The Most Important Question Ever Asked


What if Dorothy had a cat?

Instead of a…Toto?

Now, before all you brindle Cairn fans get your short, wiry coats twisted up into a course scruff — I’ve nothing against your Terriers. Per se. After a recent rescreening of the 70th Anniversary Blu-ray Disc of The Wizard of Oz, it’s simply a question I found myself asking.

Aloud. Alone. And often.

There’s a problem lurking ‘round these parts. We’re all fairly sure of it, aren’t we? Yet not one of us has the guts to tear up the carpet and exclaim:

“Ah…Mr. Travis, please get a life.”

So, of primary import, even in early 1600s Americana — I seriously doubt any farm-bred, teenage girl would be allowed the eccentricity of having a cat off, or G-D forbid — on a leash.

The only reason Elmira Gulch owned a cat was that she was a wealthy, rural spinster — who lived alone and occasionally suffered mice infestations — in that whirlwind of an updo she referred to as: “My hair.”

I’d imagine.

But — an off-leash cat? The Gale Dust Dynasty simply would not have it. I can see Em —wiping her tiny, perpetually wet hands up, down and across her calico Rural Shrump — as I would have called it. I lost all respect for that woman when she nixed the cat idea in lieu of a dog. Because we all know how that worked out.


Here’s the scenario:


[Whilst jitterbugging her way atop a gutter’s jagged edge, no doubt]:

Aunt Em? Can I get a cat?


No! A cat? Dorothy! Not with all these donkey foals to wean! That’s just pure jabberwanking! Now get down off that gutter for pipe’s sake! And help me finish picking all these fly eggs out of the DazeyButter Churn! Before we lose another 5-gallons of cream!


And — let’s just say — Dorothy eroded Em into getting her a cat, she would have avoided Mrs. Gulch’s farm altogether. Cat’s don’t play very nice with neighboring cats. Period.

And we would have been spared the “bloodbath” — as the owner of half the County so dramatically recreated the attack. And a decade’s worth of pent up wrath from a “Good Christian Woman” splattered on every surface of the Gale’s Shabby Chic living room. (Seriously, how much would you shell out just to see Em go completely True Blood on that Witch? Gulch would have been knocked off her cycling shoes — and sent clear across the living room with Em’s first Bible slap. Right across the kisser. Smack!)

Leviticus packs quite a punch in the right hands.

Plus, given the choice, cats tend to prefer to stay on the farm. In fact, the only way Dorothy would have been able to get said cat off the farm would have been to drag her down that dusty dirt path tethered to a leash. A leash! The Gales would have been the judged out of church. Once word got out that young Dorothy Gale took to dragging her poor cat all over Gulch County, the Kansas Chapter of PETA would have had a cow.

Breach, of course.

There’s always drama on that farm.

But can you imagine how unpopular Mrs. Gulch’s cat must have been? She probably had a sign posted all crooked-like on her split-rail fence:

“Beware of cat!”

Followed by a neighborly addendum:

“And don’t even get me started on the owner!”

Now as far as Elmira Gulch’s crime report — of having a chunk bitten from her leg. Nice try, drama savage. You rode your bike to the Gale Farm. How “lame” could you be from said attack?

All that woman does is lie.

Lie. And wear black really well.

Having had the privilege of rescuing a four-month old cat about four years ago — I can attest to one thing: cats’ don’t bite (which was Mrs. Gulch’s biggest complaint: having a chunk taken out of her leg).


You don’t feed them like clockwork. Down to the second. With a clean dish-full of exactly the food they’re craving at that particular moment of the day. Otherwise you might as well keep a copy handy of: “How To Tourniquet One’s Leg Post Feline Attack.”

Seriously — you leisurely take your fine time opening a can of their favorite canned soufflé of something or bag of kibble…

I can distinctly hear the score to “Jaws!.

And I’ve got the scars on my legs to prove it.


PETER HAMILTON TRAVIS cherishes his gorgeous cat, Wallace. Not a day goes by that blood isn’t drawn and I don’t learn something wonderful about The Universe from him. Like sharing the above film with him (his first time). His purring behind my ears led me to wonder: What if Dorothy had a cat? So, thank you Wally. This one’s for you.