Flying high on a lark, I knock! Grab a perch because I’ve got a feathered tale to tell. A great ball of yarn to re-wind, so to squeak! Ever since watching Walt Disney’s “The Aristocats” movie at the age of nine on the family television set, I’ve been obsessed with France and les chats domestiques. There. There. I have said it.
Set in Paris, the cartoon flick was a game changer. Not only did I yearn to be the rhinestone-laden, Parisian glamour puss (a.k.a., “Duchess”), but I also fancied running away with her swashbuckling, orange tabby beau, the flamboyant prince of the boulevard, “Abraham de Lacey Giuseppe Casey Thomas O’Malley—O’Malley, the alley cat.”
I was smitten, bitten, hooked, and crooked.
“Oh, c’est très jolie, monsieur Thomas!” I’d spit out again and again at my reflection in the mirror, channeling my inner-Duchess, all the while vowing to live in the City of Light one day. Years later, when I scooted into my very own garret pad close enough to three fromageries to mark the changing of the seasons by the cheese, I made good on my vow, holy cow.
And now, I see cats. I see cats in Paris. All the time! Where? Where? They’re everywhere. Heck, once during a winter tempest, I rescued a teeny, tiny tortoiseshell cat found trembling on the wet cobblestones outside the Grand Hotel de Clermont, just a fur ball’s throw from where Édith Piaf made one of her legendary busking debuts in Pigalle. I think groove master Thomas O’Malley would have totally approved of my impromptu adoption of “Kitty” the kitten.
Anaïs Nin once wrote, “What I cannot love, I overlook,” but I’d push it a little further and say that what I do love, I can’t help but notice! Getting all reflective, “Bonjour, dame de chat!” is what I now say to my handheld mirror. With a decade-old Kitty still on my lap, still purring in French, of course.
In celebration of self-awareness, along with the upcoming International Hug Your Cat Day, let’s spend it with a few of my own favorite felines in the city. When out pounding the pavement, strutting the streets, or slinking down the alleyways, keep your peepers peeled for other appealing cat sightings. After all, cats are practically a part of the landscape in Paris.
As Thomas O’Malley the cat once crooned, “Everybody wants to be a cat because a cat’s the only cat who knows where it’s at! Everybody’s picking up on that feline beat ’cause everything else is obsolete!”
I completely concur. Now, let’s get to strutting!