Cats in nineteenth century England
I have just sent off a draft of an article on the changing feline-human relationship in Victorian England for a publication arising from the ‘Becoming Animal with the Victorians conference’ that I spoke at in Paris several months ago.
I have analysed some fairly conventional non-fiction materials such as Hansard or court reports in the Times or occupations listed in Post Office directories to explore the way in which the relationship between cats and people changes. In particular I have considered the growing ‘ownership’ of cats particularly amongst working people, as noted by the growth in the number of cat’s meat sellers.
I have also explored many of the advice manuals for looking after cats that were not written by vets who at that time knew (and cared) little about companion animals. Rather because they were compiled by people who lived with cats attention was paid to social and emotional feline characteristics, not just bodily functions.Interestingly such works emphasised the need for humans to be trained thus creating in the cat ‘strong affection and friendly signs for everyone’.
It was not until the 1890s that specific homes were established for cats such as the one illustrated here. (Sorry the reproduction is so poor.)