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A Cat-and-dog Friendship





[June 8, 1895.]

The interesting letter, "A Canine Nurse," in the Spectator of May
18th, recalls to mind an equally curious event in cat and dog life which
occurred some years since in a house where I was living, but with the
additional interest of a hen being also implicated.

In the back-kitchen premises of an old manor-house, amongst hampers, and
such like odds and ends, a cat had a litter of kittens. They were all
removed but one, and as the mother was frequently absent, a hen began
laying in a hamper close by. For a time all things went well, the hen
sitting on her eggs and the cat nursing the kitten within a few inches
of each other. The brood were hatched out, and almost at the same time
the old cat disappeared. The chickens were allowed to run about on the
floor for sake of the warmth from a neighbouring chimney, and the kitten
was fed with a saucer of milk, &c., in the same place, both feeding
together frequently out of the same dish. The hen used to try to induce
the kitten to eat meal like the chicks, calling to it and depositing
pieces under its nose in the most amusing way; finally doing all in its
power to induce the kitten to come, like her chicks, under her wings.
The result was nothing but a series of squalls from the kitten, which
led to its being promoted from the back to the front kitchen, where it
was reared until it was grown up. At this time a young terrier was
introduced into the circle, and after many back-risings and bad language
on pussy's part, they settled down amicably and romped about the floor
in fine style. Eventually the terrier became an inveterate
rabbit-poacher--killing young rabbits and bringing them home--a
proceeding to which the cat gave an intelligent curiosity, then a
passive and purring approval, and finally her own instincts having
asserted themselves, she went off with the dog, hunting in the woods.
Our own keeper reported them as getting "simply owdacious," being found
a great distance from the house; and keepers of adjacent places also
said the pair were constantly seen hunting hedgerows on their beats. On
one occasion I saw them myself hunting a short hedge systematically, the
dog on one side, the cat on the other; and on coming near an open
gateway a hare was put out of her form, and bounding through the open
gate, was soon off; the dog followed, till he came through the gateway,
where he stood looking after the hare; and the cat joining him, they
apparently decided it was too big or too fast to be successfully chased,
so resumed the hedge-hunting, each taking its own side as before.

They frequently returned home covered with mud, and pussy's claws with
fur, and would lie together in front of the fire; the cat often grooming
down the dog, licking him and rubbing him dry, and the dog getting up
and turning over the ungroomed side to be finished. This curious
friendship went on for six months or more, till the dog had to be kept
in durance vile to save him from traps and destruction, the cat, nothing
daunted, going on with her poaching until one day she met her fate in a
trap, and so brought her course to an end. The dog was a well-bred
fox-terrier, and the cat a tabby of nothing beyond ordinary
characteristics, save in her early life having been fostered by a hen,
and in her prime the staunch friend and comrade of poor old Foxie, the
terrier. If there are "happy hunting-grounds" for the animals hereafter,
and such things are allowed in them, no doubt they will renew their
intimacy, if not their poaching forays, together there.

R. J. GRAHAM SIMMONDS.





Next: The Sense Of Boundary In Dogs

Previous: A Dog Story



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