Thursday, August 8, 2019

A Cat's Friendship

A Cat's friendship is a hard thing to conquer. Cats are philosophical animals - sedate, quiet, fixed in their habits, true believers in decency and order, and not at all given to the bestowing of a thoughtless affection. They will be your friend if you prove worthy of friendship; but they will never be your slaves. Even in moments of tenderness a cat preserves his freedom of will, and cannot be made to comply with demands which seem to him unreasonable. But once he surrenders himself to you as a friend, what absolute confidence he gives! what fidelity of affection! He constitutes himself the companion of your solitary hours, of your melancholy, of your work. He will pass whole evenings purring on your knees, happy in your company, and forsaking that of animals of his own species. In vain do enticing mews re-echo from the roofs, calling him to one of those cat soirees where juicy red herrings take the place of tea. He will not be tempted away, and shares your vigil to the end. If you put him on the floor, he jumps back to his place with a murmuring noise that is like a soft reproach. Sometimes, standing near, he looks at you with his eyes so full of melting tenderness, so loving and so human, that you are half frightened; for it seems impossible, that in such a regard reason can be lacking.

- Theophile Gautier


My Household of Pets, Théophile Gautier, tr. Susan Coolidge, Boston, Roberts Brothers, 1882.

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