Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The Ginger Cat

Macavity's a ginger cat, he's very tall and thin;
You would know him if you saw him, for his eyes are sunken in.
His brow is deeply lined with thought, his head is highly domed;
His coat is dusty from neglect, his whiskers are uncombed.
He sways his head from side to side with movements like a snake,
And when you think he's half asleep he's always wide awake.

From Macavity
Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats
T S Eliot

I don't think this fellow, who was sitting on a garden wall in a rather upmarket part of Hampstead last week, overseeing his little corner of the world, quite matches T S Eliot's description of Macavity. A little too sleek and well-groomed perhaps. Unperturbed by a complete stranger walking up and poking a camera in his face, he graciously consented to pose for me.

I was smitten. Apart from anything else he had the most endearingly freckled nose.

Macavity was endowed by his creator with fiendish and devious criminal proclivities, but the cats I’ve known with this colouring have manifested a consistently sunny and benevolent temperament. Even the most streetwise, scarred and raggedy-eared ginger tom seemed to radiate boundless goodwill, towards humans anyway. It was a childhood wish fulfilled when my own ginger companion, very similar in looks to his Hampstead cousin, moved in with me nine years ago.

I've used the masculine pronoun because most cats with this colouring are male - in this discussion thread the figure of 75% is quoted. But I know one cat owner whose much loved feline friend was a indeed a most beautiful ginger female ....

Looking for the poem excerpt at the top of the post encouraged me to read the whole thing again. It's fun.

Click to enlarge photo.


Blogger Endment said...

What memories your photo evokes!
I had a long-haired ginger cat when I was small - "our" favorite activity was dressing kitty up in doll clothes and going for a stroll with the baby buggy...

Thanks for sharing the link to Macavity.

1:29 pm  
Blogger herhimnbryn said...

Like endment said, memories!
My parents had a ginger cat called Becket ( Ginger Tom = Thomas= Thomas a Becket!). He too had a gentle nature and was a sun worshipper. He lived until he was 15. hound has just thrown up! Must go!

1:34 pm  
Blogger Dale said...


... he's broken every human law,
He breaks the law of gravity.

Love the photo!

3:39 pm  
Blogger Jean said...

Wonderful poem, and wonderful photo - he's so alive and poised and attentive.

7:02 pm  
Blogger MB said...

Thanks for bringing back memories for me... of the poem... and of a certain ginger cat long ago who asked from the driveway to be adopted after an unknown previous life left him way too thin, ill, misses small pieces, and cranky. But he always was gentle with me. And gradually softened some toward others as he regained strength and health. He was beloved.

11:20 pm  
Blogger Brenda said...

One of the gingers I grew up with was a 40lb wild animal who prowled suburbia like it was a jungle. Frisky was all muscle and returned most mornings looking shaggy with tatted fur and ever-fresh wounds over his scars. He purred like a tractor. He ate sometimes lightly, sometimes ravenously, depending I suppose on how his mousing had gone, and then disappeared to sleep all day in some hidden corner. At night he was on the prowl again. I never felt close to that tom cat; fighters are another breed entirely. So I've never owned a ginger, preferring soft, cuddly, sweet and purring fluff balls on my lap. How entirely different the portrait you've so endearingly created of the ginger in that disarming photograph and in your equally charming writing!

2:44 am  
Blogger Tamar said...

Well, what can I say? My feline friend was female indeed and finding your memory. the picture AND the poem brought tears to my eyes and made me smile all at the same time. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

12:00 pm  
Blogger Jean said...

I just read the chromosome discussion - absolutely fascinating. Thanks for finding this!

4:35 pm  
Blogger LJ said...

Oh how wonderful to read a bit of that poem again. And I adore ginger cats. My last (and maybe really, my very last) was a 15 lb Ginger male named Otis. I think I loved him more than I've ever loved any cat. He loved me - and my (now ex)husband, but was terrified of other people (he'd been traumatized as a kitten, I think.) He was a terrible little thug with other cats and a ferocious hunter. Your cat looks a lot like him - and that surely did tug my heartstrings.
I still miss him.
And Geez! Look at the comments. Seems a soft spot for ginger is widespread.

9:23 pm  
Blogger rdl said...

Great picture, will have to come back and read and follow the links when I have time. So nice to see you here again!

12:46 pm  
Blogger Mary said...

Endment: oh the tolerance of some of these cats ... I had one like that too! I loved this memory of yours ...

Herhimnbryn: ... and yours too. Sun worship and cats go together.Um, hope the cleaning up wasn't too painful.

Dale: You've picked up on the rhythm of that poem I think. Glad you liked the photo.

Jean: Poised is the word. That's what attracted me to him - and I found the discussion thread fascinating too. Must go back and reread it.

MB: I can feel how beloved your little stray was. He had a miserable time but he was lucky to find you I think. Thank you.

Brenda: Oh my! Have you ever thought of doing a painting of him? You paint his picture in words so vividly ...

Tamar: Thank you ... for the beautiful way you described Molly over the months I have been reading your blog.

LJ: I had a feeling you might be a ginger cat aficionado too. Thanks for this - no we're not alone!

Rdl: Thank you ... it is nice to be back, albeit not so frequently at the moment.

10:03 pm  
Blogger Jean said...

Blancs ou noirs , gris ou gingembre , les chats sont des félins si beaux , si charmeurs , si calins !!!!

9:27 am  
Blogger Sky said...

welcome back. you have your hands full with this move but so glad to see you here and there!

thanks for the informative post! gosh, i learned a lot reading this. elliot is always a treat, and your photograph is fabulous.

most fabulous of all, however, is the wonderful mary coming here to talk to us!

11:38 am  
Blogger zhoen said...

Next door neighbors had a ginger tom named Morris. Not friendly to small me.

The Three Lives of Thomasina was about a female ginger cat, a movies I loved from childhood.

I have a friend who believes that coloration in cats is correlated to temperment, which is why I have a soft spot for over smart black cats, personally.

6:02 pm  
Blogger Patry Francis said...

I, too, had a much loved ginger cat. So happy to see you back!

1:55 am  
Blogger justin said...

Great to see you back, Mary. I feel as if I've found a long-lost friend, as perhaps you felt seeing the ginger cat.
We've got two ginger and white cats, who/which are sisters, though they look and behave differently. Miss D, the larger of the two is more like a tom cat, while Slayer is more dainty and fluffy.
Your photos of the cat and the pond are gorgeous.

7:05 am  
Blogger Sonia said...

Thanks Mary, for your visiting and nice comment about the cars and sunset!

Love your photo as a kid!

2:29 pm  
Blogger Mary said...

Jean: Je suis tres content de vous revoir ici! En effet, les chats de tous les couleurs possedent toutes les qualites que vous avez decrit .....

Sky: Thank you ... always a real pleasure to see your signature photo here.

Zhoen: If I didn't have such a soft spot for gingers then I would go for a black cat ...

Patry: Thank you. ;-)

Justin: It's like a meeting of old friends from my side too! Will probably be posting less frequently than before but it is still nice to be back. And two more names on the list of female ginger cats.

Sonia: You're more than welcome ....

6:33 pm  
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