A friend who noticed my column bio has asked why, curiously, I haven’t written anything on cats. I said I’d need a great excuse, otherwise I’d just be babbling on cats in 12,000 words and my editor would send me off to some crazy cat ladies asylum.
Think now I’ve found the excuse. (Hoo-ray!!)
Unless you’ve been living without Net access, you’d realize that cats have roamed on and reigned in media lately. They come on texts, pictures, videos, animations, tweet, that in digital age get distributed virally in seconds.
Whether or not a feline fan you probably have stumbled upon Youtube videos of Maru, the Scottish Fold cat in Japan obsessed in getting in and out of boxes or bags smaller than his chubby self, and visibly, on his cute round face, relishing the hugging sensation of the object of the moment.
A few years ago a grey cat named Sockington started tweeting, and Twitter has never been the same. Naming himself Grey Diablo while calling his followers “Socks’ Army”, he tweets just as a cat would carry on in life, with so much glee and abandon, concerning himself only to the fun matters of pawing freshly-laundered curtains, battling coffee table’s legs, shredding mouse toys, or bossing around his poor owner, endearingly dubbed “Fatty”, for tasty tuna treats. Yet he sounds so real, is funny as hell, and gives a heartfelt shout-out when told that your cat is sick or dies, that almost 1.5 million people dutifully follow him. There are merchandises for sale now, which proceeds are said to go to animal shelters around—something Maru owner seems to be following now.
The love for the feline kind is nothing new. 5,000 years ago, Ancient Egyptians already worshipped on the altar of lion-headed goddess Bastet, the protector of chief male and solar deity Ra. 3,000 years ago, when feral cats started to get domesticated, Bastet took a cat form and assumed the role of lunar protector. Her figure must’ve impressed the Greek dynasties ruling Egypt that millennium that she got translated into Greek mythology as goddess Ailuros. Wealthy Ancient Egyptians were entombed with their beloved cats, mummified in the same procedure for humans. In Christian Jacq’s renowned historical fiction series Ramses, poet Homer was said to have traveled with a tabby on his final years. Then, 1,400 years ago, in a tale known to even many non-Muslim catlovers, Prophet Muhammad finished a long prayer only to find a cat sleeping soundly on his spread cloak. The Prophet had no heart to disturb such peaceful state that he chose to tear out the part the cat occupied and walked home with a raggedy cloak. Today, anywhere in Mediterranean, a large number of stray cats still wander around unperturbed, fed and patted by locals and sometimes, bemused tourists.
Last year the glamorous worlds caught on. A pudgy cat sprang onto the pitch during Liverpool-Tottenham Hotspurs match, momentarily stopped it as he decided to sit and enjoyed the sudden attention. After stadium staff gently removed him, someone swiftly created a Twitter account and now the Anfield Cat tweets as ferociously as Piers Morgan during matches. CeeLo Green carried an all-white furball aptly named Purrfect during The Voice’s second season, stroking and baby-talking her as no straight male had ever done in a globally-syndicated TV program before. The kitty also tweeted along the program, cattily poked fun at Blake Shelton or Adam Levine’s grandpa sweater. Karl Lagerfeld debuted adorable Choupette through a private picture taken at his lux bathroom, that was soon followed by, I must say, excessive news in excessive proportions. Now we all know that not only Choupette has two full-time nannies, tweets and plays games exclusively on a personal iPad, the kitten also has co-starred in an ad featuring former Victoria’s Secret Angel, French supermodel Laetitia Costa. Jason Wu featured his cats on an entire collection the way Grace Coddington, former UK Vogue editor, incorporated hers on the handbag she designed for Balenciaga. Gorgeous pussycats are purring down Fashion Week runways and on editorials, and even spurred an entire cosmetic line.
Then last month, Walker Art Center, a respectable Minneapolis museum, conducted the world’s first ever cat video festival. 10,000 entries were submitted and an equal number of people attended screening day, skipping Romney speech as Minneapolis mayor cheerfully said. The winner was a 2-minute opus by an American man on the existential angst of his tuxedo, French-accented puss Henri. Was it the funniest video that could have won is open for discussion, but it reminded me of Soseki Natsume’s novel series I Am A Cat, about human rat race lives seen through the philosophical eyes of a housecat.
The festival finally irked some of my doglover friends enough to complain about this feline frenzy. They’d already discounted my explanations of cats being intellectual with misguided belief that cats are unfaithful, so I resorted to physical attributes. I picked up National Geography’s special edition and pointed at the biology fact. Since first known 34 million years ago, the basic structure of Felidae has only gone through 2-3 changes. You see, God got it right the first time with cats, which explains why they move so gracefully, as Catwoman’s gait and Balanchine’s perfect ballet landing showed, and why they simply look fabulous on camera.
I’m yet to hear again from these friends. Meow.