A Cat’s take on the Year of the Metal Rat

We liked the take that we read from the blog of the famous Marcel Zecat and we decided to share what he said about the year of his nemesis:

“The story goes that in immemorial times in China, the Jade Emperor invited 13 animals to a banquet to celebrate the new year and to share his observations with his subjects. In the first version of the story, the rat is a liar. He tells the cat that the banquet will start later and that he can take his time. In the second version, the cat and the rat are on the back of the ox, traversing the river on the way to the Emperor’s palace and the rat pushes the cat in the river. In both cases that started badly between cats and rats and in Asia the popular wisdom puts our eternal antagonism on the account of these stories.

But before I brilliantly demonstrate how cats are so much better than rats, I would like to dismiss the notion that in that tradition, the rat outsmarted the cat thanks to his superior intelligence. As a matter of facts, shrewdness is still often and conveniently mistaken today in our part of the world, for an incontrovertible sign of intelligence. But after millennia of deception it should finally be taken for what it is: an utter lack of moral values and the sign of a greedy personality. Besides, “how would a rat trick a cat?” It is already an impossible tongue twister: (repeat 10 times at high speed).

So, back to our immemorial story: if the first version of the story is true, rather than following the rat, the cat chose to stay warm and cozy as dinner time was coming. If the second version of the story is true then surely the cat – realizing that he was possibly making a mistake – jumped out of the back of the ox and swam back happily to the bank and went back home, for dinner.

By not going to the Emperor’s banquet, the cat totally outsmarted the rat and the other animals in that he escaped a fate and an endless cycle that would forever plague his counterparts. The truth is that all these animals: the rat, the ox, the tiger, the rabbit, the dragon, the snake, the horse, the sheep, the monkey, the rooster, the dog and the pig, have since known very bad fortunes, ending up on a leash, in a cage, a stew, a laboratory or a zoo. Snakes ended up marinating in rice wine and dragons were found out not to exist at all. Only cats prospered.

Cats prospered so well that they even acquired a status of Royalty so far above those 12 unfortunate subjects:

In ancient Egypt Bastet the cat was even higher than Pharaoh and was revered as a God. Cats were embalmed and buried in luxurious tombs with offerings of milk and …mice, which are no more than small rats since there is no taxonomic difference between them…

In the Ayuttaya Kingdom of antique Siam (today’s Thailand), 15 centuries BC, a monk wrote and illustrated a book about the temple cats who monks loved so much. Closer to us, Queen of Russia Catherine the Great would offer the regal Russian blue cats as a state present. Abraham Lincoln one of the United States of America’s founding fathers had a cat named Tabby who was like me. Charles Baudelaire, master of the modern poetry, wrote one of his most beautiful poems on cats (francophone read here). Josephine Baker, Johnny Cash, Freddy Mercury and Ernst Blofeld owe a part of their celebrity and creative power to cats.

Of course, rats have a few good stories for themselves. For example, they are unstoppable buggers and represent fertility. As such, they are always represented alongside Indian God Ganesha, who has a Trump but that’s not his fault and he is still a cool dude. Ganesha’s image may convey a sense of auspiciousness, prosperity and power, for which the rat’s fertility is important. However, I wish to point out that this rat reminds believers not to be complacent as it is also capable – silently and secretly – to gnaw into your morals, your ethics, your values: the foundation of your apparently fulfilled lives. Just saying…

Rats may represent fertility, but I will give it to them and that is a great thing: they also control their population in times of scarcity or depleted natural resources. That is something humans don’t do when – really if you ask me – they should… Rather than vowing to eradicate two million cats in Australia as they recently did, they might as well have eradicated from office those who refuse to believe in global warming. Now the bush fires are out of control and do you know who is helping save some of the wild animals? the wombats! Who are a sort of big marsupial rats in whose burrows other animals take refuge.

Finally, rats also help clean big cities from their rubbish (yuck, each his own: I prefer fresh sardines…) and in that respect their role has been largely understated until now and I will stop at that.

As, regardless of the rats’ few attributes, the cat has largely won the battle since the rat supposedly pushed him out from the ox’s back in immemorial times, somewhere in China.

Ratatouille may have made it to Hollywood but it is the exception as opposed to the rule. Cats rule the world. Full stop. The Manneki Nekko has won the hearts of all in Asia and all around the world and sits at the entrance of shops as a sign of welcome and good commerce. Felix, Thomas O’Maley, Mr. Bigglesworth, Hello Kitty, Garfield, Marcel Zecat are world-famous celebrities with fan clubs and their marketing products sell by millions.

I do not know a rat with a Facebook account, and do you ever imagine DC Comics releasing a movie called “Ratwoman”? They would be a laughing stock (not to mention that no dignified actress would ever wish to play that part…)

“When the rat laughs at the Cat, there is a hole nearby” says a Nigerian proverb. Damn’ right there is a hole nearby and you’d better run to it, little rat. Yeah sure, Jerry may mistreat Tom occasionally, but when it comes to the public’s love and to sleeping comfortably on grandma’s plush sofa nearby the fireplace, it is Tom who get the last laugh, and every year is the year of the Cat!”

Adapted from Marcel Zecat

Posted in