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
f 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.