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.
A woman was murdered at Lyons, and when the body was found weltering in blood, a large white Cat was seen mounted on the cornice of a cupboard. He sat motionless, his eyes fixed on the corpse, and his attitude and looks expressing horror and affright. Next morning he was still found there; and when the room was filled by the officers of justice, neither the clattering of the soldiers' arms nor the loud conversation frightened him away. As soon, however, as the suspected persons were brought in, his eyes glared with fury, and his hair bristled. He darted into the middle of the room, where he stopped for a moment to gaze on them, and then fled precipitately. The faces of the assassins showed, for the first time, signs of guilt: they were afterwards brought to trial, condemned, and, before execution, confessed.
In September, 1850, the mistress of a public house in the Commercial Road, London, going late at night into the tap-room, found her Cat in a state of great excitement. It would not suffer itself to be stroked, but ran wildly, to and fro, between its mistress and the chimney-piece, mewing loudly. The landlady alarmed, summoned assistance, and presently a robber was discovered up the chimney. Upon his trial it was proved that he had robbed several public-houses, by remaining last in the taproom, and concealing himself in a similar manner. An old maiden lady, rich and miserly, had, in the latter years of her life, placed all her affections upon a Cat she called "Minny," for which she had made a fine bed-place in the wainscot, over a closet in the parlour, where she kept the animal's provisions. The food in question was stowed away in a drawer, and under the drawer which served as Minny's safe, was another, very artfully concealed, and closing with a spring. To the latter the Cat had often seen its mistress pay lengthened visits. When the old lady died, her heirs came to live in the house, and Minny being no longer fed with the same regularity, was often hungry, and would then go and scratch at the drawer where its food had been kept. The drawer being at length opened, some pieces of meat were found within in a mummified state. These having been given to the Cat, failed to console her, and she scratched harder than ever at the secret drawer underneath; and Minny's new masters, in course of time understanding what she meant, broke it open, and found twenty small canvas bags of guineas snugly packed up within. My authority does not say how Minny fared after this little discovery. Let us hope she was allowed her old sleeping-place, and got her food with tolerable regularity. But there is no knowing.
Cats are very fond of creeping into out-of-the-way holes and corners, and, sometimes, pay dearly for so doing.
Once when repairing the organ in Westminster Abbey, a dried Cat was found in one of the large recumbent wooden pipes, which had been out of tune for some time. In one of the rooms at the Foreign Office, some years ago, there was, for a long time, a very disagreeable smell, which was supposed to arise from the drains. At length some heavy volumes being taken down from a shelf, the body of a dried Cat was found behind them. The unfortunate animal had been shut up by accident, and starved to death, a prisoner, like the heroine of the "Oak Chest."
Mrs. Loudon, in her book of Domestic Pets, tells several amusing stories. Her mother, the writer says, had a servant who disliked Cats very much, and in particular a large black Cat, which she was in the habit of beating, whenever she could do so unobserved. The Cat disliked and feared the girl exceedingly; however, one day, when her enemy was carrying some dishes down-stairs into the kitchen, and had both her hands full, the Cat flew at her and scratched her hands and face severely.
A strange Cat had two kittens in a stable belonging to the house, and one day, pitying its wretched condition, Mrs. Loudon ordered her some milk. A large Tom Cat, attached to the establishment, watched the proceeding very attentively, and while the Cat was lapping, went to the stable, brought out one of the kittens in his mouth, and placed it beside the saucer, and then fetched the other, looking up into the lady's face, and mewing when he had done so, as much as to say, "You have fed the mother, so you may as well feed the children," which was done; and it should be added, for the credit of Tom's character, that he never attempted to touch the milk himself.
But the best story is this:- Mrs.Loudon had a Cat which had unfortunately hurt its leg. During the whole time the leg was bad, that lady constantly gave it milk; but, at last, she found out that, though the Cat had become quite well, yet whenever it saw her, it used to walk lame and hold up its paw, as though it were painful to put it to the ground.
A favourite Cat, much petted by her mistress, was one day struck by a servant. She resented the injury so much that she refused to eat anything which he gave her. Day after day he handed her dinner to her, but she sat in sulky indignation, though she eagerly ate the food as soon as it was offered to her by any other person. Her resentment continued, undiminished, for upwards of six weeks.
The same Cat, having been offended by the housemaid, watched three days before she found a favourable opportunity for retaliation. The housemaid was on her knees, washing the passage, when the Cat went up to her and scratched her arm, to show her that no one should illuse her with impunity. It is, however, but fair to record her good qualities as well as her bad ones. If her resentment was strong, her attachment was equally so, and she took a singular mode of showing it. All the tit-bits she could steal from the pantry, and all the dainty mice she could catch, she invariably brought and laid at her mistress's feet. She has been known to bring a mouse to her door in the middle of the night, and mew till it was opened, when she would present it to her mistress. After doing this she was quiet and contented.