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Today’s Risky guest

Janet is so incredibly lazy that she asked me to recycle a post I wrote a year or so ago. She is also refusing to feed me even though she’s up at 5 am and doesn’t seem to have anything else to do. She’s been very picky recently about hair balls, even though a cat’s gotta do what a cat’s gotta do, and if sometimes it happens on the bed, well, you can’t argue with nature. She also bought me a cat tower recently. I’ve no idea what she expects me to do with it.

So, the Regency. Not a good time for cats. No reproductive rights, persecuted for our beautiful coats and tuneful intestines. Portrayed, as you can see, as grotesque gluttons or sneaky criminals:


I’m HELPING the fish. What do you think I’m doing?

Well fed French cat, probably fattened up to make some sort of pate.

Well fed French cat, probably fattened up to make some sort of pate.


Guess what I just did down here.

Excuse me, I must go eat.

Where was I? Oh yes, the Regency. A time of persecution and–

OMG what is that on the ceiling?

Never mind. Hey, I bet you can’t get your leg up by your ear and do this.


Dream on, dog.

Any other cats out there who wish to comment?

I read somewhere in my time wasting serious research online that the way to improve traffic to a blog was to cover certain topics so I thought I’d give it a try.

First, PETS. Here’s Samuel Johnson’s cat Hodge, of whom Boswell wrote:

362px-Hodgecat_flickrI recollect him one day scrambling up Dr. Johnson’s breast, apparently with much satisfaction, while my friend smiling and half-whistling, rubbed down his back, and pulled him by the tail; and when I observed he was a fine cat, saying, ‘Why yes, Sir, but I have had cats whom I liked better than this;’ and then as if perceiving Hodge to be out of countenance, adding, ‘but he is a very fine cat, a very fine cat indeed.’

colin-firth111COLIN FIRTH Picture of Colin Firth with wet shirt for no particular reason.

1814 v11 Ackermann's fashion plate 4 - Promenade DressNext, FASHION. PROMENADE COSTUME. From Ackermann’s January 1814: A Plain cambric robe, with long gathered sleeve and high arched collar, trimmed with net lace or muslin. A Spanish lappelled coat of fine orange Merino cloth; full epaulette ornaments on the shoulders: the whole lined throughout with white sarsnet, and trimmed with a raised border of white velvet or swansdown. A small, provincial bonnet of the same material as the coat, ornamented with a full curled ostrich feather. White spotted ermine or Chinchilli muff. Gloves grey or light blue kid. Half-boots of orange-coloured jean, or velvet. But she still looks cold.

firth2You may not ever have considered that when COLIN FIRTH plunged into that pond he might have encountered certain aquatic life forms. His attitude of discomfort may well have been not because he appeared in a state of undress but because he was anxious to get rid of certain attachments to his person

There is actually a bit of dialogue, struck from the script that goes as follows:

Darcy: Madam (bows). Would you have some salt upon your person?

Elizabeth: Salt, sir?

Darcy: A match, then?

Elizabeth: Oh, certainly. (Takes a matchbook from her reticule)

Darcy: The Meryton Go-Go Swingers’ Club? Ridiculous. Matches haven’t even been invented yet. I suppose I’ll have to wait until I get into the house.

Sucking_leech… Bringing us onto the next hot topic of HEALTH.  I thought this picture spoke for itself. I hope you appreciate that I passed over some truly disgusting pics to find one that showed the business but would not make you lose your lunch.

RichardArmitage05Talking of which, FOOD is always popular too, but I thought that instead, for a change, we’d have RICHARD ARMITAGE. Although I did find several artistic shots of his behind, I hate to tell you that it looked OK but pretty much like anyone else’s. Unless you were on very intimate terms with Mr. Armitage (and someone certainly was) you’d never have known whether it was his or his bottom double’s.

So there you have it, the Big Popular Topics and I expect our numbers will soar.

But seriously, is there anything you’d like to see us blog about here that we haven’t yet covered? Any celebrity bottoms?

I have been more than usually obsessed with cats in the last week, mostly in the nature of keeping my hands away from their teeth. My cat bite is healing very well and the whole episode is starting to feel like a bizarre dream.

But for lack of any other blog ideas today, I went in search of Regency cats, or cats that appear in Regency art.

The first is by Gillray and is called Harmony Before Matrimony. Near a scene of blissful courtship is a little foreshadowing–two cats fighting. It was somewhat reminiscent of my cat attacking my hand. Put my hand in the place of the cat on the floor.

The next print is called Pluie de Chats. It is raining cats and dogs!

My third depiction of cats in Regency art doesn’t come from the Regency but rather is a depiction of the Regency from around 1900 by Marcus Stone whose art you see often on Regency bookcovers. This one is called End of the Story.

This one shows a typical reading experience for even today. If I’m reading, I’m very likely to have a cat trying to distract me.

If you need to waste some time (and who among us, especially those of us with deadlines, doesn’t need to waste time?) here’s a Cats in Art board on Pinterest.

That’s all for today, folks!

But weigh in…are you a cat person, a dog person, or both?


This really has little to do with mad dogs and Englishmen, but bear with me. There is a sort of a connection.

IMG_0153Yesterday, the neighborhood cat came to our patio door to taunt and torture our cats and I did a foolish thing. I reached down to stop our “Devil Cat” from rushing the screen and he bit me! Good. His canine tooth sank into the skin of my palm right below my thumb. A couple of other teeth did less damage. I washed and soaked and slathered the wounds with antibiotic cream and bandaged them. Today I’ll call my doctor’s office. My hand hurts and I’m running a low grade fever but other than that, I’m not worried. My cat is current on his rabies shots and, being an indoor cat, he is never exposed to rabid animals anyway. And even if my cat had rabies, at least there is a (reputedly unpleasant) cure.

It certainly was not so in Regency England, though.

Rabies was described as early as 2300 B.C. in Babylonia. In 800-700 B.C. Homer describes Hector as being like a “raging dog.” Four hundred years later Aristotle describes dogs as suffering from a madness that is contagious and fatal to other animals who are bitten. As time goes on, rabies is mentioned all over Europe and Russia and first appears in the British Isles in 1026 A.D. the mid 1700s, a serious outbreak of rabies swept London. All dogs were ordered confined for one month and a reward of 2 shillings for killing dogs on the streets led to a carnage.

It wasn’t until 1804 that a German scientist demonstrated that rabies was transmitted through the saliva of mad animals, and finally in 1885 Louis Pasteur cured the first patient with his newly invented vaccine.

Nothing in the history of rabies mentioned rabid cats. Probably another way cats feel themselves superior to dogs.

I’ll let you know what happens at the doctor. Have you ever been bit by an animal? Tell us your story.


No, I haven’t lost my mind. I started pondering cats in the Regency when Megan asked if I had ever put a cat in a Regency romance. I haven’t, and I had to ask myself why. I love cats. I love all animals for that matter, but I adore cats. I realized that I am uncertain how cats were seen in the Regency period. I do know cats were kept as functional animals–as mouse and rat-catchers–in kitchens, in warehouses, and on ships. But were they commonly considered pets?

I have not encountered any contemporaneous writing mentioning cats in particular, and welcome hearing from anyone who has. There is some pictorial evidence, but little that I could find was specific to the Regency period. We can start with ancient Egypt, where it is commonly known that cats were admired and worshipped. We know that cats existed in ancient Rome, as evidenced by the fresco from Pompeii shown above.

We know that cats were kept as house pets in earlier periods in England as well. Here are two portraits, one of third Earl of Southampton with his cat Trixie in the Tower of London, c.1601-1603, and a portrait of the Graham Children by William Hogarth that depicts
the family cat in the background.

The third Earl of Southampton kept his cat with him throughout his imprisonment and commissioned John de Critz the Elder to paint the portrait of himself and his cat prior to his release. This certainly is evidence of cat love!

The portrait of the Graham children simply shows the cat’s presence in the household–hungrily eyeing the caged bird with a very predatory expression on his face.

(See the detail showing the cat and his prey).

So now I arrive at the Regency period. I found a portrait of a kitten by George Stubbs which must have been commissioned by a very adoring owner (a Miss Anne White):

Unfortunately, I did not find any other formal portraits containing cats in the Regency period, and I welcome information and links from anyone who knows more than I. But I did find two satirical prints that rather say it all!

The first is dated 1808…

And here we have a print by the same artist in 1815.

Actually, I suppose what I have learned is that there were “Catwomen” in the Regency! I think I have just discovered where I would have fit in if I had lived in that time…except I probably would have been a milkmaid with a furry following rather than a gracious lady as is depicted above. ::Sigh:: That would be my fantasy…having a servant to clean the litter pan!

So, does anyone else have any primary or secondary information on cats in the Regency? Did they even HAVE litter pans? Enquiring minds want to know!


Posted in Regency, Research | Tagged | 11 Replies
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