Caturday felid trifecta: A new cat book; an ancient Chinese”cat butler”; a very fat cat gets adopted (and lagniappe)

October 24, 2020 • 9:15 am

From Brain Pickings we have a nice book that might make a swell holiday gift for ailurophiles (click on screenshot):

From Popova’s blurb:

That paradoxical pull is what the great short story writer and novelist Leonard Michaels (January 2, 1933–May 10, 2003) explores in one of his least known, loveliest and quietest masterpieces, simply titled A Cat (public library) — a posy of prose poems, of miniature meditations playful and profound, on the imponderable nature of our feline companions, illustrated with consummately expressive line drawings by artist Frances Lerner and brought back to life a quarter century after its original publication with a new introduction by Sigrid Nunez.

It’s only $14.20 in hardcover at Amazon:

 A quote and a drawing:

Nothing is more at home in the world than a cat. Flowers, compared to a cat, seem too assertive, even vulgar — their peculiar colors, their showy shapes. Sprawled in sunlight, a cat dissolves, pours free of its shape, and becomes one with the ground. Sliding along your leg, it gives you a sense of fusion. A cat makes itself one with anything. It is at home in the world. A cat defines a home.

Besides being a writer, Leonard Michaels was a professor of English at the University of California, Davis



In a delightful post at Open Culture, Colin Marshall, who lives in Korea, reproduces translations of 12th-century Chinese poetry written by a man who first was reluctant to have a cat, and then became its slave.

An excerpt and the first and last bits of the poetry sequence:

Here in Korea, where I live, cat owners aren’t called cat owners: they’re called goyangi jibsa, literally “cat butlers.” Clearly the idea that felines have flipped the domestic-animal script, not serving humans but being served by humans, transcends cultures. It also goes far back in history: witness the 12th-century verses recently tweeted out in translation by writer Xiran Jay Zhao, in which “Song dynasty poet Lu You” — one of the most prolific literary artists of his time and place — “poem-liveblogged his descent from cat owner to cat slave.”

The poems are delightful (go see the rest); here are three bits showing the transformation from pet owner to cat butler:


From the Mail Online, we hear of a 30-pound cat, appropriately named Lasagna, who was finally adopted. Will he lose weight? Read below (click on screenshot):

An abandoned 30lb monster moggy who weighs the same as a three-year-old has embarked on a diet and fitness regime in a desperate bid to shift the ‘quarantine flab’.

Lasagna, who tips the scales at a whopping 29.5lbs (2st 1lb) is nearly four times the healthy 8lbs weight for a cat and struggled to walk and groom herself.

The plump cat was found abandoned in a dog crate overnight in Hunting Park by ACCT Philly shelter workers in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on Sunday September 20.

Stunned staff put Lasagna, named after Garfield’s favorite meal, on a strict diet and had to help her clean herself, a task she found impossible to do due to her size.

Since sharing snaps of the five-year-old domestic short-haired cat, the shelter was flooded with offers from people who fell in love with Lasagna’s ‘chunky’ frame and penchant for belly rubs.

Lasagna was adopted yesterday by the Hammer family from Vineland, New Jersey, who have vowed to shower her with love and help her shift the stubborn weight.

Chubby cats are so sad to see! Best of luck, Lasagna!


Lagniappe: World’s most demanding cat! Listen to this moggy (her name is Shorty)!

h/t: David, Ginger K., Nicole

9 thoughts on “Caturday felid trifecta: A new cat book; an ancient Chinese”cat butler”; a very fat cat gets adopted (and lagniappe)

  1. Regarding the first entry, I really liked this line: “Sprawled in sunlight, a cat dissolves, pours free of its shape, and becomes one with the ground. Sliding along your leg, it gives you a sense of fusion.” It reminds me of when I sit on the couch and my cat snuggles up against my leg. If he feels me move even slightly in a way that signals I might be getting up, he leaves. I call it “cat leg” because I can’t move once he’s fused to me.

    I’ve also been pondering cat consciousness since getting my new kitten (look, I’m bored and I don’t have a lot to do). She seems to take a lot of “conscious” actions that make me wonder just how conscious cats are of their surroundings and actions. She has dozens of toys spread across I think about 3,200 square feet of house over two floors. She knows where each toy is. I see her disappear, come back with one of her favorite toys, bring it to a different place, play with it there, and then leave it, only to retrieve it the next day and bring it to another part of the house to play. She always brings her toys to places where there are lots of obstacles to jump over while she swats her toys around. She remembers where she left a toy last, so she seems to “decide” that she wants to go and get a specific toy, and “decide” where she wants to play with it, in addition to remembering where she left it last. She goes trotting by or through a room with a toy in her mouth, on her way to her seemingly chosen destination for play time.

    I can’t help but feel like there’s a thought process to all of this.

    1. If there is a loophole through with determinism can be avoided and freewill gets going, it must be in the mind of the cat.

      1. Well, regardless of that whole can o’ worms, I’m more talking about how we tend to think of “lesser animals” like cats as acting purely on instinct, whereas my kitten seems to be taking actions that require thought.

      2. Or maybe we don’t think of them as acting “purely on instinct,” but, at most, as acting on only very simple patterns of what could be called “thought,” like “sun is warm, I go sleep where sun is.” She’s doing things that suggest a much longer string of thought, like “I want to play with X toy, I have to go get that toy from where I left it last, and I want to play with it somewhere fun, so I’ll take it under the table in the living room.”

  2. Oh typical cat! “Open the door!. Open the door! Open the bloody door!! Ok, good.” “Don’t you want to go in?” “No, just wanted the door open. Doesn’t mean I have to go in there”.

  3. We have a Catio in the bathroom with in/out access at the bottom. But my Zena— who looks just like a slimmer Shorty— much prefers to sit on the windowsill and wait for staff to notice her and open it. She figures that staff need this job.

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