Tuesday 29 December 2009

Wednesday 23 December 2009

Vinyl Cat

This afternoon I decided to reorganise my vinyl collection. Shipley, who's become increasingly opinionated on household matters in the months since I've been the domicile's main disciplinary force, happened to be passing through the area, and decided it was the least he could do to get involved. I think the ensuing two hours comprehensively proved that cats are a lot more musically opinionated than we give them credit for. Having already rejected my attempts to try and train him to come for food by playing The Knack's My Sharona, Shipley now made his feelings felt by lashing out wildly with a paw in an attempt to dissuade me from playing The Best Of Kenny Rogers And The First Edition, sitting on the 1972 debut album by the folk rock supergroup Morris On and Charlie Watts' face on the back cover of The Rolling Stones' Black And Blue, and, finally, in a gesture of vehemence and taste that surprised even me, scraping the needle back across Nilsson's slightly dreary I'll Never Leave You, in order to give both of us the chance to enjoy the incendiary preceding track, Jump Into The Fire, once again. I have thanked him for each of the aforementioned "comments", and have assured him that, as a direct result of them, after careful consideration, I have decided to part company with George Michael's Faith LP.

Wednesday 9 December 2009

Friday 4 December 2009

Thursday 3 December 2009

Guest Cat Of The Month For December: Nutmeg


Nuts, Nutty, Hazelnut, Haze, Fruit Weasel, Water Weasel, The Rippler, Gwen and Blackgum.


Tim (80%); Isabel (20%).

Tim says it should be “Behind every great tabby, there's a great owner” but my motto is: "Wrapping presents is better with a cat in the room.”

Favourite habits?
I like climbing in open drawers, chasing - and retrieving - a ball with a bell in it and sitting on the shed. I enjoy stretching out on Tim’s desk under the light (he refers to it as an anglepoise lamp; I know it’s a sunbed). Attacking toes under a duvet is fun, as is rubbing noses with humans and making people who are allergic to cats sneeze.

What constitutes a perfect evening for you?
Sitting on a cushion watching TV. In the adverts, I'd steal food and wind up my sister, Parsley (she doesn't know I'm doing this interview, incidentally, so don't tell her or she'll get jealous).

Favourite food?
I eat two pouches of Felix and a big pile of dry biscuits a day, split equally into two meals. The Felix should be served first on both occasions (it's like a soup course). I’ve also stolen a range of food including: pizza, pasta, duck bhuna, lamb burgers with jalapeno, sausages, yoghurt, lemon tart, blueberry cheesecake and ice cream.
I can't be bothered to hunt much so I don't find a lot of my own food outdoors, but I tried to eat a bee and got stung on the paw and it swelled up like a boxing glove. Parsley eats even less than me outside. All she’s done is bite the head off a worm. And I think that might have been dead when she found it.

Defining moment of your life?
Running away from home last Christmas. I went for three days. They stuck posters up all round the neighbourhood, but I was only in the alleys behind the houses. I came back at 4.30am on Christmas Eve morning. Isabel cried. Tim said something I can't repeat, but I know he was pleased because he cheered and then ate a trifle in his boxer shorts and let me lick the spoon. They joked afterwards (in rather bad taste, I think) about me being a 'Christmas miracle'.

Any enemies?
I did hate the show-off tortoiseshell over the road, but she moved to Wallington. To be honest, I'm scared of nothing. I once went after a squirrel, but it got away. I even squared up to a fox that came into the garden. I might be a small cat, but you should see my tail when it flares up.

If you could do one thing to make the world a better place for felines, what would it be?
Sheds would be provided free for every household, as sitting on them is brilliant. I'm also a passionate campaigner for indoor litter trays, banning all traffic from all roads, and making the whole year fledgling season (see below). In addition, I'm calling for the compulsory distribution of underwear on bedroom floors around the world, as there's nowhere better to sleep on than a pair of pants, socks or a bra.

If you could meet a celebrity who would it be and why?
Cheryl Cole - because I look like her, and if I could get her number and give it to Tim and then he’d owe me a massive favour! I’m actually more famous than Cheryl. I’ve been mentioned on the Under The Paw blog before and my ball-retrieving talent was the subject of one of the Q&A’s in a newspaper’s ‘ask the vet’ column. They didn’t use a photo of me, though, which I’m still considering complaining about.

Which one of the cats in Under The Paw would you like to be stuck in a lift with?
Pablo - because he’s a bit of dish.

Brief biography?
I was born on a farm in Sussex. There were four of us: two boys and two girls. The two boys (Max and Morris) got chosen first so it was just me and Parsley left when Tim came to look at the litter. He took us back with him. I cost £60. Our names were originally Milly and Molly - but they got changed to Nutmeg and Parsley although I don't know if this was via Deed Poll. We are tabbies, but I have the most white.
I've always weighed about 25% less than Parsley. The vet, a nice tall man called Mr Mike, described her as "definitely sizeable". I reckon 'fat' is a better description.
My mum was called Mabel, although no one has the faintest idea who my father was. Rumour is, he was big and ginger. I’ve also heard it said that my Mabel was rather “free with her affections” but I can’t see what’s wrong with that because being affectionate is good. Sometimes, when my fur is rubbed the wrong way you can see flecks of ginger which I like because it reminds me I had a daddy.
I got ill when I was very little and had to have antibiotics and wouldn’t eat. Mr Mike said I needed bland food like fishes and chickeners. They kept me in overnight at the vet's and Mr Mike did something to me with a thermometer that I won't recount here in case kittens are reading. When I went home, Tim cooked me fishes and chickeners. I didn't want to die because, even though I hadn't been outdoors at that stage, I could see this big square wooden thing in the garden with bikes and junk in it and I thought: I'd like to sit on that.
I’m a good hunter when I put my mind to it, but mostly I can’t be bothered. The one time I do hunt is in the spring when there are baby birds. This year, there was a nest with fledgers in it in a tree behind the house. I got up there and pushed three out. I was just pushing the third one out and preparing to climb down and eat them when the neighbours appeared. Tim also came out of the house, looking embarrassed. They suggested he take the fledgers to a local animal rescue centre. He did (reluctantly, I sensed) where they made him give a £5 donation, which he wasn’t happy about. The next day I went back up the tree and pushed the last fledger out and the neighbours called Tim and he had to do the same again. Cost him another £5. Humans never learn.
It also make me realise how confusing life can be, though. I mean, owners say you shouldn't lie, yet Tim claimed he "found the birds in a park after someone’s cat had caught them”.

PS: Thanks for having me.

PPS: Seriously, don’t tell Parsley about this or she’ll go mad.

Nutmeg's human Tim Relf is the author of two novels - you can find out more about his fiction here.

Wednesday 25 November 2009

Guest Cat Of The Month - (All The Way From New Zealand) Squeaky


Button, Button-face, DJ Squizzizle (my rap name), Bratty Brat.

About 6.5 years.

I own one hyooman, that is my mum, Liz.

‘Not conceited, I’m as good as I say I am’
‘It’s Squeaky, b*tch’

Favourite habits?
I like to eat the Foods. I also like to help my mum with things like Computing on the Computer (spreadsheets) and businesses in the Kitchen (helping in the Kitchen is good because sometimes I get Cheese and that is a Treat for being so helpful).
Because I am so important I have to spend a lot of time keeping myself in top condition. This includes Doing Scratches on things like couches and walls to keep my claws sharp. (Mum then has to sand and fill and paint the walls to get a ‘bond’ back, but that’s ok because I help with this too. And maybe get Cheese).
ReowReowReowing at my mum and other hyoomans. I like to do this especially in the middle of the night, to see if they are paying the correct amount of attention to me. Or if they may like to give me some Foods, for being so good.
I am an expert on Packet Opening and have a finely honed skill for hearing Packets and Cans being opened within a 5km radius.

What constitutes a perfect evening for you?
Eating Foods, then having some pats - but only the exactly right amount of pats, on the exactly right angle, applied with the exactly right amount of pressure. (Otherwise I will have to BITE.) Then I like to be carried around the house to different hyoomans so they can pat me (correctly) and compliment me. Then have some more Foods, and top the evening off with some Party Mixes, and maybe have some photos taken of me.

Favourite food?
TUNA!! And Party Mixes!! And Eukanuba! Also - I want whatever you’re eating, including (but not limited to) pizza, burritos, 2 minute noodles, toast, mushrooms, cheese, yoghurt, curry, Portuguese chicken, hot dogs, etc. Once I tried to steal hot chips off a seven year old child, and also once I stole a chicken wing from the bin, ate it, and hid the bone in a handbag. I get away with these things because I am so Clever.

Defining moment of your life?
When I decided to not be homeless and go live at my mum’s flat. This was good because then I was allowed inside the house, and I could sleep in a king size bed (I even let mum sleep in it too), and have a best friend who is a hyooman. Also I could have all these Foods and could just do whatever I wanted. Mum says I’m the best cat in the world, I think this is true.

Any enemies?
I do not like dogs. A dog came to my house and I hit him in the face. I also do not like dvds about Lions, because the roaring upsets me. I hate aerosol cans.

If you could do one thing to make the world a better place for felines, what would it be?
I would make Tuna into land animals. (Tuna are obviously quite small because they fit in a small can. I think I would catch a lot of Tuna if they were on land.)

If you could meet a celebrity who would it be and why?
I am quite important, so if I was another cat or hyooman I would probably just want to meet myself. Maybe if there was a solid gold statue of me, I would meet that.

Which one of the cats in Under The Paw would you like to be stuck in a lift with?
Pablo, because he is quite Good-Looking like me and would make a good Wing Cat.

Brief biography?
About 3 and a half years ago I was homeless, I was living in the bush because some people had moved house and left me behind. I was just about to go to the SPCA then I decided not to go there, and to live with my mum instead. She didn’t know what my name was then, but she worked out it was Squeaky because of all the ReowReowReowing. Since then I have become very Large and Important, and I now manage a staff of four hyoomans (including mum, who is my best friend), and one other cat (my brother Andy).

Monday 23 November 2009

This Pretty Much Explains Everything

My friend Al has no love of cats, but, for some reason, seems to be sending me more feline links than ever recently. I think this perhaps proves my theory that most people who reckon they're indifferent to cats are just "pretending" and are actually quite fascinated with them. This is probably my favourite of the links he sent

Sunday 22 November 2009

Wednesday 18 November 2009


Snow, Or Cocaine?

Single Life With Cats: A Blog (well, two, in a way)

What is it that makes some men scared of cats?
I wrote a bit about this here. It's also a question Tamar Arslanian (that's one of her moggers pictured above) asks in her new blog, I Have Cat, which is all about being a single New York girl with cats, and the preconceptions that go with it. As I mentioned a few blog posts ago, I'm single these days, and I do worry a bit about the way the outside world might perceive a man living alone with four cats. But the popular line of thinking seems to be that the situation is far worse for women. I've had a few conversations with female friends recently who are single and either haven't got a cat, or have resisted getting more cats, purely because they are worried about being "that cat woman".

Tamara has also written about cat-loving men in one of of latest posts. She calls them "secure with their sexuality", "evolved", "confident" and "patient and accepting". Obviously I'm not at all qualified to comment on that, and I also know that I have many dog man friends who have some of these qualities, but what do you think? Does being a cat lover really say anything about a man's personality? Or does it just mean that they love cats?

Pablo And Bootsy In Their New Place

I took some shots of Pablo and Bootsy at Dee's place the other day. It looks sweet and innocent, but this sort of thing invariably ends with one of Pablo's infamous dry humping sessions.

Friday 13 November 2009

More Canadian News: Tabby's Death Causes Confusion (Tabby Remains Indifferent, Judging By Photo)

My best friend at primary school used to have a cat called Thatcher. It was very cuddly and docile, just like this one presumably used to be, although it at least follow its namesake's example by frequently snatching milk.

Under The Paw: Out In Canada this week!

Just to let Canadian readers of this blog know. You can buy it HERE from Amazon Canada. Still no news on an American publication of the book - though we're getting closer! - so this might also be the easiest way for US blog followers to purchase.

Sunday 8 November 2009

Friday 6 November 2009

My Favourite Cat Photo Of This Week - By About 77770000 Miles

My friend Jackie Morris - with whom I went feline-walking earlier this year - always takes the best cat photos in the world, but I think she might have surpassed herself with this one of her ginger clan...

Saturday 24 October 2009

Ways In Which My Cats Have Brought Me Down To Earth #23455: I Return From My First Ever Film Premier

Me: "I'm home! My friend's film was brilliant, and he was great in it. It has a bull in it, and it's like Paddington Bear and Sideways and Withnail And I rolled into one and funny and amazing to look at! And I met a nice bloke from Peep Show! And I danced to 'Superstition' by Stevie Wonder!"

Cats: "We don't give a crud. We killed a rat."

Wednesday 21 October 2009

Friday 16 October 2009

Black Magic

Not long ago, I linked to The Random Cat Project, a site which seems to be from going to strength to strength at the moment, with random cat encounters from around the world flooding in. I had my own random cat encounter yesterday morning, meeting near my local train station the ineffably sweet black mogger pictured above, who immediately latched on to me and brought to mind a female (I originally typed "feline" there - perhaps a Freudian measure of the fact that I don't really think of Shipley as feline, more like halfway between canine and whatever the "ine" word is for crocodiles*) less obnoxious version of Shipley.

To be honest, I was having a very up and down kind of morning at the time: the sun was shining, and I'd just finished the most lively and good-natured of radio interviews, and been given a guided tour of an exciting new bookshop opening next week in Norwich, but I was also worrying about a very poorly close relative, pondering my still slightly bewildering singleness, and had just had a phone conversation with another close relative who'd been having the most testing of days. There's a split school of thought on the black cat crossing your path: in Britain and Japan, it's considered lucky, but in America and most of Europe, it's thought to be a bad sign. But I can't think how anyone, happening across She-Shipley, could have construed her presence in any negative way. Three minutes of nuggins (see the Under The Paw Cat Dictionary) was enough to make me feel instantly better about the world and a great example of the way cats can soothe our ills. Naturally, I felt a bit self-conscious, crouched down on such a public thoroughfare, and as She-Shipley meowed demandingly at me, I spotted, out the corner of my eye, a large goth teenager coming down the path to the station, dressed in all-black: long sulky fringe, arcane bits of metal hanging off his jeans, impractically warm trenchcoat.

I have to admit that there was a similarly teenage part of me, the part trained forever by my not rampantly violent, not massively small-minded and not at all incredibly homophobic North Nottinghamshire secondary school, that thought "Oooh shit, he's going to call me a puff and knee me in the ear as he walks past, isn't he?" but then I came to my senses, remembered I was 34, and very much my own boss, and that if I wanted to stop and stroke a random cat on the street, I was very much allowed to, and anyone who didn't like it could quite frankly cock off. The teenager glanced across at me as he passed, and down at She-Shipley, and as he did, we exchanged a glance, and I watched his default sulk crack into a wide, unguarded smile, with not a trace of mocking in it. If I experience a more pleasant moment of human interaction than that this month, I'll be very, very happy.

* I just looked it up, and the "ine" word for crocodiles is "crocine".**
** That was a lie.

Sunday 4 October 2009

Reader's Cat Eats Anonymous Cover Kitten

Thanks to Sandra May Veigel for sending this...

Saturday 3 October 2009

Best Boxing Cat Yet?

Three More Reader Photos

Eddie from Emlly:

Daisy from Nicky:

Rosie from Kathryn:

Friday 2 October 2009

Janet's Spiritual Littermate

As Mark astutely pointed out on last night's brilliant episode of Peep Show, it's very unlikely that you'll find your one true soulmate in the same part of the world as you and not, say, a village in Mozambique. Janet's, it seems, is a cat called Dusty in San Mateo, California. Dusty's taste is, however, a bit classier than Janet's, whose findings I have chosen not to keep, for obvious hygiene reasons.

10 Things My Cats Have Disdained Recently: Part III

1. The casual racism (according to The Bear) of the feline internet community, including the dialogue of the two famous talking youtube cats and people who mistake Shipley (pictured above) for The Bear "just cos he is black".

2. The continuing closure of my boiler room door, preventing Ralph scoping the hole in the wall where he lost his all-time best mouse in July, 2004.

3. Janet's new pretentious, out of date neck-based soul patch, as sculpted by the vet in what he claimed was a "blood test".

4. The two cat calendars currently outselling Under The Paw in the amazon cat chart THREE MONTHS BEFORE ANYONE REALLY NEEDS THEM.

5. Ceiling Cat, and other mounting, alarmist religious dogma.

6. Me tweeting six times in a row about Whitesnake in 3 minutes on Twitter and immediately losing 11 followers, one of whom, if I had stuck to the appropriate subject of CATS and not 1980s hair metal, might, if I was really lucky, have borrowed Under The Paw from the library on a whim, and then recommended it to three of their friends, one of whom might, in three months, if I was even more lucky, have bought it in a three-for-two offer at a lower rent bookstore, earning me a royalty of around 37 pence (minus agent fee), thus contributing towards the purchasing of Sheba Tender Terrine With Chicken And Turkey.

7. James Wellbeloved Natural Cat Food Biscuits, and any other biscuits recently purchased "not from the heart" (i.e. only due to being on offer at Pets At Home).

8. The rather lame use of the word "hobo", instead of the better-known, and generally more shaggable, "drifter", in the original 1982 version of Whitesnake's 'Here I Go Again'.

9. Pretty much everything else about the original 1982 version of Whitesnake's 'Here I Go Again'.

10. Anthropomorphism.

Tuesday 29 September 2009

Some More Recent Excerpts From My Cat Diary

September 16th
Excited, having seen promotional literature for my home town mentioning "the famous ducks". Am now finding myself looking at birdlife around garden and local park in whole new way. That massive muscovy with the magnetic aura and strange sense of entitlement: he's got to be one of them.

Received missing parakeet missive. Parakeet in question answers to the name Charlie, talks and is "very tame". Religious flyers sticking out of my letterbox I can cope with of a morning. This level of emotional turmoil I cannot.

September 17th
I remember those happy, carefree times, seven or eight minutes ago, when there wasn't a slaughtered rabbit on my kitchen floor.

September 18th
Received a review copy of a memoir through the post today, all about a dog and the dog's owner, and the heartwarmingness of the dog-owner thing they had going on. From what I can gather, the main themes of the book are the owner, his dog, and how generally warming the whole thing was, particularly in the heart area. People should publish more of that kind of thing: it's a potentially enormous untapped market.

Still puzzling over dead rabbit. Ralph and Shipley, who are getting too spoilt and lazy to kill anything apart from the odd vole or seven, were sleeping at the time it was brought in, as was The Bear, who is a pacifist when it comes to non-feline animals (presumably it wasn't Bootsy or Pablo either, what with them having moved out a few weeks ago to live with Dee at her new place). I was alerted to its presence on the kitchen floor by the equally pacificist Janet, who was standing next to it, meowing in that special mournful way he only usually does when he's brought in an empty packet of Monster Munch dating from 1987. Was it a rotten rabbit, killed and discarded by a fox with fussy eating habits? Perhaps Janet mistook it for one of the increasingly popular Litter Bunnies being purchased and subsequently junked by spoilt children in the neighbourhood? Anyhow, it is in the bin now: a temporary solution before I decide I can look it in its half-remaining face again and arrange a more organic form of disposal.

September 18th
I wrote my first ever TV comedy sketch today. It is not about cats because that would be f***ing stupid and predictable. I also wrote my second ever TV comedy sketch today. Okay, I admit it: that is about cats.

September 20th
I note with some interest that The Bear is now cultivating his own special "piss meow". I'm not necessarily looking on it as a bad thing, as it serves as more of a warning system than anything. I suppose it's a bit like a smoke alarm. (Except with piss, instead of smoke, obviously.)

September 21st
Given the reputed commonness of the activity, it is surprising more celebrities don't reference their Daily Cat Puke Cleaning Session in The Sunday Times Magazine's A Life In The Day column.

September 22nd
Sometimes, when I stroke my cats, I get an electric shock. I suppose this is the natural result of the static created by the stroking itself, but I also can't help suspecting that they might be plugging themselves in behind my back. A couple of them have, after all, been working on a new sound recently. It's probably inevitable that Going Electric is part of it.

September 23rd
It's amazing how when a person own cats, by simply walking upstairs to do some ironing and finding a stray JML pet mitt on the floor and a nearby sleeping cat (Ralph, for example), they can inadvertently invent a new game. I have decided to call this particular one 'Happy Cat, Sad Cat', having discarded the slightly inferior working titles of 'Confusion!" and 'Dimpled Stroky Thing Good, Big Clanky Thing Bad'. The speed of the fluctuating feline emotions it elicits are nothing short of breathtaking.

September 24th
Went a walk today with my borrowed spaniel, Henry - a creature Dee once referred to as my "alter doggo". The setting was Blythburgh, near the Suffolk coast, where Black Shuck, the demon dog, once legendarily terrorised the local church's congregation. I'd like to say I deliberately chose to walk in Black Dog Country with a black dog, but in truth the symmetry didn't occur to me until I was about seven miles into the walk, and lost amidst river-damaged footpaths, by which point my appreciation of it was dampened, in an unpleasantly literal sort of way, by a shoe full of blister blood. Besides, the likelihood of happy-go-lucky Henry intimidating an entire congregation seems quite unlikely, though he did slightly unsettle a sleeping heron, which promptly shat itself.

September 26th
Most lovely Under The Paw-related letter of the week: "Just loved discover today that you have a book about cats feelings. Is possible I found this book in Brasil?"

September 27th
Earlier today, I stroked my beard. Not the most riveting anecdote, I grant you. What does make it marginally more interesting is that the beard in question was false, sitting on my bedroom floor, where I'd discarded it after he previous night's fancy dress party, and at the time I had mistaken it for one of my cats.

September 28th
They say that some days you eat The Bear, and some days The Bear eats you. What they fail to add is that some days all that happens is that The Bear eats a tray of Sheba Rabbit And Chicken Tender Terrine, while you sit nearby, attempting to eat a jam sandwich without choking on mechanically recovered meat fumes.

September 29th
Was in kitchen this morning. Most Idiotic Cat was in kitchen too. Most Idiotic Cat nudged drying pillowcase with tail. Pillowcase fell on Most Idiotic Cat, becoming "cat cloak". Confession: felt no immediate impulse to remove pillowcase. Further confession: did not act on non-existent impulse.

Previous excerpts...

Under The Paw...

Friday 25 September 2009

Some Of The More Unusual Horse Books I Have Been Alerted To Recently

Did I Post This Before? If Not, I Meant To...

Animals I've Not Really Been That Bothered About Stealing Actually: Number One - 'Street" Moorhen

South Norfolk, UK
Moorhen was like, "You wanna piece of me?" And I was like, "No, you're a moorhen." And moorhen was like, "I'm just gonna cross this road, just you watch me." And I was like, "Okay, I'll slow down to 15mph - in many ways North Lopham should be a 20 zone anyway." And moorhen was like, "That's what I'm talking about - how you like me now?" And then we both passed safely on our way, without further incident.