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.
Let this be as it may, one thing is certain: Kilkenny Cats are quite as amiable now-a-days as the Cats of any other city in Great Britain.
But there is another story of a great Cat fight in the same neighbourhood. One night in the summer time, all the Cats in the city and county of Kilkenny were absent from their homes, and next morning a plain near the city was strewn with thousands of slain Cats; and it was reported that almost all the Cats in Ireland had joined in the fight, as was shown by the collars of some of the dead bearing the names of places in all quarters of the island. The cause of the quarrel is not stated, but there are yet men alive who knew persons since dead, who actually inspected the field - at least so they say.
Time out of mind the Cat has figured largely in our nursery annals - from the days of Heigh Diddle-Diddle and the House that Fack Built to the present moment. There is some waggishness, by the way, in Mr. Blanchard's version of the second mentioned rhyme, printed, as a sort of argument, in the book of the Drury Lane Pantomime: "Anon, with velvet foot and Tarquin strides, Subtle Grimalkin to his quarry glides; Grimalkin grim, that slew the fierce Rodent, Whose tooth insidious Johann's sackcloth rent. Lo! how the deep-mouthed canine foe's assault, That vest th' avenger of the stolen malt Stored in the hallowed precincts of that hall That rose complete at Jack's creative call. Here stalks th' impetuous cow with crumpled horn, Thereon th' exacerbating hound was torn, Who bayed the feline slaughter-beast that slew The rat predacious, whose keen fangs ran through The textile fibres that involved the grain That lay in Han's inviolate domain."
The Cat is one of the principal of the dramatis persona in Mr. D'Arcy Thompson's droll Nursery Nonsense; and some of the most ingenious pictures Charles Bennett ever drew are to be found in his Nine Lives of a Cat, There is some good fun for little folks in a small book called Tales from Catland, with some masterly pictures from the graceful pencil of Mr. Harrison Weir; and there is another work called Cat and Dog, which I would recommend to all young readers. Of some other children's books, in which Pussy takes a prominent part, it behoves not the writer of this volume to say very much, for obvious reasons. I may, however, remark, that though a great admirer of the feline race, the artist who illustrated the works in question and this, has very limited notions concerning the way in which a Cat should be drawn, and has found, after all his trouble, that under his hand Pussy transferred to wood is very wooden indeed. It is some consolation to that artist, however, to reflect that Hogarth's Cats are anything but good ones. By the way, I always wonder when I look at that picture of the "Actress's Dressing Room" in the barn, whether poor strollers were ever driven to such an expedient as that of cutting a Cat's tail for the blood, and if so, how was it used? In George Cruikshank's "Bottle," do you remember in the first scene how happily the Cat and Kittens are playing on the hearth, and how in the next the kitten has disappeared, and the Cat, a poor half-starved wretch, is sniffing wistfully at an empty plate upon the table? The change in Pussy's fortune is a clever touch; but of all Cat pictures, one of the same artist's illustrations to the Brothers Mayhew's Greatest Plague of Life is that to be remembered; I mean the one called "The Cat did it," in the chapter about Mrs. Burgess's Tom. There are a score and more of wonderful Cat stories in the Munchener Bilderbogen, and in other German books; and who of those who have seen them can forget Grandville's extraordinary animals, so like Cats, and yet so human. There were some pictures that Charles Bennett drew, showing the gradual change of a human face into that of a beast, in which it was astonishing to note how easy and with what a few lines the transformation could be effected.
I might make this book a great deal longer (and more wearisome, perhaps) if I gave even the briefest outline of all the stories I have come upon during my long search; but I believe that those to be found in these pages are among the best extant.