Through history cats have had an association with some of the most famous authors. Many of the great works have been written in the company of a cat.
Charles Dicken's cat, Willamena, produced a litter of kittens in Dicken's study. Although originally determined not to keep the kittens, Dickens fell in love with one little female kitten who
became known as Master's Cat. She kept him company in his study as he wrote and when she wanted his attention she used to snuff out his reading candle.
Calvin was a large cat which arrived on the doorstep of American author Harriet Beecher Stowe who wrote 'Uncle Tom's Cabin'. He moved in and took over the household, demanding food and
asserting his rights but the author enjoyed his company and he often sat on her shoulder as she wrote.
Edgar Ellen Poe used his tortoiseshell cat 'Catarina' as the inspiration for his story 'The Black Cat'. Catarina was a house cat and during the winter of 1846 when Poe was destitute and his
wife dying of tuberculosis Catarina would curl up on the bed with the dying woman and provide warmth.
Sir Walter Scott's affection for his dogs is well known but he also owned a tyrannical tomcat called Hinse who terrorised the author's large dogs. Unfortunately Hinse misjudged his ability to instill fear in all dogs and was eventually killed by one
Horace Walpole owned a tortoiseshell cat called Selima who accidentally drowned in a goldfish bowl! Walpole's friend, the poet Thomas Gray, realising just how distraught his friend was at the
loss of his pet, wrote Ode on the Death of a Favourite Cat Drowned in a Tub of Gold Fishes to commemorate the sad event.
The Ode begins:
'Twas on a lofty vase's side
Where China's gayest art had died
The azure flowers that blow;
Demurest of the tabby kind,
The pensive Selima, reclined.
Gazed on the lake below.
And then describing her attempt to catch the goldfish:
Presumptious maid! With looks intent
Again she stretch'd, again she bent,
Nor knew the gulf between.
(Malignant Fate sat by, and smiled)
The slipp'ry verge her feet beguiled,
She tumbled headlong in.
The moral of Selima's tragic end is told in the last verse:
From hence, ye beauties, undeceived,
Know, one false step is ne'er retreived
And be with caution bold.
Not all that tempts your wand'ring eyes
And heedless hearts is lawful prize.
Nor all that glitters, gold.
Article Courtesy of Petcare Information and Advisory Service Australia