The first rule of blogging is apparently to not talk about your cat. However, I’m going to talk about my adopted alien cat – because my cat likes precisely the following four foods:
Tuna, Birds Eye potato waffles, Ketchup and Doorstops.
Why didn’t this cat like fish and saucers of milk? What sort of a cat was this? As it turns out this cat was in fact a bit, ‘simple’ – which explained the doorstops – but what about other cats. Where had I developed this fantasy that all cats ate were delicious bowls of cream, crunchy mice and flappy fishes? Classic cat food.
Once you start digging, you realise that the literary world of cats is entirely topsy turvy. Edward Lear’s Pussycat – cavorts around with an Owl. Surely this is a match that would not pass the “Text Owl Loves Pussycat to 808080” test.
For an animal not known for its love of sailing, why would it start up a relationship with a nautical, seafaring Owl? Do fur and feather go together? Discuss.
Anyway – the point being, is that this cat did not have a conventional diet either – preferring mince and quince and copious amounts of honey to fish and milk. (Check out the bizarre and hilarious 1970’s musical version of the The Owl and the Pussycat Went to See…with Roy Castle and Hattie Jakes being hunted down by the Plum Pudding Flea).
Mog, the Forgetful Cat, by Judith Kerr – a totally loveable cat that is clumsy and accident prone, but with a heart of gold. But what was Mog’s favourite food? Poached eggs. Like Mog, when you were feeling sorry for yourself on a rubbish Sunday evening, thinking dark thoughts while sat in a bush in the garden, the only thing that would cheer you up was a humble egg and some toasty soldiers. The egg was as comforting and as warm cat on your knee. Mog appears to have some sort of grey looking fish in her bowl on one page, but she doesn’t look particularly happy to see it. Put an egg in front of her, however, and she cheers right up.
Eggs aside – Mog was not the cat I was looking for. What about the dashing and charming cat known as the Baron – that lives in the Cat Bureau in The Cat Returns (Neko no Ongaeshi, Hiroyuki Morita). I defy anyone to watch this and not fancy this cat. It helps that the character’s voice is played by Cary Elwes who was in the Prince in the 1987 movie, The Princess Bride.
This cat is so damn sophisticated it blends its own special tea and eats Angel food cake on china plates. The Baron convinces you that you can only truly express your true being by blending and brewing your own tea – a kind of spiritual cuppa. His fat friend, Muta, however, eats anything and everything except traditional ‘cat food’. He gruffly informs the oddball cats of the cat kingdom: “Don’t you cats know anything? I hate mice, I don’t eat them! I’m allergic to cat-tails, and catnip does nothing for me!” So no hope of him liking fish and milk either. He eventually meets a sticky end when he passes out in a jar of cat-nip jelly.
Another interesting cat is Echo, of the Alchemaster’s Apprentice (Walter Moers). On the point of starvation in the streets of Malaisea, Echo is rescued by Ghoolion an evil Alchemaster. The Alchemaster, has a heart of stone and wants to feed Echo up to harvest his fat. Fat is the secret to eternal life, and a Crat’s fat is especially potent. So what does the Alchemaster feed Echo on? “Crisp-skinned fried sausages, dainty little fish cakes, lamb cutlets scented with garlic, breaded chicken drumsticks and crispy wings,” and joy of joys, “a pot of fresh, sweetened cream.” But don’t get too excited, although Echo likes cream, he prefers red wine – so we still haven’t reached the ultimate fantasy cat. Ironically, Echo is also tricked into eating his best friend, Theodore T. Theodore, a Tuwituwu owl (this is precisely why Owls and Cats should not date. There’s the danger that the cat might prefer the owl tall dark, and roasted).
Another Mog, this time of Meg & Mog fame, isn’t much use either – and eats a variety of vegetables, cakes and yet more eggs. Puss in Boots and Bagpuss are no good. Garfield – an overweight tabby cat, only really likes Italian food, mainly lasagne. Thomas the Kitten, gets made into a Roly-Poly pudding to be eaten by rats – which is a literary animal kingdom conundrum in itself. Can a rat eat a cat? The Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland – I’m not even sure it could digest food if it wanted to. I don’t think disappearing and reappearing helps the metabolism. FYI – the Cheshire Cat may have been so named, after a cheese from Cheshire that they would shape like a cat!
Lipshen (Roald Dahl’s The Witches); Top Cat, Roobarb & Custard, Felix the Cat, Mrs Norris (Harry Potter); Orlando the Marmalade Cat (Kathleen Hale); Gobbolino, another witches cat – all cats with no particular interest in food. Frieda’s cat in the Peanuts comic strip is completely boneless and is passed around like a wet blanket – again – with no interest in food. Totally useless.
So, journeying across the world, to the wonderful world of the Japanese imagination is Doraemon (by Fujiko F. Fujio) an earless blue cat. Doraemon was introduced to me by my flatmate’s sister – who was called – I couldn’t make this up if I wanted to; Miaow. We used to watch Doraemon together while she made Japanese chicken curry and chilli peppers in soy sauce. We would lie on the sofa for hours watching the tales of Doreamon who is actually a gadget cat from the future with a ‘fourth dimensional’ pocket, a bit like a
Mary Poppins bag from which he can take out the most amazing and crazy gadgets. Absolutely, brilliantly bonkers. His favourite food is doroyaki – a Japanese sweet pancake filled with bean paste. To make doroyaki, you simply make two pancakes and fill it with sweetened adzuki bean paste. Then just eat with a bit of cream and some Matcha green tea. Jiji, the black cat from Kiki’s Delivery Service (Studio Ghibili) also likes pancakes.
What’s strange, is that I didn’t used to like cats – but having adopted two, I have become fascinated with everything they do. I used to think they were too mysterious; plotting how to take over the world while you were out at the shops. But I now know that is just an act. They have in fact delegated that job to dogs, told them to infiltrate, get humans to worship them, carry them round in little bags and dress them in cute clothes. The cats are just ‘resting’ until their evil plan is carried out – meanwhile, gorging themsleves on lasagne, pancakes and cake. Bad kitties.
According to Scientific American, cats can’t even taste sweet things as they lack the necessary protein gene. Maybe they never did like fish and milk. Maybe it was all a ruse; while we were out looking for fish, they were in the house eating chocolate and wotsits.
I’ll finish this post with a hilarious cat poem (also a You Tube video), by Glaswegian folk crazy man, Ivor Cutler. Please do not vacuum your cat after listening to this.
“Go and lie down pussy, lie on the mat pussy, lie down and I will turn on the Hoover,
and suck off the fleas before the crowd gets home.
And then I’ll blow out the fleas into the fish tank.
Nothing gets wasted round here.
Lie down pussy I’ll get started right now.
The goldfish is howling for her dinner.”
Pussy on the Mat, Ivor Cutler.
Other related books on cats…but don’t expect to get anything conventional. I can’t believe this is a real book – but “Games you can play with your pussy” contains a chapter on how to eat with your cat – because they obviously don’t do fish or milk so we need all the guidance we can get.
Does your cat like ketchup?