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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Edith Evans   27 January [1882]1

7, Clarendon Villas, | Park Town, Oxford.

January 27th

Dear Sir,

I take the liberty of writing to you about a curious kind of cat, of which I heard from a friend, the Revd. James Roy of Montreal, who has since written me all the particulars he can remember; they are as follows:—

“It is more than twenty years since I lived where those curious cats were, so that I cannot tell whether any of them exist now or not. Whether they ever had kittens or not, I cannot now say, as my recollection of the facts is somewhat dim.

The cats lived in various parts of the valley of the Ottawa, and were all of them cat-shaped in head and fore-quarters, and rabbit-shaped in the hind quarters and tail. They leaped like rabbits, had a strange, hoarse cry, and had the reputation of being capital mousers. With one single exception, they were all of the color of what we call Maltese cats, a bluish-grey or mouse color, with, sometimes, spots of white, generally on the breast. The one exception was of a tortoise-shell hue, having at least three colors, black, white and yellow.

I remember that I had an impression that they were a cross between rabbits and cats; but I have now no means of knowing whether my impressions were correct or not.”2

I wonder much whether it is possible for there to be a cross between animals of such opposite habits or whether there can be some other explanation of these curious creatures. If it is not asking too great a favour I should be extremely interested to know your opinion; possibly these rabbit-cats may be familiar to you. I Trusting to the interest of the subject as my apology for the liberty I have taken in addressing you, | I remain, Sir, | Yours truly, | Mrs. J. Gwenogfryn Evans.

Charles Darwin, Esq,.


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter to Edith Evans, 28 January 1882.
The description is similar to nineteenth-century accounts of the Manx cat, which some believed to be a hybrid of a rabbit and cat (see, for example, Train 1845, pp. 20–1).


Train, Joseph, 1845. An historical and statistical account of the Isle of Man, from the earliest times to the present date; with a view of its ancient laws, peculiar customs, and popular superstitions. 2 vols. Douglas, Isle of Man: Mary A. Quiggin.


Reports observations on curious cats that appear to be cat–rabbit hybrids.

Letter details

Letter no.
Edith Hunter/Edith Evans
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 201: 9
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 13646,” accessed on 23 July 2024,