Terry Pratchett,
The Unadulterated Cat
(Albert Britnell, 1990;
Gardner's, 2002)

Terry Pratchett is, as far as I'm concerned, the funniest writer to ever live, and while The Unadulterated Cat flies far afield of the mythical Discworld universe, it is simply hilarious. You don't have to be a cat lover to enjoy it, but only the cat lover can appreciate the strong current of truth that runs throughout this wildly comical look at the world of our feline friends.

The Campaign For Real Cats, Pratchett tells us, wants to celebrate the dwindling number of Real Cats in the world by helping people identify Real Cats among their modern, Unreal Cat compatriots. To this end, Pratchett goes about describing how to spot a Real Cat in any of its several variations, defines 11 types of cats such as your classic farm cat, boot-faced cat (as Real as they come), arch-villain's cat (always Unreal) and cartoon cats. He offers useful tips on naming cats, describes common illnesses such as impatient feet, gives tips on feeding and disciplining cats, describes common cat games, indulges in the theory of the Schrodinger, time-traveling cat, looks at the cat in history and offers other insightful, highly comical ideas and theories on catness in general. All of these subjects are examined, of course, from the point of the view of the cat. By far the funniest and most insightful section is devoted to the games cats play; the book's worth acquiring for this one section alone.

I should point out the fact that this is in no way a useful guide for current or potential cat owners; this is rollicking comedy from first page to last. Given this point, there are still a number of astute observations that will make cat lovers smile and perhaps even guffaw, for the behaviors Pratchett expounds upon are quite familiar to those sharing their lives with feline friends. Pratchett really captures the cat personality remarkably well at times; for example, he expounds upon the common shifty look cats wear by describing one particular cat as breathing in a manner that suggests it is stealing air with every breath it takes. This book is so insightful and screamingly funny that all Pratchett fans will surely get a big kick out of it. The numerous cartoons of Gray Jolliffe that fill this little book are also excellent, simple yet evocative. The Unadulterated Cat is a short read, mind you, requiring much less than an hour's effort, but it is so good that upon finishing it, you are quite likely to turn all the way back to the beginning and start again or, at the very least, go back to the sections you enjoyed the most and read them once more.

- Rambles
written by Daniel Jolley
published 26 April 2003

Buy it from Amazon.com.