Popular Science Monthly/Volume 38/January 1891/The Intelligence of Cats
|THE INTELLIGENCE OF CATS.|
By W. H. LARRABEE.
QUESTIONS concerning the quality or faculty in animals comparable with human reason and the extent to which it is developed in them are much discussed. Mr. Romanes discriminates between those ideas of quality that spring from mere sensuous impressions and those elaborated notions that arise from the more complex associations supplied by mental reflection, and assumes that brutes have a power of thought of the former or inferior order. The Rev. George Henslow admits that they reason as we do, but always in connection with concrete phenomena, whether immediately apprehended by the senses or present to consciousness through memory; but that they have no power of conveying truly abstract ideas. Prof. Exner regards them as capable of certain determined combinations in view of specific ends which are variable within very narrow limits. Some of the recorded instances of the exercise of thought by animals suggest that the sphere of their action in this line is often capable of considerable enlargement.
In a former article were considered some of the friendships which cats appear to form with human beings, particularly with the members of the families in which they live. The discussion might be continued indefinitely, and illustrated by incidents without number. Of equal interest are the associations which they are capable of forming with other animals.
We have only an imperfect knowledge concerning the relations of different animals toward one another. We can conceive the relative feelings of an animal that pursues and one that is pursued, and can comprehend that there should be jealousies and disputes between rivals for the same prey. We perceive animals of social habits mingling across the lines of species without much difficulty, and also, perhaps, without much real intimacy. But there are a large class of other animals that are naturally neutral as toward one another, concerning whose mutual attitudes an ample field for inquiry is open. Cats belong to a family of solitaries. In a state of nature they form only passing relations, and have more quarrels than friendships with members of their own species. We should hardly expect them to be particularly sociable, or even friendly, across the line. Yet they can be made to form companionships when brought into association with other animals under the same roof, and some that seem very strange to the superficial view. The term "cat-and-dog life" is frequently used to describe a condition of discord; but cats and dogs often dwell very harmoniously together. Lindsay regards the phrase as implying an insult to both animals. Both he and Wood assert that the two can be trained to be very good friends, and that when this occurs "the cat usually behaves in a tyrannous manner toward her canine friend," and treats him most unceremoniously. "She will sit on his back and make him carry her about the room; she will take liberties with his tail, or bite his ears, and if he resents this treatment she deals him a pat on the nose and raises her back at him or retires till his good humor returns to him. The description will be recognized in thousands of families as acurate. Wood supplements his observation with a story of a cat and dog who had become great friends, when the dog was taken away. He afterward returned, with his mistress, on a visit." Pussy was in the room when the dog entered, and flew forward to greet him; she then ran out of the room, and shortly returned, bearing in her mouth her own dinner. This she laid before her old friend, and actually stood beside him while he ate the food with which she so hospitably entertained him." The natural attitude of the clog and cat may be regarded as one of rivalry for the same food and attention, and therefore of jealousy. The dog, being usually the larger and stronger animal, is likely to look upon the cat as his victim. This excites distrust and hostility in her, and the foundation of a feud is laid, which can be repressed or cultivated. An unnamed cat in Belfast, Maine. became attached to a pig, and was its constant companion—sleeping with it at night and following it about by day. When Piggy was slaughtered, Pussy's grief was "pitiful to see. She watched by the lifeless body all night, and was found there in the morning; and could never be persuaded to eat a mouthful of its pork." Tabby, of Belfast, who had a kitten, became interested in a pig which had been brought half frozen to the house to be taken care of. She was found in his box trying "to quiet him and get him to accept her as his mother. Her kitten would cry, and she would leave the pig for a few minutes and go and quiet that, and then she would go back to the pig and try her best to make him comfortable." At last she took her kitten into the box with the pig. Rosy, an excellent ratter on a Belfast schooner, made friends at once with a pet rat that was brought on board, slept and played with it for two weeks, and allowed it to take many liberties with herself. Don Pierrot de Navarre and Seraphita, cats of Théophile Gautier, lived on the most friendly terms with their master's troop of white rats. Don Pierrot was especially fond of the rats, and would sit by their cage and watch them for hours together. If the door of the room where they were kept happened to be shut, he would insist, by scratching and mewing, on its being opened to him. Tabby, of Hyde Park, near Boston, having lost her kittens, took a brood of motherless chickens under her care. Knowing of them, she begged to be admitted to them. The experiment was tried. She looked at them a moment, then sprang into the box and, purring, nestled down among them. This was the beginning of a constant service of six months, during which Tabby would play with the chickens; would try to carry them by the neck as she would her own kittens; and persisted in licking their feathers the wrong way.
Mr. J. M. Coffinberry, of Cleveland, Ohio, writes to us that when, some forty-three years ago, he took possession of a certain house in Findlay, Ohio, the attention of the family "was called to a brood of young chicks by a cat who seemed to devote her time and attention to them. The ground being covered with two or three inches of snow, my wife fed them regularly, so that we saw much of them. The cat frequently purred to them, and they came at her call and followed her as closely as young chickens follow the mother hen. They lodged together in a wood-shed adjacent to the house for about three months, but in the early spring the chickens, being well fledged, abandoned their winter quarters and flew into the higher branches of a fruit tree to roost. The cat purred and mewed, and seemed much disgusted at their change of lodgings, but soon accepted the situation and climbed to the tree-top and roosted with the chickens." This continued during the few months that the family occupied this house. Mr. Coffinberry asks some questions as to what was in the cat's mind or heart that prompted her to this parental act. It is easily explained if the qualities which he and many authors claim for cats are conceded to them. A correspondent, M—— C——, of Nature, tells of a cat and dog who, having been brought into the family at about the same time, grew up friends and fast companions. They ate out of the same dish and slept on the same mat. The dog took the cat under his protection, and was particularly assiduous in defending his ward from a vicious black cat that troubled it. A correspondent of the London Spectator wrote concerning tomcat Blackie's interest in a dog who had been blinded by a carter's whip and had been nursed by his master. Observing that "Laddie" (the dog) had difficulty in finding his way to the door, and sometimes struck his head against the posts* she became accustomed to go for him when he was called and guide him in.
Wood gives, in his Natural History, an account of two cats called the "Mincing Lane Cats," who lived in a wine-cellar, and, one being old and the other young, appear to have agreed upon an interchange of services. "Senior" taught "Junior" to avoid men's feet and wine-casks in motion, and pointed out the best hunting-grounds, while "Junior" employed his youthful activity in catching mice for his patron. In consideration also of the mice, Senior gave up to Junior a part of his share of the daily rations of cat's meat. It is represented that the curious compact was actually and seriously carried out. This had the air of a commercial transaction, but another story told by Mr. Wood exhibits pure benevolence. A cat in a Norman château had every day more food than she could consume, and the waste of the surplus "seemed to weigh on her mind." So one day she brought a less well-fed cat from a roadside cottage, and, having satisfied herself, gave it what was left. Her master, observing this, gave her larger platefuls, when she brought in another cat from a greater distance. The master then determined to test how far the cat's hospitality would extend, and kept adding to the platefuls from time to time, as new cats were brought in, till Puss's dinner-party included nearly twenty guests. "Yet, however ravenous were these daily visitors, none of them touched a mouthful till their hostess had finished her own dinner." An Angora cat belonging to M. Jumelin would often bring a poor, half-starved cat home with him, and then would see that it was fed. On the last occasion of his doing this, "Master Cat seemed nervous and excited, and behaved as though he thought the case was urgent. He became more quiet, however, as soon as the dish was set down for. the strange cat, and contentedly observed what was going on while the visitor was taking his meal. As soon as the dish was emptied he showed his guest to the door, bade him good-by with a friendly but lively stroke of his paw, and accompanied him down the stairs, addressing him a succession of friendly mews."
Cats appear taciturn in ordinary life, but every one knows that they can upon occasion, and that often, speak forcibly enough. They also have a language for their friends, varied and expressive enough to convey their wants definitely, and make intercourse with them pleasant and lively. Those who know them best may readily say, with John Owen, in the London Academy:
"Thou art not dumb, my Muff;
In those sweet, pleading eyes and earnest look
Language there is enough
To fill with living type a goodly book."
Montaigne observed, some three hundred years ago, that our beasts have some mean intelligence of their senses, well-nigh in the same measure as we. "They natter us, menace us, and need us; and we them. It is abundantly evident to us that there is among them a full and entire communication, and that they understand each other" Dupont de Nemours, who undertook to penetrate the mysteries of animal language, recognized that animals had few wants, but these were strong, and few passions, but imperious, for which they had very marked but limited expressions. He thought the cat was more intelligent than the dog, because, being able to climb trees, she had sources of ideas and experiences denied to him; and, having all the vowels of a dog, with six consonants in addition, she had more words. The Abbé Galiani pretended to have made some curious discoveries respecting the language of cats, among which were those that they have more than twenty different inflections, and that "it is really a tongue, for they always employ the same sound to express the same thing." Champfleury professes to have counted sixty-three varieties of mewings, the notation of which, however, he observes, is difficult. The sign and gesture language of the cat is even more copious and expressive than its audible language. As Mr. Owen has it:
"What tones unheard, and forms of silent speech,
Are given that such as thee
The eloquence of dumbness man might teach!"
Lindsay enumerates, as among the elements of the non-vocal language of cats, capers or antics, gambols, frolic, and frisking in the kitten; prostration, crouching, groveling, crawling, cringing, and fawning; hiding, flight, sneaking, skulking, slinking, shirking, or shrinking; rubbing against the bodies of other animals or against hard substances; licking; touching or tapping with the paws; scratching; head-shaking, tossing, or rubbing; and tail movements, of which there are many. Dr. Turton says that "the cat has a more voluminous and expressive vocabulary than any other brute: the short twitter of complacency and affection, the purr of tranquillity and pleasure, the mew of distress, the growl of anger, and the horrible wailing of pain." Besides these, the expressions of the countenance, as Mr. Owen teaches in his poem, are as lively and varied in the cat as in any other animal. The well-bred cat can put these diversified means of expression to uses commensurate with nearly all her wants; and the sagacious and sympathetic master can with no very great difficulty learn to translate them as accurately as he responds to the wishes of his child.
Romanes gives several instances illustrating the applications of this sign-language. A cat, observing that a terrier received food in answer to a certain gesture, imitated his begging. Another would make a peculiar noise when it wanted a door opened, and, if its wish was not attended to, would pull at one's dress with its claws; then, having secured notice, would walk to the door and stop with a vocal request. Another cat, having found its friend the parrot mired in the dough, ran up-stairs to inform the cook of the catastrophe, "mewing and making what signs she could for her to go down," till at last "she jumped up, seized her apron, and tried to drag her down," and finally succeeded in getting her to rescue the bird. Other cats are mentioned which would jump on chairs and look at bells, put their paws upon them, or even ring them, when they wanted anything done for which the ringing of a bell was a signal.
The extent of the cat's understanding of human language must depend considerably on the treatment and training it receives. An animal that is treated unkindly or is neglected can not be expected to learn much beyond the knowledge which its natural instinct confers upon it. Another animal, not necessarily brighter, but having better opportunities and more encouragement, may readily acquire knowledge of all the things that it is important one of its kind should know. Cats having appreciative masters and playmates will gain a really remarkable degree of knowledge of the tones, gestures, words, thoughts, and intentions of their human friends. Many of the well-authenticated stories on this point reveal faculties of perception that must seem astonishing even to persons well informed respecting the mental powers of animals. Careful observation of his own puss can hardly fail to convince any one that they understand more of ordinary conversation, as well as of what is said to them directly, than we are apt, at first thought, to suspect. Lindsay has shown that, in common with other tamed and domestic animals, they understand one or more of the modes in which man expresses his ideas, wishes, or commands, as well as those ideas, wishes, and commands themselves, however expressed, particularly the calls to receive food, and their own names. They also, in common with a smaller number of animals, appear to know the names of the different members of the family, and of articles of domestic use. An instance is cited from Clark Rossiter of a cat that knew the name of each member of the household, and, his seat at the table. If asked about an absent one, she would look at the vacant seat, then at the speaker, and, if told to fetch him, would run upstairs to his room, take the handle of the door between her paws, mew at the key-hole, and wait to be let in.
The mistress of Topsey, of Belfast, an invalid, expressed a desire to have a partridge or a chicken for a broth. Some one spoke of having seen a flock of young birds in the morning, and immediately afterward Topsey sprang into the window with a partridge and laid it at her mistress's feet. The mistress commended the cat, and added, "If you will go and get another, you and I will have a nice dinner to-morrow." She went out, and shortly brought in another bird, which she also laid at her mistress's feet. Although very fond of birds, she declined to eat these herself. She was told not to catch any more birds, and brought no more to the house.
Dollie, of North Monroe, Maine, had one of her legs torn off by a railroad train. Her mistress, believing her case a hopeless one, begged two boys, in her presence, to take her away and kill her. "Instantly," says the teller of the story, "the look of patient trust with which she was regarding her mistress as she pitied and petted her, changed to one of terror as she got up and rushed out of the house." She was found, and fed, but would not return to the house till her wound was healed. Daisy, of Belfast, persisted in laying her kitten in her mistress's bed till the lady, looking her in the eye, told her if she did so again the kitten should be drowned, when she ceased offending. June, of Stockton, Maine, behaved in such a way as to lead the family to suppose that her kittens, which she had hidden under the floor of a back room, had died. The matter was talked about in the presence of the cat, who seemed to be sleeping on a lounge, and the relator of the story remarked that she "would give ten dollars in a moment if the kittens were out from under the floor." June rose at once and went to the door. It was opened for her, and she went up the stairs. After going up and down several times, she rattled at the door-knob; when the door was opened she looked into the lady's face and mewed. Three of her dead kittens were lying on the floor. The lady said: "Well done, June; go and get the other one." She went and brought it, then looked into the lady's face and mewed again. Spot, of Camden, Maine, answered when she was asked if she wanted anything to eat; and if her answer was negative, she would not eat, even if she was fed. Coonie, of Belfast, when directed in the morning to "go call the children," would go up the stairs, into every room, jump upon the bed and wake up each one; and, if it was early, would stay in the rooms a little while, but, if it was late, would hurry down-stairs. A cat at Poor's Mills, Maine, would hold up her right or left paw, or both, correctly, as she was directed, previous to receiving her food. Théophile Gautier's Eponine, a "delicate, lady-like cat," was allowed to sit at the table at dinner. Although she preferred fish, she would eat her soup first, when reminded, in polite language, that a person who had no appetite for soup ought to have none for fish.
Some of these acts may be only coincidences; but observation for ten years of my own cat, concerning whom it has often been remarked that she seemed to understand what we were talking about and was listening to it, has satisfied me that more of them were done with knowledge. The story of the adventure of Théophile Gautier's Madame Théophile with the parrot, on first being introduced to it, indicates a comprehension of the significance of language, and has its humorous side also. The cat, looking upon the bird as a "green chicken," stealthily approached it as with the intention of seizing it. The watchful bird, at the critical moment, asked her, in good French: "Have you breakfasted, Jockey; and on what—on the king's roast?" and broke out into song. The astonished cat retreated hastily, and hid for the rest of the day, but renewed her attack on the morrow, to be rebuffed in the same manner. From that time she treated the parrot with the respect due to a being having the power of speech.
Montaigne says: "When I play with my cat, how do I know whether she does not make a pastime of me, just as I do of her? We entertain ourselves with mutual antics; and if I have my own times of beginning or refusing, she, too, has hers." The sportiveness of kittens is exuberant, and makes them the most delightful of pets. Lindsay's remark is superfluous, except that it has to be made for the formal completeness of his treatise, that dogs and cats take part in the fun and frolic—sometimes rough or boisterous enough—of their child playfellows. They give every evidence, in fact, that such fun and frolic are the most enjoyed features of that period of their lives. As the animal matures it becomes more sedate, and even assumes a meditative air, but the taste for sport does not die out till infirmity begins to wear upon it. A cat mentioned in the Animal World would allow itself to be rolled up or swung about in a table: cloth, and seemed to enjoy the fun; and Wood's dignified Pusset would let his friends do anything they pleased with him—lift him up by any part of the body, toss him in the air from one to another, use him as a footstool, boa, or pillow, make him jump over their hands or leap on their shoulders, or walk along their extended arms, with perfect complacency. At the same time he was keenly sensitive to ridicule, and, if laughed at, would walk off with every manifestation of offended dignity.
Lindsay names the cat as one of the animals that perpetrate practical jokes on each other or on man; that enter thoroughly into the spirit of the joke or fun, and enjoy and exult in its success; and cites in illustration of his principle an instance of a cat teasing a frog, seemingly to hear it cry. Tad, of Burnham, Maine, seems to have had the humorous sense in a more refined degree. He would sit in the yard, and, calling the neighboring cats together, would manœuvre as though giving them orders, till he got them to fighting; then would withdraw to one side, or to his seat upon the window-sill, and look on in evident amusement, swinging his large, bushy tail forcibly against the window-pane; but, when called into the house by his mistress, he always obeyed.
Knowledge of the ways in which certain common things are done and the capacity to apply it are so frequently shown by domestic cats that it is almost superfluous to mention particular instances of its exhibition. Most cats know how doors are opened, and can open them for themselves if the method of handling the latch comes within the compass of their powers of manipulation. Romanes asserts that, in the understanding of mechanical appliances of this character, they reach a higher level of intelligence than any other animals, except monkeys, and perhaps elephants. He thinks that the skill of these animals may be due to their having, in their flexible limbs and trunks, instruments adapted to manipulation, which they learn to use. This may be so, but it should be remembered that horses can open doors and gates with their teeth and noses, and cows with their horns. The behavior of cats before a looking-glass, when, failing to find the image palpable in the face of the mirror, they look or feel around behind it, is familiar. Having once satisfied themselves that there is nothing there, they recognize the fact, and cease to take any further interest in the phenomenon. So they and other animals know that they can go round a wall and reach a point on the other side of it; or can go round after the mouse which they have heard rustling behind the door. A noteworthy feat of door-opening is recorded by Mr. Romanes of his coachman's cat, which, having an old-fashioned thumb-latch to deal with, sprang at the half-hoop handle below the thumb-piece, hanging to it with one paw, depressed the thumb-piece with the other paw, and with her hind legs pushed at the door-posts till the door flew open. Mr. Romanes interprets this and another similar action which he records as involving a deliberate purpose, combined with a mental process which he treats as complex and very near akin to reasoning, and as involving definite ideas respecting the mechanical properties of doors. Mr. A. Petrie's cat would climb up by some list to the click-latch, push it up, and, hanging from the door, similarly push it away from the posts. The cat of Mr. W. H. Michael, of Queen Anne's Gate, St. James's Park, London, jumped four feet to the crank-latch of a casement window, caught hold of the crank with her fore feet, and pressed the window open with her hind feet. A cat belonging to Parker Bowman learned to open a window by turning a swivel and bearing upon the sash.
Some equally curious incidents, showing powers of contrivance and a degree of understanding of the relation of antecedent and consequent, are connected with cats striking door-knockers and ringing bells, or, if unable to do so themselves, asking to have them done. Mr. Belshaw tells, in Nature, of his kitten jumping upon the door and hanging by one leg while it put the other fore paw through the knocker and rapped twice. A London cat is described in Nature which by standing on her hind legs would reach the knocker and rap once; if this was not answered, she gave what is called a 'postman's knock'; and if this was not responded to, "tried a scientific rat-tat that would not disgrace a West End footman." It is added that she held the knocker in her paws as we would hold it in our fingers, and did not simply tip it up. Mr. J. J. Cole's cat, of Maryland, Sutton, Surrey, having observed that a servant went to one of the windows after hearing the flap of a letter-box attached to it moved by a postman, learned to have herself let in when shut out by also rattling the flap. Some alarm was excited at Mr. Lonergan's house in London by a mysterious knocking at a door which could not be reached from the outside except by climbing over a wall. At length, Mrs. Muffins, the cat, was detected as the author of the sounds, and it was found some time afterward that she had learned to produce them by pulling at the loose lower end of a strip of board running down at the side of the door, and allowing it to rebound. There is perhaps nothing very remarkable in an animal, having observed that the striking of the knocker or the pulling of the bell-knob was usually followed by the opening of the door, learning to imitate the act. But some cats have gone further than this, and have learned the connection between the wire and the bell, and to avail themselves of it in order to be let in.
Other acts are related of cats that give us a much higher conception of their mental powers, and even go a little way toward lifting them into the order of beings capable of real abstract reasoning. Kitty, of Belfast, Maine, having given a mouse to her kittens to play with, watched the sport for a while as if to see that the mouse did not escape, but at last bit it so as to disable it, and then went away. Two kittens, neighbors of Kitty's, disagreed over a squirrel which had been given them. Their mother cuffed them, then bit the squirrel in two, and gave half of it to each. Coonie, of Belfast, sitting on the window-sill by the side of the ladies of the family when the glass was much clouded, put up her paw and wiped off the mist. This act may be matched by animals breaking ice to get at the water, and horses scraping the snow from the ground to reach the grass beneath it, but it also shows capacity for adaptation to circumstances. The same Coonie usually had to suffer the loss of all but one of each litter of her kittens. She finally seems to have determined to choose the one that should be saved. She selected one, carried it away, and left the rest to their fate. A Scotch cat, of Greenock, where the family were in the habit of throwing out crumbs for the birds, hid in the shrubbery to catch one of the birds when they came up. One afternoon the crumbs were not eaten, and were covered with snow during the night. In the morning, Puss was observed picking the crumbs out of the snow and putting them on top, after which she retired to her hiding-place. This was noticed two or three times; and at last Puss's success in catching the birds forced the family to cease feeding them. Dr. G. Frost, of London, found his cat in the habit of waiting in ambush for the throwing out of crumbs for the birds. The practice of feeding the birds was left off for a few days; and Dr. Frost avers that he and another member of the household saw the cat herself scattering crumbs on the grass, "with the obvious intention of enticing the birds." Mr. James Hutchings tells, in Nature, of a cat which, finding a young blackbird fallen from its nest to the ground, spent several hours in keeping a strange kitten away from the young bird, and at the same time herself teasing it, in order to entice the parent, which was hovering around, within her reach. The cat showed wonderful persistency through several defeats, and played a variety of tricks to deceive or attract the parent bird, till Mr. Hutchings forcibly put an end to the cruel sport. A cat living in a hospital in Massachusetts is described in Nature, which discovered the blindness of one of the inmates, and regularly took advantage of the fact to steal a part of her meal from her. Mr. Lawson Tait relates that a mutual dislike arose between a visitor at his house and his family of unusually intelligent cats. Although the cats had always been scrupulously neat and clean, they regularly left a noxious mess at the guest's room door so long as he stayed at the house. Just as the slaughter of the whole tribe as nuisances had been determined upon, the visitor went away, and the objectionable deposit ceased.
A story is told in the Hartford Times of a cat which became very uneasy one summer midnight and ran from one bedroomdoor to another with earnest mewing and crying. Having attracted the attention of one of the family, she led the way, watching carefully to see that she was followed, down the stairs and through the kitchen and cellar to the outside cellar-door, which had been left open. A house between Belfast and Hollywood, Ireland, taking fire one night, the cat ran up-stairs to the servantmaid's room and pawed her face. The girl, only half aroused, turned to sleep again. After a few moments the cat returned and scratched the girl's face till she woke in earnest, and now smelling the smoke, aroused the rest of the family. The cat already mentioned, that went and brought help to deliver the parrot from miring in the dough, evidently realized the nature of the danger the bird was in, and how it could be remedied. Mr. James K. Gilmore's (Edmund Kirk's) cat, finding one night, when she came home from her rambles, that the door leading to the veranda was open, took pains to give notice of it to the family. The same animal, when the family were all in other parts of the house, ran up to her mistress and demanded to be followed. She led the lady directly to the kitchen, and there was a strange man who had intruded himself into the vacant room. Mr. Gilmore relates several other anecdotes of this cat, which show that she understood the value of human help in emergencies—particularly in cases where her kittens were in trouble—and upon whom to call. She also understood that whatever demands she might make upon her master in the daytime, his night's rest must not be disturbed. At that time she always went to her mistress.
A cat is told of in the Boston Post which was accustomed to go in the summer with the family to the country. On the occasion of one of the vacations she appeared anxious about her kitten, and at last put it in one of the trunks.
A cat and a starling belonging to Mr. Dupré, of Kensington, England, were great friends and almost constant companions. One day the cat suddenly pounced upon the starling, but, instead of making an end of it, took it carefully up and set it upon a table; then rushed out of the room to chastise a strange cat which had stolen into the house. The forethought it exhibited in securing the safety of its friend before going into the fight seems to justify our attributing to it the highest degree of intelligence which any of the authors we have quoted are willing to accredit to animals.
A cat of Mr. Brown, of Greenock, Scotland, having had some paraffin accidentally spilled upon it and set ablaze by a cinder from the fire, at once rushed out of the door and up the street for about a hundred yards; plunged headlong into the village watering-trough; and then stepped out, shook herself, and trotted quietly home. She had been accustomed to seeing the fire put out with water every night. Mr. J. Harvey Gibbons's cat, of University College, Liverpool, when indisposed at one time, wandered strangely about the house, with an evident inclination toward the coal-bunkers. They were left open for her, and she went to them at once, and searched among the coals till she found a piece covered with pyrites. She licked this vigorously, and afterward returned regularly to the bunkers for more of the medicine. Some powdered sulphur was given her, and was accepted as a substitute for the pyrites. Under this regimen she recovered her health.
A most remarkable story illustrating this trait is told in the Revue Scientifique by Dr. Cosmovici, of Roumania, concerning his cat Cadi. We may remark that this gentleman appears to have been a keen observer of intelligence in all animals. The winter of 1880 was very cold, fuel was high, and our doctor had to be economical. He was accustomed, therefore, after his morning fire had burned out, to work during the rest of the day wrapped in furs, while Cadi sat at his feet. On one of the cold days, Cadi would every once in a while go to the door and mew in a tone quite distinct from that of his usual requests. Dr. Cosmovici opened the door, and Cadi went half-way out, looking at him the while. He shut the door and Cadi came back and mewed. At last he gave himself up to the cat's desire and followed her. She led him straight to the kitchen, and thence to the coal-box, and got upon it without ceasing to look at her master. He got coal. Cadi next showed him the way to the wood-box; thence led him back to his room, and, once within it, to the fireplace, where she lifted herself up and arched her back. The fire was made, while Cadi looked on, manifesting her approval of the operation by caresses. When it began to burn, she stretched herself before it, satisfied.
- This story was told to Mr. Wood by the owner of the cat.
- The cat stories from Maine are cited from the Belfast Republican Journal.
- Mr. Wood's informant had this story from the owner of the chateau.
- Revue Scientifique.
- Nature, vol. xix, p. 519.
- Vo1 xii, p. 330.