During a hard snow storm last winter, a kitten with a broken leg and almost frozen hopped into the hall door of a gentleman's house in Brooklyn, New York, and set up a most piteous mewing.
The master of the house ordered the servants to throw the kitten into the street, when his little daughter, a child eight years of age, caught up the poor little creature. and begged to be allowed to keep and nurse it. The father, at first, refused. The child, however, begged so earnestly that he at last allowed her to keep the kitten.
The little girl, whom we will call Emma, nursed her pet until it got quite well. The kitten returned, in full measure, all the love of her gentle nurse, and was never quite happy away from little Emma.
Some time afterwards, the loving child was taken severely ill, and was confined to her bed. Kitty had grown into a cat. It was found impossible to keep her away from the bed of her suffering friend. The cat would watch at the door when turned out of the room, dart in again, and mew, and jump upon the bed where little Emma lay. There Kitty was quiet.
As the child grew more ill, it was impossible to get the cat out of the room ; until, at last, when little Emma was dying, pussy stretched herself out near the bed, and seemed to be dying too.
The cat was taken into the next room, and put gently upon a rug.
" Take care of my poor kitten ! " said the kind little Emma, as she saw them take it away ; and her loving spirit went to the land of loving spirits.
When the sorrowing friends went into the adjoining room, the life of her " poor kitten " had departed too.
Does not the fact that love and kindness can make such an irritable animal as the cat so loving and grateful, teach us all their heavenly power ? Ought we not to do all which we can to bring out this better nature ?
We have made cats our slaves. We have taken them from the woods, that we may have them to catch our rats and mice. We make them do just as we please, and ought we not to make them as comfortable and happy as we can ?
Can we not be patient with their bad or disagreeable qualities, and encourage all their good dispositions ? We never know the true character of any living being till we treat that creature with entire justice and kindness. I therefore am the friend of the poor, despised, abused, neglected, suspected, calumniated cat. I confess she is sometimes a little disposed to thieving, that there are strong reasons for supposing that she is somewhat addicted to selfishness, that she may justly be suspected of occasional hypocrisy, and that she is to blame for too readily using her claws.
These are, all of them, human as well as cattish faults ; but, if pussy has in her the capacity for something better, for self-forgetting and devoted affection, we must treat her with such patient, enduring kindness and perfect justice as may cherish all that is good in her nature. In short, can we not overcome her evil by our good ? Let us try, boys !
One thing I have not yet told you in relation to cats, and that is what pets they are made in France. No drawing room seems complete without a beautiful cat. The cats are well trained and are very gentle.
The Angora cat is most prized. She is fed with the greatest care, and, in all respects, is treated like a respected member of the family ; and noticed, of course, by visitors. I have seen a beautiful cat go from one guest to another to be caressed like a little child.
These pet cats are playthings. They are not expected to catch rats and mice, but are idle creatures, and only amuse themselves and others. It is considered a special attention for any gentleman or lady to make a present of a pet cat".
" What's the use of cats who can't catch rats and mice ? " said Frank. " Do the French pet the mice, too ? I wonder what comes of the bread and cheese ? "
" O, the people have another set of cats, whom they call gutter cats, who catch rats and mice. The gutter cats never come into the drawing room; but they are treated well in the kitchen, and made as happy as possible.
I was told that these working cats were far more intelligent than the pets of the drawing room.
I knew a French seamstress who had a gutter cat, of which she was very fond. One day the cat fell from the roof of the house. She seemed dead, but her faithful friend put her upon a soft bed, gave her homoeopathic medicine, and watched all night by her to put a drop of something into her mouth if she moved. At last the cat gave signs of life, and by good nursing her life was saved.
I saw once in Paris a man carrying about a splendid large mouse-colored cat, dressed up with ribbons.
The creature was twice the common size, and gentle as a lamb. He was for sale; the price, sixty francs, which is twelve dollars.
Every body who was not too busy, stopped to stroke Master Puss".
" He would have done to wear boots," cried Harry. " I should like him right well. Such a big cat would be worth having".
" The French are very humane to animals, and never inflict unnecessary pain upon the meanest. In the street in which I lived in Paris, there was a hospital for cats and dogs".
" Is not a hospital a place where sick folks go to be cured, Mother; and do they like to have dogs and cats there ? "
" This was a hospital devoted to sick cats and dogs".
" Do they have cats and dogs for nurses ? " said Harry, giggling as he spoke.
" I never heard they did, you little goose. But I could not help being pleased with such an evidence of the kind-heartedness of a people in their treatment of animals".
" Mother," said Frank, " where did dogs and cats come from ? Have men always had them living with them'? Did Adam and Eve have a dog and cat, do you suppose? Was there an Adam and Eve cat and dog ? "