Felix the Railway Cat – Kate Moore

I’m quite fond of cats. In general. Of course, some days I’m not so fond of my actual cat – there are a number of litter tray and spraying incidents which I’d like taking into consideration at this point – but, on the whole, I’m happy to be a cat person. (Which is not to say I’m anti-dog – I’m quite fond of them too but I know we won’t ever actually have our own). I mean, I don’t have a house full of plates with kittens on or spend all my spare time watching cat videos on Facebook but yes, I quite like cats. And I really love living in Yorkshire – the weather may be a bit wilder than back home in Essex, but there are big hills, glorious countryside, fine breweries, yorkshire puddings everywhere and such wonderful people. Why wouldn’t I love it here? Most of my family are still living in the south so I still get to visit (and see the people I love) but I’m not sure I could live there myself anymore. The reason I mention all this is that, here in Yorkshire, we have a very famous cat…*

Huddersfield is a town in West Yorkshire (allegedly the best of all the Ridings of Yorkshire…) with many claims to fame. It was the birthplace of rugby league (the northern version of the game, less posh than the union version played in the Six Nations), Harold Wilson and James Mason. At the time of writing Huddersfield Town FC is doing jolly well in the F.A.Cup, possibly helped by the long-term support of local boy made good Patrick Stewart. Oh, and it has a rather good bookshop. But, although the town’s Wikipedia entry mentions its fine railway station facade (admired by Pevsner and Betjeman), there is one glaring omission – where is the railway cat? For the full story you’ll need to turn instead to Kate Moore’s lovingly written biography…

felixIf you are more into literary biographies or the lives of great historical figures then this book may be a bit of a change for you. I was initially a little put off by the slightly intrusive descriptions of all the human characters involved but, to be honest, this is mostly a book about Felix and the cat descriptions are all pretty spot on. This is not to say that the people are not important to the book – the main message is that Felix is an important part of the team at Huddersfield station and that, in a good team, everyone has a role to play and everyone is valued. The story follows the initial slightly madcap idea to get a station cat, through to Felix’s early days on the platform (including the slightly awkward moment, post-naming, when the vet confirms that Felix is not a male cat but is, in fact, a queen), her attempts to thwart the local crow population and on to social media stardom. It is a cheering book to read (unlike most internet stars not a whiff of scandal has been attached to our feline heroine’s name) although it was not without its sadder moments. And, as those of us who have cats know, there are plenty of amusing incidents and heart-in-the-mouth moments to report too.

Now, excuse me. I think I need to plan a little jaunt over to Huddersfield on my next day off. By train, of course…

Jane

*Nearly as famous as Buxton the Blue Cat who is, presumably, from Derbyshire…

 

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