Letter | Published:

Cats at Victoria Station

Abstract

THAT the cats should repose comfortably amidst all the noise and vibration of a busy railway is not, after all, to be much wondered at. Animals much more defenceless and timid have found out that they need not be afraid of either the vibration or the trains, although they do not seem to have discovered that if they get in the way of the trains they are either maimed or killed. For instance, along the London and North-Western Railway between Manchester and Liverpool, which carries an enormously heavy traffic, rabbits burrow almost immediately beneath the ballast forming the permanent way, and I have often seen them sitting nearer to the train than most human beings would like to stand. It is strange, however, that along this line of railway, which is one of the oldest in England, neither the rabbits nor the grouse and partridges have learnt that, though the train is not to be dreaded as a man is dreaded, it is usually fatal to those who are struck by it. All these creatures, as well as hares, pheasants, &c., are constantly being run over by passing trains. A hen grouse or partridge will frequently take her brood on to the railway, no doubt for the purpose of dusting themselves, and meet with this fate. The survivors, however, do not seem to take warning by the occurrence. The same may be said of the telegraph-wires, against which the birds are constantly flying. The number killed in this way is considerable. This is the more remarkable because along this line wild animals have had such a lengthened experience of rail and wire that one would suppose it might have taught them wisdom.

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