Monday, January 27, 2014

Cat Stories by James Herriot

Cat Stories by James Herriot is a collection of short memoir pieces in which the veterinarian cum author shares stories from his professional and personal experience.  Interspersed throughout the book are watercolor paintings by Lesley Holmes.

Of the ten stories, three deal with the same pair of cats while the other seven stand alone, each telling a different story about a different cat.  Some are domesticated while others are feral but all are so beautifully described that each is unforgettable.  There is humor in some, pathos in others, but each and every one is a delight.  I honestly can’t say that I liked one more than any other, that is how strong this collection of stories is. 

Herriot has a wonderful way of sharing the unique qualities of the cats themselves as he describes the curious relationships the different people have with them.  Yes, there is a “crazy cat lady.”  There is also a reclusive man who shares his peculiar home with a cat that has come to mean a lot to him and another who is sick and dying but most concerned with his beloved pet.  Herriot and his wife themselves are adopted by a pair of cats.

The beautiful watercolor drawings by Holmes are the perfect complement to the charming stories.  I wanted to read this because I’m thinking of giving something by the author to our niece and our granddaughter.  I wasn’t sure if the stories would be too sophisticated but I think they are perfect for older children (Isabelle will be 9 and Brianna 7).  In fact, I was so happy with this book, I’ve decided to read Herriot’s other books, as you can see from my currently reading books in the sidebar.  I’ll definitely be giving this book to both the lovely girls. 

And you know how I said I am committed to reading all of the unread books on my bookshelves?  Well, we’ve had this book on my bookshelf for nearly 20 years (!) and I can’t believe it took me this long to read it.  I wish I’d read it sooner.   


  1. It rings a bell! I think I read it at school, took a book from my friend who wanted to be a veterinarian. I remember liking it very much, although I wouldn't have remembered it if you hadn't written about it! Thanks for stirring my memory! :)

    1. The author published several books and was hugely popular when I was growing up. I had his books that were written for adults and I know I read them but I remember nothing about them. I must have liked them because that was the reason I bought this one book for my son. I don't even know if he read it. I'll have to ask him when he comes over later today.


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