For many of you, the highlight of arriving home for Christmas will not be the novelty of delicious home cooked food. Nor will it be someone else doing your washing, or the guilt-free mornings you can laze away, safe in the knowledge you’re not missing a lecture. It will be walking through your front door and seeing your cat.
Cats sometimes get bad press. Cat lovers are frequently told dogs are more loyal, or more fun, or better friends. If you’re a car person, then you know that this isn’t the case, and, what’s more, you’re in good company. Tom Hardy has had more publicity for his love of dogs than cats, but he reportedly cared for a stray kitten in his hotel room until a ‘forever home’ could be found. Macklemore’s kitty Cairo has more Instagram followers than all my friends and I put together, and she takes a pretty good selfie.
If you want to get a bit more cultural, in the 1960s eccentric and iconic artist Salvador Dali and his pet cat (or rather, Columbian Ocelot) Babou were inseparable. The pair caused quite a stir in an upmarket Manhattan restaurant when a woman expressed concern over dining with a wild cat. Dali was able to console her by telling her Babou was just a normal cat he had painted in an ‘op art design.’
Cats and kittens also captured cat lover Picasso’s imagination, and he was photographed with various cat companions throughout his life. He appreciated the complexities of the cat and used feline imagery to symbolise everything from sensuality, to loneliness, to fascist general Franco defeating Madrid in 1939. T.S. Eliot was another man in the arts who clearly understood and appreciated the unique versatility of the cat, as is obvious in Old Possums Book of Practical Cats. Here, he tells us cats need not one name, but three: an every- day name, a more dignified name, and a name ‘the cat himself knows, but will never confess’ (We can assume that dogs only need one name). In The Ad-dressing of Cats, Eliot tells us it is important that we address a cat properly, and that ‘some cats are sane and some are mad, some are good and some are bad… Cats are just like you and me’! Andrew Lloyd Webber obviously agreed with him because he converted T.S. Eliot’s book of poems into the longest running musical in Broadway history: Cats.
When you’re stuffed from eating all the Christmas dinner you possibly can (probably more than you need because you’re stocking up for second semester), and you see your cat cuddled up by the fire, take a moment to appreciate him. He might have not have his own Instagram account, he may not have ever been for dinner in a Manhattan restaurant. He probably hasn’t had a book of poetry (or a musical) written about him, nethertheless he still has a lot to offer. Cats have their own unique quirks, and this is what makes them special. They are independent, good hunters and could get along quite happily without us. But your cat would rather spend Christmas day with you. He appreciates you more than you realise, so this Christmas, take a little more time to appreciate him.