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Under the Paw – Tom Cox: A Review

June 9, 2013

Under the paw coverOne of my things this year has been to read more from outside of my staple literary diet of 19th century Gothic and trashy “novels” that shouldn’t even have made it past a first draft manuscript. I started this by reading Amanda Foreman’s amazing biography of Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire (which I also reviewed – check it out). What better way to continue expanding my horizons than with a book about my favourite animals in all the world, cats.

I’ve followed Tom Cox for a while through his exceptionally entertaining Twitter feeds (@cox_tom, @mysadcat and @mysmugcat) and blog (Little Cat Diaries), and feel like I’m already acquainted with his feline friends, if not a little jealous that his cats seem more characterful than mine (Oska and Hugo never heard me say that, OK?). His books, Under The Paw and Talk To The Tail, have long been on my “to-read” list. Doing things in order, as always, I started with Under The Paw, which was first published in 2008.

Under The Paw is fabulous. Simple as that. It made me laugh, it made me cry, and it reminded me of all the reasons I would never be without my own cat-shaped companions.  I found myself attracting attention on the tube while I was chuckling away to myself reading Cox’s account of how The Bear did something unspeakable in the pocket of his girlfriend’s (now wife’s) dressing gown. I had to choke back the tears when he recalled how Brewer died – it reminded me horribly of when we lost our elderly faded-black, deaf, blind, and incredibly senile cat, Jasper, last year. Each chapter is divided by interludes that include a poem about a lost cat, acknowledgements of the victims of the various murderous acts committed by his cats over the years, and randomly selected, hilarious extracts from the “Cat Dictionary”.

Although being a cat person is an obvious advantage when looking to enjoy a book about life with cats, it is impossible not to be entertained and moved by Cox’s writing, whether you’re a friend to the felines or not. Under The Paw is a book that everyone, and anyone, should read. I thoroughly recommend it.

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