A Chinese scholar is domesticated by his cat
August 28, 2020 4:32 AM   Subscribe

 
Nice! Cf Pangur Ban
posted by BWA at 4:48 AM on August 28 [13 favorites]


From 800 years in the past, I feel seen. I would also like to be known as Poop Shoveling Officer.
posted by gladly at 5:42 AM on August 28 [6 favorites]


So good.
posted by Hypatia at 6:16 AM on August 28


at least it was his cat. the emperor next door has started to display worryingly imperialist tendencies (either that or i have angered a witch).
posted by inire at 6:31 AM on August 28 [8 favorites]


Delightful! Thank you! Have a fish!
posted by carter at 7:00 AM on August 28 [3 favorites]


I'm just glad that sometime between 1183 and 1191 Lu You was able to get a rug for his cats to lay on.
posted by Nelson at 7:38 AM on August 28 [26 favorites]


Every word resonates today and like Lu I love my cats despite them being lazy and often indifferent to me.

The biggest difference in humanity is not left or right, rich or poor, good or evil. It is cat or dog.

Everyone knows they are cruel murder beasts who view us with contempt. Arrogant, demanding, indifferent, and they don't catch mice.

But we who adore cats find that to be endearing and cute, which causes those who prefer dogs a great deal of confusion.
posted by sotonohito at 9:02 AM on August 28 [9 favorites]


While looking for other translations of Lu You, I happened upon a Quora page on Cats in Ancient China, which, among other things, catalogs poetic names for cat coat patterns, with cartoon pictures:
Jade Ruler; Right: Dark clouds
Left: embroidered tiger; Right: ink jade and white pearl
Left: general carries his seal (on his back); Right: General putting his seal up.
Left: dragging spear in snow; Right: hiding a needle in ink.
Left: whipping an embroidered ball; Right: dragging the spear and holding up a seal.
Left: whipping the cherry; Right: dragging the spear and carry the Seal.
Left: screaming afterglow; Right: golden hairpin and silver bottle
Left: rolling on the ground of embroidered silk; Right: stepping on snow and looking for cherry blossom
Left: Li Hua; Right: Dark cloud over snow.
Left: golden tiger; Right: carry butterfly in mouth
Golden cover on a silver bed.
posted by zamboni at 9:03 AM on August 28 [12 favorites]


I read this yesterday. It was delightful!
posted by toastyk at 9:07 AM on August 28


Feelings of loneliness do not arise in me
When I have my fat cat as a companion
Truly stellar poetry here, it stands the test of time, being as true today as it was a thousand ears ago.
posted by jeather at 9:28 AM on August 28 [24 favorites]


Also:
The furnace is soothing and the rug is warm
Me and my cat are not leaving the house
posted by btfreek at 9:55 AM on August 28 [19 favorites]


So for what reason do you keep running here and there?
posted by Horkus at 10:39 AM on August 28 [4 favorites]


It is the most wonderful feeling in the world to share moments like these with someone from nearly a milennia ago.

I am glad he could move up to fish and rugs for his friends.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 10:55 AM on August 28 [10 favorites]


For thousands of years, humans have allowed these furry little jerks to live in their houses with them, for pest control, yes, but even more so for companionship and entertainment. Cats know how good they have it, and see no reason at all to change the arrangement. I only hope that humanity is able to get its collective shit together and solve its worst problems, so that thousands of years from now, on an as-yet-undiscovered distant planet, someone will wake up to a pile of puke in their space boot and a tiny, furry face screaming for breakfast.
posted by Faint of Butt at 11:09 AM on August 28 [25 favorites]


Lu You is best known for his elegiac poem for his beloved cousin/first wife Tang Wan. They had a happy marriage but his mother forced him to divorce her. The couplets end with 'Wrong wrong wrong!' and 'Don't don't don't!' Legend has it that Tang Wan was so stricken when she read the poem that she died soon afterwards.

So it's nice to know he had lighter moments in his life.
posted by of strange foe at 11:34 AM on August 28 [12 favorites]


Reading cat poems to my cat only confuses him as much as when I dance for him. Another productive day!
posted by winesong at 12:41 PM on August 28


I got a little kitty with bag of salt
to protect the countless books in my study


How does salt figure in? Other poems seem to say the cat should kill rats to protect books.

Should I be salting my books?
posted by StickyCarpet at 12:47 PM on August 28


I think you trade the salt for the cat. Bonus: double the therapeutic effect for your blood pressure.
posted by Westringia F. at 12:52 PM on August 28 [4 favorites]


Animals often are attracted by salty tastes - for example people use salt licks to attract deer. I used to have a cat who loved potato chips, but I think she was just after the salt.
posted by crazy_yeti at 1:20 PM on August 28 [1 favorite]


One of our cats, (my husband has a cat, but swears he does not), who when my husband eats lunch and there are chips, will climb up in his lap, and he will hold a chip for her until she's licked off all the salt, and then get her another, all while he eats with his other hand. But, it's not his cat. This should be made very clear. She even answers to Not My Cat. ;)
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 1:26 PM on August 28 [7 favorites]


This is beautiful, and completely tallies with my experience of getting a cat just to control mice. Mind you, the mere presence of a cat seems to put them off, even if she never catches one.

I thought at first that list of names for cat coat patterns was a list of cat names at first, and had decided to call my next cat Screaming Afterglow. Never mind, maybe I'll just start a band.
posted by Fuchsoid at 2:47 PM on August 28 [2 favorites]


he will hold a chip for her until she's licked off all the salt, and then get her another, all while he eats with his other hand

i may regret asking this, but do you mean he eats the, ah, soggy de-salted chip with his other hand? or does his unacknowledged cat get her own portion?
posted by inire at 3:03 PM on August 28 [2 favorites]


Little Tiger
Snowy
Pink Nose
Those are all excellent cat names. This thread will be a good resource for future "name my cat" AskMe's.

I was so naive and now I'm so stressed out is the best desciption of my life these days too. None of the blame for this is on my cats, though.
posted by heatherlogan at 3:37 PM on August 28 [2 favorites]


I think you trade the salt for the cat

An important hint for the video game version of this I have in my mind.
posted by Orlop at 3:50 PM on August 28 [6 favorites]


[this is very good]

There was a fantastic Projects post from Quasirandom a bit back, whose translations of ancient Chinese poetry I highly suggest to anyone who wants to spend more time in the language and lyricism of some slightly earlier texts in a similar tradition.
posted by youarenothere at 4:24 PM on August 28 [4 favorites]


Can't remember where I read it, but there are researchers who study domestic cats and they have determined that, despite appearances and popular wisdom to the contrary, Your Cat Loves You.
posted by um at 8:47 PM on August 28 [7 favorites]


> I think you trade the salt for the cat

Since the kitten is joining your family, the bag of salt goes to the kitten's original family as the bride price.

If the kitten is from a stray cat, you give her fish as the bride price. Because what's a stray cat going to do with a bag of salt?

If you are trying to justify adding another kitten to your household, but rats currently aren't eating your books, try adding salt.
posted by sebastienbailard at 11:25 PM on August 28 [8 favorites]


thousands of years from now, on an as-yet-undiscovered distant planet, someone will wake up to a pile of puke in their space boot and a tiny, furry face screaming for breakfast.
I'm waiting for ubiquitous, desktop genetic engineering and space habitats to give us cats with flying fox wings gliding around and dislodging the kitchen utensils velcroed to the wall. Hopefully the swarms of nanobots will take care of the floating blobs of puke.

Also, this is neat!
posted by eotvos at 7:09 AM on August 29


I just had the hilarious mental image of a cat trying to clean its fur in zero-G and now I need to make a call to NASA...
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 7:48 AM on August 29 [3 favorites]


Ask and ye shall receive: Do space cats land on their feet?
posted by yeahlikethat at 10:49 AM on August 29 [3 favorites]


The poems are delightful and the poetic names for coat patterns are wonderful. Gray tabbies, torties, and Siamese seem to be absent, though!
posted by Sublimity at 2:33 PM on August 29


Chinese cats
posted by gudrun at 8:04 PM on August 29


posted by inire: i may regret asking this, but do you mean he eats the, ah, soggy de-salted chip with his other hand? or does his unacknowledged cat get her own portion?

Oh no. The soggy chips get put aside for disposal. He eats *his* lunch with the hand not being used to feed Not His Cat. ;)
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 7:12 PM on August 30 [2 favorites]


yeahlikethat, that was the best thing I've seen all day! This is why I keep coming back here: cats floating in space totally confused. The best!
posted by LizBoBiz at 7:12 AM on August 31


I didn't think that space cats thing was funny at all.

It was pure coincidence that I laughed so hard I couldn't breathe at the same time I was watching it.
posted by jamjam at 10:08 PM on September 3


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