Categories: Russian Blue

J.D. Salinger’s Russian Blue Cats

On reading the Times newspaper on 27th January 2011, I learnt that the famous American author J.D. Salinger (The Catcher in the Rye) lived with two Russian Blue cats. What does this tell us about the man? Can we deduce something about a person from the type of animal companion that they live with? Remember, you normally buy a purebred cat and that means exercising choice.

We can certainly deduce something about the character of people on the basis of whether (a) they don’t keep a companion animal or (b) whether they keep a cat or a dog. Men tend to prefer dogs as men tend to be pack animals (as are dogs). Intelligent women tend to keep cats as they are more independent minded. But this is very much a rather crude generalisation.

JD Salinger and Russian Blue. Photo of cat: copyright Helmi Flick. Photo of Salinger in public domain.

Before J.D. Salinger lived with Russian Blue cats he kept two Italian grey-hounds. They were killed in a fire at his home in the early hours of the morning. Mr Salinger jumped out the window with his wife and escaped unharmed. He whistled for his dogs throughout the night to try and find them but they had been overcome by the fumes.This information has come to light in letters between him and an English friend, Donald Hartog.

So, Mr Salinger liked dogs and cats; animals in short. He liked zoos. One of is favourite places in London was Regent’s Park where London Zoo is located. He visited Whipsnade Zoo north of London. Regent’s Park is also a very elegant area of London. On the east side there are rows of highly desirable white stucco buildings and there is a grand crescent on the south side. It is symmetrical and ordered in appearance. The grey-hound is a very elegant looking dog with a pleasant temperament. The greyhound is not a barker. They prefer quiet homes and are loyal, quiet and gentle.

The Russian Blue cat is a very elegant slightly slender (foreign body conformation in cat fancy language) purebred cat. They are said to be “sweet, gentle and shy by nature”2. Can you see a picture developing as to the kind of animal and person J.D. Salinger prefers and is therefore himself? The Russian Blue is a popular purebred cat but to the average cat keeper a rare cat. And J.D.Salinger always kept two of the same breed of animal. This must have been for the companionship of the animals. He was thinking of the dogs and cats.

In his famous best seller, The Catcher in the Rye he tells in the first person a sort of autobiographical story of his childhood through the character of Holden Caulfield, a sixteen year old who “expounds on the importance of loyalty, the “phoniness” of adulthood, and his own duplicity”1.

Salinger liked quiet, gentleness, truthfulness, loyalty, elegance and it seems simplicity. You can find all these in Russian Blue cats! Pretty much any cat, in fact (the Siamese is too vocal!) but the purebred Russian Blue having a coat of only one color, dilute black or a blue-grey, is particular elegant and stylish. Another quiet cat he might have liked is the British Shorthair, which is also a popular cat especially when the coat is blue and which has a silent meow.

He didn’t like the media or publishers, probably because they pried into his privacy, which was protected by his neighbours in the tiny community of Cornish in New Hampshire. He got on with the people he knew. The media speculated and divined a character that was not the man. He liked to write but didn’t like the consequences of being published – publicity.

The unearthed letters debunk the myth that Salinger was an irascible and difficult misanthrope. He was charming and warm and he liked animals. Anyone who genuinely likes animals is good in my book. It is not possible to be bad and like animals.

From J.D. Salinger’s Russian Blue Cats to Russian Blue Cat


Photo: The photo of J.D. Salinger is not copyright free but is published under fair use and the rationale for this is the one adopted by the Wikipedia authors on the page:

1. Wikipedia authors.

2. Legacy of the Cat – great book buy it!

Comments for
J.D. Salinger’s Russian Blue Cats

Click here to add your own comments

Russian Blues, a special cat indeed ! NEW
by: AnonymousStory titled “Keke, our Russian Blue adopted us
we had THE privilege of being adopted by a young purebred Russian Blue, he was intelligent, loving but he picked his humans carefully.
We tried for several days to locate his owners, no one responded. Keke taught us many things, he loved to take showers BUT only with my husband, chased large dogs but terrified of black birds (our next door neighbor called & related how this black bird would fly low & bite Keke on rump) she was hysterical with laughter.
Trained Keke to walk wearing harness & leash, enjoyed riding in truck/car, as long as his human Frank was there. He would sneak into any car/truck with open window(s)
for a nap,not surprisingly scaring driver out of his/her wits. A friend left our home around 10 PM, as he was backing up, he stopped vehicle while screaming “There’s something in my car” as he looked in rearview mirror all he saw was a pair of large green eyes, Frank & I laughed till we hurt. Keke was truly a unique cat.
Was not afraid of water, if outside he would sit by water hose till someone noticed him & turned it on. Sired a male kitten, one morning our neighbor Bob was watching Baby Keke & shaking his head “What wrong Bob, lighting doesn’t strike twice in same place” he responded “That I know, but Keke sure did, Baby Keke is his father’s image, look @ him playing with water hose”
We enjoyed just over 10 yrs with Keke, sadly lost him to kidney failure October 1988. He was well taken care of & loved.Soon it will be 24 yrs since we lost Keke, but his antics remain fresh in heart & mind.
Russian Blue a very special cat indeed !
keenpetite, cat lover/rescuer/helper
Southeast Arizona (USA) !


Russian Blue is a black Russian moggy from the north of the country

In truth, the glamorous, pedigree, purebred Russian Blue is a black moggy from Russia. I am referring to the original ...
Read More

Picture of Hugh Laurie holding a grey cat

This is a picture of Hugh Laurie and his cat, I am told. I have to qualify the sentence with ...
Read More

Are Russian Blue cats indoor cats?

Russian Blue cats are no more suited to being full-time indoors than any other cats, pure or random bred. It ...
Read More

Woman scammed out of $2,300 when trying to buy a Russian Blue cat in California

"Never, ever under any circumstances pay money upfront to a cat breeder for a purebred cat." - Michael In fact ...
Read More

What is the personality of the Russian Blue cat?

The Russian Blue cat has a sweet, gentle and shy personality. They are said to be easily startled and prefer ...
Read More

Is the Russian Blue a lap cat?

I don't think you'll get a cat expert stating outright that the Russian Blue is a lap cat. This is ...
Read More

Grey Cat Breed Facts For Kids

There are four grey cat breeds. These are cats that the cat associations say must be grey. In North America ...
Read More
Please comment here using either Facebook or WordPress (when available).
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.

View Comments

  • The last statement, "It is not possible to be bad and like animals" is not true. Hitler loved his german shepherd dogs "Prinz" and "Blondi" and Lenin had a nameless pet cat he was photographed holding. Gadaffi kept a herd of ostriches, and Roman tyrant Callegula loved his horse so much he made him a consul.

    • Thanks Adrian. Appreciated. Is it possible that the phrase "It is not possible to be bad and like animals" does not apply to people who are mentally somewhat or greatly deranged?

Recent Posts

Japanese shopowner replaces ceiling tiles with transparent ones for their cats

This is a cool solution for a cat guardian and shopowner who wants to allow…

4 hours ago

600 rescue cats and dogs in a Hercules C-130 plane in historic flight

The charities involved have shipped 600 rescue cats and dogs from Hawaiian animal shelters in…

6 hours ago

Spot the witches hat in this bank of feline faces at night

A Halloween puzzle to kill a few minutes. This is what a witches hat looks…

6 hours ago

Domestic cat’s highly-acidic digestive system

The domestic cat's digestive organs quite closely resemble those of humans. Working backwards they are…

18 hours ago

It’s National Cat Day in the US so what can I do about it?

National Cat Day was started to highlight cats at cat rescue shelters and to celebrate…

22 hours ago

Chicago cat shelter sells groups of feral cats for up to $600 to combat city’s rat problem

The CNN video tells us that Chicago has the worst rat problem in America. A…

1 day ago