The Book, Cat, & Cat Book Lovers Almanac

of historical trivia regarding books, cats, and other animals. Actually this blog has evolved so that it is described better as a blog about cats in history and culture. And we take as a theme the advice of Aldous Huxley: If you want to be a writer, get some cats. Don't forget to see the archived articles linked at the bottom of the page.

August 12, 2017

August 12, 1885

We all remember Helen Hunt Jackson (October 15, 1830 to August 12, 1885), I think. She wrote Ramona (1884). I sound hesitant simply because I recently found out Alfred Payson Terhune is considered a forgotten and forgettable writer. NO! How could that be.

It was a nicer surprise to find out that the author of Ramona also wrote a book about cats.
Letters from a Cat published by her mistress for the benefit of all cats and the amusement of little children (1879). Here is an anecdote from within this book:

She used to follow me, just like a little dog, wherever I went. She followed me to school every day, and we had great difficulty on Sundays to keep her from following us to church. Once she followed me, when it made a good many people laugh, in spite of themselves, on an occasion when it was very improper for them to laugh, and they were all feeling very sad. It was at the funeral of one of the professors in the college.

The professors' families all sat together; and when the time came for them to walk out of the house and get into the carriages to go to the graveyard, they were called, one after the other, by name. When it came to our turn, my father and mother went first, arm-in-arm; then my sister and I; and then, who should rise, very gravely, but my Pussy, who had slipped into the room after me, and had not been noticed in the crowd. With a slow and deliberate gait she walked along, directly behind my sister and me, as if she were the remaining member of the family, as indeed she was. People began to smile, and as we passed through the front door, and went down the steps, some of the men and boys standing there laughed out. I do not wonder; for it must have been a very comical sight. In a second more, somebody sprang forward and snatched Pussy up. Such a scream as she gave! and scratched his face with her claws, so that he was glad to put her down. As soon as I heard her voice, I turned round, and called her in a low tone. She ran quickly to me, and I picked her up and carried her in my arms the rest of the way. But I saw even my own papa and mamma laughing a little, for just a minute. That was the only funeral Pussy ever attended.

Pussy lived several years after the events which are related

The above is less far-fetched than you think. The distinction between indoor and outdoor is a modern one and has a binary meaning lacking before the last century.

Here are some illustrations from Letters from a Cat, done by Addie Ledyard.



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