This section of the book is from the "Stories of Animal Sagacity" book, by William Henry Giles Kingston.
An instance of the sagacity of a cat came under my own notice. I was living, a few years ago, in a country place in Dorsetshire, when one day a small tortoise-shell cat met my children on the road, and followed them home. They, of course, petted and stroked her, and showed their wish to make her their friend. She was one of the smallest, and yet the most active of full-grown cats I ever saw. From the first she gave evidence of being of a wild and predatory disposition, and made sad havoc among the rabbits, squirrels, and birds. I have several times seen her carry along a rabbit half as big as herself. Many would exclaim that for so nefarious a deed she ought to have been shot; but as she had tasted of my salt, taken refuge under my roof, besides being the pet of my children, I could not bring myself to order her destruction.
We had, about the time of her arrival, obtained a dog to act as a watchman over the premises. She and he were at first on fair terms—a sort of armed neutrality. In process of time, however, she became the mother of a litter of kittens. With the exception of one, they shared the fate of other kittens. When she discovered the loss of her hopeful family, she wandered about in a melancholy way, evidently searching for them, till, encountering Carlo, it seemed suddenly to strike her that he had been the cause of her loss. With back up, she approached, and flying at him with the greatest fury, attacked him till blood dropped from his nose, when, though ten times her size, he fairly turned tail and fled. Pussy and Carlo, after this, became friends; at least, they never interfered with each other.
Pussy, however, to her cost, still continued her hunting expeditions. The rabbits had committed great depredations in the garden, and the gardener had procured two rabbit-traps. One had been set at a considerable distance from the house, and fixed securely in the ground. One morning the nurse heard a plaintive mewing at the window of the day-nursery on the ground-floor. She opened it, and in crawled poor Pussy, dragging the heavy iron rabbit-trap, in the teeth of which her fore-foot was caught. I was called in, and assisted to release her. Her paw swelled, and for some time she could not move out of the basket in which she was placed before the fire. Though suffering intense pain, she must have perceived that the only way to release herself was to dig up the trap, and then drag it, up many steep paths, to the room where her kindest friends—nurse and the children—were to be found.
Carlo had been caught before in the same trap, and he bit at it, and at everything around, and severely injured the gardener, who went to release him. Thus Pussy, under precisely the same circumstances, showed by far the greatest amount of sagacity and cool courage. She, however, not many weeks after her recovery, came in one day with her foot sadly lacerated, having again been caught in a trap; so, although she could reason, she did not appear to have learned wisdom from experience. This last misfortune, however, taught her prudence, as she was never again caught in a trap.
You will agree with me that Pussy was wise in going to her best friends for help when in distress; and foolish, having once suffered, again to run into the same danger.
You, my young reader, will be often entrapped, if you lack strength to resist temptation. Your kind friends at home will, I am sure, help you as far as they have the power; but, that they may do so, you must on all occasions trust them.