The School Book That Pioneered Funny Cat Pics 100 Years Before Lolcats
If you were learning to read in the early 20th century, you could do a lot worse than practicing on Eulalie Osgood Grover’s 1911 masterpiece of an early reader book, Kittens and Cats; a Book of Tales, which we spotted on the Public Domain Review. Long before lolcats or Instagram-famous felines, Grover’s teaching tool imagined what cats would say if they could talk. And boy, do they have things to say. In one chapter, a cat muses about how hard it is to drink out of china cups. In another, a cat wonders who that cat he saw in the mirror was. The first chapter’s narrator proclaims “I am the Queen of all the Kittens. I am the Queen! the Queen!” (Show me a cat who doesn’t think that.)
The chapters, usually just a page or so long, are all accompanied by photographs of cats and kittens dressed up in silly hats and frilly outfits and labeled with captions related to the story, like “I am taking a bath,” “I am Granny Gray,” and “I am the queen!”
According to the Public Domain Review, the photographs were likely the work of pioneering animal photographer Harry Whittier Frees, who insisted that his carefully posed portraits were the result of human handling, not taxidermy. Given how crisply his early-20th-century camera shutter managed to capture piles of kittens, the claim seems suspicious. But please dwell on how amazing these little stories and portraits are and not the stuffing that might be hiding behind these cute kitties’ glassy eyes. Go ahead and enjoy a few of the most delightful spreads below.
Not sure why every elementary school on earth isn’t teaching their students to read with this book.
France Hires Two Cats to Get Rid of Rats in Government Offices
The French government just hired two new employees, but instead of making policy decisions, the civil servants will be responsible for keeping offices rat-free. As The Telegraph reports, the cats are the first official mousers to France.
The secretary to the prime minister, Christophe Castaner, brought in the cats after he saw that the mouse problem at the offices near the Elysee Palace was getting out of hand. They’re named Nomi and Noé after the early duke of Brittany Nominoé.
Paris is home to about 4 million rats—nearly two for every citizen—and the capital’s offices are just as vulnerable to infestation as other old buildings. Until now, government employees had been setting out traps to solve the vermin problem. With Nomi and Noé now living on site, the hope is that the pets will double as pest control.
The new hires aren’t unprecedented: The British government employs over 100,000 cats to chase down rodents. Official mouser may sound like a cushy job, but the UK holds its felines to a high standard. Larry, the official Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office to two prime ministers, was nearly fired in 2012 for failing to react to a mouse in plain sight.
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The Grave of a Heroic War Horse Gets Landmark Protection in England
BY Kirstin Fawcett
Topical Press Agency/Getty Images
Buried with fanfare in 1942, a famous British warhorse named Blackie was the first equine of its kind to receive its own grave. Now, The Telegraph reports that the animal’s final resting place in Merseyside, England has been officially granted heritage protection by Historic England, a governmental body that protects the nation’s important monuments and sites.
Alun Bull//Historic England
Blackie’s owner was Lieutenant Leonard Comer Wall, a poet and World War I officer from the town of Kirby in Merseyside. The two prevailed through some of the war’s bloodiest conflicts, including the battles of Arras and the Somme, before a 20-year-old Wall died in action at Ypres in 1917.
Wall had been riding Blackie at the time of his death, but the horse survived shrapnel wounds and stayed on the Western front until the war’s end. Once World War I ended, Wall’s mother transported Blackie back to England, where he became famous for being one of few warhorses to return to its native soil.
Blackie lived a quiet life at a riding school in Liverpool, and spent his final days at a refuge for ex-warhorses. Wall had requested that his trusty companion be buried with his war medals and decorations, so when Blackie finally died in 1942, the 37-year-old horse was given a hero’s funeral.
Historic England granted Blackie’s grave protection as part of a World War I centenary listing project. The five-year project—which honors the hundredth anniversary of World War I’s 1914 outbreak—is adding 2500 war memorials total to England’s National Heritage List.
- LIVE SMARTER
- BIG QUESTIONS
- WEATHER WATCH
- BE THE CHANGE
- JOB SECRETS
- WORLD WAR 1
- SMART SHOPPING
- STONES, BONES, & WRECKS
- THE PRESIDENTS
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