There is a great deal in the way in which a cat carries her tail. It ought not to be stuck up straight in the air nor yet curled under the hind legs, or dragged along the ground. I like to see a Persian cat's tail carried just on a level with the body, and slightly curving upwards towards the end. Small ears are a great beauty in a cat. They should not be wide at the base, nor pointed at the tip. Nice ear tufts make a wonderful difference in the appearance of a Persian cat.
Ordinary hampers may be made more portable for cats it a double strap, such as is used for rugs, is run twice through the wicker work, and the handle brought to the top.
To fanciers wishing to start Persian cats, chiefly with a view to taking prizes at our shows, I would recommend them to obtain a really good Black queen, with amber eyes. At each of the principal shows the Black class is ever the weakest; this is specially the case as regards the female sex. A really handsome Black Persian is a thing of beauty.
Kittens that live out of doors and are constantly in the hot sunshine, readily get sunburnt and their pretty coats become tinged with brown. But do not be unhappy, as this will disappear with their kitten coat, and by fresh air and exercise and the strengthening rays of the sun, the little ones will be laying in a stock of health.
A capital collar for a cat is a leather garter lined with flannel. The sharp edges being covered do not injure the frill and fur.
All White cats are not deaf, but in purchasing one of this breed it is always best to test their sense of hearing. If stone-deaf, the price should certainly not be so high, as although this fact does not prevent a cat from winning prizes, yet it is undesirable for our pets to be deaf to our entreaties.
White kittens are frequently born with a dab or splash of grey on their heads. This apparent serious blemish is only temporary, and as the kittens grow the dark hairs vanish.
Tabby markings are often visible upon Blues when they are tiny mites, and one is apt to fear lest these should become more and more apparent, but as the fur grows they quite disappear, leaving no trace of stripes or bars.
It would be a great benefit if the executive of all cat shows decided to supply only water for the pussies, unless milk was specially asked for. I think we should then hear of fewer disasters following exhibitions. Nothing collects germs so easily and quickly as milk, and in all weathers there is the risk of its turning sour. In and about London, and, indeed, even in the country, it is unfortunately the custom to introduce boracic acid as a preservative, which proves a poison to cats and delicate children.
Cobby cats are certainly to be preferred as regards appearance, but I incline to the belief that those females who are long-bodied are the best cats to breed from.
It is not a bad idea to have warm coats made for our travelling queens when making a long journey in cold weather. A lady was sent to my stud the other day clothed in a very smart jacket, through which her front paws were placed, and it was buttoned up on her back. This puss had also a pair of washleather boots on her back legs, so her appearance was a little startling! The boots were as a preventive to scratching her eyes or ears. I think only a very amicable cat would stand these trying appendages.
The eyes begin to change colour in kittens when they are about three months old. It is disappointing when the bright blue eyes of White kittens gradually assume a pale greenish hue, and finally about five or six months old, settle down into a decided yellow. In blue kittens we look out anxiously for the orange tinge. In these kittens the blue eyes quickly lose their brightness, and when first the colour appears to be changing it seems almost the same colour as their coats. It is a curious fact that in many cats it is impossible to state whether the eyes are green or yellow. This is especially the case in Blues and Silvers. The health of the animal has a great deal to do with the density of the colour in the eyes.
The question of hampers versus boxes for our cats when travelling is one that demands attention, more especially during winter. In cold weather I believe in boxes with ventilation on the top. Then comes the question of how to secure a sufficiency of air, as, in spite of our directions, "Live Cat, with Care," the railway officials will heap luggage on the top of our precious cargo. I advise fixing blocks of wood, about two inches in thickness, on the lids, and thus the danger of suffocation would be avoided.
It may sound foolish, but there is no covering so warm and air-tight as paper, and I have found this cheap commodity most useful and efficient. If you wish to send a puss on a journey in a hamper, then procure a large sheet of brown paper, place the hamper in the middle, and fold it up like a parcel, leaving a square space on top of the lid round the handle. This is really a better mode of protecting the cat than by any inner linings, which are often scratched down by struggling and protesting animals. If, however, you like to have a double protection, don't select red flannel, or any material of brilliant hue, as I have seen a light-coloured puss issue from a basket partially dyed scarlet.
We all know what a very trying habit our pussies have of sharpening their claws on choice pieces of furniture. They generally show a great partiality for leather-covered chairs. It is quite necessary that cats should exercise their talons, so it is best to provide a large log of wood in the cattery or in the house, where they may claw away to their heart's delight.
Try and avoid sending your queens on visits in monstrously large packages, for many reasons it is not desirable. I think a cat is more apt to get knocked and rolled about travelling in a very big hamper than a small one. Then again, an unwieldy box or hamper gives more trouble and sometimes extra expense in getting to and fro from the station.
In insuring your pussies insist on having the yellow insurance ticket placed on the hamper in your presence. Sometimes you pay your money and then in the hurry of getting the package to the train the ticket is forgotten.
The theory that human beings can and do contract diseases from cats does not hold water. I have often asked caretakers of cats' homes and hospitals whether any of the complaints of the pussies have been given to the people who attend to them, and the answer has always been in the negative.
I have recently been purchasing cat travelling baskets for friends, and I can highly recommend those made by Spratt's. They are very strong, and have the straps for fasteners, which are vastly preferable to the wicker loops and stick. The latter seems always missing at the critical moment when we are sending off our pussies on a journey. Then, again, the loops break away, and we are at a loss to get them mended. The skeleton lids are a valuable addition.
It is not well, for many reasons, to allow stud cats to have their freedom—that is, if they are of any value. After a male has reached the years of discretion and discernment he will soon begin to stray away, and probably on his return after a day or two he will show signs of having had a sharp contest with some of his tribe. Then he runs the risk of being trapped or shot. The feline society with which he comes in contact during his rambles may have been anything but desirable. Infection may be brought back, and if there are other pussies at home this is a serious matter.
The difference between a good-shaped eye of a pale colour and a small, beady eye of a more correct shade is perhaps hardly appreciated by some judges, who without hesitation give the preference to the latter. Nothing lends such expression to a cat as a large, round, full eye—and, of course, let it be the correct colour if possible.
There is really no reason to regard distemper as a necessary evil in cats. In the case of one pet kept at home and well cared for, the chances are certainly against the occurrence of the disease. Then, I am of opinion that so-called distemper embraces a variety of complaints, from any or all of which a cat may suffer. A simple cold in the head, or an attack of influenza, sometimes is mistaken for distemper, and a gastric attack may be also thus designated.
As regards cross-journeys, do let me impress on all fanciers the importance of sending off their pussies as early as possible in the morning. If you wait till mid-day, and your cat has to cross London and be booked again to some suburb, it is certain she will be left all night in a parcels' office.
Any one who has tried getting kittens to sit for their portraits knows how difficult it is to make the fidgety little creatures be quiet. Try holding up a looking-glass so that the kit can see its own reflection. This experiment often answers splendidly.
A cat lover with a warm heart is often tempted to take in a wandering puss. By all means feed the hungry, but beware of letting a stray mix with your own kittens. Many a fancier has been bitten, and in consequence is shy of letting her sympathy run away with her prudence.
It is most improving for the fur of young kittens to have a good romp. They delight in rolling about those little celluloid balls which rattle. Don't let them play with corks, as I have known them bite pieces off, and they swell in their inside and are most dangerous. I have also heard of string being swallowed, and becoming twisted round the intestines.
The enamel unbreakable ware is decidedly the nicest and most serviceable for our pussies. I recently observed upon the very convenient shape of some of these dishes in use in a very complete cattery. I was told they were frying-pans from which the handle had been removed!
It is curious that as a rule the lighter the coat of the cat the more fragile is the constitution. For instance, amongst Persians, Whites and Silvers are less hardy than Blacks and Tabbies.
If you wish to pick up a dangerous or strange cat be careful to seize it quickly and firmly by the back of its neck and hold it out at arm's length. It will then only be able to use strong language.
I have heard that the best way to part two fighting cats is to pour water upon them. I know from a painful experience that it is dangerous to attempt to separate them.
It is really better to give your puss a name suggestive of his or her sex. I can assure you this is of assistance to the judges and to those who have the arrangement of specials given at a show.
If any one is kind enough to send you a cat on approval and she does not suit you, do not return her the next day, especially if she has travelled far, but keep the poor puss for two nights and a day, and start her off early the following morning, giving the sender due notice of her return.
Beware of tying ribbons round your pussies' necks. They look very smart, but I have known of several sad and fatal accidents caused by these pretty adornments. There is the danger of cats being caught and hung in the bushes. It is also unwise to tether cats in the garden if within reach of any trees.
I don't agree with the use of the bucket for poor little rejected kittens, and consider the most humane way of destroying them is to put them in an air-tight box with a piece of rag or flannel that has been freely sprinkled with chloroform. They will gradually inhale the fumes and pass away in their sleep. For grown cats the same method should be adopted, and no cat fancier should be without a small quantity of chloroform. Accidents will happen in the best regulated catteries, and sometimes it is best to put our pets out of their misery. It requires some strength of mind, but if you feel you cannot summon up the courage, then take your puss to the nearest chemist, and insist on chloroforming, not poisoning.
A very safe and delicious disinfectant is "Eucryl," as used at the Cat Club Shows. The perfume is pleasant, and not the least overpowering. I have found it very efficacious to sprinkle in cat-houses, and a little mixed with water can be used with advantage in cleansing the floors and woodwork.
Now that there are specialist societies for several breeds of cats, prizes for these are well supplied at the various shows. I would, therefore, suggest that fanciers should try to encourage Blacks, Whites, and Brown Tabbies, who have no society to look after them, and offer specials on their behalf.
Cats are very sensible to strong odours or perfumes. They have a great objection to the smell of orange-peel. I am sure they resent the very strong disinfectants used at some shows. They particularly dislike their beds to be scented with any of these fluids or powders.
Have you noticed the different colours of cats' noses according to the breeds? In Blue cats they are just about the colour of the coat, the same with Black Persians. Orange cats have pink noses, and the Silvers mostly a sort of brick-dust colour; this also is the case with Brown Tabbies.
Here are particulars of two very inexpensive articles useful to fanciers. If you do not have your tins made for holding the earth, then purchase large earthenware flower-pot saucers. These are much preferable to wooden boxes. Baskets come expensive if you need many for cats travelling, so I advise you to lay in a stock of margarine baskets, which your butterman and grocer will let you have for a few pence.
Let me recommend my readers to pay a visit to the Camden Town Institution for Lost and Starving Cats. It is splendidly managed, and all information as to the most humane way of destroying injured or aged cats is readily given. One has to see, in order to believe, how absolutely painless is the sleep of death in the lethal box for poor pussy.
When your pets are in full coat, then is the time to have their photographs taken. It is often very convenient and useful to have a good picture of your stud cat or queen to send to would-be purchasers of them, or of their kittens. A reproduction in Our Cats has often proved a splendid advertisement for fanciers.
Never be persuaded into purchasing a cat or kitten that is suffering from snuffles, or nasal catarrh. This troublesome complaint, which is often the remnants of distemper, is seldom really curable. It is most distressing, not to say disgusting, to have a cat that is sneezing all over the place.
If you are desirous of discovering the pedigree of a cat, you should send a shilling to the secretary of the club and ask for it to be looked up and forwarded to you.
It is a very good thing to accustom your cats to answer to their names, and if you give them some high-sounding title for the register and the show catalogue, keep a nice short pet name for home use.
It is often supposed that worms take whatever medicine is given to the cat; but this is not so, the worm absorbs the nourishment, and if a substance is given that assimilates readily with the food then these pests are destroyed, and when dead, expelled.
When trying to pick out the best kittens in a litter of Self-coloured ones, first see whether there is any white spot on throat or stomach, then direct your attention to the size of head, width between the ears, and broadness of face. A short tail is to be desired in both Persian and English cats.
When you are ordering medicines from any of the cat doctors, be sure and give the age of your cat or kit, and it is also advisable to mention some of the symptoms of the illness with which they are troubled.
A kitten may be considered a cat when it has shed its first teeth. This process takes place between six and nine months, and often during this period puss is out of sorts, and refuses her food, for the gums are tender and sore.
It is always a sure sign of good health if, when a cat or kitten has finished a meal, it slowly stretches itself, then sets to work to have a vigorous wash up, and finally curls itself round into a ball and falls asleep.
Many cat fanciers may not be aware that really good and healthy foster-mothers can be procured from the excellent homes for stray cats in and about London. The few shillings given go to help on the humane work of these splendid institutions.
It would seem that Self-coloured Manx cats are more rare, and consequently more valuable than Marked or Tabby ones. Therefore, when Black or White Manx cats are for sale it is well to secure them.
The tail of a Persian cat should not be tapering at the end; this is a defect that we often meet with. The fur on the tail should be as long at the tip as higher up.
Ear tufts in Persian cats add wonderfully to their personal appearance. They take away from the size of the ear and fill in an ugly vacuum. In choosing a puss, look out for these fine feathers.
Keep the pick of a litter for yourself if you intend showing or wish to get a good sum for a grown-up cat, but don't be tempted to retain two or three just to see how they will turn out.
We do sometimes hear of the bite of a cat being fatal, but this is very rare. I have been badly bitten several times in separating cats, but beyond a certain amount of pain no bad results have followed. On each occasion I have plunged my hand into a basin of hot Condy and water, and kept it there for some minutes, and thus the poison (if any) has been drawn out of the wound.
Owners of stud cats are always gratified to receive letters from the senders of queens announcing the arrival of the family, mentioning the number of kittens, and any other interesting details. If one is born dead, or dies shortly after birth, it is considered correct to enter the birth of the whole number of kittens in the cat papers.
If you belong to a Specialist Society, try and assist your secretary by sending prompt replies to any questions which may be submitted to you as members, and if in your turn you wish to make some inquiry, it is only polite to enclose a stamp for an answer.
Never lose an opportunity of giving a helping hand to a novice in cat breeding, and don't offer the services of your stud cat just for the sake of the fee when you feel and know that a cat of a different type and breed would give better results to the owner of the queen.
It is a difficult matter to let our stud cats have their freedom even for a short time or to give them an opportunity for exercise. I have often tethered my torn cat, and for a collar have used a leather garter lined with flannel. One must be careful to give only a sufficient length of cord to allow for safe exercise. No shrubs or trees should be within reach, as this is very risky for pussy's neck.
It is undesirable to keep kittens too long, if profit is to be considered. From eight to twelve weeks kittens are at their best. At about five months most young cats begin to shed their coats and are "leggy" in appearance.
It is so much easier to fill in your cat's pedigree on a properly drawn out pedigree form, and certainly it is pleasanter to receive them. I have had some written-out pedigrees sent to me from which it was impossible even to make sure of one of the parents.
It is a sort of sad satisfaction to know the cause of our pussies' deaths, and therefore I advise fanciers to send the remains to a veterinary for a post-mortem. The knowledge thus acquired may assist in determining the nature of any future illness in the cattery.
It is very annoying when your cat persistently tears out her ruff, more especially if you have entered her for show. I have known fanciers to tie up pussie's hind feet in pieces of wash leather, but this is a most irritating procedure so far as puss is concerned, and in some cases she will not rest till she has got rid of her shoes.
As regards insuring cats travelling by rail, I believe the usual rate is 3d. for each £1 of value. I find that, as long as the hamper is labelled with the insurance ticket, this is a sufficient safeguard against delays and exposure; so that, unless the cat is unusually precious, the payment of threepence is all that is required.
Having recently had occasion to send some valuable cats abroad, I can testify to the courtesy and efficiency of Messrs. Spratts Limited. A lot of trouble is saved by applying to them for all particulars regarding the shipping of cats to foreign ports.
It is always well to keep a record of the dates and names of visiting queens. I found this useful when receiving a letter from the owner of a mother puss who had a litter of nondescript kittens. The writer was much displeased, and seemed to imply that her queen had been mated with the wrong cat. I referred to my register and found that the kittens were born under the eight weeks from the date of the supposed mating. I therefore felt confident the lady visitor had made other arrangements prior to her arrival at my cattery.
It is always advisable to have an old pair of thick gloves to slip on when one has to handle strange cats. Sometimes the queens, when arriving on a visit, are very terrified on being lifted out of their basket or placed in the cattery, and it is just as well to protect oneself from a bite or a scratch. Care should also be taken when removing a queen from the stud cat, as often he resents the sudden departure of his lady love.
In administering medicine to cats an assistant is very necessary to hold the animal, which should be wrapped round with a towel and the four legs firmly secured. With the thumb and finger of the left hand open the mouth, and with the right put down the medicine. Remember that a cat cannot conveniently swallow more than a teaspoonful of liquid at a time, so if a larger dose is required it must be given by degrees.
It is quite possible to pull grown cats through an attack of influenza, but if kittens catch it, then I recommend owners to have them painlessly put out of their misery, for it is in vain to try and save them. The fever runs so high that the little creatures cannot contend against it.
It may not be generally known that whiskers are the cat's organs of touch. They are attached to glands under the skin, and each of the long hairs is connected with the nerve of the lip. The slightest contact of these whiskers is felt most distinctly by the cat, although the hairs themselves are insensible. Let our young friends remember this, and never torture poor puss by pulling her whiskers.
Nothing is so beneficial to a cat's health as change of air, and fanciers would do well to try and take one or two of their pets with them to the country or seaside. This is especially necessary if you reside in or near any large town.
Try and dispose of your kittens at or about eight weeks old, and be willing to take a rather lower price instead of keeping them till they reach the lanky stage, when their sale is never so easy or satisfactory.
Important to cat fanciers:
"If you your lips would keep from slips,
Before writing "Finis" to these chapters, let me say how pleased I have been with the many grateful letters I have received telling me that my notes in Our Cats had been of such service. I really had no idea these hints had been so useful and instructive. All these kindly expressions encouraged me to write this handbook and I sincerely hope that it will be the means of forming still further friendships and of forging more closely the links that already bind me to all true lovers of the dear pussy-cats.