Keep your cat trimmed and shining

September 5, 2011

In the face of recent events, we interrupt our usual program with a piece of vital information for our dear friend [a] who almost got eaten alive by his cats when he tried to brush them a couple of days ago. So, here’s some advice coming to you from the year 1914 courtesy of Bibliothek der Unterhaltung und des Wissens [Library of Entertainment and Knowledge]. First published in 1876, this monthly periodical was highly popular in the late 19th/early 20th century in all of the German speaking world. Mostly it contained original pieces of light fiction, e.g. humorous short-stories, melodramatic novellas and serialised novels. But it also featured a section of more “journalistic” material like travel features from exotic lands, news items about recent technical and scientific innovations, or simply bits and pieces of household advice.

Members of the Berlin Hairdressers Guild present the winner in the "Longest Hair"-competition (from: Bibliothek der Unterhaltung und des Wissens, issue 1, 1909)

To cut to the chase, issue 13, 1914,* has an illustrated article on the Care of Cats, written by one E. E. Weber. So, dear [a], please read the following with great attention:

“Considering the skittishness which is innate to cats, it is first of all necessary to put the cat into the right position. You achieve this by sitting the cat on a table, grabbing its fur with both your left and your right hand at the neck and on the back, and then pressing the cat down gently into a cowering position. With time, cats will get used to this procedure. Without letting go of the neck, the fur now first gets combed with a fine-toothed comb and then with a semi-harsh brush” (pp. 140-141).

But there’s even more advice: If, for instance, you need to administer medication to your cat DO NOT try to do it on your own but get a second person to help you with it – one of you needs to hold the cat down while the other tries to maneuver the medicine into the cat’s mouth:

And, if you need to remove something from the cat’s mouth (e.g. a piece of bone that got stuck in the cat’s teeth) it even takes three people – one person to hold down the cat’s neck and front paws, one to open the cat’s mouth, and one to actually remove the bone or whatever with a pair of tweezers:

And, if all else fails, here’s an ultimate piece of advice from Mr. (or Mrs.?) Weber:

“Considering the stubbornness and irritability of cats, all of this isn’t always easy to execute, especially since their sensitivity will be heightened due to their illness and they’ll likely make use of their claws. (…) There is, however, a simple remedy against them. You sew a sack from strong canvas and tie a string around its opening. Then you put the cat in the sack so that only its head sticks out. Then the string is tightened and tied in the cat’s neck. Now, the cat is entirely defenceless  and has to quietly endure the procedure” (pp. 148-150).


* Though, technically, Bibliothek der Unterhaltung und des Wissens is considered a monthly periodical, there were actually 13 issues per year. For more information (in German) about the magazine, see here.

8 Responses to “Keep your cat trimmed and shining”

  1. Weird! I’ve never known a cat that didn’t love the comb. We couldn’t open the drawer it was kept in without the last cat I lived with trying to tie all our ankles together with itself.

  2. Annie said

    Brilliant post … don’t you just love old periodicals, there’s always something fascinating that’s bound to make you smile :)

    • [c] said

      Thanks, Annie! Yes, I definitely agree with what you say regarding old periodicals. The only problem is that by now even magazines from the 1980s, or even the early 1990s, often have this sort of amusing effect – which makes me feel kind of old ;-)

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