Cats on the Faroes
"The cat lies by the door dead, and can eat neither butter nor bread." So begins an old Faroese rhyme about a poor cat that is so in love that it has completely lost its appetite. Nobody knows when cats reached the Faroe Islands, or how many cats there are, as they aren't registered. Cats don't crop up much in Faroese historical records, though Clerk E.A. Bjørk writes in Færøsk bygderet (The Faroese Village) that a number of cats died in 1778 and 1779 as a result of cat plague.
Cats have lived around people for many thousands of years, and are the world's most popular pets. They're also the most popular pets on the Faroes. One reason that cats are so popular is that they fit in readily with a modern lifestyle. Cats don't need much care, can be left on their own, and pretty much look after themselves. A cat sat on the widow sill watching something or other with its large almond-shaped eyes for hours at a time is a familiar image. Cat owners have often speculated as to what the cat finds so interesting and what it is that only it can see outside. Puss in Boots is surely also a tale that's familiar to many. By using his cunning, Puss in Boots does no less for his poor owner than help him to the kingdom and the princess' hand.
The Faroese domestic cat is a small animal that is little different to wild cats. It's happiest when eating, sleeping and playing. It can stand high temperatures, loves the sun and the night and is clean and agile, which it is why it is said that it always lands on its feet. The domestic cat is a mixed race. Its hair is short and often features several patterns and colours - normally including white. The most common colouration is black and white, although tabby cats and brown cats are also common. Plus, they can be any thing from one colour to many or be striped. The majority of pure-bred cats on the Faroes are long-haired, such as the Norwegian Forest Cat, Birman, Maine Coon and Persian.
Cats are apt to arouse people's feelings. Some people are terrified of cats, and can sense them before they enter a house, other people will refuse to enter a house with a cat in it. In the Middle Ages the cat was associated with mysticism and evil, and black cats were associated with witches and killed as a result. In Ancient Egypt, however, cats were considered holy and were worshipped as gods. In Nordic mythology the goddess of love, beauty and fertility, Freyja, travels on a carriage pulled by two cats. Some think these were the predecessors of the Norwegian Forest Cat.
Cats arouse different feelings in different people because they have a charismatic personality all of their own. Cats are affectionate, mild, loyal and humble but can also be devious, mischievous and arrogant. As the famous psychologist Sigmund Freud once said, time spent with cats is never wasted. Cats can follow you around for an entire day, only to turn their back on you the day after. A cat can drive you mad, staring at you every evening with its searching eyes only to disappear from view for days at a time. Plus, having a live, furry, heat mat draped over you when it takes its time, relaxes completely and massages your soul with its peaceful purring song is real therapy.
There can't be many who are immune to the charms of the two begging eyes of a little round fluffy kitten, or the the dangerous begging eyes of Puss in Boots in the animated film Shrek. When these eyes look deep into you, you get the feeling that whatever they tell you is true. If at that point, a cat has decided to love you there's not much you can do. You don't own the cat but become part of its life; the cat could be said to own you! The cat has been a fixture in the lives of many families and has brought pleasure to child and adults alike, precisely because it is as it is. As renaissance artist Leonardo Da Vinci put it, "the smallest feline is a masterpiece."
Durita L. Jóansdóttir
Values: stamps of 6.00 DKK and 10.00 DKK
Date of issue: 21-II-2011
Author: Edward Fuglø
Technique: OffsetPrinter: OeSD, Austria