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Long-haired Cats

These are very diversified, both in form, colour, and the quality of the
hair, which in some is more woolly than in others; and they vary also in
the shape and length of the tail, the ears, and size of eyes. There are
several varieties--the Russian, the Angora, the Persian, and Indian.
Forty or fifty years ago they used all to be called French cats, as they
were mostly imported from Paris--more particularly the white, which were
then the fashion, and, if I remember rightly, they, as a rule, were
larger than those of the present day. Coloured long-haired cats were
then rare, and but little cared for or appreciated. The pure white, with
long silky hair, bedecked with blue or rose-colour ribbon, or a silver
collar with its name inscribed thereon or one of scarlet leather studded
with brass, might often be seen stretching its full lazy length on
luxurious woollen rugs--the valued, pampered pets of "West End" life.

A curious fact relating to the white cat of not only the long but also
the short-haired breed is their deafness. Should they have blue eyes,
which is the fancy colour, these are nearly always deaf; although I have
seen specimens whose hearing was as perfect as that of any other colour.
Still deafness in white cats is not always confined to those with blue
eyes, as I too well know from purchasing a very fine male at the Crystal
Palace Show some few years since. The price was low and the cat "a
beauty," both in form, coat, and tail, his eyes were yellow, and he had
a nice, meek, mild, expressive face. I stopped and looked at him, as he
much took my fancy. He stared at me wistfully, with something like
melancholy in the gaze of his amber-coloured eyes. I put my hand
through the bars of the cage. He purred, licked my hand, rubbed against
the wires, put his tail up, as much as to say, "See, here is a beautiful
tail; am I not a lovely cat?" "Yes," thought I, "a very nice cat." When
I looked at my catalogue and saw the low price, "something is wrong
here," said I, musingly. "Yes, there must be something wrong. The
price is misstated, or there is something not right about this cat." No!
it was a beauty--so comely, so loving, so gentle--so very gentle.
"Well," said I to myself, "if there is no misstatement of price, I will
buy this cat," and, with a parting survey of its excellences, I went to
the office of the show manager. He looked at the letter of entry. No;
the price was quite right--"two guineas!" "I will buy it," said I. And
so I did; but at two guineas I bought it dearly. Yes! very dearly, for
when I got it home I found it was "stone" deaf. What an unhappy cat it
was! If shut out of the dining-room you could hear its cry for admission
all over the house; being so deaf the poor wretched creature never knew
the noise it made. I often wish that it had so known--very, very often.
I am satisfied that a tithe would have frightened it out of its life.
And so loving, so affectionate. But, oh! horror, when it called out as
it sat on my lap, its voice seemed to acquire at least ten cat power.
And when, if it lost sight of me in the garden, its voice rose to the
occasion, I feel confident it might have been heard miles off. Alas! he
never knew what that agonised sound was like, but I did, and I have
never forgotten it, and I never shall. I named him "The Colonel" on
account of his commanding voice.

One morning a friend came--blessed be that day--and after dinner he saw
"the beauty." "What a lovely cat!" said he. "Yes," said I, "he is very
beautiful, quite a picture." After a while he said, looking at "Pussy"
warming himself before the fire, "I think I never saw one I liked more."
"Indeed," said I, "if you really think so, I will give it to you; but he
has a fault--he is 'stone' deaf." "Oh, I don't mind that," said he. He
took him away--miles and miles away. I was glad it was so many miles
away for two reasons. One was I feared he might come back, and the other
that his voice might come resounding on the still night air. But he
never came back nor a sound.--A few days after he left "to better
himself," a letter came saying, would I wish to have him back? They
liked it very much, all but its voice. "No," I wrote, "no, you are very
kind, no, thank you; give him to any one you please--do what you will
with 'the beauty,' but it must not return, never." When next I saw my
friend, I asked him how "the beauty" was. "You dreadful man!" said he;
"why, that cat nearly drove us all mad--I never heard anything like it."
"Nor I," said I, sententiously. "Well," said my friend, "'all is well
that ends well;' I have given it to a very deaf old lady, and so both
are happy." "Very, I trust," said I.

The foregoing is by way of advice; in buying a white cat--or, in fact,
any other--ascertain for a certainty that it is not deaf.

A short time since I saw a white Persian cat with deep blue eyes sitting
at the door of a tobacconist's, at the corner of the Haymarket, London.
On inquiry I found that the cat could hear perfectly, and was in no way
deficient of health and strength; and this is by no means a solitary

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