Tuesday, October 25, 2011


Because I refer to Lucius as my BFF, I was curious when I saw the headline “Best Friend Forever” in this past Sunday’s New York Times Book Review. Was someone writing about my first cat? I had my suspicions.

Every Cat Lady knows that a dog is considered man’s best friend, but cats keep gaining ground. In fact, the Anti-Cruelty Society in Chicago has recently launched a new campaign about adopting felines, with the theme of “man’s new best friend.” I couldn’t agree more.

So who is the mysterious best friend forever? Rin Tin Tin, of course. Susan Orlean’s new book about “the life and the legend” of the famous German shepherd who took Hollywood by storm is getting lots of favorable press. While reading the book review, I was struck not only by the tenderhearted anecdotes about the remarkable Rin Tin Tin but also by the mention of journalist J. Allen Boone, who was “totally” obsessed with his beloved dog Strongheart, a German shepherd who starred in movies during the 1920s.

I put the word “totally” in quotation marks because just in case you are thinking that Boone was the male ancestor of the Valley Girl, think again. Boone had his own theory of the animal-human bond, which he named “Totality.” He would not accept anyone referring to Strongheart as “dead,” even after the animal had indeed died.

I like the idea of “totality,” of our perfect oneness with an animal, or two, or ten. Naturally, there are extreme exceptions to the rule—the reviewer comments that Boone is a reminder of “what real derangement looks like”—and then there are people like us who simply love cats with all of our hearts and souls. Whether we convey these intense emotions silently or boisterously, the choice is “totally” ours.

Query of the Day: Do you have a favorite moment of “Totality” with your cat?

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