The "Intellectual Cat"
Introduction; Extract, Drollery
Furet de Londres
Heredity, Sex, Experiment, Physiology, Animal Behaviour, Gravity, Natural Philosophy, Light, Mathematics, Botany, Encyclopaedias
The writer of the introduction observes that the 'cat mania has hitherto been more popular in France than in England'. Lists a few instances of English interest in cats, including 'the newspaper story of tortoiseshell male cats'. Relates that in France cats 'are associated with better names', giving as an example the fact that 'M. L'Abbe de Fontenu was in the habit of experimenting on these animals, one of which he found could exist twenty-six months without drinking! which fact is recorded in the History of the Royal Academy of Sciences at Paris, 1753'. (115) The translated extract drolly eulogizes the supposed perfections of the cat. In balancing on roofs, falling on its feet, narrowing its eyes, jumping agilely, and eating grasses, the cat shows itself to 'understand the laws of gravity', to be 'an excellent natural philosopher', a 'perfect optician', a 'skilful geometrician', and an 'excellent botanist'. Any man possessing as many kinds of knowledge as the cat would be 'a living cyclopædia, or concentration of human wisdom'. (116)
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