"In Lorraine, if parents wish to discourage the addresses of a young man to their daughter, they send him a kitten. But sometimes love laughs at kittens as well as locksmiths."
-- from a book dated 1898 on The Angora Cat: How to breed, train and keep it. (Lorraine is an area in northeastern France.) And here's the curatorial spouse's take on that custom: "That's ridiculous! Then you're stuck with this kitten you didn't want and can't take care of that reminds you of the girl you're in love with -- how's that a good idea?" Actually, I think he might have hit the nail partially on the head. I'll let you know if I find out more about that.