My dear Billy, In the good old days of the Mauritius Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (MSPCA), a very great injustice was perpetrated against dogs compared to cats. In fact, in those days a number of dog catches were hired by the society to catch stray dogs roaming on the roads and beaches, while the cats were left unperturbed. This was perceived by many as a sort of favouritism. Unfortunately the Equal Opportunity Commission was not yet implemented, and there was nowhere you could lodge a complaint. Soon after I sent you that piece about dogs last week, a contingent of cats of complex colours and callings came meowing and purring at my door. They said they were protesting against the fact that I had taken up the issue of dogs but had been absolutely quiet on the subject of cats. They accused me of cat-bashing and being anti-feline. They said I was a perfect cataclysm and prayed I would shortly die of cataplexy or cataract and be buried in a catacomb. Only then could there be a catharsis, they claimed. One even went a few inches further and proclaimed me a fanatic, arguing that since I was a dog myself, I favoured those of my kind, to the detriment of the cats. What a catastrophe, my dear Billy! In the face of such hurly-burly, I was on the point of saying to myself: Let the dogs bark, they can’t prevent the caravan from passing. But I remembered just in time that what I had; in front of me was a congregation of cats, not a drove of dogs. And to show that I am nothing of what they think or pretend, I’ll tell you a few things about the cats today. It’s not that I feel like a cat on a hot tin roof right now or that I’m afraid, like the proverbial cat, to drink hot milk twice. Nor have I been waiting to see which way the cat jumps. The fact of the matter is that I really do find cats to be such a formidable and often despicable species. I am not here referring to all cats, of course, my dear Billy. I am happily excluding the noble breeds like the lions, the tigers, the leopards, the cheetahs, etc. to concentrate on the common domestic pet of the Mauritian kind. As you know, cats have been having different treatments and considerations at different periods in different countries. If in certain parts of the world, they are still associated with superstition and witchcraft, in ancient Egypt, they used to be worshipped. In certain parts or eastern Asia, cats make a good delicacy at lunch or dinner. I won’t let any cat out of the bag by saying that, unlike its counterpart elsewhere; the Mauritian cat is more of a felon than feline. It will think nothing of entering your kitchen stealthily and lifting any item of food that you may have inadvertently left on the table. Instead of catching mice and ridding your house of undesirable rats, the Mauritian cat will spend all its valuable time minding other cats’ business, poking its feline nose into the affairs of the other poor, dumb cats. It always takes a feline pleasure turning and twisting the other cats’ reputation in its feline mouth, and indulging in a sadistic bout of character assassination. Cats in Mauritius have seven lives, my dear Billy. This may be a little bit confusing to you because the cats in Britain are reported to have nine lives. But you see, our economic situation is such that we cannot afford the luxury of bestowing nine lives upon our cats. Mauritian cats differ from British cats in several other aspects as well. It is said that, unlike our cats, cats in Britain don’t gossip or engage in endless palaver. They are not scandal mongers or backbiters. They strictly observe the traffic rules and are very polite on the road. When they are entrusted an assignment, they will give heart and soul to it and tackle it to the best of their ability. If they don’t understand something they will make it a point to find out as much as possible about it in order to improve their efficiency. When they invite other cats for a special occasion, a wedding dinner for example, they won’t reserve the best drinks for a few favourite friends of the felony and entertain them in a room apart. And if they are invited on such an occasion, they won’t eat and drink to bursting point and afterwards criticize both the food and the host. Mauritian cats are a species apart. They don’t carry daggers in their smiles – they thrust them right in other cats’ bellies. The success of one cat breaks the hearts of all the others. Envy is their morning tea and jealousy their staple food. If they are incompetent and unable to do something, they will make sure that others don’t do it either. Cats in Mauritius will often go out of their way to do harm to others. You will find them in great numbers crawling around you and fawning when prosperity is smiling at you, but when adversity strikes, they will hide their heads, not to be found though sought. If by chance they come to help a cat in need, they will never forget the deed and proclaim it from the roof-tops; but if a good turn is done to them, they will forget it all too soon. They won’t even remember or bother to say “thank you.” So, you will agree, my dear Billy, that we can’t waste nine lives on our cats. But I hate to miss the opportunity of admiring a certain species of cats prancing on the catwalk.
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