A curl of the tail

· cats · mumblings ·

It’s no secret that I’m a cat lover (or a crazy cat lady, depending upon your point of view). Like any person in thrall to all things feline, I love to watch them in motion. However, there are times when I find myself completely entranced just watching them sitting. They have such an elegant shape. I particularly like it when they sit upright, in a pose I like to think of as the “Goddess Bastet”.

I was watching Bella the other day as she sat on the windowsill in this position, looking out the window. Her forepaws were placed very precisely, pressed together tightly and just touching her back paws. Her body was a series of intersecting curves. The great arches of her ears, pointing neatly forwards, joined the tight curve of her head. Her back was a thing of geometric perfection. It always reminds me somehow of a golden spiral — a tight curve that opens out and then relaxes into an elegant sweep towards the ground.

And then there was her tail. Bella’s tail comes a very close second to her golden green, early autumn beech leaf eyes as her best feature. Like all Somali cats, she has a thick, luxuriantly furred tail. Some people describe it as being like a squirrel or a fox tail, but that doesn’t really do the extravagance of it justice. It looks like something a creature from the forests of Siberia would sport in the depths of winter. Like the rest of her coat, it has layers of woodland colours: russet, rich chestnut, and a deep brown like old, well polished leather. Over this, there’s a stripe of glossy black running along the length of her tail, and pooling at the dapper black tip. Most of the time, it’s in a constant state of movement, even if her body is still. It’s an eloquent tail, idly flicking, slyly arching, slowly curving or whipping fast like a striking cobra. It even twines around your leg companionably when you reach down to stroke her. It almost seems to have a mind of its own. However, when she sits like Bastet she holds her tail in a particular way. As she settles, she curves her tail to the left along the ground, wrapping it closely around her perimeter until the tip reaches her forepaws. Just as her tail comes to rest, the very tip of her tail gently curls back on itself.

Whenever I picture Bella, I see this gesture of hers. It’s a supremely elegant serif, a beautiful scroll carved into an oak bannister, or a wrought iron flourish forged by a master blacksmith. It’s impossibly beautiful. I find it hard to believe that she’s real.

A goddess in the form of a cat? Entirely appropriate, if you ask me.