Operation Macavity proceeds apace! Our simple principle of (a) feeding him and (b) not chasing him out the house has very quickly brought him to the point where he spends most of the day sleeping on the sofa, is fairly amenable to stroking, purrs like a rusty tractor during the aforementioned, and if he does suddenly startle and swipe at your leg, does it half-heartedly and largely to miss. Both the EL and I can pick him up, although he tolerates it a lot better from the EL, whose cat-fu is legendary. Said Macavity is almost at the point where we can betray him utterly by stuffing him into a box and subjecting him to a serious assessment from Graham the Lovely Vet, who advises a thorough check for things like feline HIV and feline leukemia and a short, sad, merciful needle if he's positive for either. If not, then Carlo&Karen have agreed to take him, since the niche for thuggish ginger ex-tom in their home is apparently empty. (Ours is full, because Hobbit).
I called him Macavity not so much because of his disreputable gingerness, but from his ability to levitate to the roof instantaneously from a standing start the second you think about coming into the kitchen ("His powers of levitation would make a fakir stare/ And when you reach the scene of crime - Macavity's not there!"), and because it's one of my favourite of the Practical Cats. I didn't realise, though, until about a week ago, how much T.S. Eliot ripped Macavity off from Doyle: it's the kind of epiphany you only have while re-reading Sherlock Homes simultaneously with implementing a Macavity-taming operation. I mean, I knew about the Moriarty connection because the last line of the poem identifies Macavity as "the Napoleon of Crime", which is the classic Moriarty epithet straight out of "The Final Problem", but the parallels go a lot deeper than that. Viz.:Macavity's a ginger cat, he's very tall and thin;
You would know him if you saw him, for his eyes are sunken in.
His brow is deeply lined with thought, his head is highly domed;
His coat is dusty from neglect, his whiskers are uncombed.
He sways his head from side to side, with movements like a snake;
And when you think he's half asleep, he's always wide awake.
"He is extremely tall and thin, his forehead domes out in a white curve, and his two eyes are deeply sunken in his head ... His shoulders are rounded from much study, and his face protrudes forward, and is for ever slowly oscillating from side to side in a curiously reptilian fashion..."And when the Foreign Office finds a Treaty's gone astray,
Or the Admiralty lose some plans and drawings by the way,
There may be a scap of paper in the hall or on the stair--
But it's useless to investigate--Macavity's not there!
"Is there a crime to be done, a paper to be abstracted, we will say, a house to be rifled, a man to be removed - the word is passed to the Professor, the matter is organized and carried out". (Quotes all from "The Final Problem").
I am enchanted by this. Intertextuality makes me happy. By way of illustration, have an actual Macavity. The black on his face is the remnants of the somewhat piratical slash which appeared across his eye, cheek and nose a few months back after a night of more than usually ferocious cat-mangling noises.
He is enough like Hobbit that Jo, wandering into the house a week or so ago, saw Macavity sitting on the kitchen floor and exclaimed "My god, what happened to Hobbit?!" in tones of dismay. (This picture of Hobbit from the same photoshoot as Macavity, taken because Hobbit has to be part of whatever's going on and can't be having with photos of upstarts happening when photos of himself, or possibly Himself, are clearly more important and interesting).