Every time I see the trailer for the new Coen brothers film, Inside Llewyn Davis, featuring a folk singer (Oscar Isaac) who travels with his ginger cat, Ulysses, I can’t help but recall a book I recently read called A Street Cat Named Bob, in which the author James Bowen is ‘rescued’ by his travelling feline companion.

Bob is a loyal and resilient tom who turned up on the doorstep of James’ hostel accommodation room. He was underweight and in need of attention, his ginger fur patchy and matted. James, a busker and recovering drug addict, took him in and they became inseparable, with Bob accompanying him everywhere – on foot, on the bus and on James’ shoulder.

It got me to thinking: are ginger cats natural travellers? Do they take more easily to life on the road than other cats?

In the film Harry and Tonto, Harry (Art Carney) is a widower who leaves his New York City apartment after he learns it is to be torn down. Despite his advancing years, he chooses to travel across America with his beloved ginger cat, Tonto, in tow, visiting relatives and old friends.

Then there’s Ellen Ripley’s (Sigourney Weaver) marmalade-coloured moggy, Jones, in Alien, the ultimate travelling cat, who survives against all odds in an outer space alien invasion.

It also got me thinking about the number of famous ginger cats featured on the silver screen, from children’s animation such as the Garfield films, Shrek spin-off Puss in Boots, and The Aristocats (Thomas O’Malley and Toulouse), to the ginger and white cat, Orion, in Men in Black.

In Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Holly Golightly’s (Audrey Hepburn) red tom, who remained nameless – or ‘poor slob without a name’ as she so kindly put it – was played by a cat called Orangey (he was also credited as Rhubarb). He had several film and television appearances in the 50s and 60s, and won awards for his performances.

Of course, it also reminded me of my own ginger fur ball, Moomin, who I wrote about just before Christmas. Moomin doesn’t like to travel more than five feet into the garden, so it’s still just a theory. Perhaps it’s just ginger toms? After all, all of the cats mentioned are male (ginger females are much less common), even the animated ones.

Even in this day and age, the sight of a travelling cat is enough to warrant stares. The cat will invariably attract a lot of attention, mostly positive, with perplexed smiles and attempts at petting. The owner is usually considered to be an eccentric, a bit mysterious even. If Moomin was willing, I’d definitely invite her out for a walk.

Moomin helping with the ironing

Moomin helping with the ironing


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