Alas, poor Ketzel

Alas, poor Ketzel

Actually, Ketzel was not so poor. She had a long – 19 years – and rich life for a cat, and contributed a perhaps lasting work of piano composition, “Piece for Piano, Four Paws,” to posterity.

But Ketzel – about whom I blogged some years ago, when the music professor/rabbi she lived with died – is no more. Her death was reported in Wednesday’s New York Times, an honor most cats don’t even dream of.

As recounted by her human owner, Aliya Cheskis-Cotel, her late husband, Rabbi Morris Moshe Cotel, transcribing the sounds Ketzel made on the piano, was impressed by its “structural elegance.” “He said: This piece has a beginning, a middle, and an end. How can this be? It’s written by a cat.”

She made her mark as a composer in a field where few women (and fewer cats) shine, and her work rated a special mention in a contest judged by humans who knew nothing of her species. In fact, she even received royalty checks. The Times reported that “[t]he first, for $19.72, was for a performance in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. The check was made out to Ketzel Cotel.” (Her humans cashed it and “told Ketzel we could buy a lot of yummy cat food for $19.72.”)

Some people may think this story is sweet, and some may be repelled by it – but those who have or have had a strong bond with an animal will smile.

A recording of “Piece for Piano, Four Paws” can be found here.