Chased Overseas by Cats

The headline doesn't seem to make a bit of sense, but it's real. The syndicated story survives in more detail in the December 16. 1916 issue of the Nevada newspaper Elko Independent. A British man named Wilberforce Wiggins explained why he was in New York.

As the story goes, Wiggins was late for a lunch meeting with friends. To explain his tardiness, he spun a tale out of whole cloth. He said he was busy fulfilling an order from officials in India who were looking for 2,000 Manx cats to import in order to control snakes, and that they were paying $25 each for the cats.

Wiggins thought it was a hilarious tale, but the men he was dining with took it seriously, and each snuck off to make phone calls to connections on the Isle of Man (where Manx cats come from) to arrange fulfillment of Wiggins' mission. After all, $25 a cat was a lot of money in 1916.

Afterward, Wiggins was inundated by shipments of cats from the Isle of Man -and elsewhere, as the story got around quickly. There were also children carrying cats to his house, demanding their $25. His aunt even lost her beloved Angora cat when she walked away with one of the cats who escaped a cage at the dock. So Wiggins did the only thing he could do to escape the mess he caused, and fled to the United States to hide until the excitement died down.

Is there any truth to the story? Wilberforce Wiggins already proved himself to be a teller of tale tales with his luncheon story, so that's quite doubtful. But it's plausible that he actually said all this to a newspaper reporter in New York. -via Undine 

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