‘I associate a person having a cat with them being gentler than other people’

The words of the title to this article were written by Kingsley Amis and I agree wholeheartedly with them provided the person who ‘owns’ a cat is a genuine cat lover. Some cat owners should not have a cat as they are unsuited to the task.

Many authors were and are cat owners. The two go together like fish and chips. Cats are ideal companions for authors who have to spend long hours at the computer keyboard or at the desk writing in manuscript.

Kingsley Amis and his white Turkish Angora type cat he called 'Snow White'. Photo: Rex Features

Sir Kingsley William Amis (1922-1995) was an English novelist and poet, the father of Martin and Sally Amis. The Times newspaper ranked him thirteenth in the list of the 50 greatest writers since 1945. He was supremely talented.

And now to cats…His cat companion was ‘a magnificent longhaired, green-eyed, pure white cat called Sarah Snow’ (writes Sir Desmond Morris). He also called her ‘Hertfordshire White’. It sounds and seems like she was a Turkish Angora type cat in appearance. We don’t know if she was a purebred, pedigree cat.

Sir Kingsley was unsure about people who did not live with a cat companion. Notice incidentally that he hyphenated the phrase ‘cat-lover’. This is unusual nowadays.

“I am enough of a cat-lover to be suspicious of a household that doesn’t have a cat…I associate a person having a cat with them being gentler than other people.”

There you have it. The wise words of a great writer. And it makes sense when you think about it. Genuine cat-lovers are often intelligent people who are sensitive towards the feelings of others, are more aware and often well-educated. These qualities lean towards gentleness and respectfulness.

He also wrote:

“People are silly about cats…There is no point in having a cat and being prosaic about it. Cats stimulate the fancy; we weave fantasies about them.”

Yes, we talk to our cats and create little imaginary worlds around them. Well I do!

He wrote a poem in 1987 entitled: ‘Cat-English’.

If you’ve a sympathetic ear, Cat-English comes through loud and clear.
Of course, the words are short and few, the accent strange and strident too,
And our side never gets a crack, at any sort of answer back.’

When I think of the tendency of cat owners to be gentle I also think of the exact opposite: the trolls who are cat haters. How aggressive they are. How ignorant and unpleasant they can be.

Sources: Desmond Morris via The English at Home by M Sturges published by Chatto & Windus, London. And Wikipedia.

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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

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  • Asa Traveller/Blogger my two cats at home in Mumbai provide me with refreshing hilarious entertainment by their behaviour which at times is also a distraction.Excellent stress relief while thinking and writing blogs.

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