Wednesday 27 February 2013

Guest Literary Cat Of The Week: Augustus, Owner Of Novelist Alexander McCall Smith

Augustus Basil Maitland-Weir

Augustus Basil or just Augustus if time is pressing.

Theme Tune? 
Generally ‘Soave sia il vento’ from Così fan Tutti, although it has been suggested that the Star Wars Imperial March matches my stride better.

I'm slightly wary of cats who will tell you their age, they are inclined to tell you anything. Never a good thing.

The writer Alexander McCall Smith lives with me. We share an office.

Brief biography? 
I decided to make the career change from pedigree Tonkinese to literary advisor six years ago. Joining the McCall Smith household has been very rewarding but I think my best work is ahead of me, particularly when I can persuade Alexander that a series based around a cat would be a good idea.

‘97% is just fine’. Grace Makutsi from The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency knows what I mean.

Favourite Habits? 
Choosing gifts for fellow residents (art is always a good bet). Making my paw print on whatever Alexander is writing at the time. Tripping people up, preferably on the stairs, and tap-dancing. On keyboards. 

What constitutes a perfect evening for you? 
Some light exercise in the form of tripping people up before jumping up the chimney if I'm in Edinburgh, or inspecting the boundaries/surveying my kingdom from a wall if in Argyll. 

Favourite food? 
Freshly-caught fish. I am a cat of simple tastes.

Defining moment of your life? 
Taking to the high seas for the first time (I have my own life jacket). Travelling near fresh fish without having to move is exhilarating.

Any enemies? 
The dogs Alexander writes about in his books - Freddie de la Hay from Corduroy Mansions and Cyril from 44 Scotland Street. He should include more cats in his work. Squirrels.

If you could do one thing to make the world a better place for felines what would it be? 
Fewer dogs. More steps to trip humans up on. Thumbs for all. And an endless supply of fresh fish.

If you could meet a celebrity who would it be and why? 
WH Auden. Alexander is such a fan I'm intrigued. I find poetry quite tiring, personally.

Which one of the cats in Under The Paw and Talk To The Tail  would you like to be stuck in a lift with? 
The Bear. He is obviously one of the finest cats of his generation with a taste for the better things in life. I share his stoical general disappointment with the world.

Alexander McCall Smith's new book Trains And Lovers is published by Polygon.

(Photo of Alexander and Augustus by Chris Wyatt.)

Why The Bear Is Sad Today

Because he is worried that the fact that he is enjoying this is puncturing his inimitable protective cocoon of melancholy.

More stuff  The Bear is sad about.

Tuesday 26 February 2013

The Bear: Less Original Than He Thought

When (see above) The Bear stood on the manuscript of Talk To The Tail. in 2010, only hours after I'd completed my final edit on it, maybe he was making a statement. Admittedly, he does not dominate the narrative in quite in the same way as he did in Under The Paw. Whatever the case, his protest was not as revolutionary as he probably thought. I don't know what the cat who stood on the 15th Century book pictured above was making a stand against, but he clearly had some strong feelings to express. Here's an interesting blog about medieval cats trampling on - and doing far worse things to - books.

Ringo Always Had To Be A Bit Different

Sunday 24 February 2013

World's Most Tolerant Cat

This bird is doing almost exactly what Shipley does to The Bear at least a couple of times every day.

The Bear Has Actually Warned Me About This, Several Times

Why The Bear Is Sad Today

Because he feels sure there is a more magical world somewhere out there, just beyond his reach.

More stuff  The Bear is sad about.

There Is A Horse Who Lives Down The Road From Me Who Looks Just Like Todd Rundgren

The horse who lives down the road from me:

Todd Rundgren:

Read more about my local horses in Talk To The Tail.

Get Away From My Food. Shouldn't You Be Out Getting An Impala Or Something? You're Not Even A Proper Ginger

Saturday 23 February 2013


Don't get cats.



Marzi, Little Bear, Boo Boo, the Boo Boo Bear, Great Big Pie, Pie-pan, Toffee-pops, Bing Bong Smythe (me neither).

Theme Tune
The words 'You're a boo boo bear' sung to the tune of The Beatles' 'I Wanna Be Your Man'. I know. Also, when I'm running daintily hither and thither, as I occasionally do, 'Diga Diga Doo' by Duke Ellington is my 'jam'.


Pahaha! I don't think so. Zoë  and Dylan work for me, if that's what you mean. Zoë is a music writer and writes books about rock 'n' roll and Dylan is a drummer. They do try to keep the noise down for me though, so don't worry about that.

Brief biography

I was adopted from a rescue centre in Essex after six months on a little shelf next to my litter tray. There wasn't much room in there because they'd done such a great job and rescued so many stray cats. I didn't really like the other cats - one of them kept bopping me - so I stayed up on my shelf but I did keep smiling and when Zoë and Dylan came in, I was particularly charming. The rest is history. My previous owner was bed-ridden but I used to cheer him up, and that's where I get my habit of doing a pre-leap 'Geronimo!' miaow when I'm about to jump on the bed from, so I don't give anyone a shock. My previous name was Maggie May but I'm very glad they changed it to Marzipan (because my coat reminds them of Christmas cake mix, apparently) because I don't like Rod Stewart.

'OOOH!' (genuine 'ooh!' sound that I make when food appears)

Favourite habits
Staring, smiling, bopping Zoë in face or on head in the morning, playing with my mouse AND catnip fish AND scratching post simultaneously, sneaking up on my persons and then zooming off, conversing with my neighbouring moggy Mr Black, walking on - and indeed sitting on - Zoë's laptop while she's trying to work and adding my own contributions, doing 'Neighbourhood Mog Watch', which is a very important job that entails staring out of the windows - front and back - as often as possible. 

I wouldn't say this was a habit but if one of my persons is a-bed with the flu, I like to contribute by bringing them daily mice, because they can't go to the shops and stuff. The only thing is I'm not that keen on mice and get a bit freaked out by them, but the persons always seem to know what to do. They certainly disappear pretty fast, so I guess they must really appreciate them. Once Zoë accidentally managed to let the mouse back out but I got it back in again. Marzi to the rescue as usual. You're welcome!

What constitutes a perfect evening for you?
Games, obviously, that's how I keep this fabulous figure in shape. Washing my built-in cape. Eating, of course - and by the way, I like my meals to be served to me properly. I have been known to sit about a foot away from the dish, even when it's full, because I like the food to be ceremoniously presented to me, preferably with the words, 'Ooh, Marzi, look at this lovely food!' Then I eat. 

Cuddles, I'm more cuddly now a year after I was adopted. I've decided I like these people. I then like to go to sleep on my blanket on the right hand seat of the sofa, and if anyone is sitting on it when I decide it's bedtime, then I'm afraid I do have to make a bit of a fuss. 

Favourite food
Bozita meaty chunks, cheese, the occasional corner of a chip. Mad for Dentabits too.

Defining moment of your life
Being adopted by my persons. I hadn't been having a very good time but they came and rescued me. They'd come to see another cat but I did my best smile at them and they fell in love (naturally) and took me straight home. Hooray! Oh, and meeting Mr Black. He's sort of my boyfriend. Sorry chaps!

Any enemies?
The hoover. Thankfully it seems to be Zoë's enemy too though. I don't like the sound of trumpets very much either. My worst nightmare would be if trumpets and hoovers were combined in some kind of mad scientific experiment. I wouldn't like that. 

If you could do one thing to make the world a better place for felines what would it be?
I would ban IAMs because it gave me cystitis which has been a recurring problem ever since, and has been known to cause kidney problems in other cats too sadly. Ooh, and neutering. Neuter those moggies! Ok, that's two things. Sorry.

If you could meet a celebrity who would it be and why?
The MGM Lion without a doubt. I've been trying to emulate him for years, and I'd love to know what makes him tick, not to mention what fur-care products he uses. Helluva mane.

Which one of the cats in Under The Paw and Talk To The Tail would you like to be stuck in a lift with?
Janet sounded like my kind of moggy and we'd have had fun, I think. Rest in peace. The Bear sounds a bit too much like Mr Black and I wouldn't want him to think he'd been usurped.x


If your kitten reaches adolescence and shows signs of vanity, undermine and humiliate it by placing a very old, disapproving cat with a cutting sense of humour beside it.

Big Cat Cuddle Of The Week

Dolly Parton And A Kitten

Tuesday 19 February 2013

Junk Sculpture Brother For Floyd

My mum recently found a 1950s mangle (or a wringer, as it's known in America) at a car boot sale. Out of this, and an empty packet of Whiskas Dentabits, she has made a junk sculpture cat. This serves as a new brother for Floyd, the kitten that she and my dad adopted last summer, who's been feeling a bit sorry for himself, as his best pal, Casper the white ghost cat who lives nextdoor, hasn't been round to see him quite as much recently. He was a little unsure about manglecat at first...

But has begun to warm to him slightly...

Read more about Floyd.

Sunday 17 February 2013

Friday 15 February 2013

Thursday 14 February 2013

14 Facts About The Bear For February The 14th

1. He has never, to my knowledge, killed another living creature, although did once eat a strawberry Pop Tart followed immediately by some broccoli, and appeared to enjoy them both enormously.

2. He has been in love with Biscuit, the old lady ginger cat who lives with my nextdoor neighbours, for nine years, but she has shown no interest in returning his affection. In Last Of The Summer Wine terms, you might call her the Nora Batty to his Compo, were it not for the fact that he is WAY more intelligent than Compo ever was.

3. In his early years, his fur fell out a few times, as a result of both an allergy to fleas AND an allergy to basic flea treatment. He now goes to the vet's every few months for a special (expensive) flea-proofing treatment.

4. He once deposited a turd neatly in the pocket of my ex's freshly laundered dressing gown.

5. Whereas my other cats are at their most vocal just before feeding time, he is only ever noisy immediately afterwards, when, if he is really happy, he will make the noise "MeeYOY" repeatedly, whilst wandering around the kitchen.

6. His nemesis is Shipley, my other black cat, who is very mouthy, and has a kind of "office joker" personality, with none of The Bear's decorum or appreciation of high culture. The Bear never retaliates when Shipley chases him, but he does sometimes make the noise a small dragon might if it was gargling with TCP.

7. When he was younger and more agile, he liked to be higher than floor level at every possible opportunity. I would often find him sitting on top of his scratching post, exuding a calm that was both Zenlike and owlish.

8. In every house I have lived in with him, a neighbour has reported a sighting of him staring dolefully into their kitchen with his nose pressed up against the glass.

9. He is the cat of a broken marriage. Not only was he my ex's cat; he was my ex's EX'S favourite cat.

10. He almost always leaves the room when I play albums from Deep Purple's celebrated, mk II, Ian Gillan incarnation, but doesn't seem to mind their early, more psychedelic work.

11. Everyone who's met him comments on how sad and soulful his eyes are, but he's not actually sad. I've now known him for twelve and a half years, and he's never seemed happier, never purred more, never had plusher fur.

12. He has been known to piss on my alphabetised LP collection, following the example of - or simply trying to get even with - a feral cat I named Graham, who used to break into my house. The Bear tends to stick to the W-Z section. Bill Withers and Neil Young have been notable casualties. He occasionally works his way as far back as The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band, but never quite as far as Scott Walker. Mercifully, he seems to have stopped doing it altogether now.

13. When he is not following me around, asking me questions with his eyes, or moop-chirruping at me, he is usually asleep these days: his favourite spots are on the garden furniture on the balcony - which serves as a kind of roofless summer bachelor flat for him - or anywhere near radiators or books.

14. If you smooth down the white fur on his chest, it reveals an almost perfect heart shape.

Read The Bear's life story so far in Under The Paw and Talk To The Tail.

Read a piece about him in The Guardian.

Follow The Bear on Twitter.

Why Witches Only Hang Out With Black Cats: A Cartoon By Revilo

Happy Valentine's Day, From The Bear

Monday 4 February 2013


At around the age of eleven months, your kitten will want to attack the golfer Brandt Snedecker. This is very natural, so try not to interfere.

Sunday 3 February 2013

Ghost Cat

Despite being thwarted by glass, the love affair between my mum and dad's kitten, Floyd, and the ghost cat who lives nextdoor to them continues to blossom.

Dogs Seem To Like (Eating) My Books

Give to Talk To The Tail to your own dog to chew!

Cat Photo Detention Slip