents; who would thing that these poor, persecuted creatures, for which a slaughterhouse is kept actively at work in Georgetown, the year around, would pay the price of the pittance it costs for their existence?
Menelik leads off in value of Mrs. Bond’s 11 cats. He is worth over $1,000 and the others follow at values of from $250 down to $10. The kittens are sold as fast as they can be bred, and even the skins of these long-haired creatures are salable for small rugs at a good price.
Mr. Bond follows a still more curious profession, one that depends upon the cat fancy, but pays, strange to say, even better. It is cat photography. Cats are the craze here just now. They are as numerous as pugs were some few years ago. The odd fact that a cat photograph gallery is maintained and supported by the leaders in fad fancy brings many another cat-possessor to the institution to see its subjects, its manipulation and its products. The process is so amusing and the products so “cute” that invariably the declaration is “My Tom (or Minnie) must have her photo taken.” The price of photographing a cat is $2 more than the average charge for photographing a baby.
Every woman’s publication and many others in this country and Europe will print a good story on cats if well illustrated. Mr. and Mrs. Bond have a reputation for such stories. You must have seen fancy photographs of the most intelligent-looking cats on sale in the picture, book and novelty stores about Christmas and Easter times. These bring about 50 cents t $1 a piece according to the size and mounting. They are the product of this institution and find a ready market all over the country.
It is no easy task to photograph a cat. Even gentle Persians and Maltese and Angoras, all of which throw themselves wholly at the mercy of man and are fearless when under the protection of their owner, have the same superstitious dread, as it were, that the Indian originally had of the camera. And as it is only possible to photograph them by flashlight one picture is all one cat can ever be made to sit for. It requires sometimes an hour to get a cat in the desired attitude. He is taken at an hour between meals when he is not too drowsy to be playful and not hungry enough to be sulky. He is seated on a broad table with a background contrasting with his color, and petted into a good humor. The attitude and an interested expression, with wide-open eyes, are then “played” for; and these must be gotten together. A fine pose with closed eyes and a gaping mouth would never do. Nor would a good expression if the cat was going through one of its stretching contortions. Mrs. Bond, having the artistic temperament, generally does the posing. All the time that it requires her husband stands with loaded flashlight pistol in one hand and the bulb of his camera shutter in the other, ready to snap the trigger of the one and squeeze the other simultaneously. The same instant that the flash goes off the cat goes off the table just as though it were the ball from the shot.
As the society ball comes to the aid of charity each year so the fad in felines now comes to the aid of the humane society. The Washington Cat club numbers both the fancier pure and simple and the true hearted sympathizer among its members. It has held but two meetings and has already 130 members, local and out-of-town. Dr. Cecil French is president of the new organization, Mrs. Bond is secretary and Miss Eleanor L. Burritt is treasurer, and among the prominent members who own rare and costly cats are Dr. D. C. Chadwick, Miss Bessie McFarland, Miss Emma O’Neil, Miss Faunce and Miss MacKnight.
Next to Mrs. Bond, Miss Burritt’s cattery is the largest. She calls it the Columbia cattery and each of her 19 cats has the surname Columbia prefixed to his given name. Columbia Shamrock, Columbia St. Patrick and Columbia Maggie Kline are the names that have been given to three little puffs of whiteness that were born on St, Patrick’s day. Columbia Puff is a new importation that came over in a cattle ship from London. She is valued at $500 and the duty on her was $30. Columbia Gay has the most remarkable tall in town. It is 14 inches square. The hair on it parts in the middle and stands out on the other side 7 inches. It is 14 inches long.
Miss Burritt was the prime promoter of the cat club. The purpose of the organization, besides the advance of breed and character in Washington cats and the bringing together of cat owners and those interested in cats generally, is to establish an asylum for cats to replace the institution now maintained by the humane society in Georgetown.
The daily collection from the city destroyed at that “slaughter house" averages 50 kittens and 20 cats. Mr. T. J. Buckley and his wife — self-styled the cat papa and mamma —rendered a dialog for me, one of the characters in which Mr. Buckley has been playing daily for years. A note will come to him:
“I understand that you take away cats that become troublesome for 25 cents and find homes for them. Our cat has just given birth to four beautiful little kittens which I know any lady would like to have, and we shall give you 25 cents if you will come and get them. As I understand you take cats for 25 cents I suppose you will take the four little young kittens for the price of one grown-up cat. Hoping you will come soon and thanking you in advance, yours with sympathy. - MRS. M. L.
P. S. Come to-morrow between 11 and 12 o'clock as I have to go to a lunch at one and after that a tea and want to see you myself before I let the dear little kittens go.”
On his daily rounds with his wagon the cat collector calls. On the appearance after his mission is announced he is greeted with “Why didn’t you come around to the back gate?” How did the man know which was the back gate to the address given at the top of the note?
“There they are. Get them out Mary Ann.“ The maid obeys.
“Now, what are you going to do with them?”
“Kill them, lady.”
“Kill them! why I thought you would give them to someone who would take good care of them.”
“There are very few who want any more cats, and rather than give them to someone who I think will not treat them well I will kill them.”
“We chloroform the kittens, lady, and give the large cats gas. We have a big box made for the purpose, in which we put them, and one inhalation of either the chloroform or the gas seals their fate instantly and painlessly. The collector renders all this to save time for himself and questioning for the lady. He has had experience with this kind."
“Well, I didn’t know you did that; I thought you kept all the cats until you could find nice homos for them. Are you sure they do not suffer?”
“But these are such nice little cats. Look what beauties they are.”
“We board cats for 50 cents a month, lady, and keen them well as long as they are paid for.”
The lady sighs. “We always have money for our whims, but we dispute the prices of bare necessities.” Alas, charities!
“Well, give them to him, Mary,” she says and turns away.
The man puts them into an openwork basket. When he lands them safely in his cart he asks the girl to go back and get the quarter from the lady. It is the custom to get that sum from those who can afford to give it to defray the expenses of the institution.
The lady has nothing less than a $20 bill. Can he not call to-morrow?”
Washington is going to find a place in next year’s cat show circuit. The exact date of the show here has not yet been fixed upon by the cat club, but it will be in October or November, and the finest display that the country will have will be that at the capital.
[WASHINGTON] CATS’ PARADISE PLANNED.
The Charlotte News, October 3rd, 1902
Washington, Oct. 2—The Washington Cat Club, an organization of 185 members, was incorporated this afternoon, with the following officers: President, Dr. Cecil French; vice-president, Col. George W. Paschal; secretary and treasurer, Eugene C. Duffy; trustees, Dr. Cecil French, George W. Paschal, Eugene C. Duffy, William C. Taylor and E. Richard Shipp.
The articles of incorporation set forth the object of the club to be to pick up stray cats in the streets, to designate addresses where vagrant cats may be left, to call for undesirable additions to the cat population, to provide pets for seekers after such, to offer superior care for pet cats during the absence of their owners from the city, to offer protection to straying cats until their owners can be located, to furnish the best medical and surgical treatment for afflicted cats, to painlessly kill the incurable and to accomplish through every possible channel the improvement of the cats of the national capital.
The means of providing funds for the accomplishment of these purposes are to be obtained by the care of cats, the sale of desirable specimens, the collection of small fees when collections of felines are made, the dues of the club, the occasional sale of donated articles and an annual cat show. It is stated that a Miss Peek has already donated a lot in Brookland, D. C|, for the establishment of a house for the cats.
The members of the club declare that “the homeless cats of our city now destroy our property, flower beds and young chickens, disturb our slumbers, wreck our nerves, wring our hearts through their sufferings at the hand of the small boy and the vicious adult, and are a menace to the health not only of our pets, but of our children and of our household. Many fine cats are annually lost because they are necessarily left behind during the summer in the care of possibly fond, but ignorant, servants, or because their owners are incompetent to diagnose or treat the simplest of feline diseases.” The Humane Society through lack of funds has been unable to properly superintend this branch of its work. A number of its members are among the most enthusiastic supporters of the new club.
WASHINGTON TO HAVE A HOME FOR CATS – The Washington Times, December 15th, 1902
Washington is to have a home for cats. Arrangements are being made for its early construction and those interested in the project intend making it one of the best in the country. The project is being pushed by the Washington Cat Club, of which Dr. Cecil French is president. Plans of the proposed home were on exhibition at the Poultry and Cat Show, which closed after a week's success. A building to cost $5,000 is intended and sufficient ground will be purchased for the site to permit large sheds in which to have the animals exercise.
Cat homes have been established in many of the larger cities and they have proven humane institutions. Cats with no homes are gathered in and cared for. Sick cats are given medical attention and persons leaving home for a period can place their pets in the home and have them looked after during their absence.
The scheme to erect a home for cats in the Capital City was given impetus at the cat show last week. Many who heretofore disliked the little animals, were won over as friends and when the “home" idea was broached they became earnest supporters. Inasmuch as the Cat Club originated the plan they will have the matter in charge. Subscriptions will be solicited among the admirers of felines.
"The show was a success,” said Manager George E. Howard, as the last box of chickens and basket of cats were taken out of Masonic Temple and sent homeward. "But for the rain, we would have had by far the biggest attendance in the history of our exhibition. Each year interest grows and more people attend. The exhibition this year was better than any previous one. Next year, we intend a still better one. Many owners of finely-bred cats are interested In the proposed cat home in this city, and the plans exhibited tonight indicate good ideas on the part of the Washington Cat Club.” While Manager Howard was talking, a number of well known Washingtonians approached him and pledged support next year in the way of feline exhibitions.
The officers of the Washington Cat Club are: Dr. Cecil French, president; Miss Elizabeth McFarland, vice president; Col. George W. Panchal, second vice president; E. C. Duffy, secretary, and Miss Eleanor L. Burritt, treasurer.
EXCEPTIONS TAKEN. MEMBERS OF HUMANE SOCIETY DEFEND THE FELINE. (Evening Star, February 11, 1903)
Views Expressed in Recent Interview Regarded as Absurd —Instances of Cat Love.
Members of the Humane Society In this city strongly contradict the statements quoted recently in The Star in an interview with a guest at an uptown hotel on the subject of stray cats. They claim that the views on the subject of cats expressed in this interview are at variance with the facts, and are not to be seriously considered by sound-thinking persons. It was stated by this visitor to the city that “every few days we read in the newspapers of the death of some person from a cat bite.”
“That assertion is absolutely absurd,” said a prominent member of the Humane Society to a reporter for The Star this morning. “We do not read of such a death once in five years — hardly so often as that. I have owned cats all my life. As a child - one of a large family — we had pets of all kinds; we loved them and they loved us, and we cared for them as long as they lived. There was not a single instance of any of us being bitten by either cat or dog. As to cats that roam the street and make night hideous by their noises, I think If the public could be instructed to drown all but one of a litter of kittens this nuisance would be very much abated. The one should be left to keep the mother from suffering. Any one objecting to this method of disposal may send a postal to Mr. Buckley at cat shelter, 2007 32d street, which will bring that gentleman to the door in his wagon, and he will speedily remove the undesired family. The cat shelter is sustained by the Humane Society — a society dependent upon the voluntary offerings of the humane. Would that more would help us in this much-needed work.
“As to cats being fonder of places than of people, I could give a thousand instances to prove the contrary, but one will suffice. Soon after my marriage I rescued a poor little starving kitten from the street, a common, back-yard variety, with no pedigree or letter of recommendation. She grew into a beautiful cat, and we called her Nelly Gray on account of her handsome coat. During Nelly's life we moved six times, each time taking her with us — the first time she and her five fur babies. In every instance Nelly took kindly to her new abode and never made the slightest effort to escape. In two cases the new house was but two blocks from the old, but Nelly evidently had faith in the family’s judgment that the move was for the best, and cast her lot in with the rest. She was always a most affectionate, responsive creature, and an excellent mouser, though always well fed, which last shows that it is not necessary to starve cats in order to have them keep the house clear of mice.
“The poor, hunted, thirsty, starving pussy of the back fence is not at her best, and her intelligence is of a low order. Take the child of the slums, in many cases brought up with blows, ill fed, half clothed — does she compare in intelligence with your well-cared-for darling? I met one day a neighbor’s little girl carrying her old pet cat down the street. On inquiring, I found that she intended taking it some distance away and throwing it over a certain high fence into a vacant lot. ‘Mamma is tired of the cat,’ said the child, ‘and we don't want her any more.’ I took poor pussy home, and later, as she was old and sick, mercifully put her to sleep. But I thought a child brought up with so little heart will want to throw ‘mamma’ over the fence when she becomes old and troublesome.
“There is but one law of kindness in the World, which includes everything that feels - even poor pussy.”
NEVER TURNS A CAT AWAY - The Boston Daily Globe, 5th November, 1905
Situated a short distance from the center of Lexington, on Massachusetts av, is a large house which was erected over 100 years ago. It is a splendid specimen of old-style architecture, set back from the street, surrounded by lilacs, bushes, hedges and shade trees. Of late this place has attracted much attention. There is located the Strathmore cattery, run by Miss Florence Isabelle Franks, who takes great pride in her new occupation.
Miss Franks is very prominent in the town, and at one time was the contralto soloist in the Episcopal church. She is also a writer, several of the products of her pen having been published in magazines. She has always taken a great liking to cats and has always had a number of her own. The cattery has been established for some time, but at first was on a small scale. As the wanderers continued to arrive, additions were made, until now a long runway, fenced in with wire, has been put on the rear of the house to make room for all the occupants. The cats are kept in the house at night. Each has its own box, in which a bed of excelsior and cheese cloth is arranged.
Miss Franks' love for the animals alone is the cause of her keeping this place, as it involves considerable expense, and no charge is made for caring for cats. Most of the cats are wanderers which have been picked up on doorsteps and on the streets in a half-starved condition. Miss Franks takes them in, and no matter how bad their condition, she cares for them. If they are sick, she nurses them back to health, her understanding of the ills of the felines being equal to that of any veterinary. She has never turned a cat adrift and does not give one away unless she is very sure it will get a good home and receive proper attention.
In the runway in which the cats are kept during the day are boxes in which to sleep and stools on which to bask in the sun. Spools are also provided for play, and some of the more favored cats have toys in their compartments. It has cost Miss Franks considerable money to erect and maintain this cattery, and it is her opinion that she will soon have to put an addition on her already long runway so that she can accommodate more unfortunates.
The wire enclosure is divided into compartments. In some of these 10 cats are placed, while in others not so many are kept, the number being limited to the size and age of the cats. On every pleasant day these compartments are full, and the scene that meets the eye when you first take a look is peculiar. The instant a person comes near the cats rush to the side and climb up on the wires so that they can be on a level with the visitor. The cries and purrings are bewildering for a few moments until you get somewhat accustomed to them. Then you have a chance to realize the amount of good work that is being done in the line of caring for the homeless felines.
In the compartments can be seen clean china dishes, which are always kept full of cool water and along the edges is grass, on which the cats can nibble when they are so inclined. That they have everything to live for is not denied, and the look of contentment can be seen on each face. If a cat does not wish to stay out in the wire enclosure, but desires to go into the house for its nap it can easily do so, and if a person should chance to look up at the rear of the house at any time he can see many cat faces peeping out of the windows.
Should Miss Franks happen along there is a general ran for the side of the enclosure to get to her first, and if she goes inside she is at once covered with cats. They climb all over her, and she is a living mass of fur. At meal times she is more popular than at any other time, and the loud callings can be heard at a distance. The food is brought on individual plates so that each may have its own. These dishes are placed in the compartments and there is no stealing from one another, each being given plenty. In the morning and at night the meal is of milk, and at noon they are given meat, fish, vegetables or cornmeal. The fish is furnished free by a local fish dealer, but the meats and others things Miss Franks has to buy and the expense is necessarily large.
Miss Franks is happy when with her strange family. She has named every member and calls each by its name. There are all kinds of cats, yellow cats, black cats, tabby cats, maltese cats and cats of no particular breed, some being minus an eye and some being minus part of their extremities. Miss Franks has never refused to accept a cat, no matter what the condition of the creature might be. If they are too bad and cannot be cured, she puts them out of the way by a method which she claims is far more gentle on the victim than that used by most people. She says she feeds the cat well just before it is to be killed and then places it in a wash-boiler on a soft bed. The cover is left off until the cat gets sound asleep, then Miss Franks drops a sponge filled with ether into the boiler and puts the cover on. She claims that in this manner the cat never wakes up and does not realize what is going on.
The section of the house occupied by the cats as their quarters is the ell in the rear. Here are fitted up compartments in which the cats go at night, and all arrangements are made for their comfort. Soft beds are made and everything is very clean. There is plenty of room for all the cats, and there is no crowding or fighting among them, each having its own bed.
To show the work which she is carrying on, Miss Franks recently held an exhibition or cat show at the Strathmore cattery. Almost every species of cat was represented.
A HOME WHERE THE DESPISED “YELLOW DOG” IS WELCOME
Elizabeth Banks in The New York Times, March 18th, 1906
In West Thirty-eighth Street, right near Broadway, at No. 145, there hangs a legend, all newly painted and conspicuous, which makes one wish that every wandering yellow dog could read and every persecuted Tom decipher it: “BIDE-A-WEE HOME FOR ANIMALS. Supported by Voluntary Contributions.” One also hopes that the latter part of the sign, so broadly insinuating, may lead thitherward such stray pennies, nickels, dimes, and dollars as well-disposed humans may feel they can spare In these days of dissensions, nodding of plumed heads, and violent shakings of silk hats around at the Madison Avenue headquarters of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
To homeless dogs, lame of foot, tired of body, of restless eye; to gentle tabbies, bearing, perchance, with them the burden of motherhood; to wary Toms, dodging the slinks and arrows of outraged would-be sleepers or the stones and tin cans of the cruel street boy, there stretches forth from No. 145 a beckoning hand and there is a gentle voice, saying: “Come, blde-a-wee! “
It was the sign that led me in; also a little fox terrier, who guarded, sentinel-like, the double doors. The fox terrier belonged to a lady who belonged to the smart carriage which was in charge of the trim coachman who sat on the box. Now, the lady, it seemed, was going to an afternoon "at home,” and on the way she had noticed a tiny kitten crying in the mud. She had the carriage stopped, while she got out and picked up the kitten; then, hugging it tight to her velvet coat, all unmindful of its dirty paws, she gave to the coachman the address of Bide-a-Wee, while her pet fox terrier sat on the box with the coachman and looked jealously into the carriage window.
As the lady came out I went in, and found the kitten being warmed by the stove and milk being administered with an after-dinner coffee spoon, for the kitten was too weak to lap. Distributed about in the most beautifully kept and delightfully airy wire houses were about twenty dogs. There came sounds of many other dogs and cats from adjoining rooms and upstairs apartments. It is really quite a spacious place, the Blde-a-Wee Home, though not so spacious as it will have to be if its fame keeps extending and its four-legged beneficiaries continue to increase. When the weather gets warmer and removals from the city begin by the fashionable set I am wondering what the Bide-a-Wee people are to do with all the cats that will be left locked up in cellars or wandering hungry through the streets of New York‘s stylish neighborhoods. Everybody knows that New York is a frightfully hot place in June, July, and August, and everybody knows that it is unhealthy for two-legged New Yorker to stay here, especially when they have at their disposal roomy country houses, ten-dollar-a-day hotels at the seaside, or European trips on swift liners. Everybody, too, knows that many of these two-legged New Yorkers are prone to go away and leave here to shift for themselves the four-legged members of the household if they happen to be of the feline species. Somehow they forget, in their anxiety to remove themselves from the heat and turmoil, that these useful creatures have not only never done them any harm, but, like the famous cat drowned by the infamous little Johnnie Green, have been busy catching the mice in their father’s barns as well as those which have infested the kitchen and the pantry.
Now, the officers of the Bide-a-Wee have served notice that they intend to take care of such abandoned cats, and what is to be done with them all gives cause to pause and wonder. The Bide-a-Wee people Intend to look down Into the cellar windows of shut-up houses, and they intend to inspect back fences. It is a trouble and an expense, but it has to be done - unless, happy thought! New Yorkers can be prevailed upon to look after their cats; unless, indeed, those who sit on velvet cushions and kneel on plush footstools these Lenten Sundays shall let the words of the Psalter sink deep into their hearts: “The merciful man Is merciful unto his beast."
While I was visiting at the Bide-a-Wee a colored man brought in a box of four coal black kittens of blinking- eye and tricky paw. Their mother, it seems, multiplied and increased too rapidly, and was in a fair way to replenish the earth for some miles around in her neighborhood with black kittens, so Bide-a-Wee was asked to dispose of them. Four humane persons who happen to want black kittens with blue eyes overflowing with the spirit of investigation and curiosity may have those kittens by applying with credentials.
There are also some beautiful white puppies waiting for some delighted children who will be good to them. If it cannot be truthfully recorded that the puppies can trace back their lineage to prehistoric times without the sign of a bar sinister, It may be understood that these babies of “ Nellie,” who lies all gloriously happy beside them in a huge clothes basket, shielded carefully from draughts, are sure to turn out as bright and smart and as watchful as kindly reared crossbreeds usually do. It is not their fault, and perhaps not even their misfortune, that the name and pedigree of their father Is shrouded in mystery.
If you have plenty of money and insist upon paying for dogs and cats. Bide-a-Wee is not an lnstitution to look suspiciously at your money and turn away from it, but if you want free dogs and free cats you may have your pick of the very best there are there. You will be hampered only by the condition that you give evidence of a disposition to treat an animal kindly and properly, and that you are financially able to give it a comfortable home. You may live on Riverside Drive or you may live in a humble tenement, but you must allow one of the young women Inspectors to take a look at your home and report upon Its fitness, and if you take the dog or cat let it be hoped that you will not object to an occasional call to see how it Is getting on. As a stranger, you cannot walk directly into the home, pay down your money, and take your choice, or take your choice without money, immediately away with you. You decide on your choice - and you would not find a better opportunity for picking and comparing " points“ and dispositions at the best dog fancier’s - and if you are a suitable person to have the animal you need have no fear of a refusal.
The society is well named the Bide-a-Wee. Dogs and cats bide there a while, for a short or a long time as circumstances permit. If they are sick they are put in the hospital with the care of a veterinary and a trained nurse. Those who have distemper are kept in a room together, and so good is the care given them that they usually recover. There is a convalescent room and an inspection room. In this latter ward all new-comers are taken till It is found whether they are healthy. If they are dirty, they are washed; if tangled, combed. Often, when they arrive, dirt and bad treatment make them look like the commonest of curs, but after examination and a thorough cleaning, with good food, many of them suddenly show forth their good blood. Many a lost pet and show dog of the noblest type finds its way to Bide-a-Wee, and those who have lost their dogs might do well to pay the home a visit, where they may be vociferously welcomed and instantly forgiven by, perhaps, the best friends they have ever known. I say “ forgiven," for surely a lost dog: has often much to forgive. Carelessness of master or mistress or servant is generally at the bottom of investigated cases of dog-losing.
At Bide-a-Wee the dogs and cats fare sumptuously on Waldorf-Astoria diet. This statement is meant to be taken literally, not figuratively. Every morning a red cart, drawn by a Bide-a-Wee attendant in white overalls, stops at the back door of the Waldorf-Astoria for pails of bread, meat, and vegetables in bits which are left on the plates of the hotel guests. This is the Waldorf-Astoria contribution to the Bide-a-Wee fund, and a very valuable one it is, too. Sometimes the inhabitants of Bide-a-Wee sniff the scent of the cart when it is still some distance from the door, and as they wait, all attention, for the approaching cart they afford a delightful study in animal nature. They have their prodigies at Bide-a-Wee. Perhaps the cleverest and best-beloved is Mascotte, a mild-eyed spaniel, who first made her appearance there some months ago suffering with distemper. For three months she was nursed and tended, and on Jan. 8 she was given to a family’ living at Home Crest. On Feb. 20 she returned. No one could tell how, and there had been water to cross. She was very tired and very dirty and very hungry when she whined at the big double doors. She is now a permanent inhabitant of the home. There, too, is Rover, a black-and-tan, who came with crushed paw, which was bandaged and healed. Rover become very proud of his sore paw, and, having become accustomed to hold It up for the inspection of visitors, kept on exhibiting it when it got well. Let anybody walk by his cage and up he would stand on three legs, holding out his fourth with melancholy mien. When he became fat and healthy and strong of limb, one had only to say “ Who’s got the sorest paw In Blde-a-Wee?” to have the little black-and-tan limp to the front and stick his one-time injured paw through the bars. A good home was found for Rover in Twenty-second Street, but, unfortunately, the fact that he once had a sore paw was forgotten and considered as a matter of no importance. No mention was ever made of it, and Rover, accustomed to being starred, betook himself back to Bide-a-Wee at the end of a week, where he now proudly thrusts forth his paw on the least provocation.
I’ve had to bring back the cat; my dog won't have it,” announced a man who walked into the home the morning I was there. He carried a pretty Maltese under his arm. " They fought. I’m sorry, for the place is full of mice.” Five minutes afterward a woman brought in a dog. “We’ve had him four years,” she said. “We are so fond of him, but now we've got a baby and he’s jealous of the baby, so I want you to take him and find a home for him. We tried to lose him, but he always came back.”
Oh, the stupidity as well as the cruelty of mankind, to say nothing of so-called gentle womankind! Does not every intelligent person know that cats and dogs become the greatest friends if they live in the same family? A little patience and teaching on the part of the man who took the Maltese from Bide-a-Wee and fighting would have ended and friendship begun between his dog and the cat. As for the woman who turned off a faithful dog of four years because he was naturally jealous of what seemed to him a sudden rival in the affections of his mistress - well, let us hope that she will never find it convenient to abandon her baby! Let it also be hoped, for the baby’s sake, that the time will never come when it will need the protection of the dear old bull terrier its mother first tried to lose and then gave away. In a month the terrier would have loved the baby. Every child brought up in the companionship of a dog is the better for it, and every dog will become the most painstaking of nurses and champions if properly taught and well treated. At first the baby may pull the dog’s tail, but the baby can be readily taught not to do this by a method employed by one of the sweetest mothers of my acquaintance. When her baby was two years old she got him a St. Bernard puppy, and straightway the baby pulled the pup’s tail.
“It hurts to pull the doggie’s tail,” said the mother gently, drawing the baby to her. " It hurts like this," whereupon she pulled the baby's hair, ” and every time Baby pulls doggie's tall Mamma must pull Baby's hair to show him how It hurts poor doggie.” She kissed away the baby’s tears, and the pup’s tail wagged on thereafter all unmolested.
If you find a lost dog or cat, take it to Bide-a-Wee, and don’t forget the address. If for some absolutely humane or sensible reason you cannot longer keep your own dog or cat, take it to Bide-a-Wee. Don’t under any consideration abandon to the streets or to cruel keepers these fellow-creatures which have, been put in your care. The heart of Bide-a-Wee is large, even though its funds are in danger of running short, and Bide-a-Wee will take in your castaways. If for humane reasons you wish quietly to put your dog or cat to sleep, Bide-a-Wee will not do that, although there you may get some valuable advice concerning this subject. If you are needing a nice dog or a cat, do go to Bide-a-Wee and get one. There are some such jolly dogs there, such playful pups, such good " mousers," such blue-eyed kittens, waiting for you.
The Gazette Globe, August 29th, 1912
By H. H. Jacobs.
In response to a request made by Miss Jacobs to a friend, Dr. Eleanor M. H. Moore, now traveling in England. Dr. Moore writes: “I am very glad to be able to supply you with information about ‘Animal Sunday,’ which I obtained for you direct from the venerable Archdeacon Wilberforce, who instituted it. It is celebrated on the fourth Sunday after Trinity in connection with the gospel for that Sunday from Romans 8th. ‘The whole creation groaneth. And shall be delivered.’
“I wrote to the archdeacon and he sent me a copy of some sermons of his on 'Animal Sunday,’ which I am forwarding to you with other literature. He also wrote me a nice note in reply to what I told him about the work you were doing and he added, ‘May God bless that good work.' I told him we wanted to have an animal Sunday In America.”
(The American Humane Educational society has recently issued a leaflet asking for the institution of a “Mercy Sunday.” Which would have the same meaning as the English “Animal Sunday." For Kansas we might set apart a Sunday and call it the “Animal Mercy Sunday.” )
“I am also sending you a photograph and some postal views of the dogs’ and other pets’ cemeteries in London. The dogs' cemetery is in Hyde Park at Victoria gate. It was founded by the duke of Cambridge, who buried his little dog ‘Prince’ there 35 years ago. This little cemetery has four or five hundred graves in it, mostly dogs, but some cats, birds and monkeys. The cemetery being quite full, another one has been started at Molesworth, Huntingdon, and it has already over 200 graves in it. The tombstones are of marble and many of them have touching inscriptions. I noticed with pleasure that a great number gave evidence of the belief on the part of the doge' owners that their pets would survive physical death.
“I have collected a great lot of interesting information about these cemeteries which I hope to embody in an article. I am inclosing copies of some of the inscriptions on the graves, as I think you will like to see them. You will also receive a report of ‘Our Dumb Friends League,’ also one of the Cats’ Shelter in London. I must say that the great love and respect shown to animals in England is very marked and well worthy of emulation. It is a paradise for dogs. People travel about everywhere with their pets and nobody seems to feel they are a nuisance.”
The views of the cemeteries been arranged on a placard with copies of the inscriptions and placed in the humane office, where anyone may call and see them. While most of us find ourselves all too busy in taking care of the living animals, yet we cannot but commend and appreciate these tributes to the little dumb dead friends. Our own plan has been when we lost some animal to give his place left vacant in our home as far as we could to some animal that needed it. This was our memorial to the one that was gone. The subject of the ‘Animal Sunday’ will be taken up later and we hope that such a Sunday will before much longer become an American institution.
The American ministry is being rather severely criticized for its indifference toward humane work. The ‘Animal Sunday’ will give them the opportunity of disarming their critics.
An inscription on the tomb of a dog named ‘Dick’ is as follows: “There are men good and wise who say that dumb creatures we have cherished here below shall give us joyous greeting when we pass the Golden Gate. Is it folly if we hope it may be so?”
CHARACTERISTIC SCENES AT RURAL CAT AND DOG RESCUE HOME (The Pittsburgh Gazette Times, July 27, 1913)
Animals Aided by Local Society. Animal Rescue League of Pittsburgh Maintains City Station and Good Farm. The Methods are Up-To-Date. Lost and Abandoned Pets Cared for as Well as Strays and Injured Beasts.
Decidedly this is the Day of the Dog, to say nothing of the Cat. Our good beast friends are coming into their own. The Animal Rescue League of Pittsburgh is one of the most fascinating of philanthropies inspired by the broad modern movement of kindness. The cult of the under-dog — and cat — as evidenced in this generous activity — it is supported entirely by private contributions — is its own best argument. Kindness to animals is now taught in the schools, the playgrounds and the courts. It is recognized that consideration for brutes detracts nothing from the rights of humans. Rather does it round out the humanity of the universe.
As usual Pittsburgh is to the fore in the domain of humane activities. The air of the Smoky City, oft maligned, shows itself conducive to the growth of new ideas and generous in its support of their manifestations. The Animal Rescue League possesses distinctive features that have made it famous not only in America, but abroad, as one of the most advanced Institutions in existence. Not only does it own an accessible city station at Euclid avenue and Kirkwood street, but its wonderful 16-acre farm near Verona, with extensive dog and cat kennels of the most modern construction, is quite unique in the annals of animal rescue homes. It has a pretty house for the keeper, electric light, a pumping plant of its own with a five-horsepower engine and a 1,000-gallon pressure tank. Also has it a large motor truck for the transportation of animals and a brisk horse and wagon for emergency cases.
Pittsburgh is only partially aware of the great field of usefulness covered by this charity. It was conceived in a spirit of altruism and a love of animals. It shows the combination of utilitarianism and philanthropy that is a characteristic of its tutelary genius.
With Secretary it. W. Kenney, its founder, who devotes to it practically all his time, it is a labor of love. He designed all the kennels, which are of concrete construction; all the up-to-date buildings on the farm, even the motor truck is after an original idea of his own. This is a two-ton machine, built in Pittsburgh, distinctive in possessing cleverly arranged compartments of different sizes for the reception of animals. The humane societies of both Minneapolis and San Francisco have requested permission to use the plan of the truck.
Even England has her eye on the Pittsburgh development. The Temporary Home for Lost and Starving Dogs of London has desired to make use of the Verona kennel plans for a quarantine station at London.
The Pittsburgh league was an early offshoot of the Pittsburgh Cat Club, that active and interesting society for cat fanciers that started in 1908 with five persons and now claims nearly 100 members. The Animal Rescue League was organized July 22, 1909, and received a charter under the commonwealth of Pennsylvania October 30, 1909. A philanthropic but modestly mysterious resident of Pittsburgh supplied the funds for the initial outlay.
The picturesque dog and cat kennels are of vitrified brick with cement floors, well heated, lighted and ventilated. There are reviving rooms with instantaneous water heaters where animals are washed before making debut in the assembly room; the observation room for animals showing unusual symptoms; the hospital, where sick animals are taken care of and physic is thrown to the dogs, and the main kennel room, where rows and rows of commodious pens, each with door opening into a little yard which in turn given upon the large enclosure.
The capacity of the cat kennel is about 300, while 150 animals can be accommodated in the dog kennel. It takes 12 men on the payroll all the year round to look after the various departments. The Animal Rescue League also has taken the work of the city pound. Its object was not only to protect the public, but to protect the dog, as says Secretary Kenney, and the poundage fees are returned to the city treasury. The new and attractive pound buildings, soon to be erected by the city, are from plans submitted by Mr. Kenney. They will have cement floors, drained into sewers, of original construction; will do away with noise and disagreeable features, and, contrary to beliefs of prospective neighbors, will be an ornament rather than a detriment to the neighborhood.
Of the many touching scenes observed at the Rescue League none are prettier than those showing the development of sympathy in children. Boys and girls of all ages bring cats, dogs and kittens, rescued from cruel boys, or picked up In the street. Were it not for the existence of the league the animals would be left to suffer. Now it needs but a postal or telephone message to gain a call from the animal helpers. Sturdy Driver Johnson, with the fine bay cob and the emergency wagon, rushes hither and thither to all parts of Pittsburgh. Injured dogs and cats, run over, with broken legs or backs, are called for instantly. Diseased animals, with mange, distemper, blindness, convulsions, even rabies, are succored, cured or humanely disposed of. Rabbits, guinea pigs, white rats, even horses, have been aided.
And it is curious to note the influence of merciful occupations upon the workers. Now, there is Manager Foley of the city station, who bathes the wounds of animals with a tenderness far from sentimentality, and has been known to feed puppies with a spoon. And Dogcatcher Gilson, tall, sad-eyed and kind, but firm as the Medes — as a dogcatcher should be, and Ollie Koontz, also tall and imbued with the first human principle.
Supt. O'Neill of the Verona farm is a discreet animal lover, resourceful and so kind that when he opes his lips no dog barks. Then there is good old Tom, the careful cat caretaker and feeder of cats, as distinguished from young Tom, brawny helper, who makes light of a mad dog bite received while pursuing his duties, for which he was treated at the Pasteur Institute not long ago.
That the modern movement of kindness to all forms of life is universally demanded was proven in Slippery Rock recently. A boy was arrested and held in bonds of for fastening a black cat to a post and shaving off its hair, also for attacking the woman humane officer, who tried to rescue the frightened feline. Another boy was sent to the Missouri State Reformatory for six years for killing a cat.
And at a recent dog show in London was featured a row of kennels holding a line of “Dog Heroes” that proved the greatest drawing card of the show. All are authenticated cases of doggy heroism. One collie had saved a child from drowning. Another pulled a child out of danger of being run over in the street. One hero saved his master from being stabbed. A pathetic-eyed Irish terrier had guarded the body of his old mistress who had died from exposure.
And there is Charcoal. That perky, black poodle on the front seat of the limousine. Could you believe that he was once a "stray?” He is a good dog and a fair dog now. He looks waggishly out of his eyes with the droll, yet confiding appeal that only a grateful dog can manage. Why? He belongs. Someone owns him. He can lavish the devotion that is a necessity to his faithful doggy heart. Any well constituted canine would rather be a beggar's dog than none. For, not so long ago, he was a wanderer of the city streets, with no pride of family, no alertness of ear, no vigor of tail, no joy of eye. He skulked miserably around corners — ay, like a black dog, slept upon cold doorsteps, and robbed unpleasant garbage cans at midnight.
Charcoal remembers this and is not puffed up. He remembers a green yard, children, perhaps, far away. He could not find them and he ceased to try. He became careless, dirty, lived from bone to mouth, and bones were rare and thin, and Charcoal grew thin and bony, too. Charcoal, collar-less, license-less. sunning himself on a curb-stone, one day felt himself strangely enveloped in meshes, seized, struggling, and thrust, but not ungently, into a compartment of a big auto-truck. Charcoal bemoaned his lost freedom with howls, not knowing the long ride that gathered in other dusty dogs on the highway, would lead to a doggy paradise.
A large enclosure, full of apple trees and sunshine, received him later. Here 60 vigorous and 18 happy canines reassured him, flattered him “like a dog.” Of high and low degree were they, mastiff, greyhound, mongrel grim, nor was it long before he frisked as gaily as any. And when a whole family came seeking a doggy substitute for a lost pet at this port of reclaimed canines, Charcoal’s antics commended him first of all. So he was borne off in triumph and an automobile to a life of glorious ease in a mansion of the West End.
What the Animal Rescue League did for Charcoal it has done for hundreds of homeless canines and starving cats. It is a sad fact that many lordly houses close for the summer, aristocrats flit to the mountains or sea shore, and the cat — the fireside ornament, is left to forage for herself. Lonely, frightened, the little dogs do bark at her, and she flits about like a ghost until some pitying neighbor telephones 2620-W Hiland, and soon Puss, too, purrs happily in a haven of freshness and kind treatment.
Naturally the officers and directors of this excellent activity are among the choicest spirits of Pittsburgh. The president is J W. L. Willcox; the vice-president, the Rev. John Royal Harris; treasurer, James M. McMullan; secretary. R. W Kenney; executive committee, James G. Marks, J. W. L. Willcox, Mrs. F. F. Nicola, R. W. Kenney and Joseph M. McMullan and directors, the Rev. John Royal Harris, Mrs. F. F. Nicola, Mrs H. Lee Mason, Mrs. R. W. Kenney, Mrs. E. Brunn, J. W. L. Willcox, James G. Marks, Mrs. J. W. L. Willcox, Miss Mary Kenney, Mrs. Lucy Elston, R. W. Kenney, Joseph M. McMullan and Miss Maud Murphy.
From The New York Times, May 16, 1915 comes this correspondence regarding stray cats and cats' homes in New York: CATS AND DOGS "WHO'S WHO" OUT - Good Little Animals In It Take Out Mite Chests to Help Their Kind For Mrs Speyer's League.
Collect generous Sums of Money, belong to Prominent Persons, and Names Show Variety.
This year's "Social Register for Animals" is out, or the "Who's Who" for the cats and dogs of New York. It is the report of the New York League for Animals, of which Mrs James Speyer is president, and it contains the names of a long list of members of the feline and canine tribes, many of which might be in any Social Register from the social standing of their owners, but wealth and position have no influence on the position of the animals in the book. They are of all classes. They are the good little dogs and cats who have paid $1 a year to become members of Dog and Cat Brigades, and have taken home "little red mite" chests into which are put pennies and dimes to be given back at the end of the year to the League, the money to aid unfortunate little animals who have no home.
There are many things interesting and important in the report telling of the work done in the hospital at 350 Lafayette Street, now temporarily closed, and the dispensary where all animals are treated, but the work of the Dog Brigade and Cat Brigade makes good reading. All the money the good little dogs and the good little cats have collected during the year is reported. In collecting the Social Register, dogs go far ahead of the Social Register Cats for some reason or other. The dog which had the largest amount of money in its mite chest this year was Miss Mary Garden's Scotty, who collected $112.50. Scotty was hard pressed for first place as collector by Mrs Edward Tuck's Chang who collected $101. These are particularly large sums and place these dog collectors in the millionaire class. The mite box collections usually range from about 25 cents up. There are mite boxes which are kept in memorial of animals loved but gone before, and Mrs Edward n Breitung had one of these "In Memory of Milo" which brought in good returns, $35.
The Wail of the Cat
The following poem which the league gives out to the world is entitled "The Wail of the Cat":
My master's off to seek the woods,
My lady's on the ocean,
The cook and the butler fled last night,
But where, I've not a notion.
The tutor and the boys have skipped,
I don't know where to find them,
But tell me, do they never think,
of the cat they've left behind them?
I haven't any place to sleep,
I haven't any dinner,
The milkman never comes my way;
I'm growing daily thinner.
The butcher and the baker pass,
There's no-one to remind them;
O tell me, do they never think
Of the cat they've left behind them?
The dog next door has hidden bones,
They're buried in the "arey";
The parrot's boarding at the zoo,
And so is the canary.
The neighbors scatter free from care,
There's nothing here to bind them;
I wonder if they never think
Of the cat they've left behind them.
Cats Collections the Smaller.
The cats' mite chests do not make as large a showing as those of the dogs but the cats are not the less real Social register animals - standing is measured by loving kindness, not amount in gifts. Miss Sarah Hewitt’s pet is one of the mite box cats which took in $1 and Mrs Dunlop Hopkins's Tinka Bell collected $2.68. Mite boxes are good places for getting rid of loose pennies that street car collectors do not like to take and Mrs George L Rives's Honey boy gathered 40 cents. Thomas F Ryan's Congo is the only feline representative whose collections would put him in the millionaire cat class, for he raised $17. Miss Carolyn Wells paid $5 dues and entered "five china cats" in the Cats' Brigade and they together collected $2. Miss Eleanor Booth Simmons' Mimi made a generous offering of $3.84. Two theatrical cats are Miss May Irwin's Peaches and Lady Nicotine; Master Jay Iselin has Kitty Gray in the Cat brigade and Mrs Lewis Gouverneur Morris's Social Register cat rejoices in the compound name of Mary Beatrix.
Among the pictures in the report is one of a hospital patient, a nice black mother cat with cunning little spike-tailed kitten, and another shows a funny little dog with a loving little dog face, which is waiting for an operation. They are both beneficiaries of the Social Register animals and their mite boxes.
New York Times, August 30, 1915. A DAY TO ROUND UP CITY CATS
New York City sets apart a day every once in a while for carting away trash. It is called "clean-up day." I want to suggest that the city set apart a day and call it "clean-up cats day." My business takes me pretty well all over the city, and I know whereof I speak. It is really pitiful to see the poor, miserable, flea-eaten, mangy, starved, and half-starved cats that roam (some too weak to roam) about and lie about the east side and west side streets, as well as dead cats, some intact, others squashed by wagons and autos. A day's work should easily reap a harvest of three hundred or four hundred felines. The would be easy to catch. - MWG, new York, Aug 27, 1915.
New York Times, September 8, 1915. A WAY TO GET RID OF CATS. - "M W G" is right. It is a disgrace to the city and, above all, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals to allow the myriad of half-starved, diseased cats to roam the city streets. That same society will send its ambulance and men for cats if they are caught, but if they are at large, in a yard of in an alley even, they will not remove them. I would suggest paying small boys to bring in the cats on the proposed "Clean-up Day" to depots in various parts of the city. A small reward would insure their being caught. - LW, New York, September 5, 1915.
The New York Times, September 21, 1915. A PLEA FOR TWO CATS: At the Bide-a-Wee Home, 410 East Thirty-eighth Street, there are two cats that have never been separated, and now ask for a good home together. They belonged to a poor little old lady who is no longer able to pay her lodgings in a tenement house and has to be sent to a public institution, where she is not allowed to keep her cats with her. Besides making this dear old lady happy, whoever takes these cats will find them pets well worth having. Miss Champion, Secretary of the Bide-a-Wee, and an authority upon the subject, vouches for them eugenically and as to character and disposition. There have been many requests for the cats individually, but will THE TIMES help us to find them a home where they will not be separated? - ADH, New York. Sept 20, 1915.
Cats Turned Out to Starve. Will you kindly let me say a word again about heartless people who every year close their houses and turn the family cat out to starve. I found one almost dead from starvation under my window yesterday . Will you please publish this, that all who read it may know that the Bide a Wee Home, 410 East Thirty-Eighth Street, this city, will take and care for any unwanted or sick animal? There is absolutely no excuse for turning a pet cat out to starve in the streets, and anyone must be cruel indeed, who can do it. MLS. New York. May 16, 1914.
Deserted Cats. When Summer comes we who remain in town are constantly distressed by the sight of deserted cats, whose very number makes it impossible to care for them all. If the people who leave their pets to the mercy of chance could see how they fare, I believe that even their thoughtless hearts would be softened, and they would realize how much kinder it is to destroy them quickly than to leave them to the hunger and loneliness that is their fate unless they "turn wild" and prey upon the birds in the Park. Such people deserve social ostracism, but few of us are hardy enough to pose as mentors. We can, however, use gentle suasion and such influence as we have to put a stop to this cruel practice. We can also send suffering animals to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and rest assured that they will be disposed of speedily and without pain. E.S. Willard. New York. June 12, 1914.
A Shelter for Deserted Cats. We are very much interested in the article published June 18 under the caption "Deserted Cats." I am sure it will interest all your readers to know that our league maintains a temporary shelter both in Tompkins Square Park and Seward Park where homeless, unwanted and deserted animals may be brought. We have continued this work from year to year and last season alone we rescued upward of 10,000 animals. Mrs. James Speyer, President New York Women's League for Animals. New York. June 24, 1914.
The Weekly Dispatch; Mar 25th, 1917 reported on The Case Against the Cat. Why New York Wants to Suppress the Family Pet.
"Suppress the Cat," is the demand made to the Legislature of New York, and measures are to be taken to exterminate a few thousand pussies who are leading lives of vagabondage. The charges made against the New York cat, who walks alone are that he 'slays birds, disseminates disease, carries microbes in his fur, lockjaw in the scratch of his claw, and rabies in the bite of his teeth.' According to one American authority there are not fewer than 25,000,000 cats in the United States, and possibly twice that number. New York believes in the greater figures, and feels sure she harbours most of the cats in her precincts. As a remedy for all the ills with which the cat is charged, the Legislature proposes that cats shall be licensed, and any cat unable to show its licence when called upon and with no definite abode, shall be destroyed. A further proposal is a tax on pet cats.
As in England, American SPCAs used a "lethal box" in which cats and dogs were painlessly gassed, several at a time. However the Americans used the term "death chamber" which detracts from its humane intention. Operating these were not without danger as the following account demonstrates.
CATS DEATH TANK EXPLODES - SPCA Believes Scratching Claws Ignited Gas from the New York Times, Nay 28, 1915
The friction caused by the sharp claws of cats scratching against the interior of the big steel gas tank in which they were being asphyxiated yesterday afternoon, on the first floor of the animal hospital building of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, at Twenty-fourth Street and Avenue A, it is believed, ignited the gas and exploded the tank, hurting two employees slightly, and tearing out windows on the Twenty-fourth Street side, and all the doors in the room of the death chamber.
On the top of the tank, which is five feet high, five feet wide and ten feet in length, placed near the windows on the Twenty-fourth Street sidewalk, four small glass panels are set to enable the attendants to watch the animals inside. Frank McDonald, a chauffeur for the society, was gazing through one of these windows at the dying animals. when the flame shot by his head so close that it singed his hair. he fell beside the tank. Harry McClintock, another chauffeur, who was two feet from the tank, was knocked down. A physician from Bellevue Hospital bandaged the cuts in their heads and faces and they were able to go home.
Secretary Horton of the society said the tank had been used for fifteen years without an accident, and as there was no fire or any other agency in the place from which a spark could reach the interior of the tank, he could not account for the accident except that the dying cats had ignited the gas. "I think the clawing of the cats must have made a spark in the tank," he said.
About 2,500 dogs and cats are put to death painlessly every week in the tank. Attendants were taking another lot of cats into the room when the explosion knocked them down and liberated the felines. They ran into other rooms, some of them among horses, where they had to be hunted and recaptured. The explosion rocked the building, and was heard for several blocks, many persons in the neighborhood believing that one of the large storage gas tanks near the river had exploded. The police of the Twenty-second Street Station had to keep the crowds away. Until an investigation is made to determine if the tank can be made secure from a similar accident it will not be used. Many dogs and cats had a new lease of life last night.
New York Times. May 31, 1915. INCENDIARY CATS: - In today's TIMES appeared an item "Cats' Death Tank Explodes; SPCA Believes Scratching Claws Ignited Gas." As the hair or fur of most cats is charged with electricity, and as nearly everybody knows that stroking or rubbing the hair will bring out sparks of electricity, it was most likely that sparks from the cats' hair ignited the gas and caused the explosion. - EC. new York. May 26, 1915.
HOMELESS CATS IN THE 1930s (1936, USA)
When I think of homeless cats sad little pictures pass one after another through my mind. A scrawny mother cat lying on the edge of a filthy snowbank in an alley, hugging a kitten up to her breasts with her arm. The kitten is dead, but she will not believe it. She licks the wet little body all over and purrs her cat lullaby, "T-r-r, t-r-r!" A large, black tom, bewildered but dignified, making his slow way along Broadway in the theater district. He walks unevenly, one paw held up; it is swollen to the size of three. With his white spats and necktie he might be a sick old actor out of a job. He looks up into the faces of the matinee crowds as if he would like to tell someone about it, but no one notices him, and he hobbles into a corner and lays himself resignedly down.
The cellar of a closed restaurant, with eyes peering out of the darkness, the eyes of abandoned cats. There must be twenty of them, and two dead kittens lie in a pool of water on the floor. The eyes gleam with terror and hunger, for there was a great noise days ago in the restaurant, trucks rumbling up to the door where the cook used to toss them scraps, and then the cellar door slammed on them, and they have been here ever since, with no scraps. Still it is home, and how the starved creatures dodge and flee from the woman who crawls down the steps to save them.
Midnight on Rivington Street, New York City. It is a sleety night, and most of the people have gone indoors. So the cats come out. Scores upon scores of them, old and young, mostly bony and mangy, creeping among the garbage cans and plunging their claws into the coverless ones, fighting over a fish head or the remains of a sandwich.
A summer station for unwanted cats in Seward Park, New York. Tiers of cages, full of cats, cats of all colours and sizes and ages, handsome cats, hideous cats, cowering cats, bristling cats. More cats arriving, in baskets or clutched in the bringers' hands. Some of the people, reluctant to have any part in destroying an animal, set their cats down on the pavement and hasten away, and the old man in charge picks them up and carries them to cages. A shabby young man of the agitator type loiters by, looks at the cats, stops.
"What you going to do with these cats?" he asks. The old man has his hands full with an injured cat, and a woman who has been looking at the cages answers. "I suppose most of them will be put into the gas chamber," she says. "What else can be done with so many cats? Who has homes for them?"
"A pretty country, that can't even take care of the cats," the boy grumbles.
"That's what we get all the time," the attendant observes to the woman. "Tryin' to do the best we can with the an'mals, an' lotta folks thinks we're cruel."
Figures are printed telling how many homeless cats there are in this or that city, in this country, in the world. They are guesses; nobody knows. I read that the ASPCA estimated that there were 1,500,000 cats in Greater New York, and that 1,000,000 had homes, 500,000 were strays. But I do not believe that two thirds of the cat population have homes. I think it is the other way around. The homeless cats are not all miserable. Some of them have their moments. It is a great moment in the day of a score of Greenwich Village cats when Dan Fratini, a big-hearted truck-driver, brings them the dinner of broken meats that he has begged from restaurants. He spreads a newspaper in a convenient corner, sets out dinner, and calls. He never has to call more than once; the guests know the hour.
Dan is one of a good many New York people who have a heart for the homeless cat. There is a little stenographer who always spends an hour, after her day's work is done, in looking for strays in the deserted canyons of the financial district, where there is poor picking for cats. Those she finds she takes to an animal refuge, and then she goes to her late dinner. She has done her good deed for the day. Dan and the stenographer represent the two schools into which the friends of cats are divided. One school believes in gathering up homeless cats and taking them to some humane agency, to be placed in homes if possible, and if not to be mercifully destroyed. The other school thinks that if they are fed they can take care of themselves on the street. But it is to be feared that the samaritans of this school, intending to be kind, are adding to the problem of the homeless cat. The cats they keep alive and at liberty inevitably breed, and so there are more and more strays.
Cats sometimes form colonies and flourish for a time. There was once a handsome tribe living among the rocks in a vacant lot in the upper end of Manhattan. The patriarch of the colony was black and white, and the kittens born there were all black and white, no matter what the colour of the cats that moved in. Tenants in a neighbouring apartment house fed them, and they looked very prosperous, lying on the rocks on a warm afternoon. Then builders came to blast for a new apartment house, and the colony broke up in terror. There is no security for the unowned cat.