Sunday, 18 December 2016

14 May 1881 - 'Our Mutual Friend, Puss' by Dr Gordon Stables - Part Two

Part one of this story can be found here. And as always when the G.O.P. starts giving out recipes for medicines: don't try this at home.

Anyone who had never seen a more highly-bred cat than the honest and faithful but common grey grimalkin, that lies on the cottage hearthrug, singing duets with the tea-kettle, or the half-wild mouse-catcher of the barn-door, would be greatly surprised if he happened to go to a large show of our favourites, at the wealth of feline loveliness and grace displayed upon the benches.

"Why," I have heard some people exclaim, "I couldn't have believed there were such beautiful cats in the world."

And I have made reply, "What you see is simply the result of care and kindness, proper feeding and housing, and attention to the pelage or coats of the animals."

Cats, especially the long-haired breeds, it will do my readers no harm to know, are becoming more fashionable every day as domestic pets, and people who care to keep good ones, and to rear them well and show them, get very large prices for them. I am acquainted with ladies who sell their kittens even for two and three guineas each, and who would not take twenty for many of their full-grown pussies.

Let us imagine now that we are taking a walk around the great cat show at the Crystal Palace, and that I am mentor. I feel sure I can tell you many things about the inmates of the pens that you do not know.

Well, then, first on the list of short hairs is a tortoiseshell male cat, a very rare animal; here are several tortoiseshell female pussies, not big, and very dark in their markings, with no white. In their nature they are brave and bold, good workers, loving, gentle, and jealous, and always faithful to mistress or master. Next come the tortoiseshell and white, the colours being yellow, red, black and white, artistically arranged in those who have won prizes. They are bigger cats than the former, and not so decided in their likes and dislikes.

Then we have the brown tabbies – splendid fellows everyone of them, some of enormous size. There is one yonder, blinking half asleep on his scarlet velvet cushion. Who weight twenty-two pounds, but is so very lissom withal that he can jump on to the top of any door in his master's house. Tabbies are *par excellence the Englishman's cat. They are good-natured, brave and noble, fond of children, and very fond of their offspring. They ought to be long bodies and graceful; though massive, somewhat short in the forelegs, with large round heads, small ears, and gentle, happy-looking eyes. The strips should be black on a brown ground, and very well defined, and there should be no white on them, else they would be classed as brown-tabby-with-white. There should also be one or two semi-circular bars across the chest. Eyes hazel preferably.

The silver tabby has somewhat longer ears, and a less blunt face with green eyes. Colour like Aberdeen granite, striped with deeply dark markings. They are very lovely and valuable. The red tabbies come next. They are splendid fellows, with green or yellow eyes, reddish in colour, marked with deeper red, and no white. Look at this one; he has been passed over by the judge because his colouring is neither deep enough nor distinct enough. This breed is very clever, and they make capital hunters, but are apt to wander a long way from home; however, unless they fall victims to the vile traps or the too ready guns of cowardly keepers, they never fail to come back again.

The red and white tabby is a gay and gallant fellow, and full of life and fun. In that pen is a spotted tabby. This cat may be any colour, only covered with stripes, composed of spots. I hope that is not an Irish bull. That gentlemanly-looking fellow there is a black and white cat. His coat is of jet, he wears white socks and gloves, and a front as spotless as the snow. He is as good and as aristocratic in his ways as he looks; indeed, he would hardly deign to catch a mouse, but he likes a good dinner, and when he is outside and wants to get in, he does not mew like a common mouser; no, he jumps up and lifts the knocker.

In the next cage is a cat you scarcely see, so intensely ravenly black is he all over. But he can see you and me, and he is glaring at us with his green, green eyes, evidently in no very amiable temper. What he wants to know is, what has he been imprisoned here for, instead of roving wild and free in forest or field? But we must not judge him too harshly, for although he flew at the adjudicator of prizes this morning with tooth and nail, at home he is not naturally quarrelsome. These cats should be very large, with coats of glossiest black; even the whiskers must be black, and the eyes should be hazel if possible, but green is beautiful. Here we have a small but graceful puss, all one colour, namely, dark slate, not a light hair in her, not even in her whiskerets. These cats are rare, and seldom fail to win prizes in a mixed class. They are called Maltese cats. Pure white cats are no favourites of mine. They are usually dull and apathetic and often as deaf as a post. I should never expect a white cat to do anything *very clever.

There are many other strange, short hair cats, Manx, Abyssinian, &c., but we now pass on to the Long Hairs, only pausing for a moment at the cages filled with daft-looking kittens, brimful of folly and mischief and fun.

Now there are all kinds of colours of Long Hairs, but your real Persian is most graceful and elegant, especially in shape of head, which is somewhat sharp or peaked with shortish ears poised downwards, and an aural tuft in each. The expression of their eyes is singularly beautiful, and there is a certain languor of looks and manner about them that tells us their real home is not here, but in a far, far sunnier clime.

They do very well on the whole in England, however; but they ought not to be allowed to roam much, else they will assuredly be stolen, and their coats ought to be combed and brushed almost daily.

"What is the difference," you ask me, "between a Persian cat and an Angora?"

Well, I have been asked that question before, and the reply is that there is no appreciable difference in the size of the cats nor in the length of their coats, only the fur of the Angora is finer and flossier and woollier than that of the Persian, and probably the Angora cat is not so sharp in expression of features.

May I give you a word of advice as to showing a cat? If you have one good enough there is no reason why you should not let it have a chance at distinguishing itself and winning a prize. DO not be afraid that it will not get every attention as far as can be given at a show. Nevertheless, do not fail to go with your favourite yourself, if possible. Take with you some raw meat, and the sweetest of milk in a bottle, and attend to pussy's wants yourself.

And now a few lines about the ailments that cats are subject to. Veterinary surgeons, I fear, know little about them, and care less.

When a cat seems ailing and sick, and moping and sleepy-looking, and if at the same time she refuses all food, you had better give an emetic – half a teaspoonful of salt in a little warm water. Follow this up in an hour or two with a teaspoonful of castor oil.

Grass should be grown in a flower-pot in towns, where cats have not much fresh air and freedom. This flower-pot should be placed where she can easily see it and get at it. Or when you are walking in the country, you may cull some nice fresh green grass and place it in the corner of the kitchen, the ends being kept tight between two bricks. It is an excellent blood purifier. A kind of chronic inflammation of the stomach is common among cats, especially those who are not properly dieted, and are glad to pick up and eat anything they can find. The cat refuses food, gets thin and wretched-looking, and has frequent attacks of vomiting. Medicine – a grain and a half of the trisnitrate of bismuth, put on the tongue twice a day, and a dose of castor oil once a week. Food – sweet milk or cream, and fish. If much wasting, raw beef, chopped fine, twice a day.

To give a cat medicine, two people are required. Pussy is rolled in a rug and placed on some one's lap, while you pour the medicine very gradually down her throat. If it is a pill or bolus, dip it in oil, and put it well back against the roof of the mouth; but mind your fingers. You can hold the mouth open with one hand whilst you manipulate with the other. Bronchitis is often fatal to cats; it attacks badly fed and badly housed pussies very often. There is a rough, dry coat, perhaps fits of shivering at first, with cough. The cough is dry the first day or two, but soon becomes moist, and there is a distressing difficulty of breathing, whilst the tongue is often protruded. Give a little oil at first, and feed on arrowroot, beef-tea, milk, &c., little and often. Then give this cough pill. Extract of conium and compound squill pill, of each twenty grains; make into a bolus with bread crumb, and divide into twenty pills; dose, one every night. Keep up her strength, and give a small teaspoonful of cod-liver oil twice a day.

For laxity of the system, a little common chalk mixture should be given three or four times a day, with one drop of the solution of muriate of morphia in each dose. Or put two grains of trisnitrate of bismuth on the tongue three times a day. Food: only milk, or milk with arrowroot, and a little egg may be allowed, but no meat.

Lung disease, or consumption, is known by the general appearance of the poor cat. There is bad coat, emaciation, capricious appetite, and loss of all liveliness. Raw mat, careful housing, and cod-liver oil are needed. When the cough is troublesome I order the following prescription:- Tinct opii camph., 1 drachm; syr scille, 1 drachm; sol mur morphine, 15 minims; aquae 2 oz; mix. Label: a teaspoonful whenever required. 

Fits: these are common in cats, and are almost too well known to require much description. The puss must be caught and bled. With a lancet make a small incision at the lower part of the ear, and make the blood flow by sponging with hot water. Or slit the ear with a fine pair of scissors.

If the cat is subject to fits, order the following at a respectable chemist's – Bromid potass, 10 grains; iod potass, 5 grains; zinci sulph, 5 grains; mix. Make twenty pills with bread crumb, and give one night and morning.

If pussy is thin, give cod-liver oil. If the reverse, lower the diet, and give a little boiled sheep's liver twice a week

For skin complaints use carbolic lotion; pure carbolic acid one part, water forty. Well shake before using it, and apply once a day, but not all over. AS internal medicine, give a teaspoonful twice a day in milk of liquor arsenicalis, ten drops in one ounce of distilled water.

For eye inflammation, bathe frequently in warm milk and water, and use a lotion of three grains of sulphate of zinc t an ounce of water.

Never deprive a cat of all her kittens at once. Never keep kittens that you are not sure of getting a good home for.

Never let anyone persuade you that pussy is not one of the gentlest and most faithful pets we possess.

No comments:

Post a Comment