Notes and Reflections on Books and Media
by Hannah Leitheiser
Cats: Their Points and Characteristics
''Cats are extremely proud of their tails. Pulling a Jew’s beard, and a cat’s tail, are indignities of an equality. Doubtless, did mankind possess these appendages, he would be equally jealous of their honour. But they have been overlooked somehow in the outfitting. But just imagine how gingerly we gentlemen would use them! How elegantly we would carry them under our arms while walking, and how we would flare up if any one trod on our tail! Imagine Paddy at a fair: “Twelve o’clock, and no foight yet! Will any gintleman just spit on the point of my tail?”
How useful, too, tails would be in many ways in riding, driving, or boating! On a rainy day, one’s umbrella might be tied to it, so as to have both hands free; and in mobs and crowds it could be worn out of sight. How handy, to dig your neighbour in the ribs with, and say, “Sly dog”; or, “Don’t you see, don’t you see?” when you’d made a bad pun! How useful to the orator, for[Pg 389] elegant gesticulation, to give point to an argument, or to indicate derision. For example:—
Lord Chief Justice: Did you poke your tail at me, sir?
Claimant: No, my lord; I——
L. C. J.: Very well, sir; don’t do it again—that’s all.
How convenient the British sailor would find a tail, when aloft reefing topsails; and, sure, wouldn’t Jack also use it as a tobacco stopper? If men had tails, the medical profession would be benefited thereby. There would be several new diseases and new operations. How beautifully this would sound, for instance: “Compound comminuted fracture of the middle third of caudal extremity;” or, “Amputation at the tenth caudal vertebra;” which would give rise to advertisements like the following: “Turner’s Circular Splint,” and “Beautiful, easy-fitting Caudal Appendages, equal to Nature; patronised by the illustrious Duke of Dunmore, whose tail was carried away by a 500 pounder, at the battle of Dorking, during[Pg 390] the famous charge of the gallant London Scottish. Only seven-and-six!”
The ends of justice, too, would be assisted. New laws would be added to the penal code. Garotters would be condemned to “Two years’ imprisonment and deprivation of caudicity.” Lesser offences punished by “Six months, and six inches off tail.” Thus we should easily know a rogue in the street, when we met one.
I must stop. I feel I should warm to the subject; and one of such vast ramifications ought to have more space for its consideration, than I can afford. However, to band-masters, acrobats, public-speakers, parsons, painters, and policemen, tails would indeed be invaluable; and, upon my honour, when I come to think of it, I only wonder how human beings, have come to be overlooked in this little matter.' - Cats: Their Points and Characteristics, with Curiosities of Cat Life
Personally, I think there's good reason they are gone, the major being their effect on center of gravity, the minor being cleanliness. Well, for most people they are gone, anyway.