My Sad Cat Twitter account, and later discovered that his other accounts, including the one under his own name, are equally charming. After quite some time of freely enjoying his writing and his cats, I decided to throw a little money down on his first cat book,Under the Paw: Confessions of a Cat Man (2008).
Now, it is no secret that I love cats. Lovelovelove cats. I always have. Cats have been my "thing" since I was a little kid, and if you spend more than half an hour with me, you will probably hear some adorable story about the amazing Fern and Loretta. Even with all that, though, I've never really gotten into people writing about cats. The cute cat in the bookstore that teaches you lessons about how to live your life, the adorable kittens that bring a broken family back together, the everyday cat minutia that I love going over for my own cats -- none of these things have ever appealed to me in book form. (Internet cat videos, on the other hand, are great).
But this book is about as far from a traditional "cat book" as you can get. First of all, Tom Cox is a man. He's also a former music critic and a great writer. While the book follows the journey of him, his girlfriend, and their many cats, it also covers issues like: buying a first house, dealing with eccentric parents, London vs. the countryside, getting along with your neighbors, earning a living, real estate nightmares, and just keeping on keeping on. And it's great! Cox has a natural writing style and a keen sense of humor, particularly in cat-related anecdotes. After seeing so many pictures of The Bear, Ralph, and the rest of the gang on Twitter, it was wonderful to hear more about where they came from and how their personalities evolved.
I could do without most of the jokey little listy interstitial chapters (which almost seem stuck in to gratify the traditional "cat book" crowd), but they aren't a deal breaker. If you like cats, are in your late 30s/early 40s, or just enjoy good writing, this is a good one to check out. Men who love cats should particularly pick this one up. I'm adding the sequels to my "to read" list for sure!