Earlier this summer I picked up a small relatively thin book titled, “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats” by T.S. Elliot. It originally caught my eye because of the word ‘possum’ and has published a book last year about an opossum I thought I’d like to add this to my collection. However, as most of you know, this is not a book about an opossum but a well-known collection of poems about cats which in turn became Cats a 2019 musical fantasy film based on the 1981 stage musical of the same name by Andrew Lloyd Webber, based on the poetry collection Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats (1939) by T. S. Eliot.
Upon reading this charming collection of poems I was attracted to a short selection titled,
“The Naming of Cats”.
The Naming of Cats is a difficult matter, it isn’t just one of your holiday games; you may think at first I’m as mad as a hatter when I tell you, a cat must have THREE DIFFERENT NAMES.
And, yes, my Missy Cat has three different names. The first one is the one the family uses daily; Missy. A sensible every day often used cat name, according to our vet. Missy’s fancier name came 18 years ago when she was hand-delivered to us in a soft pink blanket. She was named Miss Clavell, after the teaching nun, in Ludwig Bemelmans; Madeline book series. And, very quickly, due to my 3-year-old son’s ease at making things quicker and easier to say, nicknamed her Miss. C. which quickly became Missy. The name the family uses almost as often as Missy Cat.
A recent photo of Missy was taken on a hot summer day in mid-July. The outside temperature was 96 degrees with no interior air conditioning. Missy cruised the house trying to find that perfect location in which to ‘chill’. I watched as she entered the bathroom, looked up, and then jumped into the bowl of the stone sink. Ahh. Cool at last! She turned twice, purring loudly and then promptly wrapped herself around the bowl to engage in what T.S. Elliot wrote as “profound meditation, her mind engaged in rapt contemplation of the thought, of the thought, of the thought, of her name.”