Squirt the SomaliHi Squirt, having read your amazing book – Reservoir Cats – I am very honoured and privileged that you have graciously given up some of your very precious time to answer a few questions for the good people who subscribe to the Mewsletter.

So, have you always wanted to be a writer? 

Well Pauline, first of all thank you very much for your kind comments about my book, I’m so glad you enjoyed it.  It’s lovely when one’s efforts are appreciated and I am more than happy to take the time to write a regular column for your lovely readers.  

As you know I think a cat should be ambitious and I always like to try and expand my huge repertoire of talents.  I am a warrior, teacher, advisor on the very best care of felines and so much more besides.  Although I am a modest, unassuming fellow I thought it was only right that I should share the benefit of my knowledge and experience with the world and so had been considering putting some of my valuable time aside in order to follow a writing career.  Plus it gives me something worthwhile to do when the weather is bad.  Other career moves I am looking at include a move into the world of TV advertising.  If pushed I could be persuaded to pose for a calendar, especially if it was in aid of a feline charitable cause since I do realise that not all cats are as fortunate as myself.

Being a Somali mix did you feel you had just that bit more knowledge to impart to your readers/followers?

Well this is an interesting question, the answer to which is “not really”.  Being a well bred cat does not necessarily mean that I know anything out of the ordinary.  All I can tell you is that it makes me feel that readers may be interested in me and my life, opinions and so on in the same way that lots of people are interested in celebrities.  I thought it was best I tell my own story in my own words before the likes of ‘Hello!’, ‘Reveal’ and (shudder) the gutter press begin to take an interest and start printing nonsense about me.  And by the way, I am a Somali Variant and most definitely not a ‘Mix’.  Or to put it another way I am a front door cat, not a tradesman’s entrance moggy.

(Whoops, that’s me told. Sorry Squirt I didn’t mean to offend you. – ED)

Now that you’ve moved house and you’re not near the reservoir any more, life is probably quite different. Will you still write about the adventures you’re having in your new house and will we perhaps have the pleasure of reading a sequel to Reservoir Cats in the New Year sometime?   

Oh definitely.  I’ve been keeping up with my diary and I’m also making lots of notes about what to write.  As you say my life is rather different now, I am a farmer rather than a custodian of the reservoir and I’ve had to adapt.  I can tell you though, that life here is interesting, cows are quite fabulous and tractors are cool.   In my next book I will be introducing at least two new characters and also telling you about something rather special that has happened although for now that is top secret and very hush hush.  I’ve been having a chat with Staff and we think that it might also be nice to include some true stories about animals that are, sadly, no longer with us.  I can tell you that there will be a chapter called “Dogs Don’t Eat Green Sweets”.  I don’t yet have a date for publication because the book is still very much a work in progress but I will let you know as soon as I can.  The date also depends on how often I can persuade Staff to get on with important things like typing!

You still live with your Mother, Moondance; does this hinder you in your expeditions and adventures? Does she tell you to be home by a certain time or you won’t get any dinner? 

squirt and moondanceYes I do still live with Mother.  I’m lucky in that she is not an old fuddy duddy that would like to spoil my fun.  This is probably because she is still quite young herself; she will be seven on her next birthday.  It’s odd, where we used to live she was not all that adventurous but living here she has become much more of an explorer like myself so we often go on jaunts around the district together.  She doesn’t dictate home time or bed time or anything, she believes in my having the freedom to live as I please.  This wasn’t always the case; until I was about four months old she used to chew my whiskers off to curtail my urges to go exploring!!  She can be a bit bossy sometimes, for instance if she wants the best chair all to herself, so we do argue occasionally but she is really my bestest pal in the whole world. 

You live with an eclectic mix of animals and your human Staff; how do you get on with the horses, the owls, dogs and other creatures?

Yes, quite a few creatures share my home.  The dogs, Pippin and Barney, are an odd couple.  Barney is a Border terrier who loves Mother and me and he is my second bestest pal in the whole world.  Pippin is not my bestest anything; she is a Bearded Collie cross with a deep mistrust of cats.  She seems to be convinced that we are plotting to steal her food and toys all the time.   Pippin is a rescue dog who, in her former life, didn’t even possess a food bowl, so we make allowances for her obsessive behaviour. 

The horses are fab.  I love to go into the stables in winter, sit on a nice warm hay bale and just watch them.  It’s quite restful listening to them chomping away and I quite often get ideas and inspiration for my writing when I am with them.  If I don’t fancy the trek to the stables I just go across the yard to the big shed where there are about a hundred cows to visit.  I’m becoming quite attached to the cows.

The owls live outside in their purpose built pens most of the time but occasionally Staff loses the plot and brings one indoors for a change of scene.  One of them is rather fond of watching Harry Potter DVD’s, the other one is partial to a bit of classical music on the radio. When they are indoors they are frankly a nuisance, we have to be careful that we don’t get swooped on.  My next book will describe them in more detail, the working title for their chapter is “The Spawn of The Devil” and I don’t foresee that changing!  

I also share my life with two humans (Staff and Manstaff) who are privileged to be able to see to all my needs and are both quite super people most of the time.  We do fall out occasionally, for example if I carelessly leave a mouse’s bum in the kitchen, but they are my third and fourth bestest pals in the whole world.  

Is Christmas a special time for you? Do you get any extra treats or is it just ‘another day’ for you and Mother?

Christmas is a special time, yes.  How could it not be with all the extra stuff there is to play with?  Staff is, as we speak, still hunting for decorations that Mother and I broke last year (we hid the evidence)!  For me Christmas is a time for appreciating home and family and for counting your blessings.  Staff is perhaps a little mean with the pressies because Mother and I usually just get one to share but it’s always a toy and we always have fun with it.  And to be fair, we never buy her anything.  We don’t get extra treats as such, but we do get a share of the turkey especially after a couple of days when Staff is getting fed up of it.

If you could be King of the World for just one day what rules/laws would you bring to pass to make life better for animals? How would you spend that day?

Oh that’s a huge question! 

I know there are various laws in place to make it illegal to mistreat or neglect an animal but I’m afraid I would toughen the sentences for anyone convicted.  It seems crazy that a person can be found guilty of cruelty but only banned from keeping animals for a limited time, after which they could be free to commit their vileness all over again.  I would make any ban permanent and I would have supervision in place to ensure that the ban is complied with.  I would also impose a fine, half of which would go directly to an animal charity.

I would make it illegal to sell Toy Mousies.  Under my reign they would be free to all cats with Toy Mousie distribution points being placed at each end of every thoroughfare and public highway in every town and village in the realm.

If I were King I would ask my political advisors to look into the feasibility of making insurance compulsory for animal owners but I do appreciate that it would have to be affordable.  Perhaps in my ideal world there would be a National Health Service for pets, the owners making contributions like they do for themselves.   Of course this would mean registration for all animals but since horses have to have passports, birds of prey need the correct paperwork and farmers must keep accurate records of all their livestock I think this would be entirely possible.  I would reintroduce the dog licence, introduce one for cats and small pets and use the proceeds to administer the register.  It might not be easy but that would be the Civil Service’s problem and not the King’s!

And how would I spend my day as King?  Well I think I would spend some of it meeting my subjects and then I might go for a bit of a hunting trip in my favourite field before having an hour or so by the fire with Barney or in the best chair.  Then I would go and visit the cows or the horses and I might spend the evening catching up on a bit of writing with Staff.  On the other hand I might look over her shoulder while she reads The Daily Mews!  In short, my day as King would not be very different from all my other days, my life is quite enjoyable just as it is!  

If you had three wishes to spend on anything you wish, what would you wish for?

  1. I would wish for all animals to have a life as happy, comfortable and fulfilling as my own.  
  2. I would wish for winter to only last for a fortnight so that it would be spring for about six months of the year.
  3. I would wish that Staff would cease her irritating habit of grabbing things I have caught and brought home.  If I look the other way for even a fraction of a second she swipes my trophies and feeds them to the owls.  

Thanks Pauline, for posing such interesting and thought provoking questions.  Staff and I have enjoyed discussing the answers and I do hope your subscribers enjoy reading them.

Your friend,

Squirt.

Thank you so much for your time, Squirt and thank you for agreeing to write a monthly column for the Daily Mews readers/subscribers. Having read your book, I, for one, am really looking forward to reading all about your new adventures. 

And you can read Squirt’s first column by clicking on this link:

 

 

 

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