Cat Family Genealogy.

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Cat Family Genealogy.

Post by Currie » Wed Apr 14, 2021 8:31 am

Cat Family Genealogy.

Imagine being a cat and having all records older than about 20 years withheld because of privacy concerns. Imagine being a cat when that means that up to maybe fifteen generations of your family are hidden from view. For a human that would be the equivalent of maybe 300 or so years.

Despite this, as usual, comes up with the advertising goods.

Of course the Aristocats have no problem, they can, as usual, trace their ancestors back to Noah and the flood.

To maybe help out those poor unfortunate working class felines I’ve decided to post a few cat stories from the newspapers of 100 and more years ago. Cat stories were a big thing back then, especially in the Edinburgh Evening News. Maybe this will help them to trace their ancestry back. That’s as long as they can somehow jump the maybe 50 plus generations between now and then.

Edinburgh Evening News, Friday, August 21, 1874


About a week ago, Mr Rattray, hardware merchant, 14 Candleriggs, Glasgow, ordered a quantity of goods from Manchester. The invoice was duly received, followed by the goods, which reached Glasgow on Tuesday afternoon by steamer from Liverpool. When Mr Rattray opened the box to unpack the goods, great was his astonishment to find a large black cat inside, with four small kittens, the very images of herself. The kittens appeared to have been newly introduced into the world—i.e., the packing-box—and, strange to say, neither the cat nor her interesting progeny had sustained any injury during the shifting and knocking about of the box on the journey, which it took five days to accomplish. Mr Rattray is doing his duty by the cat and kittens, and perhaps some local Barnums may pick them up at a “ransom” for public exhibition.

Edinburgh Evening News, Thursday, June 2, 1881


The Norwich Bulletin says:— An estimable couple residing not many miles from East Main Street, in this city, having decided that their old cat, by reason of decrepitude and frequent fits, had better be relieved of life, procured an ounce of chloroform one day last week and administered it to poor old Tabby, as she lay in a stupor before the kitchen fire. After a few moments spent in recounting the virtues of Tabby, pater familias sorrowfully conveyed her rigid form to a corner of the garden, dug a hole and planted her, carefully stamping the earth over her grave and transplanting a rosebud to the spot as a memento. Judge of the surprise of the family next morning to find Tabby sitting on the window sill, purring her wishes to be let into breakfast.

Edinburgh Evening News, Tuesday, October 6, 1885


A curious story is told about Jane Shore, a mare which looked well in for the Haddington Handicap at Musselburgh, but which is not now likely to come north. This is accounted for by the statement that she has gone frantic with grief at the loss of her favourite stable cat. The two were inseparable friends when the mare was at home, and there was no end to the games and romps that the cat would play with her equine companion. But on Saturday night pussy got into the wrong stable, and was accidentally killed. The mare found when she was done up for the night that puss was not placed upon her back as usual, and she became so fractious that another of the stable cats was found and placed in the stall beside her. But no sooner did the thoroughbred discover the attempt to impose upon her than she flew furiously at the intruder, and drove her out of the stall. Nothing that could be done pacified the mare, who during the night kicked the woodwork of her stall to splinters, and bruised her hocks and hind shanks to such an extent that running her this week is quite out of the question. This is Mr Drislane’s plain unvarnished tale, and those who know how much horses in training often become attached to their feline companions will readily admit its probability.

Aberdeen Journal, Saturday, April 28, 1888


Popoki, as the Hawaiians call the harmless, necessary cat, had a curious experience the other day (so says a contemporary). The engineer of a printing establishment, soon after starting his machine one morning, noticed a white patch on the inner surface of the driving wheel, which he thought was merely a piece of paper caught by one of the spokes in its flight and whirled round and round by the wheel. No attention was given to the matter until the engine stopped at noon, when the engineer was surprised to see the white patch fall to the ground, and then get up and crawl off in a very zig-zag fashion. Then he became aware that the white spot was a white cat which had been clinging to one of the spokes, and only relaxed its hold when the wheel stopped. Naturally, poor pussy seemed dazed for a while, and was taken out for fresh air, remaining perfectly still for some time, apparently not sure which was the “right side up” as far as it was concerned. The wheel is ten feet in diameter, and as it revolved from 7 a.m. to 12 30 p.m. at a rate of sixty revolutions per minute, by a simple calculation it will be found that pussy travelled a distance of more than one hundred and seventeen miles, or about twenty thousand revolutions of the wheel.

Edinburgh Evening News, Friday, July 19, 1889

A CAT STORY FROM PERTH.—Here is an extraordinary cat story from Perth. The hero resides in the Caledonian Railway premises there. “Tom” gets, or has given him, a piece of bread, which he carefully keeps for the purpose of using as a bait for sparrows. He places it near the window—hides himself, and watches. The guileless sparrow—unaware of “toms” tricks—soon “goes for” the bread, whereupon the cat pounces from his hiding place, and invariably secures himself a meal. He has been taken to Aberdeen and other places, but invariably returns. He is about six or seven years old.

Dundee Courier, Tuesday, November 19, 1895

A reliable authority in Broughty Ferry is responsible for the following cat story, which goes to confirm the oft-repeated assertion regarding members of the feline tribe having nine lives:—A boy was recently entrusted with the task of drowning a cat which had become an eyesore to its owner. He took the animal to the pier, and threw it over. He watched its struggles with the waves, and eventually it was lost to view. The murderer, being satisfied that the cat was no more, left the scene, and pussy was speedily forgotten.
A few days later the owner had occasion to call upon a friend in Tayport, when he was astonished to see his cat. To make certain that the animal was his he made some inquiries, and had his suspicions confirmed beyond the shadow of a doubt. On the day of its supposed death, and within a very short time after it had been committed to the water by the boy, the cat was picked up on Lucky Scaup in an exhausted condition, having been carried thither by the tide.

Dundee Courier, Wednesday, April 28, 1897

The following remarkable cat story appears in a contemporary:—“A favourite tabby belonging to a shipmaster was left on shore by accident while his vessel sailed from the harbour of Aberdour, Fifeshire, which is about half a mile from the village. The vessel was about a month absent, and on her return, to the astonishment of the shipmaster, puss came on board with a fine stout kitten in her mouth, apparently about three weeks old, and went directly down into the cabin. Two others of her young ones were afterwards caught quite wild in a neighbouring wood, where she must have remained with them till the return of the vessel. The shipmaster did not allow her to go again on shore, otherwise it is probable she would have brought the whole litter on board. What makes this the more remarkable is that vessels were daily entering and leaving the harbour, none of which she ever thought of visiting till the one she had left returned.”

Evening Telegraph, Dundee, Tuesday, August 9, 1898


Newport possesses, amongst other curiosities, a very intelligent cat. The family to which it belongs is at present at St Andrews, and pussy was conveyed thither by train, carefully sealed up. It so happened that pussy’s friends were residing in lodgings where a noble dog is kept. The day after pussy’s arrival the dog was seen strutting about evidently well pleased with himself; but pussy was nowhere to be seen. On the dog being interrogated, he wagged his tail and winked, as much as to say, “Consult the city graveyards.” It was thought that he had grown stout, and fears were entertained that pussy had found a silent tomb. The sorrowing owners, however, happened to call at their residence in East Newport, and who should meet them at the gate but pussy herself, brown and dusty with travel. She had bravely taken the road for home. Great were the rejoicings. How she managed it none can tell. Perhaps she may publish a book about it, or give illustrated lectures. Meantime she delights in bones galore.

Evening Telegraph, Dundee, Monday, May 23, 1904


Officials of the Blackburn Corporation Electric Works (says the “Telegraph”) tell a cat story. A cat living at the power-house was asleep in the rim of a fly-wheel when the engines were started, and for five hours pussy was whirled round at the rate of 60 miles an hour. When at length the engines were stopped, the cat jumped down from the wheel, staggered about confusedly for a few seconds, and then walked quietly to its corner, none the worse for its extraordinary experience!” The truth of the matter is believed to be that when the cat found the wheel going too fast to let it alight with comfort and dignity, it simply cancelled the velocity of the wheel by trotting in the opposite direction till the engine was next stopped.

(The above is clearly a sad case of sensationalist journalism. The readers of this forum know for a fact that the incident actually occurred at a printing establishment in 1888, and that the cat travelled a distance of 117 miles in 5½ hours which, I think, is a speed of only 21 miles per hour, and not 60. —Alan)

Evening Telegraph, Dundee, Thursday, August 20, 1925


A Freuchie correspondent sends another cat story. In that village, it seems, a cat and three young kittens were recently gifted by one party to another, and duly removed to the latter’s residence, over half a mile away.
Parental solicitude, it was thought, would be sufficient to bind pussy to her changed abode, and so no steps were taken to confine her to the new place of residence. One day passed without anything happening, but on the following morning, rather to her former owner's annoyance, she was found waiting on the window sill to be admitted to the old home.
In this, of course, there was nothing surprising, but that comes in when we are told that pussy is making the journey to and fro between the two places every day and nursing her family. That she does so must be merely a matter of instinct or sentiment, for she would have been as well treated in the one place as the other.

Well, that’s enough cat stories to last a lifetime. I’m off to watch some cat videos on youtube. Maybe there will be some cat unboxing videos, like in 1874. Maybe even some of a cat being put on a flywheel to see how well it sticks. I wouldn’t be a bit surprised.


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Re: Cat Family Genealogy.

Post by SarahND » Wed Apr 14, 2021 8:59 am

Great stuff, Alan! I especially liked the poignant tale of the racehorse and her cat friend.

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Re: Cat Family Genealogy.

Post by garibaldired » Wed Apr 14, 2021 10:04 am

I loved the line " Mr Rattray is doing his duty by the cat and kittens" :lol: :lol:

Thanks, Alan.


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Re: Cat Family Genealogy.

Post by JuliaRoss » Fri May 28, 2021 7:56 am

Hi, the story about the clever cat collecting bread to catch sparrows is very cute)))) And in general, very cool stories, thank you! :wink:

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Re: Cat Family Genealogy.

Post by Currie » Tue Jun 22, 2021 8:00 am

Hello Julia, and Welcome to TalkingScot.

I'll cast this reply adrift in a bottle and hope it arrives okay.

I was going to include another cat story, but have had enough of those, and have included a conundrum story instead.

Dundee Courier, Friday, March 1, 1889.


I will begin by premising that it was with great pleasure that I met Jack Rackett. We used to be called a ‘‘pair of Jacks.” Had I but known the misery meeting with him would entail I would have shunned him like a leper. Jack had been my class mate. He was very clever. So was I—at least, people said so. Jack had written some brilliant sketches, and had been immediately engaged by Vellum & Toame, the great publishers, to edit their newspaper, the Comet. Jack said they called it the Comet because it had a continued tale. Jack was glad to see me—very glad. He said he wanted copy for the next number of the Comet—would I write something?—anything. I was green then, and wanted to be read, and was ambitious and wished to see myself in print, and all that sort of thing; so I rashly consented. Had I but known the misery an acquiescence to Jack's request would entail on me, I would have refused. Alas! I did not know the future. I wrote a column of copy for the Comet, containing some rather neat things, I think. Among these “Chips from my own head,” as I facetiously called them, was the following little squib:—

Why is a cat like a cannon?—Because it can mew-till-late.

Had I but known the misery that miserable conundrum would entail on me, would I, could I, have penned it? Never! No, Never! Time passed on. It often does. The Comet appeared. I purchased a copy with excusable pride, and took it to my lowly cot. I like a man who is contented with his lot in life—if it has brown-stone in it. My lowly cot was a brown-stone mansion. It was a London boardinghouse. Dick—you know Dick De Ruyter?—well, Dick got hold of that Comet. Dick real it through. When he came to my “Chips” he smiled; when he had read the first he laughed (inside of him); then he burst into a roar. I knew what it was—he had read that really funny conundrum. He asked me why a cat was like a cannon? Then he smiled. I gave it up. Then he laughed. Then he said, “Because it can mew-till-late.” Then he howled with ecstatic delight. I smiled pleasantly, not conceitedly; great authors are seldom conceited. Dick said it was the best thing he had seen for years. Dick is a man of more ability than I had hitherto supposed. The next day I read in the Meteor—which is published by Schapter & Worse, the only rivals of Vellum & Toame—a scathing criticism on the Comet. This notice pitched into my “Chips!” said they were “chips of the old block—the blockhead,” and concluded by asking—“What should be thought of a dastardly ruffian, of a wretched hireling who dares to desecrate the language by asking why a cat is like a cannon— Because it can mutilate.”

After reading that, I fainted. I never did like the Meteor. Jack Rackett said the “Metre” was puffed up with its own gas. This consoled me. The next day I took up the Snarler, and amongst the items I read—“Why is a cat like a cannon?—Because it can mew-till-late.” This was pleasing. The next day I read in the Churl—“Why is a cat like a cannon?—Because it can mutilate.” This was gratifying. The following day I read that shining light of the press, the Lanp-post, and saw—“Why is a cat like a cannon?—Because it can mutilate.” This produced no effect upon me. The next day I read in the Manchester Phoenix— Why is a cat like a cannon?” I did not read the answer. I knew it by heart. This began to be monotonous. Within a week I read the Sledgehammer, and found that “a cat was like a cannon because it can mutilate.” That day I was ill. Then it began to haunt me. Had I but known when writing that incendiary conundrum the misery it was to entail upon me I would never, never have composed it. Never! But still it haunted me. In every paper in the north, in the south, in the east, in the west, in daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, in religious and profane papers I read with horror—“Why is a cat like a cannon?—Because if can mutilate.” It was monotonous. I vowed that if I ever made another conundrum it should be either so bad that no one would read or so good that I should not care how often I read it.

Time passed on. I grew older, better, stronger, more able to cope with conundrums and the other horrors of life. I was in Paris. While calmly writing at my hotel my usual letter to the Rocket (the paper to which I was then attached; Jack Rackett said it was in accordance with the principle that every rocket must have one stick) I heart a noise. Then a howl. Then a shout, followed by a roar. I supposed it was a Vigilance Committee. A visitor had just read in the coffeeroom to a large assembly a conundrum—“Why is a cat like a cannon?— Because it can mutilate.” The crowd had received it ecstatically. The reader was hilarious.

That conundrum was becoming more monotonous. After this little occurrence life in Paris was, of course, insupportable. I left. I travelled. I went to Scotland, where I supposed no devastating conundrum would, could, or should follow me. Alas! one night I went to see some Christy Minstrels. They might remind me of home, sweet home. They did. When I entered, a sable gentleman was singing about Maggie. He told us pathetically how Maggie had golden hair, blue eyes, and so forth—how Maggie was sad and pensive, how they planted Maggie by the sad sea-wave, where the drooping willow is weeping o'er her grave. Altogether, Maggie was an undesirable, uninteresting young female. The chorus was encored. Of course. Stupid choruses always are. Then there was a hush of expectancy, a silence so loud that you could hear it, and then—then Brudder Bones laughed.

“Ha, ha! I got a cornernumdrum, Massa Jonson, I has. Why is a cat like a cannon?— Because it can mutilate.”

I left. It was too much for me. I had an attack of brain fever, followed by the measles. Then the scarlet fever, then the yellow fever; then I got the blues. I had them in assorted colours. Eventually I recovered from the effects of that lugubrious conundrum. Time passed on. It keeps on passing, till at last one fine day it orders us up. After that I went to Egypt. Had I but known the misery going to Egypt would entail on me, I should never, never, never have gone—never. I enjoyed Egypt. I saw old Daddy Nile. I was chased by the simple Simon of the desert. I dreamt of Cleopatra, and wished I could go into the pearl business on joint account. One day we had a picnic at the Great Pyramid. Yusef brought us there. Yusef was our guide. We were very jolly. The fare was good, the fair were better—what more could we ask? We were patriotic, too. Charley De Gumbo declared he had an idea—to drink John Bull’s health on a pyramid; he had a bottle in his bag. He went for the bag and the bottle, which was carefully enveloped in a piece of the Dundee Weekly News. Then he started towards us. Suddenly he paused and smiled, then he laughed, then he shook all over like a jelly with the chills and fever. We rushed to him.

“Gentlemen,” says he, “here's a capital conundrum. Why is a cat like a cannon?”

My grim, gaunt, ghastly, ghostly conundrum copied into the newspaper which wrapped the whisky! It was too much for me. I gave in. It was hard to have all the romance of Egypt taken away by a darned, infernal conundrum. But so it was. I gave in. I am a ruined man, wrecked in the river of life by the quicksands of Conundrums. My health is shattered, and when I die I want this epitaph:—

Killed by a Conundrum.
Why is a Cat Like a Cannon?— Because it can Mutilate.

This conundrum story may have grown from something in the Philadelphia Medical Times, 1874. “Why is a tom cat like a surgeon?” “Because they both mew-til-late.”

Silly Jack’s story appears to have only been published in the Dundee Courier, and has been safely buried there for the last 132 years, until, unfortunately, dug up by me.


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Re: Cat Family Genealogy.

Post by garibaldired » Tue Jun 22, 2021 11:39 am

:lol: :lol: :lol:

Another good one, Alan!

Best wishes,

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