It was only meant to be an amusing read: T.S. Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, which son Zach gave us for Christmas. But serendipity must have guided Zach to this little collection of poems that day. It seems that the Nobel prize-winning Eliot was personally acquainted with several of our own cat’s ancestors! There can be no other explanation.
If the area window was found ajar
And the basement looked like a field of war,
If a tile or two came loose on the roof,
Which presently ceased to be waterproof,
If the drawers were pulled out from the bedroom chests,
And you couldn’t find one of your winter vests,
Or after supper one of the girls
Suddenly missed her Woolworth pearls:
Then the family would say, ‘It’s that horrible cat!’
--from MUNGOJERRIE AND RUMPELTEAZER
A picture on the wall is askew. A shower curtain liner is in tatters. Sun shines through claw-holes in the bedroom drapes. The bottom third of the Christmas tree ornaments are cockeyed or backwards. Yesterday morning, my glasses were missing from the chest beside the bed. After a frantic search, I found them tangled in some torn fibers of the box spring cover, some distance under the bed. “It’s that Terrible Tiger!”
Growltiger was a Bravo cat, who travelled on a barge
In fact, he was the roughest cat that ever roamed at large.
From Gravesend up to Oxford he pursued his evil aims,
Rejoicing in his title of ‘The Terror of the Thames’….
Woe to the weak canary, that fluttered from its cage;
Woe to the pampered Pekinese, that faced Growltiger’s rage;
Woe to the bristly Bandicoot, that lurks on foreign ships,
And woe to any Cat with whom Growltiger came to grips!
--from GROWLTIGER’S LAST STAND
Growltiger’s descendant, the Terrible Tiger, not only terrorizes birds and rodents but also goats, dogs, humans, and even other cats. I’d love to adopt one of the poor, homeless strays that happen by our place, but the Terrible Tiger, who possesses no social graces, always drives them away.
In the interest of the disinterest of cat-haters, I refrain from further discussion of the Terrible Tiger and his forebears, but I heartily recommend the book to fans of both cats and comedy.
“Also, since you are Christ's family, then you are Abraham's famous "descendant," heirs according to the covenant promises.” –GALATIONS 3:29