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.
Cat, till I had aroused that lazy animal to a state of extreme irritability. This sport, after a while, grew tame, so I shifted the string, and allowed it to dangle within an inch of my host's feet. Really, it was done with scarce a thought, but the result was rather astonishing. The Cat, who all the time kept her eye on the tormenting string, no sooner saw it at a distance convenient to spring at, than she made a bound, and, missing the cord, fiercely embraced one of the slippered members with ten of her talons. For the moment I was too frightened to weigh the possible consequences of laughing, and laughed outright, which, with the sudden bound the old gentleman gave, so alarmed the tortoiseshell Cat, that she flew towards the door like a mad Cat. I doubt, however, whether its utmost agility would have saved it from the tongs, with which its outraged master pursued it, had I not ashamedly explained the matter, and begged forgiveness."
"I have certainly, in my time, made the acquaintance of some queerish Cats. When quite a little boy, there was attached to our house, a quaint black and white Cat whose sole recommendation was that he was a magnificent mouser; nay, to such lengths would he carry his passion for hunting, as regularly to haunt a ditch that existed in the neighbourhood for the purpose of pursuing and capturing waterrats, which class of vermin he despatched in a manner that at once secured the death of the rat, and himself immunity from the rat's teeth. Seizing the animal by the back of the neck, the Cat, by a sudden wriggle, threw himself on his back, and at once transferred the custody of the rat from his mouth to his fore-paws, holding it neatly behind the shoulders, while with his hind talons he cruelly assailed the unlucky animal's loins and ribs till it ceased to struggle. I have stated that the Cat in question was attached to our house, and that certainly was the extent of his intimacy, for he was attached to nobody residing there. Myself, he particularly disliked, and although he never considered it beneath his dignity to steal any article of food from me, would never accept my overtures of friendship. I have reason to believe that his special dislike to me arose out of a pair of boots possessed by me at that period. They were creaking boots, and fastened with laces. Whether it was that their loud creaking as I moved about the room in them, reminded him of the squeak of rats, or whether, not being a particularly tidy boy, the before-mentioned laces were sometimes allowed to trail rats'-tail-wise, aggravatingly heightened the illusion, I can't say; I only know that as sure as I happened to allow my small feet to swing loosely while seated at breakfast or dinner, so surely would the black and white Cat, if he were in the room, make a sudden dash at the hated boots, giving my leg a severe wrench in his endeavour to fling himself on his back for the purpose of tearing the life out of them after his own peculiar mode.
"My enemy was, however, finally subdued, and in a rather curious way. Some one brought me one of those difficult musical instruments known as a mouth organ, and delighted with my new possession, I was torturing it as I sat on a seat in the garden. Suddenly there appeared in a tree just above my head, my foe, the black and white Cat, with his tail waving from side to side, his eyes staring, and his mouth twitching in an odd sort of way. I must confess that I was rather alarmed, and in my nervous condition, I might be excused if I construed the expression of the Cat's countenance to intimate, "Here you are then with another hideous noise, a noise that is even more suggestive of rat squeaking than your abominable boots; however, I've caught you by yourself this time, so look out for your eyes." I did not, however, cease playing my organ; my enemy's green eyes seemed to fascinate me, and my tremulous.
Breath continued to wail on the organ pipes. Slowly the black and white Cat descended the tree, and presently leapt at my feet with a bound that thrilled through me, and expelled a scream-like note from my instrument. But to my astonishment, my enemy did not attack me; on the contrary, he approached the offending boots humbly, and caressed them with his head. Still I continued to play, and after every inch of my Bluchers had received homage from the Cat's hitherto terrible muzzle, he sprang on the seat beside me, and purred and gently mewed, and finally crept on to my shoulders and lovingly smelt at the mouth-organ as I played it. From that day hostilities ceased between us. He would sit on my shoulders for half an hour together, and sing, after his fashion, while I played, and I had only to strike up to lure him from any part of the premises where he might happen to be.
"There used to come to our house a young man who played the trombone, and having heard the story, insisted that there was nothing in it, - that all Cats like music, and that savage as was our Cat to strangers, he would be bound to conquer him with a single blast of his favorite instrument. Next time he came armed with the terrible-looking trombone, which our Cat no sooner saw than, (as I had predicted, for I knew his nature better than anyone else could) he took a violent dislike to it. A blast on the trombone; the effect was as he prognosticated instantaneous, though not perfectly satisfactory; the brazen note was immediately responded to by one equally loud from our Cat, who appeared to regard it as a challenge to combat, and thickened his tail and bared his teeth accordingly, at the same time swearing and spitting dreadfully. I need not say that the trombone-player was discomfited, while my fame as a Cat-charmer was considerably augmented."
Poor Pussy! her character is not often properly understood, as we read elsewhere: "One or two common errors about Cats may be noticed. Many persons will destroy them when anything is the matter with them, whereas, in many cases they would recover with a little care. Some think they do not drink much, which is a mistake. Water should always be placed within their reach. As to their want of attachment, there is no doubt that is generally owing to the neglect (if not worse treatment) they often experience. Every animal will ordinarily return kindness for kindness; and, if persons will only try, they will not find Cats an exception. But to knock an animal about, or hardly ever to notice it, and to punish severely any fault it may commit, are not ways to attach it to you. The writer has heard of more than one instance in which, on its master's death, a favourite Cat has gone away and not been seen again. There is a great diversity of character in Cats, as, indeed, in all animals. As to the colour, this is not of such importance as the shape. She should be well rounded, compactly formed, with small ears and fur of fine texture. It sometimes happens that ordinary-looking Cats have some very good qualities. Cats are very much afraid of each other: two of them will often look at one another over a plate for a long time, neither venturing to move or to take anything. At other times they are great bullies. One will get close up to another, and scream into his ear until the other gradually shrinks back and runs off when he has got clear."