A week or so ago, I was contacted by Mirror Books about reviewing Nick Harding’s ‘A Tale of Two Kitties’. As I’m a cat blogger, cat lover and book lover, I came to the conclusion I was definitely up for this, and a couple of days later received a copy of the book.
Nick Harding is a journalist, ghost writer and – at the start of the book – a self proclaimed felinophobe. I’d not heard of Nick before, and nor do I often read newspapers, so I wasn’t entirely sure what I was letting myself in for, but the cute cats on the cover suggested there would at least be something inside that I’d find myself enjoying.
The tale leads from a lion in the 1970’s peeing on Nick’s older brother, through his short time with Spot the dog and various other pets he never really had feelings for (with the possibly exception of Gary), to falling in love with Cat Lady and Laughology founder and CEO, Stephanie Davies.
Throughout the book I felt a kind of love-hate relationship with Nick. At first I couldn’t understand how he felt so little love for animals, and thought he was completely heartless when he first met Stephanie and she spoke of her cats recent demise. His research and education towards the animals he keeps however, is admiral and I found the book engaging and informative, flipping between biographical and historical content which made me realise he did actually care about animals welfare.
Alvin is Nick’s first cat and while he is sceptical at first, he develops a deep bond with the kitty. Alvin reminded me a lot of my cat, McLaren with his cheekiness and mystery solving. Alvin helps Nick to realise how cats can be company, not just pets and through their time together I found myself laughing in recognition and sobbing with sadness – I grew ridiculously attached to Alvin in the 100 or so pages in which I glimpsed into his life. I cried my eyes out when Alvin disappears, leading eventually to the arrival of Cat number 2, Barry.
Barry is a Bengal kitten who is extremely playful. I saw a little of McLaren in him as well and had to smile at his reaction to the house in the first few days – McLaren too came into the house and decided it was his right away, leaving Laser to wonder what on Earth was going on. Barry becomes the final hook to Nick’s cat loving days and the journalist even takes him to show at LondonCats!
One of the things that struck me most about Nick’s times adopting the two kittens were that they were a lot different my cats adoptions. Nick’s feelings about taking kittens from their Mother’s were something I didn’t have to deal with – McLaren was an orphan and Laser’s mother couldn’t wait for them to be gone! It was realising how terrible he felt separating the cat families, that made me realise that Nick did in fact care for animals, and made me warm to him more than I first had.
The book itself is written well, keeping you guessing what is going to happen next while delving into the minds and lives of domestic cats. It is an entertaining read for both cat lovers and cat sceptics, written in the form of a long article with historic tid-bits and educational snapshots. The reader not only sees into the life of Nick and his cats, but also cat- fanciers, breeders and other cat enthusiasts from around the world.
A Tale of Two Kitties had me switching between shock, belly-laughing and sobbing. The gorgeous photos that feature in the centre of the book help to bring the adventurous kitties to life in your mind and you begin to love them as though they are your own. I really enjoy this read, and would recommend it to anyone who loves cats or would like to read more into how adopting a cat for the first time can be both challenging and wonderful. I’m definitely going to recommend it to my friends at the Cat Cafe book club!
My only question after finishing the book, is how on Earth Nick Harding managed to write it without Barry adding in his own little pieces as he wandered over the keyboard!