A performer whose name nobody can recall had an act called "The Cat Piano." It comprised a number of live cats confined in narrow boxes with wire netting on the front ends. Artificial tails extended from the rear. This performer was a marvelous cat imitator and miaowed the "Miserere" by pulling the cats' tails. Spits, snarls, and plaintive mews added to the effect of the back-fence serenade.He also mentions "Nelson's Boxing Cats" in his huge list of standard acts from 1880 to 1930, sadly with no further details.
Here's another passage that I love:
Most of the museums pasted warnings in dressing rooms that the words "slob," "sucker," "damn," "hell," and "socks" were forbidden. The ban on "socks" may seem unreasonable today  but in the eighties crude jests--"stronger than father's socks," or "I threw my socks at the wall and they stuck"--were common gags.Next time I'm at a party I'll be sure to try out some of those sock gags. "The wine has a pungent bouquet...stronger than father's socks!"