The Cat Who Covered the World

Christopher S. Wren

The Cat Who Covered the World.

In honor of the advent of Sonara the kitten in our lives, I decided to review a book that deals with the travels of a much-loved cat.  The feline Henrietta lived for 18 years with the family of Christopher Wren, a foreign correspondent for the New York Times.  This small and pleasing saga is subtitled The Adventures of Henrietta and her Foreign Correspondent, and an eventful life she lived, to be sure!

We first encounter Henrietta at the time she entered the lives of Christopher, his wife Jaqueline, and their two children, Celia and Chris.  A tiny kitten, seemingly not old enough to be separated from her mother, Henrietta arrived at the Wrens' home in time for Christmas, as a present for the children.  Intriguingly enough, the kitten was accompanied by a bottle of Scotch, an inducement for adopting the tiny feline.

“The kittens' mother was a pedigreed Siamese, I learned, who through a careless encounter had found herself in the family way.  The particulars were sketchier about their father, a hit-and-run Lothario of indeterminate origin in the borough of Queens.

The outcome was that on Christmas Day, the donor showed up at our apartment on Manhattan's Upper West Side bearing the kind of cardboard box ordinarily associated with supermarkets. ... She thrust the box at me.

It looked empty except for the soiled newspapers that lined the box.  Then, in one corner, I saw a ball of gray fluff not much larger than what sometimes accumulated in our clothes dryer.

... I set the carton on the kitchen floor beside the washing machine and went to the refrigerator to find some milk.  I poured the milk into a saucer, which is the kind of thing you do for a kitten when you can't think of anything better, and set it down next to the gray fluff.  It seemed too small to call a real kitten, though now I could discern a head and wispy tail.

The kitten headed not for the milk but under a pile of dirty laundry that I had promised Jaqueline I would toss into the washing machine.

I peeled away the underwear, socks, and towels, making sure, when I deposited each item into the washing machine, that a kitten was not attached.  Feeding the children's Christmas present into the spin cycle would be hard to explain.”

Henrietta and the Wrens travel widely during their years together, as Christopher lands assignments in Moscow, Beijing, Johannesburg, Cairo, and other more or less exotic locales.  This is a cat who truly covered the world, and always made an impact on the hearts and lives of the humans she encountered.  Be sure to read all about Henrietta and her family!

Copyright © 2003, S. Halversen.
All Rights Reserved.