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Patrick Roberts

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Feline Folios 3

A look at some of the books we've enjoyed

      

Travelling Cat in Ireland, by Frederick Harrison

Travelling Cat in Ireland
Frederick Harrison
(HarperCollins, 1991;
ISBN 0 246 13700 2
)

This delightful book is a sequel to the author's Travelling Cat (see Folios 2) and relates his adventures travelling this time around Ireland in his camper van. He's accompanied on the journey by Pugwash, as on his earlier odyssey, but this time also by Pugwash's mother, known as Cheesy. The two cats are almost indistinguishable in the photos. As before, Harrison's offbeat humour and keen sense of observation — especially about the people he meets — make this a very enjoyable read.

Paw Tracks in the Moonlight
Denis O'Connor
(Coon Cat Books, Morpeth, Northumberland, UK, 2004;
ISBN 0 9548370 0 2
)

I suspect this was a privately published book, which is a pity as the story of 'Toby Jug' deserves to be better known. Rescued in the depths of winter in the north of England as a tiny kitten when his mother was caught in an illegal trap and died from her injuries, he was not expected to live either; but Mr O'Connor persevered and over time Toby grew into a fine cat. The two of them developed a very close relationship, and the author has written a wonderful account of their first year together, writing unusually honestly and openly about his feelings and emotions during that time. He limits the account to one year to avoid repetition; you'll need to get the book to know what happened after that.

Update: This amazing and touching story was republished by Constable and Robinson at the end of October 2009 (ISBN 9781849011198), and so should reach the wider readership it deserves.

Paw Tracks in the Moonlight, by Denis O'Connor
Willi Whizkas, Tall Tales and Lost Lives! by Jonnie Paws and Carol Claws

Willi Whizkas: Tall Tales and Lost Lives!
Jonnie Paws & Carol Claws
(Zymurgy Publishing, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, UK, 2005;
ISBN 1 903506 18 2
)

I gather that the authors have written other Willi Whizkas books, dating back to 1991, but this was the first I'd come across. Basically it's a children’s book, written in an easy-to-read style, and it recounts the day-to-day adventures of Willi and his friends Ginger Tompkins, Gordon and Tushtots with other human and animal inhabitants of their neighbourhood. It's beautifully observed as far as cat behaviour goes — but I wish they'd used a better proofreader!

Somewhere a Cat is Waiting
Derek Tangye
(Book Club Associates/Michael Joseph Ltd, 1977; no ISBN)

This particular edition is a revised and abridged compilation of three of Tangye's earlier books, A Cat in the Window (1962), Lama (1966) and A Cat Affair (1974). These books concern the life of Tangye and his wife Jeannie's escape from the London rat race to Minack Cottage in Cornwall, and the various feline companions who shared their lives at different times. Husband and wife become completely enchanted with their new way of life, and with the cats, and I in turn was enchanted by his writing. I was left definitely wanting to read more by this author and will be seeking out other books about the cats of Minack.

Somewhere a Cat is Waiting, by Derek Tangye
Curacao, by Agneta Naslund

Curaçao
Agneta Näslund
(UK edition Souvenir Press, 1993;
ISBN 0285 63164 0
)

This unusual little book, by a Swedish author, is probably not so easy to find these days. It's a delightful collection of poems, prose, and above all wonderful photos (in black and white) of kitten Curaçao as she grows up, explores and is 'into' everything, along with her 'adult' friends, black Cassis and tabby Seagram. Well worth a browse.

Cambridge Cats
Tony Jedrej
(Gerald Duckworth & Co., London, 1994;
ISBN 07156 2636 1
)

Here is another book of monochrome photos, with not much text — just enough to identify the cats and their surroundings. As it was published in 1994, no doubt most, if not all, of the felines shown have now died — but 'college cats' are still alive and well in Cambridge and various other places (see College Cats by Richard Surman on Folios 1). Here are 20 of the 1990s ones, posed and unposed, in gardens, courtyards and residents' studies and charmingly photographed.

Cambridge Cats, by Tony Jedrej
Watchers by the Pool, by Margaret Reinhold

Watchers by the Pool
Margaret Reinhold
(Souvenir Press, London, 1993;
ISBN 0 285 63121 7
)

I can't recall a better 'life with cats' book than this; Margaret Reinhold's accomplished writing meant that once I'd started reading, I found it hard to put down. She moved from England to Provence, in France, with her two cats, and then over a period of time her household there was joined by eight others — and that was just the permanent ones! Her account of life with the widely differing characters of the ten cats, their adventures and hers, the human personalities she encounters, and eventually the inevitable deaths among the group, make entertaining and at times touching reading. Highly recommended.

Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat who Touched the World
Vicki Myron with Bret Witter
(Grand Central Publishing, New York, 2008;
ISBN 978-0-446-40741-0
)

What can I say about Dewey? — except that this is a remarkable book about a remarkable cat. But it's about much more than the cat; Vicki Myron writes fluently and interestingly about her background, her life (which has been far from easy), Iowa and the town of Spencer — in particular, of course, the library, its feline inhabitant and his effect on the patrons and on the town as his fame spread much further afield. Dewey's death in 2006 at the age of 19 marked the end of an era for Spencer. An inspiring read.

NB: Dewey was a 'resident' here at Purr 'n' Fur long before this book was published, and indeed before he died, and you can read about him in the Famous Felines section. Also, naturally, he became our Featured Feline here in the Folios section when it began, with his portrait at the head of each page.

Dewey: The Small Town Cat who Touched the Word, by Vicki Myron with Bret Witter
A Cat called Birmingham, by Chris Pascoe

A Cat Called Birmingham
Chris Pascoe
(Hodder & Stoughton, 2004;
ISBN 0 340 83604 0
)

'Darwin coined his theory of evolution on survival of the fittest,' says the dust cover of this book. 'He'd obviously never met Brum.'

Pascoe goes on to relate the adventures, or rather misadventures, of the apparently ultra-accident-prone Birmingham ('Brum' for short) in an amusing and readable style, with line drawings at the start of each chapter. I do wonder a bit whether all the tales are true, or whether perhaps some have been enhanced a little. If they're all true one can't help feeling a trifle sorry for the unfortunate cat, who he describes as 'totally unsuited to being feline'.

Ghost Cats
Dusty Rainbolt
(Lions Press, Connecticut, USA, 2007;
ISBN 978-1-59921-004-9
)

This is a cat book with a difference, and readers will have to make up their own minds about its claims. Ms Rainbolt has certainly researched the subject thoroughly and extensively in terms of the number of occurrences of cat spirits she has tracked down, some amusing, some very touching; although perhaps after a while they start to be rather repetitive. Most are from the USA, and then towards the end are cases of some felines said to haunt hotels and other public places — including Stonehenge, in England.

Ghost Cats, by Dusty Rainbolt
The Cat who Covered the World, by Christopher S Wren

The Cat who Covered the World
Christopher S Wren
(in the UK Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2001; in the US Simon & Schuster;
ISBN 0 297 60771 5
)

Subtitled The Adventures of Henrietta and her Foreign Correspondent, this is a highly entertaining account of the author's postings in various parts of the world for the New York Times. The feisty Henrietta accompanied Wren and his family almost everywhere and succeeded in winning the hearts of just about everyone she met. She died in South Africa, during his last posting outside the US, at the grand old age of 18. Since then the author has returned to New York, where he still has cats.

100 Cats who Changed Civilization: History's Most Influential Felines
Sam Stall
(Quirk Books, 2007;
ISBN 978 1 59474 163 0
)

A fascinating, pocket-sized book that includes some of the same well-known cats as in Hero Cats (see Folios 2), but many more besides. The accounts are written in a very readable style, and there are some line drawings. I learned a lot from this small volume and found it most enjoyable.

100 Cats who Changed Civilisation, by Sam Stall

      

Browse titles from the index page

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 any 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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