Monday, February 26, 2018

Cats...Cats and More Cats

Cats...Cats and More Cats!

How They Helped Settle the West!


I once saw an episode of the old Maverick western TV show with James Garner where a girl needed money. So in talking with a steamboat captain she found out he was buying cats to take upriver to resell to settlers, miners and whoever else needed cats for rodent control. Of course, Maverick had to get in on the deal and they both made quite a bit of money as did the Captain.

For some reason that episode stuck in my head and I used a similar scenario in a novel I have coming out Fall of 2018 titled Bed of Conspiracy.

Turns out, this was quite the lucrative money making venture for anyone willing to take the risk of getting scratched, bitten and clawed while rounding up and herding these wild four-legged critters for a few bucks.

Back then, cats were considered priceless to the miners, homesteaders and newly sprung up towns across the blossoming west.

Rodents had moved in with their diseases and fleas, chewing through wood walls and floors, grain bins and multiplying at an alarming rate.

What was the solution? CATS! But how to get them from the more populated towns on the Big Muddy who had too many to further out west where there were no cats? Freight them in...stick them in a sack under the bench seat on the stage coach? With several groups of wildcat freighters that’s all they transported for a while. Cages and cages of yowling, meowing cats made their journey across the wild west sitting in freight wagons, stage coaches and prairie schooners. Then upon reaching their destination each cat might be auctioned off to the highest bidder or sold for a set price. Most cats could bring as high as $25.00 or more. The reasonable and average price was between $10.00 - $15.00.

And there you have it…folks! How cats helped settle the west!

Until we meet again…Happy Trails!



Agnes Alexander said...

Love this post, probably because I'm a cat lover and it's great to learn that they were important in settling the west. My Jefferson cat (who never caught a mouse as far as I know) died at age 19 a few years ago and I haven't got another one. Might do it someday. Thanks for posting.

Stephanie said...

This is a great post. I hadn't thought of cats not being in the West. I'm a cat lover and this makes me smile.

marcia tomasiello said...

Thanks Ladies! I too am a cat lover having been a rescue Mom for years!