cats

Where my research takes me: baby cages

Internet searches are the oddest things. This time, I wasn’t doing research for the next Concordia Wells mystery (although in another post I’ll have to share with y’all some cool stuff I’ve learned about 1890s East Hampton, Long Island).

This time, I was researching catios.

What is a catio, and what does it have to do with baby cages?

Okay, getting to that.

First, my cat. Tora is a rescue and we care for her as an indoor cat. Not only is it part of the terms of our adoption agreement with the ASPCA, but it’s safer for her. Besides the usual foxes, skunks, raccoons, and other wildlife, we have a colony of feral cats in the woods behind our house and a domesticated cat next door with feline AIDS. Plus our little gal’s only seven and a half pounds fully grown. She’d be outmatched in a fight.

Tora, sitting IN the window ledge, looking at me plaintively. You can see the fur sticking through the screen, LOL.

 

Enjoying the sun.

The problem is, she LOVES being outside. It’s obvious her previous owners who gave her up (pregnant and unvaccinated) let her go out whenever she wanted. In nice weather we bring her out to the backyard in her harness (which she can easily slip out of, even the smallest one we could find), and we give her plenty of inside window perches. She loves both, but we know she’s pining for more. So I started looking at protective outdoor options, including a deep, screened-in window box. These, along with larger, screened enclosures for the outdoors have become known as catios: “cat” + “patio.”

Image via catiospaces.com, where you can purchase plans to build your own.

On to baby cages:

In one of the articles about these window enclosures, it mentioned that similar contraptions were used for babies in the 1930-50s.

Huh? Was that really a thing? I mean, I grew up in an age where moms held their babies in their laps during car rides, seat belts were optional (and air bags? ABS? Lane departure alert? Sci-fi stuff), kids roamed the streets unsupervised until dinnertime, and parents took their kids on chickenpox play dates, so hey, anything’s possible. I did a bit of poking around.

It turns out that, yes, they were used, but not widely, and mostly in high-rise London tenements in the 1930s. (By the way, there’s no evidence of any reported deaths from these things. Whew). Emma Reed in 1922 applied for a patent for her own design.

I’d love to be able to show you the pics, but they are all copyrighted. However, here’s a British Pathe clip about baby cages. Looks like it was filmed in the post-war ’40s or early ’50s, I can’t confirm the date. Be warned, it’s kinda corny, with a gazillion goofy puns:

But why suspend babies in cages out the window in the first place?

I had the same question!

The answer is an intriguing one, and led me back to the time period of my own novels, the 1890s (funny how that happens). In 1894, L. Emmett Holt, MD published The Care and Feeding of Children (reprinted 8 times between 1894 and 1917). He advocated the liberal “airing” of young children to promote good health.

Fresh air is required to renew and purify the blood, and this is just as necessary for health and growth as proper food.

Care and Feeding of Children (Google Books, 1917 edition)

To be fair, nowhere in the book does Dr. Holt suggest hanging babies in cages out the window–his advice was confined to opening windows to air out the nursery and taking babies out in strollers–but you know how people can be…if a little is good, more must be better! And it had to be tough for moms in upper-level apartments (no elevators) to climb down the stairs with baby and stroller in tow.

So here’s a fun story: among the mothers who took Dr. Holt’s advice about infant airing to heart was Eleanor Roosevelt, after the birth of her first child, Anna. Here’s the passage, as recounted in Hazel Rowley’s Franklin and Eleanor: an Extraordinary Marriage (2010):

Wow. Makes growing up in the ’70s seem pretty tame. *wink*

Want to read more?

A Brief and Bizarre History of the Baby Cage

This is Real: The Baby Cage | Apartment Therapy

The Intriguing History of 1930s Baby Cages

 

Ever had an internet search take you in a bizarre direction? What child-rearing fads do you remember? I’d love to hear from you.

Until next time,

Kathy

P.S. – we haven’t decided yet about the “catio.” Stay tuned.

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Tuesday Terrific: Getting Geeky

Welcome to Tuesday Terrific, where we celebrate getting over the Monday bump and picking up speed for the rest of the week.

Today, let’s get our geek on!

 

 

 

1. From Anna DeStefano, via Facebook:

 

2. From GeekOfTheDay.com:

The Computer Programmer and the Frog

A computer programmer was crossing a road one day when a frog called out to him and said, “If you kiss me, I’ll turn into a beautiful princess.” He bent over, picked up the frog and put it in his pocket.
The frog spoke up again and said, “If you kiss me and turn me back into a beautiful princess, I will tell everyone how smart and brave you are and how you are my hero.” The man took the frog out of his pocket, smiled at it and returned it to his pocket.
The frog spoke up again and said, “If you kiss me and turn me back into a beautiful princess, I will be your loving companion for an entire week.” The man took the frog out of his pocket, smiled at it and returned it to his pocket.
The frog then cried out, “If you kiss me and turn me back into a princess, I’ll stay with you for a year and do anythingyou want.” Again the man took the frog out, smiled at it, and put it back into his pocket.”
Finally, the frog asked, “What is the matter? I’ve told you I’m a beautiful princess, that I’ll stay with you for a year and do anything you want. Why won’t you kiss me?”
The man said, “Look, I’m a computer programmer. I don’t have time for a girlfriend, but a talking frog is cool.”

3. Don’t forget about the word geeks among us:

 

from icanhascheezburger.com

 

 

4. Alex Knapp’s article in Forbes.com: Five Leadership Mistakes of the Galactic Empire. Here’s a snippet:

5. Worried about your gaming-addicted teen not going outside for some fresh air? (image via plugged.in)

6. And, finally – what’s a geek post without an allusion to Schrodinger’s cat?

 

image via ukskeptics.com

 

Have you done/thought/said anything particularly geeky lately?  I’d love to hear from you!

Until next time,

Kathy

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