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Patrick Roberts

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Feline Folios 5

A look at some more of the books we've enjoyed
[ Browse all reviewed titles from the Folios index page ]


Cats of Destiny, by Fairfax Downey with illustrations by Paul Brown

Cats of Destiny
Fairfax Downey, with pen-and-ink illustrations by Paul Brown
(Charles Scribner's Sons, New York, 1950; no ISBN)

This charming little book is doubtless long out of print, but is a rewarding read for cat lovers if you can find a second-hand copy. It gives nearly 40 short accounts of particular cats, mostly real-life ones but including also a few fictional ones such as Dick Whittington's cat and Chessie the railroad kitten. The stories are in chronological order, beginning with a cat in ancient Egypt and ending up to date for its time with Faith, the London church cat, Simon of the Amethyst and Scoopy, New York 'cat columnist'. There are a number of tales that I had not come across before, which made it all the more interesting.

Joseph and Chico
Jeanne Perego, illustrations by Donata Dal Molin Casagrande
(Ignatius Press, San Francisco, USA, 2008;
ISBN 978 1 58617 252 7

This lavishly produced book relates 'the Life of Pope Benedict XVI as Told by a Cat'. The cat is Chico (see entry for Benedict under Fans of Felines) and tells of Josef Ratzinger's life from birth to his election as pope in 2005. It is translated from the original Italian and although primarily for children, I think younger children would find a number of words in the English version to be difficult. Chico tells quite a good story, though!

By the same author and illustrator there is also a sequel called Max and Benedict, which follows Benedict's life since he became pope, but the tale here is related by a bird called Max and not by Chico.

Joseph and Chico, by Jeanne Perego, with illustrations by Donata Dal Molin Casagrande
Cat in the Clouds, by Eric Pinder

Cat in the Clouds
Eric Pinder, with illustrations by T.B.R. Walsh
(The History Press, Charleston, SC, 2009;
ISBN 978 1 59629 680 0

This attractive children's book is a brief account of the life of Nin, resident cat from 1996 to 2007 at the observatory at the summit of Mount Washington in New Hampshire. It tells of how he came to be there and what life was like for him 'at the top'. It is profusely illustrated with water colours, beautifully done, and there is not too much text, so it should be suitable for quite young children.

For more about Nin and many other of the Observatory's cats past and present, see our article in Featuring Felines, The Cats of Mount Washington Observatory; and see Eric Pinder's site for information on his book Life at the Top (first printed 1997, revised and extended 2009), recounting what it's like for humans to live at the summit.

Tyfoon's Tale
Sylvia Murphy
(River Media Group, UK, 2009;
ISBN 978 0 9550512 3 4

This slim volume is the enchanting and beautifully written story of Tyfoon, found as a stray kitten in a Portuguese boatyard by a Belgian couple who had been sailing a boat of that name, but were unable to keep the kit. The author and her husband took her on as ship's cat, naming her after the boat she came from. She very quickly 'took charge' and thrived on the seafaring life until the husband died unexpectedly, when the boat had to be sold and Tyfoon adapted to being a land cat and moving to the UK. The book follows her life and adventures, along with several other feline companions picked up along the way. An easy-to-read and strongly recommended little book.

Note: we have since learned that Tyfoon died of old age and associated problems not long after her story was published.
Author's blog (no entries since 2015).

Tyfoon's Tale, by Sylvia Murphy
Fantastic Cats, by Desmond Morris

Fantastic Cats
Desmond Morris
(Little Books Ltd, London, 2006;
ISBN 978 1 904435 62 4

This handy book, not much more than pocket size, is another great compendium of facts about fabled and fictional cats, real-life cats and their owners, working cats and a host of other material. I found it full of useful and interesting information about the feline world.

The Cat who Came in from the Cold
Deric Longden
(Corgi/Bantam Press, 1991;
ISBN 0 552 13822 3

I think some readers will already be familiar with Mr Longden's cat books, of which this is not the only one, but they are new to me. He writes in a very entertaining way of life in the Longden household when he and his wife take on a small white kitten that actually belonged to a neighbour but seemed to have adopted them instead. He ends up with the name 'Thermal' — you'll have to read the book to find out why — and many amusing situations arise after his arrival.

The Cat who Came in from the Cold, by Deric Longden
Psychic Cats, by Theresa Cheung

Psychic Cats
Theresa Cheung
(Penguin Books, London, 2010;
ISBN 978 0 141 04764 1

I confess I was slightly wary of a book by a cat-loving spiritualist, thinking perhaps that fantastic claims might be made, but in fact Miss Cheung has written an interesting and readable account of many real-life situations in which cats have played a part in assisting sick or disabled people, anticipating disasters such as earthquakes, helping their humans to deal with grief, and so on. Many of the accounts suggest that there is more to our feline companions than meets the eye.

They had me at Meow
Rosie Sorenson
(Buster Hollow Productions, California, 2009;
ISBN 978 1 6070 2323 4

This is an account of the author's involvement with a colony of feral cats in California, how she cares for them, how she deals with them. They are named and there is a great collection of photographs of the cats. What also could be of interest is a section of FAQs (frequently asked questions) and answers about feral-cat colonies and how they can be helped; the advice would be applicable anywhere, although the list of resources also given will be valid only for American readers.

They had me at Meow, by Rosie Sorenson
Titanicat, by Marty Crisp

Marty Crisp, with illustrations by Robert Papp
(Sleeping Bear Press, Ann Arbor, Michigan, 2008;
ISBN 978 1 58536 344 1

After the discovery of the wreck of the Titanic by Robert Ballard and his team in 1985, new information began to appear about the ship and those on board. Was there a cat there, and did she and her kittens perish with the liner?

This beautifully produced book suggests otherwise and is based on information from an old Irish gentleman who said that in the 1930s, when he was a reporter, he had met a man claiming that he had been in charge of the ship's cat and her four kittens during the liner's trials. When Titanic docked at Southampton to pick up her passengers, the cat removed her kittens one by one and left the ship — causing the crewman to do the same and thus saving his life. The illustrations are superb.

Socks' Feline Miscellany
'Conceived by Socks the Cat'

Mike Darton
(Ivy Press, Lewes, UK, 2009;
ISBN 978 1 905695 88 1

I don't think I can do better than the sleeve-note to explain this slim but packed volume:

Socks' Feline Miscellany is a "purrody" of the very much more original Schott's Original Miscellany, revealing how it might have appeared had its creator been feline-obsessive. It "purrodies" the randomness of entry and stylish design of the original, but is created entirely for cats and their obedient admirers. The result is a catalogue of catechism, embracing the essential, the trivial, the intriguing and the extraordinary — a perfect cat-basket or coffee-table book to paw through at random. Herein you will find such treats as cat epigraphs, the origin of cats' names, feline evolutionary history, folklore and superstitions, weights and breeds, famous cats, and feline statistics. It is, in short, the purrfect companion for your perfect companion.

I will add only that wild cats as well as domestic ones are included.

Socks' Feline Miscellany, by Mike Darton
Serendipity Stories of Cats and Their People, by Esther G Johnson, illustrated by Phyllis Lahti

Serendipity Stories of Cats and Their People
Esther G. Johnson
(Skyehill Publications, St Louis Park, Minnesota, 1993;
ISBN 0 9629143 1 2

A delightful little book, which as its name suggests relates real-life stories about cats — with the difference that mostly these are not cats that have been much in the public eye: it is none the worse for that and it's nice to read about some 'unsung' felines. Numerous line drawings are by Phyllis Lahti, founder of the Library Cats Society in America, sadly now defunct.

More Cat Tales from Moon Cottage
Marilyn Edwards
(Hodder & Stoughton, London, 2004;
ISBN 0 340 86344 7

This charming book is a sequel to The Cats of Moon Cottage (see Folios 1) by the same author. This time it recounts the goings-on when Fannie and Titus, two devoted sisters who have led hitherto tranquil lives at Moon Cottage, have their routines disrupted by the arrival of Pushkin, a rambunctious young Russian Blue male. Eventually a harmonious co-existence is achieved, but not before numerous struggles and situations have been resolved. As before, Edwards' observations are meticulous, and her writing entertaining; and as before Peter Warner contributes line drawings, although they seem fewer in number.

More Cat Tales from Moon Cottage, by Marilyn Edwards


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

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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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