The Original Cat Woman: Colette


 There are no ordinary cats. Colette

Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette (1873-1954), the French novelist known as Colette, loved cats. Along with an assortment of husbands and lovers, she enjoyed the company of her Chartreux cats. The "blue cats of France" have wooly fur and copper eyes; they originally worked as farm cats hunting rodents. They were also valued for their pelts and faced extinction in the early twentieth century. Perhaps Colette identified with the cats' hard beginnings which they overcame to become pampered pets of Paris. At twenty the author married the older Henry Gauthier-Villars (1859 -1931), a philandering, writer and music critic. Under his nom de plume, Willy, he published Colette's first novels, the Claudine series. After she left her unfaithful husband she initially earned a living in the music halls of Paris. Among her roles, Colette appeared as a cat in La Chatte Amoureuse. In 1934 the German born photographer, Walter Limot (1902-1984) captured Colette's writing hand and one of her Chartreux cats. Perhaps this cat was the inspiration for the character of Saha, the Chartreux in Colette's 1933 novel La Chatte.

This post is dedicated to the memory of Fayal Boutell:
Halloween 2003~Winter Solstice 2010