Posted by: christinelaennec | November 8, 2012

The cat sat on the mat

I often find myself telling students about the importance of clarity in their writing.  So often they think they have to “write posh” to impress the marker.  I say, write clearly!  Your ideas are probably (or should be) complex enough.  And sometimes I say, ‘Of course, I don’t mean write sentences like “The Cat Sat On the Mat” ‘.

To my mind, The Cat Sat On the Mat is the archetypal learning-to-read sentence.  But in fact it is also a profound truth.  Whenever there is any kind of mat, towel, rectangle of some kind, a cat will want to be sitting on top of it.  I was reminded of this first thing this morning, when I’d spilled some water on the floor and hurriedly thrown down a cloth to soak it up and prevent an accident.  When I went to pick it up, there was Tilly.  She stayed to pose for a photo:

Tilly on a mat

Another typical cat thing to do is jump into an empty box and give you that same look of “What are you staring (or laughing) at?”  I haven’t quite captured The Look here, but if you know cats, you’ll know what I mean:


This is our firewood box.  It must have been a crate for export, as no-one in Scotland would talk about (or perhaps drink, I don’t know!) “Blended Scotch Whisky”.  The word “Scotch” seems only to be used by non-Scottish people.  Scots, please correct me if I’m wrong!



  1. Hooray, more Tilly! She is absolutely adorable on that cloth, it really made me smile, thank you.

    It’s a strange thing, this business of ‘Scotch’, but in my experience you’re right, Scots don’t call it that. There can be a bit of snobbery attached to malt whisky, and although I do love a nice smoky malt myself, I wouldn’t turn down a wee dram of the blended stuff on a chilly November night. 😉

  2. I remember years ago having a book for my children, “My cat likes boxes.” We have photographs going back all those years of our cats sitting in boxes, bags, and yes, sitting on mats, newspaper, I really still dont know why! But they are all posers. And none more so as beautiful as Tilly.

  3. Tilly is very cute! I just love calico cats. They’re so cozy.

  4. Aww, Tilly is very cute! “Scotch”….one thing we hate to be called, instead of “Scottish”, not sure about the drink thing, but I can’t remember anyone in my family ever calling whisky “scotch”. xx

  5. My husband would tell you that no self-respecting Scot would drink a BLENDED whisky!

  6. I like your advice to students and Tilly is your poster child for good writing! She is very photogenic and she must know it, as she poses so prettily for you. Love your crate, and I had no idea about Scots not liking Scotch! Funny! It does seem to be a term used in old movies with some handsome actor saying, ‘I’d like a Scotch, please’. Sometimes not even saying ‘please’. Now we know this is not something to say in a Scottish pub! xx

  7. Never, ever ‘Scotch’.

    But I have to disagree with Roobeedoo. I grew up on Speyside, in a village of 5 distilleries, and where whisky was the main drink. Perhaps some beer to go with it, or a wee sherry for the genteel. But the whisky drunk was pretty much always a blend. And that by people who worked in malt whisky distilleries.

  8. I’m not really much of a cat person. They make me sneeze. 😉 However your Tilly is a beautiful cat and I do find their expressions amusing. Are you still teaching students?

  9. Too cute cat, and yes they do love mats and boxes. I recognize your wood box logo, that is one that goes to the US, and for some reason it is called blended.

  10. Dear all,

    Thanks for all your comments. I have let Tilly know in a general way that she is admired, but if she knew the details it might go to her head!

    It’s very interesting to me to read what folks have to say both about the word “Scotch” – for whisky and for things Scottish. The only exception to that seems to be “Scotch broth”. The subject of another post perhaps?!

    And I see that opinions are divided as to the relative merits and demerits of blended and malt whisky. I’m not really a whisky drinker although on a very cold night I wouldn’t turn away a wee sniff of Glenfiddich. The peaty whiskies (Islay and Jura) are a bit much for me. Clearly I’m not made of strong enough stuff!

  11. What about “Scotch eggs”? Scottish friends of mine make them.

    I like my glass of wine, but, like you, I’m not made of strong enough stuff to handle liquor.

    • Kelly, you’re right – people do eat (and make, obviously) Scotch eggs too.

      I’m not even made of strong enough stuff to handle wine!

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