Muriel Spark at Bookforum:
There exists a long, passionate, and somewhat batty tradition of writerly appreciation for feline ways, its entries cropping up among the serious work of many otherwise serious people. In The Informed Air (New Directions, 2014), a new collection of Muriel Spark's criticism and occasional prose, Spark joins the chorus with a paean to her own cat, Bluebell. Spark is known for her novels, not her nonfiction. Yet in this volume's frequently short and sometimes oddball selections, drawn from the full arc of her career, Spark's precision and wit are much on display. “Ailourophilia,” too, is funny—but not only that. The love of a cat, it turns out, is itself a serious subject.
If I were not a Christian I would worship the Cat. The ancient Egyptians did so with much success. But at least it seems evident to me that the domestic cat is the aristocrat of the animal kingdom, occupying a place of quality in the Great Chain of Being second only to our aspiring, agitated and ever-evolving selves.
The dog is known to possess a higher degree of intelligence than the cat. Cat addicts are inclined to challenge this fact. But I think the higher intelligence, as we commonly mean it, must be conceded to the dog, and the highest to ourselves.