Ode to the Cat by Pablo Neruda

Ode to the Cat

The animals were imperfect,
long-tailed,
unfortunate in their heads.
Little by little they
put themselves together,
making themselves a landscape,
acquiring spots, grace, flight.
The cat,
only the cat
appeared complete and proud:
he was born completely finished,
walking alone and knowing what he wanted.

Man wants to be fish or fowl,
the snake would like to have wings
the dog is a disoriented lion,
the engineer would like to be a poet,
the fly studies to be a swift,
the poet tries to imitate the fly,
but the cat
only wants to be a cat
and any cat is a cat
from his whiskers to his tail,
from his hopeful vision of a rat
to the real thing,
from the night to his golden eyes.

There is no unity
like him,
the moon and the flower
do not have such context:
he is just one thing
like the sun or the topaz,
and the elastic line of his contours
is firm and subtle like
the line of a ship’s prow.
His yellow eyes
have just one
groove
to coin the gold of night time.

Oh little
emperor without a sphere of influence
conqueror without a country,
smallest living-room tiger, nuptial
sultan of the sky,
of the erotic roof-tiles,
the wind of love
in the storm
you claim
when you pass
and place
four delicate feet
on the ground,
smelling,
distrusting
all that is terrestrial,
because everything
is too unclean
for the immaculate foot of the cat.

Oh independent wild beast
of the house
arrogant
vestige of the night,
lazy, gymnastic
and alien,
very deep cat,
secret policeman
of bedrooms,
insignia
of a
disappeared velvet,
surely there is no
enigma
in your manner,
perhaps you are not a mystery,
everyone knows of you
and you belong
to the least mysterious inhabitant,
perhaps everyone believes it,
everyone believes himself the owner,
proprietor,
uncle
of a cat,
companion,
colleague,
disciple
or friend
of his cat.

Not me.
I do not subscribe.
I do not know the cat.
I know it all, life and its archipelago,
the sea and the incalculable city,
botany,
the gyneceum and its frenzies,
the plus and the minus of mathematics,
the volcanic frauds of the world,
the unreal shell of the crocodile,
the unknown kindness of the fireman,
the blue atavism of the priest,
but I cannot decipher a cat.
My reason slips on his indifference,
his eyes have golden numbers.

~ Pablo Neruda (1904 – 1973)

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Paws for Mittens

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By Li Yit Ting

This cat reminds me of myself. Or is it wishful thinking? Look at those paws.

Pussy Cat, Pussy Cat

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I’d never seen this before. Or heard of it, but then I tend not to have my finger on the pulse, of anything, really.

This is Tombili, Istandbul’s most famous cat who’s passed on now. Isn’t it great that he got a sculpture just for being so cute and super chill.

Read about Tombili here.

Puss in the Woods

Originally published in The Star in 2009

I LOVE cats, but even if you’re not partial to flesh-blood-and-fur felines, you may find it hard to resist the charms of Dayan.

He is the creation of Japanese author/illustrator Akiko Ikeda and is the main character in four books translated and published by Dark Horse (best known as a publisher of comics). If you look at Ikeda’s website (www.wachifield.com) it seems that there are more books, including picture books and novels, featuring the cat and his friends. However, they’re in Japanese. The four titles thus far available in English are a little larger than Ladybird books, with the same hard covers, and fully-illustrated with the most charming and interesting watercolours.

Dayan has grey and red-gold stripes, a white stomach and four white feet. He has huge slanted amber eyes – and in fact, Ikeda’s characters are all notable for their large lustrous eyes.

Dayan lives in Wachifield, an imaginary world dominated by woodland and streams, and populated by the usual forest creatures like rabbits, frogs, foxes, otters and squirrels. There is an alligator though – his rather incongruous presence isn’t explained, and that’s one of the things I like about the way Ikeda writes. She doesn’t overtell the story – there’s no exposition at all, and characters and events appear in the books without introduction, but as if Ikeda is telling stories of creatures the reader already knows well. If you want every detail provided for you, then you may not like Ikeda’s style, but I find it very fresh and light. The reader is free to be a co-creator with Ikeda – he may suppose and imagine whatever he wishes when contemplating the world of Wachifield.

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