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Patrick Roberts

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Feline Folios 4

A look at some of the books we've enjoyed

      

The Cat who Went to Paris & A Cat Abroad, by Peter Gethers

The Cat who Went to Paris and A Cat Abroad
Peter Gethers
(1991 & 1993; double volume published Barnes & Noble 2001;
ISBN 0 7607 3030 X
)

These are the first two books in Gethers' series of three about his Scottish Fold cat Norton. (I'm putting off reading the third, as I'm sure it'll be sad!). Norton went just about everywhere with the author, including a year in France, and he seems to have been a remarkably well-adjusted cat, quite unfazed by air travel, car travel, living in hotels, visiting strange restaurants and everything that goes with a life on the move. It's charmingly written and cat lovers can hardly fail to be captivated by Norton's adventures and Gethers' account of life with the cat. Highly recommended.

Compleat Cat
Cleveland Amory
(Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers, New York;
ISBN 1 994822 28 2
)

This particular edition is a compilation of Amory's three books about life with his beloved cat 'Polar Bear' — The Cat who Came for Christmas (1987), The Cat and the Curmudgeon (1990) and The Best Cat Ever (1993). As such it runs to a hefty 800+ pages, and is not the kind of thing to be devoured at a sitting! Not all of it is about cats; Amory expresses opinions about all manner of things, sometimes at considerable length, occasionally tediously, I thought. But he emerges as a man who cared greatly about animals and over many years did a great deal for their welfare, notably in New York.

Later he set up the Black Beauty Ranch in Texas for abandoned and unwanted creatures of all kinds to live out their days. He and Polar Bear are buried next to each other there.

See also our page
Cleveland Amory, Polar Bear and animal rescue.

Compleat Cat, by Cleveland Amory
The Mousehole Cat, by Antonia Barber

The Mousehole Cat
Antonia Barber
(Walker Books, London, 1990;
ISBN 0 7445 07030
)

This is an enchanting short tale, set in a time many moons ago, about a Cornish cat called Mowzer and her master Tom from the small fishing village of Mousehole (pronounced 'Mowzle'). One winter's day the Great Storm-Cat comes in a raging fury and prevents any boats from leaving the harbour. Food supplies run low, and eventually Tom and Mowzer know they have to find a way to soothe the Storm-Cat's anger, or they and the village will have no food over Christmas. The evocative illustrations, by Nicola Bayley, could hardly be bettered.

Alice's Diary
'Alice', actually Vernon Coleman
(Chilton Designs Publishers, Barnstaple UK, 1992;
ISBN 0 9503527 5 6
)

Alice was a mixed-tabby cat (she died in 1992) and this charming book records a year in her life with her friend and half-sister Thomasina and their humans — referred to throughout as the Upright in Trousers and the Upright who Wears a Skirt. In a very chatty style it tells of their daily routine, adventures, interaction with neighbouring cats and relationship with the Uprights, whose actions they often find 'puzzling'. There's a second book, Alice's Adventures (ISBN 0 9504527 6 4, also 1992); both are very entertaining and readable and have excellent line drawings.

Alice's Diary, by Vernon Coleman
Cats to the Rescue, by Marilyn Singer

Cats to the Rescue
Marilyn Singer
(Henry Holt & Co, New York, 2006;
ISBN 978 0 8050 7435 8
)

This is an easy-to-read book about various aspects of cats and the many different roles they play — for example, cats as mothers, as hunters, as travellers, as survivors, and so on. Each section is illustrated by several real-life anecdotes, and there are numerous attractive line drawings by Jean Cassels. Definitely worth a read.

Simon's Cat, in his very own book
Simon Tofield
(Canongate Books, Edinhurgh, 2009;
ISBN 978 1 84767 481 4
)

A substantial feast of cartoons featuring Simon's irrepressible and anarchic feline. His antics possibly work better in animation rather than on static pages, which of course have no sound effects, but this is still very enjoyable.

The Simon's Cat videos can be found here, and there's also an interview with Simon talking about one of his cats, Hugh, and explaining how the animations are made.

Simon's Cat, by Simon Tofield
The Fur Person, by May Sarton

The Fur Person
May Sarton
(W. W. Norton, New York, 1957; no ISBN)

I believe this little book has become something of a classic among cat stories. It is the tale of a self-styled 'Cat About Town' and 'Gentleman Cat' who finds himself out on the streets at a young age, but after a couple of years decides it is time he found himself a suitable home and settled down. After a number of adventures and false starts he succeeds in finding his ideal home and is named 'Tom Jones'.

See the Ten Commandments of a Gentleman Cat.

The Cat Who'll Live Forever
Peter Gethers
(Broadway Books, New York, 2001;
ISBN 0 7679 0637 3
)

This is the third part of Gethers' trilogy about his remarkable Scottish Fold Norton — see above for the first two parts — who shared the author's life for 16 years and accompanied him on most of his travels, not only across America but to France and Italy too. The pair had an amazingly close relationship.

The second part of the book deals with Norton's illness, successful treatment for quite a while, but then gradual decline and eventually his peaceful death. Gethers is not afraid to relate his feelings and emotions during these events and I found it a very touching account. I think anyone who has ever lost a beloved cat will empathise with him.

There's an interesting website about Norton.

The Cat who'll Live Forever, by Peter Gethers
Working Cats, by Terry deRoy Gruber

Working Cats
Terry deRoy Gruber
(J.B. Lippincott Co., New York, 1979;
ISBN 0 397 01376 0
)

This unusual book consists of black-and-white studies of cats in their working environments in (I imagine) New York, 30-odd years ago. Most have a name and just a few words indicating where they worked (stable, foundry, fish market and so on). Quoting briefly from the Introduction:

They are cats that have found a comfortable niche in the workday world as mousers, mascots, watchcats, window displays and, of course, table waiters. These are the Working Cats. And this book is full of them.

Times have changed and I don't suppose so many working cats are allowed these days, more's the pity, but this is a fascinating glance back at how things used to be.

Famous Felines
David Alderton
(Pen & Sword Books, Barnsley, UK, 2009;
ISBN 978 1 84468 033 7
)

The book, subtitled 'Cats' Lives in Fact and Fiction', consists of two sections. The first introduces some feline terms and sayings and then goes on to briefly relate the stories of cats in art, literature and entertainment; in myths and legends; and then royal and political cats, heroic cats, and historical cats.

The second half of the book comprises an 'A to Z of Famous Felines', both real and fictional. This is quite a comprehensive listing and contains a great deal of information, well cross-referenced. All in all, a useful book to have on the shelf — and there are some high-quality colour illustrations too.

Famous Felines, by David Alderton
Making the Rounds with Oscar, by David Dosa

Making the Rounds with Oscar
David Dosa
(Headline Review, 2010;
ISBN 978 0 7553 1811 7
)

David Dosa is a geriatrician at the Steere House Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Providence, Rhode Island and is the doctor who first wrote about Oscar and his peculiar gift in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Now Dr Dosa has written this fascinating book about his work and about Oscar. It's not just about Oscar, though; Dosa deals sensitively with the whole problem of people's loved ones having dementia, how they deal with it, how the Steere House staff deal with it, and the part Oscar plays. He also describes interviews with various involved people, who discuss their experiences of and feelings about Oscar, and he suggests some ideas about how the cat might know when it is time for him to play his part. I found it absorbing and recommend it highly.

See also our page about Oscar.

Homer's Odyssey
Gwen Cooper
(Delacorte Press, New York, 2009;
ISBN 978-0-385-34385-5
)

Subtitled 'A fearless feline tale', or 'How I learned about love and life with a blind wonder cat', this book is up there with Uncle Whiskers (see Folios 2) as the story of a cat triumphing over what we would see as a great handicap — because as a tiny kitten Homer had an eye infection and his eyes had to be removed to save his life, before they had even opened. Thus he never knew what it was to have sight: but his other senses more than compensated.

Gwen Cooper relates the life and adventures of a truly remarkable little animal, who she says taught her a great deal about perseverance, overcoming difficulties and taking life as it comes. She writes in an entertaining way — I frequently laughed out loud — and all I can say is: try to get hold of this book and read it!

There are photos of Homer and more information at Gwen's pages.

Homer's Odyssey, by Gwen Cooper

      

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,
or drop in at our Facebook page

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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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