Readers’ cats: Pixie

I was surprised but pleased to get an email about my New Republic Douthat piece from Richard Posner, a colleague at the University of Chicago as well as a very famous legal scholar and federal appellate court judge. Besides his day job as judge, he teaches classes at the UC Law School, has written several dozen books, and also contributes to two websites. He was first in his law school class at Harvard, edited the Harvard Law Review, and in the Sixties clerked for Justice William Brennan at the Supreme Court. I’d call the man an overachiever.

Posner’s Wikipedia page notes the following, and you’ll see what part I glommed onto (I’ve bolded that part for n00bs):

Richard Allen Posner (/ˈpoʊznər/; born January 11, 1939) is an American jurist, legal theorist and economist. He is currently a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Chicago and a Senior Lecturer at the University of Chicago Law School. He is a leading figure in the field of law and economics.

Posner is the author of nearly 40 books on jurisprudence, economics, and several other topics, including Economic Analysis of LawThe Economics of JusticeThe Problems of JurisprudenceSex and ReasonLaw, Pragmatism and Democracy, and The Crisis of Capitalist DemocracyThe Journal of Legal Studies has identified Posner as the most cited legal scholar of the 20th century. He is also a self-described “cat person” and is devoted to his maine coon, Pixie.

. . .  In December 2004, Posner started a joint blog with Nobel Prize-winning economist Gary Becker. He also has a blog at The Atlantic, where he discusses the financial crisis.

So of course, after discussing various legal issues with the good judge, my first thought was to take advantage of our new acquaintanceship to request a picture of and paragraph about Pixie. Posner kindly complied, and here is her photo and story:

She is a beauty, as you can see; also very intelligent; but above all affectionate, which is rare in my experience of cats. My wife and I have had cats (just one at a time) since before we were married, which means more than 51 years ago, and Pixie is the first one who actually likes me (gives me frequent nuzzles, follows me around, lies on my computer keyboard, causing chaos). I strongly recommend the breed–Maine Coon–and also buying a cat from a breeder, because breeders are very concerned with raising good-natured animals, as otherwise they don’t have a chance in a cat show–not that we would ever “show” a cat.

IMG00048-20100419-1241 (2)

Pixie as paperweight for the New York Times


  1. Posted December 30, 2013 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

    Pixie is gorgeous!


  2. Posted December 30, 2013 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

    She indeed is very beautiful! I have long longed for a Maine Coon or/and a Norwegian Forest Cat, but they are not suited for life in small apartments because of their huge size.

  3. Diana MacPherson
    Posted December 30, 2013 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

    I love that little lower lip!

  4. Posted December 30, 2013 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

    What a pretty cat!

    She looks just like the stray who adopted our local pet store owners. Her name is Storm, as she’s grey like Pixie, and was dropped off by a passerby, during a horrendous rainstorm one year ago. The passerby was reluctant to take the lost waif to an animal shelter, and so the pet store manager felt coerced/compelled to take her in for the night. She’s now part of their family.

  5. Posted December 30, 2013 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

    I can’t agree that one should buy a cat from a breeder! There are way too many neglected kitties in the world to justify encouraging people to make more. All of my cats have been strays or shelter kitties, and they have all been affectionate and loyal companions (including the one kneading my thigh as I type this!).

    • Posted December 30, 2013 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

      I fully concur, especially in the light of this:

    • Posted December 30, 2013 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

      Sorry, but I’m going to stop this line of discussion right now. Judge Posner was nice enough to send a picture of his cat at my request, and we don’t need lectures on this post, at least, about what kinds of cats to get.

      Do realize that this cat is already in hand, is much loved, and an owner doesn’t want to hear that he got THE WRONG KIND OF CAT.

      • Posted December 30, 2013 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

        Besides, while strays (and even ferals) need homes, so do breeder cats.

        As wonderful as it is to adopt a shelter cat or a street cat or your neighbor’s cat or whatever, there is absolutely nothing worng with opening your home and heart to a breeder cat. Nothing whatsoever.



      • Witness
        Posted December 31, 2013 at 8:39 am | Permalink

        Why object to your cat-loving readers’ differing about whether it’s best to buy cats from breeders? I didn’t read the link provided by vierotchka, because the title doesn’t seem directly relevant to Peter N’s point, which I fervently support, so if vierotchka’s link is what you’re responding to, let me draw the discussion back to Peter N’s point.

        There are many possible reasons for adopting a cat, and if one’s priorities don’t include reducing suffering among already extant cats, then there is nothing wrong with providing a market to breeders. I, and possibly Peter N as well, deeply value the opportunity to reduce suffering in the world that cat adoption provides, and buying a cat from a breeder would conflict with that value, by filling a position that could otherwise be offered to an unfortunate cat from a shelter, or to a stray.

        I can understand your discomfort with what might be seen as criticism of someone you respect, and someone you’ve put in the eye of your public, but I don’t think anyone was attacking Judge Posner, or even his decision. There was just dissent over his implication that one had better buy from a breeder if one wants a good-natured animal, and over his apparent unawareness of other factors that might matter in one’s choice.

        • Posted December 31, 2013 at 8:57 am | Permalink

          You are deeply mistaken about what Posner was saying (see point #2 below). I didn’t want the thread to devolve into a discourse on What Kind of Cats to Adopt for two reasons.

          First, this cat was already owned, and it seems uncivil to use a “reader’s cat” post to imply that the reader who contributed a cat did something wrong. We have had other purebreds in “readers’ cats,” and I don’t recall anybody using that as an excuse to dilate on what kind of cat to get. Just imagine if it’s your cat that I posted, and readers get all up in your face for not getting a shelter cat. You would feel bad. I put up reader’s cats post for several reasons, but that is not one of them.

          (And, as a matter of fact, all my cats have been rescue cats.)

          Second, Posner’s statement was CLEARLY mean to say that if you already want a Maine Coon cat, it’s better to buy one from a breeder, as they take care to produce purebred animals with good temperaments. I have no idea where you got the idea that he recommended purebred cats as the best way to go if you simply want a sweet cat.

          In general, there is too much finger-wagging on the internet in places where it’s not appropriate. Another example is the food police who used to miraculously appear when I posted an appetizing meal, warning me that it wasn’t healthy (and not realizing that such meals are an exception).

          It’s fine to argue that if someone is looking to adopt a cat, there are advantages to saving the life of a shelter cat. It’s not fine to tell someone who already has a purebred that he or she erred, and use that as an excuse for a lecture. We all know, anyway, about the reasons for adopting strays or shelter cats. If you don’t know that, you must have been living in CatlessLand.

          And that is the end of this discussion–on this thread, anyway.

  6. Posted December 30, 2013 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

    Forgive me if I devolve into Maine Coon tribalism, but mine is better!

    • Posted December 30, 2013 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

      And does incredible tricks too (we just have to catch her on video). Though Pixie IS absolutely beautiful, and would definitely give Gas Runkey (aka Sadie) a run for her money. As an aside, this post reminds me of grad school. When I was a TA in a Philosophy of Law lecture, one of my students wrote a paper on Posner. The title was “Holly on Posner.” I was surprised at first, and it did make me chuckle, but then I realized the title did exactly what it was supposed to do. And succinctly so. 🙂

  7. Tim T
    Posted December 30, 2013 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

    I take comfort in the fact that someone as esteemed as Judge Posner allows his beautiful cat on the table. Our five boys are always on the table and counters. It is a bit embarrassing when guests are over.

    • Posted December 30, 2013 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

      Well, the table is the natural transition space to and from the shoulders.

      Besides, anybody who gets upset about that sort of thing clearly hasn’t had enough cat naps. After you and a cat have drooled on each other enough times, there’s really not much point in worrying about such things any more.



      • Marta
        Posted December 30, 2013 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

        This morning, on my way to the bathroom, I caught Evil drinking out of the toilet. What has been seen cannot be unseen; I’m much less sanguine about his drool now.

        • Posted December 30, 2013 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

          Ah — that would be the selfish reason for brushing a cat’s teeth. (The non-selfish reason, of course, is the cat’s own health.)

          And, if I can brush Baihu’s teeth, then anybody can brush any cat’s teeth.

          (Not with human toothpaste! See your vet and / or pet supply store for supplies and instructions.)



  8. Posted December 30, 2013 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

    Cat on our table and counters just won’t do here, though I’ve never bothered to try the lipstick test.I’m sure our old lady has been all over. At 16, she still tries to sneak up on the counter at night and lick the butter! We have to put objects on the bar stool to stop her from jumping up. She can’t scale the counter in one go anymore.

  9. Diane G.
    Posted December 30, 2013 at 8:02 pm | Permalink

    What a beautiful cat! Looks to be full of personality, too.

    I’ve heard nothing but wonderful things about Maine Coons.

  10. Lianne Byram
    Posted December 30, 2013 at 8:30 pm | Permalink

    Very pretty cat.

  11. Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    Posted December 31, 2013 at 7:17 am | Permalink

    An affectionate cat? That would scare the bekittehz out of me!

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