When Push Comes to Shove PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 19 February 2012 13:49
Pushkin and his green eyes

Sometime during the Christmas break I overheard Johnny talking to Pushkin as the cat lovingly greeted his old friend with his distinctive head butt. 'Hey so it's that time of day is it? When Push comes to Shove'. As I had laughed I remember watching Pushkin twist his head on one side in pleasure and repeat his head butt. It breaks my heart to now report that Push will no longer come to shove anyone anymore.

On the 19th of January I asked Emily, one of the local vets, to come and inject him. She was kind enough to sedate him first before giving him the heart-stopping drug and he died in my arms. He had lost a great deal of weight over Christmas and his blood tests showed that his creatinine and urea levels were all raised and on that final morning he was clearly visibly distressed. Michael helped me perform this awful act by saying that he was sure now the time was right. Now it would be cruel to keep him going on. After I had phoned the vet and made the arrangement for him to be put down Pushkin suddenly took it into his head to go out into the garden. He raised his head and wailed in his hight pitched almost girlie way, about five times in all. I wept for his distress. Did he know? Was it pain? Was it confusion? Perhaps all of these things.

After the three remaining cats had sniffed him and licked him goodbye (it is important that they recognize he is dead so they don't go out looking for him) we buried him in the rose garden above the pond and put two large boulders over his rather shallow grave so that marauding foxes don't disinter him and then it went cold and wet and I kept thinking about him being out there in the cold dank soil and not being with us inside in the warmth where he belonged.

Two nights later, on the 21st January, something most disconcerting happened and this is what I wrote in an email:

'Such a strange thing happened last night. It gets dark here at 4.30 which is when the hens go in and all the day birds roost - the blackbirds are the last to roost and you hear their final territorial calls at around 5pm. Last night it was wild and rainy and the wind was howling down the chimney making the fire roar up and Titus and Fannie were lying on the sofa next to me and Michael was pottering about the place. (Gilly was up in my study under my desk, she has hardly moved except to chase the other cats and to eat since Pushkin died). Suddenly we heard tap-tap-tap, tap-tap-tap, tap-tap-tap out in the conservatory. It went on for a good half hour and by this time I noticed on my watch that it was 7.30 so it had been dark now for a good two and a half hours. Michael went outside to look and couldn't see anything. He came back in. By this time Titus and Fannie were standing up with eyes wide and whiskers forward in reaction to the noise although they didn't leave the sofa, but they were quivering with curiosity. It continued and then suddenly Michael shouted quick quick come and look. And there down on the ground outside in the balck night was a small Great Tit jumping up and down just banging its beak against the window, over and over again. It made me burst into tears and when I sobbed that I thought it was Pushkin trying to get back inside it made Michael cry as well. We turned out all the lights (although Michael wanted to let it in till I pointed out that three cats against one tit wasn't very fair) and after the house was dark the noise stopped and the bird went away. This morning we looked to see if we could find a body (in case it had hit the window in the storm) but there was no sign of a tit anywhere except the usual ones on the bird feeder.'

Why this is a weird happening is that Pushkin was born on 21st January and so the night that this happened would have been his elevent birthday had he lived to see it.

When I told my friend Kate that we had had to have Pushkin put down she wrote me these healing words: 'In tears I remind you that you have just given The Last And Greatest Act of  Love' which helped me no end at a vulnerable moment, because even when you know it is probably right you still wonder if you should perhaps have waited another week, or tried some other treatment etc. And she then went on to say 'Harry may be on duty at Heaven's Door as this is his week, if he is, Pushkin will be O.K.' Harry was her cream pointed Siamese who died in 2001 and whom I wrote about in The Coach House Cats. He left a jagged rock in her heart which she reckons has now turned into a pearl.

Now, on 19th February, Michael and I have missed and still miss Pushkin more than I can easily say. He was the gentlest, the least troublesome and the most beautiful of the four cats. He was graceful to a fault, he was sleek, he was elegant, he was affectionate and had a purr to die for.  And in his calm tranquil way he ruled the roost we now realise. Oh Pushkin, I ache for you from the very depth of my soul.

Pushkin in the bath

I realise now, more than I did when he was alive, that he was the PEACEMAKER. He it was who allowed Gilly so much and no more of her bad behaviour, so she would be allowed to beat up Titus once, but any more of her bad behaviour and Pushkin would chase her, playfully, and clock her with his front paw. This she understood and then she would desist.  Now he is gone she chases the two remaining cat unmercifully and Titus is suffering badly. I know she is grieving Pushkin as are the other two and I don't know what the final outcome will be. I try to love them all and to comfort them but it is not a happy household at the moment sadly.

However let my final words be an enormous THANK YOU to God and to all those who made is possible for Pushkin to become part of our life and for being able to love him so much and for his great and gentle love in return. It was a good ten years of life Pushie that we shared together and I will never forget you.

Comments (49)add comment

Sue Edwards said:

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...
OH, how I understand how you feel Marilyn, It does break your heart when you lose a loved fur baby. I know that you feel so awful at having to make that decision, and it is hard to live with. I have felt the same when I have had to make the same decision for my kitties, and it makes us wonder why we keep doing this and having pets, only to be heartbroken when we lose them, but we do it because it is LOVE for them, and what they give in return is so precious. People do say, that when an animal passes from this world, they sometimes come back to tell us they are OK, and not always in animal form, but it can be any creature, so maybe the tit was his way of telling you. Hey Mummy, I am OK and know we will meet again one day. Keep your chin up Marilyn and I send a pray for you and Michael and your other kitties too.
February 19, 2012

Marilyn Edwards said:

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Reply to Sue Edwards
Oh Sue
this reply has just had me in floods, you darling rat! smilies/cry.gif But I never forget that why we have our beloved animals is for the two-way love we share with them, absolutely, and also the pain is only the other side of the sheer joy. I wonder if that little bird was Pushie saying he was ok!
February 19, 2012

Sue Edwards said:

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...
I think it may have been Pushie saying he was OK. I can't remember which book I read it in that animals do return and let you know they are OK, and also send other birds or animals to you. I recently had a wonderful dream about Mitzi. I dreamed I was cuddling her and I could actually feel her in my arms. I awoke and realised it was a dream, and wished it was real.
Keep your chin up Marilyn and let Pushies love go deep into your soul and feel all that love!
February 20, 2012

Heather said:

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So sorry to hear the news
Marilyn, so so sorry to look at your website this evening and hear the sad news about Pushkin. My heart really goes out to you and I am thinking of you and Michael at such a tragic time. May your home be filled with so many memories of a beautiful and noble member of your family, whose passing not only causes your own hearts to grieve, but also many others out there who feel we knew Pushkin from your books. Part of our hearts have been stilled too. And to Fannie, Gilly and Titus as they mourn a very special and gentle soul. Heather x
February 20, 2012

lucy said:

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Pushkin
Sorry to hear that pushkind has passed away, at least he's not suffering anymore.
It's always hard when you lose a much loved pet, I always remember my cat Trixie who died 9 years ago, she gave me a lot of attention and love when I was low or unwell she would soon cheer me up, greet me when came home from school and work.
February 20, 2012

Marilyn Edwards said:

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reply to Heather
Heather your message to us all at the Coach House was so moving, thank you. I just hope that the cats pull through it ok. Gilly misses him and it is making her bully Titus who was closest to him really badly and Titus is hopeless at standing up for herself. He was so gentle and so calming. We miss him terribly. Thank you
February 20, 2012

Marilyn Edwards said:

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reply to Lucy
Lucy thank you for your kind note. I always think that cats give an enormous amount of comfort, they are astoundingly sensitive to tears and they absolutely hate it when their humans have rows with other humans, it always makes me very ashamed when that happens smilies/sad.gif
February 20, 2012

Marilyn Edwards said:

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reply to Kathryn
Dear Kat
we have corresponded and you have been such a comfort, but your email gently asking me how the little fellow was touched a chord, bless you for your caring and thank you
Marilyn x
February 20, 2012

Kathy Arkwright said:

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Kathy
Dearest Marilyn,
Why did I look you up on your website today of all days? It has been so long since we coresponded and I am in floods of tears to hear your very sad news.Why do we give our hearts to animals to tear?? Our son, Paul has just been spending a few days with us and has just left to go back home to Hong Kong so we are all upset too, but obviously not as bad as you. I know you have been through this before and 'they' tell us that it will get better but although the pain lessens it is still there and never really goes away. Hoping God will give you the strength to cope until another little fur baby needs your love.
All my love and prayers, Kathy xxx
February 21, 2012

Marilyn Edwards said:

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reply to Kathy Arkwright
How lovely to hear from you, and how strange it was today you went into the website. Kathy I am so sorry that you are feeling that strange grief one feels when your kids leave you again and somewhere like Hong Kong feels so very far away. We suffer the same thing with one in Melbourne and one in Northern Sweden and others in Christchurch. It is hard hard hard. But hey on the "why do we give our hearts to animals to tear" the answer is because their love is so unconditional and so pure and so absolute and I for one couldn't live without it! While they live it is pure pure joy (well almost all of it!)love and thanks Marilyn
February 21, 2012

Rita Lawson said:

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I am so sorry to hear that you have lost Pushkin. I remember how I felt when we had to have Lucy put to sleep. We still miss her but I would not have been without her for the world.
February 22, 2012

Sue Fallon said:

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Pushkin
Oh Marilyn, words cannot express how sorry I was to hear about Pushkin. I felt as though I knew him and all your other cats.My thoughts are with you and Michael and the other cats. As you know I am no stranger to the grieve that you are suffering and my heart goes out to you. I wept as I read the news. How strange about the bird or maybe not so strange. There are so many things that happen that we do not understand. I hope I shall meet my cats again one day and I hope you will too.

With love and best wishes

Sue
February 22, 2012

Sue Smith said:

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Pushkin
I have been wondering how Pushkin was doing and sadly found out that he has gone. My heart goes out to you all. In time you will get comfort from your wonderful memories of him and the special moments of tenderness you have with your pet when you know they haven't got long. He is in a special place in your heart where his memory will be loved and treasured for ever.
February 22, 2012 | url

Marilyn Edwards said:

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a special combined reply to Rita, Sue Fallon and Sue Smith
Thank you - all - for your lovely comments and they do help so much. Sorry I didn't reply as soon as you sent them, I have been away and just back tonight. I know all of us animal lovers suffer in the same way, it is horrible and the dark side of all that joy, and yes, perhaps the little bird was a message of some kind, who knows and oh yes, I agree, heaven for me would not heaven be without those dear beloved animals being there in some form. Thank you for your love - it helps - Marilyn
February 23, 2012

Jenny Barnes said:

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Pushkin
Oh Marilyn. I just closed The Moon Cottage Cats (volume two) after reading avidly to the end and immediately logged into your website only to discover the tragic news of Pushkin's departing. I am in floods of tears and my heart aches for you all. I have lost dear companions, one after 17 years and one after 10 years and I cry whenever I think of their final days. But along with the sadness I have wonderful, warm memories of the love they shared with me and the distinct personalities each had. I also comfort myself with the knowledge that I was able to make the decision that stopped their suffering, something we can't do for our human companions. In some way that always seems to me to be a small way of saying thank you for the joy and love they bring to those of us lucky enough to share our lives with a cat.
My thoughts are certainly with you through this hard time.
February 26, 2012

Marilyn Edwards said:

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reply to Jenny Barnes
Jenny what a lovely message but how awful for you to find this news so soon after you had first met Pushkin! You are right though that it is a good thing to be able to prevent the final awful days of what would undoubtedly become unbearable suffering, but as the "executioner" you also fret absurdly about whether you should have waited or should you have done it a bit earlier? My sister told me two days ago that her own vet had said to her she had never met anyone who was satisfied they "had got it right". They always think they waited too long or jumped in too soon. But the important thing, as you say above, is holding on to those wonderful warm memories and that precise character, nature that made your beloved animal the way he/she was. For some strange reason the word that surfaces again and again for me to describe dear Pushkin is GRACIOUS. x

February 26, 2012

Helen said:

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so sad, he was such a special cat
Marilyn, I am so sorry and sad to read this - am actually holding back the tears. He was such a beautiful cat and I can imagine he spoilt you with affection.I hope your three cats will adjust to the new situation and Gilly will stop ruling the roost.
March 01, 2012 | url

Marilyn Edwards said:

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reply to Helen
Helen you are a sweetie. I do hope it does sort itself out. A possible solution would be to introduce a new boy into the set up, but it is a terrible gamble as it wouldn't necessarily work and once done (as with Gilly in the first place) the deed is done as they are for life. Am watching the current situation like a hawk and holding my breath. Lovely to hear from you again
Marilyn x
March 01, 2012

Sharon Maddern said:

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Leaving paw prints on your heart
So very sad to learn of the loss of Pushkin, renal failer is devastating & such a roller coaster of a disease to deal with.
I lost two cats last year to the same, my lovely old boy who fought it for years & my beautiful young girl who struggled for only a few months, they went two months apart.
I still have 1 little black boy who was initally suffering the loss of his sister & his elderly role model so of course I wanted to rebuild my family but knew I would be risking the happiness of my remaining cat.
We are now almost a year on & I know I have done the right thing by my little black friend, he was once timid & sufferig from a whole load of stress related problems but is now happy & lord of his own castle.
I can relate so much to what you write here & in your books, the choices, decisions, dilemmas, joys & loss, I too also had strange visits from a blackbird during this time, I thought it was a sign from my dad telling me all was o.k., he also died just months before the cats (sadley he didnt have the choice of euthanasia).
Your books have helped me through some of my hardest times, sharing your cats through your books immortalises them forever, I certainly will remember them alongside my own.
It's true...."cats leave paw prints on your heart". x
March 19, 2012

Marilyn Edwards said:

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reply to Sharon Maddern
Sharon what a wonderful message. How awful for you to have two cats go through renal failure one after the other but what a joyful message of hope all the same, thank you. I was really interested that you settled on not getting more cats and that for your black boy that has been the right decision. I am grappling with that right now because Gilly keeps beating up the other two females and it is a seriously unhappy household. Thank you as well for the lovely things you say about the books, thank you Marilyn x
March 19, 2012

Marilyn Edwards said:

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Oh, Marilyn-----It has been so long since we've been in touch. What a heartbreaker tonight when I went on your site and learned about your beloved Pushkin's death. I immediately thought about your deeply caring comments when I told you in February 2009 about having to put our own little Tofu kitty to sleep. You said to me then, "Cry well, and know that you loved her properly, and that she had a wonderful life." I know that you are feeling exactly this same way about Pushkin now. My love to you, Michael and the rest of your kitty family---and I'll send you a real email soon. I've missed you, my Marilyn Edwards friend.
March 29, 2012

kerry logan said:

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Sympathy x
I am so sorry to read of Pushkin passing. It feels fateful that I looked on here today as it is the second morning I have woken after losing my Peter to Acute Renal Failure. He was 7 and leaves is his brother Jim who so far seems ok. No calling or looking but instead a new confidence.
I feel my heart is breaking and am wracked with guilt that i should have noticed sooner and he would still be here.
I found a wonderful poem that has helped me although peter wasn't old. I feel it sums up all we love about pusses. Here is the link...http://www.simonhuggins.com/uricon/classic/summers_hal/my_old_cat.htm
Much love and may our two headbutters be having a ball wherever they are Xxx
April 09, 2012

Marilyn Edwards said:

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reply to Kerry Logan with my sympathy to you on the loss of Peter
Oh Kerry I am so sorry to hear of Peter's death. It is such a cruel disease (in its incurability) and quite difficult to detect in the early stages but my vet tells me they do not suffer until the last stages - it is uncomfortable rather than painful. I loved the poem from Hal Summers. Do you know this one by Gavin Ewart, it was on the London Underground in the early seventies and is one of the best http://stumbles.org.uk/John/rec/Poems/Cat.html
April 09, 2012

kerry logan said:

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Yes, I saw that poem and wish he could have had another summer. He loved lying around in the heat. He had a blocked bladder. By the time we realised his kidneys were ruined. He was an outdoor boy so no litter tray to monitor. My poor boy must have been so uncomfortable unable to go to the loo but he was normal, if off his food a little until Tuesday. Vet wednesday, Thursday and Friday until we decided there was nothing we could do but end it for him.
Thank you for your words, you have helped me before when I was concerned about the impact of my baby on the boys. They accepted the arrival of the children with disgruntled grace! My now 5 year old is bereft but comforting jimmy who truly seems not to care about the loss of his litter mate. It makes you wonder about the hierarchy and actual relationship between cats rather than the perceived one xx
April 09, 2012

Marilyn Edwards said:

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do siblings really miss their litter mate?
Oh Kerry a blocked bladder sounds difficult. So sorry for you/for him...
When you ask about the relationships between siblings, from my own experience sisters seem mainly to be quite dependent upon each other, but brothers tend not to be, as in groups of feral cats the males are thrown out of the matriarchal set up and have to fend for themselves so it is each male up to himself, so that may be why with two brothers you find they were not so close. Cats of course are not pack animals, as dogs are, so it is different with cats. Certainly if you were to consider getting another cat with your own boy it would definitely be better to get a young female as there is far more chance of that pleasing him, but to be honest he will flourish on his own from the sound of it and for you it is probably far too early to even think of another cat in any form.(But from my own experience also if you were to get another, don't get a Bengal, they are so bad with other cats, fight, fight, fight!) Marilyn xx
April 09, 2012

Marilyn Edwards said:

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PS to your email
I loved Hal Summers poem, which I said before, but what I loved but didn't say was that I loved the way he wrote about his cat dying angry, which was exquisitely cat like and unsentimental...

Yessssss
April 09, 2012

kerry logan said:

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I have of course allowed the guilty thought of another cat to flit into my mind. I have always had two and despite the fact they are not pack animals, I worry about loneliness. Also the Cross, Stills & Nash song 'Our House' has a line in it, 'two cats in the yard' which I love the idea of. I am being utterly selfish of course and maybe should let Jim laze out his days as king of his castle.
I am sorry to hijack Pushkin's story. He and Otto were my favourite of your cats for some reason! Will you add to your brood? Many thanks again, your words have helped a lot x
April 10, 2012

Marilyn Edwards said:

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Ooooh shock horror! Another cat - now there's a suggestion and a half....
Kerry if you do get another, I do seriously urge you to think small and female and then there is a really good chance it will work well for them. How exciting. It will never replace Peter for either of you (although you could both come to love her in her own right) but Jim might really enjoy it. As for me and another, well! France, my illustrator, who sadly has just lost her own gorgeous cat, Grippette, has Laila (who is coincidentally the model for Magnificat, the heroine of my current book) who is a Maine Coone semi longhair queen, who is pregnant and when darling Pushkin died she suggested I might get a boy (to calm down my stressed out girls) from the litter if she has a boy of course, but Michael is reluctant as he is scared of the gamble that it could go wrong and we would have even worse cat civil war than we currently do. So the jury's out on it for the mo.
April 10, 2012

Antoinette said:

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Awww
So very sorry to hear the sad news, Marilyn. It is so hard to let go, to make that decision, even if you know it's for the better. Wishing you, Michael and your 'stressed out girls' peace and much love.
Luckily I also read some good news, what a surprise, can't wait to read Magnificat! I'm a Librarian at goodreads.com and started updating your author page and books info smilies/smiley.gif
April 10, 2012 | url

Marilyn Edwards said:

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reply to Antoinette
Antoinette what a lovely message, thank you so much. We miss him badly. He was such a gentle peacemaking lovely boy. Madam Gilly beats the other two up on a regular basis and as a result they are neurotic and scared of their own shadows, so sad.

But how lovely that you are librarian at Goodreads.com - gosh. Magnificat is going to be delayed until Spring 2012 because I am busy working on a new draft and it is taking me longer than I had intended. But I am scribbling away right now like mad.
love to you and yours
Marilyn
April 11, 2012

kerry logan said:

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It's so.tricky to know what to do re cats and group dynamics. Had a vet friend for coffee today who said that they just want to be alone, top catting so to speak. He made the error of taking home a young female to be a companion to his other 'bereaved' girl. Original.cat now sleeps outside in the rain rather than come in with her new playmate. Girls are more complex it seems. I feels for you.
It's too soon for us at the moment. We need to come to terms with losing Peter and let jimmy settle. He seems ok, keen to turn to food for comfort which has always been a weakness! Xx
April 11, 2012

Marilyn Edwards said:

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to get another kitten or not to, that is the question
Hi Kerry
yes it is always a gamble.It does work better if the genders are opposite, and it especially works with solitary older male cats introducing young female kittens (wonder why that is smilies/smiley.gif?) With my three it is more uncertain whether a young male would enchant Gilly enough to take the heat off the others. It could or it might not. But as for you I understand completely that you are not ready - it is still too raw. Marilyn xx
April 11, 2012

Jill Harrison said:

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Valé Pushkin
Dear Marilyn,
I feel so very deeply for you and the agonising decision you had to make to euthanise your beloved Pushkin. I understand because I have had to do the same for two of my precious little furry friends and each time thought I would die of grief. Because we love our babies so much it is difficult to accept the knowledge that their lives are so relatively short in comparison to our own. We can never be prepared for them to leave us at all, but to have to make the decision to end their lives before nature takes its course is too cruel and more than we should have to bear. However, we do make that final decision if we have to because we love them so much and it is simply out of the question let them suffer. To let them suffer for our own selfish needs would be beyond cruel. You showed your love for Pushkin by ending his suffering. No one can show greater love for an animal than that. The pain and grief diminishes over time until we can bear our loss and remember our beloveds with more joy than tears.
May 13, 2012

Marilyn Edwards said:

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reply to Jill Harrison
Dear Jill
that was a profoundly moving and beautiful message you wrote as one who has gone through it, the pain of ordaining euthanasia. The difficulty is hitting exactly the "right" moment as you somehow always seem to feel regret afterwards that you either jumped in too quickly or waited just that bit too long. I am beginning to heal but I miss him badly. So do the remaining three, especially Gilly and Titus who are still grieving him visibly and now I have behavioural problems and a brilliant woman is helping me out with that aspect. More on that later!
Thank you Marilyn xx
May 13, 2012

Maria said:

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i am so sorry to hear about Pushkin it is so sad and after reading your books it was like i knew him. i also lost a kitten on the 7th of January that i had rescued from one of our South African townships and after having him for only 6 months he was knocked over and did not survive. The heartbreak is unbearable. i feel for you and yours. xx
July 03, 2012

Marilyn Edwards said:

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reply to Maria
Maria thank you so much for your sympathy. We all still miss him greatly, he was among other things, such an amazing peacemaker and now it is WAR amongst the three females and I am having such trouble making Gilly be gentle with them. I am so sorry to hear about your rescued kitten and yes, the heartbreak really hurts, doesn't it, the dark side of the coin that is love? Hope you heal soon and one day can try again perhaps.
July 03, 2012

Pauline Dewberry said:

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When Push comes to Shove
Dear Marilyn I just checked out the link to your website and read your news about Pushkin. I'm so terribly sorry because I had no idea you've been through this sadness. My thoughts are with you and Michael at this awful time.
January 18, 2013 | url

Marilyn Edwards said:

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reply to Pauline Dewberry
Pauline thank you so much for your sympathy. It helps. The other cats are still in a turmoil since his demise and a kitten who started to live with us had to be rehomed, which was heartbreaking, but he would have been killed by Gilly otherwise. Thank you for your thoughts Marilyn
January 18, 2013

kat said:

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Pushkin
hi marilyn

Hope things have now sorted thenselves out with yours, mine are still at war and dont imagine it will get any better now, we just have to compartmentalise them with asbo sleeping in our room and missy in my daughters x x x

Kat x
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