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Cat-racing In Belgium

"On festival days, parties of young men assemble in various places to
shoot with cross-bows and muskets, and prizes of considerable value are
often distributed to the winners. Then there are pigeon-clubs and
canary-clubs, for granting rewards to the trainers of the fleetest
carrier-pigeons and best warbling canaries. Of these clubs many
individuals of high rank are the honorary presidents, and even royal
princes deign to present them banners, without which no Belgian club can
lay claim to any degree of importance." But the most curious thing is
cat-racing, which takes place, according to an engraving, in the public
thoroughfare, the cats being turned loose at a given time. It is thus
described: "Cat-racing is a sport which stands high in popular favour.
In one of the suburbs of Liege it is an affair of annual observance
during carnival time. Numerous individuals of the feline tribe are
collected, each having round his neck a collar with a seal attached to
it, precisely like those of the carrier-pigeons. The cats are tied up in
sacks, and as soon as the clock strikes the solemn hour of midnight the
sacks are unfastened, the cats let loose, and the race begins. The
winner is the cat which first reaches home, and the prize awarded to its
owner is sometimes a ham, sometimes a silver spoon. On the occasion of
the last competition the prize was won by a blind cat."--Pictorial
Times, June 16th, 1860.

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