A word about zinc #04: Alley cats and gutters






The imagery of roofs has a lot to do with materials, know-how, professionals, roofers and zinc workers, who venture up onto them for the duration of a project. But it also gives pride of place to the inhabitants of these lofty places. All sorts of birds come to mind, as well as small rodents and bees. But cats have a special place in this secret universe. They are at ease here, jumping lithely from a zinc gutter to a flat tile roof to settle themselves in a hieratic pose on a ridge and taunt the bustling world below from their symbolic position. Today we take a look at these cats who love to spend time on roof tops, like feline street urchins.



As we all know, cats love to dominate, to prowl above the city. Cats and roof tops go way back. Instead of alley cats, they could have been called gutter cats! Which is in fact what they are referred to in French: “chats de gouttière”! The French expression “gutter cat” was invented by the Parisians. This now common term enabled them to refer poetically to domestic cats with no pedigree, hence avoiding the term “mongrel cat”. Because alley cats are the most beautiful race of mongrels!

We can, however, find a reason for this French expression. The gutter is not the roof, but the edge of the roof, and even for a non-pedigree cat, the edge of the roof is a strategic place, the quintessential observation post from which to spy without being seen, from which to discreetly observe the arrival of silly pigeons or other distracted birds. In addition to this, in Paris, gutters are very often in zinc, and in the sun, zinc accumulates heat. So our hunter-cats are not just in the first row, their seats are even heated! In short, zinc gutters are perhaps heaven on earth for alley cats!


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