Feline Entertainments: 1885, 1905

Cat at the tea-table, c. 1911

Cat at the tea-table, c. 1911

Cat Parties the Latest.

Cat parties are the latest entertainments. Recently a young girl, the happy possessor of a fine Maltese cat, invited a number of her friends to bring their pet cats to 5 o’clock tea, each cat to have a ribbon about its neck corresponding to that worn by its mistress. At the appointed hour the cats made their appearance in charge of their respective owners. After the feline introductions had taken place, some of which were the reverse of friendly, games were introduced and soft balls, toy mice and other objects dear to pussy’s heart were provided.

These pastimes, however, I grieve to say, were sometimes marred by a vigorous slap when two strangers came in collision and once the belligerent pussies had to be separated by friends. When tea was announced, a table furnished with saucers of milk and small cages, and with cushioned stools, was disclosed. The floral decorations consisted of catnip, lavender, grasses and bright flowers. The cats placed on their respective stools, and attended by their mistresses partook of the good things set before them. Their behavior was quite correct. With their forepaw on the table they lapped the milk with becoming propriety.

When all were satisfied, there was a comical sight. Each pussy began making her toilet, and the face-washing was decorous in the extreme. After leaving the table, a sprig of catnip was given each kitty, and the feline happiness was complete. These sprigs were tossed in the air, caught, and lovingly caressed. As each kitty departed, it was presented with its ball or toy mouse as a memento of the party.

Bismarck [ND] Tribune 20 October 1885: p. 4

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: If cats were being celebrated in 1885; there was a resurgence of the feline entertainment in 1905. A birthday party was meticulously planned for “Alice Roosevelt,” a black Angora, by Mrs. J.C. Hitchcock of New Castle, Pennsylvania, her owner, if Angora cats may be said to be owned.


A “Coming-out” Event for Mrs. Hitchcock’s Angora.

Sharon, Pa., February 26. Invitations have been issued by Mrs. J.C. Hitchcock, of New Castle, for a fashionable feline party in honor of the third anniversary of her black Angora cat, Alice, named for President Roosevelt’s daughter. The party is to be held at her beautiful residence within a few days.

The novelty of the affair has stirred New Castle society, and it promises to be largely attended by the best and wealthiest people of the tin-plate city down the valley. New Castle society leaders are proud of their high-bred cats and dogs and Mrs. Hitchcock is no exception. She conceived the idea of giving the party, which is to be the “coming out” event of her pretty Angora cat. The invitations read:
“Mrs. Hitchcock desires your presence at a party to be given in honour of the third birthday of her cat Alice. You are requested to bring your best felines.

Only high-bred and well-behaved cats are to be admitted, and prizes will be awarded to the handsomest. A dainty luncheon for the friends of Alice will be prepared by caterers.

Acceptances have been received from nearly every one to whom an invitation was sent.

Baltimore [MD] American 27 February 1905: p. 8

One is a little unsure about the propriety of a “coming-out” party for a black Angora. Debutantes are required to wear white gowns and wool, no matter how fine, is rarely on the approved list of textiles. And how did “Alice Roosevelt” acquire her name—did Mrs Hitchcock catch her smoking? Sadly, the party had to be confined to the family circle as Mrs Hitchcock fell ill.  Neighborhood gossips—perhaps those who were not invited to the lavish gathering—spread rumours that, had the invitations not been rescinded, the guest of honour would have dined alone. They claimed that most invitations had been declined by the local nibs, who treated the party as a joke. The cat in the illustration at the head of his post seems be taking the entertainment very seriously indeed.

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.


2 thoughts on “Feline Entertainments: 1885, 1905

  1. Pingback: The Black Cat Elemental: 1870s | Mrs Daffodil Digresses

  2. Pingback: The Pets’ Christmas: 1901-1915 | Mrs Daffodil Digresses

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