CATS: THEIR HUMANE AND RATIONAL TREATMENT.
Cats deserve far better treatment than they sometimes receive at tho hands of those who own them. This more often than not is the result of a want of knowledge of what is necessary to keep pussy alive and comfortable. Many people have an idea that anything is good enough for a dog j but, alas! a cat is supposed to be able to maintain existence without even a share of whatever may be implied by that word " anything." Some people look upon poor pussy as simply a kind of clever invention for catching mice, an animated vermin trap, a creature that never requires any food except that which she herself may capture, and no attention or kindness of any kind. Thanks to her wonderful nature and instincts, even a neglected cat will manage to support life after a fashion; but there is as much difference between a well-fed and properly cared-for puss and a mere mouser as there is between a hungry wolf of the wilds and the honest "bawsent" faced collie that sleeps on the hearthrug or accompanies its master in his walks abroad.
Anyone who wants to find out what a gentle, affectionate, and grateful animal a cat really is, has only, to make the following experiment:—Let him get a young one, not a kitten, but a cat of about a year old, that has been starved and ill-treated, and regarded as a kind of wild beast, or kept about some barn-yard merely on sufferance, in order to keep the mice away. Let him begin by feeding this cat regularly, talking to it, and using it kindly ; let him bring it into the house every night, and give it a bed of some kind to lie on in a warm corner, and teach it by gentle means habits of cleanliness, <tc.; let him do this, and he will be surprised at the difference in the poor creature's manners and appearance even in the space of a month or six weeks ; and before a year is over he will be as fond of that cat as any human being can be of one of the lower animals. And pussy will be just as fond of her master, and have never a thought in her heart but how to please him.
Now I do not mean to waste space in giving oiany anecdotes illustrative of pussy's tricks and manners; but one is so fresh in my mind at the present moment, and altogether so strange, that I cannot refrain from penning it. I was told the story when in Jersey, judging a show of dogs, cats, and rabbits, and have every reason to believe it is strictly true. Two cats belonging to a gentleman in that island had kittens at the same time; the young ones were destroyed, with the exception of two, ono being humanely left to each mother. During the night a kitten died ; but its parent had carried it to the other part of the room, where her companion was, and exchanged it for the living one, which she was found suckling. To mako certain that there had been no mistake, the dead and the living kittens were restored to their respective mothers. In a short time the exchange was again made; and the same thing occurred n. third time ; but now, instead of going back to her' own bed, this eccentric pussy escaped to an outside hay-loft with her living freight, and there she reared it.
I have proved over and over again that, properly cared for and properly trained, cats are cleanly and regular in all their ways ; that they are wonderfully sagacious; that thoy ai-o quite as -wiso in thoir own way and as high in the scale of animal existence as dogs are; that they aro tractable and eminently teachable; that, indeed, thoy can be taught tricks like a poodle j that they are honest, and not thieves, capital vermin-killers, very fond of other animals as playmates, such as dogs, guinea-pigs, rabbits, and birds; that they aro very fond of thoir young, very much attached to children; that thoy like their homes, but lovo a kind master or mistress. But a badly used or thoughtlessly treated cat is quite the roverso of all I have described, though for tho sake of humanity I will admit that most of the bad usage to which our pussies are subjected is tho reult of want of thought.
Cats aro liablo to a good many ailments ; but most of them are preventable by careful feeding and kind treatment. Lot us see, then, what pussy really needs to keep her well and happy. Strange though it may appear to some, she requires food every day of herlifo, and preferably twice a day. Now, although people who keep and breed what may be called show cats, splendid Poramnß and Angoras, U.~ for tho kittens of which thoy easily obtain high prices—make food tor their favourites separately, this is not necessary where only one or two cats are kopt in a family. Huro tho iniaUko usually made is that of supposing the bits thrown to tho cat during the family mealtime by those she solicits aro quite enough for hor. Give hor morsels by all means, if she bogs prottily for theuis but immediately after tho family have breakfasted or
dined, pussy's dish ought to be well filled witli soinothing really edible, something she cares for. This may be bread and milk, or potatoes mashed up in milk, or proferably in gravy; but meat of Borne kind alio ought to have onco a day at least. Cats depend moro on meat oven than do. Boiled lights are very good ; but it should bo remembered that this kind of food looks more than it is—it is light by. namo and light by nature, so a good share must bo given. It should be cut up fine,, and a little milk put over it. Fish is a groat treat for a cat; in many caseH of illness they will oat this when thoy can take nothing else. Horse-flesh, when it can be had, is good occasionally, but it has a laxative tendency. Nice tripe or eowheel is excellent; but indeed nothing comes amiss that one eats one's self, only wo mutt bo careful to give bread and vegetables as well as meat. Raw beef minced finely is often given to cats when ill; so aro boiled eggs and cream. Milk seems to bo one of tho necessaries of life to a cat; lot it bo good and abundant. Few peoplo know that cats cannot be kept in health unless they be supplied with water. If a cat doeß not get water, she will
havo to help herself to it. This in the country she has generally a chance of doing, but not in towns. A saucer should be always kept in a corner for pussy, and the water ought to bo fresh every morning. _ Another thing that cats do not thrive well without is grass. Herein, again, the happy country cat ha 3 the advantage of the felino dweller in cities; nevertheless grass may be pulled for a cat. I have known it placed between two bricks in the corner of the scullery, where it would keep fresh for a week, and be always handy when the little creature wanted it. There is no domestic animal in our possession more fond of cleanliness in every way than puss. Habits of cleanliness in the house aro very easily taught; and a well-cared-for and properly treated cat will even teach her kittens to be cleanly. But pussy's food ought always to be nice and clean, and the dish that contains it should bo washed every day. Putting fresh food among that which has been left from a former meal is a sure way of preventing a cat from enjoying or even touching it. If well fed, a cat's coat is beautifully soft, thick, and sheeny, and she seems to take a delight.in keeping it so. When ill or neglected, the coat becomes rough and thin. It is usually after a meal that puss sits down contentedly to wash herself and pay attention to her personal appearance ; and those who breed beautiful cats take advantage of this, and give the animal a tiny bit of butter after her dinner, or put a little cream on her paws. She requires no other incentive to cause her to proceed
forthwith to groom herself all over. The oil of the butter and her own saliva seem | to form a kind of soap, which acts like magic when applied by means of her rough tongue to the coat. Sometimes a cat requires to be washed. The water should be lukewarm, the soap the mildest procurable, and the towels with which she is is dried very soft; and after the operation she ought to be put into a clean room until thoroughly dry, or, what is better still, placed in a clean empty cage near the fire.
If the owner of a cat cares anything for it, or has any regard for the comfort of his | neighbour, he will do all in his power to keep it in the house at night. This is best accomplished by making a practice of feeding, the animal late in the evening. A late dinner makes pussy very regular in her habits, especially if she is always nure of getting it at the same time. The possession of property-involves certain duties ; when that property is a pussy cat, we have a duty to perform not only to our favourite, but to our neighbours as well. To kill cats in gardens by means of traps or poison is extremely cruel as well as cowardly; but at the same time the temptation to do bo is very great when one finds his beautiful Sower beds torn up by the claws of nocturnal marauders, or his valuable pet pigeons, or even his chickens, killed and carried away. If people would only feed their pussies well at home, and keep them in-doors at night, such things would not happen. There are many wanton cruelties perpetrated on cats that I hardly care to mention. For the mere love of mischief, or sport, as it is erroneously called, these harmless necessary animals are often hunted and torn in pieces by dogs. Again, there are those who capture and destroy cats for the sake of the skin, which fetches a good price at the dealers' ; but, for the sake of humanity, I trust I am mistaken when I add that, under the notion that it retains the gloss on the coat, the unhappy creatures are sometimes skinned ere dead. Kind though her owner may wish to be, puss may nevertheless suffer from her owner's thoughtlessness. It is cruel riot to feed a cat abundantly, regularly, and with food suitable for her wants; it is cruel not to give her plenty of fresh water daily, and an allowance of good sweet milk ; and it is foolishly cruel to keep from her the necessaries of life, with the idea that it will make her a better hunter ; for mouse-catching needs patience, and only a well-fed cat has that. It is cruel to turn a cat out at night against her will, and a person who makes a practice of so doing has no right to own one. It is cruder still to " wander " a cat that you do not wish to keep, and have not the courage to mercifully deprive of life. Another species of cruelty to be avoided is that of destroying all a cat's kittens at once. One should always be loft, and for this little thing a good home should invariably be provided. It is cruel, on the other hand, to keep more than one or two alive; for as it is- next to impossible to find homes for them all, they are sure to turn out starvelings, and add to the list of homeless wanderers.. But the worst form of cruelty of any is that cold-blooded species of cat-murder—l can call it by no other name —which consists in leaving the poor creature to starve at home while the family is gone on the annual holiday. There is no excuse for this ; for cats are capital traveller.-, and if they lovo their owners—as, if well used, they invariably do—they will take kindly to tho new abode even in a day. If. howover, it bo thought too much to tako pussy to tho 'hills or the sea-side, surely a kind neighbour could be t'ouud to tako charge of the animal in the absence of her owner. When a cat gets too old to be of any use. and is even a burden to itself, then it ought to bo destroyed in as humane a maimer as possible. I have tried all plans. A very largo dose of morphia causes dentil speedily; but often, instead of falling at one into the sleep that precedes extinction of life, tho animal haß a fit of delirium. A eat, however, if placed in a box from which the air is excluded, and a sponge full of chloroform placed in one corner, quickly succumbs, and moves no more. Drowning is somowhat cruel, in my opinion.
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CATS: THEIR HUMANE AND RATIONAL TREATMENT., Lyttelton Times, Volume LXII, Issue 7327, 23 August 1884
CATS: THEIR HUMANE AND RATIONAL TREATMENT. Lyttelton Times, Volume LXII, Issue 7327, 23 August 1884
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