The Internet loves nothing more than cats, but it’s rare that we look beyond the cute photos and memes to more seriously consider their place in our world. Flavorwire’s Highbrow Cat Week is an attempt to remedy that, with a series of pieces devoted to analyzing their impact on the cultural realm.
After a record-breaking 18 years on Broadway and countless productions worldwide, it’s no surprise that the legacy of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s bizarre musical Cats has lived on in the depths of the Internet fan-fiction community. After all, a musical featuring adult humans covered in makeup, Lycra, and fur seems like the perfect building block for creative writing exercises in which amateur authors imagine a world full of human beings dressed as anthropomorphic cats doing a variety of things, such as falling in love, rescuing abused kittens (again, this is a world in which people are dressed as cats), discovering confusing sexual urges, and building racially pure progeny. After the jump you’ll find a collection of excerpts from the Cats fan-fiction community.
From “Genetically Perfect”:
Macavity sat in his throne, leaning against the arm of the chair as his fingers tapped against it. The Hidden Paw was deep in thought about a new plan of his…but the thing that was getting him was how to perfect this plan. His gold eyes flicked up briefly as Griddlebone walked in. “Penny for your thoughts, Mac?” Griddlebone drawled. “I have almost everything set up…that scientist of a cat is almost done…I just need…” “The carrier?” Griddlebone interjected. Macavity nodded. “They need to be genetically perfect,” “Meaning?” Griddlebone asked, sitting on the other arm of the throne. “They have to be right in everything,” Macavity answered. “They have to have the right mental capabilities, have to be emotionally stable, wise, kind, have good leadership skills…and good looking would definitely be a bonus,” Macavity purred. Griddlebone twitched an eyebrow. “And you’re going to find a Queen with all of those capabilities…and more?” Macavity hummed, getting to his feet and leaving the room. Griddlebone followed him from the room, down towards the basement. Macavity opened the door to the room and walked in, Griddle following him. The room was brightly lit with a stark white light…there were several tables lining the walls with scientific equipment covering them.
From “Old D Gets Fit”:
Old Deuteronomy was angry. He was bitter. He was jealous. The other Jellicles were dancing at their special ball and he was meant to be looking at them and smiling. As if he could smile when his fur looked like a giant rug and he hadn’t moved for 20 years because of the weight. He struggled to his feet and looked at his younger son, the Rum Tum Tugger, dance with that Bombalurina effortlessly and sexily. Old D growled and proceeded to jump from the tyre and – to everyone’s surprise – land casually on his feet. “What?” he snapped at their stunned faces, “I’m a cat, aren’t I? We land on our feet! Or am I not counted because I’m old?” They all ignored him and carried on dancing. Old D stormed into the middle of the junkyard and proceeded to dance, feeling incredibly irresistible and cool at everyone’s blank faces. “Um, Father…” Munkustrap began and left Demeter’s perplexed side to walk up to his crazy looking Dad, “You probably shouldn’t do that. You might break a hip.” Old D stopped dancing and glowered at his son, but the red face and puffing made him lose his cool posterior. “What do you suggest? This is so unfair! Even Jennyanydots looks fat and old in that suit, but she can dance and look skinny in two seconds! It’s not realistic!” “Oh, I don’t know, dearie.” Jennyanydots spoke up, “Maybe you should try a fitness regime? You can teach cockroaches how to dance with me! It’s fun!” “NO.” Old D yelled back, “It’s completely idiotic. Why do we have cockroaches in a Cats musical? This must be stopped!” “But the kittens love it, Father! Think of the kittens!” Munkustrap begged, whilst also hiding the fact that he loved Jennyanydots between his legs and dancing like an idiot. “I think I’m having a heart attack,” Old D wheezed and sat heavily on the floor. “Jenny, help me get thin.”
From “Lost and Found”:
Demeter was grooming herself by the window, the sunlight shining in through the glass panes illuminating her fur in a glorious bath of golden warmth. He closed the door behind him and it was then that she noticed his presence. “Oh honey, I didn’t think you’d be home so soon.” She immediately left her seat by the window and walked up to Macavity, putting her paws on his chest and looking up into his downcast face. His expression made her worry, it was lost and dejected. “It didn’t go well, did it? How many more shipments of fish carcasses does he want? He’s not still asking for dead mice, is he?” Macavity ran a company that served both Pollicles and felines. His employees sought deceased rodents, fish carcasses and chicken bones from garbage scraps and would sell their findings. His hired seekers were exceptional at finding the highest quality leftovers and his business was doing very well until Rufus became interested. He would constantly demand more than what his seekers could supply. There are only so many fish carcasses and mice in one place at one time. But this isn’t what troubled Macavity today… “No, Demi. It’s not that.” “Then… what is it?” He just nodded his head, signaling he didn’t want to speak about it. He gathered Demeter’s paws from his chest and held them to his mouth to kiss them. He squeezed them reassuringly and offered a small grin before retiring to the bed they typically shared. The bed was enormous and round, but he sat only on the edge of it, resting his elbows on his knees and holing his head in his paws. Demeter frowned at seeing Macavity so troubled. She sat next to him, folding her legs so they were crisscrossed, and petted the fur by his ear in a soothing manner. She kissed his arm and laid her head against his shoulder. She wanted him to know that she would be there for him. They’d been through so much already, it was impossible for Demeter to wrap her mind around the idea that there was something out there that could break them apart or bring them misery. They were fighters and would get back up from whatever in life knocked them down. Even when all the Junkyard had been against them, they stood by each other. Demeter thought about it, still keeping her head against Macavity’s arm. She closed her eyes and allowed her memory to take a journey.
From “Red and Black”:
A sudden clap of thunder shook the whole den and made Mistoffelees jump out of bed with a surprised hiss. It took him a second to remember where he was. His den was almost as black as the room in his dream but the comforting, familiar smell couldn’t have been more different from the smell of blood and damp stone from the nightmare and the air was uncomfortably warm for the fact it was raining so heavily outside, not ice-cold. With a sigh the black and white tom paced up and down deep in thought. Who was this mysterious queen who seemed to haunt his dreams every night? Where was she and would he ever find her? Did she need his help? For some reason he was absolutely sure that this cat was as real as any of his friends even though he had never seen her before in his life. But how could he possibly find her? She could be anywhere. Asking around was impossible without sounding strange and on his own it would take years to narrow down where she might be. He didn’t even know she was in the same country. With an uncharacteristically angry snarl Mistoffelees slammed his paw into the wall. This was so frustrating. There was no realistic way to rescue this stranger from wherever her prison was and yet he had to do something because if things carried on like this he would actually go mad. Taking slow calming breaths he resolved to try and think of a solution to his problem first thing in the morning. It was far too late now and he was much too tired. Throwing himself back into bed feeling drained and exhausted Mistoffelees glared up at the ceiling until he felt himself dropping off again. His dreams were full of sad blue eyes watching him wherever he went, silently asking him for help.
From “Old Friends”:
I suppose it’s my own fault. I abandoned them. Just walked out on my family and friends without a backwards glance or a second thought. What sort of a person does that? No wonder they don’t want anything to do with me. It serves me right, I guess and I can’t blame them. If I was in their place I’d be angry and hurt too. I understand it perfectly, I really do. That doesn’t make it any easier though. If only they’d give me a chance. Just one chance to explain to them why I did what I did. One chance to tell them how much I regret what happened, how much I miss them all, how afraid and alone I am, how I wish I was back home again. But they won’t. It was stupid. I wish it had never happened. It was a kind of midlife crisis really. One day I woke up and realised the clock was ticking and I had seen nothing of the world, done nothing. I suppose I panicked. I didn’t think. I just grabbed my things and left, left them all behind. I had no idea what I was going to do or where I was going to go but for the first time in my life I felt free, not answerable to anyone. It was an amazing feeling. I just followed my feet and wandered wherever I felt like going. That day I saw more of the world than I ever had before. I experienced a whole new side to the city I had lived in for so long. And all the time I had the wonderful sense of freedom, so intense it was almost joy. That first day I was on such a high, I didn’t even think about home or my family. I forgot they existed. No, that’s not entirely true. They were just no longer relevant and so I didn’t bother to think about them. There’s a difference, I think. That evening was really the beginning of it all. I was tired and cold and hungry by then, but the adrenaline and my own enthusiasm kept me going, wandering through streets I’d never even seen before until I was hopelessly lost. Not that I cared. I didn’t want to go home anyway. I wanted to go somewhere new, somewhere exciting. And that’s exactly what happened.
“I’m not a kitten.” Skimble would never forget the first time he heard Mistoffelees utter those words. It was hard to forget, especially with the way they were accompanied by a seductive purr, and a gleam in Mistoffelees’ eyes that was anything but kittenish. They were sitting on a wooden crate on platform number five, watching the passenger trains leave for their daily journey. It’d surprised him to learn that Mistoffelees loved trains, that he loved the hustle and bustle of the station. It made Skimble smile to see the joy in the young tux’s face; such a simple pleasure, to watch the trains go by, and yet Skimble hadn’t found anyone else in the junkyard who shared this love of his. Sure, Jenny had feigned interest early in their courtship, but it was obvious that her heart wasn’t in it. None of the kittens they’d had together had ever wanted to come to the station with him, and watch him leave on the Midnight Mail, or just sit and watch the humans go about their day. Not a single Jellicle had ever been interested. Except, of course, for Mistoffelees. He’d never paid all that much attention to the young tux while he was growing up, too concerned with his own rambunctious kittens. He seemed well-liked in the junkyard, popular with the queens, though he’d never seen Mistoffelees involved romantically with any of them. Maybe, Skimble wondered, he was still too young to worry about that sort of thing. Queens, and mating, and starting families could cause as much as pain as they could cause joy, he thought ruefully. Once his and Jenny’s kittens had grown up, the queen seemed to grow distant. She’d all but lost interest in mating, which was something Skimble could have dealt with, but she also seemed to lose interest and patience with anything to do with her mate, preferring instead to sit and crochet and gossip with her friends. Jenny hadn’t seemed all that heartbroken when Skimble finally requested to end their union. It freed him from the burden of an unhappy mate, but it also left him rather lonely. Skimble was nothing if not a sociable cat, one of the main reasons why he’d loved taking on such responsibility on the Midnight Mail. Attention and food and love from the humans were all well and good, but he still craved affection from his fellow Jellicles. So when Mistoffelees came to him one day and shyly asked if he could come along to visit the train station, Skimble had been surprised, but pleased to have such company.
From “Conspiracy Theory”:
Dinner. Bustopher sighed. That was the reason he made sure they kept a table permanently ready for him at this particular restaurant. Their food was superb. Every time he visited they had some wonderful new recipe prepared for him. A trio of lobster, duck breast and pan fried figs in a bordeaux wine sauce, beef tenderloin with a mushroom and parmesan crust, quail consommé flavoured with celery in puff pastry, seared scallops with truffle shavings, chocolate and caramelized pear tart, Andalusian Gazpacho and so many more delightful dishes. The mere thought of them made the large tom’s mouth start to water and he wondered what treat was in store for him today. As if on cue a smartly dressed waiter began to weave his way through the tables towards where Bustopher was seated. In his hand he was carrying a large plate covered by a shiny silver cloche with a small gold handle. The large tom’s eyes followed his path though the crowded room, fixed on the plate in his hands, expectantly waiting for what was sure to be an amazing meal. In seconds the waiter had reached the spot where the large black and white tom was sat. “Good evening,” he said, bowing slightly. “Enjoy.” And removing the cloche, he headed back to the kitchen ready to bring the next customer their meal. Bustopher sniffed expectantly, eyes closed, savouring the moment. That first sniff, the first hint at what delights lay in store was almost as good as the food itself. The tuxedo cat inhaled deeply, expecting to be greeted by the wonderful scent of fresh cooking. To his surprise there was nothing. No smell came from the plate at all. His eyes snapped open. Something was wrong. Looking down at the plate Bustopher was horrified. It was a salad – a salad. The presentation was immaculate. Dainty cucumber rings were arranged in a circle round the outside of the plate, alternating with cut-in-half cherry tomatoes, the lettuce leaves were all arranged like the leaves of a flower and there were several flower-shapes made out of carrot in the middle, making the whole thing look like a giant water lily. A delicate french dressing was drizzled over the whole construction giving it a watery effect, like dew on the petals of the flowers.
“What were you thinking, falling from a height like that?” Jellylorum cried as she soaked her cloth in more water. Asparagus inhaled sharply through his teeth as she dabbed at the cut on his leg. “Mm, well, as I said before, I was sleepwalking! We theatre cats have very vivid dreams! Ow!” Jellylorum began to inspect his paw. “Well, as far as I’m concerned, there is only one Theatre Cat in this Junkyard!” Asparagus pressed his other paw against his chest. “Blast! You’ve seen through my rouse!” he drawled dramatically. She chuckled at him warmly, and then returned her attention to his paw. “I think you’ve got a sprain here. Does this hurt?” “AYIEE!” “I’ll take that as a ‘yes’.” She ripped another length of cheesecloth from her spool and started to wrap the paw carefully. “Will you stop squirming? You’re only making this harder!” She tried to keep her composure as she slightly wrestled to get his arm to remain.
‘Mmm look at the way those hips move,’ Mistoffelees thought, his blue eyes locked on the tom. ‘I wonder what they’d be like in – NO! Stop that, Misto!’ He managed to tear his eyes away from the obnoxious dancing of the Rum Tum Tugger and back down to his spellbook, finishing Chapter 6: Switching Bodies. Misto’s eyes didn’t linger on the page for long before he looked back up at Tugger, studying his provocative pelvic – thrusts. ‘And those golden eyes…the way he gazes at me…’ As if Misto had called his name, Tugger’s eyes flickered over to the tuxedo tom. Misto immediately dropped his gaze back onto his book, fearing that the maned tom had caught him staring. ‘You need to stop thinking this way,’ Misto mentally scolded himself, rather glumly. ‘Besides…he can have anyone he wants. And there’s no way he’s gay, considering he hangs out with Bombalurina and all those queens…’ He slowly looked back up, breathing a sigh of relief that Tugger had gone back to flirting with his fan club. A shout was heard and the kits ran off, Tugger being chased by Jennyanydots with a dish cloth. He laughed and closed his book, retreating back to his den. Quickly looking around, he pulled out his old leather journal that he kept underneath his pile of blankets. While others preferred dancing or napping, Misto was usually found reading or writing in his journal. Though the kits have asked countless times, Misto had never once told them that all the pages were filled with thoughts of the Rum Tum Tugger.
From “A Kitten Tale”:
“Observe,” Jellylorum replied, scooping up a pawful of mud. Bustopher Jones swallowed nervously. “You pull your arm back like so.” She arched her eyebrows as though to make sure he was watching her every movement. “Then, you aim. For instance, I am aiming at you right now. Then, you fire.” The black and white kitten took another mud ball to the face and reeled back. Jennyanydots roared with laughter then screamed in terror as two arms wrapped around her waist and lifted her into the air. Jellylorum shrieked in sympathy and began frantically scooping up more mud. “Put me down, Skimble!” Jennyanydots screamed. He carried her closer to the big mud puddle. She screamed louder and began to kick her legs. “Not the mud puddle! Please, Skimble! Not the mud puddle!” Unceremoniously, he plopped her into the puddle. She let out another scream of fury and outrage. Adding insult to semi-injury, Jellylorum fired a mud ball at her friend’s attacker, only to hit the little Gumbie Cat in the face. She howled all the louder, throwing her head back. “That didn’t help any, Jelly!” she shrieked. “I’m trying to help you!” However, before she could fire another mud ball, Skimbleshanks crashed forward, pitching into the mud. Apparently, Asparagus had crashed into him, knocking both tom kittens into the mud next to the disgruntled Jennyanydots. Grizabella struggled to stop her speed, letting out a scream of her own, but tripped over Skimbleshanks and was also pitched into the mud. There was silence as Bustopher Jones’ mouth formed a perfect O. “Oh, my!” A shrill screech came from the bottom of the pile. The toms scrambled off Jennyanydots in horror. The little Gumbie glared at them then glanced at Jellylorum and Grizabella. “Now, you both die!”