This section is from the book "The Cat", by Rush Shippen Huidekoper. Also available from Amazon: The Cat - A Guide To The Classification And Varieties Of Cats And A Short Treatise Upon Their Cares, Diseases, And Treatment.
The cat is an excessively cleanly animal, and when housed should be provided with means for remaining so. A small box, or what is better, as it can be well washed - a galvanized flat pan such as is used for roasting meat, should be placed in some well-ventilated corner out of sight, and kept filled about an inch deep with sand, clean earth, or sawdust. Perhaps the latter is preferable, as it can be burned. The litter should be changed frequently.1
There should be in some convenient corner - near the window, in order to get sunlight if possible, at the same time not in a draft - a basket kept filled with clean oat straw or with flannel. While a flannel cushion looks the prettier, clean oat straw, in which the cat can turn and roll, allows it to keep its coat much cleaner and in better order; but the straw, of course, has the disadvantage of getting scattered over the floor when the animal leaves its basket. Wherever it is possible, the basket should be in the sunlight, as cats love to bask. The basket and its filling must be kept absolutely clean. If the animals are at all troubled with fleas or other insects, the bedding can be sprinkled with a little flowers of sulphur, which will drive them off.
1 For an extended and complete description of the housing of cats on a large scale - "catteries" or "cat-runs" - see "Domestic and Fancy Cats," by John Jennings.
In cleaning the cat never use a comb; it breaks the hairs and renders the coat rough. Brush the coat well with a soft brush, or with a mitten which is known as a bath-mitten. The coat of the cat can be improved very materially by washing; but this is difficult unless the animal is very tame, and even then can only be well done by its absolute owner or an attendant of whom it is fond. To wash a cat, make a soft soap-sud, comparatively thick; apply commencing at the hind quarters and tail, and gradually rub in until the ears are reached. After the soap-suds have been thoroughly rubbed in, dip the animal, hind feet first, into a tub of tepid water, when it can be gently patted over with the hand, and then dipped into another tub of tepid water, to rinse it off. The animal should then be wrapped up in a soft bath-towel and the excess of water pressed out; and it should then be put into a basket of clean oat straw and kept in a warm place, where it will finish the drying and cleaning for itself by rolling in the straw and by licking itself, after which it can be brushed with a soft brush.
For a simpler form of dressing to make the coat shiny, the animal can be sponged over with a very little perfectly fresh olive or cocoa-nut oil, or with a little perfectly fresh cream, which is then wiped off with a sponge slightly damped, or with a towel, and the animal put into the basket of oat straw to clean itself.