WATCHING: The Wire
READING: Countess Billie
LISTENING TO: Muse
MAKING ME SMILE: Europe next month!
I am a cat person. I love their independence of spirit, their indifference to the desires of their owners (owners? I hesitate to use the word), their aloof self-containment. Dogs are lovely but their devotion can seem excessive. I find it hard to gaze into adoring eyes. The weight of a loving head on the knee becomes burdensome after a while.
Yet I have to admit, when I think of animals in literature, dogs seem to have it over cats all the way. I can immediately think of famous fictitious dogs: Lassie, Toto, Marley, Santa’s Little Helper, Lady and the Tramp. Georgette Heyer often tucks a dog into her books as a barometer of the trustworthiness of her heroes.
Cats are not so easy. Garfield. Thomasina. Puss in Boots - especially with Antonio doing the voice. Help here, please. There have to be more!
Why is this? I refuse to think that dogs have more personality, but because they wear all their emotions on the outside, they are far easier to write about. A sphinx-like cat stare does become a bit repetitive to describe, however restful it is to live with.
Cats, alas, often end up in villainous roles. They are the familiars of witches (oh, add Salem to the mix), the arch baddie (Shere Khan) or the organised thugs (Truth about Cats and Dogs). New Zealand breeds particularly tough fictitious felines such as Scarface Claw and Horse. Dogs are always the dependable helpmeet, the h/H’s best friend. Often they rise to heroic roles and will even give their lives to save the ones they love. Cats would watch on unblinkingly. I know that.
But just as I feel there have to be good roles out there for actresses over fifty, I feel sure there much be heroic, self-sacrificing cats in fiction or real life. I’d be grateful to anyone who can supply me with examples.
What are your views on cats and dogs as characters? Who are your favourite animal characters?