Highlights from Our Cats (Harrison Weir)

From our journey through random or quality (or random quality) books, here are some highlights from Harrison Weir’s Our Cats (1889).

Emphasis as it appears in the original work may be missing, and our own edits, though marked, may be broad. Important: By sharing these highlights we neither endorse nor recommend respective authors and their views. Assume that we know little of the authors, and that we have nuanced views on the matter—as with all our book recommendations.

Our Cats

[…] in buying a white cat—or, in fact, any other—ascertain for a certainty that it is not deaf. 

It is stated that if a dog has white anywhere, he is sure to have a white tip to his tail […].

[…] in all things have the finest and best. Surround yourself with the elegant, the graceful, the brilliant, the beautiful, the agile, and the gentle. Be it what it may, animal, bird, or flower, be careful to have the best. A man, it is said, is made more or less by his environments, and doubtless this is to a great extent, if not entirely, a fact […].

Do not, as a rule, put either collar or ribbon on your cat; though they may thereby be improved in appearance, they are too apt to get entangled or caught by the collar, and often strangulation ensues […].

A most essential requisite for the health of the cat is cleanliness. In itself the animal is particularly so, as may be observed by its constant habit of washing, or cleaning its fur many times a day; therefore, a clean basket, clean straw, or clean flannel, to lie on—in fact, everything clean is not only necessary, but is a necessity for its absolute comfort. 

As to food […] I have found raw beef the best, with milk mixed with a little hot water to drink—never boil it—and give plenty of grass, or some boiled vegetable, such as asparagus, sea-kale, or celery; they also are fond of certain weeds, such as cat-mint, and equisetum, or mares’ or cats’ tails, as it is sometimes called. If fish is given it is best mixed with either rice or oatmeal, and boiled, otherwise it is apt to produce diarrhœa. 

Brown bread and milk is also good and healthy food; the bread should be cut in cubes of half an inch, and the warm milk and water poured on; only enough for one meal should be prepared at a time. 

Care should always be taken on the first symptoms of illness to remove the animal at once from contact with others. 

[…] when the domestic cat takes to the woods and becomes wild, it becomes much larger, stronger, and changes in colour […].

I came to the conclusion that [cats scratching and clawing trees &c.] has nothing whatever to do with sharpening the claws, but is done to stretch the muscles and tendons of the feet so that they work readily and strongly […].

Why one object is always selected is that they may not betray their presence by numerous marks in the neighbourhood, if wild, to other animals or their enemies. 

Cat.—Irish, Cat; French, Chat; Dutch, Kat; Danish, Kat; Swedish, Katt; German, Katti or Katze; Latin, Catus; Italian, Gatto; Portuguese and Spanish, Gato; Polish, Kot; Russian, Kots; Turkish, Keti; Welsh, Cath; Cornish, Kath; Basque, Catua; Armenian, Gaz or Katz. In Armenic, Kitta, or Kaita, is a male cat. 

Cat-handed.—A Devonshire term for awkward. 

Sick as a Cat.—Cats are subject to sickness or vomiting for the purpose of throwing up indigestible matter, such as the fur of mice, feathers of birds, which would otherwise collect and form balls internally. For this reason they eat grass, which produces the desired effect; hence arises the phrase “as sick as a cat.” 

An itinerant [person] is said to “whip the cat.” 

He can hold the cat to the sun. Bold and foolish enough for anything. 

He is like a dog or a cat. Not reliable. 

Never was cat or dog drowned that could see the shore. To know the way often brings a right ending. 

The cat and dog may kiss, but are none the better friends. Policy is one thing, friendship another. 

The cat invites the mouse to her feast. It is difficult for the weak to refuse the strong. 

[…] the pupils of their eyes went on constantly growing narrower until twelve o’clock, when they became like a fine line, as thin as a hair, drawn perpendicularly across the eye, and that after twelve the dilatation recommenced.” 

Read the whole book: Our Cats.