Cats,  Mondays With Merlin

We Could Be David Bowie Cat Heroes

If you love cats, sharing makes us purrrr :-)
Merlin Cat Heroes- RIP Bowie.


We Could Be David Bowie’s Cat Heroes is my theme for Mondays With Merlin as we pay tribute to David Bowie and share a few, little known facts about him. I was first introduced to Bowie’s music when Layla adopted me as a young cat in 1995. When we heard David Bowie died at his home in New York last week following an 18-month battle with cancer, it was a sad day indeed. I’d like to think we could all be David Bowie inspired cat heroes. The iconic singer, songwriter, musician, record producer, painter, actor was a true artist. A fearless visionary unafraid of ridicule or failure, he gradually turned away from the limelight after marrying his grande amour, the supermodel Iman in 1992 and raising their daughter Lexi. Bowie semi-retired after a heart attack in 2014 but continued to inspire fans and went out with a bang by releasing BlackStar his 25th album on his birthday and dying two days later. BlackStar debuted as #1 and the YouTube video will hit 20 million views by the time you read this. What a life, what a legacy.

For a pop culture icon who could have lived as large and glamorously as possible, choose a very private life since settling in New York in the ’90s. They had a house in Soho in lower Manhattan and rural property (very un-Hamptons glitz) in Woodstock N.Y. A London home was sold years ago for lacking privacy. Before marrying Iman, Bowie owned an extraordinary property on the private Caribbean island of Mustique where pal Mick Jagger still owns a home. Bowie sold his slice of tropical paradise in 1995 with the proviso that the new owner adopt his cats and a dog (more about that in a minute.)

The media has played up Bowie as a cat lover but in fact, Bowie loved cats and dogs. At the time of his death he had three dogs and no cats. Cat and dog tributes and memes are popping up everywhere but our favorite is a portrait of Bowie and an unknown cat with two different colored eyes (heterochromia). Bowie appeared to have two different colored eyes but developed anisocoria a permanently enlarged pupil from a childhood injury. The left eye appears blue to hazel depending on the light.

Bowie portrait by Sebastian Kruger


Iman, David Bowie and dog. Photo credit: Bruce Weber











Like many cats, I enjoy music and Layla kept playing “Heroes” over and over. Click and listen to a very intimate ad-free acoustic version recorded in 1996. It became an earworm and

I wondered: what would if we could be all be heroes for just one day.

The “Heroes” song will live on as an anthem for animal rights. The song played at the end of the Academy Award-winning documentary The Cove, a powerful film that revealed the senseless murder of dolphins in Japan. The annual mass killing continues and the next one is 75 days. Click on the link above to learn how you can be a hero.

For us cats and cat lovers, we can be heroes in ways big or small. You may be one and not even think you are. Late last night, Layla was chatting with a friend and the call came to an end because the friend had to drive in the rain to feed a feral colony. She’s a hero to many cats. I know many of you are every day heroes and some of you can do more. It’s a question of finding something that moves you, that inspires you enough to take action.

David Bowie, now Ziggy eternal Stardust once said, “As you get older, the questions come down to about two or three. How long? And what do I do with the time I’ve got left?” And “Every time I’ve made a radical change it’s helped me feel buoyant as an artist.”

Now back to Bowie’s Mustique home and his pets there. He called the Balinese inspired home, “It’s a whim personified. I love a good cliche, and this house, for me, is just the most delightful cliche. What you have to realize is that Mustique is a fantasy island.” Layla, remembered the Architectural Digest issue featuring the home as if it were yesterday. The text with an interview with Bowie is insightful and provides a glimpse into his private world. Oh, I’d love to sunbathe in that garden by the koi pond!

A fantasy island and world indeed. Layla had the good fortune to visit Mustique and stopped by Bowie’s house in 1995. And to think I almost moved to the island next door! Layla was spending a lot time down in Bequia and wanted to move there. Unfortunately, at the time pets were required to spend 6 months in quarantine in the U.K. Talk about a dealbreaker. She considered smuggling me and my sister but the threat of death if discovered proved too daunting and I ended up moving to chilly New York instead. Even if we had moved, Bowie would not have been a neighbor. We preferred the funky, unspoiled charms of Bequia. Bowie sold the property likely because his wife Iman didn’t like the island. I can understand why. As gorgeous as the island is, it has an eerie Stepford Wive’s quality. Everything is perfect, manicured and serene but the only black residents are descendants of the slaves who worked Mustique’s sugar plantations are now the island’s servants. It’s creepy and not diverse enough for my taste. I like every color cats, solid, patches, stripes, fur, no furr, it’s all good.

The property was sold to and renamed Mandalay by the billionaire publisher/poet Felix Dennis who died in 2014. He kept his promise to Bowie about taking care of his fat little dog and cats Turbo and Molly and wrote an elegy to Turbo from his collection Island of Dreams, “The King of Mandalay,”

They told me, dear old Turbo, they told me you had died;
‘The king is dead’ is what they said. I very nearly cried. . . .
You bullied little Molly; your ways were rough and rude;
You never wanted petting, — you always wanted food. . . .
But now the house feels empty and Molly seems to say:
Oh where is my tormentor, Turbo — King of Mandalay?

Dennis’s note reads:

“Turbo was the tomcat at my home, ‘Mandalay’ in Mustique. I inherited him from David Bowie. . . . Molly is Mandalay’s lap cat, a petite white female. Turbo hated her with an abiding passion and I was forced to throw him in the fish pond once or twice to teach him to mind his manners. It was Tony, our old butler, who christened Turbo ‘The King of Mandalay’, as indeed he was, but I never did find out why he was called Turbo in the first place.”

Click to see pics of Mandalay which was on the market and someone recently made an offer. It’s available for rent right meow for rent $40,000 for one week. There is no mention of any pets. Sigh, maybe I’ll get to visit in my next life. Now off to think about how I can be a hero in this life. How about you?




Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

error: Content is copyright protected !!