CATS AND CAT CARE - A RETROSPECTIVE: THE EARLY 1900s - BREEDING AND SHOWING
This article is part of a series looking about cats and cat care in Britain from the late 1800s through to the 1970s.
This piece, “ARISTOCRATIC CATS” from the Pall Mall Gazette, 15th October 1913, was general advice to (predominantly) women who wanted to breed cats for profit after having been to the Reading Cat Show. It doesn’t mention any breed, but assumes the reader understands that it is about Persian cats (something that becomes obvious from the description), since the general public probalby considered that short-haired cats were alley cats and bred themselves!”The Reading-Championship- Cat Show is held in the Corn Exchange, Reading, to-day, and the Hon. Mrs. Clive Behrens and the Hon. Mrs. lan Maitland are giving special prizes. It reminds us of what a remunerative hobby is the keeping of beautiful cats, and that, as far as mice are concerned, the aristocrats can hold their own with the plebeian roamers of the tiles. Select the shade you fancy most and then see that the cat you buy is good of its sort. A self-coloured cat - white, blue, black - should be sound in colour and have no sign of markings. Shaded silvers, according the standard set by the Specialist Club, are pale clear silver, shaded on face, legs, and back, but having as few tabby markings as possible – brown or fawn tinge in coat is a great drawback - eyes green. Chinchillas are pate silver, and as unmarked as it is possible to breed them.
Silver tabbies, pale clear silver with distinct black-marking's. Smokes are rapidly gaining great favour. They are black, shading to smoke-grey underneath. This undercoat to be as light as possible, the ruff light, orange or copper eyes, mask and paws jet black. Tortoiseshell cats require three colours -black, orange, and yellow. No white. The shades should be well broken, bright and well defined, but free from tabby markings. Eyes bright orange or hazel. Points to look for in any cat are a broad head, width between the ears, short nose and face, small tufted ears, low on the legs, and a short, full tail. Of course, you cannot expect perfection without paying for it, but you may as well know what to strive after.
If you intend breeding for profit, Miss Frances Simpson, one of our best known judges, suggests that a thoroughly good blue queen (female cat) and also a silver queen, both perfectly healthy and possessing pedigrees, make a sound beginning, as they are favourite colours, and the sale of kittens is therefore easier. They should be mated with fashionable sires. Unless you intend showing, it is better to dispose of the kittens at the “pretty stage.” Soon after three months they lose their nest fur and go through “hobbledehoydum,” making up for this lapse from beauty when they come up in all the glory of their first coat after the baby moult.
Every fancier has theories concerning diet. A very good all round rule for the pet cat is to treat him as one of the family. Don’t leave him entirely to the servants. If a cat is not greedy and insistent, he is very apt to be forgotten, then some days are fat and others lean. He wants just the same as you do. His breakfast - not too heavy a meal - a little bit of that nice kidney, or rissole, or even bacon appeals. Best of all, if you can train him to it, a saucer of porridge. Don’t forget the sugar, and “after you with the cream, please.” “
“The Outline of Science” (circa 1923) edited by J Arthur Thompson contains “THE STORY OF DOMESTICATED ANIMALS" (Chapter 36) with a short section on the ancestry and the different breeds of cats. "Stone Age man boasted no ‘household’ hence he had no cat. For the domesticated cat is before all’ things a ‘household’ animal, living idly, and rendering no service for the shelter afforded, save catching an occasional mouse - for sport. When civilisation had, so to speak, got into its stride, and man had an abiding resting-place, and started keeping ‘pets,’ the cat appeared. When its domestication actually began we do not know, but it had very definitely established itself with the ancient Egyptians of the XX (20th) Dynasty, that is to say about 1,000 BC. So much so that it had come to be regarded as a sacred animal and was embalmed at death, as witness the mummified cats in the British Museum.
Cats are far more stereotyped creatures than dogs. That is to say, they are by nature prone to go on, generation generation, with an almost machine-like precision in regard to their structural characteristics; and hence they offer no new features upon which the breeder might seize for the development of new types. This much is shown by the fact that after some 3,000 years of domestication we have still have few distinct breeds of cats. True, there are the tabby, and the tortoise-shell- which are nearly always female - black cats, and white cats; long-haired cats, strangely coloured Siamese cats, and cats with ‘bob-tails.’ But they are all cast in the same mould. differing only superficially; and this even though descended from several distinct but closely related wild ancestors, of which the Egyptian wild cat may be taken as the type.
There is one point about our domesticated cats which is not only extremely interesting but also very puzzling and this concerns the pattern of the coat. which presents two quite distinct types. In the one the head is longitudinally and the body transversely striped, after the fashion of the European wild cat and the Egyptian cat. In the other the body is marked by broad bands, roughly spiral, on the flanks. This type represents the true ‘tabby’: the word having reference to the well-known pattern of watered silk. Cats of all colours may be thus marked. Even when the two types are crossed the several members of the litter will present both types but no suspicion of blending - some will be striped and some will be ‘tabbies.’ No explanation of these very striking differences seems possible."
[Note: the chapters were written by different authors; the author of this section evidently believed in the theory of “blending” traits. Elsewhere in the book there is a discussion of Mendelian inheritance which easily explains the inheritance of the 2 different types of tabby!]
Evelyn Buckworth-Herne-Soame, author of "Cats: Long-Haired and Short, Their Breeding, Rearing and Showing" (1933), wrote of breeding for colour: "In breeding pedigree cats of different colours, the first thing to remember is to mate colour to colour - cream to cream, black to black, and so on. ... Anyone owning a tortoiseshell female or queen, as we call them in the fancy, will find her a positive bundle of charms, for she produces kittens of several colours - reds, creams, blacks, and tortoise-shells - in fact, the colours contained in her own brightly patched coat. But again, her kittens must mate with studs of their own particular colour."
Of the Tortoiseshell and White Persian, she says "This is a most picturesque and fascinating variety. It is a great pity there are not more of them. Fanciers are hampered in having none, or very few, males of the species or I am certain the breed would go ahead very quickly." Black and Whites, or Magpies were described as "So scarce that shows never give a class for them, thus making things difficult for anyone trying to work the breed up. At present, black and whites have to be entered in the 'Any Other Colour' Class." while "A Smoke is one of the most handsome cats living; he is also very strong and very affectionate. His light silver undercoat is all tipped with black, while his frill, flanks and ear tufts show up pale and silvery against his body coat. His face , head and paws must be jet black. Add to these points his grand copper eyes, and no more charming variety of longhair cat can be found. One of the chief failings in this charming variety is tabby marking on the face."
Of the Abyssinian, then growing in popularity, Buckworth-Herne-Soame quoted H C Brooke's earlier works. As well as writing his own pamphlet on the breed, Brooke contributed to Frances Simpson's 1903 "Book of the Cat" and his views are detailed in the retrospective article covering the 19th Century to the turn of the 20th Century.
Below is a plate from the "Book of Knowledge" (1935). It refers to "Blue Sapphire" and "Dark Sapphire" as breeds of cat - these appear to be the Blue Persian and the Black Persian.
CHOOSING AND RAISING KITTENS IN THE 1930S
Of course, relatively few females were spayed and there was a constant supply of kittens. Many were moggy kittens, although purebreds were becoming increasingly popular as pets and many cat care manuals gave brief details of the recognised breeds. The following guidelines are taken from an American publication of 1938 and sadly omits the native Maine Coon cat, but includes British imported breeds such as the Persian and Manx. It advises on selecting, litter-training and feeding kittens and also how they should be handled.
Choosing a kitten for a pet is a question that often settles itself when some cat family youngster comes to your door, unbidden, and meows to be let inside. But whether a young cat adopts you, or you procure one by purchase from a reliable dealer, there are rules you should follow to determine whether your choice is good. Here is a kitten yardstick:
1. The eyes should be bright and clear.
2. Make sure that its first teeth are cut-the kitten should be able to eat solid food.
3. Its legs should be sturdy, its bones well knit.
4. Its shape should be normal for its breed.
5. The kitten should be active, ready to romp.
6. Its breath must be inoffensive.
7. Choose a kitten with a live coat (not animal life), refuse a kitten with loose hair tufts. A dull coat is a signal that the animal is ailing.
8. A healthy kitten has clean hind parts. If the kitten has dirty "pantaloons" its health needs improvement.
9. Examine the ears for excess discharge, and signs of canker. A cankerous condition in the kitten's ears generally betrays a system that will produce mange.
10. Runny nostrils point to a cold in the kitten's head, or is an advance symptom of distemper.
11. Up to about six months, a kitten will usually gain a pound a month. So a four-month kitten should weigh about four pounds.
Rule No. 4 of this yardstick states that a kitten's shape should be normal for its breed. Here are breed points to watch:
Head: broad and round, good width between ears, short nose and face, ears small and tufted.
Body: cobby, breadth of chest, low on the legs.
Tail: short and full, with no taper.
Head: slightly oval in shape and more pointed, fairly long nose, ears more upright.
Body: well knit, long body with good breadth of chest.
Tail: thick at base, tapering toward tip.
Head: long and narrow. Neatly defined ears, broad at base and small at the top.
Body: medium size, lithe, and well muscled. Forelegs a trifle shorter than back legs. Has thinner legs than other cat varieties, and smaller feet.
Tail: thin and tapering, fairly short.
Head: large and round, not snubby. Nose medium length, ears taper from a broad base. Prominent cheeks.
Body: short arched back, higher hindquarters, round rump, deep flanks and flat sides, shorter well-knit forelegs.
Tail: the Manx cat shouldn't have one.
Whether you bring your young kitten in a box from a pet shop or pluck it off a back-yard fence, plan to give your future cat satisfactory care. To begin with, don't bring home a cat that is less than eight weeks old. Cats younger than this can't get along on solid food. Be careful how you handle the youngster. Many people seem to believe that a kitten is made out of rubber. Well, a small cat is probably a little tougher than a small human being-but not much. Follow these rules when handling the kitten:
1. Put one hand under the kitten's stomach, supporting the fore-part of the body well. Use the other hand to support the rest of the body - then lift.
2. Lifting by the tail is forbidden. The tail is part of the spine and wasn't designed to be a handle.
3. Lifting by the neck is wrong. This action may hurt the kitten's intestines.
4. Don't lift a kitten by a leg. It looks awkward, it doesn't do the kitten any good, and you probably will get scratched or nipped (and you will deserve it).
5. Approach the kitten gently; avoid frightening it. Coax it to do what you want it to do. Persuasion is more effective with a cat than force.
Caution children against squeezing the kitten. They may squash the life out of it. Inside the little barrel of ribs are sensitive organs: a heart, a stomach, lungs, and a liver; remember them. Your love for a kitten is better shown in ways that will enable it to grow into a healthy, friendly cat.
Kittens are housebroken in much the same general way as puppies, but there are a few differences. Follow these rules:
1. Provide a pan; place it in a secluded, permanent spot. For a young kitten the sides of the pan should not be more than an inch high.
2. Keep a folded newspaper in the pan. Shavings, sand, ashes, sawdust, or shredded newspaper are sometimes used, but remember these loose fillers will adhere to the kitten's paws and be tracked all over the house. A folded newspaper filler can be disposed of easily. It is true that a young kitten may make the mistake of thinking any newspaper that is on the floor has been placed for it, but with careful training the kitten will soon understand that it is the pan, not the paper, it is to use.
1. When you bring the new kitten home take it to the pan immediately and place it on top of the paper. Even though this first step is not successful, it is worth while to make the effort, because it is the beginning of training.
2. If the kitten does not understand the pan's purpose, be patient. Place it on the pan at frequent intervals.
3. Shouting, shaming, or spanking will have good effect in scaring the kitten, but so far as practical results go you can give yourself zero for these exertions.
4. Rely on the fact that the kitten is a cleanly animal. As soon as it gets the idea behind the pan, it will co-operate always. There are some kitty toilets on the market which are well designed for cleanliness and convenience.
Remember to be patient with a young kitten. It may be breaking the sanitation rules because it is in panic over its presence in a strange house, with strange people. If you watch your kitten when it wanders off to dark corners you may be able to prevent accidents by hurrying it to the pan. Clean the kitten's pan thoroughly once a day with scalding water. An occasional treatment with a disinfectant and deodorant is advisable.
Whenever it is possible to do so, learn what your kitten has been having to eat. Then the first days you have it, feed it the same food at regular mealtimes. Do not feed the kitten immediately after you bring it home. Like a new pup (only more so) a kitten should be fasted for the first several hours after arrival. A good indication of the proper time to offer food is when it quiets down and starts to purr.
Warning: One of the ways to kill a cat is to feed it to death. Curb your generosity. Remember your new kitten has a small stomach. Several little feedings throughout the day are better for the youngster than one or two large feedings.
2. What should be fed to the kitten? Food for a cat varies sharply with its age. Here is an ideal age-food chart:
- Up To Four Or Five Weeks: Milk and cream, cooked cereal, prepared barley, infant food, custard.
- Five Weeks To Seven Weeks: Milk and cream, scraped beef, cooked cereal, custard, canned salmon, fish flakes.
- Seven Weeks To Eleven Weeks: Any of the above, rabbit (cooked), lamb kidney (raw), chicken (cooked), whole wheat toast (crumbled).
- Eleven Weeks To Old Age: Milk and cream, chopped or sliced raw beef, cooked meat (no pork), cooked fowl or game, vegetables (no starchy ones), cooked cereal.
3. How much should be fed to a kitten?
Feedings must be suited to the individual, as to amount, kind, and frequency. Between a kitten and a two-year-old cat there is a range of stomach sizes graded all the way up from one ounce capacity to seven or eight ounces. The kitten should not be fed more than its stomach can hold. Up to ten weeks, feedings should be about one ounce or under. If the kitten leaves food in its dish after a feeding, remove both the food and the dish.
4. Should the diet be varied?
Yes, as much as possible, but foods chosen should be kept within the correct food list. Pleasing variation keeps the cat's appetite keen, and gives you an opportunity to feed it foods that will build its body. While there isn't opportunity to change the menu much up to five weeks, after that you should experiment. Try giving your cat a little beef jelly, or replace cooked cereal with bits of whole-wheat toast and milk.
5. What about meat?
When a cat is between five and seven weeks old it becomes a meat eater; start it with scraped fresh beef. Cats are meat eaters, as dogs are, and will do best on a diet that is largely made up of meat. The meat should be chiefly raw beef. I have said that the cat is a fastidious pet about grooming; it is also fastidious about food. Ordinary ground beef may displease your cat; remember it is a light eater and odour conscious. It is better to buy fresh beef and have your butcher grind it, or you may bring the beef home whole and cut it with a scissors. Raw liver is a welcome addition to the cat's diet about once a week. A useful variation is to cut the meat in long strips, across the grain, which makes the cat chew its food before swallowing. Often a cat prefers chunks of meat to too much ground meat. Other meats which are permitted in the cat's diet should be broiled, boiled, or roasted.
6. How many times does a cat eat a day?
Up to three months a cat eats four times a day. Then feedings diminish to three meals. Here is a model day:
- Breakfast: Meat or fish, cereals, toast.
- Luncheon: A full meal of milk and cream.
- Dinner: Meat in which vegetables are mixed.
(If it seems necessary, a small amount of milk may be given the cat at bedtime.)
Starting at about five months of age, place your kitten on a two-meal-a-day schedule:
- Breakfast: Meat, fish mixed with vegetables, toast.
- Dinner: Meat.
(A cat may be given a small saucer of milk at noontime. The full meal of the day should be served in the evening.)
7. Should you feed your cat grass?
The average cat system demands green grass almost daily. This is a need that may be cared for easily in the summer. In winter plant a few pots or tin pans with oats, so the cat may nibble at greens when it wants to.
8. What vegetables may be fed?
Green spinach, green beans, celery, asparagus, tomato (strained), carrots. All vegetables should be completely cooked and chopped.
9. Should prepared foods be fed?
Yes, canned cat foods, and cat biscuits are useful adjuncts to the menu. However, make certain the product you choose has the right nourishment value. If the canned food is made from fresh meat products, or fresh fish, it should be satisfactory: Use canned cat food occasionally, but don't use it as a permanent substitute for raw meat.
Note: There is no rule as to the exact amount of food a cat needs, nor is there any positive way of determining just what a cat will eat. In matters of food, the cat has a mind of its own. In using my feeding rules, take into consideration the fact that the outdoor cat will need more food than one that leads a quiet life; remember that some cats are greedy and some are not; be willing to alter the model diet to suit your particular (often really particular) cat.
Up to the time the kitten cuts its second teeth (about seven Aim months), its diet should include an extra supply of the chemicals that build sturdy bones and prevent rickets.
1. Lime For Bones: One-fourth teaspoonful lime-water to every ounce of milk.
2. Calcium For Teeth: One-fourth teaspoonful of calcium lactate daily, mixed into its solid food.
3. Halibut Liver Oil: Two drops a day, dripped into the food, or raw cod liver oil at the rate of 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoonful daily. Note: Mix a pinch of kelp or "vitality" product with food every day. Brewer's yeast is also valuable.
When a kitten is seven months old, these health foods may be dropped, because its diversified adult diet will provide sufficient minerals. Always remember that raw beef contains just about everything that a cat needs to live on healthfully. But be certain that the beef is fresh.
Clean fresh water is a necessary part of your pet's diet. Water Milk is NOT a substitute for water. See that the cat has water available at all times. The water bowl should be rinsed and refilled several times a day.
Cats sometimes resemble goats in their attraction to strange foods. Some owners follow their pet's craving for astonishing foods, and feed them wholly on diet oddities. These owners may be unwilling to follow the simple diets I have suggested, but by not doing so they shorten the lives of their pets. Simple, correct foods will help a cat live for about twelve years. Establish a kitten in sensible food habits. If you feed a young cat balanced, nourishing meals from the start, there is little danger that it will develop a craving for everything from string to Gorgonzola.
1930s CAT CARE - THE CARE OF MOTHERS AND THEIR YOUNG
Some American advice from 1936 on caring for mothers and kittens and on whether or not to let pet cats breed.
This book makes no attempt to deal with breeding as a science or as a business. Breeding is a big subject, and individual owners, keeping cats as pets or mousers, hardly need to go into its complexities. But pet cats and mousers do have kittens, and there are basic facts and simple rules which all owners of female cats should know. A veterinarian who served for years in the clinic of a large animal hospital told me that he always tried to discourage owners from letting their cats breed, for so often it is the beginning of a vicious circle. Mrs. Puss has kittens; the owner keeps them till they get to be in the way, then gives them away to friends, to the butcher, to the grocer; the kittens perhaps stray away from their new owners and breed in their turn; and so the army of homeless cats is increased.
If you have a female cat, follow one of two courses. Either have her spayed, an operation which with modern methods is attended by little risk and which makes of her a quiet, satisfactory pet, or resign yourself to some annoyance when she is in season, and guard her from wandering at these times. With proper precautions breeding as a hobby is all right, and should raise the standard of pet cats.
When your cat desires to mate she shows it by great restlessness, by crying, and by treading the ground with both hind legs. Some cats begin to call at seven or eight months, but if you want your pet to develop into a strong cat and to produce strong kittens do not mate her till she is one year old. The male should be at least a year old too. Stud cats are at their best between one and three years of age. Queens, as breeders call female cats, differ very much as to the frequency with which they come in season, but the average is about three times a year, and the period lasts from three to fifteen days. Some cats are almost unbearable at these times; others make very little fuss. Spring is the best time for mating. Then the kittens have the benefit of ripening warmth and sunshine. Breeding in the autumn is a mistake, as the winter is a bad time for growing.
If your cat is of a definite breed and colour, say a Persian blue or cream or orange, a domestic shorthaired white or Maltese [blue], a seal point or a blue point Siamese, get a sire not only of the same breed but of the same colour. It takes an expert to experiment successfully with colour crosses. If your female is deficient in any point, choose a male who is strong in that point. Suppose you have a Persian whose head is too long and narrow. Be sure that her mate has the broad head and short, blunt nose of the best Persians. By following this rule you stand a better chance of getting kittens of the right type. Be sure that your cat is in good condition, and that the mate you pick is healthy. If you want the service of a pedigreed stud cat you must be prepared to pay, for it takes money to raise these cats. But with an unpedigreed cat of one of the fancy breeds you never know what weak points your kittens may inherit. Domestic short-haired cats are different, they have the strength of the peasantry, an elemental beauty, and some of the finest specimens come from the so-called alley cats.
Mating should take place from three to five days after your pet begins to call, and afterward she should be kept quiet, not handled much, and not allowed to roam. Pregnancy, which may be assumed when she ceases to call, lasts about sixty days, but kittens have been known to live that were born as early as the fifty-eighth day and as late as the sixty-sixth. Never feed a queen so much as to make her fat. She needs about the same amount of food as usual for the first half of the time, only a little more raw beef. Three or four weeks before the event it is well to add to her breakfast and supper a meal at noon and a nightcap of warm milk. Most of these little future mothers are quite normal, except that they drink more water. It sometimes happens, however, that a sensitive cat will be listless, develop nausea, and take dislikes to certain foods. But a little humouring will generally bring her through.
Like the provident creatures they are, cats begin in good time to look about for a proper cradle for the kittens. If they are left to themselves they are as likely as not to pick a bureau drawer with your best silk undies in it, so keep your bureau drawers shut, and provide a comfortable box in a secluded spot, not too warm, not in a draft, and shaded from the light for the protection of the babies' eyes. Line it with newspapers, which must be changed every day, and a clean, soft blanket of smooth material, free from fuzz.
Healthy cats rarely have any trouble when their kittens are born, and it is best not to interfere with them. Just watch to see that the first babies do not get cold and that the mother does not lie on any of them. But cats are careful mothers. Difficult births sometimes happen to cobby Persians if their pelvic bones are too close together, and then you will need a veterinarian in a hurry for a Caesarian operation. But to normal cats motherhood comes easy unless their vitality has been exhausted by too much breeding. One family a year is enough for any cat.
When the kittens have arrived, leave the mother alone with them for a few hours, then coax her from the box with some light food, say warm milk with an egg beaten in it. Pretty soon she will be eating eagerly, much more heartily than when she was a carefree spinster. Give her plenty of food. And a cat should not be expected to nurse more than four kittens; if she is debilitated one or two are enough. To guard against accidents it is a good plan, if the kittens are valuable, to have a wet nurse ready, a healthy cat who will not mind taking foster children with her own. If the strangers are smeared with her milk and slipped in when she is not looking, she will accept them and tend them as her own. If the kittens are not valuable and you are not sure of good homes for them, the humane act is to destroy them, leaving one to nurse the mother and prevent caked breasts. Newborn kittens have hardly any sensibility [this was the prevailing, but very wrong, opinion in 1936], and a few drops of chloroform or submersion in warm water will end their troubles before they begin.
Speaking of caked breasts, if for any reason they occur they ought to be treated promptly, for they are painful and dangerous. Massage them gently till you have drawn out what milk remains, then cleanse them with warm water in which bicarbonate of soda or boric acid has been dissolved, and, finally, rub them with camphorated oil.
A wet nurse, we know, is the best substitute for the mother who cannot care for her kittens, but wet nurses are not always on call, and kittens can be raised by hand. Miss Doris Bryant, proprietor of Doris Bryant's Cat Specialty Shop in New York and a breeder of Siamese cats in her spare time, told me that she fed four orphaned kittens for the first six weeks of their lives on a formula she worked out, and they lived and became lusty cats. The formula consisted of two heaping teaspoonfuls of Squibb's Dextro-Vitavose mixed with one cup of whole milk. This she brought to a boil, adding a tablespoonful of limewater when it cooled. She gave the babies as much as they wanted, feeding them with a medicine dropper at three-hour periods, night and day at first. By degrees the intervals were lengthened. At four weeks they began taking beef juice, and at five weeks a little scraped beef. Even nursing kittens are better for some extra nutriment. Miss Elsie G. Hydon, of Bogota, New Jersey, whose Persians are famous, favours Mellin's baby food, prepared as for newborn infants; Cream of Wheat well cooked; and unsweetened evaporated milk, one part milk to two parts water, mixed.
At about nine days the eyes of the kittens, who are born blind, begin to unclose. If, as sometimes happens, they fail to open, they should be bathed with warm water and gently manipulated. Adhesion of the eyelids for an abnormal period is called ankyloblepharon, and sometimes an operation is necessary to correct it.
The box for the kittens' nursery should be roomy enough so they can crawl around in it freely. When they adventure out of it, give them a safe and pleasant place in which to mature. Some people think that cellars are good enough for kittens. I wish such people might be shut in cellars themselves. A garden is ideal for kittens in warm weather, but they can be happy in a room with a sunny window. If they have a good mother, and most cat mothers are efficient, she will attend to their manners, but if you expect her to housebreak them properly you must have the sanitary pan, with its clean sand or torn paper, near their box.
Weaning, which should not be attempted before the kittens are eight weeks old, may be started by taking them from the mother at night. Soon the saucer can be substituted entirely for the breast. Miss Hydon thinks eight weeks too early for weaning. She prefers kittens to nurse for three months.
HOME PETS – PREPARING CATS FOR EXHIBITION Lloyd's Weekly Newspaper, 18th February 1900
There are nowadays so many cat shows held that those people who have an idea that their own cat is a good one, and fit to win a prize, have plenty of opportunity to test the correctness of their views. But before taking any steps it is necessary to remember that condition is a most important factor in attaining success, and that a cat which is any way out of health or dirty would have but a poor chance, however food it may be in the requisite points. Some little care and attention, therefore, are advisable for a few weeks before the show.
Short-haired cats require less attention that the Persians. The former should be brushed daily for a few minutes with an ordinary hair brush. The Persians must be groomed with a brush with long bristles, and the operation must be performed so as not to drag out or knot the fur. Once or twice a week the coat should be carefully gone over with a tooth-comb, the object being to remove any insect vermin. After about five minutes’ brushing an extra gloss is given by passing the hand or a silk handkerchief several times quickly over the coat.
In towns, and other places where the atmosphere is smoky, the coat of a cat will become soiled, and will require cleaning. This is frequently done by taking a flour dredger filled with four, powdering the contents over the cat, and then rubbing the flour into the fur with the fingers carefully across the grain. After this has been done, the flour must he all brushed out, and the coat will be found much improved. White and other light-coloured cats sometimes require to be washed. This is performed by the aid of a basin of hot, soft water, to which a little toilet ammonia has been added. With a small soft sponge the fur is damped all over, and the fingers well rubbed into the roots of the hair. The coat must not be made too wet, but only damped. When this has been done some white Fuller's earth is scattered over the coat from a dredger. The cat is then placed in front of a fire - not too close - for about twenty minutes, till the coat feels dry, when the fur must be well brushed. This completes the process. The cat must, of course, not be allowed afterwards to rub against anything that will soil the fur. It should be mentioned that exposure to hot sunshine is apt to spoil the colour and markings of cats. Black cats, in particular, become rusty-brown.
About a fortnight before the show some extra cream or milk should be given daily. Boiled rice and sugar, some mutton broth and fish, will all be good for the coat. If the cat has not been previously exhibited, it ought to be placed for an hour or so daily in a large cage or wire pen, such as it will be confined in at the show. It this is not done it will probably be wild when penned, and fail to show itself to advantage, and will very likely refuse all food. It is important to have a proper basket in which to pack the cat for the journey. The basket must be strong, large enough for the occupant, and ventilated without draught. The size should be about twenty inches long, fourteen inches wide, and twenty-four inches high. It should be lined with American cloth or stout calico.