Friday, May 13, 2011

Colette on Cats

"She's the most intelligent cat in the world and she loves me disinterestedly in spite of the miseries I inflict on her, biting her in her pink ears and making her go through the most complicated training.

She loves me so much that she understands what I say and comes and rubs against my mouth when she hears the sound of my voice. She also loves books like an old scholar, this Fanchette, and worries me every night after dinner to remove two or three volumes of Papa's big Larousse from their shelf. The space they leave makes a kind of little square room in which Fanchette settles down and washes herself; I shut the glass door on her and her imprisoned purr vibrates with a noise like an incessant, muffled drum. From time to time, I look at her; then she makes me a sign with her eyebrows which she raises like a human being. Lovely Fanchette, how intelligent and understanding you are!...You amused me from the moment you came into the world; you'd only got one eye open when you were already attempting warlike steps in your basket, though you were still incapable of standing up on your four matchsticks. Ever since, you've lived joyously, making me laugh with your belly-dances in honour of cockchafers and butterflies, your clumsy calls to the birds you're stalking, your way of quarreling with me and giving me sharp taps that re-echo on my hands. Your behaviour is quite disgraceful; two or three times a year I catch you on the garden walls, wearing a crazy, ridiculous expression, with a swarm of tom-cats round you. I even know your favourite, you perverse Fanchette - he's a dirty-grey Tom, long and lean, with half his fur gone. He's got ears like a rabbit's and coarse, plebeian limbs. How can you make a m├ęsalliance with this low-born animal, and make it so often? But, even at those demented seasons, as soon as you catch sight of me, your natural face returns for a moment, and you give me a friendly mew which says something like: "You see what I'm up to. Don't despise me too much, nature has her urgent demands. But I'll soon come home again and I'll lick myself for ages to purify myself of this dissolute life." O, beautiful Fanchette, your bad behaviour is so remarkably becoming to you!"
- The Complete Claudine

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