Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 38.djvu/383

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

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[1] 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."[2] 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.[3] 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

  1. Wood.
  2. This story was told to Mr. Wood by the owner of the cat.
  3. The cat stories from Maine are cited from the Belfast Republican Journal.