Cats sparked riots on streets of Chester
Feline call-to-arms turned into a sorry tale!

We are all aware of the county's connection with our feline friends through the 'Cheshire Cat', but many years before the 'Alice' stories were given life, cats gave rise to more than a little trouble in the famous streets of Chester.

In the year Napoleon Bonaparte was firmly banished to St. Helena, a large number of what was known as 'Genteel Families' plus a contingent of the British Army were to accompany him.

King George III's minister, somewhat distressed by the infestation of rats on the isle, undertook the decision to eradicate the menace and to this purpose it was agreed to purchase as many cats and kittens as could be delivered in the time allotted before sailing.

Handbills were circulated throughout the land and on the streets of Chester by a well dressed gentleman. These are the rates advertised for the aquisition of the said felines:

16/- for an athletic fully grown Tom.
l0/- for an adult female puss.
2/6 for every kitten able milk.

Three days later at the appointed time and place, there converged on the city street designated women, boys and girls, all carrying sacks containing squirming, shrieking felines, nearly 3,000 in all. Soon the multitude was so numerous it was difficult to move, tempers flashed, rights broke out, sacks were dropped, disgorging the hissing, scratching contents on to the streets of Chester.

The citizens watching from their windows, who were at first bemused by this event now suddenly found themselves under siege by a plague of cats followed by, in most cases, the canine population of the city, through the windows, along the balconies, across the drawing rooms, shattering in a million pieces china and glass, leaving a wake of total destruction.
Retribution was swift, no cat was safe - where ever puss was seen, reprisals were taken

The engagement lasted for hours until finally the moggies took rout. A few managed to escape, but for most a watery grave was to be their ignominious end.

The next day more than 500 were counted floating in the River Dee.