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THE NAMING OF CATS
(From OLD POSSUM'S BOOK OF PRACTICAL CATS)
The Naming of Cats is a difficult matter,
It isn't just one of your holiday games;
You may think at first I'm as mad as a hatter
When I tell you, a cat must have THREE DIFFERENT NAMES.
First of all, there's the name that the family use daily,
Such as Peter, Augustus, Alonzo or James,
Such as Victor or Jonathan, George or Bill Bailey -
All of them sensible everyday names.
There are fancier names if you think they sound sweeter,
Some for the gentlemen, some for the dames:
Such as Plato, Admetus, Electra, Demeter -
But all of them sensible everyday names.
But I tell you, a cat needs a name that's particular,
A name that's peculiar, and more dignified,
Else how can he keep up his tail perpendicular,
Or spread out his whiskers, or cherish his pride?
Of names of this kind, I can give you a quorum,
Such as Munkustrap, Quaxo, or Coricopat,
Such as Bombalurina, or else Jellylorum -
Names that never belong to more than one cat.
But above and beyond there's still one name left over,
And that is the name that you never will guess;
The name that no human research can discover -
But THE CAT HIMSELF KNOWS, and will never confess.
When you notice a cat in profound meditation,
The reason, I tell you, is always the same:
His mind is engaged in a rapt contemplation
Of the thought, of the thought, of the thought of his name:
His ineffable effable Effanineffable
Deep and inscrutable singular Name
The hapless nymph with wonder saw;
A whisker first, and then a claw,
With many an ardent wish,
She stretched in vain to reach the prize:
What female heart can gold despise?
What cat's averse to fish?
Again she stretched, again she bent,
Nor knew the gulf between,
Malignant Fate sat by and smiled:
The slippery verge her feet beguiled;
She stumbled headlong in.
(From "On the death of a favourite cat drowned in a tub of gold-fishes" by Thomas Gray (1716-71)
WEIRD MOSCOW (From The Moscow Times, September 3-9, 1999)
Fat cats, blue cats, thin cats, flying cats, fish cats, orange cats, cloth cats and square cats adorn the walls and floors of the first floor flat at 109 Rublyovskoye Shosse.
The only cats not present when I turned up at Moscow's only cat museum were live ones. That's because Bonnie (short for Boniface) was at his dacha.
Andrei Abramov, the owner of the cat museum, can reel off a list of artists who have done their thing with cats. Rubens, Renoir, Picasso, Velazquez and Chagal. None of that lot are here though. 'It doesn't matter if it's a good or famous artist,' said Andrei, who opened the museum in 1993, and who proudly shows the pictures of him and his wife featured in public and cat magazines from all over the world. 'We take those who work well with cats.'
In the corner stands a sculpture of Behemoth from Mikhail Bulgakov's 'Master and Margarita', a proudly bedraggled beast wearing square glasses and holding a large chalice whilst riding on a scooter with one wheel and one ice-skate.
'Cats are a kind of aesthetic,' said Andrei, tall and thin with a twitch of a moustache. He began the cat museum in 1993 as a spin-off from his own art gallery but was forced to move it to Rublyovskoye Shosse from the center after a pet food company stopped sponsoring them.
Andrei believes the easy form makes the animal attractive to the artist. Pointing to an abstract cat with a triangular head and an angular body, he asked me 'Can you tell what it is?' I refrained from saying 'a hippopotamus, perhaps.' 'Cats are extraordinary creatures, mysterious,' said Andrei. 'Every artist can make their attempt.
Among the themes are sea cats and flying cats. One of Abramov's first themes was cat and women, and every November, the museum holds a beauty contest for the best pair. Contestants are judged on looks, cat obedience, cat knowledge and a special task, which last year was to create a millennium meal for your cat.
It's not all art in the museum. There are cat biscuits from France, postcards, masks, photos, calendars, cuddy toys and cat magazines.
None of the work - some of which is very good - is for sale. And back in their other gallery they have stored more than 700 other works of art.
But frankly I was more interested in the video in the kitchen, 'Breaking Bad Habits for Your Cat'. I'd just returned to my flat after a few weeks away to find my cat - whom I inherited from the previous writer of this column - had decided to try and give me ammonia poisoning. Her weak or vindictive bladder was starting to annoy the neighbors as well as me so who better to ask than the owner of a cat museum.
He wasn't much help on that but later he gave me some good advice. 'In England,' he said, 'they can treat cats and dogs better than their own children. There's an English proverb, 'If there's a cat in your house, you don't go to your house, you return home.'
That was all news to me and I was born in England. And although I haven't quite been transformed on the road to Whiskas, I did clasp the moist one closer to my chest that evening.
P.S. If you'd like to take part in the beauty contest or visit the museum,
phone Andrei Abramov at 141 5455 or 141 5424
A WORLD FULL OF CATS
Author: By Lyuba PRONINA
I thought that my dad had perhaps the biggest collection of miniature cats in Moscow until I saw the inside of Andrei Abramov and his wifes flat. To give it a due credit, its more of a museum rather, where absolutely everything is dedicated, well, to cats.
From pictures and photos to a rug that mews when you step on it, theres lots of cat-related material spread over the walls, floor and ceilings of this flat at 109 Rublyovskoye Shosse. They even have cat wine, but not that its offered to the visitors.
Starting from the anteroom, the cat theme tour conducted by the owners themselves takes you through the living room, the bedroom to wind up in the kitchen there simply isnt a vacant spot not filled with cats. And this is only one twentieth of what the Abramovs have in store.
Eclectic as it is, this collection however should infuse harmony, for cats are harmonious animals, Abramov believes.
Therefore, Abramov says, its hardly surprising theyve received so much attention from being worshipped in ancient Egypt to being persecuted in the middle ages.
The museum was created by Abramov in 1993, an artist and a cat worshipper himself. What you make out of a cat is your own business, but the museum suggests plenty of options, from frightened green-eyed kittens to well-pleased gingers.
But perhaps the number one cat in the flat is the sculpture of Behemoth from Mikhail Bulgakovs "Master and Margarita" a black disheveled creature on top of a bicycle swaying a large chalice.
If not entirely graceful, Behemoth, beside its literary value, proves at least one more thing about cats the belief that cats have many lives.
Behemoth himself has been through a number of rough times when while being shipped from one place to another he was severely damaged and then recreated almost totally to the original form. He now sits proudly among his companions of a variety of artistic interpretations.
According to Abramov, the first known image of a cat appeared around 6000 BC. Since then many have fallen under their spell, including renowned masters as da Vinci, Rubens, Renoir, Picasso, Velasquez and Chagall.
And of course Abramov himself.
One of the themes that inspired Abramov personally was that of a cat in relation to a woman. "In way of enigma, the only creatures to compare with cats are women," says Abramov for whom this comparison worked personally. It was also through cats that he met Yekaterina. The museum organizes beauty contests for women and their furry companions every November. The contenders are assessed on a number of criteria to include both looks and the knowledge of catlore.
Besides looks and lives, cats therapeutical value has also long been recognized. They are believed to pacify people and soak up their negative energy and hurts.
If anything, Abramov claims, cats can figure out a bad-meaning person straight away. Such was Napoleon to whom his cat phobia cost a lost battle at Waterloo. On the eve he is said to have dreamt of cats, says Abramov.
Theres a Russian saying that that who kills a cat will have no luck for seven years. And yet another one: those who keep a cat come back to a home not just a house.
If you want to visit Andrei Abramovs home and see Moscows Cats Museum you can call him at 141-5455/24.
A TRUE CAT-LOVER
Any history or anthology of the National Cat Club would be incomplete without
the "Winking Cat" or the National Logo - both designed by one of the National's
Founder members, the renowned artist and illustrator Louis Wain. Not only
a Founder Member, Louis Wain was Chairman in 1898 and 1911 and Show Manager
His contributions to the foundations of this great dub were immense and his
talented paintings, sketches, drawings and cartoons of cats must have played
a major part in popularising the cat.
It was so tragic, therefore, when in 1925 he was discovered to be living in
a pauper lunatic asylum. An appeal was launched by Mrs Cecil Chesterton in
the September, 1925, issue of the magazine ANIMALS. This produced an immediate
response from the public. In her appeal, Mrs Chesterton wrote, "For years
Louis Wain's cats decorated our hoardings, adorned the covers of magazines
and were familiarly loved by every child and the majority of grown-ups. No
Christmas Calendar was complete without this artist, no annual was issued
that did not contain one of his vivid sketches. And yet, at the age of 65,
he is so bereft of means that in his affliction he is compelled to accept
the hospitality of a State institution................"
"Louis Wain was not one of those men who take no thought for the morrow.
His history is one of the tragedies which rouse our deepest feelings of commiseration.
For years he made a fair income but, with a lack of business acumen, so often
allied to genius, when he sold his drawings he parted with them outright,
thus receiving no payment when they were reproduced over and over again............"
"Though he was a prolific worker, the war (1914-1918) put an end to his means
of livelihood as public demand changed in favour of khaki as against cats.
Such publications as were still devoted to Louis Wain reproduced those of
his drawings which had already been paid for." "By this means Louis Wain's
resources dwindled and though for a time he made a little money by cinema
cartoons, he gradually found himself penniless and without employment. A period
of intense privation, added to the mental strain and bewilderment at finding
himself in such a position, precipitated a breakdown. In 1923 he was admitted
as a pauper to the asylum where he has been ever since.
"This is a case which should appeal not only to the lovers of art and admirers
of Louis Wain's particular talents but should enlist the heartfelt sympathy
of those devoted to animals and concerned for their kindly treatment. Louis
Wain did very much for animals. He was the President of the National Cat Club
and remained Chairman of the Committee right down to the date of his illness.
He has supported innumerable Cats' Homes and Receiving Shelters for Stray
Cats and was one of the Governing Council of Our Dumb Friends' League and
an active member of the National Anti-Vivisection Society and his understanding
of our four-footed creatures established many beautiful friendships between
him and them."
"At the present moment this man, who has delighted thousands of people, and
conjured up innumerable smiles, lives in an asylum where, despite the sympathy
and kindliness of the officials, the conditions are necessarily terrible.
An asylum, in any case, must be a place of woe and desolation but there are
certain ameliorations in the matter of surroundings which money makes possible....................
Were sufficient funds forthcoming Louis Wain could be removed to the paying
portion of the asylum with a more generous diet and increased facilities for
seeing his friends."
"Louis Wain is not a violent lunatic. He is now what he has always been
- gentle, unassuming, humorous and able at times to use his pencil and reproduce
his beloved cats. But there are periods of darkness when he knows no one.
At such periods one feels acutely that he should have everything that money
can provide." There was an immediate and generous response to Mrs Chesterton's
heartrending appeal. In the October issue of ANIMALS it was reported, "Thanks
to the generous support of the Public, Louis Wain is no longer in a pauper
lunatic asyum. He is now in Bethlem Royal Hospital where his expenses are
being defrayed by the fund. But this does not permanently settle the problem
of his future. If he remains in his present condition the question of his
maintenance must continue forsomeyears. And not maintenance only. He now enjoys
the amenities suitable to his temperament and condition. An entirely new wardrobe
has been supplied to him, his room is comfortably furnished and he has all
the colours etc. he can desire."
"There is, however, another side to the question. Medical opinion believes
that there is some faint hope of his recovery. Should this hope be fulfilled
it would be most disasterous that he should return to the world without a
home and adequate provision until such time as he could earn his living once
again. His family dependents are not in a position to do this and it becomes,
therefore, a matter of urgent necessity to arrange for this possibility."
In a final message, the Appeal Committee expressed their thanks, "...........to
the Press for their generous support. The Daily Graphic competition brought
the fund the gratifying total sum of £283 and from all over the country
we have received letters sent to the local newspapers containing subscriptions.
The whole of Great Britain and Ireland have combined to help us in our work
to relieve the famous cat artist."
Thanks were also expressed to the famous author H G Wells and to the British
Broadcasting Co. and to many admirers who sent original sketches for sale
and to artists who contributed signed pictures for the same purpose. It is
a wonderful story and, as often stated many times in all circumstances,"................It
is one more proof that the great heart of the public is ever open to the unfortunate
and afflicted"... ...words written in 1925 but still applicable today when
a just cause is publicised.
At this 1996 Centenary National Show there will be many Charities where the
Public of 1996 can show their generosity as a tribute to this great artist
who had so much influence in the founding of the National Cat Club and who,
through his wonderful work, generated a public love of cats which had not
been so forthcoming in previous years.
"The Modern Kitchen" (Germany, 1904)
"In The Night On The Roofs" (Germany, 1904)
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