A British cultural touchstone for the last 50 years, Doctor Who debuted on November 23, 1963. It is only since its revival in 2005 that it’s really started gaining mass appeal here in the U.S., where it airs on BBC America. If you’re unfamiliar, Doctor Who is about an alien called “the Doctor” who travels through time and space in a blue police box that’s bigger on the inside.
Change is at the heart of Doctor Who. The lead actor changes on a regular basis, as do his traveling companions. In August 2014, Peter Capaldi’s tenure as the Doctor officially got under way.
What does any of this have to do with cats? Well, I wrote a piece recently about the singular challenges of owning hairless cats. As I finished writing, an uncanny resemblance struck me with the force of revelation.
I was simultaneously reminded of and inspired by Red Scharlach’s infamous Tumblr gem, “Otters Who Look Like Benedict Cumberbatch.” Since Peter Capaldi’s first episode, he’s absolutely owned the role of the Doctor. He is a great actor, and his dynamic facial features play their part. It was quite a task to represent the range and scope of Peter Capaldi’s remarkable face using only hairless cats, but I had to try.
Although the character of the Doctor is continuous, thirteen actors have now played the lead role since 1963. From Colin Baker, whose 6th Doctor wore a series of cat lapel pins, to Paul McGann’s 8th Doctor, who became a cat for a short time in the comics, each delivers a unique interpretation. Peter Capaldi’s Doctor comes across as gruff and aloof at times, and is clearly impatient with anything that isn’t strictly relevant to the crisis at hand.
It’s a gross oversimplification, but during the David Tennant and Matt Smith eras of Doctor Who (2005-2013), the Doctor tended to be a genial, welcoming, and tolerant character. With Peter Capaldi, Doctor Who reminds us on a weekly basis that while the Doctor may look human, he is an alien who has “walked this universe for centuries untold” and seen “stars fall to dust.”
That alienness — and the prominent orbital structure of their faces — made hairless cats the ideal feline analogue for Peter Capaldi’s Doctor. The points of comparison between hairless cats and Peter Capaldi’s Doctor Who don’t stop at the frontal bones, nor the fine lines and wrinkles that endow them with such character.
Fans of hairless cats are just as opinionated about the Sphynx cat as fans of the show are about Sylvester McCoy’s 7th Doctor. They are as knowledgeable about the Peterbald cat as Doctor Who fans are about Peter Davison’s 5th incarnation. Pedantic Who fans will protest that Peter Capaldi is not bald; they’re not alone, since, technically, neither are hairless cats.
Regardless which actor inhabits the role, the Doctor is at his best when he shares his adventures, usually with a human companion. The Doctor has a tendency to go off the rails when he is alone for too long. Any hairless cat owner will have a similar story. Hairless cats are extremely social creatures, bordering on clingy, who only truly thrive when they have constant companionship. Many hairless cat devotees solve this with a second hairless cat.
Companionship takes a number of forms, as Peter Capaldi’s companion, Clara, would easily attest. Where the previous Doctor, Matt Smith, was a big fan of affectionate interaction, Peter Capaldi is decidedly not. “I don’t think that I’m a hugging person now,” he says, uncomfortable at Clara’s friendly embrace in the season premiere. Hairless cats, on the other hand, can’t get enough of physical contact.
When companions travel with the Doctor, their lives and perspectives change substantially, if not irrevocably. It is much the same with hairless cat owners. People who like low-maintenance relationships do well to steer clear of both. Any relationship worth having is worth working on and committing to. That goes double for hairless cats and Peter Capaldi’s brand of Doctor Who.
One of my favorite Doctor Who podcasts, Verity!, recently described traveling with the Doctor as similar to “wrangling 12 children.” To be sure, Peter Capaldi’s Doctor can be mercurial and reckless. That’s not a problem with hairless cats, but their limited fur means they need weekly grooming attention from their human friends, and their high metabolism means they are always looking for high-quality food.
In “Kill the Moon,” Peter Capaldi’s Doctor is distressed to find that a schoolgirl has been posting pictures of him on Tumblr. His desire for anonymity is not surprising. It was a missed opportunity, though. The Doctor should have advised her to stick to the true purpose of social media: sharing cat pictures. Pictures of cats make everyone happy.
“It’s the end” of our look at Doctor Who and hairless cats, “but the moment has been prepared for.” Which fandom do you represent: hairless cats? Doctor Who? Do you occupy the intersection of the Venn diagram? Catster’s covered both before! We want to hear from all of you! Which Doctor is your favorite? What breed of hairless cat do you like best? Let us know in the comments!