Cat’s Paradise

Introduction

Emile Zola was born in Paris, France. He was lover of animals. This story, titled ‘Cat’s Paradise’ (Le Paradis des Chats) and first published in 1864, is told in the words of an Angora cat (pet cat). The plot revolves around an Angora cat who longs to be outside on the roofs. It clearly shows the distinction between the lives of indoor cats (pet cats) and outdoor cats (stray cats).

GENERAL OUTLINE

  • An Angora cat is the main character of the story. The cat is unnamed in the story.
  • He describes himself as two years old, fat, simple and spoiled.
  • He spends his time looking out of the window and wanted to live outdoors.
  • He led a luxurious life- had a soft bed to sleep on, was served delicious red meat but he was bored with being happy all day long.
  • He was so tempted to go out that, one day, when he found the kitchen window open he escaped onto a small roof.
  • He made friends with a tomcat (an outdoor cat), who offered to educate him. He readily accepted the offer.
  • The joy of this freedom was short-lived for the indoor cat as he struggled on the streets with no access to food and shelter.
  • He ultimately decided to get back to his home even if it meant to be locked within the doors. He now understood what true paradise meant.

SUMMARY OF THE STORY

The pet cat describes himself as two years old, the fattest and the most innocent cat. He lived in luxury. He had a real bedroom at the bottom of a wardrobe. He slept on feather pillows before a fire. He ate meat, lovely red meat. Still, he was not happy as he wanted to live the life of the cats on the rooftops.

One day he found the kitchen window to be open and escaped onto a small roof. His paws immersed in the mud for the first time which filled him with happiness. He felt like he was walking over velvet. He loved the smell of the large gutters. He enjoyed the heat of the sun.

The cat was left terrified when three outdoor cats approached him and meowed at him frightfully. On seeing him slip on the tiles, they made fun of him and called him fat-scared-cat. They weren’t as fat as he was. However, the pet cat was accepted into the gang. Old tomcat became his very good friend.

Everything in the street looked good and beautiful for the cat. He loved drinking from the gutters like the outdoor cats. He felt like his dream come true when he saw a gorgeous cat pass by. He couldn’t resist dashing forward to greet her. But all this came to an end very soon. He was very hungry and had to find food for himself because nobody served food to the outdoor cats.

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The poor fat cat was not used to hunting food. He had never hunted before. He began to look around, but couldn’t find a thing and feared he might stay hungry. The sight of a man preparing a meal caught his attention. The lovely cutlet kept on the table attracted him. He immediately jumped through the window and was on that table. But he was seen by the man who gave him a good smack (a sharp blow) with a broom. The smack was so hard that the chop dropped from his mouth and he had to run for his life.

The fat cat now understood the difficulties in the life of the outdoor cats. The tomcat, his only dear friend in the outside world told him that he would have to hunt in the gutters and in the garbage heaps in order to feed himself and also told him that the food on the table was meant only to be admired from a distance.

The cat now had no food to eat, no shelter to protect him from the heavy rainfall. He remembered all the comforts which he enjoyed when he was indoors. He started missing home and understood the worth of all those things now. The next morning, tomcat took him back to his house. The cat was thankful to the tomcat and was happy to be back. He now valued the comfort and knew that it was a paradise as it gave him all happiness and comfort.

Themes

The story ‘Cat’s Paradise’ teaches the true essence of paradise. It is based on the pet cat’s realisation that one must be content with where one is placed in life. For the cat, the home was paradise even though it was completely locked up. So, wherever we are happy and comfortable, it is a paradise for us. The story also draws a comparison between the life of cats living on the streets and the life that the narrator (pet cat) led in his paradise.

Through the character of the pet cat, we understand that in order to live a free life, one must sacrifice comfort.
The pet cat did not realise how good his life was. He always thought that the grass is greener on the other side. He realised the value of ‘home’ only once he left it and had to struggle for his existence. It is important to be content and grateful for wherever one is placed in life.

EXPLANATION OF THE TITLE

The story, ’Cat’s Paradise’ is a fable. A fable is a short story, typically featuring animals as characters, conveying a moral. The story is A French fable adapted from Emile Zola’s ‘Paradise for Cats’.It is a wonderful story which revolves around how the Angora cat wanted to live the life of those cats on the rooftops but very soon he understood that paradise was where he might be locked up forever, but he would always have fresh meat, fluffy pillows and a fire. Freedom comes at the cost of comfort.

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The pet cat’s ‘home’ was the paradise that it lost (when he escaped from home) and regained (when he realised the true worth of his comfortable life and went back home). Then he realised the true worth of his comfortable life and went back home).


Thinking about the Text | Textual Questions


A. Answer the following questions:

Question 1. What kind of life did the cat lead?

Ans. He led a luxurious life. He had a soft bed to sleep on, was served delicious red meat but he was bored with being happy all day long.

Question 2. Why did the cat feel a need to leave the comforts of the house?

Ans. The cat felt a need to leave the comforts of the house because whenever he looked outside of his window, he could see cats across the way romping and dancing so he wanted to live the life of those cats on the rooftops.

Question 3. In what ways was life on the tiles different from life in the house?

Ans. Life on the tiles was blessed with sunshine and trees, flowers , baking croissants and freedom while the life in the house was confined with warm pillows and soft floor matting.

Question 4. What advice did the tomcat give about meat on tables?

Ans. Tomcat advised that the food on tables was not meant for cats like them. They could eat only from gutters and garbage heaps.

Question 5. What did the tomcat feel about life, in a house?

Ans. Tomcat felt that life, in a house was without the joy of freedom and was meant for weaklings only.

Question 6. What (according to the fat cat) was true happiness?

Ans. According to the fat cat, the true happiness was in paradise where he might be locked up forever, but he would always have fresh meat fluffy pillows and a fire.

B. Complete the following sentences:

a) Louis wanted to live the life of………………………………………

Ans. Louis wanted to live the life of those cats on rooftops.

b) Tom wearily shook his head because………………………………

Ans. Tom wearily shook his head because he knew weaklings are not meant for the joy of freedom.

Language Work

Use the following words and expressions in sentences of your own:


In the midst of, the whole day long, romping, fixed belief, resolved, signs of, from afar, desolate, succulent


Ans.

In the midst of: There is a house in the midst of the forest.

the whole day long: They searched for the food the whole day long but couldn’t find anything to eat.

romping: The cats were romping across slate roofs.

fixed belief: I have fixed belief on the law of gravity.

resolved: Village panchayat resolved the conflict between the two brothers.

signs of: Though he was talking less, but his behaviour showed signs of his nobility.

from afar: I have observed it close up and from afar.

desolate: The car was abandoned in a desolate forest.

succulent: These are wonderful succulent grapes.

Grammar Work

Clause

A Clause is a group of words, which forms part of a sentence and has a Subject and a Predicate. e.g.;

I have a watch which is studded with diamonds.

In the above sentence, there are two clauses, i.e.,

‘I have a watch’ and ‘which is studded with diamonds.’

The first clause, i.e., ‘I have a watch’ is called the Principal or Main Clause and the second clause, i.e., ‘which is studded with diamonds’ is called the Subordinate or Dependent Clause as its sense is complete only when read with the Principal or Main Clause.

Note: Some sentences contain two or more Principal or Main Clauses and no Subordinate or Dependent Clause at all.

EXERCISE

Now identify the Principal or Main Clause/s and the Subordinate or Dependent Clause/s (if any) in the following sentences:

1. He must weep, or he’ll die.

Answer.

Main Clause: He must weep

Subordinate Clause: or he’ll die

2. Walk quickly, else you’ll not overtake him.

Answer.

Main Clause: Walk quickly

Subordinate Clause: else you’ll not overtake him

3. This is the house that his brother built.

Answer.

Main Clause: This is the house

Subordinate Clause: that his brother built

4. You may do as you please.

Answer.

Main Clause: You may do

Subordinate Clause: as you please

5. He threw the stone but it missed the aim.

Answer.

Main Clause: He threw the stone

Subordinate Clause: but it missed the aim

6. She neither obtains success nor deserves it.

Answer

Main Clause: She neither obtains success nor deserves it.

Subordinate Clause:

7. Whatever you do, do well.

Answer

Main Clause: Whatever you do

Subordinate Clause: do well

8. We rested when evening came.

Answer

Main Clause: We rested

Subordinate Clause: when evening came

9. Tell him the news as you have heard.

Answer

Main Clause: Tell him the news

Subordinate Clause: as you have heard

10. I returned home because I was ill.

Answer

Main Clause: I returned home

Subordinate Clause: because I was ill

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