I smiled, I chuckled, I laughed out loud at this feel good book.
British humor writer, Tom Cox, is a “real” cat guy; though, he admits to having an aversion to items featuring cats, having only two shirts with cats and no other feline paraphernalia.
The first sentence in the first chapter is like the famous line from the movie, Jerry Maguire: “You had me at hello.” Tom Cox had me at ” My cat Janet had been sick outside my back door.” Anybody with a cat having the same name as I do, deserves my attention. And I was rewarded with a story that delights and amuses.
The Good, the Bad and the Furry is Tom Cox’s third memoir about his cats. In this case that would be Cox’s cats, The Bear (an intellectual and introspective cat who questions why he is a cat), Ralph (who takes delight in meowing his own name), his brother, Shipley (who finds it calming to be held upside down), Roscoe (the female tuxie kitten adopted near the end of the book) and the stray Andrew/Sven/Graham. The male cat, Janet, who passes away early in the book, is a bit player as are several other cats.
Cox tells the story of his failed nine-year relationship with Dee, his subsequent life with his cats and a new relationship with Gemma. He provides lots of info about his previous life and those of the cats as he moves forward. Within the context he throws in some odd and amusing chapters.
Advice For New Kitten Owners provides tongue-in-cheek recommendations, such as: “Try to get your kitten from a furry tree if you possibly can, as it will be fresher and less likely to be bruised.”
Then there’s the chapter, Ten Reasons Why My Oldest Cat (The Bear) is Sad. The eighth reason was one of my favorites: “My cat is sad because he does not want to make a psychedelic folk rock album with me or be part of the photoshoot for its cover.”
My favorite of these various chapters was Keeping Our Cats Out of the Bedroom: Instructions for Housesitters. No spoilers here. You’re going to have to read the book yourself.
If you have come to the conclusion that Cox is an eccentric, you are spot on target. He even comes to this same conclusion himself while pondering actions of his father (one of the most humorous characters in the book) and grandfather.
As I read, it was obvious to me that Cox not only loves cats but also “gets” cats and understands they each have their unique personalities and foibles. He says, “The way I view my cats is not that they’re a hobby, or child substitutes, but a bunch of friends who just happen to be smaller and furrier and more self-obsessed than most of my other friends.”
To say I liked this book would be an understatement. Cox’s memoir is a magical trip into the entwined lives and personalities of his cats, friends and family, with delightfully amusing side-trips (such as the one featuring hedgehogs) along the way.
Cox has written two other books about his cats, Under the Paw and Talk to the Tail. I am definitely going to be adding these to my reading list. I am now officially a Tom Cox fan and will be following his blogs, Under the Paw and Tom Cox Blog. The Bear and Ralph are on Twitter at @MYSADCAT and @MYSMUGCAT. Cox can also be found on Facebook and Pinterest.
The Good, the Bad, and the Furry is being released here in the U.S. on April 14 and will be available from all the usual on-line booksellers. And two of you have the opportunity to win your very own copy by simply leaving a comment on this post before midnight EDT on Thursday, April 16. As this is the U.S. release of this book, the giveaway will be restricted to U.S. residents. The winners will be selected using random.org.
Disclaimer: I received no monetary compensation for this review. I received an advance reading copy of the book as well as a final hardcover copy. The opinions in this review are completely my own.