Cats. Don’t you just love ‘em?
Well no, actually, I don’t.
I don’t mind them and I’m happy to stroke any feline that sidles up to me, affectionately rubbing its head against my calf, purring its head off and arching its back. But I’m not taken in by this love-bombing. Recently I read the theory that cats didn’t come when called (‘here Tiddles! Tiddles? Tiddles!’), because they didn’t recognise their name, has been roundly and scientifically debunked.
They know, alright.
They know full well that you’re calling them, but they simply can’t be arsed to respond. Which is fine by me, but perhaps a little denting of the average cat owner’s pride. Unlike a dog, a cat is unlikely to give you its unfailing, unconditional love. A cat would never, even if it could, drag you out of a burning building, singeing its fur in the process. A cat will, however, hang around if there’s a promise of food or warmth or shelter – or it decides that you have a nicer environment than its wretched owner. Cats took to domestication about nine or ten thousand years ago but, unlike dogs, strictly on their own terms.
You don’t have to look very far to find a cat-inspired author or artist: Louis Wayne, T.S. Eliot, Bram Stoker, Kathleen Hale, H.H. Munro (Saki), Théophile-Alexandre Steinlen, and Rudyard Kipling to name but a few.
But none of these are represented in a new, delightfully eclectic and highly original anthology published by Notting Hill Editions: On Cats – a perfect Xmas present for cat lovers and cat admirers. And even for cat indifferents, like me. The above-mentioned author of Dracula, Bram Stoker, wrote a super-disturbing, super-catty horror short story called The Squaw. Rather surprisingly, Guy de Maupassant outdoes him in this collection with an even more worrisome short story. It certainly gave me paws for thought.
Another contributor, Margaret Atwood, introduces this pocket- (or stocking-) sized edition, with Elliot Ross supplying the black and white photographs .