Cats and offal

In view of the previous discussion on the dining habits of cats versus dogs I was interested to hear, entirely coincidentally, the story of Thomas Hardy’s heart.

In the course of a delightful weekend away with merely my faithful hound for company in the gorgeous cottage of generous friends in Cromer (photos here) I broke the habit of several years and watched the television. From which I learnt the story of the cat and the biscuit tin. Which goes something like this.

Thomas Hardy wanted to be buried in his local churchyard in Dorset. The authorities wanted him to be interred in poets’ corner in Westminster Abbey. A compromise was reached – his heart was removed by a doctor, for local burial; his body was cremated and the ashes despatched to London.

The story goes that the removed organ was stored overnight before the burial ceremony wrapped in a tea towel and placed in a biscuit tin. The next day the doctor returned to find an open tin, a bloody towel and a fat cat.

Sadly the internet reveals a huge number of variants on this tail tale. The cat was his own beloved Cobby, a blue persian given to him late in his life. Cobby disappeared when Hardy died. Alternatively it was another moggy belonging either to his housekeeper, his sister or the doctor himself. The cat may have just snatched the organ from the kitchen table without having to open a biscuit tin. The consumed organ may have been replaced, for purposes of the burial, with either a pig’s heart, a calf’s heart or, best of all, the slaughtered body of the offending feline. There’s poetic justice!

That’s more than enough about cats. Here’s a picture of Maizy the salty sea dog to redress the balance. While we were away she licked the sky and reports that it tastes remarkably similar to the sea.

Maizy licks the sky

What do you mean, a dog would also eat a heart if it found it lying about, regardless of whose chest it had been removed from? Prove it!

5 Replies to “Cats and offal”

  1. Oh God, I had never heard this story about Hardy’s heart. It sounds like something he’d have loved, though.

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