James Herriott’s Cat Stories

It is true, cats can be both fluffy and cute, but these creatures are also fierce, strong, lightning fast, and they have amazing survival skills and a toughness and tolerance for pain, starvation, and harsh weather conditions that few humans get anywhere near.

In other words, cats can be more like warrior-monks than decorative pillows for the bed. Also, they can be an author’s best friend.

A man who does cats justice is Alf Wight, the British veterinarian better known under his pen name, James Herriot.

Wight met his wife Joan in 1941, and “after years of listening to Alf relate the amusing tales of his days in the dales attending to animals, it was his wife that finally pushed him into putting pen to paper.” Wight bought a typewriter and each night, while watching television, he would type out a chapter. During one such session, he discovered his pen name: Birmingham City’s Jim Herriot – the footballer – caught the typing veterinarian’s attention, and from then on, he used the name James Herriot when his stories were published.

These tales can mainly be found in a series of books on veterinary life in the North Yorkshire farming community. In the U.S., his books were usually published in omnibus editions (All Things Bright and Beautiful, All Creatures Great and Small, All Things Wise and Wonderful), but also as they were originally published in the U.K. (The Lord God Made Them All, and Every Living Thing). They are captivating books – filled with a wide range of emotions and events – and stories about cats can be found throughout Herriot’s veterinary writings. But readers who want to read about cats only can focus on the compilation James Herriot’s Cat Stories.

In Herriot’s days as a young veterinarian, these animal healers’ main focus was on the big farm animals that were the financial backbone of the farm. But Herriot was ahead of his time in a way, as he took a keen interest in smaller animals, such as cats and dogs, and this interest may have helped ensure his books a long shelf life. And it helps that Herriot is such a strong writer and storyteller. He is never overly sentimental but he is compassionate, and both the animals and humans are multifaceted and complex. And the cats, well, they may not always love him back – in fact, his suspicious behavior can be quite off-putting to them – but no matter: James Herriot loves them anyway, and his love for the creatures and the country is felt on every page.

Find and reserve this book in our catalog.

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