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dog and cat images from zine and magazine covers in the exhibit

Reigning Cats and Dogs

April 2019

April 11 is National Pet Day, which served as a thinly-veiled excuse to mount an exhibit on New York State Library materials relating to cats and (not necessarily listed in order of importance) dogs.

It is unscientifically estimated that 85% of pet owners speak for their animals in a funny voice, which raises the question, "What's wrong with the other 15%?" Here, we will let these splendid print materials, their bibliographic descriptions, and brief excerpts from same speak for themselves.

Also featured are kitty and pooch periodical covers from Woman's Home Companion, Man's Best Friend, Collier's, Nature Magazine, The Cosmopolitan, Good Housekeeping, The Country Gentleman, Asia, Redbook Magazine, and of course, The New Yorker.

vintage magazine covers from Goodhousekeeping, Collier's and Cosmopolitan featuring cats and dogs

At the tail end of this exhibit is a Staff Pets section with captioned photos of a couple dozen adorable domestic partners, the cats playing it cool as usual and the attentive dogs ready to jump up or roll over at the slightest invitation.

From the Manuscripts and Special Collections Unit

Cats and Dogs exhibit, center case with books and magazines featuring cats or dogs, including some examples from Special Collections.
  • Crude Thoughts on the Dog-act: Recommended to the Consideration of All Such as Are to be Disqualified by it, the Farmers, Freeholders, and Every Honest Man in the Kingdom of England by a Person Without Eyes from His Birth (Norwich, U.K.: Printed and published by J. Crouse for the author, 1763). "Some few Years ago, Proposals were handed about in various Parts of the Kingdom, inviting the People to petition the Parliament for a Law to reduce the Number of Dogs; under the specious Pretence of the great Nuisance such a Multitude of them were to Travellers; and of the great Danger from their so frequently going mad: But unluckily for the humane considerate Authors of this Proposal, it was blabb'd by some of their Party, that the main Design thereof, was to introduce a Clause that should prevent the greatest Part of the sporting Gentry from killing any Game at all."
  • Harry Johnson and His Dog: Embellished with Beautiful Pictures by Sidney Babcock (New Haven, CT: S. Babcock, 1835). A miniature book.
  • The Canine Race: A Brief Natural History of the Dog: Interspersed with Interesting Characteristic Anecdotes, and Embellished with Sixteen Beautiful Wood Engravings (New Haven, CT: S. Babcock, 1841).
  • The Newfoundland Dog: A Descriptive Ballad by Henry Russell (NY: Firth Pond & Co., 1843). Newfoundlands are renowned for rescuing people from drowning, as depicted here.
  • Cats in Our Back Yard (Philadelphia, PA: A.W. Auner's Card and Job Printing Rooms, circa 1863). A humorous song in broadside format.
  • Old Mother Hubbard and Her Dog (London: Frederick Warne & Co., 18??). Leaves mounted on cloth.
  • The Cat & The Mouse by Edmund G. Caldwell (London: Marcus Ward & Co., 18??).
  • The Story of Whittington and His Cat (London: Griffith, Farran, Okeden & Walsh, 1889?).
  • Dame Trot and Her Comical Cat (NY: McLoughlin Bros., 1903). We also hold Dame Trot and Her Cat (1880), but this one was a little funnier.
  • Dog of Dawn, Dog of Dusk by Steve Willis (Pullman, WA: the author, 1985). This and the next two are from the Factsheet Five zine collection.
  • Bob, the Cat That Likes Cheese, Spot, the Cat That I Almost Named Dirt, and Buddy, the Cat That Likes Bread and Their Joyful Quest to Find the Golden Palace of Health Food by John J. Beasley and Stephy Baker (Chesapeake, VA: Noony Noony Noo Presses and Pens, undated).
  • Morty the Dog by Steve Willis (Seattle, WA: Mu Press and Starhead Comic, 1989).
  • All Aboard, Owney!: The Adirondacks Mail Dog by Jennifer Gordon Sattler (Utica, NY: Nicholas K. Burns, 2003).
  • [Cut paper cat book] (crafted between 2000-2018). From the catalog record, "The unknown artist folded and cut the pages of this book to create the image of a sitting cat on the fore-edge of the book. The book has been covered in kitty paw print cloth. The cloth cover is glued to the original hard binding of the novel. The original book used to create the work is: The all-true travels and adventures of Lidie Newton: a novel / Jane Smiley." A garage sale find donated by a Manuscripts and Special Collections staffer (Hi Vicki!).
altered book, with pages cut or folded to form an image of a cat on the fore-edge


Of More Recent Vintage

Cats and Dogs exhibit, left case with books and magazines featuring cats on display
  • Murthy's Cattage: A Biographical Dictionary of Cats in Literature by Howard Millar Chapin (Providence, RI: the author, 1911). The entry for "Chanoine," for example, reads, "Beautiful and indolent. Belonged to Victor Hugo." "Murthy" (murky picture included) was this compiler's cat, "To whose memory this work is respectfully dedicated." 
  • 195 Cat Tales by Hettie Gray Baker (NY: Farrar, Strauss and Young, 1953).
  • A Dictionary of Cat Lovers, XV Century B.C.-22 Century A.D.; with Five Legends Concerning Cats, and with Notes on the Cat in Ancient Egypt, etc. by Baroness Christabel Mary Melville Macnaghten McLaren Aberconway (London: M. Joseph, 1949).
  • Thoughts of My Cats by Bruce Marshall (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1954).
  • Cats' A.B.C. by Beverley Nichols (NY: Dutton, 1960).
  • Cats by Eugen Skasa-Weiss (NY: Hill and Wang, 1962). "Violets are not shrinking, doves are not particularly peaceful, and cats, contrary to a common notion, are neither false nor cruel. / Nonetheless, these graceful and decidedly temperamental animals maintain a certain aloofness in their relations with humans, especially since, from a cat's point of view, most people lead lives that are much too strenuous. Also, subtly discreet and reserved, cats distrust the world man has put together—a world as different as can be from the easygoing world of the cat. /… If there were no cats, no one would be able to invent them. For these hybrid creatures, a cross between animal and gnome, with their sleek lines, ceremonial airs, and unexpected leaps, are by no means simple. An artist who has never watched a cat asleep or at play could not recreate out of his imagination such a combination of polished elegance and potential fury. The cat is the animal to which poets, painters, witches, and children bow in fascinated admiration. / It speaks volumes for the early peoples of ancient Egypt that the freedom-loving cat allowed itself to be domesticated by them. The Egyptians in turn were so grateful that they honored their trusting and amiable pet as a god. / No one can get very far in analyzing cats because each cat is an individual that has to be thoroughly studied and each always manages to retain a little secret of its own. Most cats are able, in the most charming way, to demolish the cat stereotype."
  • Barron's Encyclopedia of Cat Breeds: A Complete Guide to the Domestic Cats of North America by J. Anne Helgren (Hauppauge, NY: Barron's, 1997).
  • Persian Cats by Sandra L. Toney (Philadelphia: Chelsea House Publishers, 1998).
  • The New Encyclopedia of the Cat by Bruce Fogle (NY: DK, 2001).
  • The Cat: Its Behavior, Nutrition & Health by Bruce MacAllister, (Ames, IA: Iowa State Press, 2003).
  • The Welfare of Cats by Irene Rochlitz (Norwell, MA: Springer, 2005).
  • An Unlikely Cat Lady: Feral Adventures in the Backyard Jungle by Nina Malkin (Guilford, CT: Lyons Press, 2007). "A Brooklyn woman who 'has it all' gets a lot more than she bargained for when a family of wild cats moves into her backyard. This hilarious and heartwarming memoir follows author Nina Malkin's obsessive attempts to serve, protect, and befriend the feral colony as she reluctantly comes to terms with being a 'crazy cat lady.' Packed with insights and information on feline behavior and the nuts and bolts of cat caretaking, this book brings the feral cat epidemic home in all-too human terms."

˜ ˜ ˜

Cats and Dogs exhibit, right case displaying books about dogs
  • The American Book of the Dog: The Origin, Development, Special Characteristics, Utility, Breeding, Training, Points of Judging, Diseases, and Kennel Management of All Breeds of Dogs by George O. Shields (Chicago: Rand, McNally & Company, 1891).
  • The Dog in Health and in Disease, Including His Origin, History, Varieties, Breeding, Education, and General Management in Health, and His Treatment in Disease by Wesley Mills (NY: D. Appleton and Company, 1913). "With none of our friends and helpers among the lower animals would we part so reluctantly as with the dog. No speechless associate of man has ever so entwined itself around the very roots of our domestic life as the dog; none has won so much admiration, confidence, and affection; none has appealed to so large a number of mankind of every condition, age, and sex. It will therefore be conceded that so noble, so intelligent, and so faithful an animal as the dog is entitled to the most complete understanding and the best usage of which we are capable."
  • The Care and Handling of Dogs by Jack Baird (NY: Permabooks, 1950).
  • Lovable Mongrel by Maxwell Riddle (Fon du Lac, WI: All-Pet Books, 1954).
  • Life with Grover: A Chesapeake Bay Retriever Who Thought He Was a Person by Alexander Crosby Brown (Cambridge, MD: Tidewater Publishers, 1962).
  • You and Your Dog by Stanley Dangerfield (NY: Arc Books, 1966).
  • You Can Teach Your Dog to Eliminate on Command by M. L. Smith (Friday Harbor, WA: Smith-Sager Publications, 1985). Most of us would just settle for their dog doing that outside rather than inside the house.
  • Dogs Through History by Maxwell Riddle (Fairfax, VA: Denlinger's Publishers, Ltd., 1987). "A world-famous anthropologist once remarked that, in tracing the origin of man, nothing anyone could say would be free of challenge. So it is with the dog. In a very general way, we are able to trace its history through nearly sixty million years. But we do not know with any certainty the direct ancestor of the dog nor the time when the first true dogs appeared on earth. /… If we are not certain about when a dog became a true dog, or how, neither are we certain about when it became a domestic animal. Nor do we know who domesticated it, or how. There are many theories: some seem to be convenient rationalizations; all, including my own, are subject to challenge. It may be that a complex of factors involving parts from all the theories made domestication possible."
  • The First-Aid Companion for Dogs and Cats by Amy Shojai (Emmaus, PA: Rodale, 2001).
  • Caring for Your Dog by Bruce Fogle (NY: DK Publishing, 2002).
  • The Dog and its Genome by Elaine A. Ostrander (Cold Spring Harbor, NY: Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, 2006).
  • The Behavioural Biology of Dogs by Per Jensen (Cambridge, MA: CABI International, 2007).
  • Working Dogs: True Stories of Dogs and Their Handlers by Kristin Mehus-Roe (Irvine, CA: BowTie Press, 2003).
  • The Welfare of Dogs by Kevin Stafford (Dordrecht, Netherlands: Springer, 2006).

Rounding out the pack, there are a good number of vintage breed books with nicely illustrated covers.

In closing, meow, woof.

And as for National Pet Day ferret, goldfish, etc. owners, maybe next time.

a dog in a field of flowers, from the display of photos of staff pets

Exhibit curated by Shawn Purcell

Last Updated: November 2, 2021