I was given this book ‘Cat Stories’ by James Herriot as a recent birthday present, although I’d had another copy of the same book on my shelf for a couple of years. I’m so glad that I did take the time out to read the wonderful stories that James Herriot took obvious delight in writing.   

OllieandginnyEach chapter relates to one particular cat that James had met on his veterinary visits to farms and shops. In the 1930’s animal care was not like it is now, and life was harsh with hard decisions being made. Cats had to work for their keep and life was difficult. Although people loved their cats, they were not always as nurtured as dearly loved pets as they are nowadays. Veterinary care was also not as advanced as it is now and some treatments seem rather archaic.

But this book shines through with James’s obvious love and respect for the feline species. I’m sure many people who care for feral cats will understand how he felt when he finally made headway in his attempts to befriend two feral cats (Ollie and Ginny) that had been eating on the top of the wall to his house for many years. His wife had befriended them with seeming ease and lots of patience but they associated James with the horrors of capture and being taken to the vets – they didn’t forgive him for quite some time.

I can thoroughly recommend this book. It is a real delight and each of the featured cats (and their owners) is a well-drawn character. The individual illustrations by Lesley Holmes are wonderful. Each night in bed, I’d read a chapter and when I’d finished the book I was really upset - I wished there was more!! 

James Herriot (1916 – 1995) British author. A television series, All Creatures Great and Small (1977 – 1980) was made of his popular series of books about his experiences as a veterinarian in Yorkshire, England.

In the Middle of a World...

"In the middle of a world that has always been a bit mad, the cat walks with confidence."

Roseanne Anderson

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