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comparison with persons. No sooner is the animal introduced to a new home, than it manifests the greatest uneasiness ; stealing from room to rooin with a most suspicious and inquiring look, as if distrustful of every cupboard, and calculating the number of mouseholes, or the chances of good sport in its new manor. Up stairs and down stairs does it wander, stopping here and prying there, till thoroughly acquainted with the geography of the place, the position of the furniture, and the exact locality of every box and hanıper. After such a survey, the cat will possibly attend to the usual caresses of its owner, and make herself at hoine, though the introduction of a fresh table or chair will rouse its inquisitiveness.
After smelling about, walking round, and taking note of the position, Puss again sits down quite satisfied, unless, indeed, some favourite corner has been filled up, when some days will elapse before the animals injured feelings can be hushed. Such habits, which any one may observe in the domesticated cat, are the results of the suspicions so natural to all the felide. Thus, if a cat is crossing a road, or walking up a garden-path, every motion indicates fear and watchfulness; and should any person not well known to the animal appear, a hasty scamper to some concealed nook is the instant result.
With such habits, attachment to mankind, as a general disposition, is quite out of the question, though isolated cases of strong affection do occur. Some cats recognise the voices of their owners, and run towards them with expressions of joy after absence; and in some cases, an attachment alınost equal to that of the dog is shewn towards man by this usually selfish quadruped.
It sometimes exhibits a strong affection towards other animals, especially for its teasing foe the
dog. A cat in the house of the writer has evinced a remarkable fondness for two aniinals, which in general receive very little attention from Pussy-a dog and a goose. The cat was never so happy as when nestling between the dog's paws; and slept at night as closely as possible to “ Dash," the name of her canine friend, a fine spaniel of the larger species. In the case of the goose, the affection of the cat was ludicrous enough in its manifestation; the feline quadruped actually mounting the back of the bird, which carried Puss about from one part of the yard to another without the least discomposure. The bird was, it must be confessed, singularly tame: but one such case illustrates the change produced in the disposition of the most suspicious of animals by becoming the companion of man. Many of the natural qualities of the cat are, however, preserved even amid the influence of doinestication. Thus, it must be affirmed that the cat retains its cruel spirit; in confirmation of which, the habit of playing with mice after they have been disabled and their bones broken, might suffice. The cat has been known to keep young rats and mice for days in this state before killing them ;
but on one of these occasions the victims were reserved when Puss had a young family to support; during which time she probably thought it advisable to keep a stock of food ready for emergencies.
The affection of the cat for her young is quite as strong as that of the hen for her chickens, though it may not so fully excite our attention. She generally loses most of her progeny through the prudeuce of housewives, who have a thrifty proverb about “too many cats;" but the solitary kitten, which whim or accident may have spared, is well cared for, and few dainties are then safe from the active mother. Sometimes, when all the kittens have been destroyed, Puss will continue to bring in food, calling on all sides for her young to partake of the treat. She bas even been known to supply the place of her kittens by the young of other animals ; and cases are recorded of a cat which thus reared a brood of leverets; and of another supporting some puppies after the sudden loss of her young. A still more extraordinary fact was narrated by a rat-catcher. This man threw some young rats to his cat, she had just lost her kittens, and instead of tearing and killing her natural foes, instantly took them under her care, and brought up the whole brood, which the man exhibited publicly with their foster mother. These instances, however, are rare, and prove not the gentleness of the cat, but that strong affection for her young which characterises all the felide.
Whether the cat bunts for the support of herself or young, she is well qualified, from the structure of her body, and her patience and subtlety, to prove a dangerous neighbour to a settlement of mice, or colony of rats. The eye of the cat is one of its most powerful auxiliaries in the pursuit of prey, both in the fascination which it appears to have over small animals, such as mice and birds, and the power to collect the rays of light in dark places. The first quality is supposed to paralyse those animals which suddenly find the glaring eye of their enemy fixed upon them; and some persons declare that birds have, under such feelings, fallen from the branches of a tree beneath which a cat was watching. There is no reason why terror may not produce the same effect upon the nerves and muscles of animals as upon human beings, who, especially women and children, often seem paralysed for a few moments by fright. This may, in fact, be all we mean, when speaking of the fascination of the cat's eye; but in either case additional power of seizing the prey is given to the animal by this power. The capability of the pupil to expand in the dark is characteristic of all the felide, and proves the wisdom with which the structure of such animals is adapted to their mode of life, which is chiefly to prey in the night. If we look at the eye of a cat when sitting in the full light of day, we shall see that the pupil is almost closed, having but an extremely narrow opening for the admission of light. The eye then appears heavy and hole ;
without expression ; but let the same animal be observed sitting in the corner of a dark room at night, and watching near a mouse
how sparkling and full of fire are the eyes then, appearing like two balls of phosphoric light! Thus the cat, like the owl, is fitted to see the smallest object in the dark.
Then, consider how admirably the paw of the cat qualifies it to hunt for prey in the still hours of night, when the least sound must be heard by the suspicious mice. Men can but slightly imitate that velvety padded foot, when, taking off their shoes, they move over the creaking boards of a house in the midnight still
But not the gentlest sounds indicate the movements of that elastic animal, which approaches with a stealthy tread towards that gambolling troop of mice, one of which will certainly in a minute be in the hands of this house-tiger. This noiseless motion arises from two causes ; first, the great flexibility belonging to the cat enables it to move with that waving and easy glide so opposed to all heavy action. The second peculiarity is found in the soft and elastic pads placed in the sole of the foot.
If the reader will examine the foot of a cat, he will see the structure of the cushioned base at a glance, with the pads in the centre of the paw, and one under each toe. It will no longer be a matter of surprise that the movements of Puss should escape even the notice of the ever-watchful mice. It will also be seen why the cat receives so little injury by falling from heights which would shake the human body to pieces. For the shock is in such cases broken by alighting upon ihe pillowy substance protecting the foot; whilst the flexibility of the leg-bones, and the loose structure of all the joints, cause the feet to descend first to the earth. Thus the whole organisation of the skeleton, and the arrangement of all parts of the foot, combine to give the cat that remarkable power of sustaining heavy falls which so often surprises the observer.
The whiskers are also important aids to this animal in hunting for prey, enabling it to feel its way by these lip-nerves through the most winding and intricate passages. Thus a cat is rarely caught or jammed between beams, rafters, or in holes ; for she measures all such apertures in the dark by the sensitive feelers round the mouth. Each of these hairs is attached to the nerves of the lip; and the instant the extremity of one touches any object, the sensation is conveyed along the nervous system of the animal. The whiskers are not themselves sensible, but simply act as the conductors of feeling; through them, therefore, the cat receives the most accurate information respecting the shape and nature of surrounding bodies.
It has been often remarked that the body of the cat is usually in a highly electric state, which also appears to be the case in other animals famous for great vital energies.
What connexion may exist between electricity and the habits and qualities of animals
is difficult to be ascertained in the present state of our knowledge, though it seems that animal excitability is generally found in unison with an electrical state of the system. It appears to be beyond all dispute that the cat is often highly electrical, sparks having been drawn from its body by rubbing the fur, and in severe frosts this singular appearance may be readily observed. At such times, by merely touching the animal, we can produce an electric shock of most sensible power. Black cats have the reputation of holding the electrical matter in the greatest abundance; a circumstance which it is well for all such feline negroes that the witch-hunters of former ages were unacquainted with. In such times the black cat was in sufficiently ill odiuin, being deemed the especial companion of all adepts in the “ black art :” but what an extra load of infamy would have fallen on them, had the rude populace suspected that in their bodies the elements of the lightning existed! Happily for all respectable black cats this fact was not clearly developed until the erroneous notions of witchery had passed away. We can now quietly consider this singular property of the cat with an interest unmingled with superstition. It may
not be useless to advert here to an error yet prevalent, which has doubtless cost the life of many a fine and well-disposed cat. Many people will tell you, with the utmost positiveness, that the cat sucks children's breath. They would certainly be puzzled to explain how this operation can be performed by such an aniinal. The thing is an impossibility; and the notion has doubtless arisen from a very innocent habit in which the cat often indulges, especially in cold weather. In such seasons the mother leaves her child well wrapped up in its warm cot or cradle, and, returning to look if all is comfortable, sees with affright the old cat closely nestling by the child, having probably contrived to insinuate herself under the very coverlid. In the twinkling of an eye Puss finds her slumbers rudely broken, and her body whirled away to the opposite side of the room, whilst the irritated woman snatches up the infant to make sure that all the breath is not out of its lungs; and soon the story runs round the village, that “the dreadful cat was on the point of sucking the dear baby's breaih out of its body!" It is a sad day for all cats in those houses where babies are found; some are summarily ejected, others cuffed and kicked whenever they approach a cradle; and it is well it a few are not drowned in the pond before sunset. All this arises from a natural desire on the part of poor Puss to ensconce herself in a warm bed.
Here these notices of the cat family must close, the writer having already been drawn beyond the limits assigned to this chapter; but the various particulars connected with the felide rendered greater brevity impossible, and perhaps undesirable.
The Dog Family. This division of the animal world presents less of the marvellous and gigantic, but more of the useful than the ferocious felida. We find here no specimen of power equal to the lion or tiger; all the dogs being of medium size, and not remarkable for the bloodloving propensities of the cats. One member of the family, the domesticated dog, possesses, however, far more of interest for us than the habits of the sullen jungle tiger or the mighty lion of Africa; for he has been the companion of man during the whole eventful progress from ancient ages to the present hour. The other varieties of the division, as the wolves, foxes, jackals, and perhaps the hyænas, have never been the helpers of man in his advance towards civilisation ; but even these possess, in their wild state, many characteristics worthy of our attention as students of nature.