Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Regency Cat

Talking about the cats of Regency England.   Julie_manet

What kind of cats can our characters expect to encounter as they go about their adventures?
Lots of cats, for one thing.
While Englishmen may love their dogs, the English householder hated his mice and depended on cats to get rid of them.  Defoe talks of forty thousand cats in London in the mid-1600s.  "Few Houses being without a Cat, and some having several, and sometimes five or six in a House."

 These London cats were working cats --
Willen van mieris rangy, businesslike mousers and ratters.  I see them dozing the day away in the kitchen, then rising in the night, roaming the house to do battle with vermin, meeting the enemy behind the plush curtains of the drawing room and down behind the sofas in the parlor.  All the while, the gentlefolk snored in their beds. 

But there were pampered, plump cats as well.  We find them in paintings, batting at a soap bubble, peering into a fishbowl. 

For the rest of the article -- including the breeds of cats you'd see in Regency London, see here


  1. Anonymous5:20 PM

    A fascinating post, Joanna.

    As for your question - I often think of the one in Three Men and a Boat. The one that turns a cold eye on Montmorency...

    I imagine Adrian's cat has a similar streak.

  2. I had forgotten. I had forgotten.

    Time to carve out some time and reread TMiaB again.

    You've read the Connie Willis To Say Nothing of the Dog?

  3. I love this info. I have 2 torties (warning: torties do not always get along with each other) and think Lola would be perfect as Adrian's cat - she is a blue/cream and likes to know what is going on everywhere.
    Wondered how they controlled fleas on the cats in the 1700s and 1800s. But many houses had only wood or stone floors, and also there was no central heating. British weather what it is, you only have to worry about hot weather when fleas can survive for June-August. Also maybe cats were kept only in kitchen? where the grains were stored and attracted mice and rats.

  4. Hi Carol --

    I do not know what they did about fleas in Regency England or whether it worked. I have a vague memory they may have put a spot of oil of pennyroyal in some inaccessible spot behind the ears.

    Does this sound possible? I haven't time to track this down, being in frantic deadline mode at the moment.

  5. Or maybe everyone had fleas! Ugh.

    Jo, I just looked on UK Amazon Kindle store again for your books... still nothing except for The Spymaster's Lady - I would love to see (and buy!) more. I'm very jealous of the US Kindle Store, which seems to have a much bigger selection - do you have any idea when your Kindle editions might make it across the pond?

  6. Y'know -- the whole business of what books you can buy where, in print or on kindle, is pretty much impenetrable to reason.

    I don't think it's Kindle US that makes the decision. I think it has something to do with international tariff laws . . . I'll admit I simply don't know how this works.

    If I had my way, everybody would just be able to buy and download written text from any legitimate company anywhere.