Monday 29 April 2013

Guest Writer's Cat Of The Week: Vincent Black Shadow

Vincent Black Shadow, though I am technically female 

Vincent or Catkin

Theme Tune? 
Music is not really my thing and unfortunately, I am going slightly deaf, but my owner thinks the overture from ‘The Thieving Magpie’ contains the right mixture of menace and skittishness.

Only I know the truth- and I’m not being coy here. However when the vet looked at the plaque on my teeth (not particularly pleasant for either of us), he suggested I could be twelve.

Again, I’m the only one who knows the whole story. My present owner is Annabel Markova and I’ve been with her for two and a half years. Before that I lived with her daughter, Sasha, for a few months.

Brief biography? 
Mysterious, like everything else. Sasha found me wandering on a busy road in Brixton, about to get run over. So she took me home, fed me, then put me outside her front door, thinking I might want to return to my owner. But I refused to budge- a wise decision, as it turned out.

‘What will be will be’. Like most rescue animals, I’m a fatalist.

Favourite Habits? 
Lying on my owner when she’s relaxing on the sofa watching television, and putting my arms around her neck.

What constitutes a perfect evening for you? 
Finding a mouse in a wardrobe full of old shoes. Failing that, finding a good spot by the radiator when the central heating is full on and knowing company is in the house even if I don’t feel particularly sociable.

Favourite food? 
Grass. It immediately makes me want to be sick on the carpet and that’s a surefire way of grabbing my owners attention, even when she’s completely absorbed in writing.

Defining moment of your life? 
Being picked up off that street in Brixton.

Any enemies? 
All other cats. I love a fight.

If you could do one thing to make the world a better place for felines what would it be? 
Forbid owners ever to go on holiday s all catteries would have to be shut down.

If you could meet a celebrity who would it be and why? 
Assuming I am allowed to choose a dead one, it would be the American author Hunter S. Thompson because he immortalised the hand-built motorcycle which I am named after. He was also a bit of a rebel, just like me.

Which one of the cats in Under The Paw and Talk To The Tail  would you like to be stuck in a lift with? 
None.  I am quite certain we would fight. And I would win. Of course.  

Annabel’s new novel, The Family Thief   is published as eBook by Blackfriars (the new literary e-imprint from Little, Brown), on June 6th, £3.99.

Sunday 21 April 2013


I'm a bit unsure about my new scarf. It's very noisy, never stops eating, and I think I found a parasite attached to it earlier.

Saturday 20 April 2013

Skankenpuss: The Frankenstein Fur Monster Cat

A short while ago, I speculated about using all the fur the cats leave on my carpets to construct a whole new, better-behaved cat, who I would call Skankenpuss. I was not in any way being serious. Someone else, however, clearly had the same idea, and was.

Friday 19 April 2013

Guest Reader's Cats Of The Week: Precious And Pouncer

Precious and Pouncer

Precious: Ladybug, Angel, The Superwiser Cat.
Pouncer: Les Ponce, Monster, Moosha.

Theme Tune? 
Precious: Working 9-5, Dolly Parton
Pouncer: Charlie No. 1, The Whitlams

Both 5.

Rebecca McMahon. Antipodean. Makeup Artist. Workaholic.

Brief biography? 
After walking the streets in floods of tears after Battersea Dogs and Cats home told Rebecca she’d be a bad cat owner, her mother in Australia said to “just throw money at it” and directed her to a pet store in the Docklands. There she was told they had “one cheap cat” left. He was obviously going home with her. Then she had to choose another from a rambunctious litter running about a different enclosure. At the back was a very small, delicate young lady that flopped when picked up and elicited the words, “Aren’t you just precious!?” from Rebecca’s mouth. And then it was done.

Precious: We live in a house in Surrey now. We won’t be inside. Ever. In fact, we’ve worked out that Pouncer is strong enough to actually rip cat flaps out of the door frame if we really need to escape. Personally, I prefer to be a little more strategic about things and I’ve actually figured out how to unlock the cat flap if Rebecca tries to keep us in at night. I’d like to think that I’m the brilliant mastermind of the house, Pouncer is the muscle and Rebecca is in charge of making sure we’re warm and giving us food on demand.

Precious: Do you really think it should be like that?
Pouncer: I’m hungry, feed me.

Favourite Habits? 
Precious: Rolling in dirt. Rolling from side to side. Attacking pillows of catnip. Following Rebecca into taxis. Demanding to be picked up as Rebecca emerges from her evening bath.

Pouncer: It’s a toss up between waiting for dinner or stalking Precious. I also enjoy meeting Rebecca on the corner when she gets home each night and screeching really loudly because she’s late with my dinner. It’s good fun to see her struggle with her heavy cases and try not tread on me. Ha ha!!!

What constitutes a perfect evening for you? 
Precious: I like being stroked whilst eating dinner. There is nothing better than being stroked and eating at the same time. Heaven. I also enjoy wildlife programs, my scratch post and rolling from side to side on the floor
Pouncer: I *love* dinner time!! I also enjoy eating Precious’ dinner. I swear it tastes better than mine. Most nights I spend a lot of time finding ways to scare Precious while she’s rolling from side to side on the floor or sneaking up on her in general. If I’m not very successful with those projects, I like to be wherever Rebecca is.

Favourite food? 
Precious: Rebecca’s left overs. But they have to be from her plate, not my bowl.

Pouncer: ALL FOOD. We still haven’t quite forgiven Rebecca for withdrawing the Applaws supply. She said something about us going out and earning our own living so we could pay for it but we ignore most of what she says, to be honest.

Defining moment of your life? 
Precious: For the initial portion of my life, I was an independent woman. I wanted to conquer the world and leave my mark. I had no interest in emotional attachments with other animals or people. All that changed after an ill advised fling with Pouncer (talk about a lapse in judgement) resulted in three kittens. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a hippy, dippy earth mother, but I realised there is more to life. These days I don’t worry about my figure so much, I like to follow Rebecca everywhere she goes, I discovered the joys of rolling from side to side. It was pretty life changing.

Pouncer: I think it was when the lurcher that lives two doors over tried to eat me. Thankfully I’m rather athletic and made a hasty getaway, but not before he got the end of my tail. I’m not really into other people or animals anymore. I have a brilliant plan to make sure it never happens again. Whenever I hear anyone or anything coming up the front steps, I race out the back door cat flap. Strategic brilliance, if you ask me.

Any enemies? 
Precious: Pouncer
Pouncer: That lurcher. The one that tried to eat me. And the postman. Why he is he so terrifying???

If you could do one thing to make the world a better place for felines what would it be? 
Precious: Fill it with warm places to hide. But not ones that you can get stuck in. *Mental note: never ever try to hide inside the duvet cover again. It’s inescapable and rather frightening!!!*

Pouncer: make the world a place where you can scratch *everything* and an endless supply of tasty food.

If you could meet a celebrity who would it be and why? 
We’re not particularly phased by celebrity, to be honest. It’s not our thing. Maybe Christian the lion.

Which one of the cats in Under The Paw and Talk To The Tail  would you like to be stuck in a lift with? 
Precious: I think I have quite a lot in common with Shipley. He seems to be quite down to earth and unaffected, just like me. I think we’d get along nicely.

Pouncer: I’m scared of lifts. What do you mean I have to be stuck in one??? If I really have to answer this, then I’m going to go with The Bear. Just because I think he might be equally as unhappy as I am at the thought of having to be in a lift *and* being stuck in it.

Saturday 13 April 2013

Kitten Advice (starring my mum and dad's kitten - well, just about a cat, now - Floyd)

Procuring Your Kitten
All proper kittens grow on small furry trees. Some people purchase kittens from shops and supermarkets, to which kittens are transported in cramped lorries, alongside other cute animals such as pygmy goats and puppies. Try to get your kitten straight from a furry tree if you possibly can, as it will be more fresh, and is less likely to be bruised.

Your Kitten's First Headache
Kittens are often plagued by headaches in the first three months of their lives, and can become irritable and monosyllabic as a result. Do not on any account try to medicate your kitten's headache. Instead, make your kitten very comfortable in a darkened room, and sing softly to it. Try, maybe, one of the early love songs of David Gates, or 'Let Your Love Flow' by The Bellamy Brothers. If your singing is up to scratch, your kitten will be cured in less than an hour, and ready for its next adventure.

Kitten Baskets
In 18th Century England, Kitten Baskets were seen by rural folk as a surefire way to ward off evil. A Kitten Basket would traditionally contain various bits of loose material from the owner's old quilts and shirts, some herbs, and a kitten, and would be presented to new people in the village on the day of their move. The new residents would then eat the herbs, keep the kitten in their front window overnight, and return it to its owners in the morning, after which their house would be "blessed" and delivered from future evil such as storm damage, plague, and randy wandering soldiers intent on taking the maidenheads of their daughters. The tradition of the Kitten Basket lives on in many counties, although not in Staffordshire, following the infamous Cannock Chase Kitten Basket Theft of 1864.

Sleeping Places Your Kitten Will Genuinely Like
It's a misconception that kittens like to sleep on blankets and jumpers. They actually much prefer to sleep in waste paper bins. Nobody is sure why this is, but some experts think it's related to the fact that wastepaper bins often contain magazines, and kittens like to read before falling asleep. Buy a wastepaper bin that's just slightly too big for your kitten, so it can grow into it. Kittens also like to sleep on toilets and the necks of people between the ages of 55 and 65.

Kittens And Their Spirit World Guardians
Unlike many ghosts, cat ghosts are very kind and well-meaning. It's entirely possible that, not long after you get your kitten, a cat ghost who happens to be haunting your area at the time might latch onto it, and begin to whisper to it or hover mournfully over its waste paper bin at night. Don't be alarmed by this, and try not to shout or throw things at the cat ghost, who is probably very sensitive, especially if it is a new ghost and still self-conscious about his non-corporeal state. More than likely he or she is just trying to protect the kitten from dangerous things like cars, dogs and The Daily Mail's Liz Jones. Soon, a beautiful friendship may even develop between the two of them, full of whispered secrets and perfect, tranquil moments, where they will watch the world go by, arm in arm.

Your Kitten's First Dalliance With Disco
The natural love of kittens for disco has been severely underdocumented over the years. Kittens like disco partly because of the freedom it gives them to express themselves, but also because, unlike Lindy Hop, salsa, or other trendier dance styles, it has very few "rules". A kitten can only dance to disco for up to twenty minutes at a time, so try not to be disturbed if it falls asleep in the middle of a disco move. This just means it is on "boogie recharge".

Kittens And Floristry
Despite the fact that lilies are very poisonous to cats, many kittens enjoy floristry. In this area, the typical gender roles of the human world tend to be reversed. Very few female kittens like flower arranging, but for male kittens it is seen as a sign of masculinity and virility.

Don't Let Your Kitten Eat A Whole Cow, A Quilt Or The Plug From A Shower
Don't let your kitten eat any of these things. They are bad for it.

The Legend Of 'Chimney Dog'
Chimney Dog is a truly terrifying figure, stories of whose dark deeds have been passed down through kitten folklore for hundreds of years. A transsexual soot black hound with the back legs of a human blacksmith and the claws of a bitter and lonely former actress, he-she is said to climb down chimneys and steal kittens in the dead of night, when humans are asleep. Even if your kitten's elders have not told it about Chimney Dog, there will be a deep, primal part of it that already somehow knows he-she is out there, waiting. If you find your kitten staring at your chimney, with a fearful look on its face, more than likely it is thinking about Chimney Dog. Maybe just block your chimney or get a wood burner or something?

Your Kitten And The Self-Employed Workplace
As everyone knows, kittens aren't legally able to work until they are ten months old, but in the meantime, they can be paid informally on a freelance basis for house and garden jobs, such as window cleaning, the planting of minor crops, and sweeping - although not the sweeping of chimneys, obviously, because of the whole Chimney Dog thing.

Kittens Who Scrump
Not all kittens go scrumping, but there's every chance that, if your kitten lives in a rural area, it will get caught up in scrumping culture, due to peer pressure. If you find that your kitten has been scrumping, tell it off, and make it apologise to the growers of the fruit that it scrumped. You might also want to revoke its disco privileges for a day or two, but don't be too harsh on it. Remember: scrumping is a relatively minor crime for adolescent kittens, and your kitten could be doing something much worse in this day and age, such as sniffing car exhaust pipes or joining forces with the feral kittens to fight ducks in the local park.

Read part one of my kitten advice, starring Roscoe.

Read Under The Paw and Talk To The Tail

Sometimes The Ghost Cat Who Lives Near My Parents Just Likes To Sniff The Air And Feel How Great It Is To Be A Ghost

Wednesday 10 April 2013

Guest Writer's Cat Of The Week: Pyewacket, Owner Of David Quantick

Pyewacket (after the cat in Bell Book And Candle).

All embarrassing. Pye, Poopensteiner, Porkjacket, Paypacket, Michael Nyman.

Theme Tune
Lovecats, by The Cure.

7 plus

Jenna, David and Nosni.

Brief Biography
I started life in Canton, Cardiff, living with a barmaid who got me from a customer. When I left the flat it was so flea-infested she had to call the council. I was six months when Jenna got me, and now I live in Hastings with David, Jenna, a baby and a dog.

“Please let me out of the utility room. Please. Please let me out of the utility room. Please let me out. Please let me out. Please let me out of the utility room. Please. Please let me out…”

Favourite Habits
Knocking over wine glasses with my tail while fighting the dog. Puking inappropriately.

What constitutes a perfect evening for you? 
Lying on the arm of the sofa with the dog dead in a corner.

Favourite food
Tinned tuna

Defining moment of your life? 
Climbing up Jenna’s jeans with my claws while she was doing the washing up.

Any enemies?
Jim the dog and Queenie the cat.

If you could do one thing to make the world a better place for cats, what would it be?
Tell other cats to stand up to dogs while they’re still puppies.

If you could meet a celebrity, who would it be and why?
I don’t know what they are.

Which one of the cats in Under The Paw and Talk To The Tail would you most like to be stuck in a lift with?
I can’t read. I’m a cat. Please let me out of the utility room. Please. Please let me out. Please let me out of the utility room. Please let me out. Please.

Read David Quantick's latest book, Sparks.

Tuesday 9 April 2013

My Mum And Dad Made A Sign For The Twitchell Near Their House

For those not familiar with East Midlands lingo: this is what a  twitchell  is.

Sunday 7 April 2013

Kitten Advice: Kittens And Trees

Kittens often like to sleep in trees. Never touch a kitten when it's asleep in a tree, as it may become stern.


Met The Queen. Wasn't a big deal.

Wednesday 3 April 2013

Robert Plant tries to emulate Ralph's pose


Robert Plant:

Guest Writer's Cat Of The Week: Snowball

Snowball Neville.

Oh, many, but I choose to rise above them.

Theme tune?
Peter Gunn.

I’ll be 8 this Summer. Where did it all go? It seems like only yesterday, I was light enough to climb the net curtains. And then, all at once, I wasn’t. And then there weren’t any net curtains any more. Never look back. Certainly never apologise.

My main provider and tray-emptier is called Rich Neville. We laughed the first time we saw my veterinary records and found out we had the same surname. I can’t even fathom the odds. I don’t think he’s a cat. If he is, he’s horribly malformed. He’s generally well-behaved, though. I’ve only had to slice him up on a couple of occasions.

Brief biography?
I was one of a litter of four. My mother and one of my sisters still live nearby, but I don’t keep in touch. My father was a street fighter. I got my muscular physique from him, but thankfully not any of his various parasites. I’ve lived at the same address since I was 8 weeks old, but I take a keen interest in wildlife documentaries, and keep abreast of what’s going on in the world.

“What the Hell did you shut that for?”

Favourite habits?
When beset by consciousness, I enjoy staring into empty corners to engender a creeping sense of foreboding in others, howling, and urination.

What constitutes a perfect evening for you?
I like to be surprised with an evening snack comprising some form of roast meat, once Rich has taken whatever scraps he needs from the carcass. It’s nice to follow this with some light postprandial exercise; Rich seems to enjoy playing with string, so I try to occupy him for a while by joining in. Then it’s time to recharge with the eighth and probably most important nap of the day. Finally, once the white things on the walls have stopped providing me with heat for the night, I like to drape myself over Rich’s shoulders and relax. I’m trying to gradually inculcate a hunch in him, or stoop if you will, to make this more comfortable when he walks around.

Favourite food?
There isn’t much that I wouldn’t tire of, if I saw it on my plate every day. That said, I think I could eat cheddar for a living, if such a situation became financially ineluctable.

Defining moment of your life?
The moment I discovered the spot on the upstairs banister from which I could urinate on two floors simultaneously would be hard to beat.

Any enemies?
I generally consider myself to be fairly gregarious, but I would cross the street to avoid the vacuum cleaner or the tin whistle. Irredeemable arses, the pair of them.

If you could do one thing to make the world a better place for felines what would it be?
I would place the handle considerably further down on the fridge door.

If you could meet a celebrity who would it be and why?
David Attenborough. I’d like to think I’d fascinate him, and he knows where all the most delicious small animals are.

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. Black with a tiny white bib is a timeless look, I think. He reminds me of an older me.

Snowball’s enabler Rich Neville is the LAFTA award-winning author of Catbin Fever and the forthcoming novel Jeremy is Stuck.

Tuesday 2 April 2013


Never get cats.

Monday 1 April 2013

Guest Reader's Cat Of The Week: Meep


Beep, Meeples, Meepsy Beepsy, Papa, Beautiful, Big Man, Don't Do That, Massive Chat and No.

Theme Tune? 
Game of Thrones

Just 2

No. Flatmate.

Brief biography? 
I was really small in Penge and then I went to live in North London and got massive.


Favourite Habits? 
Running. Running & running & running. Saying no to things I don't like; most things. Important to get a firm message across. No to Travel. Lateness. Change. Movement. Putting things down. Picking things up. Opening the door slowly. Not playing cricket with me. All no. No touching of my back feet. No squashing of back paws. No putting back paws in mouth... I've noticed no seems to encourage back foot interference. I like headbutting all things that are Meep's. I like talking about myself in the third person. Mrs Octopus is my best friend, fiancĂ©e, dearest possession and must be killed. I like Game Of Thrones. Winter Is Coming, Meep. Running water. Running water is mental! Must put paws in that. Still water. Still water is mental! Paws go in that. People. They might play cricket with me. Animals. They might play cricket with me. Presents. Jumping. From stationary or running jumps. Star jumps. Cable ties. They're bastards. What was that? We're being burgled. No.

What constitutes a perfect evening for you? 
Everything that's not no.

Favourite food? 

Defining moment of your life? 
At seven weeks old I got a severe ear infection and the vet thought I would be deaf for life and said it was because I was allergic to all food. Turns out - no. Am fine.

Any enemies? 

If you could do one thing to make the world a better place for felines what would it be? 
Everyone should have a Mrs Octopus of their own. Except Mr Octopus.

If you could meet a celebrity who would it be and why? 

Which one of the cats in Under The Paw and Talk To The Tail  would you like to be stuck in a lift with?
All of them. I like cats.

Photos one and two taken by Liz. Photo three taken by Meep.