I found this little beauty in one of my favourite antique shops while on holiday. (Old Bridge Antiques -Bideford) I dug it out from the bottom of a pile of random home reference books as the title immediately struck me as humorous (deliberate or not); there was something all too simple and amusing about it- as though it was for somebody who had never heard of such a creature. I also felt sure that it was going to be incredibly insightful, figuring that it would tell me all I would ever need to know about those wondrous creatures.
From a technical point of view, the book has a very formal and informative tone yet also handily incorporates Jenkins’ opinions on the facts he is providing:
“…the cat’s own attitude is eminently sensible…How unlike the dog and the horse is the cat in this respect. The dog’s pathetic servility is, like the poor before the days of the welfare state, always with us…”
I especially enjoyed how the author managed to seamlessly incorporate a prediction of the future:
“The most elementary form of love for the cat is summarised by the nursery rhyme with which children once grew up (do they now, I wonder, or are they taught couplets about baby spaceships and lonely sputniks?)”
I admire Jenkins’ sure confidence that the future ‘space’ generation will be reading his book- let’s face it, it will likely still be the leading authority on cat information. (A cat bible, if you will.)
Beyond the wildly amusing introduction chapter, there are pages and pages of glorious photographs of cats which have been given witty captions (at which my Granddad would guffaw); some of which I have to say from a strictly 2013, digital age, point of view, aren’t entirely illustrative of their descriptions.
I suspect that all these cats were seen within a 2 mile radius of his home.
But this is a small quarrel and I have easily disregarded it and accepted this book for the masterpiece of 1950s publishing that it is. I shall treasure it and eventually use it to educate my space-grandchildren.