Many tales have been told about cats, many have been written in prose and poetry. These stories keep records of all the delicate shades of cats’ presence in lives of humans, especially in those peaceful, pensive ones, like childhood and late adulthood.
Rarely there is a childhood without a cat, whether it’s the one from Grimm’s fairytales, Cheshire cat from Alice in Wonderland or some other product of imagination- if not a true backyard cat.
Cat in literature becomes a special aspect of cat’s existence, a symbol, metaphor and witness, observer of different stages of human life, magic, riddle, comfort and mirror of man’s humanity.
She intrigues, astonishes, frightens and triggers respect and affection, joy and sadness.
It is worth, from time to time, to remember some beautiful words written about cats and that is what we dedicate this space to.
Cats purr and what is your superpower?
We all know that cats purr and that every day miracle, like the miracle of budding in the spring, ability to see colours, existence of music or just yellow flower- we take for granted. That unique sound/vibration really deserves our special attention. It is not just expression of pleasure from one, allegedly unwilling animal communication wise, as such a cliché is often attributed to cats. That diverse phenomenon is moreover one whole language rather than just satisfactory murmuring.
Kittens begin to purr when they are just a few days old, blind and deaf they communicate with their mom purring to her and saying: “I’m here, I’m fine and my brave little heart is pounding”. She replies by singing them a kittens’ lullaby. In the beginning they feel it as a vibration; the sound follows as the hearing starts to develop. As they grow, they purr the moment their mother enters the room, and when they leave for their new lives they carry along their purring which reminds them of warmth, security and full bellies, all of which mommy brought with her.
During their life, cats truly purr mostly when satisfied and I also understand it as conscious expression of gratitude- because one can be grateful in silence as well. There is “please give me, give me now” purring interrupted by inpatient meowing while their bowls are being filled with food. There is “I want to be with you” purring when cat lies in the lap of her tired or ill owner and enlivens him by purring like a tractor. Then “I love you too” purring when she returns the kind words. Those are the most popular kinds of purring but there are also many others. There is “I am afraid and I am comforting myself” purring when cat suffers physical or mental stress, “it hurts me” purring when she is in pain or during giving birth. Some cats die purring. There must be something special with that phenomenon when the evolution didn’t proclaim it as useless for survival.
Purring surely consumes a certain amount of energy and surely it doesn’t spend it in vain. It is proved that vibrations in range of cats purring (20-150 Hz) help in reducing pain, stimulate growth and bone healing, decrease swelling, sooth heavy breathing, enhance recuperation of fractured tendons or joints. It is possible that this fact is partially responsible for saying that cat has nine lives. There is a story in literature that vets say if you put broken bones in the same room with a purring cat- bones heal spontaneously. Moreover, postoperative complications after elective surgical procedures are less common in cats then in dogs or some other “non-purring” animals. They share that support and healing gladly with their humans like magic dust.
There are many epidemiological researches which came to a conclusion that cat owners as a separate population are healthier, less prone to cardiovascular incidents and have lower blood pressure compared to people who are not sharing their lives with cats.
People who are sharing their lives with cats know that cats also share their lives with them and they actively and gladly communicate. They know that by purring cats say “thank you” , “I like you too”, “I’m here”, “It’s ok”, “I know it hurts”, “I like your presence”, “I don’t like to be alone”, “it hurts me also”, “this surrounding is scaring me” and sometimes they are probably just murmuring an old lullaby. They do that like their own heart is vibrating in their chest as purring is a phenomenon which lasts all through respiratory cycle, with breathing in and out, unlike any other sounds that cat produce. Cat brings many miracles in everyday life; a smile that vibrates at 20-150Hz is just one of them.
Ivana Vujčić Filipović
Ginger is gone,
our yellow feline little girl
skinny and longtailed little gipsy
Dandelion with a furry white heart on her back.
Huntress, sister and teacher
birds’ and lizard’s enemy.
Rude table jumper but
unvoraceous like a child who prefers play over dinner.
Nimble, sparkling, a firefly.
Made of joy, light and benevolence.
Little, but a big love.
Her light heart,
half cat’s, half dog’s
now beats somewhere behind the rainbow,
and her tail, raised high,
goes towards some new joy.
R.I.P. ginger kitty with a golden heart,
My cat knows the song in my heart and purrs it to me when my memory fails.
The fat cat on the mat
may seem to dream
of nice mice that suffice
for him, or cream;
but he free, maybe,
walks in thought
unbowed, proud, where loud
roared and fought
his kin, lean and slim,
or deep in den
in the East feasted on beasts
and tender men.
The giant lion with iron
claw in paw,
and huge ruthless tooth
in gory jaw;
the pard dark-starred,
fleet upon feet,
that oft soft from aloft
leaps upon his meat
where woods loom in gloom —
far now they be,
fierce and free,
and tamed is he;
but fat cat on the mat
kept as a pet
he does not forget.
Poem by J R R Tolkien
A true cat lover cradles a newborn kitten and knows that 9 lives will never be enough.
If cats could talk, they wouldn’t.
French novelist Colette was a firm cat lover. When she was in the U.S. she saw a cat sitting in the street. She went over to talk to it and the two of them mewed to each other for a friendly minute. She turned to her companion and exclaimed: Enfin! Quelqu’en qui parle francais!
(At last! Someone who speaks French!)
It is impossible to keep a straight face in the presence of one or more kittens.
“Another cat? Perhaps. For love there is also a season; its seeds must be resown. But a family cat is not replaceable like a wornout coat or a set of tires. Each new kitten becomes its own cat, and none is repeated. I am four cats old, measuring out my life in friends that have succeeded but not replaced one another.”
How neatly a cat sleeps,
Sleeps with its paws and its posture,
Sleeps with its wicked claws,
And with its unfeeling blood,
Sleeps with ALL the rings a series
Of burnt circles which have formed
The odd geology of its sand-colored tail.
I should like to sleep like a cat,
With all the fur of time,
With a tongue rough as flint,
With the dry sex of fire and
After speaking to no one,
Stretch myself over the world,
Over roofs and landscapes,
With a passionate desire
To hunt the rats in my dreams.
I have seen how the cat asleep
Would undulate, how the night flowed
Through it like dark water and at times,
It was going to fall or possibly
Plunge into the bare deserted snowdrifts.
Sometimes it grew so much in sleep
Like a tiger’s great-grandfather,
And would leap in the darkness over
Rooftops, clouds and volcanoes.
Sleep, sleep cat of the night with
Episcopal ceremony and your stone-carved moustache.
Take care of all our dreams
Control the obscurity
Of our slumbering prowess
With your relentless HEART
And the great ruff of your tail.
Poem by Pablo Neruda
A Cat in an Empty Apartment
Die? One does not do that to a cat.
Because what’s a cat to do
in an empty apartment?
Climb the walls.
Caress against the furniture.
It seems that nothing has changed here,
but yet things are different.
Nothing appears to have been relocated,
yet everything has been shuffled about.
The lamp no longer burns in the evenings.
Footsteps can be heard on the stairway,
but they’re not the ones.
The hand which puts the fish on the platter
is not the same one which used to do it.
Something here does not begin
at its usual time.
Something does not happen quite
as it should
Here someone was and was,
then suddenly disappeared
and now is stubbornly absent.
All the closets were peered into.
The shelves were walked through.
The rug was lifted and examined.
Even the rule about not scattering
papers was violated.
What more is to be done?
Sleep and wait.
Let him return,
at least make a token appearance.
Then he’ll learn
that one shouldn’t treat a cat like this.
He will be approached
as though unwillingly,
on very offended paws.
With no spontaneous leaps or squeals at first.
The Naming Of Cats
The Naming of Cats is a difficult matter,
It isn’t just one of your holiday games;
You may think at first I’m as mad as a hatter
When I tell you, a cat must have THREE DIFFERENT NAMES.
First of all, there’s the name that the family use daily,
Such as Peter, Augustus, Alonzo or James,
Such as Victor or Jonathan, George or Bill Bailey–
All of them sensible everyday names.
There are fancier names if you think they sound sweeter,
Some for the gentlemen, some for the dames:
Such as Plato, Admetus, Electra, Demeter–
But all of them sensible everyday names.
But I tell you, a cat needs a name that’s particular,
A name that’s peculiar, and more dignified,
Else how can he keep up his tail perpendicular,
Or spread out his whiskers, or cherish his pride?
Of names of this kind, I can give you a quorum,
Such as Munkustrap, Quaxo, or Coricopat,
Such as Bombalurina, or else Jellylorum-
Names that never belong to more than one cat.
But above and beyond there’s still one name left over,
And that is the name that you never will guess;
The name that no human research can discover–
But THE CAT HIMSELF KNOWS, and will never confess.
When you notice a cat in profound meditation,
The reason, I tell you, is always the same:
His mind is engaged in a rapt contemplation
Of the thought, of the thought, of the thought of his name:
His ineffable effable
Deep and inscrutable singular Name.
by T. S. Eliot