Sunday, March 6, 2011

THE CAT'S PAJAMAS

"Le moindre des petits félins est déjà en lui-même un vrai chef-d'oeuvre." --Léonarde de Vinci
(The least of little cats is already in himself a masterpiece.)
A silky, gregarious and playful pasha--who could ask for more? The white-mitted Sacré de Birmanie is one of the three most popular purebred cats in France. The dream kitten, here, is a chocolate-point Birman and the new bébé in our family. In his walking papers he's officially named Fadji des Grands Saphirs. At home he's known as Pompon, but he must surely sport a secret name, imagining himself to be Guy l'Eclair, i.e., Flash Gordon, dashing through an intergalactic adventure to defend the universe between the back bedrooms and the kitchen sink.

I, and millions of French people who have a predilection for any and all cats, agree with author Colette who said, "Il n'y a pas de chat ordinaire."  There are no ordinary cats. (Less than five percent of the domestic cat population in France is purebred.) By common accord, alley cats or chats de gouttière are most respectfully denominated chats de race Européen by the Fédération Féline Française and, like a seigneurial privilege, are attributed a category in cat shows for which no particular standards dare be imposed.

Vocabulary
les pyjamas du chat: the cat's pajamas
éclair: flash

Expression
La nuit tous les chat sont gris: At night all cats are gray; in the obscurity, the difference between people or things becomes indistinguishable.

Did you know that Leonardo da Vinci spent the final three years of his life in France in the service of François I, and is entombed in the Chapel de Saint-Hubert at the Château d'Amboise on the banks of the Loire?


For a history of the development of the Sacred Cat of Burma or "Birman" in France, click here; for a timeline of the breed, in French and with vintage photos, click here; or for the story envelopped in a charming legend penned by Marcelle Adam, click here.

Text & photo ©2011 P.B. Lecron


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