Norma Tanega, Who Sang About a Cat Named Dog, Dies at 80


In 1966, when Norma Tanega released her first single, rock fans were becoming used to unusual lyrics. But as it turned out, that song, “Walkin’ My Cat Named Dog,” wasn’t as quirky as the title suggested: The song was inspired by her cat, whose name was indeed Dog.

“I had always wanted a dog, but because of my living situation, I could only have a cat,” she said on her website. “I named my cat Dog and wrote a song about my dilemma.”

She turned that situation into a lilting song about freedom, “perpetual dreamin’” and “walkin’ high against the fog” around town with Dog (whom in real life she really did walk).

Accompanying herself on guitar and also playing harmonica, she sang, in a low voice: “Dog is a good old cat/People what you think of that?/That’s where I’m at, that’s where I’m at.”

But she would never have another hit.

Ms. Tanega died on Dec. 29 at her home in Claremont, Calif., about 30 miles east of Los Angeles. She was 80. Her lawyer, Alfred Shine, said the cause was colon cancer.

Soon after the release of her hit song, Ms. Tanega was part of a nationwide tour with Gene Pitney, Chad & Jeremy and many other artists. Later in 1966 she performed in England, where she met Dusty Springfield, the British pop star.

The meeting led Ms. Tanega to write or co-write songs for Ms. Springfield, including “No Stranger Am I,” “The Colour of Your Eyes” and “Earthbound Gypsy.” They also had a romantic relationship for several years, during which Ms. Tanega wrote a song called “Dusty Springfield” with Jim Council and the jazz pianist and vocalist Blossom Dearie, who sang it on her 1970 album, “That’s Just the Way I Want to Be.”

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