"Everybody's Cat Book" has been written with the idea of helping all who are interested in cats, those who may wish to breed fancy varieties for show or profit, as well as those who wish to care properly for their one pet cat.
The author does not profess to have written a comprehensive treatise on diseases or medicines, but simply prescribes reliable remedies for the more ordinary ills that feline flesh is heir to, and nothing is recommended, either food or medicine, which has not already been successfully used by the writer.
It is hoped that "Everybody's Cat Book" may be the means of saving both cats and their owners many unpleasant, not to say dangerous, results from experimental prescriptions, prescribed by those who have had no practical experience with the diseases of cats.
How often one hears the remark, "How stupid cats are!" or, "Cats cannot compare with dogs for cleverness." This is a point on which many people make a great mistake, and it is only their ignorance of the feline race which calls for such remarks.
I have studied the dispositions of dogs and cats very closely, as I keep both, and I have come to the conclusion that an uneducated cat has far more brains than an unedu- cated dog. Doubtless the dog is easier to teach, as he can be made to do things, whereas the cat is of an independent dis- position, and will not always come when it is called, unless it wishes to do so; but that is not want of brain - it is simply independence; it knows you want it to come, but does not always choose to answer when called. It is said of cats that they much prefer their homes to their people; that is so in many cases, for how many cats are only regarded as a house hold necessity to rid the house of rats and mice, and the said cat is taken so little notice of that it naturally becomes more deeply attached to the house than to the owner thereof.
Then again, these cats show great intelligence, or shall we say "instinct," in finding their way back to former homes. I have had positive proof of cats returning to their old homes many miles away, although they have been taken away in covered baskets to their new homes; in this they show the same cleverness as dogs.
It will be noticed that the pet cat, or long-haired cattery cat which is always petted and made much of, thinks very little of its home, but a great deal of its master and mistress; and the highly bred cat of to-day shows no love of its old home, and thinks only of the people who love and care for them. Therefore it has no desire to run away from any new home it is taken to, if accompanied by its owner.
Cattery cats learn to love the society of their kind, and the queens make splendid mothers; they never seem to feel the confinement of their quarters, and are as happy as possible. But take one of these cattery inmates to a new home, and it will quickly become attached to its new master and mistress.
Cats are very lovable animals, but they must become attached either to their homes, their fellow creatures, or to people; also, their attachment to dogs, in many cases, is very great.
The ordinary cat or kitten has a great antipathy to a dog, as dogs are taught to chase them, and the fear of a dog in the mother cat is transmitted to their offspring.
It is curious to notice how much of what may be called "natural instinct" remains in the highly bred cat which has never known a care for generations.
Some of these will be terribly afraid of a dog at first sight; others - and here I might say the majority - will know no fear, and rub around a dog just as they would around another cat. Only a few days since, one of my kittens came in contact with a large Irish setter. The kitten rubbed all around the dog and reached up several times to smell her nose; the dog looked very indignant, but she has been taught not to touch cats. This was the kitten's first encounter with a dog. On the other hand, I have had kittens, of equally high breeding, show all the natural fears of an ordinary short-haired cat; but this fear of dogs is the exception rather than the rule with the highly bred cattery cats and kittens.
It is a pleasing and frequent sight to see, in my kennels, the puppies curled up asleep, all tucked up in the fur of a long-haired kitten, or even the full-grown cats occupying the same bed with several dogs. Of course, when the dogs get too boisterous, pussy disappears over the top of the pen. I also have a short-haired female cat, which I use as a foster- mother. She will nurse two puppies with her own kittens, and only lately accepted three weeks' old puppies when her own kittens were only one day old.
It is very amusing to see these little puppies play and bark at their adopted mother. This cat is never so happy as when she is nursing a mixed family of long-haired kittens and Pomeranian puppies.
The well-bred, long-haired cat shows a great amount of intelligence. They can be taught tricks, jumping, etc., and in more than one instance the intelhgence of some of my pets would have been unbeHevable without proof.
I remember well how one kitten I had used to live in a large room, which opens into another, where other cats were kept. The two rooms were separated by a wire door, which was hooked on the inside to the door-post.
This kitten, with three or four others, lived in this room, but when they were about three months old I found the door constantly open, and the inmates enjoying the freedom of the other room. This happened several times before I discovered that this remarkably intelligent little lady had learnt to open the door by climbing the wire and lifting the hook with her nose. Therefore, another hook had to be placed on the out- side, to keep her in her own room.
Some months elapsed, and the kitten was exhibited at a show, where she was purchased by a person who had an apartment, and the kitten had her entire freedom. She grew up here, and had her first family of kittens. Later the owner found a cat and kittens too much care, so the mother was re- turned to me; and, knowing she had had her freedom, I gave her the run of the outdoor cattery, which she enjoyed for some months, until a family was expected, when she was re- moved to the room in which she was born.
She was placed in this room and given a comfortable bed, and although I had forgotten this lady's propensities for opening doors, some two years before, she had not; for, on my return to the room, imagine my surprise to see the door open and the cat at liberty with the others. At first I thought I had left the door unfastened, and it was not until it happened several times that I remembered that this was the very one which had learnt to liberate herself when a tiny kitten; and she now always needs a hook on the outside of the door which she cannot reach in order to confine her to one room. Curi- ously enough, one kitten out of each litter from this cat can open a gate in the same manner as the mother did when she was young.
After the many cases I have seen of cat intelligence, I can only say, if a cat is stupid it is want of education.
Cats are very sensitive in disposition, and can easily be frightened, when they become either savage or frightened, and will run at the approach of strangers.
They are also very independent in disposition, but show in many cases just as much devotion to their masters as do dogs and other animals.
No animal is more to be pitied than the forlorn little stray cat or kitten, and none should fail to see that these friendless creatures get a good home, as they undoubtedly show as much love and feeling, if not more, than other animals.
There is no doubt that the good qualities of cats are becoming more and more appreciated, so that in a few years we may hope the cat will no longer be the ill-used and much- abused little creature which it was formerly.
The ordinary length of a cat's life is from eight to ten years, although many well-cared- for specimens reach the age of fourteen or sixteen years. As a rule, it is kinder to have them put to sleep before they reach such a great age, as they usually become partially deaf, blind, or otherwise out of con- dition.
Old cats require a great deal more nourishment than young ones, and must be plentifully supplied with blood-making foods, such as raw beef; otherwise they become angemic and a prey to fleas and lice.
A cat is in its prime at three years of age, and com- mences to show signs of age at about seven, when the teeth should be watched, as, should any become loose, your pet is liable to starve to death from sheer nervousness. The least pain will cause a cat to refuse food, and everyone knows a loose tooth can cause much discomfort.
The term 'Angora,' in relation to a long-haired cat, should be seldom if ever used in this country, as a typical Angora scarcely exists; therefore, it is supremely ridiculous to see a number of badly bred, long-haired specimens adver- tised and spoken of as Angoras.
The general public in this country think if a cat is long- haired, it must be Angora, and poor specimens, such as "Maine" cats, are also termed Angoras.
Whatever they were originally, they certainly are far removed now from thoroughbred Angoras. These Maine cats have deteriorated in quantity, quality and length of coat, whereas they excel in head; this deterioration of coat and im- provement of head is probably due to crossing with short- haired cats, which undoubtedly often occurs.
Our pedigree imported long-hairs of to-day are un- doubtedly a cross of the Angora and Persian; the latter pos- sesses a rounder head than the former, also the coat is of quite a different quality. The coat of the Persian consists of a woolly under coat and a long, hairy outer coat. In summer it loses all the thick underwool, and only the long hair remains. The hair is also somewhat shorter on the shoulders and upper part of the hind legs.
Now, the Angora has a very different coat, consisting of long, soft hair, hanging in locks, inclining to a slight curl or wave on the under parts of the body. The hair is also much longer on the shoulders and hind legs than the Persian, this being a great improvement; but the Angora fails to the Per- sian in head, the former having a more wedge-shaped head, Avhereas that of the modern Persian excels in roundness.
Of course. Angoras and Persians have been constantly crossed, with a decided improvement to each breed; but the long-haired cat of today is decidedly more Persian-bred than Angora.
Wherever breeders notice the long, locky coat in Persians (especially where great length of coat is seen on the shoulders and legs), they should do all that is possible to encourage this desirable point in their strain. I have made a great point of this myself for years in breeding Persians, and would be very sorry to lose this beautiful type of coat.
The term "Long-haired Cats" has long been used in the cat clubs and stud books of England, and if they cannot keep the breeds separate there, surely we cannot, who breed from English stock.
The Angora cat originally came from Angora, the princi- pal colour being white, and the fur is much valued by the natives, as it forms an important article of commerce and is much sought after by merchants of surrounding countries.
The Persian cat, as its name denotes, originally came
from Persia; they were of all colours, but the silver varieties
were very rare.
Probably many novices have no idea of the correct colour of a chinchilla cat; the name "chinchilla," as applied to the colour of a silver cat, is most misleading. The little chinchilla animal is, as we all know, very dark grey at the roots of the fur, with very pale, almost white, tips to the hair. Now, has anyone seen a cat of this description? We venture to think not.
Chinchillas, when first bred (now some twenty years ago) were just the opposite to their namesakes in colour, the coats at the roots were almost white, the tips a dark grey; therefore the name chinchilla is only a fancy name, and by no means descriptive. A chinchilla cat should be as pale silver as possible, with little or no tabby marking or dark shading; in fact, the ambition of everyone is to breed a silver as nearly self-coloured as possible, at the same time keeping the lavender shade, which gives brilliancy of colouring and prevents the cat looking "dirty white." Now, by "lavender" we do not mean a dark lavender; in fact, unless the cat were placed beside one of the "dirty white" chinchillas, you would not notice the lavender tint; but it adds brilliancy to the silver colouring.
The greatest point in the color of a chinchilla is freeness from any brown or cream tinge. Of course, a chinchilla can get its old coat rusty by lying in the sun, but if the cat is healthy, this should shed off before the show season, so does not matter; but should a cat you have bred, or may wish to purchase, have any cream on the frill, nose, ears, or shoulders, you may count this as permanent, as we have never found a cat go rusty in these parts through lying in the sun; unless, as I said before, it is out of health; then the coat loses its natural oil. Perhaps it would be a little difficult for a novice to discriminate between sunburn and a real creamy tinge, but to experienced breeders there is no difficulty. For instance, if a kitten is born with a yellow tinge, it generally grows up with it, so if at the age of six weeks you see your kitten has this fault, my advice is to dispose of it for a pet, and keep another one of the litter which although it may be darker, yet does not possess this defect. Of course, there have been instances of a pale chinchilla having a creamy tinge as a kitten, and when it is, say, two or three vears old, this has entirely disappeared; but, in my opinion, this only happens when the cat is very pale and the cream tint is also pale; then, as the cat grows lighter in colour (as many chinchillas do with age), the cream becomes so light as to be imperceptible.
As a great many silvers of today possess this fault, perhaps it would be as well to give advice on how it is to be bred out. If your male cat has this failing, do not breed from him at all, if you can prevent it; if not, cross him with a blue, bred from silvers, a pale smoke (silver bred), or, if you wish to do so, a pure-coloured shaded silver or chinchilla queen; but if you possess the latter, you are only going backward, by crossing her with a male who is not pure in colour. I should strongly advise beginners in chinchilla-breeding to commence with a light smoke or shaded silver with good points, and send it to the best male of the day (chinchilla, of course), rather than to purchase a pale silver female with bad points and a creamy tinge. With the darker queens you may produce one or two nearly perfect kittens, which you can again cross with a good chinchilla male, whereas with a pale queen you may obtain three or four pale kittens which will have poor points or a creamy tinge, and this will take you a long time to breed out.
I have heard of, and, in fact, have had myself, many applications for a "perfect" chinchilla. Now, I may say, even after twenty years of breeding, good chinchillas are very scarce both in England and America, and we seldom hear of one of the best changing hands. If you inbreed silvers, there are a great many things to be considered. First, the parent cats must have good points as well as colour, for you must remember inbreeding fixes whatever points the two cats may possess more strongly; so to inbreed two cats that have really bad faults is to fix these faults. Strength is another, if not the most important, point.
Inbreeding tends to weaken a strain, so you must only use the strongest cats; if, after breeding several times from the same pair, you find any weakness in the kittens, you must at once stop, and take in a cross from a strong, unrelated strain. This, of course, will be, in the chinchillas, a difficulty (as nearly all silvers are bred from the same strains), but you had better take in a shaded silver as an outcross, to get size and strength, and perhaps lose a shade in colour, than to go on inbreeding and obtaining pale kittens which may be deformed or will be too delicate to live. On the other hand, if one out of the litter lives, it will probably grow up so undersized that it will take a low position in the show pen; and when you ask other fanciers to admire its beautiful colour, they may do so, but will add, "How very small. Is it full-grown?" If you wish to inbreed, it is best not to do so with very young stock. Wait until both your cats are two or three years old, as they are always much stronger at that age.
About relationship for inbreeding, there is much diversity of opinion. Firstly, the stronger vour stock is, the more closely you can inbreed; but I do not think, from personal experience, that too close inbreeding is any advantage. Cousins are a good cross, and some people try halfbrother and sister. This I knew in one case to be very successful, and the same mating was tried for several years with the same two cats; but as a rule, at the first sign of deformity you should discontinue and take in a fresh strain.
In breeding chinchillas, never forget that green is the correct colour for the eyes, the most desired being that deep blue-green tint so seldom seen in a cat's eyes; these, set in a silver ground colour, are most beautiful. The points of a chinchilla are the same as other Persians.
In purchasing a chinchilla for exhibition purposes, there are several very important points to consider. First and foremost, paleness and purity of colour, freedom from markings or heavy shadings, good shape and green eyes. One seldom sees a cat of this description, and it is usually "not for sale" at any figure. Therefore, your best way is to breed one, and, as with other animals, this cannot be done all at once; it takes some time to obtain all these good points.
Therein lies the "challenge" of breeding animals. If we were able to breed perfection at the start, there would be nothing else left for us to do; yet beginners almost invariably expect whole litters of future prize-winners, from, in many cases, quite ordinary parents.
Shaded silvers are one of the prettiest of the silver varie- ties and are indespensable as a cross in improving the type of ehinchillas. They are usually much admired for their type, size, wealth of coat, and colouring.
Shaded silvers, as the name denotes, should be well shaded not too dark in colour, but even and bright, a dingy blue-grey colour or any "smutty"' appearance must be avoided.
The head, tail, and legs should be as little marked as possible, more smudged in appearance; the eyes should be green. A shaded silver kitten, when born, has the very fine tabby stripes, usually in great numbers; these disappear as the coat gets longer; the only difference between a shaded silver and a chinchilla kitten, when born, is, that the whole tone of colour is darker in the shaded silver, the chinchilla having a nearly white face and legs, whereas the shaded silver must not be too light on the face and legs.
The great difficulty with amateurs is to draw a dividing line between shaded silvers and chinchillas. There is really a great difference between a good chinchilla and a good shaded silver, but it is hard to distinguish between a dark chinchilla and a light shaded silver.
In breeding this variety, smokes, blues, and blacks may be crossed with silvers. Sometimes a good smoke may be ob- tained, and therein lies one of the great attractions of breed- ing silvers.
From one litter one may obtain a smoke, a shaded silver, and possibly a chinchilla, but in breeding for the later colour the strain soon becomes too light to obtain smokes, and only shaded silvers and chinchillas will be the rseult. A blue cross is valuable, should there be any cream on your silvers. It is best to mate a blue female to a silver male as you want the silver colour to predominate; a blue female with green or greenish yellow eyes is preferable, as the orange eye is hard to eradicate in silvers.
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