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CATS and LITERATURE

What could ever be more inspiring to a writer, than a cute purring little feline? A paradoxical creature by nature, cats have appealed to artists and poets through the centuries...

Here are some books for you to enjoy. Where possible I have included a link to an e-text file of the book, but this was not always possible due to copyright.

Living with the Lama, by T. Lobsang Rampa

T. Lobsang Rampa wrote several paperbacks, very popular in the 1960's and 70's, about his life as a lama in Tibet with extraordinary powers. As it turned out he was a plumber from Plymouth. However I still like his books very much, and my favourite is Living with the Lama. All I knew about this book was this description:

"Living with the Lama: Further revelations into Lobsang Rampa's extraordinary existence - this time from a curious angle."

Very vague. But when I actually got my hands on the book (it was quite an accident, as it was on the wrong shelf in the library) I saw that the picture on the cover included a Siamese cat. The book in fact was the life story of Mrs. Fifi Greywhiskers as telepathically channeled to Lobsang Rampa. This wasn't too believable to me... but the book was adorable. Here's the introduction:

LIVING WITH THE LAMA

by Mrs. Fifi Greywhiskers, P.S.C.

translated from the Siamese Cat Language by

T. Lobsang Rampa

FOREWORD

"You've gone off your head, Feef," said the Lama. "Who will believe that YOU wrote a book?" He smiled down at me and rubbed undermy chin in just the way I liked best before he left the room on some business.

I sat and pondered. "Why should I not write a book?" I thought. True that I am a Cat, but not an ordinary cat. Oh dear! No! I am a Siamese Cat who has travelled far and seen much. "Seen?" Well, of course I am quite blind now, and have to rely on the Lama and the Lady Ku'ei to tell me of the present scene, but I have my memories!

Of course I am old, very old indeed, and not a little infirm, but is that not good reason why I should put on paper the events of my life, while I am able? Here, then is my version of Living with the Lama, and the happiest days of my life; days of sunshine after a lifetime of shadows.

(Mrs.) Fifi Greywhiskers.

Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats, by T.S. Elliot

This delightful collection of poems by T.S. Elliot is the inspiration behind the great musical opera CATS! Written in seemingly babyish language, they have an irresistable appeal, for some cats are depicted with extreme realism... for instance, consider this stanza from the Rum-Tum Tugger:

The Rum Tum Tugger is a terrible bore:
When you let him in, then he wants to be out;
He's always on the wrong side of every door,
And as soon as he's at home, then he'd like to get about.
He likes to lie in the bureau drawer,
But he makes such a fuss if he can't get out.

Yes the Rum Tum Tugger is a Curious Cat--
And there isn't any use for you to doubt it:
For he will do
As he do do
And there's no doing anything about it!

Sounds familiar, doesn't it? I don't blame you.

The cat that walked by himself, by Rudyard Kipling

This, I think, is my favourite of Kipling's Just So Stories. These stories are designed to explain in fancy form why some things are as they are, and this particular story explains why cats have never been fully domesticated by man, and why "three proper men out of five will always throw things at a cat whenever they meet him, and all proper dogs will chase him up a tree."  Kipling's lucidity in telling the story is amazing. Read for yourself, for this captures the cat spirit perfectly.

Cat said, "I am not a friend and I am not a servant.  I am the Cat that walks by himself and to whom all places are alike."

Catwoman in literature

For Batman fans, and comic fans alike, here's something more lighthearted.

The Three Cats by Lewis Carroll

Lewis Carroll's surrealism at its most! Nothing makes sense in this story, but that's the way it ought to be, at least according to Carroll, author of Alice in Wonderland and Alice through the Looking-Glass. Read about the narrator's treatment of three visitor cats, which include flattening with a roller pin (!), feeding them ink (!!) and letting them out through the chimney (!!!). Well, read for yourself.

The Cat Who Became a Queen

An extra-cute Indian folk tale about a prince who marries a cat, which, through the intervention of Shiva, becomes a beautiful princess. Beats the Frog-Prince at all costs!!! =^..^=

The Black Cat, by Edgar Allan Poe

Not for the light-hearted. This mildly horrific story traces the degradation of a gentle person into a murderer, and how a black cat ruins all his plans.

I'll be keeping my eyes open for other books and/or stories concerning cats.
In the meantime, if you have any link or review you would like published
on this site, don't hesitate to
e-mail me, please.

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Last updated 17/08/98.
All images except the Magic Paw logo, and the Lobsang Rampa cover taken from Beware of Cat. Lobsang Rampa cover taken from

Michael Pio Deguara 1998