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"Cats Here, Cats There, Cats and Kittens Everywhere": An Urban Extermination of Cats in Nineteenth-Century Cincinnati

Mark S. Warner and Robert A. Genheimer
Historical Archaeology
Vol. 42, No. 1, Living in Cities Revisited: Trends in Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century Urban Archaeology (2008), pp. 11-25
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25617480
Page Count: 15
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
"Cats Here, Cats There, Cats and Kittens Everywhere": An Urban Extermination of Cats in Nineteenth-Century Cincinnati
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Abstract

In 1981 and 1982, Miami Purchase Association for Historic Preservation conducted a salvage excavation in Cincinnati's Betts-Longworth neighborhood, a multiethnic community with both working class and upper-middle class residents. Excavations of a privy resulted in the recovery of an exceptionally large number of cat remains in a single depositional sequence dating to the late-19th century. A minimum of 57 cats and kittens were identified in the assemblage, with 47 of those individuals being kittens. While it is quite common to identify small numbers of animals such as cats, dogs, and rats in privy contexts, such a great number of individuals is largely unheard of. To explain why such large numbers of cats were exterminated, researchers explored several theories, including deviance, carcass disposal, population control, and urban sanitation concerns.

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