Helen M. Winslow
Part 2 out of 3
they come down to drink at a lake. The parrot followed the movements of
the cat with feverish anxiety: it ruffled its feathers, rattled its
chain, lifted one of its feet and shook the claws, and rubbed its beak
against the edge of its trough. Instinct told it that the cat was an
enemy and meant mischief. The cat's eyes were now fixed upon the bird
with fascinating intensity, and they said in perfectly intelligible
language, which the poor parrot distinctly understood, 'This chicken
ought to be good to eat, although it is green.' We watched the scene
with great interest, ready to interfere at need. Madame Theophile was
creeping nearer and nearer almost imperceptibly; her pink nose quivered,
her eyes were half closed, her contractile claws moved in and out of
their velvet sheaths, slight thrills of pleasure ran along her backbone
at the idea of the meal she was about to make. Such novel and exotic
food excited her appetite.
"All in an instant her back took the shape of a bent bow, and with a
vigorous and elastic bound she sprang upon the perch. The parrot, seeing
its danger, said in a bass voice as grave and deep as M. Prudhomme's
own, 'As tu dejeune, Jacquot?'
"This utterance so terrified the cat that she sprang backwards. The
blare of a trumpet, the crash and smash of a pile of plates flung to the
ground, a pistol shot fired off at her ear, could not have frightened
her more thoroughly. All her ornithological ideas were overthrown.
"'Et de quoi? Du roti du roi?' continued the parrot.
"Then might we, the observers, read in the physiognomy of Madame
Theophile, 'This is not a bird, it is a gentleman; it talks.'
"'Quand j'ai bu du vin clairet,
Tout tourne, tout tourne an cabaret,'
shrieked the parrot in a deafening voice, for it had perceived that its
best means of defence was the terror aroused by its speech. The cat cast
a glance at me which was full of questioning, but as my response was not
satisfactory, she promptly hid herself under the bed, and from that
refuge she could not be induced to stir during the whole of the day.
People who are not accustomed to live with animals, and who, like
Descartes, regard them as mere machines, will think that I lend
unauthorized meanings to the acts of the 'volatile' and the 'quadruped,'
but I have only faithfully translated their ideas into human language.
The next day Madame Theophile plucked up courage and made another
attempt, which was similarly repulsed. From that moment she gave it up,
accepting the bird as a variety of man.
"This dainty and charming animal was extremely fond of perfumes,
especially of patchouli and the scent exhaled by India shawls. She was
also very fond of music, and would listen, sitting on a pile of
music-books, while the fair singers who came to try the critic's piano
filled his room with melody. All the time Madame Theophile would evince
great pleasure. She was, however, made nervous by certain notes, and at
the high _la_ she would tap the singer's mouth with her paw. This
was very amusing, and my visitors delighted in making the experiment. It
never failed; the dilettante in fun was not to be deceived.
"The rule of the 'White Dynasty' belonged to a later epoch, and was
inaugurated in the person of a pretty little kitten as white as a powder
puff, who came from Havana. On account of his spotless whiteness he was
called Pierrot; but when he grew up this name was very properly
magnified into Don-Pierrot-de-Navarre, which was far more majestic, and
suggested 'grandee-ism.' [M. Theophile Gautier lays it down as a dogma
that all animals with whom one is much taken up, and who are 'spoiled,'
become delightfully good and amiable. Don-Pierrot-de-Navarre
successfully supported his master's theory; perhaps he suggested it.]
"He shared in the life of the household with the enjoyment of quiet
fireside friendship that is characteristic of cats. He had his own place
near the fire, and there he would sit with a convincing air of
comprehension of all that was talked of and of interest in it; he
followed the looks of the speakers, and uttered little sounds toward
them as though he, too, had objections to make and opinions to give upon
the literary subjects which were most frequently discussed. He was very
fond of books, and when he found one open on a table he would lie down
on it, turn over the edges of the leaves with his paws, and after a
while fall asleep, for all the world as if he had been reading a
fashionable novel. He was deeply interested in my writing, too; the
moment I took up my pen he would jump upon the desk, and follow the
movement of the penholder with the gravest attention, making a little
movement with his head at the beginning of each line. Sometimes he would
try to take the pen out of my hand.
"Don-Pierrot-de-Navarre never went to bed until I had come in. He would
wait for me just inside the outer door and rub himself to my legs, his
back in an arch, with a glad and friendly purring. Then he would go on
before me, preceding me with a page-like air, and I have no doubt, if I
had asked him, he would have carried the candlestick. Having thus
conducted me to my bedroom, he would wait quietly while I undressed, and
then jump on my bed, take my neck between his paws, gently rub my nose
with his own, and lick me with his small, pink tongue, as rough as a
file, uttering all the time little inarticulate cries, which expressed
as clearly as any words could do his perfect satisfaction at having me
with him again. After these caresses he would perch himself on the back
of the bedstead and sleep there, carefully balanced, like a bird on a
branch. When I awoke, he would come down and lie beside me until I got
"Pierrot was as strict as a concierge in his notions of the proper hour
for all good people to return to their homes. He did not approve of
anything later than midnight. In those days we had a little society
among friends, which we called 'The Four Candles,'--the light in our
place of meeting being restricted to four candles in silver
candlesticks, placed at the four corners of the tables. Sometimes the
talk became so animated that I forgot all about time, and twice or three
times Pierrot sat up for me until two o'clock in the morning. After a
while, however, my conduct in this respect displeased him, and he
retired to rest without me. I was touched by this mute protest against
my innocent dissipation, and thenceforth came home regularly at twelve
o'clock. Nevertheless, Pierrot cherished the memory of my offence for
some time; he waited to test the reality of my repentance, but when he
was convinced that my conversion was sincere, he deigned to restore me
to his good graces, and resumed his nocturnal post in the anteroom.
"To gain the friendship of a cat is a difficult thing. The cat is a
philosophical, methodical, quiet animal, tenacious of its own habits,
fond of order and cleanliness, and it does not lightly confer its
friendship. If you are worthy of its affection, a cat will be your
friend, but never your slave. He keeps his free will, though he loves,
and he will not do for you what he thinks unreasonable; but if he once
gives himself to you, it is with such absolute confidence, such fidelity
of affection. He makes himself the companion of your hours of solitude,
melancholy, and toil. He remains for whole evenings on your knee,
uttering his contented purr, happy to be with you, and forsaking the
company of animals of his own species. In vain do melodious mewings on
the roof invite him to one of those cat parties in which fish bones play
the part of tea and cakes; he is not to be tempted away from you. Put
him down and he will jump up again, with a sort of cooing sound that is
like a gentle reproach; and sometimes he will sit upon the carpet in
front of you, looking at you with eyes so melting, so caressing, and so
human, that they almost frighten you, for it is impossible to believe
that a soul is not there.
"Don-Pierrot-de-Navarre had a sweetheart of the same race and of as
snowy a whiteness as himself. The ermine would have looked yellow by the
side of Seraphita, for so this lovely creature was named, in honor of
Balzac's Swedenborgian romance. Seraphita was of a dreamy and
contemplative disposition. She would sit on a cushion for hours
together, quite motionless, not asleep, and following with her eyes, in
a rapture of attention, sights invisible to mere mortals. Caresses were
agreeable to her, but she returned them in a very reserved manner, and
only in the case of persons whom she favored with her rarely accorded
esteem. She was fond of luxury, and it was always upon the handsomest
easy-chair, or the rug that would best show off her snowy fur, that she
would surely be found. She devoted a great deal of time to her toilet,
her glossy coat was carefully smoothed every morning. She washed herself
with her paw, and licked every atom of her fur with her pink tongue
until it shone like new silver. When any one touched her, she instantly
effaced all trace of the contact; she could not endure to be tumbled. An
idea of aristocracy was suggested by her elegance and distinction, and
among her own people she was a duchess at least. She delighted in
perfumes, would stick her nose into bouquets, bite scented handkerchiefs
with little spasms of pleasure, and walk about among the scent bottles
on the toilet table, smelling at their stoppers; no doubt, she would
have used the powder puff if she had been permitted. Such was Seraphita,
and never did cat more amply justify a poetic name. I must mention here
that, in the days of the White Dynasty, I was also the happy possessor
of a family of white rats, and that the cats, always supposed to be
their natural, invariable, and irreconcilable enemies, lived in perfect
harmony with my pet rodents. The rats never showed the slightest
distrust of the cats, nor did the cats ever betray their confidence.
Don-Pierrot-de-Navarre was very much attached to them. He would sit
close to their cage and observe their gambols for hours together, and if
by any chance the door of the room in which they were left was shut, he
would scratch and mew gently until some one came to open it and allow
him to rejoin his little white friends, who would often come out of the
cage and sleep close to him. Seraphita, who was of a more reserved and
disdainful temper, and who disliked the musky odor of the white rats,
took no part in their games; but she never did them any harm, and would
let them pass before her without putting out a claw.
"Don-Pierrot-de-Navarre, who came from Havana, required a hothouse
temperature: and this he always had in his own apartments. The house
was, however, surrounded by extensive gardens, divided by railings,
through and over which cats could easily climb, and in those gardens
were trees inhabited by a great number of birds. Pierrot would
frequently take advantage of an open door to get out of an evening and
go a-hunting through the wet grass and flower-beds: and, as his mewing
under the windows when he wanted to get in again did not always awaken
the sleepers in the house, he frequently had to stay out until morning.
His chest was delicate, and one very chilly night he caught a cold which
rapidly developed into phthisis. At the end of a year of coughing, poor
Don Pierrot had wasted to a skeleton, and his coat, once so silky, was a
dull, harsh white. His large, transparent eyes looked unnaturally large
in his shrunken face: the pink of his little nose had faded, and he
dragged himself slowly along the sunny side of the wall with a
melancholy air, looking at the yellow autumnal leaves as they danced and
whirled in the wind. Nothing is so touching as a sick animal: it submits
to suffering with such gentle and sad resignation. We did all in our
power to save Pierrot: a skilful doctor came to see him, felt his pulse,
sounded his lungs, and ordered him ass's milk. He drank the prescribed
beverage very readily out of his own especial china saucer. For hours
together he lay stretched upon my knee, like the shadow of a sphinx. I
felt his spine under my finger tips like the beads of a rosary, and he
tried to respond to my caresses by a feeble purr that resembled a
death-rattle. On the day of his death he was lying on his side panting,
and suddenly, with a supreme effort, he rose and came to me. His large
eyes were opened wide, and he gazed at me with a look of intense
supplication, a look that seemed to say, 'Save me, save me, you, who are
a man.' Then he made a few faltering steps, his eyes became glassy, and
he fell down, uttering so lamentable a cry, so dreadful and full of
anguish, that I was struck dumb and motionless with horror. He was
buried at the bottom of the garden under a white rose tree, which still
marks the place of his sepulture. Three years later Seraphita died, and
was buried by the side of Don Pierrot. With her the White Dynasty became
extinct, but not the family. This snow-white couple had three children,
who were as black as ink. Let any one explain that mystery who can. The
kittens were born in the early days of the great renown of Victor Hugo's
'Les Miserables,' when everybody was talking of the new masterpiece, and
the names of the personages in it were in every mouth. The two little
male creatures were called Enjolras and Gavroche, and their sister
received the name of Eponine. They were very pretty, and I trained them
to run after a little ball of paper and bring it back to me when I threw
it into the corner of the room. In time they would follow the ball up to
the top of the bookcase, or fish for it behind boxes or in the bottom of
china vases with their dainty little paws. As they grew up they came to
disdain those frivolous amusements, and assumed the philosophical and
meditative quiet which is the true temperament of the cat.
"To the eyes of the careless and indifferent observer, three black cats
are just three black cats, but those who are really acquainted with
animals know that their physiognomy is as various as that of the human
race. I was perfectly well able to distinguish between these little
faces, as black as Harlequin's mask, and lighted up by disks of emerald
with golden gleams. Enjolras, who was much the handsomest of the three,
was remarkable for his broad, leonine head and full whiskers, strong
shoulders, and a superb feathery tail. There was something theatrical
and pretentious in his air, like the posing of a popular actor. His
movements were slow, undulatory, and majestic: so circumspect was he
about where he set his feet down that he always seemed to be walking
among glass and china. His disposition was by no means stoical, and he
was much too fond of food to have been approved of by his namesake. The
temperate and austere Enjolras would certainly have said to him, as the
angel said to Swedenborg, 'You eat too much.' I encouraged his
gastronomical tastes, and Enjolras attained a very unusual size and
"Gavroche was a remarkably knowing cat, and looked it. He was
wonderfully active, and his twists, twirls, and tumbles were very comic.
He was of a Bohemian temperament, and fond of low company. Thus he would
occasionally compromise the dignity of his descent from the illustrious
Don-Pierrot-de-Navarre, grandee of Spain of the first class, and the
Marquesa Dona Seraphita, of aristocratic and disdainful bearing. He
would sometimes return from his expeditions to the street, accompanied
by gaunt, starved companions, whom he had picked up in his wanderings,
and he would stand complacently by while they bolted the contents of his
plate of food in a violent hurry and in dread of dispersion by a
broomstick or a shower of water. I was sometimes tempted to say to
Gavroche, 'A nice lot of friends you pick up,' but I refrained, for,
after all, it was an amiable weakness: he might have eaten his dinner
all by himself.
"The interesting Eponine was more slender and graceful than her
brothers, and she was an extraordinarily sensitive, nervous, and
electric animal. She was passionately attached to me, and she would do
the honors of my hermitage with perfect grace and propriety. When the
bell rang, she hastened to the door, received the visitors, conducted
them to the salon, made them take seats, talked to them--yes, talked,
with little coos, murmurs, and cries quite unlike the language which
cats use among themselves, and which bordered on the articulate speech
of man. What did she say? She said quite plainly: 'Don't be impatient:
look at the pictures, or talk with me, if I amuse you. My master is
coming down.' On my appearing she would retire discreetly to an
arm-chair or the corner of the piano, and listen to the conversation
without interrupting it, like a well-bred animal accustomed to good
"Eponine's intelligence, fine disposition, and sociability led to her
being elevated by common consent to the dignity of a person, for reason,
superior instinct, plainly governed her conduct. That dignity conferred
on her the right to eat at table like a person, and not in a corner on
the floor, from a saucer, like an animal. Eponine had a chair by my side
at breakfast and dinner, but in consideration of her size she was
privileged to place her fore paws on the table. Her place was laid,
without a knife and fork, indeed, but with a glass, and she went
regularly through dinner, from soup to dessert, awaiting her turn to be
helped, and behaving with a quiet propriety which most children might
imitate with advantage. At the first stroke of the bell she would
appear, and when I came into the dining room she would be at her post,
upright in her chair, her fore paws on the edge of the tablecloth, and
she would present her smooth forehead to be kissed, like a well-bred
little girl who was affectionately polite to relatives and old people.
When we had friends to dine with us, Eponine always knew that company
was expected. She would look at her place, and if a knife, fork, and
spoon lay near her plate she would immediately turn away and seat
herself on the piano-stool, her invariable refuge. Let those who deny
the possession of reason to animals explain, if they can, this little
fact, apparently so simple, but which contains a world of induction.
From the presence near her plate of those implements which only man can
use, the observant and judicious cat concluded that she ought on this
occasion to give way to a guest, and she hastened to do so. She was
never mistaken: only, when the visitor was a person whom she knew and
liked, she would jump on his knee and coax him for a bit off his plate
by her graceful caresses. She survived her brothers, and was my dear
companion for several years.... Such is the chronicle of the Black
Although cats have no place in the Bible, neither can their enemies who
sing the praise of the dog, find much advantage there: for that most
excellent animal is referred to in anything but a complimentary
fashion--"For without are dogs and sorcerers."
The great prophet of Allah, however, knew a good cat when he saw it.
"Muezza" even contributed her small share to the development of the
Mahometan system: for did she not sit curled up in her master's sleeve,
and by her soft purring soothe and deepen his meditations? And did she
not keep him dreaming so long that she finally became exhausted herself,
and fell asleep in his flowing sleeve; whereupon did not Mahomet, rather
than disturb her, and feeling that he must be about his Allah's
business, cut off his sleeve rather than disturb the much loved Muezza?
The nurses of Cairo tell this story to their young charges to this day.
Cardinal Richelieu had many a kitten, too; and morose and ill-tempered
as he was, found in them much amusement. His love for them, however, was
not that unselfish love which led Mahomet to cut off his sleeve; but
simply a selfish desire for passing amusement. He cared nothing for that
most interesting process, the development of a kitten into a cat, and
the study of its individuality which is known only to the real lover of
cats. For it is recorded of him that as soon as his pets were three
months old he sent them away, evidently not caring where, and procured
M. Champfleury, however, thinks it possible that there may not be any
real foundation for this story about Richelieu. He refers to the fact
that Moncrif says not a word about the celebrated cardinal's passion for
those creatures; but he does say, "Everybody knows that one of the
greatest ministers France ever possessed, M. Colbert, always had a
number of kittens playing about that same cabinet in which so many
institutions, both honorable and useful to the nation, had their
origin." Can it be that Richelieu has been given credit for Colbert's
In various parts of Chateaubriand's "Memoires" may be found eulogiums on
the cat. So well known was his fondness for them, that even when his
other feelings and interests faded with age and decay, his affections
for cats remained strong to the end. This love became well known to all
his compeers, and once on an embassy to Rome the Pope gave him a cat. He
was called "Micetto." According to Chateaubriand's biographer, M. de
Marcellus, "Pope Leo XII's cat could not fail to reappear in the
description of that domestic hearth where I have so often seen him
basking. In fact, Chateaubriand has immortalized his favorite in the
sketch which begins, 'My companion is a big cat, of a greyish red.'"
This ecclesiastical pet was always dignified and imposing in manners,
ever conscious that he had been the gift of a sovereign pontiff, and had
a tremendous weight of reputation to maintain. He used to stroke his
tail when he desired Madame Recamier to know that he was tired.
"I love in the cat," said Chateaubriand to M. de Marcellus, "that
independent and almost ungrateful temper which prevents it from
attaching itself to any one: the indifference with which it passes from
the salon to the house-top. When you caress it, it stretches itself out
and arches its back, indeed: but that is caused by physical pleasure,
not, as in the case of the dog, by a silly satisfaction in loving and
being faithful to a master who returns thanks in kicks. The cat lives
alone, has no need of society, does not obey except when it likes, and
pretends to sleep that it may see the more clearly, and scratches
everything that it can scratch. Buffon has belied the cat: I am laboring
at its rehabilitation, and hope to make of it a tolerably good sort of
animal, as times go."
Cardinal Wolsey, Lord High Chancellor of England, was another cat-lover,
and his superb cat sat in a cushioned arm-chair by his side in the
zenith of his pride and power, the only one in that select circle who
was not obliged to don a wig and robe while acting in a judicial
capacity. Then there was Bouhaki, the proud Theban cat that used to wear
gold earrings as he sat at the feet of King Hana, his owner, perhaps,
but not his master, and whose reproduction in the tomb of Hana in the
Necropolis at Thebes, between his master's feet in a statue, is one of
the most ancient reproductions of a cat. And Sainte-Beuve, whose cat
used to roam at will over his desk and sit or lie on the precious
manuscripts no other person was allowed to touch; it is flattering to
know that the great Frenchman and I have one habit in common; and Miss
Repplier owns to it too. "But Sainte-Beuve," says she, "probably had
sufficient space reserved for his own comfort and convenience. I have
not; and Agrippina's beautifully ringed tail flapping across my copy
distracts my attention and imperils the neatness of my penmanship." And
even as I write these pages, does the Pretty Lady's daughter Jane lie on
my copy and gaze lovingly at me as I work.
Julian Hawthorne is another writer whose cat is an accompaniment of his
working hours. In this connection we must not forget M. Brasseur
Wirtgen, a student of natural history who writes of his cat: "My habit
of reading," he says, "which divided us from each other in our
respective thoughts, prejudiced my cat very strongly against my books.
Sometimes her little head would project its profile on the page which I
was perusing, as though she were trying to discover what it was that
thus absorbed me: doubtless, she did not understand why I should look
for my happiness beyond the presence of a devoted heart. Her solicitude
was no less manifest when she brought me rats or mice. She acted in this
case exactly as if I had been her son: dragging enormous rats, still in
the throes of death, to my feet: and she was evidently guided by logic
in offering me a prey commensurate with my size, for she never presented
any such large game to her kittens. Her affectionate attention
invariably caused her a severe disappointment. Having laid the product
of her hunting expedition at my feet, she would appear to be greatly
hurt by my indifference to such delicious fare."
That Tasso had a cat we know because he wrote a sonnet to her. Alfred de
Musset's cats are apostrophized in his verses. Dr. Johnson's Hodge held
a soft place for many years in the gruff old scholar's breast. And has
not every one heard how the famous Dr. Johnson fetched oysters for his
beloved Hodge, lest the servants should object to the trouble, and vent
their displeasure on his favorite?
Nor can one forget Sir Isaac Newton and his cats: for is it not alleged
that the great man had two holes cut in his barn door, one for the
mother, and a smaller one for the kitten?
Byron was fond of cats: in his establishment at Ravenna he had five of
them. Daniel Maclise's famous portrait of Harriet Martineau represents
that estimable woman sitting in front of a fireplace and turning her
face to receive the caress of her pet cat crawling to a resting-place
upon her mistress's shoulder.
Although La Fontaine in his fables shows such a delicate appreciation of
their character and ways, it is doubtful whether he honestly loved cats.
But his friend and patron, the Duchess of Bouillon, was so devoted to
them that she requested the poet to make her a copy with his own hand of
all his fables in which pussy appears. The exercise-book in which they
were written was discovered a few years ago among the Bouillon papers.
Baudelaire, it is said, could never pass a cat in the street without
stopping to stroke and fondle it. "Many a time," said Champfleury, "when
he and I have been walking together, have we stopped to look at a cat
curled luxuriously in a pile of fresh white linen, revelling in the
cleanliness of the newly ironed fabrics. Into what fits of contemplation
have we fallen before such windows, while the coquettish laundresses
struck attitudes at the ironing boards, under the mistaken impression
that we were admiring them." It was also related of Baudelaire that,
"going for the first time to a house, he is restless and uneasy until he
has seen the household cat. But when he sees it, he takes it up, kisses
and strokes it, and is so completely absorbed in it, that he makes no
answer to what is said to him."
Professor Huxley's notorious fondness for cats was a fad which he shared
with Paul de Koch, the novelist, who, at one time, kept as many as
thirty cats in his house. Many descriptions of them are to be found
scattered through his novels. His chief favorite, Fromentin, lived
eleven years with him.
Pierre Loti has written a charming and most touching history of two of
his cats--Moumette Blanche and Moumette Chinoise--which all true
cat-lovers should make a point of reading.
Algernon Swinburne, the poet, is devoted to cats. His favorite is named
Atossa. Robert Southey was an ardent lover of cats. Most people have
read his letter to his friend Bedford, announcing the death of one.
"Alas, Grosvenor," he wrote, "this day poor Rumpel was found dead, after
as long and happy a life as cat could wish for, if cats form wishes on
that subject. His full titles were: The Most Noble, the Archduke
Rumpelstiltzchen, Marcus Macbum, Earl Tomlefnagne, Baron Raticide,
Waowhler and Scratch. There should be a court-mourning in Catland, and
if the Dragon (your pet cat) wear a black ribbon round his neck, or a
band of crape _a la militaire_ round one of his fore paws it will
be but a becoming mark of respect." Then the poet-laureate adds, "I
believe we are each and all, servants included, more sorry for his loss,
or, rather, more affected by it, than any of us would like to confess."
Josh Billings called his favorite cat William, because he considered no
shorter name fitted to the dignity of his character. "Poor old man," he
remarked one day, to a friend, "he has fits now, so I call him
CONCERNING CATS IN ENGLAND
If the growing fancy for cats in this country is benefiting the feline
race as a whole, they have to thank the English people for it. For
certain cats in England are held at a value that seems preposterous to
unsophisticated Americans. At one cat and bird show, held at the Crystal
Palace, near London, some of the cats were valued at thirty-five hundred
pounds sterling ($17,500)--as much as the price of a first-class
For more than a quarter of a century National Cat Shows have been held
at Crystal Palace and the Westminster Aquarium, which have given great
stimulus to the breeding of fine cats, and "catteries" where high-priced
cats and kittens are raised are common throughout the country.
England was the first, too, 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
Since long before Whittington became Lord Mayor of London, indeed, cats
have been popular in England: for did not the law protect them? As to
the truth of the story of Whittington's cat, there has been much earnest
discussion. Although Whittington lived from about 1360 to 1425, the
story seems to have been pretty generally accepted for three hundred
years after his death. A portrait still exists of him, with one hand
holding a cat, and when his old house was remodelled in recent times, a
carved stone was found in it showing a boy with a cat in his arms.
Several similar tales have been found, it is argued, in which the heroes
in different countries have started to make a fortune by selling a cat.
But as rats and mice were extremely common then, and it has been shown
that a single pair of rats will in three years multiply into over six
hundred thousand, which will eat as much as sixty-four thousand men, why
shouldn't a cat be deemed a luxury even for a king's palace? The
argument that the cat of Whittington was a "cat," or boat used for
carrying coal, is disproved by the fact that no account of such vessels
in Whittington's time can be found, and also that the trade in coal did
not begin in Europe for some time afterward. And there really seems
nothing improbable in the story that at a time when a kitten big enough
to kill mice brought fourpence in England, such an animal, taken to a
rat-infested, catless country, might not be sold for a sum large enough
to start an enterprising youth in trade. Surely, the beginnings of some
of our own railroad kings and financiers may as well look doubtful to
It is a pretty story--that of Whittington; how he rose from being a mere
scullion at fourteen, to being "thrice Lord Mayor of London." According
to what are claimed to be authentic documents, the story is something
more than a nursery tale, and runs thus: Poor Dick Whittington was born
at Shropshire, of such very poor parents that the boy, being of an
ambitious nature, left home at fourteen, and walked to London, where he
was taken into the hospital of St. John at Clerkenwell, in a menial
capacity. The prior, noticing his good behavior and diligent conduct,
took a fancy to him, and obtained him a position in a Mr. Fitzwarren's
household on Tower Hill. For some time at this place his prospects did
not improve; he was nothing but a scullion, ridiculed and disliked by
the cook and other servants. Add to this the fact that an incredible
swarm of mice and rats infested the miserable room in which he slept,
and it would seem that he was indeed a "poor Richard." One fortunate
day, however, he conceived the idea of buying a cat, and as good luck
would have it, he was enabled within a few days to earn a penny or two
by blacking the boots of a guest at the house. That day he met a woman
with a cat for sale, and after some dickering (for she asked more money
for it than the boy possessed in the world), Dick Whittington carried
home his cat and put it in a cupboard or closet opening from his room.
That night when he retired he let the cat out of the cupboard, and she
evidently had "no end of fun"; for, according to these authentic
accounts, "she destroyed all the vermin which ventured to make their
appearance." For some time after that she passed her days in the
cupboard (in hiding from the cook) and her nights in catching mice.
And then came the change. Mr. Fitzwarren was fitting out a vessel for
Algiers, and kindly offered all his servants a chance to send something
to barter with the natives. Poor Dick had nothing but his cat, but the
commercial instinct was even then strong within him, and with an
enterprise worthy of the early efforts of any of our self-made men, he
decided to send that, and accordingly placed it, "while the tears run
plentifully down his cheeks," in the hands of the master of the vessel.
She must have been a most exemplary cat, for by the time they had
reached Algiers, the captain was so fond of her that he allowed no one
to handle her but himself. Not even he, however, expected to turn her
into money; but the opportunity soon came.
At a state banquet, given by the Dey, the captain and his officers were
astonished to notice that rats and mice ran freely in and out, stealing
half the choice food, which was spread on the carpet; and this was a
common, every-day occurrence. The captain saw his, or Whittington's,
opportunity, and stated that he knew a certain remedy for this state of
affairs; whereupon he was invited to dinner next day, to which he
carried the cat, and the natural consequence ensued. This sudden and
swift extermination of the pests drove the Dey and his court half
frantic with delight; and the captain, who must have been the original
progenitor of the Yankee race, drove a sharp bargain by assuming to be
unwilling to part with the cat, so that the Dey finally "sent on board
his ship the choicest commodities, consisting of gold, jewels, and
Meanwhile, things had gone from bad to worse with the youth, destined to
become not only Lord Mayor of London, but the envy and admiration of
future generations of youths; and he made up his mind to run away from
his place. This he did, but while he was on his way to more rural
scenes, he sat down on a stone at the foot of Highgate Hill (a stone
that still remains marked as "Whittington's Stone") and paused to
reflect on his prospects. His thoughts turned back to the home he had
left, where he had at least plenty to eat, and, although the "authentic
reports" use a great many words to tell us so, the boy was homesick.
Just then the sound of Bow Bells reached him, and to his youthful fancy
seemed to call him back:--
"Return, return, Whittington;
Thrice Lord Mayor of London."
Thus the old tale hath it. At any rate, the boy gave up the idea of
flight and went back to Mr. Fitzwarren's house. The second night after,
his master sent for him in the midst of one of the cook's tirades, and
going to the "parlour" he was apprised of his sudden wealth; because,
added to the rest of his good luck, that captain happened to be an
honest man. And then he went into trade and married the daughter of Mr.
Fitzwarren and became Lord Mayor of London, and lived even happier ever
after than they do in most fairy tales. And everybody, even the cook,
admired and loved him after he had money and position, as has been known
to happen outside of fairy tales.
Whether or not cats in England owe anything of their position to-day to
the Whittington story, it is certain that they have more really
appreciating friends there than in any other country. The older we grow
in the refinements of civilization, the more we value the finely bred
cat. In England it has long been the custom to register the pedigree of
cats as carefully as dog-fanciers in this country do with their fancy
pets. Some account of the Cat Club Stud Book and Register will be found
in the next chapter. Queen Victoria, and the Princess of Wales, and
indeed many members of the nobility are cat-lovers, and doubtless this
fact influences the general sentiment in England.
Among the most devoted of Pussy's English admirers is the Hon. Mrs.
McLaren Morrison, who is the happy possessor of some of the most perfect
dogs and cats that have graced the bench. She lives at Kepwick Park, in
her stately home in Yorkshire--a lovely spot, commanding a delightful
view of picturesque Westmoreland on one side and on the other three
surrounded and sheltered by hills and moors. Some of her pets go with
her, however, to her flat in Queen Anne's Mansions, and even to her
residence in Calcutta. It is at Kepwick Park that Mrs. McLaren Morrison
has her celebrated "catteries." Here there are magnificent blue, black
and silver and red Persians; snowy white, blue-eyed beauties; grandly
marked English tabbies; handsome blue Russians, with their gleaming
yellow-topaz eyes; some Chinese cats, with their long, edge-shaped heads,
bright golden eyes, and shiny, short-haired black fur; and a pair of
Japanese pussies, pure white and absolutely without tails. One of the
handsomest specimens of the feline race ever seen is her blue Persian,
Champion Monarch, who, as a kitten in 1893, won the gold medal at the
Crystal Palace given for the best pair of kittens in the show, and the
next year the Beresford Challenge Cup at Cruft's Show, for the best
long-haired cat, besides taking many other honors. Among other well-known
prize winners are the champions Snowball and Forget-me-not, both pure
white, with lovely turquoise-blue eyes. Of Champion Nizam (now dead) that
well-known English authority on cats, Mr. A.A. Clark, said his was the
grandest head of any cat he had ever seen. Nizam was a perfect specimen
of that rare and delicate breed of cats, a pure chinchilla. The numberless
kittens sporting all day long are worthy of the art of Madame Henriette
Ronner, and one could linger for hours in these delightful and most
comfortable catteries watching their gambols. The gentle mistress of this
fair and most interesting domain, the Hon. Mrs. McLaren Morrison herself,
is one of the most attractive and fascinating women of the day--one who
adds to great personal beauty all the charm of mental culture and much
travel. She has made Kepwick Park a veritable House Beautiful with the
rare curios and art treasures collected with her perfect taste in the
many lands she has visited, and it is as interesting and enjoyable to a
virtuoso as it is to an animal lover. Mrs. McLaren Morrison exhibits at
all the cat shows, often entering as many as twenty-five cats. Other
English ladies who exhibit largely are Mrs. Herring, of Lestock House,
and Miss Cockburn Dickinson, of Surrey. Mrs. Herring's Champion Jimmy
is very well known as a first prize-winner in many shows. He is a
short-haired, exquisitely marked silver tabby valued at two thousand
Another feline celebrity also well known to frequenters of English cat
shows, is Madame L. Portier's magnificent and colossal Blue Boy, whose
first appearance into this world was made on the day sacred to St.
Patrick, 1895. He has a fine pedigree, and was raised by Madame Portier
herself. Blue Boy commenced his career as a show cat, or rather kitten,
at three months old, when he was awarded a first prize, and when the
judge told his mistress that if he fulfilled his early promise he would
make a grand cat. This he has done, and is now one of the finest
specimens of his kind in England. He weighs over seventeen pounds, and
always has affixed to his cage on the show-bench this request, "Please
do not lift this cat by the neck; he is too heavy." He has long dark
blue fur, with a ruff of a lighter shade and brilliant topaz eyes.
Already Blue Boy has taken many prizes. He is a gelded cat and one of
the fortunate cats who have "Not for Sale" after their names in the show
To Mrs. C. Hill's beautiful long-haired Patrick Blue fell the honor, at
the Crystal Palace Show in 1896, of a signed and framed photograph of
the Prince of Wales, presented by his Royal Highness for the best
long-haired cat in the show, irrespective of sex or nationality. Besides
the prize given by the Prince, Patrick Blue was the proud winner of the
Beresford Challenge Cup for the best blue long-haired cat, and the India
Silver Bowl for the best Persian. He also was born on St. Patrick's Day,
hence his name. He was bred by Mrs. Blair Maconochie, his father, Blue
Ruin I, being a celebrated gold medallist. His mother, Sylvia, who
belongs to Mrs. Maconochie, has never been shown, her strong point being
her lovely color, which is most happily reproduced in her perfect son.
Patrick Blue has all the many charms of a petted cat, and was
undoubtedly one of the prominent attractions of the first Championship
Show of the National Cat Club in 1896.
Silver Lambkin is another very famous English cat, owned by Miss
Gresham, of Surrey. Princess Ranee, owned by Miss Freeland, of
Mottisfont, near Romney; Champion Southsea Hector, owned by Miss
Sangster, at Southsea; champions Prince Victor and Shelly, of Kingswood
(both of whom have taken no end of prizes), are other famous English
Topso, a magnificent silver tabby male, belonging to Miss Anderson
Leake, of Dingley Hill, was at one time the best long-haired silver
tabby in England, and took the prize on that account in 1887; his sons,
daughters, grandsons, and granddaughters, have all taken prizes at
Crystal Palace in the silver tabby classes, since that time.
Lady Marcus Beresford has for the last fifteen years made quite a
business of the breeding and rearing of cats. At Bishopsgate, near
Egham, she has what is without doubt the finest cattery. "I have
applications from all parts of the world for my cats and kittens," said
Lady Marcus, in a talk about her hobby, "and I may tell you that it is
largely because of this that I founded the Cat Club, which has for its
object the general welfare of the cat and the improvement of the breed.
My catteries were established in 1890, and at one time I had as many as
150 cats and kittens. Some of my pets live in a pretty cottage covered
with creepers, which might well be called Cat Cottage. No expense has
been spared in the fittings of the rooms, and every provision is made
for warmth and ventilation. One room is set apart for the girl who takes
entire charge of and feeds the pussies. She has a boy who works with her
and performs the rougher tasks. There is a small kitchen for cooking the
meals for the cats, and this is fitted with every requisite. On the
walls are racks to hold the white enamelled bowls and plates used for
the food. There is a medicine chest, which contains everything that is
needful for prompt and efficacious treatment in case pussy becomes sick.
On the wall are a list of the names and a full description of all the
inmates of the cattery, and a set of rules to be observed by both the
cats and their attendants. These rules are not ignored, and it is a
tribute to the intelligence of the cat to see how carefully pussy can
become amenable to discipline, if once given to understand of what that
"Then there is a garden cattery. I think this is the prettiest of all.
It is covered with roses and ivy. In this there are three rooms,
provided with shelves and all other conveniences which can add to the
cats' comfort and amusement. The residences of the male cats are most
complete, for I have given them every attention possible. Each male cat
has his separate sleeping apartments, closed with wire and with a 'run'
attached. Close at hand is a large, square grass 'run,' and in this each
gentleman takes his daily but solitary exercise. One of the stringent
rules of the cattery is that no two males shall ever be left together,
and I know that with my cats if this rule were not observed, both in
letter and precept, it would be a case of 'when Greek meets Greek.'
"I vary the food for my cats as much as possible. One day we will have
most appetizing bowls of fish and rice. At the proper time you can see
these standing in the cat kitchen ready to be distributed. Another day
these bowls will be filled with minced meat. In the very hot weather a
good deal of vegetable matter is mixed with the food. Swiss milk is
given, so there is no fear of its turning sour. For some time I have
kept a goat on the premises, the milk from which is given to the
delicate or younger kittens.
"I have started many of my poorer friends in cat breeding, and they have
proved conclusively how easily an addition to their income can be made,
not only by breeding good Persian kittens and selling them, but by
exhibiting them at the various shows and taking prizes. But of course
there is a fashion in cats, as in everything else. When I started
breeding blue Persians about fifteen years ago they were very scarce,
and I could easily get twenty-five dollars apiece for my kittens. Now
this variety is less sought after, and self-silvers, commonly called
chinchillas, are in demand."
CONCERNING CAT CLUBS AND CAT SHOWS
The annual cat shows in England, which have been held successively for
more than a quarter of a century, led to the establishment in 1887 of a
National Cat Club, which has steadily grown in membership and interest,
and by the establishment of the National Stud Book and Register has
greatly raised the standard of felines in the mother country. It has
many well-known people as members, life members, or associates; and from
time to time people distinguished in the cat world have been added as
The officers of the National Cat Club of England, since its
reconstruction in March, 1898, are as follows:--
_Presidents._--Her Grace the Duchess of Bedford; Lord Marcus
_Vice-presidents._--Lily, Duchess of Marlborough, now Lady Wm.
Beresford; the Countess of Warwick; Lady Granville Gordon; Hon. Mrs.
McL. Morrison; Madame Ronner; Mr. Isaac Woodiwiss; the Countess of
Sefton; Lady Hothfield; the Hon. Mrs. Brett; Mr. Sam Woodiwiss; Mr.
_President of Committee._--Mr. Louis Wain.
_Committee_.--Lady Marcus Beresford; Mrs. Balding; Mr. Sidney
Woodiwiss; Mr. Hawkins; Mrs. Blair Maconochie; Mrs. Vallance; Mr.
Brackett; Mr. F. Gresham.
_Hon. Secretary and Hon. Treasurer_.--Mrs. Stennard Robinson.
This club has a seal and a motto: "Beauty lives by kindness." It
publishes a stud book in which are registered pedigrees and championship
wins which are eligible for it. Only wins obtained from shows held under
N.C.C. rules are recorded free of charge. The fee for ordinary
registration is one shilling per cat, and the stud book is published
annually. There are over two thousand cats now entered in this National
Cat Club Stud Book, the form of entry being as follows (L.F. means
long-haired female; C.P., Crystal Palace):--
* * * * *
No. 1593, Mimidatzi, L.F. Silver Tabby.
Miss Anna F. Gardner, Hamswell House, near Bath, shown as Mimi.
Bred by Miss How, Bridgeyate, near Bristol. Born April, 1893. Alive.
Sire, Blue Boy the Great of Islington, 1090 (Mrs H.B. Thompson).
Dam, Boots of Bridgeyate, 1225 (Miss How).
Prizes won--1st Bilton, 2nd, C.P. 1893, Kitten Class.
* * * * *
No. 1225, Boots of Bridgeyate. L.F. Silver Tabby.
Miss E. How, Bridgeyate House, Warmly, Bristol.
Former owner, Mrs. Foote, 43 Palace Gardens, Kensington.
Born March, 1892. Alive.
Some of the cats entered have records of prizes covering nearly half a
page of the book. The advantage of such a book to cat owners can be
readily seen. A cat once entered never changes its number, no matter how
many owners he may have, and his name cannot be changed after December
31 of the year in which he is registered.
The more important rules of the English National Cat Club are given in
condensed form as follows:--
The name is "The National Cat Club."
_Objects_: To promote honesty in the breeding of cats, so as to
insure purity in each distinct breed or variety; to determine the
classification required, and to insure the adoption of such
classification by breeders, exhibitors, judges, and the committees of
all cat shows; to encourage showing and breeding by giving championship
and other prizes, and otherwise doing all in its power to protect and
advance the interest of cats and their owners. The National Cat Club
shall frame a separate set of rules for cat shows to be called "National
Cat Club Rules," and the committees of those cat shows to which the
rules are given, shall be called upon to sign a guarantee to the
National Cat Club binding them to provide good penning and effectual
sanitation, also to the punctual payment of prize money and to the
proper adjudication of prizes.
_Stud Book_: The National Cat Club shall keep a stud book.
_Neuter Classes_.--For gelded cats.
_Kitten Classes_.--Single entries over three and under eight months.
_Kitten Brace_.--Kittens of any age.
_Brace_.--For two cats of any age.
_Team_.--For three or more cats, any age.
In Paris, although cats have not been commonly appreciated as in
England, there is an increasing interest in them, and cat shows are now
a regular feature of the Jardin d'Acclimation. This suggests the subject
of the cat's social position in France. Since the Revolution the animal
has conquered in this country "_toutes les liberties_," excepting
that of wearing an entire tail, for in many districts it is the fashion
to cut the caudal appendage short.
In Paris cats are much cherished wherever they can be without causing
too much unpleasantness with the landlord. The system of living in flats
is not favorable to cat culture, for the animal, not having access
either to the tiles above or to the gutter below, is apt to pine for
fresh air, and the society of its congeners. Probably in no other city
do these creatures lie in shop windows and on counters with such an
arrogant air of proprietorship. In restaurants, a very large and fat cat
is kept as an advertisement of the good feeding to be obtained on the
premises. There is invariably a cat in a _charbonnier's_ shop, and
the animal is generally one that was originally white, but long ago came
to the conclusion that all attempts to keep itself clean were hopeless.
Its only consolation is that it is never blacker than its master. It is
well known that the Persians and Angoras are much esteemed in Paris and
are, to some extent, bred for sale. In the provinces, French cats are
usually low-bred animals, with plebeian heads and tails, the stringlike
appearance of the latter not being improved by cropping. Although not
generally esteemed as an article of food in France, there are still many
people scattered throughout the country who maintain that a _civet de
chat_ is as good, or better, than a _civet de lievre_.
M. Francois Coppee's fondness for cats as pets is so well known that
there was great fitness in placing his name first upon the jury of
awards at the 1896 cat show in Paris. Such other well-known men as Emile
Zola, Andre Theuriet, and Catulle Mendes, also figured on the list.
There is now an annual "Exposition Feline Internationale."
In this country the first cat show of general interest was held at
Madison Square Garden, New York, in May, 1895. Some years before, there
had been a cat show under the auspices of private parties in Boston, and
several minor shows had been held at Newburgh, N.Y., and other places.
But the New York shows were the first to attract general attention. One
hundred and seventy-six cats were exhibited by one hundred and
twenty-five owners, besides several ocelots, wild cats, and civets. For
some reason the show at Madison Square Garden in March, 1896, catalogued
only one hundred and thirty-two cats and eighty-two owners. Since that
time there have been no large cat shows in New York.
There have been several cat shows in Boston since 1896, but these are so
far only adjuncts to poultry and pigeon shows. Great interest has been
manifest in them, however, and the entries have each year run above a
hundred. Some magnificent cats are exhibited, although as a rule the
animals shown are somewhat small, many kittens being placed there for
sale by breeders.
Several attempts to start successful cat clubs in this country have been
made. At the close of the New York show in 1896, an American Cat Club
was organized for the purpose "of investigating, ascertaining, and
keeping a record of the pedigrees of cats, and of instituting,
maintaining, controlling, and publishing a stud book, or book of
registry of such kind of domestic animals in the United States of
America and Canada, and of promoting and holding exhibitions of such
animals, and generally for the purpose of improving the breed thereof,
and educating the public in its knowledge of the various breeds and
varieties of cats."
The officers were as follows:--
_President_.--Rush S. Huidekoper, 154 E. 57th St., New York City.
_Vice-presidents_.--W.D. Mann, 208 Fifth Ave., New York City; Mrs.
E.N. Barker, Newburgh, N.Y.
_Secretary-treasurer_.--James T. Hyde, 16 E. 23d St., New York City.
_Executive Committee_.--T. Farrar Rackham, E. Orange, N.J.; Miss
Edith Newbold, Southampton, L.I.; Mrs. Harriet C. Clarke, 154 W. 82d
St., New York City; Charles R. Pratt, St. James Hotel, New York City;
Joseph W. Stray, 229 Division St., Brooklyn, N.Y.
More successful than this club, however, is the Beresford Cat Club
formed in Chicago in the winter of 1899. The president is Mrs. Clinton
Locke, who is a member of the English cat clubs, and whose kennel in
Chicago contains some of the finest cats in America. The Beresford Cat
Club has the sanction of John G. Shortall, of the American Humane
Society, and on its honorary list are Miss Agnes Repplier, Madame
Ronner, Lady Marcus Beresford, Miss Helen Winslow, and Mr. Louis Wain.
At their cat shows, which are held annually, prizes are offered for all
classes of cats, from the common feline of the back alley up to the
aristocratic resident of milady's boudoir.
The Beresford Club Cat shows are the most successful of any yet given in
America. One hundred and seventy-eight prizes were awarded in the show
of January, 1900, and some magnificent cats were shown. It is said by
those who are in a position to know that there are no better cats shown
in England now than can be seen at the Beresford Show in Chicago. The
exhibits cover short and long haired cats of all colors, sizes, and
ages, with Siamese cats, Manx cats, and Russian cats. At the show in
January, 1900, Mrs. Clinton Locke exhibited fourteen cats of one color,
and Mrs. Josiah Cratty five white cats. This club numbers one hundred
and seventy members and has a social position and consequent strength
second to none in America. It is a fine, honorable club, which has for
its objects the protection of the Humane Society and the caring for all
cats reported as homeless or in distress. It aims also to establish
straightforward and honest dealings among the catteries and to do away
with the humbuggery which prevails in some quarters about the sales and
valuation of high-bred cats. This club cannot fail to be of great
benefit to such as want to carry on an honest industry by the raising
and sale of fine cats. It will also improve the breeding of cats in this
country, and thereby raise the standard and promote a more general
intelligence among the people with regard to cats. Some of the best
people in the United States belong to the Beresford Club, the membership
of which is by no means confined to Chicago; on the contrary, the club
is a national one and the officers and board of directors are:--
_President._--Mrs. Clinton Locke.
_1st Vice-president._--Mrs W. Eames Colburn.
_2d Vice-president._--Mrs. F.A. Howe.
_Corresponding Secretary._--Mrs. Henry C. Clark.
_Recording Secretary_.--Miss Lucy Claire Johnstone.
_Treasurer_.--Mrs. Charles Hampton Lane.
Mrs. Elwood H. Tolman.
Mrs. J.H. Pratt.
Mrs. Mattie Fisk Green.
Mrs. F.A. Story.
Miss Louise L. Fergus.
The club is anxious to have members all over the United States, just as
the English cat clubs do. The non-resident annual fees are only one
dollar, and a member has to be proposed by one and endorsed by two other
members. The register cats for the stud book are entered at one dollar
each, and it is proposed to give shows once a year. The main objects of
the club are to improve the breeds of fancy cats in America, to awaken a
more general interest in them, and to secure better treatment for the
ordinary common cat. The shows will be given for the benefit of the
The Chicago Cat Club has done excellent work also, having established a
cat home, or refuge, for stray, homeless, or diseased cats, with a
department for boarding pet cats during the absence of their owners. It
is under the personal care and direction of Dr. C.A. White, 78 E. 26th
Street. The first cat to be admitted there was one from Cleveland, Ohio,
which was to be boarded for three months during the absence of its owner
in Europe and also to be treated for disease. This club was incorporated
under the state laws of Illinois, on January 26, 1899. In connection
with it is a children's cat club, which has for its primary object the
teaching of kindness to animals by awakening in the young people an
appreciative love for cats. At the show of the Chicago Cat Club, small
dogs and cavies are exhibited also, the Cavy Club and the Pet Dog Club
having affiliated with the Chicago Cat Club.
The president of the Chicago Cat Club is Mrs. Leland Norton, of the
Drexel Kennels, at 4011 Drexel Boulevard, Chicago. The corresponding
secretary is Mrs. Laura Daunty Pelham, 315 Interocean Building, and the
other officers are: Vice-president, Miss Gertrude Estabrooks; recording
secretary, Miss Jennie Van Allen; and treasurer, Mrs. Ella B. Shepard.
Membership is only one dollar a year, and the registration fee in the
Chicago stud book fifty cents for each cat.
The cat shows already held and the flourishing state of our cat clubs
have proved that America has as fine, if not finer, cats than can be
found in England, and that interest in finely bred cats is on the
increase in this country. The effect of the successful cat clubs and cat
shows must be to train intelligent judges and to raise the standard of
cats in this country. It will also tend to make the cat shows of such a
character that kind-hearted owners need not hesitate to enter their
choicest cats. As yet, however, the judging at cat shows is not so well
managed as in England. It should be a rule that the judges of cats
should not only understand their fine points, but should be in sympathy
with the little pets.
Cat dealers who have a number of cats entered for competition, should
not be allowed on the board of judges. In England, the cats to be judged
are taken by classes into a tent for the purpose, and the door is
fastened against all but the judges; whereas over here the cats are too
often taken out of their cages in the presence of a crowd of spectators
and judged on a table or some public place, thereby frightening the
timid ones and bringing annoyance to the owners.
Again, there should be several judges. In England there are seven,
including two or three women, and these are assigned to different
classes: Mr. Harrison Weir, F.R.H.S., the well-known authority on cats,
and Louis Wain, the well-known cat artist, are among them. In this
country there are a number of women who are not dealers, but who are
fully posted in the necessary qualifications for a high-bred cat.
American cat shows should have at least three judges, one of whom, at
least, should be a woman. A cat should be handled gently and kept as
calm as possible during the judging. Women are naturally more gentle in
their methods, and more tenderhearted. When my pets are entered for
competition, may some wise, kind woman have the judging of them!
In judging a cat the quality and quantity of its fur is the first thing
considered. In a long-haired cat this includes the "lord mayor's chain,"
or frill, the tail, and, most important of all, the ear-tufts. The tufts
between the toes and the flexibility of the tail are other important
points. The shape of head, eyes, and body are also carefully noted. A
short-haired cat is judged first for color, then for eyes, head,
symmetry, and ears.
In all cats the head should show breadth between the eyes. The eyes
should be round and open. White cats to be really valuable should have
blue eyes (without deafness); black cats should have yellow eyes; other
cats should have pea-green eyes, or in some cases, as in the brown,
self-colored eyes. The nose should be short and tapering. The teeth
should be good, and the claws flat. The lower leg should be straight,
and the upper hind leg lie at closed angles. The foot should be small
and round (in the maltese, pointed). A good cat has a light frame, but a
deep chest; a slim, graceful, and fine neck; medium-sized ears with
rounded tips. The croup should be square and high; the tail of a
short-haired cat long and tapering, and of a long-haired cat broad and
bent over at the end.
The good results of a cat show are best told in a few words by one who
has acted as judge at an American exhibition.
"One year," he said, "people have to learn that there is such a thing as
a cat; the next they come to the show and learn to tell the different
breeds; another year they learn the difference between a good cat and a
poor one; and the next year they become exhibitors, and tell the judges
how to award the premiums."
CONCERNING HIGH-BRED CATS IN AMERICA
One of the first American women to start a "cattery" in this country was
Mrs. Clinton Locke, wife of the rector of Grace Church, Chicago. As a
clergyman's wife she has done a great deal of good among the various
charities of her city simply from the income derived from her kennels.
She has been very generous in gifts of her kittens to other women who
have made the raising of fine cats a means to add to a slender income,
and has sent beautiful cats all over the United States, to Mexico, and
even to Germany. Under her hospitable roof at 2825 Indiana Avenue is a
cat family of great distinction. First, there is The Beadle, a splendid
blue male with amber eyes, whose long pedigree appears in the third
volume of the N.C.C.S.B. under the number 1872, sired by Glaucus,
and his dam was Hawthorne Bounce. His pedigree is traced for many
generations. He was bred by Mrs. Dean of Hawthornedene, Slough, England.
The Beadle took first prize at the cat show held in Chicago in 1896. He
also had honorable mention at two cat shows in England when a kitten,
under the name of Bumble Bee. Lord Gwynne is a noble specimen, a
long-haired white cat with wonderful blue eyes. He was bred from
Champion Bundle, and his mother was out of The Masher, No. 1027, winner
of many championships. His former owner was Mrs. Davies, of Upper
Cattesham. Mrs. Locke purchased him from A.A. Clarke, one of the best
judges of cats in England. Lord Gwynne took a prize at the Brighton Cat
Show in England in 1895, as a kitten. The father of The Beadle's mate,
Rosalys, was the famous "Bluebeard."
Mrs. Locke's chinchillas are the finest ones in this country. Atossa,
the mother cat, has a wonderful litter of kittens. She was bred to Lord
Argent, one of the three celebrated stud chinchillas in England. She
arrived in this country in July, and ten days after gave birth to her
foreign kittens. One of the kittens has been sold to Mrs. Dr.
Forsheimer, of Cincinnati, and another to Mrs. W.E. Colburn, of South
Chicago. The others Mrs. Locke will not part with at any price.
Smerdis, the grand chinchilla male brought over as a future mate for
Atossa, is a royal cat. He looks as though he had run away from Bengal,
but, like all of Mrs. Locke's cats, he is gentle and loving. He is the son
of Lord Southampton, the lightest chinchilla stud in England (N.C.C.S.B.
1690), and his mother is Silver Spray, No. 1542. His maternal grandparents
are Silver King and Harebell, and his great-grandparents Perso and
Beauty,--all registered cats. On his father's side a pedigree of three
generations can be traced. One of her more recent importations is Lord
Gwynne's mate, Lady Mertice, a beautiful long-haired cat with blue eyes.
Other famous cats of hers have been Bettina, Nora, Doc, Vashti, Marigold,
Grover, and Wendell.
One of Mrs Locke's treasures is a _bona fide_ cat mummy, brought by
Mrs. Locke from Egypt. It has been verified at the Gizeh Museum to be
four thousand years old.
It is fully twenty-five years since Mrs. Locke began to turn her
attention to fine cats, and when she imported her first cat to Chicago
there was only one other in the United States. That one was Mrs. Edwin
Brainard's Madam, a wonderful black, imported from Spain. Her first
long-haired cat was Wendell, named for the friend who brought him from
Persia, and his descendants are now in the Lockehaven Cattery. Queen
Wendella is one of the most famous cats in America to-day, and mother of
the beautiful Lockehaven Quartette. These are all descended from the
first Wendell. The kittens in the Lockehaven Quartette went to Mrs. S.S.
Leach, Bonny Lea, New London, Ct.; Miss Lucy Nichols, Ben Mahr Cattery,
Waterbury, Ct.; Miss Olive Watson, Warrensburg, Pa.; and Mrs. B.M.
Gladding, at Memphis, Tenn, Mrs. Locke's Lord Argent, descended from
Atossa and the famous Lord Argent, of England, is a magnificent cat,
while her Smerdis is the son of the greatest chinchillas in the world.
Rosalys II, now owned by Mr. C.H. Jones, of Palmyra, N.Y., was once her
cat, and was the daughter of Rosalys (owned by Miss Nichols, of
Waterbury, Ct), who was a granddaughter of the famous Bluebeard, of
England. These, with the beautiful brown tabby, Crystal, owned by Mr.
Jones, have all been prize winners. Lucy Claire is a recent importation,
who won second and third prizes in England under the name of Baby
Flossie. She is the daughter of Duke of Kent and Topso, of Merevale. Her
paternal grandparents are Mrs. Herring's well-known champion, Blue Jack,
and Marney. The maternal grandparents are King Harry, a prize winner at
Clifton and Brighton, and Fluff.
Mrs. Locke's cats are all imported. She has sometimes purchased cats
from Maine or elsewhere for people who did not care to pay the price
demanded for her fine kittens, but she has never had in her own cattery
any cats of American origin. Her stock, therefore, is probably the
choicest in America. She always has from twenty to twenty-five cats, and
the cat-lover who obtains one of her kittens is fortunate indeed. A
beautiful pair of blacks in Mrs. Locke's cattery have the most desirable
shade of amber eyes, and are named "Blackbird" and "St. Tudno"; she has
also a choice pair of Siamese cats called "Siam" and "Sally Ward."
Mrs. Josiah Cratty, of Oak Park, has a cattery called the "Jungfrau
Katterie," and her cats are remarkably beautiful. Her Bartimaeus and
True Blue are magnificent white cats, sired by Mrs. Locke's Lord Gwynne.
Miss L.C. Johnstone, of Chicago, has some of the handsomest cats in the
country. Cherie is a wonderful blue shaded cat; Lord Humm is a splendid
brown tabby; while Beauty Belle is an exceedingly handsome white cat.
Miss Johnstone takes great pains with her cats, and is rewarded by
having them rated among the best in America.
Some of the beautiful cats which have been sent from Chicago to homes
elsewhere are Teddy Roosevelt, a magnificent white, sired by Mrs. W.E.
Colburn's Paris, and belonging to Mrs. L. Kemp, of Huron, S. Dak.;
Silver Dick, a gorgeous buff and white, whose grandmother was Mrs.
Colburn's Caprice, and who is owned by Mrs. Porter L. Evans, of East St.
Louis; Toby, a pure white with green eyes, owned by Mrs. Elbert W.
Shirk, of Indianapolis; and Amytis, a chinchilla belonging to Mrs. S.S.
Leach, of New London, sired by Mrs. Locke's Smerdis, and the daughter of
Miss Cora Wallace, of East Brady, Pa., has Lord Ruffles, son of the
first Rosalys and The Beadle, formerly Bumble Bee. Mrs. Fisk Greene, of
Chicago, now owns a beautiful cat in Bumble Bee, and another in Miss
Merrylegs, a blue with golden eyes, the daughter of Bumble Bee and Black
Sapho. The Misses Peacock, of Topeka, have a pair of whites called
Prince Hilo and Rosebud, the latter having blue eyes. Mrs. Frederick
Monroe, of Riverside, Ill., owns a remarkable specimen of a genuine
Russian cat, a perfect blue of extraordinary size. Miss Elizabeth
Knight, of Milwaukee, has a beautiful silver tabby, Winifred, the
daughter of Whychwood, Miss Kate Loraine Gage's celebrated silver tabby,
of Brewster, N.Y. The most perfect "lavender blue" cat belongs to Miss
Lucy E. Nichols, of Waterbury, Ct., and is named Roscal. He has
beautiful long fur, with a splendid ruff and tail, and is a son of
Rosalys and The Beadle.
Mrs. Leland Norton has a number of magnificent cats. It was she who
adopted Miss Frances Willard's "Tootsie," the famous cat which made two
thousand dollars for the temperance cause. Miss Nella B. Wheatley has
very fine kennels, and raises some beautiful cats. Her Taffy is a
beautiful buff and white Angora, which has been very much admired. Her
cats have been sold to go to many other cities. Speaking from her own
experience Miss Wheatley says, "Raising Angoras is one of the most
fascinating of employments, and I have found, when properly taken care
of, they are among the most beautiful, strong, intelligent, and playful
of all animals."
Mrs. W.E. Colburn is another very successful owner of cat kennels. She
has had some of the handsomest cats in this country, among which are
"Paris," a magnificent white cat with blue eyes, and his mother,
"Caprice," who has borne a number of wonderfully fine pure white Angoras
with the most approved shade of blue eyes. Her cattery is known as the
"Calumet Kennel," and there is no better judge of cats in the country
than Mrs. Colburn.
So much has been said of the cats which were "mascots" on the ships
during the Cuban War that it is hardly necessary to speak of them. Tom,
the mascot of the _Maine_, and Christobal have been shown in
several cities of the Union since the war.
The most beautiful collection of brown tabbies is owned by Mr. C.H.
Jones, of Palmyra, N.Y., who has the "Crystal Cattery." Crystal, the son
of Mrs. E.M. Barker's "King Humbert," is the champion brown tabby of
America, and is a magnificent creature, of excellent disposition and
greatly admired by cat fanciers everywhere. Mona Liza, his mate, and
Goozie and Bubbles make up as handsome a quartet of this variety as one
could wish to see. Goozie's tail is now over twelve inches in
circumference. Mr. Jones keeps about twenty fine cats in stock all the
The most highly valued cat in America is Napoleon the Great, whose owner
has refused four thousand dollars for him. A magnificent fellow he is
too, with his bushy orange fur and lionlike head. He is ten years old
and weighs twenty-three pounds, which is a remarkable weight in a male
cat, only gelded ones ordinarily running above fifteen pounds. Napoleon
was bred by a French nobleman, and was born at the Chateau
Fontainebleau, near Paris, in 1888. He is a pure French Angora, which is
shown by his long crinkly hair--so long that it has to be frequently
clipped to preserve the health and comfort of the beautiful creature.
This clipping is what causes the uneven quality of fur which appears in
his picture. His mother was a famous cat, and his grandmother was one of
the grandest dams of France (no pun intended). The latter lived to be
nineteen years old, and consequently Napoleon the Great is regarded by
his owners as a mere youth. He has taken first prizes and medals
wherever he has been exhibited, and at Boston, 1897, won the silver cup
offered for the best cat in the exhibition.
Another fine cat belonging to Mrs. Weed, is Marguerite, mother of Le
Noir, a beautiful black Angora, sired by Napoleon the Great and owned by
Mrs. Weed. Juno is Napoleon's daughter, born in 1894, and is valued at
fifteen hundred dollars. When she was seven months old her owners
refused two hundred dollars for her. She is a tortoise-shell and white
French Angora, and a remarkably beautiful creature. All these cats are
great pets, and are allowed the freedom of the house and barns, although
when they run about the grounds there is always a man in attendance. Six
or seven thousand dollars' worth of cats sporting on the lawn together
is a rich sight, but not altogether without risk.
Mrs. Fabius M. Clarke's "Persia," a beautiful dark chinchilla, is one of
the finest cats in this country. She began her career by taking special
and first prizes at Fastmay's Cat Show in England, as the best long-haired
kitten. She also took the first prize as a kitten at Lancashire, and at
the National Cat Show in New York in 1895. She was bred in England; sire,
King of Uhn; dam, Brunette, of pure imported Persian stock. Mrs. Clarke
brought her home in January, 1895, and she is still worshipped as a family
pet at her New York home. "Sylvio" was also brought over at the same time.
He was a beautiful long-haired male silver tabby, and bred by Mrs. A.F.
Gardner. Sylvio was sired by the famous Topso of Dingley (owned by Miss
Leake), famous as the best long-haired tabby in England. Sylvio's mother
was Mimidatzi, whose pedigree is given in the previous chapter. "Mimi's"
sire was the champion Blue Boy the Great, whose mother was Boots of
Bridgeyate, whose pedigree is also given in the extract from the stud
book. Sylvio took a first prize at the New York Show, 1895, but
unfortunately was poisoned before he was a year old. This seems the
greater pity, because he had a remarkably fine pedigree, and gave promise
of being one of the best cats America has yet seen.
Persia is a handsome specimen of the fine blue chinchilla class. She is
quiet, amiable, and shows her high breeding in her good manners and
intelligence. Her tail is like a fox's brush, and her ruff gladdens the
heart of every cat fancier that beholds her. She is an aristocratic
little creature, and seems to feel that she comes of famous foreign
ancestry. Mrs. Clarke makes great pets of her beautiful cats, and trains
them to do many a cunning trick.
Another cat which has won several prizes, and took the silver bowl
offered for the best cat and litter of kittens in the 1895 cat show of
New York is Ellen Terry, a handsome orange and white, exhibited by Mrs.
Fabius M. Clarke. At that show she had seven beautiful kittens, and they
all reposed in a dainty white and yellow basket with the mother,
delighting the hearts of all beholders. She now belongs to Mrs. Brian
Brown, of Brooklyn. She is a well-bred animal, with a pretty face and
fine feathering. One of the kittens who won the silver bowl in 1895 took
the second prize for long-haired white female in New York, in March,
1896. She is a beautiful creature, known as Princess Dinazarde, and
belongs to Mrs. James S.H. Umsted, of New York.
Sylvia is still in Mrs. Clarke's possession, and is a beautiful
creature, dainty, refined, and very jealous of her mistress's affection.
Mrs. Clarke also owns a real Manx cat, brought from the Isle of Man by
Captain McKenzie. It acts like a monkey, climbing up on mantels and
throwing down pictures and other small objects, in the regular monkey
spirit of mischief. It has many queer attributes, and hops about like a
rabbit. She also owns Sapho, who was bred by Ella Wheeler Wilcox from
her Madame Ref and Mr. Stevens's Ajax, an uncommonly handsome white
The sire of Topso and Sylvia was Musjah, owned by Mr. Ferdinand Danton,
a New York artist. He was a magnificent creature, imported from Algiers
in 1894; a pure blue Persian of uncommon size and beautiful coloring.
Musjah was valued at two hundred dollars, but has been stolen from Mr.
Danton. Probably his present owner will not exhibit him at future cat
Ajax is one of the finest white Angoras in this country. His owner, Mr.
D.W. Stevens, of West-field, Mass., has refused five hundred dollars for
him, and would not consider one thousand dollars as a fair exchange for
the majestic creature. He was born in 1893, and is valued, not only for
his fine points, but because he is a family pet, with a fine disposition
and uncommon intelligence. At the New York show in 1895, and at several
other shows, he has won first prizes.
One of his sons bids fair to be as fine a cat as Ajax. This is Sampson,
bred by Ella Wheeler Wilcox, from Madame Ref, and owned by Mrs. Brian
Brown. Mr. Stevens has a number of other high-bred cats, one of whom is
Raby, a reddish black female, with a red ruff. Another is Lady, who is
pure white; and then there are Monkey and Midget, who are black and
white Angoras. All of these cats are kept in a pen, half of which is
within the barn, and the other half out of doors and enclosed by wire
netting. Ajax roams over the house at will, and the others pass some of
the time there, but the entire collection, sometimes numbering
twenty-five, is too valuable to be given the freedom of all outdoors.
Both Mr. and Mrs. Stevens are very fond of cats, and have made a study
of them in sickness and health. Some years ago, a malicious raid was
made on the pen, and every cat poisoned with the exception of Raby,
whose life was saved only by frequent and generous doses of skunk's oil
At the first New York show, Miss Ethel Nesmith Anderson's Chico, an
imported Persian, took the second prize, after Ajax, in the pure white,
longhaired class. The third prize was won by Snow, another imported
Angora, belonging to Mr. George A. Rawson, of Newton, Mass. Snow had
already taken a prize at Crystal Palace. He is a magnificent animal. Mr.
Rawson owns a number of beautiful cats, which are the pride of his
family, and bring visitors from all parts of the country. His
orange-colored, long-haired Dandy won first prizes at the Boston shows
of 1896 and 1897 in the gelded class. He is beautifully marked, and has
a disposition as "childlike and bland" as the most exacting owner could
wish. Miss Puff is also owned by Mr. Rawson, and presents him with
beautiful white Angora kittens every year. The group of ten white
kittens, raised by him in 1896, gives some idea of the beauty of these
kittens: although the picture was taken with a high wind blowing in
their faces, causing one white beauty to conceal all marks of
identification except an ear, and another to hide completely behind his
Mustapha was entered by Dr. Huidekoper in the first New York show, but
not for competition. He was a magnificent brindled Persian gelded cat,
six years old, who enjoyed the plaudits of the multitude just as well as
though he had taken first prize. He was very fond of his master, but
very shy with strangers when at home. He slept on the library desk, or a
cushion next his master's bed whenever he could be alone with the
doctor, but at other times preferred his own company or that of the
Another cat that attracted a great deal of attention was Master Pettet's
Tommy, a white Persian, imported in 1889 and valued at five hundred
dollars, although no money consideration could induce his owners to part
with him. He was brought from the interior of Persia, where he was
captured in a wild state. He was kept caged for over a year, and would
not be tamed; but at last he became domesticated, and is now one of the
dearest pets imaginable. His fur is extremely long and soft, without a
colored hair. His tail is broad and carried proudly aloft, curling over
toward his back when walking. His face is full of intelligence: his ears
well-tipped and feathered, and his ruff a thing of beauty and a joy
King Max, a long-haired, black male, weighing thirteen pounds at the age
of one year, and valued at one thousand dollars, took first prizes in
Boston in January, 1897, '98, and '99. He is owned by Mrs. E.R. Taylor,
of Medford, Mass., and attracts constant attention during shows. His fur
is without a single white hair and is a finger deep; his ruff encircles
his head like a great aureole. He is not only one of the most beautiful
cats I have ever seen, but one of the best-natured: as his reputation
for beauty spreads among visitors at the show, everybody wants to see
him, and he has no chance at all for naps. Generally he is brought
forward and taken from his cage a hundred times a day; but not once does
he show the least sign of ill-temper, and even on the last day of the
show he keeps up a continual low purr of content and happiness. Perhaps
he knows how handsome he is.
Grover B., the Mascotte, is a Philadelphia cat who took the twenty-five
dollar gold medal in 1895, at the New York show, as the heaviest white
cat exhibited. He belongs to Mr. and Mrs. W.P. Buchanan, and weighs over
twenty pounds. He is a thoroughbred, and is valued at one thousand
dollars, having been brought from the Isle of Malta, and he wears a
one-hundred-dollar gold collar. He is a remarkable cat, noted
particularly for his intelligence and amiability. He is very dainty in
his choice of food, and prefers to eat his dinners in his high chair at
the table. He has a fascinating habit of feeding himself with his paws.
He is very talkative just before meal-times, and is versed in all the
feline arts of making one's self understood. He waits at the front door
for his master every night, and will not leave him all the evening. He
sleeps in a bed of his own, snugly wrapped up in blankets, and he is
admired by all who know him, not more for his beauty than for his
excellent deportment. He furnishes one more proof that a properly
trained and well-cared-for cat has a large amount of common sense and
Mrs. Frances Hodgson Burnett's tiger cat Dick attracted a great deal of
attention at the first New York show. He weighs twenty-two pounds and is
three feet long, with a girth of twenty-four inches; and he has attained
some degree of prominence in her writings.
A trio of cats that were a centre of attraction at that first show
belonged to Colonel Mann, of _Town Topics_. They were jet black,
and rejoiced in the names of Taffy, The Laird, and Little Billee. They
took a first prize, but two of them have since come to an untimely end.
Colonel Mann is a devoted lover of animals, and has given a standing
order that none of his employees shall, if they see a starving kitten on
the street, leave it to suffer and die. Accordingly his office is a sort
of refuge for unfortunate cats, and one may always see a number of
happy-looking creatures there, who seem to appreciate the kindness which
surrounds them. The office is in a fifth story overlooking Fifth Avenue:
and the cats used to crawl out on the wide window-ledge in summer-time
and enjoy the air and the view of Madison Square. But alas! The Laird
and Little Billee came to their deaths by jumping from their high perch
after sparrows and falling to the pavement below. Now there is a strong
wire grating across the windows, and Taffy, a monstrous, shiny black
fellow, is the leader in the "_Town Topics_ Colony."
Dr. H.L. Hammond, of Killingly, Ct., makes a speciality of the rare
Australian cats, and has taken numerous prizes with them at every cat
show in this country, where they are universally admired. His Columbia
is valued at six hundred dollars, and his Tricksey at five hundred
dollars. They are, indeed, beautiful creatures, though somewhat unique
in the cat world, as we see it. They are very sleek cats, with fur so
short, glossy, and fine that it looks like the finest satin. Their heads
are small and narrow, with noses that seem pointed when compared with
other cats. They are very intelligent and affectionate little creatures,
and make the loveliest of pets. Dr. and Mrs. Hammond are extremely fond
of their unusual and valuable cat family,--and tell the most interesting
tales of their antics and habits. His Columbia was an imported cat, and
the doctor has reason to believe that she with her mate are originally
from the Siamese cat imported from Siam to Australia. They are all very
delicate as kittens, the mother rarely having more than one at a time.
With two exceptions, these cats have never had more than two kittens at
a litter. They are very partial to heat, but cannot stand cold weather.
They have spells of sleeping when nothing has power to disturb them, but
when they do wake up they have a "high time," running and playing. They
are affectionate, being very fond of their owner, but rather shy with
strangers. They are uncommonly intelligent, too, and are very teachable
when young. They are such beautiful creatures, besides being rare in
this part of the world, that it is altogether probable that they will be
much sought after as pets.
CONCERNING CATS IN POETRY
As far back as the ninth century, a poem on a cat was written, which has
come down to us from the Arabic. Its author was Ibn Alalaf Alnaharwany,
of Bagdad, who died in 318 A.H. or A.D. 930. He was one of the better
known poets of the khalifate, and his work may still be found in the
original. The following verses, which were translated by Dr. Carlyle,
are confessedly a paraphrase rather than a strict translation; but, of
course, the sense is the same. Commentators differ on the question as to
whether the poet really meant anything more in this poem than to sing of
the death of a pet, and some have tried to ascribe to it a hidden
meaning which implies beautiful slaves, lovers, and assignations; just
as the wise Browning student discovers meanings in that great poet's
works of which he never dreamed. Nevertheless, we who love cats are fain
to believe that this follower of Mahomet meant only to celebrate the
merits--perhaps it would hardly do to call them virtues--of his beloved
The lines are inscribed,--
ON A CAT
THAT WAS KILLED AS SHE WAS ATTEMPTING TO ROB A DOVE-HOUSE
BY IBN ALALAF ALNAHARWANY
Poor Puss is gone!--'tis Fate's decree--
Yet I must still her loss deplore;
For dearer than a child was she,
And ne'er shall I behold her more!
With many a sad, presaging tear,
This morn I saw her steal away,
While she went on without a fear,
Except that she should miss her prey.
I saw her to the dove-house climb,
With cautious feet and slow she stept,
Resolved to balance loss of time
By eating faster than she crept.
Her subtle foes were on the watch,
And marked her course, with fury fraught;
And while she hoped the birds to catch,
An arrow's point the huntress caught.
In fancy she had got them all,
And drunk their blood and sucked their breath;
Alas! she only got a fall,
And only drank the draught of death.
Why, why was pigeon's flesh so nice,
That thoughtless cats should love it thus?
Hadst thou but lived on rats and mice,
Thou hadst been living still, poor Puss!
Cursed be the taste, howe'er refined,
That prompts us for such joys to wish;
And cursed the dainty where we find
Destruction lurking in the dish.
Among the poets, Pussy has always found plenty of friends. Her feline
grace and softness has inspired some of the greatest, and, from Tasso
and Petrarch down, her quiet and dignified demeanor have been celebrated
in verse. Mr. Swinburne, within a few years, has written a charming poem
which was published in the _Athenaeum_, and which places the writer
among the select inner circle of true cat-lovers. He calls his verses--
TO A CAT
Stately, kindly, lordly friend,
Here to sit by me, and turn
Glorious eyes that smile and burn,
Golden eyes, love's lustrous meed,
On the golden page I read.
* * * * *
Dogs may fawn on all and some
As they come:
You a friend of loftier mind,
Answer friends alone in kind.
Just your foot upon my hand
Softly bids it understand.
Thomas Gray's poem on the death of Robert Walpole's cat, which was
drowned in a bowl of goldfish, was greatly prized by the latter; after
the death of the poet the bowl was placed on a pedestal at Strawberry
Hill, with a few lines from the poem as an inscription. In a letter
dated March 1, 1747, accompanying it, Mr. Gray says:--
"As one ought to be particularly careful to avoid blunders in a
compliment of condolence, it would be a sensible satisfaction to me
(before I testify my sorrow and the sincere part I take in your
misfortune) to know for certain who it is I lament. [Note the 'Who.'] I
knew Zara and Selima (Selima was it, or Fatima?), or rather I knew them
both together, for I cannot justly say which was which. Then, as to your
handsome cat, the name you distinguish her by, I am no less at a loss,
as well knowing one's handsome cat is always the cat one likes best; or
if one be alive and the other dead, it is usually the latter that is the
handsomest. Besides, if the point were never so clear, I hope you do not
think me so ill bred or so imprudent as to forfeit all my interest in
the survivor. Oh, no; I would rather seem to mistake and imagine, to be
sure, it must be the tabby one that had met with this sad accident. Till
this affair is a little better determined, you will excuse me if I do
not cry, 'Tempus inane peto, requiem, spatiumque doloris.'"
He closes the letter by saying, "There's a poem for you; it is rather
too long for an epitaph." And then the familiar--
"'Twas on a lofty vase's side,
Where China's gayest art had dy'd
The azure flowers that blow:
Demurest of the tabby kind,
The pensive Selima, reclined,
Gazed on the lake below."
Wordsworth's "Kitten and the Falling Leaves," is in the high, moralizing
"That way look, my Infant, lo!
What a pretty baby show.
See the kitten on the wall,
Sporting with the leaves that fall,
* * * * *
"But the kitten, how she starts,
Crouches, stretches, paws, and darts
First at one and then its fellow,
Just as light and just as yellow:
There are many now--now one,
Now they stop, and there are none.
What intentness of desire
In her upward eye of fire!
With a tiger-leap halfway
Now she meets the coming prey,
Lets it go as fast, and then
Has it in her power again:
Now she works with three or four.
Like an Indian conjuror:
Quick as he in feats of art,
Far beyond in joy of heart.
Were her antics played in the eye
Of a thousand standers-by,
Clapping hands with shout and stare,
What would little Tabby care
For the plaudits of the crowd?
Over happy to be proud,
Over wealthy in the treasure
Of her own exceeding pleasure.
* * * * *
"Pleased by any random toy:
By a kitten's busy joy,
Or an infant's laughing eye
Sharing in the ecstacy:
I would fain like that or this
Find my wisdom in my bliss:
Keep the sprightly soul awake,
And have faculties to take,
Even from things by sorrow wrought,
Matter for a jocund thought,
Spite of care and spite of grief,
To gambol with life's falling leaf."
Cowper's love for animals was well known. At one time, according to Lady
Hesketh, he had besides two dogs, two goldfinches, and two canaries,
five rabbits, three hares, two guinea-pigs, a squirrel, a magpie, a jay,
and a starling. In addition he had, at least, one cat, for Lady Hesketh
says, "One evening the cat giving one of the hares a sound box on the
ear, the hare ran after her, and having caught her, punished her by
drumming on her back with her two feet hard as drumsticks, till the
creature would actually have been killed had not Mrs. Unwin rescued
her." It might have been this very cat that was the inspiration of
Cowper's poem, "To a Retired Cat," which had as a moral the familiar
"Beware of too sublime a sense
Of your own worth and consequence:
The man who dreams himself so great
And his importance of such weight,
That all around, in all that's done,
Must move and act for him alone,
Will learn in school of tribulation
The folly of his expectation."
"Come, beauty, rest upon my loving heart,
But cease thy paws' sharp-nailed play,
And let me peer into those eyes that dart
Mixed agate and metallic ray."
* * * * *
"Grave scholars and mad lovers all admire
And love, and each alike, at his full tide
Those suave and puissant cats, the fireside's pride,
Who like the sedentary life and glow of fire."
Goldsmith also wrote of the kitten:--
"Around in sympathetic mirth
Its tricks the kitten tries:
The cricket chirrups in the hearth,
The crackling fagot flies."
Does this not suggest a charming glimpse of the poet's English home?
Keats was evidently not acquainted with the best and sleekest pet cat,
and his "Sonnet to a Cat" does not indicate that he fully appreciated
their higher qualities.
Mr. Whittier, our good Quaker poet, while not attempting an elaborate
sonnet or stilted elegiac, shows a most appreciative spirit in the lines
he wrote for a little girl who asked him one day, with tears in her
eyes, to write an epitaph for her lost Bathsheba.
"Bathsheba: To whom none ever said scat,
No worthier cat
Ever sat on a mat
Or caught a rat:
Clinton Scollard, however, has given us an epitaph that many
sympathizing admirers would gladly inscribe on the tombstones of their
lost pets, if it were only the popular fashion to put tombstones over
their graves. This is Mr. Scollard's tribute, the best ever written:--
AN ELEGY ON PETER, AGED TWELVE
In vain the kindly call: in vain
The plate for which thou once wast fain
At morn and noon and daylight's wane,
O King of mousers.
No more I hear thee purr and purr
As in the frolic days that were,
When thou didst rub thy velvet fur
Against my trousers.
How empty are the places where
Thou erst wert frankly debonair,
Nor dreamed a dream of feline care,
A capering kitten.
The sunny haunts where, grown a cat,
You pondered this, considered that,
The cushioned chair, the rug, the mat,
By firelight smitten.
Although of few thou stoodst in dread,
How well thou knew a friendly tread,
And what upon thy back and head
The stroking hand meant.
A passing scent could keenly wake
Thy eagerness for chop or steak,
Yet, Puss, how rarely didst thou break
The eighth commandment.
Though brief thy life, a little span
Of days compared with that of man,
The time allotted to thee ran
In smoother metre.
Now with the warm earth o'er thy breast,
O wisest of thy kind and best,
Forever mayst thou softly rest,
_In pace_, Peter.
One only has to read this poem to feel that Mr. Scollard knew what it is
to love a gentle, intelligent, affectionate cat--made so by kind
To Francois Coppee the cat is as sacred as it was to the Egyptians of
old. The society of his feline pets is to him ever delightful and
consoling, and it may have inspired him to write some of his most
melodious verses. Nevertheless he is not the cat's poet. It was Charles
Cros who wrote:--
"Chatte blanche, chatte sans tache,
Je te demande dans ces vers
Quel secret dort dans tes yeux verts,
Quel sarcasme sous ta moustache?"
Here is a version in verse of the famous "Kilkenny Cats":--
"O'Flynn, she was an Irishman, as very well was known,
And she lived down in Kilkenny, and she lived there all alone,
With only six great large tom-cats that knowed their ways about;
And everybody else besides she scrupulously shut out."
"Oh, very fond of cats was she, and whiskey, too, 'tis said,
She didn't feed 'em very much, but she combed 'em well instead:
As may be guessed, these large tom-cats did not get very sleek
Upon a combing once a day and a 'haporth' once a week.
"Now, on one dreary winter's night O'Flynn she went to bed
With a whiskey bottle under her arm, the whiskey in her head.
The six great large tom-cats they all sat in a dismal row,
And horridly glared their hazy eyes, their tails wagged to and fro.
"At last one grim graymalkin spoke, in accents dire to tell,
And dreadful were the words which in his horrid whisper fell:
And all the six large tom-cats in answer loud did squall,
'Let's kill her, and let's eat her, body, bones, and all.'
"Oh, horrible! Oh, terrible! Oh, deadly tale to tell!
When the sun shone through the window-hole all seemed still and well:
The cats they sat and licked their paws all in a merry ring.
But nothing else in all the house looked like a living thing.
"Anon they quarrelled savagely--they spit, they swore, they hollered:
At last these six great large tom-cats they one another swallered:
And naught but one long tail was left in that once peaceful dwelling,
And a very tough one, too, it was--it's the same that I've been telling."
By far more artistic is the version for which I am indebted to Miss
Katharine Eleanor Conway, herself a poet of high order and a lover of
THE KILKENNY CATS
There wanst was two cats in Kilkenny,
Aitch thought there was one cat too many;
So they quarrelled and fit,
They scratched and they bit,
Till, excepting their nails,
And the tips of their tails,
Instead of two cats, there wasn't any.
This version comes from Ireland, and is doubtless the correct original.
"Note," says Miss Conway, "the more than Greek delicacy with which the
tragedy is told. No mutilation, no gore; just an effacement--prompt and
absolute--'there wasn't any.' It would be hard to overpraise that fine
CONCERNING CAT ARTISTS
While thousands of artists, first and last, have undertaken to paint
cats, there are but few who have been able to do them justice. Artists
who have possessed the technical skill requisite to such delicate work
have rarely been willing to give to what they have regarded as
unimportant subjects the necessary study; and those who have been
willing to study cats seriously have possessed but seldom the skill
requisite to paint them well.
Thomas Janvier, whose judgment on such matters is unquestioned, declares
that not a dozen have succeeded in painting thoroughly good cat
portraits, portraits so true to nature as to satisfy--if they could
express their feelings in the premises--the cat subjects and their cat
friends. Only four painters, he says, ever painted cats habitually and
Two members of this small but highly distinguished company flourished
about a century ago in widely separated parts of the world, and without
either of them knowing that the other existed.
One was a Japanese artist, named Ho-Kou-Say, whose method of painting,
of course, was quite unlike that to which we are accustomed in this
western part of the world, but who had a wonderful faculty for making
his queer little cat figures seem intensely alive.
The other was a Swiss artist, named Gottfried Mind, whose cat pictures
are so perfect in their way that he came to be honorably known as "the
The other two members of the cat quartet are the French artist, Monsieur
Louis Eugene Lambert, whose pictures are almost as well known in this
country as they are in France; and the Dutch artist, Madame Henriette
Ronner, whose delightful cat pictures are known even better, as she
catches the softer and sweeter graces of the cat more truly than
A thoroughly good picture of a cat is hard to paint, from a technical
standpoint, because the artist must represent not only the soft surface
of fur, but the underlying hard lines of muscle: and his studies must be
made under conditions of cat perversity which are at times quite enough
to drive him wild. If he is to represent the cat in repose, he must wait
for her to take that position of her own accord; and then, just as his
sketch is well under way, she is liable to rise, stretch herself, and
walk off. If his picture is to represent action, he must wait for the
cat to do what he wants her to do, and that many times before he can be
quite sure that his drawing is correct. With these severe limitations
upon cat painting, it is not surprising that very few good pictures of
cats have been painted.
Gottfried Mind has left innumerable pen sketches to prove his intimate
knowledge of the beauty and charm of the cat. He was born at Berne in
1768. He had a special taste for drawing animals even when very young,
bears and cats being his favorite subjects. As he grew older he obtained
a wonderful proficiency, and his cat pictures appeared with every
variety of expression. Their silky coats, their graceful attitudes,
their firm shape beneath the undulating fur, were treated so as to make
Mind's cats seem alive.
It was Madame Lebrun who named him the "Raphael of Cats," and many a
royal personage bought his pictures. He, like most cat painters, kept
his cats constantly with him, knowing that only by persistent and never
tiring study could he ever hope to master their infinite variety. His
favorite mother cat kept closely at his side when he worked, or perhaps
in his lap; while her kittens ran over him as fearlessly as they played
with their mother's tail. When a terrible epidemic broke out among the
cats of Berne in 1809, he hid his Minette safely from the police, but he
never quite recovered from the horror of the massacre of the eight
hundred that had to be sacrificed for the general safety of the people.
He died in 1814, and in poverty, although a few years afterward his
pictures brought extravagant prices.
Burbank, the English painter, has done some good things in cat pictures.
The expression of the face and the peculiar light in the cat's eye made
up the realism of Burbank's pictures, which were reproductions of sleek
and handsome drawing-room pets, whose shining coats he brings out with
The ill-fated Swiss artist Cornelius Wisscher's marvellous tom-cat has
Delacroix, the painter of tigers, was a man of highly nervous
temperament, but his cat sketches bring out too strongly the tigerish
element to be altogether successful.
Louis Eugene Lambert was a pupil of Delacroix. He was born in Paris,
September 25, 1825, and the chief event of his youth was, perhaps, the
great friendship which existed between him and Maurice Sands. Entomology
was a fad with him for a time, but he finally took up his serious
life-work in 1854, when he began illustrating for the _Journal of
Agriculture_. In connection with his work, he began to study animals
carefully, making dogs his specialty. In 1862 he illustrated an edition
of La Fontaine, and in 1865 he obtained his first medal for a painting
of dogs. In 1866 his painting of cats, "L'Horloge qui avance," won
another medal, and brought his first fame as a cat painter. In 1874 he
was made a Chevalier of the Legion of Honor. His "Envoi" in 1874, "Les
Chats du Cardinal," and "Grandeur Decline" brought more medals. Although
he has painted hosts of excellent dog pictures, cats are his favorites,
on account, as he says, of "les formes fines et gracieux; mouvements,
souple et subtil."
In the Luxembourg Gallery, Mr. Lambert's "Family of Cats" is considered
one of the finest cat pictures in the world. In this painting the mother
sits upon a table watching the antics of her four frivolous kittens.
There is a wonderful smoothness of touch and refinement of treatment
that have never yet been excelled. "After the Banquet" is another
excellent example of the same smoothness of execution, with fulness of
action instead of repose. And yet there is an undeniable lack of the
softer attributes which should be evident in the faces of the group.
It is here that Madame Ronner excels all other cat painters, living or
dead. She not only infuses a wonderful degree of life into her little
figures, but reproduces the shades of expression, shifting and variable
as the sands of the sea, as no other artist of the brush has done.
Asleep or awake, her cats look exactly to the "felinarian" like cats
with whom he or she is familiar. Curiosity, drowsiness, indifference,
alertness, love, hate, anxiety, temper, innocence, cunning, fear,
confidence, mischief, earnestness, dignity, helplessness,--they are all
in Madame Ronner's cats' faces, just as we see them in our own cats.
Madame Ronner is the daughter of Josephus Augustus Knip, a landscape
painter of some celebrity sixty years ago, and from her father she
received her first art education. She is now over seventy years old, and
for nearly fifty years has made her home in Brussels. There, she and her
happy cats, a big black Newfoundland dog named Priam, with a pert
cockatoo named Coco, dwell together in a roomy house in its own grounds,
back a little from the Charleroi Road. Madame Ronner has a good son to
care for her, and she loves the animals, who are both her servants and
her friends. Every day she spends three good hours of the morning in her
studio, painting her delightful cat pictures with the energy of a young
artist and the expert precision which we know so well. She was sixteen
when she succeeded in painting a picture which was accepted and sold at
a public exhibition at Dusseldorf. This was a study of a cat seated in a
window and examining with great curiosity a bumblebee; while it would
not compare with her later work, there must have been good quality in
it, or it would not have got into a Dusseldorf picture exhibition at
all. At any rate, it was the beginning of her successful career as an
artist. From that time she managed to support herself and her father by
painting pictures of animals. For many years, however, she confined
herself to painting dogs. Her most famous picture, "The Friend of Man,"
belongs to this period--a pathetic group composed of a sorrowing old
sand-seller looking down upon a dying dog still harnessed to the little
sand-wagon, with the two other dogs standing by with wistful looks of
sympathy. When this picture was exhibited, in 1860, Madame Ronner's fame
was established permanently.
But it so happened that in the same year a friendly kitten came to live
in her home, wandering in through the open doorway from no one knew
where, and deciding, after sniffing about the place in cat fashion, to
remain there for the remainder of its days. And it also happened that
Madame Ronner was lured by this small stranger, who so coolly quartered
himself upon her, to change the whole current of her artistic life, and
to paint cats instead of dogs. Of course, this change could not be made
in a moment; but after that the pictures which she painted to please
herself were cat pictures, and as these were exhibited and her
reputation as a cat painter became established, cat orders took the
place of dog orders more and more, until at last her time was given
wholly to cat painting. Her success in painting cat action has been due
as much to her tireless patience as to her skill; a patience that gave
her strength to spend hours upon hours in carefully watching the quick
movements of the lithe little creatures, and in correcting again and
again her rapidly made sketches.
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