Book, 'The Cat its History and Diseases'; Honorable Lady Cust; 1870; XEC.2757


Book, 'The Cat its History and Diseases'


Honorable Lady Cust

Maker Role


About this object

This book belonged to Margaret Edith Lush when she was 14 or 15 years old. On the front of the book Margaret Edith wrote her name and the date ‘5th July 1875.’ According to her father, Edith had "Catamania" and in his journal he wrote about an incident which shows his daughter's love for these animals:
"Edith who has Catamania, wrote these lines to be placed at the head of the grave of two cats she has buried at the foot of a weeping willow at the bottom of our garden. Selina was a very favourite one - Thomas a stray which fraternised with Edith as all cats do, apparently knowing instinctively who is their friend:
'Reader, pause and shed a tear
On the ashes which rest here.
Here the loved Selina lies -
Here the stranger Thomas died.
They're in this grave so small and green
And they will never more be seen.'" (1)

During the Victorian era, most people believed it was important to be kind and care for animals because they were a gift of God. In New Zealand imported children’s books about animals, and magazine articles copied from overseas newspapers and journals, often used tips on caring for pets as a way of introducing the concept of kindness to young children. (2) In the introduction it states: ‘The Almighty formed “every creature for the service of man,” and with the gift of dominion over every living thing, it became man’s duty, as well as his interest, to study and investigate their capacities to serve him; and in return for these services, it was surely meant that he should study their diseases, attend to their comforts, and not ill use them.’

Later, this book was handed down to Margaret Edith’s niece, Ellen Lush, who also wrote her name on the title page.

(1) Alison Drummond, 'The Thames Journals of Vicesimus Lush 1868-82, 1975, p. 159.
(2) Nancy Swarbrick, “Creature Comforts: New Zealanders and their pets: an illustrated history’ (Dunedin: Otago University Press, 2013), pp. 107, 118.

For more information about the Lush family and Ewelme Cottage, which is cared for by Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga, visit our website.

Medium and Materials



17 x 11 x 0.5cm

Date Made


Place Made

London, England


Groombridge & Sons

Publication Date


Publication Place

London, England

Credit Line

Collection of Ewelme Cottage, Heritage New Zealand Historic Pouhere Taonga

Object Type


Object number


Copyright Licence  

All rights reserved

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