• Vol. 06
  • Chapter 02
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Stunning Names for Cats

When Hitoshi was born his parents argued over what to call him.

As chief of the palace mousers, Yoshito wanted something correct. Something to reflect well on his lineage. Like Yoshiro, ‘righteous son’ or Taichi, ‘large first son’. He was enormous. But Katsu favoured, Hitoshi. ‘After all,’ she said, ‘I pushed out the large first son. I feel my perineum should have the casting vote.'

Yoshito’s blushing protests fell on deaf ears, and Katsu was victorious.

Large first son, Hitoshi grew into a motivated person. He was motivated to eat well, catching the fattest mice. But not by stealth or speed. Oh no. His large frame was not built for such actions. Hitoshi was motivated to be a leader of cats. In pursuit of this, he grew handsome moustaches and held himself with the most marvellous carriage.

By these means Hitoshi commanded an army of devotees, who were happy to be deployed about the imperial palace, hiding behind plinths and drapes. They waited, still as still could be. Long into the night they waited, until the mice – silly mice – grew bold. The devotees, trained to their tasks, stilled their quivering whiskers and continued to wait. On a nod from Hitoshi, hidden behind the throne, they leapt from their positions to drive the squeaking creatures towards his jaws.

It was not long before it came to the emperor’s attention that his cats were behaving in uncatlike ways. He set his major domo to watch and report. When the report was delivered his imperial majesty declared, ‘This cat surpasses all cats. He must be immortalised.’

Which is how, Hitoshi – a motivated person indeed – came to have his portrait painted by the finest artist of the dynasty.