Only the student of history can fully appreciate the importance of cats. If we could know really the history of the civilizations of the world, we should undoubtedly find that cats have played an important part in it. Wherever pioneers have planted their crops, there have followed rats and mice in plenty to reap their harvest; therefore, no part of their household belongings was prized more by our forefathers than the domestic cat. Indeed, the cat is still a great factor in keeping in check rats and mice. Our government appropriates money every year to support cats in the postoffices and other public buildings; and now in Pittsburg our national government is attempting to develop a strain of cats that can endure life in cold storage warehouses (wait, what? - Curator). Thus we can see that the story of Dick Whittington reveals to us, better than most written histories, the value of a cat in a country overrun with vermin. In Dick Whittington's time a cat was indeed worth its weight in gold.
-- Opening paragraph of the chapter on "The Cat," from Anna Botsford Comstock, The Pet Book (Ithaca NY: The Comstock Publishing Company, 2nd ed., 1915) p. 21.