INTERLUDE ON CATS
I HAVE always been an idolater of cats. Idolater is the accurate word; and perhaps only those will understand my devotion in whom, as in me, the love of cats is inborn. I once heard a famous scientist in a public lecture say that most children are afraid of anything that has fur on it; and their fear, he explained, is owing to the fact that some forty thousand years ago furred animals were dangerous to the hairless human children; and a feeling therefore rose which had become instinctive, persisting long after the original reason for it had ceased to exist. This statement, like many other remarks of scientific men, I heard with profound scepticism.
My father, my mother, and my aunt took no interest in cats, and would have been undisturbed had they known they would never see one again. Yet I cannot remember the time when any cat, no matter how humble in origin and in social station, failed to arouse in me breathless adoration. Even the dirtiest alleycat was an object of worship.
Many persons love cats; but have they had these intimations of felinity in earliest childhood? How shall I describe this cat-worship? As a baby I loved every piece of fur. My oldest brother had a fur hat; night after night I slept with it. I called it the cat-hat. My aunt Libbie had a tippet of ermine. I used to hug this article, and kiss it frantically. My aunt at first was touched when she came into the room and found me kissing her ermine, because she thought it was evidence of my love for her. She discovered it was