I watch Cats 101 on the Animal Planet whenever it’s on, hoping it won’t be a rerun, though I wouldn’t mind watching it again. I loved the BBC documentary on Cats that aired a few years ago on PBS.
We always had cats at home when I was growing up. The whole Schnabel family were cat lovers. The only canine exception was—unfortunately—a snappy, co-dependent little Pomeranian named Teddy. He would growl and bite my high school friends who tried to pet him, then I’d get teased about it at school.
Teddy would get depressed and despondent the minute my mother left to go to the grocery store and wait for her return, watching anxiously from her bedside table upstairs.
Back to cats, cat lovers, and music. I’ve often wondered, after reading so much Oliver Sacks on the subject of music and the mind, whether cats enjoy listening to — and comprehend—music. Or are they like people who suffer from amusia, the inability to make sense of music, where all is random cacophony?
Evidently not so for Domenico Scarlatti, the 18th century Italian composer, who once wrote a cat fugue. He had a cat named Pulcinella that liked to walk on the keyboard. One day Pulcinella created a wonderful melodic line while traversing the ivories. Scarlatti called it “The Cat Fugue”. It has been standard harpsichord repertoire ever since.