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.
The following instance of maternal courage and affection is recorded in the Naturalists' Cabinet: "A Cat that had a numerous brood of kittens, encouraged her little ones to frolic one summer day in the sunshine, at a stable-door. A hawk sailing by, saw them: swift as lightning it darted down on one of the kittens, and would have carried it off, but the mother, seeing its danger, sprang upon the common enemy, which, to defend itself, let fall the prize. The battle that followed was terrible, for the hawk, by the power of his wings, the sharpness of his talons, and the keenness of his beak, had for awhile the advantage, cruelly lacerating the poor Cat, and had actually deprived her of one eye in the conflict; but Puss, no way daunted by this accident, strove with all her cunning and agility for her little ones, till she had broken the wing of her adversary. In this state she got him more within the power of her claws, the hawk still defending himself apparently with additional vigour; and the fight continued with equal fury on the side of Grimalkin, to the great entertainment of many spectators. At length, victory seemed to favour the nearly exhausted mother, and she availed herself of the advantage; for, by an instantaneous exertion, she laid the hawk motionless beneath her feet, and, as if exulting in the victory, tore off the head of the vanquished tyrant. Disregarding the loss of her eye, she immediately ran to the bleeding kitten, licked the wounds inflicted by the hawk's talons on its tender sides, purring while she caressed her liberated offspring, with the same maternal affection as if no danger had assailed them or their affectionate parent."
A lady writer says: "Soon after I came to Middlehill, a small tortoise-shell Cat met my children on the road, and followed them home. They, of course, when they saw her, petted and stroked her, and showed their inclination to become friends. She is one of the smallest and most active of full grown Cats I ever saw. From the first she gave evidences of being of a wild and predatory disposition, and made sad havoc among the rabbits, squirrels, and birds. I have several times seen her carrying along a rabbit half as big as herself. Many would exclaim, that, for so nefarious a deed, she ought to have been shot; but I confess to having the feelings of the unsophisticated Arab, the descendant of
Ishmael, and as she had tasted of my salt, and taken refuge under my roof, besides being the pet of my children, I could not bring myself to order her destruction. Before this we had discovered her lawful owner, a poor cottager, and had sent her back; but each time that she was sent away, she returned to our porch; so we made her by purchase legitimately ours. She seemed to be aware of the transaction, and from that time became perfectly at home, and adopted civilised habits, though she still continued very frequently to indulge in a rabbit-hunt. I had added a fine dog to my establishment, to act as a watchman over the wood yard and stables. 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 looking for them, in a very melancholy way, till, encountering the dog Carlo, it seemed suddenly to strike her that he had been guilty of that act of barbarous spoliation. With back up, she approached, and flew at him with the greatest fury, till blood dropped from his nose, and though ten times her size, he fairly turned tail and fled. Her surviving kitten was the very picture of herself, and inheriting also all her predatory habits; when it grew up, I was obliged to give it away. It left the house in the neighbouring town to which I sent it, however, and was afterwards seen domesticated in a stable yard. Pussy and Carlo now became friends again; 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 a considerable distance from the house, and fixed securely in the ground. One morning, the nurse heard a plaintive mewing at the nursery window. 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 days 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 she must have dragged her heavy clog up many steep paths to the room where she knew her kindest friends, nurse and the children, for whom she had the greatest affection, were to be found. Carlo was 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, biting his arm and legs, and tearing his trousers to shreds. Thus, Pussy, under precisely the same circumstances, showed by far the greatest amount of sagacity and cool courage. She, however, not many weeks afterwards, came in one day with her foot sadly lacerated, having again got caught in a trap. So although she could reason, she did not appear to have learned wisdom from experience. She was for long a cripple; perhaps this last misfortune may have taught her prudence. Poor thing! she went limping about the garden, in vain endeavouring, even in the frosty weather, to catch birds."
I know of a young man who was accustomed to leave home on a Monday morning and return on the Saturday, and who had a Cat that used to come home a few moments after him, and watch him wash and dress himself, and then sleep on his clothes until the following Monday, when soon after the young man went away, the Cat would go too, and not return all the week.
I also know of a Cat that once rushed into a house, and took her seat between the master and mistress while they were at tea; from that time she took up her abode with them, and every afternoon a hamper in which she slept, was heard to creak in a cellar below, and she would come up and partake of their afternoon meal.
You have all heard of dog-stealers selling a dog and afterwards stealing it from the purchaser, so as to sell it again to some other person; but I have had a story told me, upon good authority, of a certain dishonest owner of a very curiously marked French Cat, who made quite a nice little income by selling his feline property to the ladies in his neighbourhood.
You see Pussy had no notion of what an unprincipled ruffian he was, nor what was the nature of the contract between him and her other owners. She loved him very much, and fretted in her new home, waited impatiently for an opportunity, and at last, finding the door open, returned to her robber master rejoicing.
He, worthy creature, also rejoiced at sight of her, and hugged her to his manly breast. Then he gave her some nice warm milk, and a large slice of meat. Next day he sold her again, if he got a chance.
This little game went on very comfortably for some months, and might have gone on longer, had it not been for an awkward mistake. An old lady, who had been one of the purchasers of the Cat, changed her residence, and our ingenious friend, unaware of the circumstance, called upon her again, and tried to re-sell her the animal; thereupon, some unpleasantness occurred, and I believe the Cat-merchant got into trouble.