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.
Miss Pussy or her babies, there would be a fight. Now a Monkey is always very fond of anything young, such as a kitten, and he and Miss Pussy would want to nurse the children. The Monkey liked very much to get hold of a kitten and he would nurse it in his arms like a baby. The Cats and the Birds were good friends indeed: they would perch on her back, and even on her head, and peck at her fur. A strange Cat was introduced into the cage, and the moment she made her entry, she looked round in a scared way, and made a dart upon the animal nearest her, namely the owl; the Monkey immediately ran behind and bit her tail, and the other Cats' hair swelled up, and they seemed on the point of flying at the stranger. The Rats fled in terror, and the little Birds fluttered on their perches with fear.
A priest of Lucerne, I don't know how many hundred years ago, taught a Dog, Cat, Mouse and Sparrow, to eat out of the same plate. There is also a somewhat unsatisfactory legend of a maiden lady who induced twenty-two different animals to live together upon friendly terms.
Lemmery shut up a Cat and several Mice together in a cage. The Mice in time got to be very friendly, and plucked and nibbled at their feline friend. When any of them grew troublesome, she would gently box their ears. A German magazine tells us of a M. Hecart, who tamed a wild Cat and placed a tame sparrow under its protection. Another Cat attacked the Sparrow, which was at the most critical moment rescued by its protector. During the Sparrow's subsequent illness, the Cat watched over it with great tenderness. The same authority gives an instance of a Cat trained like a watch dog, to keep guard over a yard containing a Hare, and some Sparrows, Blackbirds and Partridges.
Captain Marryat, in his amusing way, relates this anecdote. A little black spaniel had five puppies, which were considered too many for her to bring up. As, however, the breed was much in request, her mistress was unwilling that any of them should be destroyed, and asked the cook whether she thought it would be possible to bring a portion of them up by hand before the kitchen fire. In reply, the cook observed that the Cat had that day littered, and that, perhaps, two puppies might be substituted. The Cat made no objection, took to them kindly, and gradually all the kittens were taken away, and the Cat nursed the two puppies only. Now the first curiosity was, that the two puppies nursed by the
Cat were, in a fortnight, as active, forward, and playful as kittens would have been; they had the use of their legs, basked and gambolled about; while the other three, nursed by the mother, were whining and rolling about like fat slugs. The Cat gave them her tail to play with, and they were always in motion; they soon ate meat, and long before the others they were fit to be removed. This was done, and the Cat became very inconsolable. She prowled about the house, and on the second day of tribulation, fell in with the little spaniel who was nursing the other puppies.
"Oh!" says Puss, putting up her back, "it is you who have stolen my children."
"No!" replied the Spaniel, with a snarl; "they are my own flesh and blood."
"That won't do," said the Cat; "I'll take my oath, before any Justice of the Peace, that you have my two babies."
Thereupon issue was joined - that is to say, there was a desperate combat, which ended in the defeat of the Spaniel, and in the Cat walking off proudly with one of the puppies, which she took to her own bed. Having deposited this one, she returned, fought again, gained another victory, and bore off another puppy. Now, it is very singular that she should have only taken two, the exact number she had been deprived of.
A lady had a tortoiseshell Cat and a black and white one. A few years ago, the latter was observed to carry her kitten, when two or three days old, to her companion, who brought it up with her own kitten, though of a different age, with all the tenderness of a mother. This was done time after time, for several years; but last year it was reversed, the black and white Cat taking her turn to discharge the duties of wet-nurse to the kitten of the other. It is probable that a deficiency of milk was the cause of the Cats not suckling their young. I find in the Leisure Hour this story: -"A lady of the writer's acquaintance was once walking amid the scenery of the Isle of Wight, when she observed a little kitten curled up on a mossy bank, in all the security of a mid-day nap. It was a beautiful little creature, and the lady gentiy approached, in order to stroke it, when suddenly down swooped a hawk, pounced upon the sleeping kitten, and completely hid it from her sight. It was a kestrel: our friend was greatly shocked, and tried to rescue the little victim; but the kestrel stood at bay and refused to move. There he stood on the bank, firmly facing her, and all her efforts to drive him from his prey failed. The lady hurried on to a fisherman's cottage, which was near at hand, and told of the little tragedy with the eloquence of real feeling.
"But the fisher-folk were not so disconcerted, and, laughing, said "'It is always so; that hawk always comes down if anybody goes near the kitten. He has taken to the kitten, and he stays near at hand to watch whenever it goes to sleep.'
"The case was so remarkable that the lady enquired further into its history, and learned that the kitten's mother had died, and that the fisherman's family had missed the little nurseling. After some time, they observed a kestrel hawk loitering about the cottage: they used to throw him scraps of meat, and they noticed that he always carried off a portion of every meal, dragging even heavy bones away out of sight. His movements were watched, and they saw that he carried the stores to the roof of a cottage. A ladder was placed, some one ascended, and there, nestling in a hole in the thatch, lay the lost kitten, thriving prosperously under the tender care of its strange foster-father. The foundling was brought down, and restored to civilized life, but the bandit-protector was not disposed to resign his charge, and ever kept at hand to fly to the rescue whenever dangerous ladies threatened it with a caress."