Generally speaking, I’m not a cat fan, preferring dogs all round. However, although I can be dismissive of the pampered creatures slouching around domestic hearths, some cats with strong characters, or a sassy, streetwise streak, can partially win me over.

I liked several accounts of cats Patrick Leigh Fermor met on his travels in the Peloponnese and elsewhere in Greece, with an Athenian cat being the star of the show.

Here he notes a habit of giving cats the names of enemies, the better to shout at them: interesting how the names representing national enemies evolve with history and politics.  What names they would give today?  Various EU leaders?

‘In some parts they have the quaint custom of calling them by enemies’ names in order to be able to speak sharply to them. I have often heard Cretans shout: “Come here, Achmet!  Mustapha, be quiet!  Boris – outside!”  During the war they were called Mussolini, Benito … Hitler and Goebbels.  Then it became Stalin, Gromyko, and Molotov …’

See also our dedicated page featuring cat quotes. 

Source: Patrick Leigh Fermor, Mani: Travels in the Southern Peloponnese, introduction by Michael Gorra, New York: New York Review of Books, 2006 (1958), p. 301

Photo credit: dimitrisvetsikas1969 at


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