Monday, 28 March 2011

Frontrunners In The 2011 Toughest Cat Competition



Toki Smoky:


Tokyo Cat from Calum:







Anonymous from Maggie:

Anonymous from Stacey:




Three days to go until entries close! The winner will receive a £100 HAMPER of the addictive Applaws cat food, and a signed copy of Talk To The Tail, including within it an EXCLUSIVE illustration by the brilliant Jackie Morris. Second and third prizes will win signed Talk To The Tails. Submit your entries via Facebook, or by sending them to

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

A Lovely Quote About Talk To The Tail From Mighty Boosh/Snuff Box Star Rich Fulcher

"If you think this very funny book is just about cats, you will be joyfully mistaken. Talk to the Tail also magnificently covers everything from depressed tigers to judgmental horses to mischievous alter ego spaniels to Jon Bon Jovi. I, myself, am allergic to cats, but with Tom's realistic and descriptive powers, I'm definitely not allergic to this book."

Cat Becomes Angry When Its Potato Is Misplaced

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

One Of The Cats With Thumbs From The Advert Reviews Talk To The Tail

The Third Annual Toughest Cat Competition

Long time followers of the Under The Paw blog will be familiar with the Toughest Cat competition (see previous winners Grebo and Rufus Bugcat, above). It's simple: you send in pictures of your cats looking really hard, then my cats and I decide which is the hardest, while you try to (and sometimes do) sway the judging process by getting your friends to post enthusiastic comments like, "Oooh, I wouldn't want to come across him on a dark night!" This year the drill is the same: post a pic of your hard cat looking hard on the Facebook event page (preferable), or, if you're not on Facebook, send it to*.

For 2011's toughest cats, there are better prizes than ever before. The winner will not only receive a £100 HAMPER of the addictive Applaws cat food, but a signed copy of Talk To The Tail, including within it an EXCLUSIVE illustration by the brilliant Jackie Morris of Kiffer, her sadly departed hard cat (see below). I met Kiffer in 2009, when I went cat-walking at Jackie's place in Pembrokeshire, formed an instant bond with him, and, upon hearing he had passed away, dedicated Talk To The Tail to him. You can read Jackie's wonderful blog here, and find plenty of pictures celebrating his life. Second and third place tough cats will each both also received a signed copy of Talk To The Tail. Entries close on March 31st, so don't waste any time in forcing your cats down to their local weight room, or perhaps just making them really irritated by withholding their favourite snacks for twenty minutes or so...

* NB: This email isn't in permanent use: I only open it up for comps such as this.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Cat Photo Of The Week

This Cat Food Will Bankrupt Me

It's now over a month since my cat Janet died. In that time, there have been three main developments for my remaining felines, Ralph, Shipley and The Bear. Shipley has gone from calling me a "f*&$%%£%£ &@****^£" 48 times a day to calling me one 76 times a day. A mangy stray has been coming around, talking trash at the three of them, and pissing on my blackboard while I'm asleep. Thirdly, all four of them - I'm including the stray here, as it seems to turn up whenever it's feeding time - have become addicted to Applaws (also known as Encore in some supermarkets), a cat food apparently so similar to human food that, when I first saw it, whilst writing a piece on the 1997 Supreme Cat Show for the Daily Telegraph, its chef demonstrated how good it was by eating some himself.

The problem is perhaps that these new occurrences in my cats' daily lives are feeding off one another, inexorably. When Shipley swears, I feel bad that he has lost his old fluffy playmate, and give him more Applaws. When I give him more Applaws, he swears more, because he knows it gets him more Applaws. When I give him more Applaws, the stray cat turns up, thinking it might get some Applaws, then pissing on my blackboard, talking its street slang at my cats and passing on its conjunctivitis to them out of dissatisfaction. When the stray cat pisses on my blackboard, talks its street slang at my cats and passes on its conjunctivitis to them, I feed them more Applaws, to make them feel better. It's a vicious circle, and I can only see it ending one way: with me selling my body in one of Norwich's less salubrious night spots, in order for all five of us to carry on like this. It sounds grim, sure, but it's important to put things in perspective: everyone's struggling in the current economic climate, and needs must. Besides, I once had to do a pole dancing class for an article in a women's magazine, and it's about time I put what I learned to good use.

I suppose the other option is that I try a bit of tough love: ration The Bear, Shipley and Ralph to two or three tins of Applaws between them a day. But it's easier said than done. If I ignore Shipley calling me a "w*** p***et" at the top of his voice, I then also have to ignore Ralph doing that beaming "I'm so pleased to be me - revel in my glory, now!" face on the other side of the kitchen, and The Bear nodding in the direction of the food cupboard whilst looking soulfully into my eyes in the way only he can. I currently have a large puncture wound in my ankle, merely from delaying breakfast until 10am this morning. But if Shipley can do that to a digit, why can't he keep the stray away? I like to think it's because he's still adjusting to a reshifting of roles since Janet - always the defender of the realm against alien cats - passed away, or that he's worried about what he might catch from the stray in a potential battle, but recent evidence suggests otherwise. The stray turned up last night, and, as Shipley stayed inside, presumably because he needed to sort out his side-parting, I got a first proper glimpse of the phantom beast which I'd imagined as huge, and peppered with festering body sores, and which, in the past, I'd only seen as a flash of retreating ginger. It was the size of a small cushion, and looked like it had just got back from a weekend away at a high class spa overseen by a gay ferret.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Possibly The Cleverest Advertising Campaign Of 2011

I must have been sent this video 40-something times in the last week by readers and my Twitter followers. The people who made it were very clever and probably knew that people like me - and the people who sent it to me - would endlessly link to it and spread it virally:

Additionally, the makers of the advert sent my cats some cardigans, "handmade by thumbcats" (apparently Mabel, the thumbcat in the advert with the embroidery, is the specific cat responsible for knitting them). They didn't, however, say that they were advertising milk - just that they'd read Under The Paw and Talk To The Tail and wanted to send my cats some presents. It's all very stealthy. They probably assumed I would post pictures of The Bear, Ralph and Shipley in the cardigans. WELL I AM NOT GOING TO PANDER TO THAT. WHO DO THEY THINK I AM? I AM AN ARTIST, NOT A FACILITATOR FOR CORPORATE GAIN.

Oh, okay. I've changed my mind. Here are my cats in the cardigans.


* Late one night soon, when I am fast asleep, Ralph will piss in my kettle.