"The Nightingale Felines" Joy Shiller
"Mr Bismark and Big Pussie: the Special Friends of Florence Nightingale" Mark Bostridge
The Nightingale Felines
By Joy Shiller RN, BSN, MS, CAPA
A small pet is often an excellent companion for the sick or long chronic cases, especially. -- Florence Nightingale, 1859 1
The mention of Florence Nightingale’s name sparks two thoughts in our minds. She is credited as being the founder of modern nursing and is known for her efforts during the Crimean War. However, her other roles and accomplishments are just as astonishing. In addition to being a nurse, Miss Nightingale was an author, an educator, an inventor, a researcher, a statistician, and a philanthropist. In the post-war period, she worked diligently to reform conditions in India, in the London workhouses, and for the British military. She was recognized as an international authority on hospital planning and served as a consultant during the American Civil War, the Franco-Prussian War, and for multiple British military campaigns. She was an inspiration to Dorothea Dix and Clara Barton, for the Geneva Convention, and for the Red Cross. Numerous honors were bestowed upon her by the royalty of several countries. Interestingly, one of the least known facets about Miss Nightingale’s life is that she was a devout cat lover.
Miss Nightingale was raised on a large English countryside estate by an extraordinarily wealthy family. Throughout her childhood, she was surrounded by the presence of animals, including ponies, dogs, cats and birds. According to her mother, she “always had a passion for almost any kind of creature.” 2 Her first documented attempt at nursing was treating the injured paw of a sheepdog named Cap when she was a child. Over the years, cats became her favorite companions. 3 In fact, they were her chief joy. 4 She probably owned 60 felines during her lifetime. Her favorite was a large Persian named Mr. Bismarck, “the most sensitively affectionate of cats, very gentle. ….who never makes a mistake.” 5( More on Nightingale and cats: )