COLUMN | You Have Got To Be Kitten Me Meow11th July 2014
Why am I so obsessed with the cat? Cats in general. My friends are too, and it’s not a cliquey, inside joke thing either. The catalogue and popularity of cat-based videos or pictures on the Internet seems insatiable – I do believe we have all become “advocats”. One Pride, my friends and I discovered that the cat had puked on the kitchen floor, which we somehow turned into a scatty psychotic “whodunnit” game as to who tapped / romanced the cat so hard it vomited a ravishing tuna ragu.
We later discovered the cat had helped itself to cheesy nachos (comfort eating). But we still had our suspicions about one of the party guests and his cat-loving tendencies. We were even more confused when the cat left us two dead birds on the front door step, which could implicate that there was a third party involved also, a gift for each culprit… I digress lost in my “Memories”. So, when did this obsessive nature with cats for this planet start? What was the catalyst?
Ancient Egypt regarded cats to be demi-gods, along with one of their Goddesses, Bastet, being depicted in the form of a cat. Bastet was the goddess of protection, love, dance, and music. Perhaps the inspiration for the creator of Dubstep cat? Probably not. When you hear or read about the “Eye of Ra”- Bastet is one of the gods that form the “Eye” as she was regarded as Ra’s defender. Cats were so highly regarded and protected that they were even mummified! Now there’s an idea for The Mummy 6,7, or whatever number they’re on now! Best not give them any ideas actually.
Over in Greece we have tales by Herodotus that in the event of a household’s cat passing away, the family would shave their eyebrows to signify their loss. I can’t say I’m too surprised about that tradition not catching on. Plus, why would we want to shave off our eyebrows when we can just get the cats face tattooed now instead- Hoorah!
And, what of the temptress, the beckoning cat of Japan (maneki neko). A talisman believed to attract an abundance of fortune and luck. You’ve all seen them before in oriental food stores and restaurants. On the surface they may strike you to be a tacky garish bit of plastic, but actually they are quite profound. These little talismans come in all shapes and sizes, colours, wearing different outfits etc. Each having its own meaning and purpose from ensuring success in love to keeping evil spirits at bay.
Looking at our global obsession, I stumbled across a rather sweet old wives’ tale, or fable if you like, from Poland about pussy willow. The story reads of a mother cat crying down by a riverbank where her kittens were drowning as they had chased butterflies into the water. The willow along side the river recognised the mummy cat’s distress and leaned their branches into the water. The kittens clasped onto the willow and were brought to shore safely, and now each springtime the willow sprouts their little fur buds to represent where the kittens once clung. Isn’t that just LOVELY?! Also, fun fact: do you know how you would refer to a group of cats? A clowder of cats. Alternatively you could say a glaring of cats, or my personal favourite, a clutter of cats. Lovely on the tongue- the expression, not the actual cat.
So let us now catapult back to modern day where we have such likes of “Nyan Cat”, the YouTube sensation that has nearly 110 million views! Hours upon hours of comical cat compilations to the weird and disturbing! “Welcome to Kitty City” is particularly hypnotic. What on earth possessed us to start sticking cats faces through pieces of bread? And “melon cat”? There have been so many viral crazes its unreal, but the latest fad for me really takes the biscuit.
Cat. Cafés. London’s Lady Dinah’s café, where you can sit for coffee, perhaps a slice of cake- with cats… that are just roaming around you. You might be thinking what a great idea- and I suppose I do too, as all the cats are re-homed cats so it is for a good cause etc. But this café is fully booked until October this year! The city of Melbourne, Australia has recently announced they are also opening their first cat café. Before we know it we’ll be ordering our McDonald’s from a tabby in a cap, “Would you like catnip with that?”. It will be interesting to see which fashion house actually puts a cat on the cat walk first. Irony would suggest Pucci.
Our feline friends can also be trained to become a “therapy cat”, used to decrease anxiety, level out heart rate, and general companionship. My knowledge of the depth of training is limited, but I doubt they get paws on with a stethoscope or have to study the human mind- I am sure that a nice temperament would ensure flying colours though!
I personally would say I am a dog-lover; I have to by default as I have 2 via shared custody. However, there is something different about cats that seem to have captivated us for thousands of years. There isn’t one specific thing that you can put your finger on either. They are and have been icons of protection, magick, deities, luck, love, music, humour and companionship. They pretty much tick every box in terms of positive connotations. I read somewhere, “The internet is a lot like ancient Egypt. People write on walls and worship cats”. On that note, I’m off for a catnap. (Sorry).
Opinions expressed in this article may not reflect those of THEGAYUK, its management or editorial teams. If you'd like to comment or write a comment, opinion or blog piece, please click here.