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( Originally Published 1928 )
WHEN A family is leaving for the country, in the business and excitement of going, the poor cat is often left without a thought. It does not put itself forward as a dog would, but retires from the noise and confusion and if it is not at last shut up in the house by some heedless person to starve to death, it is left to be a lonely wanderer around the only place it knows as home; hungry, thirsty, and more miserable than any one can, guess who from observation has not learned the degree to which these poor creatures pine for home life and companionship, their natures being essentially loving and domestic.
We have not yet reached the highest form of civilization. When we have, no respectable family will venture to neglect, in such a heartless manner, any helpless dumb creature.
It is cruel to send cats from one place to another by express because they suffer such agony from fright. It is far kinder to chloroform a cat than to send her off in this manner.
BUT THOSE who do try to move their cats when they go away, quite often end by losing them. Frantic with fear, they jump out of the ill-secured baskets in which they are to be carried, or, if they arrive at their destination, they are at once let out to wander at will over the new premises, whereupon they set out on a search for the old home, and are miserably lost. A little care, kindness, and common sense will avert all this. Baskets with open slats at the top and well fastened, are very good to use for tame cats, as sometimes during the journey it is not possible for the owner to take the cat from the basket and hold it. A full grown cat, which is at all wild or likely to run away if let out, can be moved in an ordinary rough box, of which a sort of cage can be made. Turn it on its side and screw slats over the front. The cat can be put in with a little pan of fine earth before the last slats are put on; if they are screwed on they will not frighten it so much as if they are nailed.
The slats can be far enough apart to allow of putting in food and water, and the cat will be happier than it would be if it could not see what is going on around it. The box should be lined so that the animal will not be injured by any rough or jagged surface, or by the heads of nails which may have been left in it. A leather strap can be attached so that the box can be easily carried, and it can be taken into the car in which the owner of the cat travels. The sight of some one it knows will give it some confidence. Do not send a cat or any animal by express, if you can avoid it, but take it with you, and then you can personally see that it has the attention such a helpless prisoner needs.
In any case it is very important that the box in which the cat is carried should be strong enough to resist injury from other boxes or articles of baggage.
CATS LIKE TO SEE OUT OF THE BOX
ONE PERSON who is used to traveling with cats, has little difficulty with them. She says that as a rule the pet cat will be happier if she can see where she is going. A friend had a basket with holes sufficient for ventilation (tightly fastened) when she started on her journey, but as soon as she was settled in the cars, the cat was allowed to come out, and lie in her lap, and she made no attempt to escape.
Another cat cried piteously until he was taken out of the basket and placed in a soft cloth travelling bag, with his head out, the bag being fastened so that he could not run away. He was quiet at once, and being carried (in the arms of his owner) and spoken to occasionally, he behaved very well and seemed much interested in all that was going on. Cats are very sensitive to a soothing tone of voice as well as to a gentle touch.
Another correspondent writes of a method which he has adopted for the last seven years in carrying a favorite cat to the seashore and back:
"The cat is covered with what appears to be a long, white cloak such as infants wear, but which, in fact, is a bag sewed up squarely at the bottom and fastened nicely about the cat's neck. That prevents all accidents by securing her paws, yet gives her ample room to move them in any direction."
"When the new home is reached I let the cat out very gently, in a quiet room with the door shut. I feed it there and reassure it by petting and kind words. I let it remain in that room at least twenty-four hours, then I gradually let it investigate the new premises, taking care that it is not frightened. I do not let it go outside the house at first, and on no account let it remain out at night."
"If these directions are carefully carried out, and the cat is well fed and kindly treated, it will soon accustom itself to its new quarters. Cats are timid creatures, and it is extreme fright - often too well founded - that makes them frantically flee away from new places. In cases where a house is closed, and the cat cannot be taken with the family, nor any other good home found for it, the only right way is to humanely end its life."