Our Cats and All About Them


Cats, like many other animals, both wild and domestic, are subject to diseases, several being fatal, others yielding to known curatives; many are of a very exhaustive character, some are epidemic, others are undoubtedly contagious—the two worst of these are what is known as the distemper and the mange. Through the kindness of friends I am enabled to give recipes for medicines considered as useful, or, at any rate, tending to abate the severity of the attack in the one, and utterly eradicate the other. Care should always be taken on the first symptoms of illness to remove the animal at once from contact with others. My kind friend, Dr. George Fleming, C.B., principal veterinary surgeon of the army, has courteously sent me a copy of a remedy for cat distemper from his very excellent work, "Animal Plagues: their History, Nature, and Prevention," which I give in full.


"Cats are, like some other of the domesticated animals, liable to be attacked by two kinds of Catarrhal Fever, one of which is undoubtedly very infectious—like distemper in dogs—and the other may be looked upon as the result of a simple cold, and therefore not transmissible. The first is, of course, the most severe and fatal, and often prevails most extensively, affecting cats generally over wide areas, sometimes entire continents being invaded by it. From A.D. 1414 up to 1832 no fewer than nineteen widespread outbreaks of this kind have been recorded. The most notable of these was in 1796, when the cats in England and Holland were generally attacked by the disease, and in the following year when it had spread over Europe and extended to America; in 1803, it again appeared in this country and over a large part of the European continent.

"The symptoms are intense fever, prostration, vomiting, diarrhœa, sneezing, cough, and profuse discharge from the nose and eyes. Sometimes the parotid glands are swollen, as in human mumps. Dr. Darwin, of Derby, uncle to Charles Darwin, thought it was a kind of mumps, and therefore designated it Parotitis felina.

"The treatment consists in careful nursing and cleanliness, keeping the animal moderately warm and comfortable. The disease rapidly produces intense debility, and therefore the strength should be maintained from the very commencement by frequent small doses of strong beef-tea, into which one grain of quinine has been introduced twice a day, a small quantity of port wine (from half to one teaspoonful) according to the size of the cat, and the state of debility. If there is no diarrhœa, but constipation, a small dose of castor oil or syrup of buckthorn should be given. Solid food should not be allowed until convalescence has set in. Isolation, with regard to other cats, and disinfection, should be attended to.

"Simple Catarrh demands similar treatment. Warmth, cleanliness, broth, and beef-tea, are the chief items of treatment, with a dose of castor oil if constipation is present. If the discharge obstructs the nostrils it should be removed with a sponge, and these and the eyes may be bathed with a weak lotion of vinegar and water."

"As regards inoculation for distemper," Dr. Fleming says, "it has been tried, but the remedy is often worse than the disease, at least as bad as the natural disease. Vaccination has also been tried, but it is valueless. Probably inoculation with cultivated or modified virus would be found a good and safe preventative."

I was anxious to know about this, as inoculation used to be the practice with packs of hounds.

It will be observed that Dr. Fleming treats the distemper as a kind of influenza, and considers one of the most important things is to keep up the strength of the suffering animal. Other members of the R.C.V.S., whom I have consulted, have all given the same kind of advice, not only prescribing for the sick animal wine, but brandy, as a last resource, to arouse sinking vitality. Mr. George Cheverton, of High Street, Tunbridge Wells, who is very successful with animals and their diseases, thinks it best to treat them homœopathically. The following is what he prescribes as efficacious for some of the most dire complaints with which cats are apt to be afflicted.


For a full-grown cat give 3 grains of santonine every night for a week or 10 days; it might be administered in milk, or given in a small piece of beef or meat of any kind. After the course give an aperient powder.


The best possible remedies for this disease are arsenicum, 2 trituration, and sulphur, 2 trituration, given on alternate days, as much as will lie on a threepenny piece, night and morning, administered as above.

A most useful lotion is acid sulphurous, 1 oz. to 5 oz. of water, adding about a teaspoonful of glycerine, and sponging the affected parts twice or thrice daily.


The symptoms are twofold, usually there is constant sneezing and discharge from the nose. Aconite, 1 tincture, 1 drop given every 3 hours in alternation with arsenicum, 3 trituration, will speedily remove the disease. Should there be stuffing of the nose, and difficult breathing, give mercurius biniod., 3 trituration, a dose every 3 or 4 hours.


The short, hard, dry cough will always give way to treatment with belladonna, 3 trituration, 3 grains every 3 or 4 hours.

For the difficult breathing, with rattling in the chest and bronchial tubes, with distressing cough, antimonium tartaric., 2, grains iij every 2, 3 or 4 hours, according to the severity of the symptoms.


Early symptoms should be noted and receive prompt attention; this will often cut short the duration of the malady. The first indications usually are a disinclination to rest in the usual place, seeking a dark corner beneath a sofa, etc. The eyes flow freely, the nose after becoming hard and dry becomes stopped with fluid, the tongue parched, and total aversion to food follows. The breathing becomes short and laboured, the discharges are offensive, and the animal creeps away into some quiet corner to die—if before this its life has not been mercifully ended.

On discovery of first symptoms, give 2 drops aconite and arsenicum in alternation every 3 hours. When the nose becomes dry, and the eye restless and glaring, give belladonna.


When internal, drop into the affected ear, night and morning, 3 or 5 drops of the following mixture:

Tincture of Hydrastis Canadensis 2 drachms.
Carbolic Acid (pure) � "
Glycerine, to make up to 2 oz.

If external, paint with the mixture the affected parts.


Get a chemist to rub down a medium-size croton bean with about 40 grains of sugar of milk, and divide into four powders. One of these powders given in milk usually suffices. Large cats often require two powders. The dose might be repeated if necessary.

Dose, when drops are ordered, 2 drops.
��" ��� " �trituration is ordered, 2 to 3 grains.


Aconite, 1 tincture. Arsenicum, 2 trituration. Antimonium tartaricum, 2 trituration. Belladonna, 3 trituration. Mercurius biniodatus, 3 trituration. Hydrastis canadensis, [Greek: phi] tincture. Sulphur, 2 trituration. Santonine.

Mr. Frank Upjohn, of Castelnau, Barnes, has also kindly forwarded me his treatment of some few of the cat ailments. Mindful of the old proverb that "In a multitude of counsellors there is wisdom," I place all before my friends, and those of the cat, that they may select which remedy they deem best:


Take yellow basilicon, 1 oz.; flowers of sulphur, � oz.; oil of juniper, 3 drachms. Mix for ointment. Then give sulphide of mercury, 3 grains, two or three times on alternate nights.


Nothing like castor oil for purgation; half the quantity of syrup of buckthorn, if necessary, may be added.


Two or three grains of santonine in a teaspoonful of castor oil, for two or three days.


Cold in the eyes and sneezing may be relieved by sweet spirits of nitre, 1 drachm; minocrerus spirit, 3 drachms; antimony wine, 1 drachm; water to 1� oz. Mix. Give 1 teaspoonful every two or three hours.


Two drachms pure carbolic acid to 6 oz. of water well mixed for a lotion, and apply night and morning.


Red oxide of mercury, 12 grains; spermaceti ointment, 1 oz. Mix.

The above prescription was given to me many years ago by the late Dr. Walsh (Stonehenge), and I have found it of great service, both for my own eyes, also those of animals and birds. Wash the eyes carefully with warm water, dry off with a soft silk handkerchief, and apply a little of the ointment. Dr. Walsh informed me that he deemed it excellent for canker in the ear, but of that I have had no experience.


In the early stages of mange, flowers of sulphur mixed in vaseline, and rubbed in the coat of the cat, is efficacious, giving sulphur in the milk, the water, and on the food of the patient; also give vegetable diet.

Another remedy: give a teaspoonful of castor oil; next day give raw meat, dusted over with flowers of sulphur. Also give sulphur in milk. If there are any sore places, bathe with lotion made from camphorated oil in which some sulphur is mixed. Oil, 2 oz.; camphor, � oz.; sulphur, a teaspoonful.

As a rule, when the animal is of value, either intrinsically or as a pet, the best plan is to consult a practitioner, well versed in the veterinary science and art, especially when the cat appears to suffer from some obscure disease, many of which it is very difficult to detect, unless by the trained and practised eye. Of all the ailments, both of dogs and cats, distemper is the worst to combat, and is so virulent and contagious that I have thought it well to offer remedies that are at least worthy of a trial, though when the complaint has firm hold, and the attack very severe, the case is generally almost hopeless, especially with high-bred animals.


It is not generally known that the much-admired laburnum contains a strong poison, and is therefore an exceedingly dangerous plant. All its parts—blossoms, leaves, seeds, even the bark and the roots—are charged with a poison named cytisin, which was discovered by Husemann and Marms in 1864.

A small dose of juice infused under the skin is quite sufficient to kill a cat or a dog. Children have died from eating the seeds, of which ten or twelve were sufficient to cause death. The worst of it is that there is no remedy, no antidote against this poison. How many cases have happened before the danger was discovered is of course only a matter of conjecture, as few would suspect the cause to come from the lovely plant that so delights the eye.

It has, however, long been known to gamekeepers and others, and used by them to destroy "vermin." When quite a boy I remember an old uncle of mine telling me to beware of it even in gathering the blossom.

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