Book Review #2: Under the Paw – Confessions of a Cat Man by Tom Cox

Posted 6th January 2017 by Wattle in Books, Reviews / 15 Comments

Book Review #2: Under the Paw – Confessions of a Cat Man by Tom CoxUnder the Paw - Confessions of a Cat Man by Tom Cox
Published by Simon & Schuster on January 30th 2014 (first published January 1st 2008)
Genres: Memoir, Non-Fiction
Pages: 256
Format: Paperback
Source: Owned
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Booktopia
Rating: four-stars

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.

Rating Report
Overall: 4.1

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15 responses to “Book Review #2: Under the Paw – Confessions of a Cat Man by Tom Cox

  1. Ohhh I didn’t know the difference. Thanks for clearing that up. πŸ™‚ I wanted to read a lot of non-fictions this year as well so you and I are off to a good start. Having just read Trevor Noah’s memoir, I’m sure I can scrounge up some more off my TBR.

    I don’t know who Tom Cox is but I like that he talks about his precious cats and how they made an impact in his life in one form or another.

    • I didn’t either! I decided to look it up as I wasn’t sure what tag to put on my post (very important things, those lol) I went through one of my bookcases the other day and discovered so many memoirs/autobiographies that I haven’t read o_O

  2. This sounds like a fun book. I might have a problem with his indoor/outdoor cat thing too.

    I’ve worked with shelter animals most of my adult life and I tend to have a hard time reading about them without getting irritated with some people’s views on things like that. But I can overlook it most of the time if that’s not the focus.

    Karen @For What It’s Worth

    • I think he only said it once, but it really stuck in my head because I was offended by it :/ oh man I can’t imagine working at a shelter, I’m such a sook I’d just want to take them all home (a problem I had when choosing our current cats, if my Mum hadn’t been there I would have arrived home with at least five of them).

  3. I followed him for the longest time on Facebook. That’s frustrating about the lifestyle. As an animal rescue owner I’m an advocate for indoor kitties. It’s just safer and most have no problem with it. Mine are inside kitties. I do have one escape artist but she sticks to the deck and comes in quickly every few months she does make it outside. Like she has one of those “oh wait, nature” moments and rushes back in. Ha!

    • I also think indoor is best, there’s a few local councils here that have cat curfews or don’t allow outdoor cats at all because of the impact on local wildlife. It always baffles me that people let their cats roam the streets at all hours, we had a couple of cats (not ours) fighting in our backyard last week :/

      Haha our boy cat is an escape artist, he used to try to bolt all the time, but would get outside and wouldn’t know what to do with himself. He got his tail caught in the door and degloved it a few months back, and that has calmed him down considerably (his tail is also an inch or two shorter than it was).

  4. I didn’t know what the difference was either, I just assumed they were one in the same. I seen the cover and thought it must have been a Sabrina The Teenage Witch Spin off about Salem. I’m hoping this one might be a comedy as well as a memoir but it sounds like it might be more suited to cat people actually. I love animals but I’m a dog person. I love animals featured in books but funny observations. I swear that’s Salem on the cover though. Brilliant review Bre, looking forward to seeing what you think of the rest of the series <3

    • I had the same thought when I first saw it! It’s definitely suited to cat people, it’s mainly about what his kitties get up to and their ability to always surprise him with their weirdness πŸ™‚

  5. I had two indoor Persians for many years. They are an indoor cat or you are in for trouble, lol. This books sounds interesting. Thanks for the reminding what the difference between memoir and biography πŸ™‚

    • Oh wow, were they total fluffballs? Our vet told us last time she thought our Tabby would be a menace if he were an outdoor cat (he was trying to claw anything that passed his cat carrier at the time) he is so clumsy though, he’d probably just be a menace to himself πŸ˜›

  6. I know both autobiographies and memoirs were non-fiction, but didn’t know the difference. It sounds fun how this book is about his cats! I read a non-fiction book about a pig last year, I guess that also would fall into the memoir category then? I always like reading about pets in fiction books, so I can imagine a non-fiction book about them would be enjoyable too. Great review!

    • Oh a pig? That sounds fun! I think that would be a memoir…everyone seems to use the terms interchangeably, which made me wonder if they’re meant to be different!

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