There are two kinds of cats living with František PON. Those who share his home and sleep in his bed, and those who inhabit the cellar, attic and garden of his house in Poněšice.

Raphael Coconut

The oldest member of František PON.s family circle in Poněšice is now Raphael Coconut. He was born in 1998 to a black cat but he is snow-white, he has yellow eyes and he can’t hear. He’s a devil in lamb’s clothing who, because of his deafness, hasn’t got any reserves, so he runs around full pelt at midnight, knocks down a blockade of empty bottles, wakes up the whole house and evidently can’t understand why everyone is mad at him. You can’t shout at this cat, since all communication is done in sign language. Coconut understands this language very well, but very often he’ll just turn around and pretend he doesn’t see anything. His favourite occupation is tearing up newspapers, sliding along the table cloth and tipping over full ashtrays. He’s simply a very mischievous cat, but when he cuddles up to you and puts his little white, unhearing head in your beard, you instantly forget about it. Recently though, this restless kitten who hung on to puberty for as long as he could, has turned into an adult tomcat, and sometimes he behaves as if he carried all the woes of the world on his shoulders.


The second oldest cat “on duty” in the F. PON. household is the British pedigree blue tomcat Sherlock, who is one year younger than Coconut. Despite the fact that, when he was little, he won the title Most Beautiful Kitten at an international show under his original name “Antonín of rare beauty”, František promised that he would never have to undergo another cat exhibition ever again. This was good news to him and, despite his noble origins, he settled into the family environment, if with certain reservations. His aristocratic thinking may be somewhat slower, but he manages to get to the food first, generally overtaking all the other indoor cats. But only if it is served at the usual time and in the usual place. Sherlock likes a sense of order, and since it took him a long time to grasp it, he insists on its strict adherence. From an early age he was wary of people and their familiarity but, with the passing of time, he has rid himself of this burden and now he even comes to ask to be stroked himself. This isn’t some diffident, silent request, but a noisy, arrogant command to be carried out without delay.


Sigismund was originally an abandoned cat whom someone had left in the woods beyond the village. Initially, he lived with the outdoor cats, but because he loves humans and, despite all the wrongs they had done him, he couldn’t bare to be without them, he moved inside after a few weeks. This is the kind of cat who greets you at the door, he loves visitors and he does his utmost to ensure that we never abandon him. Every time we arrive home, he welcomes us boisterously, but then he forgets his major concern and, without the slightest inhibition, carries on making mischief. He managed to destroy more glasses and mugs during those first few weeks than Coconut ever did. Since Sigismund’s arrival, lighters have gone missing regularly, which he steals and hides in the most absurd places. Unlike Sherlock, Sigismund is always ready to show his affection, and when you wake up, he is usually the first to come and wish you good morning.


The only lady in this domestic feline company is Sock – a tortoiseshell cat with fur the colour of a black-yellow-brown mottled sweater. With her scowling expression she sometimes resembles a coarse-haired dachshund and, at other times, on her dark, slender legs, she looks like a cabaret dancer from the beginning of last century. She introduced a feminine element among the tomcats with everything that entails, and brought sense to many of their activities. Sigismund acquainted her with all the rules and conventions of the František PON.household, doing so with such efficiency that, within only a few days, Sock was able to do as much as he was. She very quickly learned how to open a pack of butter and make a little nose-shaped indentation in it; she realised that the best-tasting water is to be found in a vase full of flowers, and she knows how to slip unnoticed into the pantry, to be shut in there with a bag full of cat biscuits. What’s more, she taught herself how to open the door into the hall, enter the library and sweep out the spider webs in the most remote corners of the house. Sock and Sigismund are inseparable. But Sigismund considers Sock his property, and so he can’t bear seeing anyone else giving her attention.


František PON.s Prague flat is also home to Oswald, an athletic, ginger-white eight-year-old tomcat with a severe expression. Oswald rarely shows his affection, but he does like a wild brawl, during which he bites unsuspecting humans and generally comes out the winner. The opponent who leaves the battlefield will also get bitten in the calf or ankle as a warning. When he is resting, Oswald resembles an Egyptian sphinx. His favourite food is olives, which he first captures, then fondles and finally eats. He will even go for dried fruit or potato crisps. His attitude towards women is somewhat inconsistent; he only tolerates them when they put a plate of food in front of him. Oswald’s biggest problem is the arrival in Prague of the Poněšice indoor cats several times a year, when he has to share his three-room flat with them. Neither can he stand the excursions to the country sometimes forced upon him, since, as a typical urban intellectual, he knows that nothing good awaits him in these rural parts.

But all the indoor cats have one thing in common – they hate travelling and they hate all other cats, particularly the outdoor ones, of whom there are at least ten casing the house at any given moment. Apart from the permanent residents, other cats often turn up here as well. Some just come for a snack, others hang around for a few days, and some occasionally come back later. Unlike the locals, however, these ones are timid, and František PON. is the last person in this world who would interest them.