7 Fabulous Felines
By Jane Farrell
A recent study found that cats bond more with women than with men. What's more, according to the research, conducted by experts at the University of Vienna, cats will comply with their owner's wishes if the owner complies with the cat's wishes. In other words, scratch my chin and I will sit on your lap. Give me food and you can pet me. Yet all joking aside, there's no doubt about the intensity of the relationship between a human and her cat. Felines are among the most willful, mysterious and beguiling creatures in the animal kingdom. Here's a salute to seven of them, in all their furry glory:
Larry, Mighty Mouser
Number 10 Downing St., the official residence of Britains Prime Minister, gained a new member of the household last month--Larry (above), an approximately four-year-old cat rescued from the streets of London. Larrys mission is to eliminate the rats that have been frolicking outside No. 10, even during live news broadcasts. He's just the latest Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office, following in the pawprints of heavyweights like Nelson (who served under Winston Churchill) and the supremely diplomatic Humphrey, who navigated his way through the regimes of Margaret Thatcher, John Major and Tony Blair.
Tama, Stationmaster, Kinokawa, Japan
Its not quite as crazy as it sounds. To cut costs, the local railway changed all manned stations to unmanned ones but told area businesses they could choose an employee to act as stationmaster. So Tama stepped up to the plate. (Basically, she purrs at passengers.) Although the position is unsalaried, the calico female does have a stationmasters cap as well as free food and litter.
Nora: Keyboard Queen
Some cats chase fuzzy mice; Nora plays the piano. Really. The female tabby, rescued from a shelter in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, taps out tinkly tunes both by herself and in duets with music students. (A CD with Nora playing the lead song is available for purchase at www.petcds.com.)The Times of London, in its thoughtful review of Nora's artistry, compared her music to that of Philip Glass. With 20 million YouTube views, though, we think Noras got a bigger audience.
Socks: D.C. Powerhouse
On the long and winding road from Little Rock to the White House, Socks was with Bill Clinton and family every step of the way. He soon became a star in Washington, and a cartoon version of him guided kids around the White House website. But he was taken home by the President's secretary after the First Family got a dog, Buddy, in 1997. The two constantly fought. Said the President: "I did better with the Palestinians and the Israelis than I did with Socks and Buddy."
Oscar: Living With Death
Oscar, who came from an animal shelter, grew up in a unit for terminally ill patients in the Steere Nursing Home and Rehabilitation Center in Providence, R.I. Staff members noticed that Oscar would curl up with only one kind of patient: the ones who were going to die within a few hours. He stayed with the patient until she died and then left the room. Since hes accurately predicted 50 deaths, the medical profession takes him seriously, though they say he may simply be aware of an abnormal stillness in dying patients.
Dewey: Library Cat
Named after the inventor of the Dewey Decimal System, the cat who was found in an outside bookdrop of the Spencer, Iowa, library in 1988 soon became a comforting presence to the people who worked and read there. Word of his presence spread; Cat Fancy did a story, a Sioux City TV station intervewed him, and Dewey went global. Literally. Tourists came from overseas. And at least five books have been written about him. No wonder his last name was Readmore Books.
Dorofei: International Diplomat
Dorofei, the rare, expensive Neva Masquerade cat owned by Russian Federation President Dmitry Medvedev, was unfortunate enough to get into a fight with a cat belonging to Mikhail Gorbachev, the last leader of the U.S.S.R. Awkward!! But Dorofei recovered and caught the eye of the Japanese Prime Minister. At a 2008 meeting between Medvedev and the Prime Minister, the idea of an animated Japanese movie starring Dorofei was floated. The Japanese press took this as a sign of improving relations between the two countries.