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12

The Dyed-Blue Cats of Midtown Manhattan

Margaret Owen was a 22-year-old Manhattan socialite with a wealthy father, so she had access to all that made life good in the 1920s. She loved the color blue, and in fact was so obsessed with blue that her apartment was decorated all in blue, and she wore blue clothing every day. When a pair of her stockings started to yellow, she got the blue dye out to restore them.

Everything was going fine until Lilly, one of Margaret’s two white Angora cats, came bounding into the room. When the curious, eight-month-old kitty dipped a white paw into the blue basin, Margaret clapped her hands in delight!

As it turns out, Margaret had recently bought blue leashes for her cats, because she had heard that women were walking their cats on the boardwalk in Atlantic City. She thought, wouldn’t it be romantic to be the mistress of a very beautiful blue cat that she could parade down the boardwalk? All she had to do was dunk her kitties, Lilly and Otto, in the blue water. Just like her stockings.

Margaret picked up little Lilly and dipped her in the bowl of blue water. Then it was Otto’s turn. Despite the cats’ howls, Lilly held them down in the water for about five minutes until she was sure the dye had taken. She took care not to immerse their heads—she used a piece of cotton dipped in the dye to swab their faces. (How very kind of her.) When she was all done, she wrapped the cats in an old blue towel and placed them on a blue cushion to dry.

Then Otto got sick, and the story became newspaper fodder. Read what happened to Owen and her cats in a guest post at Strange Company.


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