TS Eliot might well be the first person you associate with cat poetry, but he’s not the only one who has found inspiration in our feline friends.
TS Eliot originally intended the collection of poems that became ‘Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats’ to be gifts for the children of friends and for his godchildren, but they ended up becoming his best-selling work and, with the popular musical adaptation ‘Cats’, what he’s most famous for today.
He lived with a lot of cats over his lifetime, and anyone familiar with his poetry will not be disappointed with the names that he gave them, a selection of the most imaginative are Jellylorum, Pettipaws, Wiscus, and George Pushdragon.
In a letter to his friend Doris Tandy, TS Eliot wrote ‘So far in my experience there are cheifly [sic] 4 kinds of Cat the Old Gumbie Cat the Practical Cat the Porpentine Cat and the Big Bravo Cat’. These categories haven’t been adopted by International Cat Care, but they show the creativity of his mind and one of the reasons that cats fascinate us. They’re such enigmatic animals, trying to understand their behaviour is a lifetime’s work!
International Cat Care’s veterinary division, the International Society of Feline Medicine (IFSM), has developed a distance learning course on cat behaviour that’s suitable for anyone with an interest in cats. If you’re self-isolating at the moment and spending more time with your cat, you might find yourself puzzled at the way they behave and the reasons why. This course is a great way to pass the time indoors and will give you a better understanding of your cat’s behaviour.
More details about the course and how to sign up can be found here.
TS Eliot isn’t the only creative thinker who owes a debt to cats. To mention just a few, cats have played an important role in the lives of Mark Twain, Patricia Highsmith and Ernest Hemingway, and there are no signs that their popular interest is disappearing.
Another lover of felines, Elizabeth Wager, has written a volume of poems that tell the story of some of history’s literary giants through their cats, written in their own distinct literary style. Amongst the poems included are ‘Complaints of a Pilgrim’s Cat’, ‘Anne Hathaway’s Cat Muses on Her Master’ and ‘If Ogden Had a Cat’.
Proceeds from the sale of this book are donated back to International Cat Care, so you can take solace in the fact that whilst you’re reading about cats, you’re also helping them too.