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I had rather be a kitten and cry Mew ! '
AGENTS IN AMERICA
THE MACMILLAN COMPANY
64 & 66 FIFTH AVENUE, NEW YORK
LOKI. PAGE 170.
UNIFORM WITH THIS VOLUME.
PRICE 6s. EACH.
BY G. E. MITTON.
THE BLACK BEAR.
BY PERRY ROBINSON.
BY G. M. A. HEWETT.
A CAT is of all animals the most difficult to
know ; it is so intimate, but so detached ; so
dependent on human beings for its comfort, so
loftily indifferent to their wishes. It requires
one who has lived with cats and seen their idio-
syncrasies, their whims and their strong individu-
ality, to write about them, and in the present
author they have found a spokeswoman who
knows them through and through. A sense of
humour is necessary in dealing with the subject
and the humour is not lacking. Loki is a real
cat in more senses than one, and those who follow
his life story will find themselves better able to
understand their own cats than they have ever
I. THE NURSERY ..... 1
II. ONE LESS THAN FIVE . 20
III. To LAP OR NOT TO LAP . . . .34
IV. THE SCHOOLROOM ..... 44
V. ONE LESS THAN FOUR .... 57
VI. THE FIRST JOURNEY . 67
VII. AN INVALID ..... 80
VIII. A MAN AVHO HATED ME .... 91
IX. MY FIRST MOUSE . .106
X. THE CHILDREN'S HOUR . . . .117
XI. THE SURPRISE THAT FELL FLAT . .127
XII. FROM TOP TO BOTTOM . .135
XIII. CATAPUK . . 148
XIV. ' POOSH!' . . 169
XV. THE BLACK COMMON CAT . . . 181
XVI. THE BLACK CAT BRINGS MEASLES 198
XVII. A WEDDING IN THE HOUSE 205
BY ADOLPH BIRKENRUTH
The milk ran down the creases to the floor
She used to stand on her hind legs and look at the
Out of that dog's way, at any rate .
Auntie May took me across her shoulder .
I played with shavings for about an hour .
A black cat brings good luck to a theatre .
I did not want to see any one of them again
Mistigris used to lie in wait for me
' I believe we shall have to make up a bed on the
stones/ she said ....
That boy was rough and played experiments with
She married Mr. Fox in less than a month
I FIRST saw the light at least I did not exactly
see the light, for I was blind, so they tell me, for
about a week after I was born on the twenty-
third of April 19 . There were five of us, three
boys and two girls. Our mother was a pure-
blooded Persian ; so was our father, and it was,
I believe, considered by Them a very good match.
They arrange all our matches for us in this country,
and indeed manage most of our affairs, but then
it must be remembered that we are strangers, as
the title Persian denotes. Moreover, we belong-
to that division of the race that is called 'Blue
Smokes,' which means, not that our fur is blue,
for that would be ugly and loud, but that if you
2 THE CAT
part it and look carefully at the roots you will
see that it is exactly the shade of blue that smoke
is when you get a lot of it together. Papa's name
is ' Blue Boy II.,' and he is excessively handsome,
and has taken prizes at cat -shows all over the
country. His mistress, Miss Goddard, who lives
at West Dulwich, is always travelling about
with him to show him, and mother is very proud
The first sound that I heard for I wasn't born
deaf as well as blind was the voice of Rosamond,
a little girl who lives in our house sometimes,
screeching at the top of her voice, 'Oh, Auntie,
Auntie May ! Petronilla has got her kittens !
Hooray ! Hooray ! '
My mistress came running upstairs two steps at
a time, and put her foot through her dress I heard
it rip. Then she leaned over us, for I felt her breath
on my face, and said in a voice quite gurgly with
pleasure, ' Brava, Petronilla ! '
Then another voice I learnt afterwards that it
was the voice of the parlour -maid, a good soul
and as fond of cats as Auntie May said, * They
look just like so many grey boiled rags, don't
they, Miss ? '
'Oh, p-p-please, Auntie May,' began Rosa-
THE NURSERY 3
mond, stuttering in her eagerness, * mayn't 1 take
one out to look at it ? '
' Certainly not. How dare you propose such a
thing ! Go and do your health exercises. Petronilla
is to be left entirely alone and not bothered.'
' Quite right, Miss Rosamond ! ' said Mary ;
' I've heard say that if you watch her she'll do
them a mischief. I knew a cat what ate all her
' Ssh, Mary, I am sure Petronilla would not
do such a thing. She isn't a common cat. But
I tell you what she will certainly do if she thinks
we are going to touch them or take them away
from her she will hide them. She knows it
isn't good for them to be handled. You have
no idea of the amount cats know, and though
Petronilla is only four years old, she knows as
much as the best nurse ever did. Now be off, all
of you, and leave her alone ! '
All very well, but Mary the maid simply couldn't
keep away, and about three days after this she
came in to dust the room (although she had been
forbidden to do that just yet, for fear of blowing
the germy dust into our eyes and down our
throats) ; and when she had done dusting, she bent
down and took us all out one by one, and examined
4 THE CAT
us till she was sure to know us again. Mother
looked at her reproachfully, but did not lift a paw
to her, for she knew Mary was a dear good creature,
and, though silly, would sacrifice her life for a
single grey hair off mother's head, or indeed a hair
of anywhere off her, and she once said so. But
when Mary had gone she took a decided line, and
said that she was determined to make an end of all
this fingering and pawing of young limbs, which
would certainly prevent them from growing and
There was a large press with low flat shelves in
a corner of the room, full of Auntie May's clothes,
that just suited her purpose. She took us all up,
one by one, carefully, in her mouth, keeping her
teeth back somehow or other not to hurt us,
though she could not help making us most dis-
agreeably wet, and carried us along to the cup-
board, bumping us as little as she could help on
the floor, but still she did bump us. Then with
one of us in her mouth, she jumped up to the
shelf she had chosen having first opened the
folding doors of the cupboard with her paws and
laid him or her carefully down in the corner, and
so with us all.
When Auntie May came up to find her clothes
THE NURSERY 5
for going out, she discovered us. Mother purred
at once to disarm her, for it was known that
Auntie May could not manage to be really cross
with dear Pet for long, IF she purred.
' Oh, you beast darling, I mean ! Right on the
top of my best white wuffy hat ! Come out of it
at once, angel pet ! And here is another on my
ermine boal And another on my best painted
crepe de chine blouse 1 Oh, this is too much,
Petronilla, my lamb '
And she took us all out quite gently, not
hurting us half so much as mother did in bumping
us along the floor, and put us back into our bed
of fresh hay, that we have to lie in so as to make
us smell sweet. Auntie May always says that
very young infant kittens are like babies, and
need beautiful accessories, such as blue bows, and
green hay, and white powder puffs.
They fastened the wardrobe door very tight
and strictly forbade Mary to touch us, and for
many days after this we just lay still and ate ate
ate ! Mother, however greedy we were, never
pushed us away. She was like a soft hill of wool
that we had leave to lie up against and browse upon.
Every now and then she spread out her paws,
which were like silver streaks, wide and square,
6 THE CAT
all over us, not heavily, so as to weigh us down,
but lightly, like a sort of lattice that kept the cold
draughts off us, and that we might fancy to be a wall
or a hedge between us and the world if we liked.
It was the great advantage of mother's being a
pet cat that she and her family lived in the house,
not in a cattery, as they are called. Mother knew
very well what a cattery was like she had been
in one before a man bought her and gave her to
Auntie May as a present. She cost three guineas,
she said. It was a very nice cattery, as catteries
go she admits that and she will always look upon
it with affection as being her first home, but still
there was a lot of difference between it and Auntie
May's house. A cattery has generally hard trodden-
in earth for a floor, without a carpet, except
for a few unhemmed bits spread here and there.
There's generally an old chair wooden to scrape
your claws on : now velvet, such as is kept here,
mother says, is much more interesting and effica-
cious. The bed is inside, under cover I grant
you that but only made out of a few old packing
cases, and there is generally a horrid smelly oil-
lamp to warm the whole place. Now Auntie
May had us in her own bedroom for the first week
of our lives, and when she did move us, it was
THE NURSERY 7
only into her study. She was an authoress and
had to have a study ; at least her father, who was
a distinguished painter and R.A., and adores his
daughter, thought she had as much right as he to
have a studio same word as study. 'She sells
her books, and I don't sell my pictures ! ' he said.
(I call her Auntie May because Rosamond does,
and because it sounds more respectful, and mother
said I ought.) Her study was quite nicely furnished
and full of bureaus and manuscript cupboards and
high things to perch on. Mother says it is advis-
able when choosing a perch to get as high as
possible, because of the draughts that run along
the floors of even the best rooms.
Mother told us many things as we lay there,
but I can't say I took much notice of them till my
eyes opened. It was just a nice sleepy sound she
made that sent us off to bye-bye one after another.
I suppose she slept herself, but I never remember
being awake when she wasn't. She was a very
good mother ; she hardly ever left us. Of course
she got out of the bed to eat her meals ; she de-
tested crumbs in the bed, and so on. If she went
away she always came back with a kind sort of
speech Rosamond called it a mew something
like ' Here we are again ! ' or ' Well, how goes it,
8 THE CAT
infants ? ' and then lay down right on the top of
us. Rosamond used to scold her and pull her off
us, thinking she would hurt us ; she didn't know
that we were always able to ooze away from under
mother quite easily when once she had turned
round three times and got settled.
Till my eyes opened I did not know how many
brothers and sisters I had, except for mother's
telling me. I fought them all without having the
slightest idea of the sort of thing I was righting.
I knew it had claws, though. I knew that Fred
B. Nicholson, as they called him afterwards, after
Auntie May's American cousin, was a regular
bully from the beginning, always putting himself
forward, and shoving us away from the best places.
After all, eating is everything in those first days,
and mother was singularly weak where Fred was
concerned, and let him batter us as much as he
liked, and never took our side against him. She
only said ' First come, first served ! ' and ' Heaven
helps those that help themselves ! ' and certainly he
did grow a great strong boy.
Perhaps that was the reason why his eyes
opened first !
Rosamond gave us a great deal of attention
when her own lessons were over, and before, and
THE NURSERY 9
hung over us till she got all the blood to her head,
she said. She called herself cat-maid. One day
when she was leaning over our bed, she suddenly
jumped up and screamed :
' Oh, Auntie May, one of them I don't even
know which, but I think it is Fred B. Nicholson-
has got a tiny, tiny slit where his eyes ought to
be ! Do you suppose he can see ? '
I felt the first grief of my life. I knew there
was no slit where my eyes ought to be, and I felt
sure it was, as Rosamond guessed, that horrid boy
Fred, who always got first in everything. Next
day the slit in his face was bigger. That evening
they said with certainty, Yes, Fred can see ! '
In the daylight Rosamond discovered that his eyes
were blue. By that time / saw what looked like
a streak of light, and guessed that my eyes were
going to open soon, and wondered if they would
be blue too ! I asked mother, and she laughed at
Rosamond and at me, saying that all kittens' eyes
are blue at first. Even Rosamond ought to have
known that. The question was, would they be
green or orange afterwards ?
* I should be very sorry,' mother said, ' if any of
you turned out to have green eyes. That would
defeat all poor Auntie May's plans. I have green
10 THE CAT
eyes myself, alas ! and she is most good to over-
look it in me, but your father has the most beauti-
ful golden eyes in the world, or in any cat-show,
and let us hope that you will have the luck to
take after him ! '
Fred began, the others followed. My eyes
were the last to open. I suppose I had caught
cold ; I am sure I was not delicate. They took
warm milk and mopped the place where the eyes
ought to be. Mother licked me. They raced to
cure me. Mother always said that she backed her
licking, but I fancy the warm milk did it, myself.
And pretty soon I saw. We all saw, and so when
we quarrelled we managed to aim better.
I really saw very little besides untidy spiky bits
of hay sticking up all round me, and beyond that,
a wall of wicker. I sometimes saw great moonfaces
bending over me, and Rosamond's long golden fur
tickled me as she put her head right into the
basket. She had blue eyes, but then she was still
a child. I wondered if they would be green or
orange when she grew up ? Auntie May's were
brown, shot with green ; she had quite dark
fur too, and tied up, not hanging down like
If I chose to keep my eyes inside the basket, I
THE NURSERY 11
saw my mother's green eyes, and they were so
pretty and mournful. Auntie May used to call
them Burne-Jones eyes. She meant it as a com-
pliment, and mother always purred. She loved
Though Freddy's eyes were open, he could not
scratch himself with his hind leg without falling
over, and I could. Then I found that / could
do something else Freddy could not, that is, make
a queer rolling, rumbling, useless sound in my
throat. I don't see much good in it myself, but
it gives Them pleasure. They take it as if we
were saying ' Thank you ' when we are given food
or stroked. But no one, not even the vet, that
is the cat doctor know how it is done. I heard
him say so. I have not the slightest idea how I
do it. I just listened to mother, and brooded over
the thought for days, and all of a sudden I woke
up, as Rosamond was tickling my stomach, and
found myself r-r-ring away somewhere inside me
like anything ! Mother even started when she
heard me ; I am not sure she was altogether
' Poor child ! ' she said, ' he is taking up his
burden early. They mostly don't expect recogni-
tion from us until we are older. Don't, don't purr
12 THE CAT
too easily, my son ; be chary of your gift : it is
wiser.' But Rosamond buried her face in me and
mother, so as to hear better, and presently she
raised it and called out to Auntie May, who was
sitting writing at her little table :
'Oh, Auntie May' (all her sentences began
like that) 'this kitten, who was so late with his
eyes, is at any rate the first to purr ! Purr, darling,
purr I '
I purred till my throat was sore, and she stroked
my back and tickled my stomach till I had to curl
up and bring my hind legs and my head together.
They think you do it because you like being
tickled, not because you can't help it. I purred
so much that day that I had to take a rest the
next, and then They said I was sulky !
And Freddy was jealous. He could not purr,
though he could spit. Mother reproves him, for
she says that spitting, though a useful weapon and
a protection against intrusive aliens, is not to be
used in private life between cat and cat. It is
good for dogs, if I ever see one. Mother uses it
but rarely for Them. I asked her why she didn't
spit at the people in the house, who, though well-
meaning, irritated her by coming and lifting us
out and looking us all over, and talking about our
THE NURSERY 13
points, and preventing us from growing ? She
said, 'I don't do it to Them, however annoying
they are, because, when all is said and done, I am
well bred and Persian.'
I knew mother never said a thing like that
without being able to prove it, so I was a little
surprised one day at what one of Auntie May's
friends said. This man took Fred up and handled
him as if he didn't know much about kittens. I
watched him. His moonface had a queer little
smile much too small for it a sly smile.
'Touch of Persian about this cat, I should
say ! ' he observed quietly.
'Why, they are Persian, Mr. Blake!' Rosamond
cried out; but Auntie May said nothing, but
simply hoofed him out of her room and ours.
His little smile had grown bigger.
After he had gone, mother boiled with rage.
' I won't stand this ! ' she exclaimed. ' Come
along, my traduced darlings, with me, and we will
hide you, lest you be again exposed to insolent
criticism of that kind. Touch of Persian indeed !
Perhaps he thinks Persians haven't claws ! Per-
haps he thinks we cannot resent injuries ade-
quately ! Come, my pure-bred doves ! Come,
my prize darlings, my pedigree'd angels ! '
14 THE CAT
The door into Auntie May's bedroom next door
was left open. Mother carried us in one by one
and laid us on the ground under the famous cup-
board we had been in before, while she leaned up
and, with her paw, turned the handle of the
cupboard door. Then she seized me and jumped
with me on to the bottom shelf and stowed me in
one corner, pulling the clothes and what not that
was there all over me, so as to hide me completely.
She then left me, recommending me to silence, or
I should get 'what for' with her hind feet, and
fetched the others one by one. She placed them
all on different shelves I saw her leap past me
each time and stayed herself with Fred, for I
did not see her go past again. That was a long
jump, for it took her right up to the fifth shelf.
All the afternoon we lay there, mother visiting
us all in turn. Unfortunately, she had not been
able to succeed in closing the wardrobe door after
her. It yawned in the most suspicious manner,
and so Auntie May thought when she came back
from Pinner, where she had gone to dine and
sleep, as soon as Mr. Blake had departed. About
eleven o'clock the next morning she came bouncing
in in her hat and jacket, and the moment her eye
fell on the open door she cried out :
THE NURSERY 15
* Oh, my prophetic soul ! Come here at once,
Rosamond, or you will be sorry ! '
She opened the door wider and looked in,
but, naturally, could see nothing.
' It looks all right ! ' she said to Rosamond.
'But all the same I feel sure that Petronilla is
somewhere inside. Isn't my crepe de chine blouse
in that corner rucked up rather suspiciously ?
Gently ! Don't let us spoil poor Petronilla's game
of " Hide-and-Seek." We mustn't find them too
Fred was under the crepe de chine blouse, and
they found him. Then they found the other boy,
with some artificial violets she wears pinned on to
the front of her dress in the evening on top of
him. On the top story one of the girls was curled
into the crown of a hat, and mother was in the
lowest shelf with the other, mixed up with an
ermine boa. The play lasted quite ten minutes,
and Rosamond was delighted. Very little damage
was done ; in fact, as mother said, a clean, well-
licked-every-day cat, if you don't frighten him
and drive him to desperation, rarely spoils clothes,
or breaks ornaments, or leaves any trace of
his presence. But if you chivy him or make
him nervous, he doesn't choose to hold himself
16 THE CAT
accountable for any harm he may happen to do,
There were five of us, and, so far, only Fred B.
Nicholson had been christened. Rosamond, who
is a child who loves putting things into their right
places and calling them by their proper names,
pointed this out to her Aunt.
' There are certain royalties,' said Auntie May,
* whose religion cannot be chosen till they have
grown up and it is decided whom they are to
marry. The same with kittens' names. The
naming ought to be left to the people with whom
they are eventually going to live. I can't keep
more than one of them, you know. We should
be what they call cat-ridden.''
This was the first I heard of it. From that
day the thought hung over me that our pleasant
little party would have to be broken up. I
wondered if I could possibly contrive to be the
one They kept. I could not bear the idea of
moving to a new home. But mother said it was
the law of nature. Her motto was from a poem
of Miss Jean Ingelow that Auntie May had once
To bear, to nurse, to rear,
To love and then to lose.
THE NURSERY 17
She never worried much, though she confessed
at first it was rather trying, and that she caught
herself wandering about looking into corners, search-
ing for what she knew went away in a basket
the day before. It was just a habit mothers got
into, and when a few weeks had elapsed she just
shook herself and thought no more of the kitten
that had gone to make its mark on some one else's
chair cushions. ' Dear me ! ' she used to say, ' I
have on an average five kittens a year. What
should I do with them all hanging about, getting
in my way at every turn ? I should become
irritable, I should snap at them, I should positively
hate them as soon as they became independent
and I could do nothing for them. It is best as
After that speech of mother's, I was not so
sure that I wanted to be the kitten They chose
to keep, that is, if mother meant to turn round
and bully me as soon as I could stand up for
myself. It seemed strange to hear her talk like
that, and yet one likes to be forewarned.
Rosamond gave us temporary names reach-me-
down names, she called them. Fred B. Nicholson
was allowed to stand ; the boy Auntie May called
Admiral Togo, a Japanese name, I understand.
18 THE CAT
The two girls were Zobeide and Blanch. I was
called Loki, after the devil.
They did not know, but we all had one name
already, a traditional one in our family. It was
Pasht. Our ancestors lived at a place called
Bubastis. For convenience' sake, however, we stuck
to the names They gave us. They seemed to have
an idea that we should answer to them and come
when we were called, but mother told us on no
account ever to do so, it would be false to every
tradition of our class. We might go as far as
to twitch an ear when we heard our name spoken
pleasantly, but only on the very rarest occasions
were we to stir a paw. Then, if we decided to go
to Them, it was at least manners to stop half-
way and scratch. If the name was spoken in an
unfriendly tone, the thing to do was just to stare
the impertinent creature down. At Bubastis, in
the olden time, our ancestors had been worshipped
and prayed to. In the studio downstairs, where
mother had been a constant visitor in the days
when she was free of domestic cares, there is one
of our ancestors under a glass case just as he was
buried when he died thousands of years ago. He
is all wrapped in a sort of brown greased cloth,
so mother says, many hundred folds of it, but
THE NURSERY 19
still you can perfectly well see the original shape
of our many-hundreds-of-times-over great-uncle.
Nobody has ever unwrapped him ; it would be very
wicked to do it, and might bring misfortune on the
house. Altogether he is treated with the greatest
respect, and mother is quite content to have it so.
We are taught to look on that room not as
the studio as They do, but as the Family Tomb,
and mother says that when we grow up and are
permitted to sit there sometimes, we must all
keep very quiet and behave seriously and do no
ONE LESS THAN FIVE
ONE morning we woke up, and found mother had
left us. The window was open, and mother had
suddenly felt tired of nursing and as if she must