Book Review of Tom Cox’s The Good, The Bad and The Furry

By Ruth (Monty’s Mom)

Through the miracle of the Internet (more specifically Facebook) I become aware of an excellent author from the UK, Tom Cox. He has written three books about his cats: Under the Paw, Talk to the Tail and most recently, The Good, The Bad and The Furry. The titles alone are enough to get the attention of any cat lover, but on his Facebook page entitled “Under the Paw” Cox has posted excerpts from his books. Reading these brief snippets will leave the true cat lover wanting more. At least that’s what happened to me. It took awhile before the book was available outside the UK. I found myself in the frustrating situation of learning more and more about this touching, funny book about cats but being unable to get my hands on a copy!

Book review of The Good The Bad The Furry

Photos via Tom Cox’s Facebook page: Under the Paw.

I finally did, in the form of a Christmas present from my husband. The star of the book is an eighteen year old black cat named The Bear, who always looks sad. Whether he really is or not, we probably can’t know, but his eyes not only look sad, they seem to be looking into your inmost soul.

It is as if he is asking, “Can you tell me why I am a cat, please?” Why does The Bear look so sad? Cox attempts to answer that question with many humorous statements, some pretty far fetched and some that seem almost possible when you look into The Bear’s mournful little face.

Other feline characters include Ralph: a handsome cat who announces his presence by meowing his own name, loudly. Shipley: no less vocal, he actually swears at his humans in angry, insulting outbursts, but all is forgiven if you turn him upside down and rub his belly. Roscoe is a kitten, the newcomer to the group, which also includes feral cats, neighbor’s cats, the author’s parents’ cats, and a toad who lives in a shoe. You just have to read the book.

I wanted to recommend this book to readers of PoC because it tackles many of the issues Michael and contributors to PoC enjoy writing about, including dealing with other cats coming in through your cat flap. I remember Michael writing about this not so long ago (here’s a picture of the tabby cats he used to feed). Elisa, another contributor to PoC, wrote once that she feels that all the cats of her past eventually come back to her.

I get the feeling that this actually happened to the author’s parents. This special cat from his childhood who may have found his way back to them, reincarnated as a fluffy white kitten: Monty. How can you beat that? The best cat from his childhood was named Monty.

But I digress. The book also deals with the death of a cat, living with an elderly cat, how cats get along in a multi-cat household and adopting a kitten. I found The Good, The Bad and The Furry to be very well written. It made me laugh, but it also made me think. As a reader from the USA, it gave me a nice glimpse into the world of cat caretaking in Britain.

PoC certainly provides that also, but it was very pleasant to sit down and read an entire book about UK cats and their human servants. I recommended this book to a former student and her mother and then felt a little funny about doing that. She’s actually in college now, so I’m sure she is ready to handle the references to feral cat testicles (to remove or not to remove them) and there are a few actual swear words in the book. Although Shipley certainly gets a few good ones in, my favorite is the author’s father warning his son loudly to be on guard against “FOOKWITS AND LOONIES.” And NUTTERS, you can’t forget about the NUTTERS. Good fatherly advice, I daresay, which we all would do well to heed!

I highly recommend The Good, The Bad and The Furry, and look forward to reading Tom Cox’s other books. I would be surprised if I am the only visitor to PoC who has read this book. Comments are welcome. What was your favorite part of the book?

Ruth and Monty (who is sad because it is only 8 degrees outside)

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Book Review of Tom Cox’s The Good, The Bad and The Furry — 10 Comments

  1. Oh, Ruth, you are wonderful! I truly enjoyed this(as I do every little morsel that you write!) I have not purchased a new book in years, which is about to change. This sounds like a pure pleasure to read. As for Monty, well, what can I say. You sure know how to choose’em. How did Monty come to have his name, again? Please refresh my memory. 🙂 FWIW, I’ve been wishing that I could hear you sing that Moggie Fa-la-la song–it’s been on my mind!

    • Thanks, Caroline!
      My sister named Monty since I am absolutely terrible at naming felines. She, on the other hand, is quite good at it, perhaps through practice. She names her automobiles. Her college junker was named Suzy. Her current car is Venus, I think. She even names appliances. I just read on her Facebook page that “Jessica” stopped working. That’s her clothes dryer.

      So I had this little black kitten made comfortable in a box in my front room and I pondered the problem of what to name him and came up with Snowball, since he’s all black it would be like an opposite of what you would expect thing. Dreadful.

      It was a nice day, Snowball seemed content in his box, so I went hiking. I was walking on a sandy path not far from the shores of Pike Lake, talking to my sister (at work) on the phone telling her to come into my apartment when she got home and check out the newest addition to our family. “I don’t know what to name him though.” Immediately, without even a pause to think it over, without having met him, she said, “Why don’t you call him Monty?” Of course it was perfect.

  2. I think I would really like this book. I checked Barnes&Noble and they don’t have it.
    I haven’t had a chance to check out Amazon or others yet, but I will.

    • You can’t buy it off the shelf in the US. The only place you can get it is Amazon. They will ship it to you from the UK and they do the conversion from pounds to dollars to you. It takes awhile to get here. My Christmas present was a couple of days late. I don’t care. At least I got it! That was driving me crazy when there was no way to get it here, but I kept reading about The Bear on Facebook and just wanting to read a whole book about him.

  3. It does sound a very good book but I haven’t read it because I always worry that books about cats will have sad parts in. I love reading, but if I start even an ordinary novel and someone ill treats a cat or a cat dies in it, no matter how good the story is I can’t read any more.
    It could be because I’ve seen so much in real life but maybe I will read this book Ruth as you recommend it so highly.

    • He tempers the sad parts with such humor that you will still like it. No cats are mistreated. One cat does die, but from old age, and isn’t one of those listed above.

  4. I have not the read the book. I get the impression that it is a story with a message. I am better at reading instructional books – encyclopaedias that sort of thing. I am not good at reading novels. It does sound like an excellent cat book, though. Thanks a lot for the review, Ruth.

    • I think you would like this book, Michael, because it is non-fiction and deals with so many of the same issues we raise here at PoC. It is also very well written and funny besides.

    • Instructionals? Encyclopedias?
      Really, Michael?
      You crack me up!
      You just can’t shake off that “stuffed shirt old fart” image you keep putting out here!
      Not an insult; just my thoughts.
      To me, you don’t fit that description at all.
      You’re intelligent, vibrant, imaginative, and progressive.

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