The Lady Garden

Tea and Strumpets

On cats

Cat on yellow cushion, by Franz Marc

Source: Wikimedia Commons

This is my favourite painting of a cat. There’s something about the sheer comfort and sensuality of the sleeping cat that makes me want to stretch and move my body, and then sink down into a sofa in the sun.

At present, our cat is curled up asleep on a chair in the sun, deeply content. We run our household for her benefit, because as everyone knows, while dogs are slaves, cats have staff. They can be perverse creatures, refusing to follow the rules, and going their own sweet way. Perhaps this is why I love them so much.

Which animals do you love? Or do you find pets in general to be loathesome beasts which are simply a waste of time and an affront to good taste? Strongly worded opinions in comments, please.

13 responses to “On cats

  1. tallulahspankhead May 19, 2011 at 10:12 am

    I fully intend to become a crazy cat lady. I have visions of myself in a cottage, with a front garden with many roses, and 14 cats, wearing hats and stripey stockings. (Me, not the cats.)

    There will be a rotating cast of friends who come to sip drinks with me (pimms in the garden is summer, manhattans in the parlour in winter) and behave badly. I intend to take younger lovers, and scare the neighbourhood children.

    Basically, it will look like this, but with less eyeliner, and somewhat fewer bitter, jilted at the altar, mental health issues.

  2. Emma May 19, 2011 at 12:19 pm

    I love cats, because they have dignity and self-respect. Which doesn’t really explain why one of my favourite things is watching them lose it – falling in pools, off fences, rolling down steps…

    • Isabel May 19, 2011 at 12:45 pm

      It’s not the falling off things so much as the desperate struggle to reclaim dignity afterward which is so delightful, I reckon

    • Hugh May 19, 2011 at 1:07 pm

      It’s the same reason the guy in old silent slapstick movies who gets the pie in the face is always the uptight guy in a bowler hat and a suit, with a pompous expression. It’s funny when that guy gets pied precisely because he obviously thinks of himself as the sort of person who doesn’t. Watching a dog fall into a swimming pool is only briefly amusing because a dog obviously doesn’t care, but a cat’s “Oh, what, did you think I didn’t mean to do that? Well, how silly of you” explanation is priceless.

  3. Isabel May 19, 2011 at 12:52 pm

    I’ve always had cats except for a few years as a student where I couldn’t afford vets bills. We currently have two old lady cats who we got shortly after Jamie and I moved in together. I count “lets take both kittens” as, possibly, the best decision I ever made. I’m still morning the loss of our boy cat. a stray who adopted us, he survived being hit by a train but succumbed to to renal failure last August.

    I love that cats are free agents – if they stick around you (and especially if they choose you) it must mean you are doing something right.

  4. Jo May 19, 2011 at 6:46 pm

    I love cats and unfortunately haven’t been able to live with one for quite a few years. But in the next couple of months I will be able to buy a house and have a cat companion. At that point, I will be well on my way to becoming the crazy cat lady. Hmmm let’s see how I’m progressing on the Tallulah’s CCL scale.

    Scaring neighbourhood children – check
    Taking younger lovers – check
    Rotating cast of friends to drink with me and behave badly – pending
    Roses – pending
    Hats – pending (why does that make me think of gorgeous Lindsay Duncan in Under the Tuscan Sun? Oh… to be as wonderful as her….)
    Stripey Stockings – check

    So not doing too badly then. 🙂

  5. robertguyton May 19, 2011 at 8:16 pm

    Failing that, newts and or salamanders.
    Not cuddly at all, but jewel-like.

  6. robertguyton May 19, 2011 at 8:49 pm

    Aghhh! I’ve heard whistling frogs scream from the jaws of a cat!
    Franz Marc, btw, is one my favourite groups of artists, Der Blaue Reiter, though August Macke is the primo painter amongst them – I had ‘At the Milliners Shop’ on my wall for many years.

  7. Good Gravey May 20, 2011 at 1:46 pm

    Oh I just so love cats. And I miss mine so much. She was a devoted little (often not so little) kitty. I don’t know what it is about cats, but I have always been drawn to them.

    A story often told – I adopted my cat from the SPCA when she was about 7 years old. I had her for about 12 years. She died of kidney failure, but she hung on until we moved into our new (first) home, with lots of safe places to run and hedged to hide under. Had to put her in the hospital while we moved, and she was on heavy steroids – so when I brought her home she had 2 days of fun in her new home.

    Even though both my wife and I are allergic to cats, she was dearly loved.

    When I got her, she was supposedly timid and new to the cattery. But when I saw her, and I went to say hello, she jumped onto my arm, walked up to my shoulder, across to the other shoulder and sat there while I walked around. If I ever went to look at another cat she’d hiss.

    She was just a common DSH tortie with a gorgeous caramel breast-plate. But she was something special.

  8. Dan May 20, 2011 at 2:36 pm

    Dogs. Dogs pull my heart strings like no other animal. I used to wonder at the perception sometimes held of cats being smarter than dogs, which I attribute to cats being more independent… interesting how the animal that displays more loyalty and willingness to follow gets stereotyped as the less intelligent.

    I watched a video the other day of a dog that had survived ten years of being chained up outside in the snow, sleeping on frozen mud and even being pissed on by her owners. She had (all too brief) a happy ending, taken in by a loving family and I cried to watch it.

    Plus, dogs can balance things on their noses and make excellent mounts for children riding into battle against monsters and cats. 😉

    • Alice May 20, 2011 at 3:47 pm

      My dog always went backwards if I tried to ride her into battle.

      There’s something about my family – we always end up with not-quite-right animals. Our fish used to swim upside down, the dog didn’t retrieve things & our current cats are skittish & odd.

      • Jackie Clark May 20, 2011 at 5:43 pm

        I love dogs. Always have. But I have known some terrific cats in my time. I know that most people who love them, do so because of their independence, and aloofness. I like cats who are a bit like dogs – come when they’re called, crazy affectionate, that sort of thing. Our last cat was called Genghis (yes, Khan) and he was just fantastic. Black and white, a real tomcat. He would fight any cat that even looked sideways at him and for some reason had hugely rude health. Until the day that he got injured, and ironically enough, got feline AIDS. Sadly he died of feline leukemia (which is highly ironic because Ian also had leukemia). He was the most loving cat I have ever known. A people person through and through. Our current cat has reached 14 so far. She started off life as a stray and we got her from a workmate of Ian’s. She was about 8 months old, and I remember driving her across the Harbour Bridge, she in the cat box whining and wailing and spitting and hissing the whole way. She was the bitch cat from hell. And then at some point, she settled down into the cuddliest cat in all the world. She likes her tummy being rubbed, and I’ve trained her to pat me gently when she wants something. Special girl, our Toru. Oh, look. I guess I am a bit of a cat person.

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