Speaking of Cats


Pam’s Pictorama Post: Before the internet and cat videos, there were cat postcards! This one from 1917 is bizarre and fascinates me. It is dated 1917 on the back and addressed to Mademoisell Zhiere Dreval a Jounnel (?) Vienna. I cannot read the French inscription and, oddly, there is no stamp despite the note, date and full address. However, it is clearly the front of this card that is of interest. A soldier surrounded by these Louis Wain-esque cat heads – depicting the moods of cats!

Let’s start with the obvious – why a soldier? Were these handed out to the French army in WWI so soldiers would be able to judge the various states of cats they might encounter along the way? One has to wonder – very wise of them if true.

In clockwise direction, starting with Doux they translate on Google as follows:

Doux = Sweet
Ardent = Burning
Gourmand = Greedy
Vorace = also translated as Greedy
Inactif = Inactive
Bouillant = Boiling
Fougueux = Mettlesome
Actif = Active

Gourmand and mettlesome are my favorites! The moustached soldier seems to be providing some sort of hand signals as well, mystically floating as he is, in front of a lurid sunset or sunrise.

There was a popular British book, The Language of the Flowers, illustrated by Kate Greenaway, which was published in 1884. It lists the meanings of various flowers – I was fascinated by a reproduction copy I had when I was a child. I wondered immediately if this was a play on that. I have grabbed the title page below.

language of the flowers

The truth is, all cats have their own expressions. I have labeled some of ours as follows: Queen of Everything, Huffy Puffy Stuffy, Piss Cat Ears, and Grumpus. Detecting a trend here?

2 thoughts on “Speaking of Cats

  1. Pingback: Rats! | Pam's Pictorama

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