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Earlier this month I got a book called Golden Leaves, an anthology for children published in 1933, at a garage sale. It includes an essay called "Cats and Their Ways - Their Manners and Customs", by Margery William Bianco (who I found out wrote The Velveteen Rabbit, one of my favorite kid's books.) I especially liked this:

They are extremely proud and very sensitive to ridicule. A cat resents being made to show off before company and usually dreads appearing absurd in any way. Our big black and white cat, known as "The Common People," was one evening in the room when some visitors came. One of the visitors was very anxious to have him appear at his best. She said: "Oh, do get People's catnip mouse; he's so amusing when he plays with it."

The mouse was produced, but, instead of pouncing on it as usual, People threw me an indignant look and gave the mouse an angry bat with his paw that sent it flying into the fireplace. He then marched out, not to return for several hours. I have seen the same cat turn around, when some one laughed at him for missing a fly that he was jumping for, and give the laugher a deliberate box on the ears. One of my earliest recollections, and a most humiliating one, is of having my own ears boxed in just the same way, when I was three years old, by a very dignified tabby cat in a grocery store.

I told Pat that the next black and white cat we get (I am on my third) would be named The Common People. This happened sooner than I'd expected. Pat's mother needed to find a home for her teenage black and white cat (who she calls Casey) because of health problems. I'd adored him since I met him and we came to live with us. And we call him The Common People. We love him, Sophie likes playing with him, and George tolerates him.
The Common People

May 2016

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