I’m strolling along a street in Toronto,  going from Queen to King.    I walk slowly admiring  the wonderful Victorian Houses.  Their miniscule front gardens are  proud with flowers.  Sitting on a stoop is an ancient soul. Her face wrinkled with memories.  Beside her a very black and prim cat.

“Good morning, Madame.  You have a beautiful cat”.

She replies “Ahhh, yes, he keeps my feet warm at night”.

The prim, black cat knowing as only cats can know she is being discussed stretches tall,  casually walks down the sidewalk and throws herself at my feet.  Tummy rubs are called for.

On the other side of the fence a soft gray and equally prim cat has been watching.

“Good morning Sweetheart” I call.

We haven’t been introduced.  She ignores me.

Two doors down a third cat has been watching the street action.

“Good Morning Miss Scruffy”.

She turns her head, looks at me and then just closes her eyes.  She looks like ten miles of bad road.  Her black and white fur sticks up in spikes like some Goth hairstyle.  I look for chains and black leather.  She’s very young and has obviously been partying hard.  Miss Scruffy just wants to bask in the sun and sleep off  the excesses of the night.

“With Cats, some say, one rule is true:

Don’t speak till you are spoken to.

Myself, I do not hold with that –

I say, you should ad-dress a Cat.

But always keep in mind that he

Resents familiarity.

I bow, and taking off my hat,

Ad-dress him in this form: O Cat!

But if he is the Cat next door,

Whom I have often met before

(He comes to see me in my flat)

I greet him with an OOPSA Cat!

I think I’ve heard them call him James-

But we’ve not got so far as names

Before a Cat will condescend

To treat you as a trusted friend,

Some little token of esteem

Is needed, like a dish of cream;

And you might now and then supply

Some caviare, or Strassburg Pie,

Some potted grouse, or salmon paste-

He’s sure to have his personal taste.

(I know a Cat, who makes a habit

Of eating nothing else but rabbit,

And when he’s finished, licks his paws

So’s not to waste the onion sauce.)

A Cat’s entitled to expect

These evidences of respect.

And so in time you reach your aim,

And finally call him by his NAME.”

So this is this, and that is that”

And there’s how you AD – DRESS A C AT.

(T.S. Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats)

(This blog originally posted April 29, 2010)

7 thoughts on “A TALE OF THREE CATS

  1. Oh Virginia….what a splendid feline tale. You know my weakness is soft sweet kitties. I’ve heard it said that we keep dogs as pets….but cats keep us as prisoners…lol. So very true….they do run our house. My favoritest kitty is Scooter…who once belonged to an elderly person that had lot’s of time for sits and snuggles…and that is what he demands of us now. Not that I am complaining mind you : ) We happily give in to his demands for the attention he feels he deserves. Regards….Ginny

    • Good Sunday morning Ginny. We have a similar saying in our house. Dogs have owners. but cats have staff. We have found it difficult to have another cat in our home, but we frequently cat-sit for our friends. Perhaps one day we will be able to find a furry cat-kid to warm my feet at night. Hugs Virginia

  2. What a glorious post.. just glorious. I read it right through then went back and read it again out loud! fantastic. I could do with a kitty on my feet right now it is a chilly day here today. And I should be cleaning up , but eldest son does not care, he only wants to see what is in the fridge and i have only got as far as the cake and the bread and one pie. Ah well.. have a lovely sunday afternoon.. c

    • It is always a bit like Christmas when I click on THEKITCHENSGARDEN and read your wonderful words. I am having a quiet Sunday alone. The Good Husband is climbing. It would seem that our summer was the driest on record for more than 100 years. I am sure what saved our farmers was the spring was the wettest on record in 40 years. So I am off to the garden to dig up my onions and lay them out in neat rows for the sun to finish the roots. Happy baking. Virginia

      • Oh onions, I still have some to heave up too.. we are having a lovely day here.. I am thrilled to bits about your tip for kitchen stock too, thank you for that, i am going to get even more serious about making stock this winter.. c

  3. I agree with ‘”C” above…a glorious post! I love cats but am down to what is probably my last one. I too greet cats when I am out in the neighborhood. And I read T.S..Eliot’s book about cats to my grandson so many times when he was a child. He loves cats too!

    • Both my husband and myself have had cats all our remembered lives. My first cat was a bruiser of a male – with frost-bitten ears and battle scars. I called him Minnie Jones. I would dress him in old baby clothes, and wheel him in my doll carriage. We were besotted with each other. I have had several dogs but I really am a cat person.

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