Cats on the Move
GREAT CAT STARS
Much has been made of the feline over the years. Where, for example, would The Batman be without Catwoman? Well, most likely he'd be a lot less confused.
Should Batman kiss the Catwoman, arrest her or do both?
There's the fat cat who is big business and belongs on Wall Street. He or she might not be that popular nowadays.
There's the cool cat into his music. Jazz seems to suit him or her.
There's the Cat in the Hat you better watch out for.
But what about the cat in the Alice book?
It has been said that the inspiration for the grinning cat in Alice in Wonderland came from an ad for Cheshire cheese. In the ad the cat was grinning over the cheese because it was so creamy. In other words he was the cat who got the cream.
It has also been said that Lewis Carroll wasn't completely responsible for his Cheshire Cat's disappearing. Apparently cats in the neighborhood were already involved in that sort of thing.
There have been quite a few cat stars that have entertained viewers and also readers over the years. Whereas the dog is seen as loyal the cat is oft times viewed as willful and mysterious.
Cats are night creatures with eyes that sparkle strangely in the moonlight. Is it any wonder that they have been connected to the Evil One?
According to The Witch's Hammer, an old text on witchcraft, witches are known to have familiars from the devil in the shape of either rabbits or cats though the cat, in this regard, is more well known. What nonsense you might say and you would be right though the cat still retains much of its mystery.
In ancient times cats were revered as the protectors of the grain, the food supply. This may have been the reason why they were so venerated in Egypt. Another reason would be their connection with the night and therefore darkness.
Have we always taken the cat seriously in the world of fiction?
Certainly not! Cats create mixed feelings in people and so you have mixed reactions toward them from people. Artists and writers are, after all, only human (or so they tell us).
For my own personal reactions to cats you might want to look up the American anthology of cat stories, CATS DO IT BETTER THAN PEOPLE. In this collection I have a number of stories including a seafaring yarn I am particularly fond of.
Here are twelve felines I am sure some, if not all of you, are familiar with:
1. Si and Am
Not the nicest of cats, these Siamese twins are full of nasty tricks they play on the dog Lady in the animated feature, Lady and the Tramp. They do put on a great show of being innocent, these terrible moggies, and they do have rather charming voices. I am counting Si and Am as one since I, for one, can't tell them apart.
2. Top Cat
Top Cat, he's the leader of the gang and the thorn in police officer Dibble's side. There's also Benny the Ball, Brain, Spook and Choo-Choo. Top Cat is the el supremo con artist and star of a popular '60s animation show. It is not by accident that Top Cat reminds people of Sergeant Bilko from the earlier live action Phil Silvers Show or that Benny the Ball's origins can also be traced back to this earlier show.
3. The Arisocats
This 1970s animated feature had some nice Jazz and humor. Eva Gabor provided the voice for Duchess, the upper class kitty-cat who is aided by cats who are not as high up the social ladder.
4. Puss in Boots
Adapted into the Shrek movies, Puss in Boots is some tabby. He is cute, cunning, debonaire and one hell of a sword fighter. He first appeared as the swashbuckler in Shrek 2, voices supplied by Antonio Banderas and Frank Welker.
Kitty, a full grown male lion, was a favorite pet in the household of the Adams Family television show from 1964 to 1966. There was also Pugsley's pet octopus and Cleopatra, Morticia's meat eating plant that had a tendency to strangle guests in a playful manner.
6. Courageous Cat
Here we have a cat and mouse team fighting to protect Empire City, their city, from crime. It is a no-brainer to work out that Courageous Cat and his sidekick Minute Mouse were created in the '60s by Bob Kane who also created Batman though much earlier in the '30s. In Courageous Cat and Minute Mouse there is the Cat Cave, the Cat Signal and the Cat Mobile. There are also gadgets galore.
7. Krazy Kat
From 1913 to 1944 comic strip artist and writer George Harriman had a great time with a truly loopy feline and so did his audience. In 1963 Krazy Kat was launched as an animated television show. The plots were simple and fun. Ignatz mouse, always up to mischief, usually gets arrested by Officer Pupp thanks to the interfering star of the show. So what makes the Kat so Krazy? Well, she's in love with a mouse for a start. Secondly, she takes being conked on the noggin by a brick thrown by Ignatz as a sign of affection and devotion. Love may hurt but a certain feline takes it a bit too far in my humble opinion.
No list on cats would be complete without the Loony Tunes gem. Some might say I would be despicable leaving him out. The most hazardous times with this moggy have been when he couldn't tell the difference between a mouse and a kangaroo (and usually a boxing kangaroo at that!)
The Simpson's in their animated series are tough on animals including cats. There have been at least two Snowballs. One saved Homer's life which may or may not have been a smart thing to do.
What is a cat to do when he finds out that his new master is a mouse? Snowbell has a rough time in the film Stuart Little and you can't help but feel sorry for him. He's a domestic who likes to hang tough with the alley crowd who see mouse as dinner.
11. Old Tom
This animated 2001 Australian effort is based on a series of books by Australian author Leigh Hobbs. Old Tom is a one-eyed rat-bag of a cat who only seems to be precious and lovable to his mistress. To the rest of the world he is about as lovable as an old boot fished out of the harbor and no doubt smells just as good, too.
Tom out of the cartoons Tom and Jerry is your typical mouse chasing cat who began chasing Jerry the mouse back in 1940 and is still chasing him. Tom gets points for persistence if nothing else. Jerry continues to be too cheeky and too clever for Tom.
Well those are my 12. I am sure there are plenty more out there. I hope you enjoyed the read.
THERE ARE REALLY COOL CATS IN DESK JOB
19th CENTURY CATS AND 21st CENTURY FELINES
My latest novel, Desk Job, abounds with felines. It is my salute to 19th Century British novelist and mathematician Lewis Carroll who made much of the Cheshire cat in one of his Alice books. My cats are just as freaky and just as hard to pin down. They also tend to grin a lot and have a mind of their own.
Perhaps the reason why I have developed a renewed interest in the tom and the ginger is the fact that my niece, Aila Perala, now has a new kitty-cat. A BIG kitty-cat.
Then there is my long time New Zealand novelist friend, Lyn McConchie, who often writes about the adventures of her own cat.
All things considered, the cat influences are definitely there.
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