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A look at some of the books we've enjoyed
Ships' Cats in War and Peace
This book, mentioned elsewhere on the site, is a well-researched and fascinating treasure trove of information about cats on ships, from those of ancient Egypt to particular animals of modern times. There are nearly 80 accounts some long, some short, some sad, many inspiring and a number of illustrations.
Not so many people take their cat travelling by road. This endearing little book was written by one who did, and recounts his travels around Britain for several months in a camper van, accompanied by Pugwash. The cat seems to have taken to the nomadic lifestyle remarkably well, as evidenced by the author's own photos of him in diverse locations. Harrison writes with humour and a well-developed sense of the ridiculous, detailing the places he visited and some of the eccentric characters he met, as well as what life was like 'on the road' with Pugwash.
For the sequel, Travelling Cat in Ireland, see Folios 3.
Mrs Chippy's Last Expedition
It's not well known that Mrs Chippy, the cat on Ernest Shackleton's ill-fated expedition to the Antarctic in the Discovery, kept a journal during 1915! This exceptional book publishes that journal, with its day-by-day accounts of a cat's life on board, and the frozen continent where the vessel eventually arrived. There's an introduction by 'Lord Mouser-Hunt'. A clever idea, and well worth a read.
Our Famous Felines section includes an account of Mrs Chippy.
Cats: 99 Lives
A lavishly illustrated little book about 'cats in legend, history and literature; a colourful journey through the feline world from ancient Egypt to the present'. Ninety-nine specific cats are featured: but there's far more besides, and a wealth of interesting information in the book. I've browsed through this one often.
Miss Mac, the Church Cat: An Autobiography
Another literary feline resided in the northern English county of Lancashire, in the parish of St Hubert's, Dunsop Bridge. With the aid of her scribe, Father John Chaloner, she was able to put her thoughts and experiences on record. I don't think I can do better than quote from the summary on this lovely little book's cover:
'Miss Mac the church cat takes us through the Church year and through the seasons of nature. We meet her friends, including an angel called Goldilocks, St Hubert and Custard the camel. We share her adventures in the woods, streams, hills and, of course, the church. She also shares her thoughts and reflections with us. This amusing book, ranging from the profound to the comical, will charm and delight readers of all ages.'
I second that. Sadly, Miss Mac disappeared not long after her book was completed, but you can read her story here.
Ko-Ko, the Church Cat who found Love
Ko-Ko was Miss Mac's successor at St Hubert's (see left) and was also a cat with literary leanings! In this book Ko-Ko takes us to meet his friends, including some who knew Miss Mac before him; and there are animals who tell their own tales, too, rather à la Chaucer. In the course of the narratives, introductions and explanations crop up to many of the Church's beliefs and celebrations, and it is the love of God that Ko-Ko finds. Both this book and Miss Mac's benefit from Father Chaloner's perceptive and amusing pen-and-ink drawings.
You'll find the story of both Ko-Ko and Miss Mac in our Featuring Felines section, and it also includes an account of the subsequent church cat, Mungojerrie.
My First Cat: Writers & Artists Remember
This is an original idea, expertly assembled by the compiler and beautifully produced to form a fascinating collection of extracts from people's reminiscences of the first cat they owned or encountered. They range in date from the early eighteenth century right up to some taken from modern-day websites, and are interspersed with 'cat quotes'. The text is accompanied by the most marvellous collection of mostly early photographs of cats and their people, many of them children; finding these alone must have taken a great deal of research. A worthy and unusual addition to my 'cat-book shelf'.
For the Love of Cats
This is an American publication packed with an amazing amount of interesting information about cats, under the headings Cats through the Ages, Famous Felines, Roars and Purrs heard round the World, Do you Live here too?, Cat'itude and Best Friends. Want to read about Morris the TV cat? The kitten that climbed Switzerland's Matterhorn? The most popular names for cats in the US? Some interesting 'cat places' to visit? Cats that set records? They're all here, plus much, much more, and all beautifully presented with many photos, drawings, sayings, quotes, proverbs . . . there's enough here to keep cat-lovers going for quite a while!
This is the real-life story of the author's introduction to cats (he admits he was not initially much of a 'cat person'), of which several episodes ended in tragedy. That almost happened to Uncle Whiskers as well, following a road accident leading to severe disability; but the book goes on to relate the story of this truly remarkable cat's overcoming of those problems to lead a full, happy and active life for 13 years. The tale is told in an honest, matter-of-fact way, not overemotionally but there is no doubting Mr Brown's deep affection and respect for the cat that shared much of its life with him. You might not make it through this book completely dry-eyed!
A Cat in my Lap
A thoroughly readable and enjoyable account of the author's life with various cats, in various places, celebrating their lives and dealing sensitively but not mawkishly with their inevitable passing. The book is not wholly devoted to cats, as she also writes of dogs she had at the same time, and as a keen gardener she has some useful tips in that line, too! A lady of many talents, in addition Miss Melmoth writes poems and the last section of the book is devoted to some about cats. Jo Berriman's black-and-white drawings (coloured for the endpapers) are superb and add much to the book's appeal. I'm delighted I found a copy of this lovely book to add to my library.
Planet Cat: A Cat-a-Log
This American book is almost encyclopaedic in its assembly of just about anything to do with domestic cats, consisting as it does of nearly 400 pages of facts, lore and information. It can be picked up and dipped into at any time and you'd probably learn something you didn't know! The only slight drawback is that apart from the cover the illustrations are all in black and white.
Described as 'True Stories of Daring Feline Deeds', this small volume assembles a number of short accounts of situations in which cats have shown unusual qualities. Several of Purr 'n' Fur's 'Famous Cats' are here (Simon, Scarlett, Faith), but so are the stories of other resourceful felines that I had not heard about before. Most are illustrated.
There's also a feature on the series of children's books by Kathleen Hale,
Orlando, the Marmalade Cat
If you would like to comment, or suggest further titles, please contact me,
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There is none better to be our featured feline at the head of the page than Dewey, beloved and famous library cat of Spencer in Iowa
until his passing at the age of 19 in 2006. Read his story here.
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Page created June 2007, with later revisions and additions