We had been looking forward to reading Felix, the Railway Cat, by Kate Moore, for quite a while, and it turned out to be every bit as good as we’d hoped. So we are very happy to bring you this brief review today.
A tradition of railway cats
There’s a long tradition of railway cats in England, so it’s maybe not so crazy that the staff at Huddersfield Station decided it would be a great idea to get a station cat. (Huddersfield, for our fellow clueless Yanks, is a town in West Yorkshire, which, if you’re still clueless, is a bit north of the center of England.) To get this idea past management, they came up with a little story about having seen a mouse in the office. What do you do when you’ve seen a mouse? You hire a four-legged “pest controller,” of course.
And so a tiny black-and-white ball of fur arrived at the station and proceeded to get just about everyone there wrapped around its little paw. They named the kitten Felix. A trip to the vet revealed that “he” was a “she,” but no matter; the name stuck.
What does a station cat do all day? Well, she does her patrols around the platforms and other places. She hangs out by the bike rack. She has been known to catch the odd mouse. She delights visitors. She deals with pigeons. She naps in inconvenient spots. She accepts treats, though we understand from Felix’s Facebookpage that she was put on a diet back in March and isn’t supposed to have treats anymore. Poor Felix!
It’s a full life. Well, you know, other than that diet thingy.
More than a cat
But the story told by Kate Moore is about far more than the antics of one cat. It’s also about how that cat totally transformed life at Huddersfield Station, how she changed the lives of the humans around her. Cats do that, you know, so cat stories always end up being about more than the cat. Felix is also a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the life of a railway station, which we found really fascinating. Huddersfield Station is quite a busy place, serving over 5 million passengers in 2015/16, and we enjoyed learning about how the station works almost as much as we enjoyed reading about Felix.
|The entrance to Huddersfield Railway Station. This is part of Felix's domain.|
Photo by Richard Harvey (Own work) [CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons.
We think there’s nothing better than a cat story well told, and Felix certainly is that. This book is a delight from cover to cover. The story of cat, station, staff, and passengers is woven deftly together in a way that consistently had us saying, “Just one more chapter…” And perhaps best of all, Felix is still the railway cat at Huddersfield Station (she’s been promoted to senior pest controller now), so there’s no wrenchingly sad part to sniffle through. There are sad moments, touching moments, uncertain moments (life is like that), but Felix comes through it okay.
Our favorite part involves a chimney, and that’s all I’m going to say about it.
A note on the "Paws Up" system: Miss C gives either one or two paws up. One paw is for a good read; two paws is for a great read. She never gives three or four paws because that would require her to lie on her back...and Miss C does not do that!