This section of the book is from the "Stories of Animal Sagacity" book, by William Henry Giles Kingston.
I have a longer story than the last to tell, of a cat which undertook the nursing of some puppies while she already had some kittens of her own. It happened that her mistress possessed a valuable little black spaniel, which had a litter of five puppies. As these were too many for the spaniel to bring up, and the mistress was anxious to have them all preserved, it was proposed that they should be brought up by hand. The cook, to whom the proposal was made, suggested that this would be a difficult undertaking; but as the cat had lately kittened, some of the puppies might be given to her to bring up. Two of the kittens were accordingly taken away, and the same number of puppies substituted. What Puss thought of the matter has not transpired, or whether even she discovered the trick that had been played her; but be that as it may, she immediately began to bestow the same care on the little changelings that she had done on her own offspring, and in a fortnight they were as forward and playful as kittens would have been, gambolling about, and barking lustily—while the three puppies nursed by their own mother were whining and rolling about in the most helpless fashion.
Puss had proved a better nurse than the little spaniel. She gave them her tail to play with, and kept them always in motion and amused, so that they ate meat, and were strong enough to be removed and to take care of themselves, long before their brothers and sisters.
On their being taken away from her, their poor nurse showed her sorrow, and went prowling about the house, looking for them in every direction. At length she caught sight of the spaniel and the three remaining puppies. Instantly up went her back; her bristles stood erect, and her eyes glared fiercely at the little dog, which she supposed had carried off her young charges.
“Ho, ho! you vile thief, who have ventured to rob me of my young ones; I have found you at last!” she exclaimed—at least, she thought as much, if she did not say it. The spaniel barked defiance, answering—“They are my own puppies; you know they are as unlike as possible to your little, tiresome, frisky mewlings.”
“I tell you I know them to be mine,” cried Puss, spitting and hissing; “I mean to recover my own.” And before the spaniel knew what was going to happen, Puss sprang forward, seized one of the puppies, and carried it off to her own bed in another part of the premises.
Not content with this success, as soon as she had safely deposited the puppy in her home, she returned to the abode of the spaniel. This time she simply dashed forward, as if she had made up her mind what to do, knocked over the spaniel with her paw, seized another puppy in her mouth, and carrying it off, placed it alongside the first she had captured. She was now content. Two puppies she had lost, two she had obtained. Whether or not she thought them the same which had been taken from her, it is difficult to say. At all events, she nursed the two latter with the same tender care as the first.
Copy playful Pussy, when you have charge of little children. They enjoy games of romps as much as young puppies do, and will be far happier, and thrive better, than when compelled to loll about by themselves, while you sit at your book or work in silent dignity and indifference to their requirements, however fond you may be of them—as was, I daresay, the mother spaniel of her pups.