The cat is the most fascinating and mysterious of animals. Dogs, horses, cattle, pigs were of immediate use to man, but the cat, not useful to anyone, independent, fierce, remained its own master.
When it did strike up a relationship, it was not out of affection, but self-interest, because it could not resist the succulent mice that roamed the granaries of Ancient Egypt.
Scientists seem to agree that the domestic cat is a cross between the European wildcat (Felis sylvestris) and the African Wildcat (Felis lybica). It lived like a small tiger in the wild. Only in the Third Millennium did it mortgage its freedom and was tempted to begin its softer life in Egypt. Here it was deified and venerated and slowly accepted the company of men.
The goddess Bast or Past – hence the diminutive puss – was depicted with the head of a cat endowed with a mysterious bewitching gaze. She was the moon, the lover of the night.
Nowadays the cat knows that it comes from noble lineage, and will not let us forget it. Every cat has its own particular psyche – it may be timid, impudent, stubborn, tranquil, spiteful, courageous, neurotic. How much it acquires from men is problematic. But under this it also has typically feline qualities of independence, curiosity, cruelty and jealousy.
In this collection Company of Cats, I have tried to portray some of these.