Chapter XVI - Concerning Certain Cat Characteristics Picture

I wonder if a trace of the natural enmity between the cat and the dog does not extend somehow to the cat-lover and the dog-lover. There really seems to be a trace of belligerency in the feeling which one friend who is devoted to dogs endeavors to conceal when another proclaims a preference for cats. One may safely say that he prefers horses to cows, or that he loves a kangaroo better than a pigeon hawk. But let a man or woman say: "I do not care for cats but I do love dogs," or vice versa, and immediately a secret and more or less successfully veiled antagonism is roused in the heart of the hearer whose loves lie in the opposite direction.

St. George Mivart says, "Though the cat is much less demonstrative in affection than the dog, yet cats differ as men do, and some individuals manifest strong feelings of regard for one or other members of the family with whom they make their homes."

Champfleury explains this difference by saying: "Here the schism between meditative beings and active natures reveals itself. The barking of a dog has an irritating effect on the delicate organs of the former; while those who like to rule, and love show and fuss, prefer the noisy demonstrativeness of dogs, and make little of the thoughtful animal who, without any noise about it, manifests its independence and eludes the hands that try to hold it. These are traits and distinctions that escape the notice of persons who regard life simply as a hunting field, and have no place in their dictionary for the verbs 'to think' and 'to meditate.' Those people who have a great fondness for both the cat and the dog will invariably be found to be mixtures of the meditative and active natures."

George J. Romanes puts it wisely, too, when he says, "The cat is unquestionably a higher intelligent animal, though when contrasted with its great domestic rival, the dog, its intelligence, from being cast in quite a different mould, is very frequently underrated."

In many respects cats are more like men and women than dogs; they have moods, and their nature is complex. A dog is a good dog or a bad dog, brave or cowardly. But every cat has a character peculiar to itself. There is more individuality in cats. Cats do not take punishment as dogs do; their tempers rise, and if struck they are apt to strike back; but beyond a gentle cuff to a kitten, now and then, I find a scolding or an exclamation of rebuke enough. They are also less forgiving than a dog if unintentionally stepped on or hurt, and frequently bear a grudge for days toward the person guilty of offence. Cats are exceedingly irritable by temperament, sensitive to changes of the weather, frost, or thunder, and usually afraid of the latter; they are excitable, and naturally disposed to bite and scratch when at play; there is a tendency in them, as in ill-balanced human beings, to lose their heads when in high spirits, and the self-command most of them show when full-grown in resisting these impulses, is a striking proof of conscious responsibility. A full-grown pet cat scarcely ever scratches a young child, no matter how much he is mauled by it, and, indeed, one often notices the same thing in kittens. Besides being irritable, cats are subject to depression, probably a physical reaction from their former condition. Their instinct when ill or sad is to be alone, but this may be neutralized by petting; they become as dependent on caresses and sympathy as children, and much wiser than children when ill or injured, for they ask relief with the most unmistakable suggestions, sometimes indicating plainly where they are in pain, and presenting the suffering member for treatment. They are not so patient as dogs in taking medicine or submitting to surgical care, but they show recognition of its benefit by coming back for it under similar circumstances.

Cats have a commercial importance in certain lines of trade. Marine insurance does not cover damage done to the cargo by rats, but if the proprietor of the merchandise injured can prove that the ship was not furnished with a cat, he can recover compensation from the owner of the vessel. A ship found under certain circumstances without a living creature on board is considered a derelict, and property rights in her are forfeited. It has frequently occurred, after a ship has been abandoned, that a live cat discovered on board has saved the vessel from being condemned. For such reasons shipowners take care not to send vessels to sea without a cat.

It is said that in the cold storage warehouses of Pittsburgh cats of a special breed have been domesticated. These establishments are much beset by rats, and on this account ordinary pussies were introduced. They could not stand the cold, and soon died. At length a sturdy female was acclimated in one of the warehouses, growing fat where the temperature was below thirty degrees. She gave birth to kittens which grew into robust, thick-furred cats, suited to the Arctic conditions. These kittens were distributed among other cold storage houses, propagating their kind, until now cold storage cats are plentiful enough. They are chubbily built, and have a great development of the long hairs of the mustache and eyebrows, which serve as feelers with which to find their way in the dark.

1. King of the Silvers; 2. Lord Ruffles.

1. King of the Silvers, an imported cat descended from Lord
Southampton: now owned by Mrs. Helena A. Mix, Old Fort, Akin,
N.Y. 2. Lord Ruffles: owned by Miss Cora Wallace, East Brady,
Pa.; one of the finest blue cats ever seen in this country,
son of Beadle and Rosalys II.

Only a few years ago discovery was made of a great cave in Egypt filled with thousands on thousands of mummified cats. But alas, how are the mighty fallen since the days when the cat was worshipped and her body embalmed after death! For in this modern, unromantic age, the mummies were promptly, dug out and exported to England, where they sold at the rate of fifteen dollars a ton as fertilizers. Some of them, however, were carefully unwrapped and dissected for scientific purposes.

The intelligence of cats is easily proven by the ease with which they learn to do tricks. And here, too, the difference between them and dogs is particularly noticeable. A dog is taught too often by means of harsh words and blows : a cat can be taught nothing in that way. He must be persuaded, gently and with infinite patience, when his comprehension of what the trainer wants is almost startling.

A neighbor once had a cat that would kneel down at a hassock when she was told to say her prayers, and remain there devoutly with clasped paws until a hoop was held above her, when she would spring through it with the agility and the irreverence of a circus lady in tights. This same "Mollie" insisted on having her meals in a chair beside her master at table, and when she had finished, invariably proceeded to the kitchen and hunted up the broom, whereupon she carefully picked her teeth by drawing the straws skilfully between them. I have repeatedly seen "Old Mollie" do this: it should be added that she was not taught this trick, but took it up naturally from an evident desire to keep her teeth as clean as she did her pretty gray fur.

People who do not care for cats sometimes quote the fact that they prey upon smaller animals as disqualifying them for our regard. But alas! do not these same people eat the pretty, sportive lamb and the pigeon, and wear the wings of beautiful birds shot to minister to their vanity? And is it any worse for a cat to eat a reed-bird or a young partridge than for a man to do the same thing?

For the cat's apparent pleasure in torturing their prey, however, I have no apologies to offer. Mr. Romanes says in his "Animal Intelligence": "The feelings that prompt a cat to torture a captured mouse can only be assigned to the category to which by common consent they are ascribed,—delight in torturing for torture's sake. Speaking of man, John Stuart Mill somewhere observes that there is in some human beings a special faculty or instinct of cruelty, which is not merely a passive indifference to the sight of physical suffering, but an active pleasure in witnessing or causing it. The only animals in which there is any evidence of feelings in any way similar to these—if indeed, in the case even of such animals the feelings which prompt actions of gratuitous cruelty really are similar to those which prompt it in man—are cats and monkeys."

My aunt, in Greenfield, Mass., had a cat who was in the habit of catching his own breakfast every summer morning before the family was up. Invariably, a little before my aunt's rising hour, Dick used to bring in a nice fat robin and pen him up in the corner of the kitchen. Apparently he took great care not to harm so much as a feather, but the bird (the robin is a notorious coward, and the cat evidently knew this) was frightened nearly out of his wits, so that he could only stand shaking in his corner. When my aunt appeared, Dick plainly indicated that the robin was meant for her. The fact that she always picked up the terror-stricken robin, carried him to the door, and set him free in plain sight of the cat, did not affect his plan of paying his beloved mistress this daily compliment, and for several summers he kept up the practice. For many years she went South for the winter, and as long as Dick lived he used to meet her at the gate on her return and proudly escort her straight to the pantry, where he insisted on being fed by her, often before she took off her wraps. No one else had ever pampered his appetite as she had; and after a long winter without her, he evidently reasoned. "Now I can have good things to eat once more."

In Nature, Vol. XX, there are several stories to prove the reasoning power of cats. One of these comes from India:—

"In 1887, I was absent from Madras two months, and left in my quarters three cats, one of which, an English tabby, was a very gentle, affectionate creature. During my absence the quarters were occupied by two young gentlemen who delighted in teasing and frightening the cats. About a week before my return, the English cat had kittens, which she carefully concealed behind book-shelves in the library. On the morning of my return I saw the cat and patted her as usual, and then left the house for about an hour. On returning, I found that the kittens were located in the corner of my dressing-room, where previous broods had been deposited and nursed. On questioning the servant as to how they came there, he at once replied, 'Sir, the old cat, taking one by one in her mouth, brought them here.' In other words, the mother had carried them one by one in her mouth from the library to the dressingroom, where they lay quite exposed. I do not think I have heard of a more remarkable instance of reasoning and affectionate confidence in an animal, and I need hardly say that the latter manifestation gave me great pleasure. The train of reasoning seems to have been as follows, 'Now that my master has returned, there is no risk of the kittens being injured by the two young savages in the house, so I will take them out for my protector to see and admire, and keep them in the corner in which all my former pets have been nursed in safety.'"

Another story is of a cat which, on first seeing his own reflection in a mirror, tried to fight it. Meeting with resistance from the glass, the cat ran behind the mirror. Not finding the object of his search he again came to the front, and while keeping his eye deliberately fixed on the image, felt around the edge of the glass with his paw, whilst with his head twisted round to the front he assured himself of the persistence of the reflection. He never afterward condescended to notice a mirror.

I have often made this experiment with young cats, and almost invariably with practically the same results. One of my present cat family, however, seems to understand that the reflection is her own, and often sits and admires herself with an expression of conscious pride in her own attractiveness.

A writer in the London Spectator vouches for the following:—

"I was in the habit, a few years ago, of visiting a cottage where the front door, having fallen a little out of the perpendicular, swung open by its own weight whenever the thumb-latch was released. While talking to the inmates one day, I heard a slight rattling of the latch, and presently the door swung back, and a cat dropped from the handle to the floor. The people paid no attention, being evidently accustomed to this mode of entry by their domestic pet. She was in the habit of jumping to the handle outside and fidgeting the thumb-plate, which, being in poor repair, was easily released. How it learnt the trick I could not ascertain, but I suspect it began by taking refuge there from a pursuing dog."

The habit of opening doors, however, is quite common among cats. To quote once more from Mr. Romanes's conclusions:—

"In the understanding of mechanical appliances cats attain to a higher level of intelligence than any other animals, except monkeys, and, perhaps, elephants. Doubtless it is not accidental that these three kinds of animals come to be associated in this particular. The monkey in its hands, the elephant in its trunk, and the cat in its agile limbs provided with mobile claws, all possess instruments adapted to manipulation with which no other organs in the brute creation can properly be compared, except the beak and toes of the parrot, where, as we have already seen, a similar correlation with intelligence may be traced. Probably, therefore, the higher aptitude which these animals display in their understanding of mechanical appliances is due to the reaction exerted upon their intelligence by these organs of manipulation. But be this as it may, I am quite sure that, excepting only the monkey and elephant, the cat shows a higher intelligence of the special kind in question than any other animal, not forgetting even the dog. Thus, for instance, while I have heard of only one solitary case (communicated to me by a correspondent) of a dog which without tuition divined the use of a thumb-latch so as to open a closed door by jumping upon the handle and depressing the thumbpiece, I have received some half-dozen instances of this display of intelligence on the part of cats. These instances are all such precise repetitions of one another that I conclude the fact to be one of tolerably ordinary occurrence among cats, while it is certainly very rare among dogs. Of course in all such cases the cats must have previously observed that the doors are opened by persons placing their hands upon the handles; and having observed this, the animals act by what may be strictly termed rational imitation. But it should be observed that the process as a whole is something more than imitative: for not only would observation alone be scarcely enough (within my limits of thoughtful reflection that it would be reasonable to ascribe to an animal) to enable a cat upon the ground to distinguish that the essential part of the process as performed by the human hand consists, not in grasping the handles, but in depressing the latch; but the cat certainly never saw any one after having depressed the latch pushing the door-posts with his legs. We can only conclude that the cats in such cases have a very definite idea as to the mechanical properties of a door ; they know that to make it open, even when unlatched, it requires to be pushed—a very different thing from trying to imitate any particular action which they see performed for the same purpose by man. The whole psychological process, therefore, implied by the fact of a cat opening a door, is really most complex. First, the animal must have observed that the door is opened by the hand grasping the handle and moving the latch. Next, she must reason by 'the logic of feelings,'—If a hand can do it, why not a paw ? Then, strongly moved by the idea, she makes the first trial. The steps which follow have not been observed, so we cannot certainly say whether she learns by a succession of trials that depression of the thumb-piece constitutes the essential part of the process, or, perhaps more probably, that her initial observations supplied her with the idea of clicking the thumb-piece; but however this may be, it is certain that the pushing with the hind feet after depressing the latch must be due to adaptive reasoning, unassisted by observation, and only by the concerted action of all her limbs in the performance of a highly complex and most unnatural movement is her final purpose attained."

1. Lord Gwynne; 2. Bartimeus and True Blue.

1. Lord Gwynne, imported white, owned by Mrs. Clinton
Locke, president of Beresford Cat Club, Chicago;
2. Bartimeus and True Blue, children of Lord Gwynne:
owned by Mrs. Josiah Cratty, Oak Park, Ill.

Other cats have been known to lift knockers and ring door-bells. A stray kitten which we took in and fed used to come to the front door and, stretching up its full length, rattle the door-knob to attract attention, when somebody would let him in. None of our own cats used this knob, so that he must have reasoned it out for himself in some way. Thomas Erastus, in going over to our neighbor's and rattling her screen door in a way which makes it sound exactly like a person rapping, is another instance; naturally some one opens the door expecting to see a human being, when Thomas Erastus walks calmly in and makes a friendly call. This action betokens a good degree of reasoning and observation, as his manipulation of that screen door is a deliberate and decidedly complex action.

There are well-authenticated cases of cats jumping upon the bell-wire and thus ringing the bell when they wanted to get out, evidently reasoning that some one would open the door in response to the ring, and that they could get out. Archbishop Whately is authority for one of these tales:—

"This cat lived many years in my mother's family, and its feats of sagacity were witnessed by her, my sisters, and myself. It was known, not merely once or twice, but habitually, to ring the parlor bell whenever it wished the door opened. Some alarm was excited on the first occasion that it turned bellringer. The family had retired to rest, and in the middle of the night the parlor bell was rung violently; the sleepers were startled from their repose, and proceeded downstairs with poker and tongs, to intercept, as they thought, the predatory movements of some burglar; but they were equally surprised to find that the bell was rung by Pussy, who frequently repeated the act whenever she wished to get out of the parlor."

Perhaps the most remarkable instance of this kind is the one credited to Every Other Saturday:—

"A cat in a monastery knew that there was never dinner to be had until the bell had been twice rung. She always answered the bell promptly, but one day when, at noon, the welcome chime was heard, she found herself accidentally shut up in a cell. Left, perforce, dinnerless until the tenant of the cell came back from the refectory, she went, as soon as she did escape, to look for her allowance. There was nothing left for her. In the course of the afternoon the monks were startled by a pertinacious sounding of their dinner bell. Pussy swung on the bell-rope, ringing for her dinner."

All my cats, living in a household of women, are inclined to be afraid of men, and especially of boys; they consider them a strange and undesirable species of biped, to be shunned on every possible occasion, with the exception of Thomas Erastus, who loves several men devotedly. That this sentiment of fear on their part is inspired by the difference in clothing the extremities adopted by the two sexes, is proved by the following incident, which is absolutely true: On one occasion we entertained as guests for a week two ladies and two boys of ten and twelve years, respectively. Our cats liked both the ladies, with the exception of Lady Betty, who approved only of the one whose size and complexion corresponded with our own, while she would not go near the small brunette. None of them would stay in the same room with the boys, although they were nice little fellows, and wanted to befriend the cats; that is, as long as they wore the knee-breeches and stockings of their kind; but at night, as soon as the boys had discarded those objectionable garments and became, as the society editor puts it, "modestly gowned" in long night-dresses, the four cats not only came into the room where they were, but got on their beds and manifested the greatest friendliness, and even went to sleep there! Was there not some process of reasoning and observation involved in this obvious discrimination?

All these instances go to show that cats have an intelligence which is widely different from instinct. Indeed, sometimes we stand almost aghast before their shrewd powers of reasoning, almost of thinking, and ask ourselves if the old theory that the souls of human beings who neglect to cultivate their souls, or higher mental faculties, on earth, return to live again on earth as cats? and if, indeed, in Thomas Erastus, or the Pretty Lady, or some other remarkable cat, we are not studying the disembodied spirit of our ancestors?

My neighbor had a beautiful maltese coon cat who was exceedingly friendly at our house. This "Fluff" learned where we keep the catnip, on next the top shelf of the china closet; and he used to walk in, pry open the closet door, climb up, and help himself. He walked about among the china and glass without ever hitting anything, and for some months kept up this custom, when the thought suddenly occurred to him, "Now, if they keep catnip on the third shelf of the china closet here, they probably do at home," and he went directly over and took up the practice of investigating my neighbor's third shelf in the china closet. Does it not look as if he reasoned by analogy?

Hon. Edward C. Smith, the governor of Vermont, has a handsome jet-black Angora known as Betsinda. In early youth, she was fond of the children and spent much time in the nursery. Finally, a day came when one little kitten was born unto her. She was not, apparently, delighted with her first-born, but she knew the proper way to bring up children of high degree. She immediately took her kitten by the nape of its neck, walked into the nursery, deposited it in the nurse's lap, and then walked off and left it there. Evidently she did not choose to wear out her fresh young beauty caring for infants; and what are nurses for, anyway?

A writer in Temple Bar says of her own cat: "If the sentiment of the moment was love of her master or mistress (the only person to whom she ever attached herself), hers was the deep, unutterable gaze which we know in the dog. If it was love of her kittens, there was a tenderness of pride which made maternal fondness in the human face seem tame and foolish. If it was jealousy,—and, like most animals, she was jealous, the term 'green-eyed monster' had its full significance, for her irises, which were amber color, changed their hue entirely: her pinkish nose and ears blanched, her face grew peaked, nearly triangular—in fact, she looked detestable. But if it was anger or hatred,—and Princess was a good hater,—her head flattened like a snake's, her jaw took the lines of a tiger's in miniature, and she had the face of a devil. There were other emotions which she expressed not less vividly: eagerness in pursuit of prey, for she was a great mouser, and soon cleared the house of mice and kept the gardens free of moles: here there was nothing savage, only a look of intense keenness, alertness, and pleasure: wistfulness, as when she wandered around the outside of the house in winter, looking for an open door or window: despair when her kittens were taken from her, or when she saw the preparations for a journey in my room: contentment, when she lay on the table in the evening between her master and mistress, her paws tucked under her, her eyes half closed, her small pink mouth half opened, showing her little white teeth in a genuine smile. It was not the mere cosey, comfortable aspect of the ordinary cat: it was a look of beatitude. We never called any one's attention to the smile, not wishing to be set down as idiots, but friends occasionally discovered it for themselves and exclaimed upon it. I have noted that many cats smile: they do not grin like a dog or a horse sometimes does, but they smirk for half an hour together. Some cats have a strong sense of fun, and are practical jokers, like monkeys. Princess and Czarina had this quality notably, and their faces expressed it, but without a motion of the risible muscles. The cat's smile means satisfaction."

An error about cats, and a truly vulgar one, is that they lie on young children's breasts and suck their breath or suffocate them. Cats like to lie on the lap or breast of a person they love, and are apt to show their happiness by now and then lifting their heads for a kiss or gently touching the face or neck above them with their paw: this sort of patting or stroking a beloved cheek or throat is one of the more human habits which dogs have not. Jane used to wake up in the night and come to my pillow to kiss me, although she sometimes contented herself with gazing fondly down at me and purring in a low, contented fashion. Then, too, cats are luxurious and fond of warmth, and may sometimes share a baby's crib or cradle for that reason, as dogs certainly do.

A truly remarkable story of sagacity is told of an old Cambridge (Mass.) cat: although where, in all America, would we expect to find cultured cats if not in that historic town? This cat rejoices in the seemingly appropriate name of John Harvard. When John was a kitten, famed for his beauty and good temper, the family adored him not only for his mental and moral qualities, but for his proud, historic name; but when one day John Harvard presented his owners with a litter of kittens, it was seriously thought that John must be disposed of. Steps were being taken to that effect, when one day John left her litter of kittens, came up from the cellar in hot haste, and rushed into the kitchen. She began to mew piteously and attracted the attention of the cook and the family by running to the cellar door, but when it was opened for her she refused to descend: finally she induced one member of the family to go down with her. When they got downstairs, a wooden barrel close beside the box where her kittens were lying was discovered to be in a blaze: a few minutes more and the house would have been on fire. John Harvard, despite the weakness of her sex, had vindicated the honor of her name, and since then she has lived on the fat of the land.

An acquaintance of mine once fed a tramp cat who came to her door every morning for a week or two. Finally, one morning, he appeared with another cat even more forlorn in appearance than himself. The second morning he brought two cats; and the next morning he appeared with six homeless feline waifs, asking plainly for breakfast enough to go round. The lady thought this too much of a test of her hospitality; so after feeding them all she looked at the first tramp and said to him:—

"Now see here, sir: this is a little too much. I will give you a breakfast every morning, but I can't feed such a crowd. Remember, now, you mustn't bring them again."

The cat never afterward brought his friends, although he came regularly some time for his own breakfast. One of the most pathetic cat stories I have ever come across is vouched for by a New Orleans newspaper correspondent:—

"Some time ago, in a quiet corner way down on Rue Royale," says she, "I chanced upon a queer little Creole creature, whom the neighbors call 'Mam'zelle.' With her lived Pierre, the cat, and Jeanne, the bird. Pierre was a handsome black and white fellow, with a noble head, and he and the canary, Jeanne, were about the same age. Mam'zelle told me, in her pretty Creole patois, how devoted the two pets were to each other, and I myself saw frequent evidences of their kindly relationship. In a quiet corner of the little shop I have seen Pierre and Jeanne taking their breakfast together from the same plate, and by and by, when the cat would lie dozing in the sunshine, the bird would hop about him or cuddle up snug and comfortable between his outstretched paws. When Mam'zelle was busy, so that she could not keep an eye on the little bird's safety, she would swing the cage in the doorway, while Pierre would stretch himself on the floor beneath, keeping guard over his friend. And woe betide the stray cat that wandered that way. Pierre was always on the alert for squalls, and if a cat came too near to suit him he would send Jeanne hustling into her cage while he chased the offending feline off the street.

1. Goozie; 2. Champion Crystal; 3. Jasper.

1. Goozie, brown tabby; 2. Champion Crystal: both owned
by C.H. Jones, Palmyra, N.Y. 3. Jasper: brown tabby,
son of King Humbert; owned by Mrs. E. S. Barker,

"Just this very thing happened at least for the thousandth time, but for the first time on record grief followed the move. Pierre and Jeanne were taking their usual game in the sunshine of the little shop door, when a big brindled stranger appeared on the banquette without. Straight as a die, Jeanne was in her cage, and Pierre had gone in hot pursuit of the brindle. The chase was a hard one, and Mam'zelle says Pierre must have been gone a long time, but she was busy serving customers, and by and by she noticed Jeanne hopping about the counter. Thinking that Pierre had returned she took no further notice of the bird. A little later, however, hearing a dreadful commotion out on the banquette, she ran out to witness the sad little tragedy which I, too, arrived just in time to see, but too late to prevent. Taking advantage of Pierre's protracted absence, an ugly tortoise-shell from the next block strolled to the little shop in search of Jeanne. Finding her out hopping about unprotected, he began siege at once. Mam'zelle and I arrived just in time to see the tortoise-shell pounce on poor Jeanne as she perched on top of the swinging cage, and bear her with him to the pavement. Before either of us could interpose, the deed was done, and then in a moment came Pierre rushing round the corner, and as quick as a flash he had taken in the situation. With one fierce bound he sprang upon the tortoise-shell and swept poor Jeanne from his clutches. For a brief moment he sat guarding her, but that moment was long enough to tell him he was too late. Then, letting Mam'zelle take the little corpse from under his paw, he swooped down upon the tortoise-shell. It was only for a little while, but when the little battle was over, both cats lay dead upon the pavement. Pierre had laid down his life to avenge Jeanne's death, and the little Mam'zelle mourns both her pets."

Another pathetic attachment between a cat and a bird existed in the home of Ex-Governor Smith of Vermont, at St. Albans.

They had a tame magpie, at one time, known as Peter, a remarkably intelligent bird who could talk as well as a parrot. He was allowed his freedom, and wandered over the beautiful place at will; but his elysium was not quite perfect. He lacked a companion in joy. Peter was nothing if not sociably inclined, and after a little he cast about him for a suitable consort. The cat had a family of small kittens just beginning to play about the grounds, and their frolicsome ways appealed to the fun-loving bird. He determined to make friends with them, and for some days studied on the best means of introducing his own desirable charms to their notice. Finally, one day, as the group was lying in the sunshine, rejoicing at the maternal founts, Peter stole softly up behind them and softly pecked at the tips of their tails. The kittens scattered in terror, and the mother cat, astonished at his impudence, acted as chairman of a suddenly improvised committee of safety. But Peter was not discouraged. He waited until the family were once more composed and seeking sustenance, and then repeated the operation. This time the kittens were not quite so frightened, and after several repetitions of the performance, they comprehended Peter's purpose, and allowed him the freedom of the family, so to speak.

One of these kittens Peter selected as his especial friend, and as it grew up, the affection between the bird and the cat ripened and strengthened into a thing beautiful to see. They were always together, playing or sleeping; only in eating were they divided, the cat never allowing Peter to help himself to the delicacies on his own plate. One day Mrs. Smith went into the kitchen and saw Peter effect a clever coup, by which he secured the cat's breakfast for himself. The cook had given the latter a nice plate of meat on the floor. Peter saw no reason for sudden exclusiveness on the part of the cat, and several times stole rather cautiously toward the plate; every time he got near it the cat growled fiercely at him, frightening the bird into a hasty retreat. It happened that a newspaper lay spread out on the floor, and this Peter spied. Acting on a sudden decision, the bird went round to the farther edge of the paper and puffed it up, making a fanlike shield for himself. This he pushed gently toward the cat, who now and then stopped eating and glared at it, whereupon Peter suspended operations until the cat fell to eating again. This process was repeated several times until the paper with the bird behind it was within a few feet of the cat, when he gave it a sudden flirt and push into the cat's face, frightening him so that he jumped away from the plate; and then Peter helped himself to the largest piece of meat and carried it off where he could enjoy it in peace.

The cat and Peter had several games in which they used to delight. One of them was played in a large pine tree near the house, with branches coming close to the ground. Peter used to hop from the lowest branches to those above, with the cat after him, until the highest limb was reached, and then the chase turned down again; and this game they used to play for hours at a time.

Another game was played on the granite coping of a well—Peter hopping gayly around the well with the cat after him. One day, by some mischance, the bird fell into the well, when the cat immediately set up such a hue and cry that the cook's attention was arrested so that she came out and rescued Peter. But another day, when all the family were out driving, the two pets went out to the big fountain in front of the house where they often played. Whether the cat tried in vain to rouse somebody when Peter again fell into the water will never be known, although it is more than likely; but when the family finally returned, poor Peter was floating on the water, dead beyond the possibility of resuscitation. Every member of the family mourned his untimely fate, but the cat was inconsolable. For days afterward he used to go to the pine tree and miouw piteously for his pretty bird; he refused food and grew thin and dejected, and although everything possible was done to save him, he finally died, having literally grieved himself to death over the death of his beloved Peter.

And yet, cats are without affection!

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