Re-enacting Pets?!
By Mark Tully

When Karen and I were in England last April, I was surprised and amazed to discover that
animals can re-enact too! We visited Dr. Samuel Johnson’s house on Gough Square in London. Johnson loved cats, and the staff at his house, which is now a very nice little museum, like to keep a few cats on hand to add a bit of ambiance to the place.

The most famous of Johnson’s cats was Hodge. When James Boswell asked if Hodge was a good cat, Johnson replied that he was “a very fine cat–a very fine cat indeed.”1 Hodge was a white and orange cat, and when we were at the house the staff was looking for a suitable Hodge (they only use cats “rescued” from animal shelters at the museum). Hodge has been immortalized both in print and as a small bronze statue overlooking Johnson’s house at the opposite end of the small square–which is little more than a small, brick-surfaced parking lot. The staff did, however, have a cat “re-enacting” Lilly, another of Johnson’s favorites (see below). Lilly was a little shy, but in our opinion she did a pretty good job of depicting an 18th-century pet. Lilly’s level of authenticity was a bit lacking, however, as the original Lilly was a more gregarious cat and had more white in her coat. I wouldn’t call Lilly farby, but she should probably do a bit more research and make some physical and behavioral modifications to her character.

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