It took Ulysses, the Greek hero, 10 years to travel an estimated 565 miles from Troy to Ithaca. Of course, he didn’t have any sophisticated nautical gear, so he may well have been sailing around in circles for thousands of miles.
Willow the Cat has covered 1,600 miles in five years, traveling from Boulder, Colo., to New York City. She was found because of a microchip implanted in her body as a kitten that disclosed her owners' identities.
Even among cats, a heroic species, Willow is clearly a heroine. As Mayor Bloomberg commented, she may well have decided to give up one of her nine lives just so she could visit New York.
The mayor couldn’t resist taking a slight poke at Willow for taking so long to visit the city. "I don’t know what he was waiting for!"
But the mayor did get the feline's sex wrong.
Willow’s owners, the Squires family, had given up hope of ever seeing her again. They feared she had been eaten by coyotes after she disappeared five years ago.
But Willow turned up in Manhattan, near the National Arts Club, and she gave cat lovers the world over something to cheer about.
Whether she is a particularly artsy cat is unknown but anyone who has ever witnessed a cat curling up, folding paws, head and tail neatly together, knows that this is a species that has an artistic bent.
Willow is now a celebrity. She has appeared on News 4 New York at 5. Her puss (forgive me) adorns the front pages of tabloids.
The New York Times, a bit stuffily, relegated her to an inside page, below the fold, but she still scored with the paper of record.
Cats have made history for thousands of years. Feline goddesses were worshiped in ancient Egypt 5,000 years ago.
Among some Egyptian royalty, cats were actually allowed to eat off their owners’ plates.
And through the centuries poets and writers just couldn’t get enough of cats.
- Leonardo Da Vinci: "The smallest feline is a masterpiece."
- Rosemary Nisbet: "Cats like doors left open, in case they change their minds."
- John R.F. Breen: "Cats pride themselves on their ability to do nothing."
- Ann Taylor: "Dogs eat. Cats dine."
- Mark Twain: "If a man could be crossed with a cat, it would improve man but it would deteriorate the cat."
- Dave Edwards: "Cats are absolute individuals, with their own ideas about everything including the people they own."
Anyone who has never had a cat jump up on his chest and start purring has missed something important in life. Cats are a constant source of amusement and amazement to me and hundreds of millions of others.
And they do own us. Notice how they always try to go to a piece of furniture that enables them to look down on us.
Mark Twain said that cats are the most intelligent things he knows.
"They are," he said, "the cleanest, cunningest and most intelligent things I know, outside of the girl you love, of course."
T.S. Eliot wrote, "Cats are much like you and me and other people whom we find possessed of various types of mind -- for some are sane and some are mad -- and some are good and some are bad … "
Willow was -- excuse the expression -- catapulted into worldwide prominence by an act of fate.
Clearly there is nothing, ahem, pusillanimous about this cat.
Her life could have been a catastrophe. Instead, she is famous and justly so.