One of my own traditions in the post-Christmas-blob-on-the-couch time is to re-read a couple of old favourites. Among the books I revisited this year was T.S. Eliot’s “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats” which formed the inspiration for the musical “Cats”. Re-discovering old friends in that set of poems got me to thinking about the Sanctuary cats, and whether I could find any of them among Mr Eliot’s collection.
Ollie is definitely a Rum-Tum-Tugger. He’s a sweet boy, but (like so many cats) he has his own agenda, and we shrug and work around it. The double-wide laundry room had, for a while, a set of steps in place for our dear departed Deety to reach his favourite shelf. This sign tells you why the steps are no longer there!
Ollie is happiest up high. He vies with other cats for the favourite place on top of the canned food cupboard in the double-wide, and when that’s unavailable, he worms himself onto a shelf in the Newcomers area. He quite likes people – but he likes his own company even better.
The Rum-Tum-Tugger is a curious cat
and there isn’t any need for me to spout it.
For he WILL do as he DO do,
and there’s no doing anything about it!
I have a gumby cat in mind – her name is JennyAnyDots
her coat is of the tabby kind, with tiger stripes and leopard spots
Cats are, of course, known for sleeping large parts of their days away, and Eva is no exception to this…
she sits and sits and sits and sits…
and that’s what makes a gumby cat!
She’s actually a pretty people-social cat, and enjoys having a visitor to sit on. If you smell right, she gets up high on your chest and nuzzles into your hair.
We don’t know much about Eva’s nighttime life in Old Aids, but I can imagine that, like JennyAnyDots, she would become a bossy-boots and organise the other cats once we’re safely out of the way.
Sweet Santos is a fixture on one of the single-wide chairs (unless he asking to be lifted up for cuddles). Santos and his brother Debo came to us when their owner went into care; they’re both elderly, and not likely adoption prospects. Santos has some health concerns, which for me connects him to Gus the Theatre Cat.
His coat’s very shabby, he’s thin as a rake,
And he suffers from palsy that makes his paw shake.
Santos is often found sitting with a faraway look in his eyes – it’s not hard to imagine that he might be thinking of his past, and like Gus, remembering when he played the part of Firefrorefiddle, the Fiend of the Fell.
Bustopher Jones is not skin and bones,
in fact, he’s remarkably fat…
We have any number of handsome tuxedo cats who might model for “Bustopher Jones, the cat about town” – but our most “remarkably fat” one is female.
Fat Lucy is a back courtyard cat, and the sister of front-courtyard Spencer (who is brownish rather than black). But she hardly has Bustopher Jones’s elegance, and except for weight, I would take handsome Tugboat as my model for the TS Eliot cat.
Ninja is one of the sweetest of our black cats, and about as far as it’s possible to be from “a fiend in feline form”. But he has one outstanding characteristic in common with Macavity, in his genius for being “not there” when you want him. He’s a cat that loves to be on the other side of a gate, and hovers anxiously when I need access to feral pens 3 and 4. A quick look around – no Ninja – I open the gate and a black blur streaks past my ankles.
It’s no good chasing after him – though entirely ready to be picked up, he would much prefer to find somewhere inaccessible until he feels forgotten. Then he’ll come and hover round the gate, letting the world know that he was unwillingly trapped in a strange place.
If you’ve seen “Cats” you’ll know that the Jellicle cats come in a variety of coats and colours. But Eliot’s original Jellicle Cats are black and white, and rather small, and tend to be nocturnal in nature, as they wait for the Jellicle Ball. We’ve recently had several new small black cats join the feral corner in the front courtyard – Beetle, Frisky, Reefer, Cyrano – and they all qualify as shy, preferring to appear in the evening rather than through the day.
But my model Jellicle has come to us from a Sunshine Coast shelter, and though starting as a classic shy evening cat, is now becoming more social and starting to interact with humans as well as other cats. Figaro should have his own blog entry at some time, but he’s a cat to watch – both in his delight in play with a pingpong ball or an interactive toy, and in his enjoyment in socializing with other cats.