The Victorian Cat Part 1

The 19th century marks an important change in the cat history. The Victorian cat sees for the first time after centuries of tortures and bad fame a light shining on it.

The Victorian Cat- Four Cats Watch Frogs Jump in Pool
Four cats watch frogs jump in a pool. Leon Charles Huber 1858-1928 Public Domain.

This change has probably started in the UK, thanks to Queen Victoria. On August 1838, an underprivileged old lady sent a kitten to the queen as a gift for her coronation. The kitten was put in a hamper with bread and butter and a note along with it:

To the Queen in Lunnun (London) or elsewhere: to be taken great care of.

On August 21, the queen told of the present to the prime minister Lord Melbourne. When her maid opened the present, she was pleasantly surprised when she saw a pretty little kitten rather than flowers.

One day, the old lady who lived in Lincolnshire, received two five-pound notes and a thank you note from Queen Victoria.

The Victorian Cat
Emmons cat [woman and cat] Published [between February 1894 and February 1901] Corporate name
C.M. Bell (Firm : Washington, D.C.), photographer

Over the years the queen welcomed many cats. Among them there was a black cat named Peter and it’s worth mentioning that even Poe had a black cat with the same name and it’s believed that the cat was the one who inspired Poe to write “The Black Cat”.

The Queen Victoria Medal

She felt that something had to be done because she knew that “cats were so generally misunderstood and grossly ill-treated”. As a matter of fact, she specifically requested that a cat be added to the Queen’s Medal of Kindness, a medal designed for the RSPCA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) and awarded to distinguished people who dedicated their time to animals in need. White Heather, a white Angora, was her last cat and she kept living a luxurious life even after the queen’s death.

The Victorian Cat
The Medal with the Cat.

But her love for cats began much earlier in time, when she was still a child. The ten year old girl Alexandrina Victoria, wrote a children’s story, part of an English composition exercise that her private tutor assigned. And from that assignment, “The Adventures of Alice Laselles” was created. It’s now published and for sale. It tells the story of a 12 year old girl who attends a boarding school and meets a cat with a red ribbon round his neck and her name written on it. I haven’t read it yet, but it’s my intention to do so.

Finally, it may be concluded that from the Victorian era a series of events have lead to what I like to define the beginning of the glorious rise of the cat, the glorious fame of its Egyptian ancestors has risen again, this time from the ashes.

Leave a Reply