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"The Observer Magazine" 3rd October 1999

Ever get the desire to dance with the cat?  You are not alone.

By Sam Taylor

'Sometimes, the energy is so powerful, I worry about overstimulating my aura,' Marvin, a bearded hippie, warns as he leaps alongside an elongated ginger tabby.  'At those levels, an unstable etheric oscillation could collapse into an astral vortex and suck my spiritual reserves into a state of negative sub-matter.'

Marvin is just one of a line-up of cat owners to inhabit Dancing With Cats, a glossily packaged book full of photographs of people gavorting with their moggies.  The small print declares that the book is a 'registered international experiment in inter-species morphic resonance and is designed to test the hypothesis of formative causation' while the sombre foreword, by Swami Shakya Bahrain (a spiritual healer), explains how 'this most exciting of activities produces intense feelings of empowerment and validation'.

Marvin is accompanied by the likes of Fred, a young man whose nearly naked body is painted with black and white stripes.  A black velvet tail hangs from the back of his thong.  'I relate to Fluff and the whole spectrum of feline physicality on a profound level,' says Fred.

Then there's Jane the belly dancer, twirling a green veil around a demented-looking grey moggy.  'When my husband saw Sooty waggling her hips to the music, he had to admit pussy was really dancing,' she says.

The author of Dancing With Cats is one 'Burton Silver', who lives in New Zealand but travels extensively to lecture on feline energy field dynamics', according to the biography.

Silver, 'a regular contributor to Cat Art Today and a founding member of the Australasian League of Feline Art Critics', has his own website, too, which includes a page on feline art and offers sterling advice for cat owners thinking of taking dancing lessons: 'You can't take your cat to a dancing lesson, so you must use stuffed (toy) cats.  You can expect to spend about 15 for a reasonable stuffed cat, but 30 will buy a top-of-the-line, life-size bendable model that is perfect for most movements.'

Silver, sometime journalist and safari guide, is 53 and has grown-up children.  He says he has always been a cat person, but has only one cat now - an 18-year-old called Minchy who is 'too old to dance'.

'I've found myself talking to a lot of cat people, and they make for very eager audiences,' he says.  'They tell me some amazing things, and I just try to go in there with an open mind.  The people involved are perfectly sane and rational.' These people describe cat dancing as a transcendental, transformative experience.  'My cat's energy flows through me and pulsates within me,' says leather-trousered Max.  'It helps me engage my real power [and] reveals the treasures of my unconscious.'

Ivan, in his tight black trunks, goes further: 'In the final stages of an almost perfectly harmonized multicat dance, the combined force of the feline vibration surges through me with such power, I'm able to step briefly from horizontal to vertical time.'

Just be careful not to overstimulate your aura, Ivan.

'Dancing With Cats is published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson,
1 2.99. More information at http://www.netlink.co.nz/~monpa

Article Sam Taylor, 1999
The Observer, October 1999

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