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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 51.djvu/521

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A TORTOISE-SHELL WILD CAT.

after the collapse of the Italian republics.[1] Thus, without banishing the devils of freedom, the reformers, moved to such endless efforts to keep swept and garnished, evoke only the devils of despotism, which are immeasurably more ferocious and destructive.

 

A TORTOISE-SHELL WILD CAT.
By WILLIAM H. BALLOU.

THE cat family has given naturalists quite as much trouble as it has the ordinary citizen in his efforts to repose at night. The wild type (or types) of the domestic animal has never been located, although various views have been advanced to account for the household pet. As far back as we can distinguish man arising on the horizon of history, we find him accompanied by certain domestic animals, the origins of which are quite as involved in problems of transition conditions as is man himself. The late Dr. J. S. Newberry was wont to exhibit to me a mummified alleged cat from Egypt, to show that the domestic animal of the Egyptians was really a civet. The late Prof. Cope thought that perhaps all living species of wild cats had been defined, until Felis bracatta was sent him from Brazil; he thought it probable that there were no more extinct Felidæ, to be discovered until, just before his death, a pocket containing several new types was opened in a Philadelphia quarry not far from his laboratory.

I have always taken an interest in the origin of the domestic cat, not the least diminished by these two lamented paleontologists, who could find no technical basis for any theories that have been advanced. No wild cat has been tamed in modern times, and years of confinement and kindness have wholly failed to soften the savage nature of these denizens of the forest and jungle, some representatives of which will instantly attack man or beast, oblivious to overwhelming odds, and fight to the last gasp. I have always inclined to the multi-origin of various types of domestic cats, holding that wild types in various parts of the earth gave origin to the domestic types therein found. It is impossible for me to reconcile to a common existing wild ancestor the domestic cat of the Isle of Malta, the stub-tailed Manx cat of the Isle of Man, and the tortoise-shell cat of Brazil—all well-known domestic types.

It was therefore with great interest that I viewed in the late


  1. "Tyrannicide was extolled as a patriotic virtue. . . . Public honors were paid to Donatello's statue of Judith the tyrannicide, erected in Florence, with the inscription 'Exemplum salutis publicæ cives posuere!' While such a spirit prevailed in society, tyrants lived in constant dread of assassination." (May, Democracy in Europe, vol. i, p. 323.)