Top Ten Tuesday: Cats in Books

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish and now hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl. For the rules see her blog.

The topic this week is Characters I’d Name a Pet After (These could be your own pets (present or future), you could pick 10 different animals and tell us the name and animal type, or you could choose 10 names that would make fun cat names, etc. Put your own spin on this one!)

I struggled to come up with any ideas for this topic. But as I am a cat lover this is my spin – it is Cats in Books.

The Guest Cat (my review) is a Japanese Cat called Chibi, who made herself at home with a couple in their thirties who lived in a small rented house in a quiet part of Tokyo. She belonged to their next door neighbour but spent a lot of time with the couple coming and going as she pleased. I was disappointed to discover that the cat on the cover does not look like Chibi, who was a pure white cat whose fur was mottled with several lampblack blotches containing just a bit of light brown.

The cat in The Girl with a Cat Tattoo is called Max, a black and white cat with a ‘kitler’ – a cat with a moustache. He lives with Melody, a young widow. Two years after her husband died Max is fed up with the strange men she brings home and decides to do a bit of matchmaking on her behalf. He is a cat of action, but finds it’s more difficult than he expected. It is an entertaining, romantic tale with some dark moments, told from Max’s point of view. I’ve read this but didn’t write a review.

Koko is The Cat Who Could Read Backwards (my review), a beautiful Siamese cat. The cover disappointingly shows a black cat, not the beautiful Siamese with a “voice like an ambulance siren”. The book is about Joe Qwilleran, a newspaper reporter assigned to be an art writer, who together with Koko, investigates the murder of the owner of an art gallery.

Paw Tracks in the Moonlight (my review) tells the story of how Denis O’Connor rescued a kitten during a snowstorm and how kitten survived, despite the vet’s prediction that he wouldn’t. O’Connor lived at Owl Cottage and as he was out at work all day he put the kitten in a jug to keep him safe and named him Toby Jug. This memoir covers the first year of Toby Jug’s life and it’s a remarkable story because this is no ordinary cat (if such a creature exists, that is). He is a Maine Coon cross. 

I must have watched all of the programmes in the TV series All Creatures Great and Small about ‘James Herriot’s’ vet practice in Yorkshire.  There are many James Herriot books and I’ve read a few of them in the past. James Herriot’s Cat Stories ( my review) is a collection of ten stories clearly demonstrating his love of cats. In the introduction James writes that cats were one of the main reasons he chose a career as a vet. They have always played a large part in his life and and when he retired they were still there ‘lightening’ his days.

I love watching Simon’s Cat on YouTube. It is brilliant – so funny and just like our cat, Heidi, so I was delighted to find there are several books by Simon Tofield. The first one is Simon’s Cat in His Very Own Words.

I’ve read but not reviewed The Wild Road and The Golden Cat by Gabriel King. I loved these magical novels, which I read years ago. When a runaway kitten named Tag meets a mysterious black cat named Majicou in his dreams, he learns he is destined for bigger things. Called by Majicou, Tag enters the Wild Road, a magical highway known only to the animals, and learns that he is needed to find the King and Queen of Cats and bring them safely to Tintagel.

The story continues in The Golden Cat. An ancient prophecy speaks of a golden cat whose coming will heal the troubled world. But the Queen of Cats has three golden kittens—and when two are stolen away, the distraught parents turn to Tag, the brave young cat who is the protector of the magical Wild Road.

And finally two cats in children’s books. Rudyard Kipling’s Just So Stories for Little Children are stories he told to his daughter, Effie (Josephine) as bedtime stories – fantastic accounts of how various features of animals came to be. Kipling explained: ‘in the evening there were stories meant to put Effie to sleep, and you were not allowed to alter those by one single little word. They had to be told just so; or Effie would wake up and put back the missing sentence.’

One of the stories is The Cat That Walked by Himself about when the tame animals were all wild. The wildest of all was the Cat and this is Kipling’s explanation of how the cat came to use humans for its own comfort but remained independent, walking in the Wet Wild Woods, ‘waving his tail and walking by his wild lone.’ Kipling’s illustrations in this book are perfect.

And last of all is the Cheshire Cat in Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, one of my favourite children’s books. I no longer have the copy I had as a child, so a few years ago I bought The Complete Stories and Poems of Lewis Carroll. The Cheshire Cat sits in a tree and grins. He appears and disappears at will and at one point he vanished slowly beginning with his tail until there was just a grin left which remained for some time after the rest of him had gone.

Saturday Snapshot

Some time ago I posted a photo of Heidi in her little tepee. She still likes to sleep in it but she has other favourite places to nod off, one of which is our settee, so we cover the seat with a towel as she’s not very good at wiping her wet feet!

The other day we found her like this:

Heidi asleep P1090353
Fast asleep

She didn’t even move when David leant over towards her:

Cat napping

For more Saturday Snapshots see Melinda’s blog West Metro Mommy Reads.

Saturday Snapshots

Autumn in the garden:

Jap Maple Nov 2013 P1090302

The leaves are falling from some of the trees now, but our little Japanese Maple is still bearing its flame-coloured leaves.

Autumn trees Nov 2013 P1090305The Wych Elm leaves are a glorious golden colour.

Autumn leaves Nov 2013 P1090313And in our little wood the ground is now a carpet of rustling brown leaves.

D up ladder P1090314

Finally, here’s D up a ladder doing repairs to the roof – I had to watch because falling leaves are one thing …

For more Saturday Snapshots see Melinda’s blog West Metro Mommy Writes.

Saturday Snapshot: Heidi doesn't like the snow

We’ve had snow and more snow, our garden and the surrounding fields are all white, but the main roads are clear, and we haven’t had the snow that’s brought some parts of the UK to a standstill.

This morning the sun is shining, and the snow is sparkling in the sunlight.

Snow P1080401

The paw prints in the snow shows that Heidi has been across it, but she’s not keen. This morning she wanted to go out through the patio door:

Snow Heidi 26 Jan 13

but she didn’t want to get her feet cold and wet:

Snow Heidi (2) 26 Jan 13

So she came in and tried the back door, but that was no better:Snow Heidi (3) 26 Jan 13

She stayed away from the snow and soon came back inside the house.

For more Saturday Snapshots see Alyce’s blog At Home with Books.

Books for Cat Lovers

I loved both these books by Denis O’Connor:

Paw Tracks in the Moonlight and Paw Tracks at Owl Cottage.

Denis O’Connor trained as a psychologist and teacher. Throughout his career he taught in schools and lectured in colleges and universities. He holds a doctorate in education and psychology and is now retired, living with his wife Catherine and his two Maine Coon cats in a remote country cottage in Northumberland.

Paw Tracks in the Moonlight tells the story of how he rescued a kitten during a snowstorm and how kitten survived, despite the vet’s prediction that he wouldn’t. O’Connor lived at Owl Cottage and as he was out at work all day he put the kitten in a jug to keep him safe and named him Toby Jug. This memoir covers the first year of Toby Jug’s life and it’s a remarkable story because this is no ordinary cat (if such a creature exists, that is). He is a Maine Coon cross. He learns to walk on a lead and even goes on a camping trip on horseback during the summer in the Cheviot Hills with O’Connor.

Paw Tracks at Owl Cottage chronicles O’Connor’s experiences with four more cats, all Maine Coons. He had moved from Owl Cottage, unable to face living there after Toby Jug died in 1978, but years later, when he took early retirement, Owl Cottage came up for sale – and he and his wife bought it. it’s a wonderful place for cats and they acquired four – Pablo, Carlos, Luis and Max. The book is divided into sections describing each cat and there are also reminisces of Toby Jug, with more stories of their lives together.

Both contain beautiful descriptions of the Northumberland countryside, most of which I’m familiar with, which made the books even more special for me. Inevitably the death of Toby Jug filled me with sadness, but both books are full of the cats’ personalities and the joy they brought to O’Connor and his wife. They demonstrate the close bonds that are possible between people and cats:

I tell them [his friends who are astonished at the close bonds]  I believe that any animal, be it a horse, dog, cat, parrot or budgerigar, will always respond to kindly attention and caring affection, and that I know this because I’ve made good friendships with them all.

But to return to how I am with our cats, I can honestly state that quite apart from loving them deeply and being loved in return, I know them inside their minds and they know me; we are linked on a mental plane of mutual affection and understanding. (page 222 of Paw Tracks at Owl Cottage)

Definitely books for cat lovers!

Denis O’Connor has written a third book (which I haven’t read) – Paw Tracks: a Childhood Memoir, described on Amazon as ‘a searingly honest account of how the power of nature can lift the human spirit and overcome the most unloving of childhoods.’

Saturday Snapshots: Cats again

Sometimes I think I should call my blog CatsPlease as well as BooksPlease because of the number of cat photos I post. Today’s photos are of a cat called George. He came to live with us when D’s mother moved into an apartment on the third floor. He was quite a character and liked to sit on/in things. He was also quite vocal!

One day out in the garden I heard him miaowing:

He was sitting on top of the compost:

George in the compost heap

It was just the same inside. He liked sitting on tables:

And he especially liked sitting in the laundry basket on top of the clean clothes waiting to be ironed:

For more Saturday Snapshots see Alyce’s blog At Home With Books.