The Cat Who Went to Paris
By Peter Gethers
Supposed cat haters always amuse me — they only dislike cats because they haven’t spent quality time with one. And when they finally do, they become huge cat fanatics. Sometimes they even write whole books about their feline pals. Take Willie Morris and his cat Spit McGee, or Peter Gethers and Norton, his Scottish Fold traveling companion. These guys wouldn’t have been caught dead touching a cat and all of a sudden, some special kitty waves his magic tail and voilà: another cat hater is instantly reformed. There is a difference, however, between Morris’s cat Spit McGee and Gethers’ Norton. While Spit was, for the most part, an ordinary cat and Morris spent much of his book delighting in Spit’s typical feline behavior, Norton was really a very special cat. He was exceptionally sweet natured and friendly, loved to travel by any means — car, train, boat or plane — and enjoyed exploring new territory. Most cats (myself included) like to plunk themselves somewhere, call it home and loathe going anywhere else. Not Norton. He stayed in some of the fanciest hotels in Europe and the U.S., enjoyed vacationing at Fire Island and Sag Harbor and even once used Roman Polanski’s bathtub as a litter box (it was Gethers’ fault for not bringing one along for the meeting he was having with Polanski and actor Harrison Ford). And in addition to Norton’s love of travel, he also must have had an extra dose of magic in his bushy tail because he won over quite a few other cat haters, including Gethers’ father, who was perhaps the king of ailurophobes. Norton, in fact, did something even more incredible than winning over a cat hater: he won over someone who was indifferent to cats — and helped her and Gethers forge a relationship.
While Gethers, like most humans, has a habit of writing quite a bit about himself, he always keeps the focus either on Norton, or his relationship with Norton. His tales of their life together are touching without becoming sentimental, and often quite funny (there were several times my human laughed out loud while reading it to me). Gethers is a New York-based publisher, author and screenwriter, so you get to spend time traveling through his heady, occasionally star-studded world… right alongside Norton, the perfect traveling companion. Just remember to pack the disposable litter box.