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The Wolf, the Bear and Cat Ivanovitch (1) : A faithful but unprepossessing pet is turned out of hearth and home.
The Wolf, the Bear and Cat Ivanovitch
Part one

Based on ‘Old Peter’s Russian Tales’, by Arthur Ransome.

This Russian folktale is a story about a tom cat who is abandoned by his fastidious owner, but shows all the philosophical resilience of cats, and reinvents himself as Cat Ivanovitch, Head Forester of all the animals of the wood. But he could not have done it without the help of a little vixen called Lisabeta, and a good deal of luck.

ONCE upon a time, a peasant decided that his ginger cat, a battle-scarred mouser with one ear, was not the sort of pet to be seen with. So he popped old Tom in a sack, and dumped him in the forest.

Tom clawed his way out of his sack, and set off to explore his new world. On his way, he met Lisabeta, a pretty little vixen who thought one-eared Tom quite the handsomest creature in the woods; and as Lisabeta was an excellent cook who let a fellow stay in bed and wash his whiskers, they were soon married.

Lisabeta was out poaching chickens next morning when she met a wolf, full of congratulations. ‘When do I meet the lucky fellow?’ he asked, but the vixen dared not disturb Tom. ‘Cat Ivanovitch (for so he called himself) is come from Siberia to be Head Forester. Perhaps if you presented His Excellency with a sheep?’ suggested Lisabeta sweetly. The wolf, much impressed, promised he would.

Based on ‘Old Peter’s Russian Tales’, by Arthur Ransome.

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Picture: © Roswitha Budde, Cattery vom Hohen Timp, via Wikimedia Commons. Licence: CC BY-SA 3.0. View original
A red-and-white Siberian Forest Cat; Lisabeta the vixen managed to con the wolf and the bear into thinking that her new husband, a one-eared old tomcat, was just such a lordly beast. Harrison Weir, the pioneering English cat enthusiast, mentioned Siberians back in 1871, but in Russia they are believed to have been the mousers-in-chief at monasteries for hundreds of years, agile enough to patrol the rafters, fierce enough to deal with most intruders, aloof but loyal. They can be found in all sorts of colours, tabby, tortoiseshell, bi-colour and smokey grey.

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