At the turn of the 19th century, in support of the first animal welfare campaigners, cats told their own stories through a series of best-selling children’s books. They moused in high places but pay was often poor, as revealed by Florence Nightingale in her memo complaining of the meagre rations for cats in the War Office. Many cats worked at home in London - where rats were a scourge – and enjoyed the luxury of a daily fast food service: a slice of horse flesh on a skewer delivered through the letterbox by the Cats-meat man. On the steam railway network, cats had power: the safety of the travelling public was largely dependent on the hunting skills of the signal box ratters.
Crowds flocked to the first cat show held at the Crystal Palace in 1871, when aristocrats and royalty obsessed over their competitive hobby of breeding longhairs.
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A spoilt Persian puss scratched the hand of the Prince of Wales and even more spoilt ladies chased the terrified exhibition organizer round the hall for something he had forgotten to do. The National Cat Club was founded along with the first stud book as a guide for ‘points of excellence.’
Technical advances in colour printing raised the profile of cats; their image was everywhere, on greetings cards, valentines, picture post-cards, sheet music and advertisements that sold every kind of product imaginable.
Poor Puss is the story of cats as they bravely clawed their way up the social ladder - out of persecution and superstition - to gain their rightful place as cherished family pets today. With impressive research, over three hundred archival pictures and entertaining anecdotal detail, meaty as a plump mouse.
You may never view your cat in the same way again!
Marvellous historical background and all the glorious illustrations
Dear Marilyn, A million congratulations on your wonderful book Poor Puss. A Social History of English Cats, the marvellous historical background and all the glorious illustrations make it the perfect present for any cat lover. Truly well done, Love, Jilly Cooper.
London Metropolitan Archives
'impressive in every way'