Published by Simon & Schuster on January 30th 2014 (first published January 1st 2008)
Genres: Memoir, Non-Fiction
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Booktopia
For years, Tom Cox might have seemed like a regular, hard-living sort of bloke -- a lover of late nights, rock music and beer -- but he had a dark furry secret. Tom was a cat lover. Always had been, in fact. For a while, he kept his passion in check, but there was only so long he could postpone his true dream, especially after he met Dee, his moggy-loving soulmate.
In 2001, Tom left London and his job as a rock critic behind, and he and Dee, replete with Dee's cat Janet and three new kittens, moved to a remote part of Norfolk, a county where they knew not one living human soul. They thought it would be easy. They thought their cat madness had reached its limit. They were very wrong on both counts.
In UNDER THE PAW, Tom records the chaos of owning seven of the most charismatic, idiotic and duplicitous cats in the country. How exactly does a person go from living a fancy-free young metropolitan life to suddenly thinking it is normal to be on 24-hour call for multiple sets of whiskers? What are the essential rules of disposing of a dead pheasant? How do you learn to love your wife's ex's favourite pet?
Tom addresses all these issues and much more, encountering death, depression, flying fur and the first human sentence spoken by a feline along the way. Running through all the maelstrom is the heartbreaking story of his long and chequered relationship with The Bear, his oldest cat: a "painfully sensitive" survivor moggy who may or may not be an evil genius.
I don’t read memoirs very often. In fact, I just learned the difference between a memoir (about one part of the author’s life) and an autobiography (a chronicle of the author’s entire life)! I do love reading them on occasion – and I’ve decided to make 2017 the year of the memoir in a way; as a personal challenge I want to read at least 5 of them (I read this one last year, so it doesn’t count).
Under The Paw is the first of Tom Cox’s books about his cats. He has a great writing style, when I do read memoirs or autobiographies some suffer from terrible writing (and I’m so glad many are ghost written, I’d hate to think what they’d be like without a ‘proper’ author!) But Cox has made his living from writing; and it reads really well. Like he’s telling you a story, it flows like a good conversation.
The cats are what this books is about, and The Bear is the star (sadly he passed away recently, at the grand age of 21). I have no doubt The Bear would very much go for world domination, and he’d be a mysterious and aloof leader.
The other felines – Janet, Shipley, Ralph, Pablo and Bootsy – all have their moments. Janet was probably my favourite, allegedly being the one with the least brains. As a cat person, I do enjoy reading about other cats and their antics; they are such little balls of personality!
The one thing I did not like was the pushing of an outdoors lifestyle for ALL cats. It felt a bit arrogant, like he was saying, ‘the way I treat my cats is better than yours’.
My cats are indoor cats, mainly for their safety (I don’t trust my neighbours). They also show zero to little interest in getting outdoors (they do like bird tv at the front window, and they have grass to munch on). We discussed it with our vet before deciding to restrict their environment; so outdoors isn’t for all cats and their human slaves.
However, I did love reading about the lives of these kitties and will definitely continue with the books that follow.
If you’re interested about Tom and/or his cats, you can check out his site here.