As a boy, I thought there were about three types of cat … tortoiseshell, ginger and stripy. I had no idea some were blue, some had no tails and some were even hairless. I had no book like Cats a Feline Compendium to put me right!
A to Z of Cat Breeds
Who knew there was a Korat, a German Rex, a Donskoy or a California Spangled? I didn’t. But I do now, having co-written (with Fenella Smith) this cheeky little book for publishers Square Peg at Penguin books. One of my favourite discoveries made during the research for this book was the purple Pittsburgh Refrigerator Cat.
But the Pittsburgh is not my favourite cat ever. My favourite cat ever was Tigger. And no, I’m not talking about the A.A. Milne Disney bouncing cat. Tigger was our tabby cat. I was about seven when he joined our family.
I loved Tigger so much. He was my buddy, my animal companion for a long time. He was also a complete and utter homicidal maniac. No amount of discouragement from us could quell his natural instincts. He wasn’t afraid of anything – he once scared off a fox. He may have scared off a herd of bison for all I know; I wouldn’t be surprised.
But he was also very loving. I loved to heap affection on him and he loved to receive it. I think he considered me worthy of keeping alive and that means a lot to me. That’s not to say I didn’t pick up the occasional scratch. I soon learned to understand that a cat’s tail twitch was an indication of a feisty mood.
Tigger’s long gone now, but I remember him every time I meet a new cat and stop to give them a bit of fuss.
Working with Fenella Smith
I co-wrote Cats a Feline Compendium with homewares guru Fenella Smith (whom I prefer to call ‘sister’). We really enjoyed researching and writing this book, uncovering more about the breeds of cat we know, and discovering others we had never heard about. It was great fun seeing what bizarre catty facts the other had discovered. Things like …
There are more than a hundred and fifty breeds of dog but not quite so many of cats. That’s why we decided to expand our search for interesting cats into the wild cat world. You’ve heard of tigers and lions of course, but what about …
It’s clear that cats have made a great impact on human life and culture all around the world. In fact, we’ve included a few mythological felines amongst the domestic ones (as well as a few other surprises).
The Cat Dictionary of Terms
We’ve also had fun creating a dictionary of cat terms. These are things that all cat owners will recognise, but for which there has been no single dictionary word (until now).
As in our book about dog breeds, Fenella and I have had the pleasure of working with an extremely talented illustrator. He’s worked with Disney, Aardman, and the BBC among others. The fact he’s also our older brother Greg is another bonus!
Here’s Greg drawing and painting a few cats on our BroLab YouTube Channel.
Cats a Feline Compendium is dedicated to felines, and to all those that love them and live with them.
P.S. Press for Breeds: A Canine Compendium
Our book all about dog breeds (available in several languages) came out before Cats. Here’s what people say about it: