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The First Cat Show








On the day for judging, at Ludgate Hill I took a ticket and the train
for the Crystal Palace. Sitting alone in the comfortable cushioned
compartment of a "first class," I confess I felt somewhat more than
anxious as to the issue of the experiment. Yes; what would it be like?
Would there be many cats? How many? How would the animals comport
themselves in their cages? Would they sulk or cry for liberty, refuse
all food? or settle down and take the situation quietly and resignedly,
or give way to terror? I could in no way picture to myself the scene; it
was all so new. Presently, and while I was musing on the subject, the
door was opened, and a friend got in. "Ah!" said he, "how are you?"
"Tolerably well," said I; "I am on my way to the Cat Show." "What!"
said my friend, "that surpasses everything! A show of cats! Why, I hate
the things; I drive them off my premises when I see them. You'll have a
fine bother with them in their cages! Or are they to be tied up? Anyhow,
what a noise there will be, and how they will clutch at the bars and try
and get out, or they will strangle themselves with their chains." "I am
sorry, very sorry," said I, "that you do not like cats. For my part, I
think them extremely beautiful, also very graceful in all their actions,
and they are quite as domestic in their habits as the dog, if not more
so. They are very useful in catching rats and mice; they are not
deficient in sense; they will jump up at doors to push up latches with
their paws. I have known them knock at a door by the knocker when
wanting admittance. They know Sunday from the week-day, and do not go
out to wait for the meat barrow on that day; they----" "Stop," said my
friend, "I see you do like cats, and I do not, so let the matter drop."
"No," said I, "not so. That is why I instituted this Cat Show; I wish
every one to see how beautiful a well-cared-for cat is, and how docile,
gentle, and--may I use the term?--cossetty. Why should not the cat that
sits purring in front of us before the fire be an object of interest,
and be selected for its colour, markings, and form? Now come with me, my
dear old friend, and see the first Cat Show."

Inside the Crystal Palace stood my friend and I. Instead of the noise
and struggles to escape, there lay the cats in their different pens,
reclining on crimson cushions, making no sound save now and then a
homely purring, as from time to time they lapped the nice new milk
provided for them. Yes, there they were, big cats, very big cats,
middling-sized cats, and small cats, cats of all colours and markings,
and beautiful pure white Persian cats; and as we passed down the front
of the cages I saw that my friend became interested; presently he said:
"What a beauty this is! and here's another!" "And no doubt," said I,
"many of the cats you have seen before would be quite as beautiful if
they were as well cared for, or at least cared for at all; generally
they are driven about and ill-fed, and often ill-used, simply for the
reason that they are cats, and for no other. Yet I feel a great pleasure
in telling you the show would have been much larger were it not for the
difficulty of inducing the owners to send their pets from home, though
you see the great care that is taken of them." "Well, I had no idea
there was such a variety of form, size, and colour," said my friend, and
departed. A few months after, I called on him; he was at luncheon, with
two cats on a chair beside him--pets I should say, from their
appearance.



This is not a solitary instance of the good of the first Cat Show in
leading up to the observation of, and kindly feeling for, the domestic
cat. Since then, throughout the length and breadth of the land there
have been Cat Shows, and much interest is taken in them by all classes
of the community, so much so that large prices have been paid for
handsome specimens. It is to be hoped that by these shows the too often
despised cat will meet with the attention and kind treatment that every
dumb animal should have and ought to receive at the hands of humanity.
Even the few instances of the shows generating a love for cats that have
come before my own notice are a sufficient pleasure to me not to regret
having thought out and planned the first Cat Show at the Crystal
Palace.





Next: Habits

Previous: Introductory



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