Cat-astrophe! 5 Times Cats Made the Police News

Cats in the police news? This probably won’t come as a surprise to anyone who’s owned a cat with a penchant for trouble!

Between 1864 and 1938, a London tabloid called The Illustrated Police News published sensationalized accounts of crimes, tragedies, and shocking events—accompanied by melodramatic illustrations on the front page.

But human misfortunes weren’t the paper’s only focus. Startling stories about cats (and other animals) were also captured in eye-catching pictures and headlines.

Here are 5 times cats turned up in The Illustrated Police News—all found on™!

1. A Performing Cat in Court, 1878

A Performing Cat in CourtA Performing Cat in Court 23 Nov 1878, Sat The Illustrated Police News, etc. (London, Greater London, England)

In the middle of a hearing about ownership of a dog, the plaintiff (an animal trainer) “put his hand into a capacious bag he had with him” and pulled out a performing cat named Jim. He told the judge that “with his worship’s permission he would show him what the cat could do.” The judge agreed, and Jim the cat proceeded to demonstrate an impressive array of tricks for the court! In the end, however, the animal trainer didn’t get ownership of the dog. [Read the full story]

2. A Lady Attacked by a Cat, 1870

A Lady Attacked by a CatA Lady Attacked by a Cat 05 Feb 1870, Sat The Illustrated Police News, etc. (London, Greater London, England)

One night, “an oppressive weight on her chest” woke up a young woman, and “to her dismay and horror, she beheld a large black cat with back erect and lurid eyes, which peered into her own, seated on her chest. The animal sent forth a series of cries, at the same time biting and tearing the bedclothes with ungovernable fury.”

The woman screamed and fainted, and her father chased off the cat. But the shock to the woman was “so great that doubts [were] entertained respecting her ultimate recovery.” [Read the full story]

3. Cats in Court (again!), 1895

Cats in CourtCats in Court 09 Mar 1895, Sat The Illustrated Police News, etc. (London, Greater London, England)

When a cat fancier bought a new Persian cat (sight unseen) from another woman, she was in for an unwelcome discovery. After the cat was delivered, “to her surprise she found that the animal sent was not a Persian cat at all, but only an ordinary London tomcat.”

 She took the seller to court, and in a move that entertained everyone in the room, the plaintiff revealed three baskets with three cats—a Persian, a stray cat, and the cat she had been sold. She then asked the judge to compare the cats and decide for himself whether the cat in question was a Persian or not! [Read the full story]

4. Terrific Cat and Rat Encounter, 1870

Terrific Cat and Rat EncounterTerrific Cat and Rat Encounter 09 Apr 1870, Sat The Illustrated Police News, etc. (London, Greater London, England)

After a barn cat caught a rat, a farmer watched in shock as the “terrible screams” of the cat’s “victim called a whole regiment of rats to the rescue.” A “most fearful struggle” ensued, and just as the barn cat was “losing ground,” he was reinforced by 3 more cats. The cats ultimately proved victorious against the rats, who numbered “no less than thirteen, besides the wounded that escaped.” [Read the full story]

5. The Cat and the Carpet Bag, 1880

The Cat and the Carpet BagThe Cat and the Carpet Bag 17 Apr 1880, Sat The Illustrated Police News, etc. (London, Greater London, England)

Just as a man was about to leave his house to catch a train, his wife opened the door to check the weather. A stray cat darted in and wreaked havoc as it ran around the living room, a bedroom, and the dining room before finally hiding under the kitchen stove. When the husband bent down to look under the stove, “two suspender buttons on his best pants gave way” and he “was forced to stand ignominiously by and hold up the garment” as his wife finally chased the cat back out the door. 

But as the cat left, the man threw his traveling bag after it in frustration. “The bag missed the cat but struck the floor of the stoop with such force that, striking on one corner, it split apart,” and the man was “electrified beyond measure to see its contents shoot out into the street. He then gave up all hopes of catching the train.” [Read the full story]

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