Here’s a late nineteenth-century advert for the U.K.’s first and oldest animal shelter, which still operates today!

The history of animal shelters is an interesting tale of gender segregation within the animal protectionism movement: of women like Mary Tealby and Caroline E. White being denied the top decision-making spots in the ‘regular’ humane movement, and taking the initiative to carve out their own niches. Associated deprecatingly with women’s ‘natural’ softness, animal shelters were initially heavily made fun of [*aside: I can’t wait until articles about dogs and cats don’t feel the need to make playful animal puns in their headlines*].   

How Cats and Dogs Lived in London in Olden Times

These telling images accompany Frances Simpson’s article describing cats and dogs in London in the nineteenth century. The images alone describe the extent to which cats’ and dogs’ lives (and deaths) became of deep interest to bourgeois Londoners.

Homeless cat shelter.

Lost dog shelter (the famous Battersea facility).

Street seller of pet food (likely made of horse meat), attracting the local clientele. Where do these cats keep their moneys?

In the late 19th and early 20th, dogs and other live animals were still usually sold out on the street, not in fancy-schmancy pet stores like we have now.

Dog cemetery in Hyde Park.

Source: Simpson, Frances. “Cat and Dog London.” Living London. Ed. George R. Sims. London, Paris, New York & Melbourne: Cassell & Co., 1902.