This section is from the book "The Book Of Cats", by Charles Henry Ross. Also available from Amazon: The Book Of Cats: A Chit-Chat Chronicle Of Feline Facts And Fancies, Legendary, Lyrical, Medical, Mirthful And Miscellaneous.
"In James's Military Dictionary, the cat, etc., is described as "a whip with nine knotted cords, with which the public soldiers and sailors are punished. Sometimes it has only five cords." The following passage occurs in Mr. Sala's Waterloo to the Peninsula: - "A Dutch king, they say, introduced the cat-o'-nine tails in the British army: ere the Nassauer's coming the scourge had three thongs."
There is a little story of feline affection for which I should have found a place in an earlier chapter. A lady had a Cat which she called "the Methodist Parson." It used for years regularly to go away every Sunday morning, and return to its home on the next (the Monday) morning. It was never known to miss for a series of years, going away on the Sunday morning, except upon one occasion, when it stopped at home on the Sunday, and went away on the Monday morning. After this it never returned. In the same lady's house upon a certain occasion, for some reason or other, the water was turned off. It was in the evening, and she had the tap of the water-butt turned on, with a tub under it, thinking they would get water when they wanted it. The family went to bed, forgetting that the water-tap was left turned on. In the course of the night the Cat came to the lady's bedroom door, making a great noise, mewing. Her husband got up several times, and drove it away, but it returned again, and would go to the corner of the stairs, and then turn round, as if to see whether he was following it. At last he followed it down-stairs, and found the whole of the lower premises inundated, the water having been turned on from the main.
Here, too, is a facetious story, which should not be omitted: One night, some hours after a certain family had retired to rest, there arose a most extraordinary and unaccountable noise in the lower part of the house. Had thieves broken in? If so they must have been very noisy thieves, and quite careless as to the noise they made. You can imagine Paterfamilias sitting up in bed, and listening with suspended breath; Materfamilias suggesting that he had better get up, and see what was the matter; Paterfamilias of the contrary opinion, and inclined to wait a-while, and see what happened next. Then a group of white figures, with whiter faces, at the head of the stairs, and the mysterious noise below growing louder and louder.
But the explanation of all this was simple enough, when some venturesome spirit summoned up courage to creep down-stairs and enquire into the cause. The servant, when she had gone to bed, had left a strong brown jug on the dresser, with a drain of milk in the bottom of it After everyone had retired, Puss commenced prowling about, and, attracted by the milk in the bottom of the jug, put her head into it. Now, though the top of the jug was wide enough for the Cat to put her head through, it was not so wide but what it required a slight pressure for her to get her head into it. When the milk was lapped, however, she could not get her head out again, for it required some one to hold the jug, to enable her to do so. In the meantime, all being in bed and asleep, the Cat in her terror jumped about, knocking its head, with the jug on it, against the tables and chairs, and upon the kitchen floor. Hence the alarming and unaccountable disturbance.
I clip this from an American paper: -"During the progress of the war I was sitting one day in the office of Able and Co.'s wharf-boat at Cairo, Illinois. At that time a tax was collected on all goods shipped south by private parties, and it was necessary that duplicate invoices of shipments should be furnished to the collector before the permits could be issued. The ignorance of this fact by many shippers frequently caused them much annoyance, and invoices were ofttimes made out with great haste, in order to ensure shipment by boats on the eve of departure. A sutler, with a lot of stores, had made out a hasty list of his stock, and gave it to one of the youngest clerks on the boat to copy out in due form. The boy worked away down the list, but suddenly he stopped, and electrified the whole office by exclaiming, in a voice of undisguised amazement, - 'What the dickens is that fellow going to do with four boxes of Tom Cats?' An incredulous laugh from the other clerks was the reply, but the boy pointed triumphantly to the list, exclaiming, 'That's what it is - T-o-m C-a-t-s - Tom Cats, if I know how to read!' The entrance of the sutler at that moment explained the mystery.
"'Why, confound it!' said he, 'that means four boxes Tomato Catsup! Don't you understand abbreviations?'"
Here is a bit of my own experience:-I once had in my possession a very life-like engraving of a remarkably ugly bulldog, which hung in a frame over a piano in the drawing-room. With some surprise I noticed, upon several occasions, that a favourite cat would climb upon the top of the piano, and sitting close underneath the picture, fix its eyes upon the dog's face, and putting back its ears, remain thus, with a wild and terrified expression, for as long as an hour at a time. This was remarked by other persons in the house, and we could not in any way satisfactorily account for Puss's behaviour. Two dogs formed part of the household, and with these she was on friendly terms, and they being of a very meek and harmless nature, she treated them with contempt, as a general rule, boxing their ears now and then, when their presence annoyed her. We came to the conclusion, however, that she must have taken the picture for another dog of a different and higher order, more terrible in its motionless silence than if it had growled or barked ever so fiercely. Its eyes were drawn in that particular angle which made them seem to be fixed upon you in whatever part of the room you might be in. Many of us recollect in our childhood some gaunt-featured oil-painting, with hungry eyes, which thus pursued us. I remember one in a scrap-book, which it wanted some courage to face all by onesself, when twilight was gathering. With much of the same shrinking dread Puss seemed, whilst hating, to be unable to break the spell this picture had over her, to the contemplation of which she returned again and again, though frequently sent away. During the time that we noticed this conduct on the Cat's part, she was with Kitten, and when the four Kittens were born they were dead, and one of them, strange to say, had a bulldog-shaped head, marked almost exactly like the picture.