Everybody wants to be a cat, says the song, but it is a fact that being a cat lumbers you with certain limitations.
So anthropomorphism is a feline’s best friend.
It is sometimes said that cats are a spanko species, because some of them evidently enjoy having their hindquarters patted. That’s the basis of a playful moment in a 2013 episode of the sitcom 2 Broke Girls, in which the two waitresses are trying unsuccessfully to rehome a stray cat that has arrived in their apartment. At one point Max (Kat Dennings) follows Caroline (Beth Behrs) through the door smacking her bottom and saying ‘Kitty-Kitty, Kitty-Kitty’:
And it also explains this rather more spectacular burlesque act, with Ula Uberbusen (human, probably) and Delysia la Chatte (feline, obviously):
But it may not always be true. One cat that apparently doesn’t like to be spanked appears in Canadian choreographer Capri Aspé’s 2011 ballet version of Prokofiev’s musical children’s story Peter and the Wolf. The tale begins by introducing successive animals, associated with different instruments: first a bird (flute), then a duck (oboe) and then, bringing with her the first note of danger, Peter’s pet cat Ivanna (clarinet) stalking the bird, which Peter intervenes to save. In the ballet, the danger turns out to be to the cat, because Peter (Ian Szkolak) proceeds to give her a spanking! There’s no known visual record of the moment, but as an aid to the imagination, here’s Suzy Vinning playing puss:
Perhaps the only cat in history to be spanked on her frilly ballet panties!
Since we’re hovering around the line that separates human from animal, let’s turn to the most famous human feline of them all.
It seems Catwoman’s attitude to spanking is somewhat equivocal. Here she is in 2013, dishing out the discipline to spoiled brat Princess Tinderbox:
The theme is also popular in fan art and cosplay:
But it seems she’s less content when the tables are turned. She gets spanked in one of her earliest appearances, in 1944:
Alas, it’s an offpage spanking, but at least that (along with her suggestively rising skirt) gives scope to the imagination when it is subsequently revealed to have been especially severe, making sitting down an impossibility for the felonious feline:
She likes it no better when it comes from one of her own kind, as we see in 2000 when she encounters the Joker, in his green-faced guise as Mask:
As before, fan art and cosplay fill out the picture:
But from time to time, it does look as if Catwoman might just be learning to love it:
But if we really want to get a puss-take on the subject of spanking, we must turn to a 1954 story in Dale Messick’s Brenda Starr strip, in which widower Hitch Rider’s overindulged teenage daughter Merrie interferes unsuccessfully in his remarriage plans. The result is bad for her:
Very bad, because it’s done by a lighted window at night:
So just how bad cannot be gauged only by its effect on a particular area of Merrie’s anatomy:
But it also seems it’s not effective enough:
Which means Merrie gets a second spanking – one that we’ll leave to the side for the moment and come back to shortly. Because it turns out that even that’s not enough:
And that can only mean… Spanking Number 3,
with the neighbors listening in!
But it’s Spanking Number 2 that’s germane to our theme. Like the others, it’s done in front of the window for anyone to see and hear, but this time our attention is drawn to a different kind of witness:
Whether there’s any authenticity in the mother cat’s thought is beyond our capacity to know; but her disdainful indifference to human foibles is surely as feline as it gets!