A HAPPY FAMILY.
THEIS TRAINING DESCRIBED. 'Twas indeed a happy family. Cata, rats, mice, and birds all eating out of the same plate. This was the sight recently witnessed in the room of Professor Leoni Clarke, who has been, styled “ The Oat King.” The rats and mice were white, the birds the regular canary, and the oats were black, white, and tortoiseshell. They ranged from tin eight-pounder to a kitten of as many ounces, and all were as happy as happy could be. One very large white rat showed.his pugnacity by attempting to take a bone away from one of the cats, and received a slap for his trouble which sent him roiling. This was the only misbehaviour noticed during the meal. MAKING THEIR TOILET. . After breakfast Professor Clarke told onp of hia assistants to get ready for the . toilet, and, taking his coat off, he entered an adjoining room with this strange heterogeneous assemblage at his heels. Here a large tin tub stood on a box, and one by one the cats took their position on a chair near by and waited for a wash. The professor took each one separately, and, after washing it with a patent soap of hie own, he passed it to one of his assistants for drying and combing. After the Professor had finished making the cats’ ablutions he turned his attention to the rats, and they were treated in much the same manner. One old rodent appeared to enjoy his bath hugely, and when he was over with it he ran a race about the room, while the kittens looked on with apparent astonishment. The birds were allowed to make their own toilet. A FULL-DRESS REHEARSAL. After the morning toilet had been completed the party adjourned to the other room, and were put through a full-dress rehearsal. First came the cata. Dublin was announced, and climbed a ladder without much hesitation. This cat was horn in Dublin, and glories in extra-sized feet, having eight toes on each paw. The others were made to do the same thing, and, when one hesitated, the Professor waited a reasonable length of time, and then, if it still hesitated, be pushed it over, and continued to do so until poor Tom or Maria thought it best to obey.- A number of other acts were rehearsed, and then the tight-rope was stretched. There was a lively awakening in the rat-cage just then, and the occupants seemed to understand it was their time. The Professor dived his hands down and brought up a dozen rats, some clinging to his sleeves, and placed them on the rope. He continued to do this until the rope was fairly alive with rats, with not enough space between them apparently for a fly to alight. “’All right,” shouted the Professor, and the procession of cats commenced to move across the rope. Slowly came the cats, picking their way carefully, fearing lest they hurt poor ratty. “ What’sthis?” Why, here comesa cat with a couple of rats hanging on to her collar. Tet puss never noticed them, and continued her walk apparently unconcerned. After this act had been completed the mice were placed on the rope and the performance was finished. It looked blue for a mousey at one time, for a cat grabbed it by the nape of the neck and dropped it on the floor. A sharp slap from the Professor brought the cat to his senses, and he continued his walk with a high head. A merry song from half a hundred little throats was the signal for the cats to repeat the act with canaries to walk over. A oat would approach a little songster, and the latter would stoop while tabby passed over, then, rising, would continue its song with, renewed force. SULLIVAN AND JACKSON. "Now, Jackson and Sullivan, we are ready for you,” calls out the Professor; and a gray and white cat and a tortoiseshell cat came bounding up. The gray and white one is Jackson, the Australian prize-fighter, and the other John L. Sullivan, the American pugilist. The cats take their position on a table, and face each other. At the word " Time ” both stand on their hind legs and begin to paw at each other. They spar a few minutes, and the Professor calls time, and both stop at once. Another round is fought, and each cat is given a drink from a bottle. " Alice,. Rose, Minnie,” called the Professor, and three beautiful white cats came running out. These were the parachute cats, the Professor explained, and the reporter was an interested observer of his next act. A miniature parachute was attached to the ceiling, and a large, heavy rope hung perpendicularly from beside it. Up this rope went Rose and Minnie, and took their positions on either side of the small horizontal bar whioh ran across the handle of the parachute. Then, at a word from the Professor, up climbed Alice, and, seizing a string in her mouth, pulled the trigger, and the parachute, with its feline burden, sailed gracefully to the floor. It was the lastaot of the rehearsal, and the cats seemed to know it, for they scampered off at a great rate. ABOUT TRAINING THE ANIMALS. “ Ate cats easy to train P ” asked the visitor. " There is no animal I know of half so hard to train as a cat,” replied the Professor. " I have been training animals nearly fifteen years now,” he added, “ and while my experience has been that cats are harder to teach, yet I’d rather handle them than anything else., My first experience with cats,” continued the Professor, as he deftly caught a canary and put it in a cage, “happened in India about five years ago. I became very much infatuated with a kitten and carried it home with me. Here it was I first conceived the idea of training cats. The evenings were especially lonely, so I amused myself teaching Bosey (that was her name) tricks. The very first trick I taught her was to jump through my hands. Now, anybody can train a cat to do that. Patience is the main thing. Sometimes a lady who has witnessed my cat performance calls upon me after the show and wants to buy one of the cats, offering a large sum. Why they don’t train them themselves is a mystery to me. Woman has all the patience, someone has said, and with this the case all they need is a subject. But there, 1 am wandering away from my story. After Bosey could jump through my arms 1 taught her other tricks, and many a time she furnished the boys with the means of passing an agreeable evening indoors when the weather outside was inclement. It was not until Bosey came to me one morning and took me to see half a dozen kittens of hers that I conceived the idea of training cats for profit. Thefirst thing 1 did was to obtain some rats and mice and put the kittens in a cage with them. Bosey cleaned me oat one night, but 1 started in afresh and sent her to a friend to keep for me. The cats and rats grew up together and never fought. This is the secret of the two performing together.” CATS ARE SCAREY. “ But cats are very scarey. How do you manage to accustom them to the audience ?” “ Why, that’s easy enough,” replied the Professor. “ I rehearse them at first before a gang of roughs with orchestra accompaniment. The roughs make noise enough, and after a few months the cats don’t mind an audience any more f-.Vion I do,” “Do cats need much care ?” “Indeed they do. They have to be watched every moment in the day.’’ tt How do they stand the show life P” “ Not very well. They are continually dying, and there are times when the whole troupe will get the sulks.” “Are they subject to sickness ?” “ No, sir,” emphasised the Professor.- “My cats are properly fed, and no animal will get sick if its meals are regular and proper. What do I feed them on ? Well, in the morning they have a bit of meat, with a little bread, and at night the same. On Tuesdays and Fridays they have fish. Now, fish is the very best food I know of for cats. It not only makes them healthy, but gives their coat a fine gloss.” "Do you ever get scratched ?” The Professor replied by holding up both hands. They were simply covered with scratches. “They can't hurt me by scratching,” said the Professor. “ I’m tough.”
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Lyttelton Times, Lyttelton Times, Volume LXXV, Issue 9417, 19 May 1891
A HAPPY FAMILY. Lyttelton Times, Volume LXXV, Issue 9417, 19 May 1891
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