When does the mouser become a favourite pet cat?
It’s a fine line… as seen here in a eulogy written by Mei Yaochen (c.1040
An Offering for the Cat
Since I got my cat Five White,
the rats never bother my books.
This morning Five White died.
I make offerings of rice and fish,
bury you in midriver
with incantations – I wouldn’t slight you.
Once you caught a rat,
ran around the garden with it squeaking in your mouth;
you hoped to put a scare into the other rats,
to clean up my house.
When we’d come aboard the boat
you shared our cabin,
and though we’d nothing but meagre dried rations,
we ate them without fear of rat piss and gnawing –
because you were diligent,
a good deal more so that the pigs and chickens.
People make much of their prancing steed;
they tell me nothing can compare to a horse or donkey –
enough! – I’ll argue the point no longer,
only cry for you a little.