First Drown your Kitten, 1935

Today – some rather upsetting advice from the 1935 Universal Book of Hobbies and Handicrafts on how to kill unwanted kittens. Your choices are either to drown them in a bucket, or by administering chloroform onto their little kitten faces. Chloroform, you say…….hmmm, perhaps a bit of the old Owbridge’s Lung Tonic might do the trick.

From the matter-of-fact way this is described, it seems to be that as far as they were concerned this was the humane thing to do. One of the cats we had when I was a child was rescued by a family friend who discovered a man with a bag of kittens, preparing to drown them in a river. I bet (hope!) there’s not too much cat-drowning happening now.

“A healthy cat can bring up four kittens, but unless you are deliberately breeding cats, you will only want to keep one or two.”

Of course, if a cat accidentally nearly drowns itself, this is the thing to do. You can swing a cat in here apparently.

Resuscitating a drowned cat

Resuscitating a drowned cat

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6 Responses

  1. I too love this book. I ‘borrowed’ it from my grandpa 50 years ago and had it until my daughter ‘borrowed’ it from me. The chapter on poultry keeping is much more tactful than the one on pet keeping. Its standard treatment for poorly chickens is to kill them, but it doesn’t tell you how. Perhaps a few cross references to kitten drowning were unintentionally omitted. Then again, your drowning cat rescue procedure looks as if it would also do the job. I’m planning a post about various old books in about a month, so will give you a promo.

  2. Just posted at
    Slightly off-topic, but still related to how books reflect changes in society, did you pick up the recent stuff about the illustrations in the Peter and Jane books? e.g.

    • Estelle says:

      Thanks very much for the mention! Loved your post, too, I didn’t know anything about the children’s encyclopaedia, only just getting into The Children’s Newspaper.

  3. Keith Atkin says:

    Hi, I have come across an old advertising handkerchief for Owbridge’s lung tonic .it is cotton with a map of Europe on it.probably 90 years old . Can you give me any more info ? Thanks

  4. Estelle says:

    HI Keith, that sounds very interesting – is it post world war one countries? I’ve not come across that before, but I know that Owbridges released all kinds of advertising merchandise.

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