The cat has an exotic story in human history, legend and literature. From the most ancient of times it was revered as a goddess (or god) then despised as a devil during centuries of persecution, finally emerging as playmate, companion and enigma. It has been a curious journey. This affectionate feline biography tells the tale of the great cats, from the Egyptian Mau or the enchanted felines of old Irish legend to cats of magic and make-believe, such as Graymalkin, or the cat that voluntarily shared the Earl of Southampton's captivity in the Tower of London. There are some cats who became a little too curious for their own good, such as the kitten in whose defence the poet John Keats had a fight with a butcher-boy of Hampstead; the delinquent cat who gnawed the strings of her master's lute; and the two comforting cats that licked the tears from Florence Nightingale's cheeks. We also meet cats of bravery and adventure, such as Oscar, a World War II seafaring cat, and Mourka, who risked life and paw to cross enemy lines at the Battle of Stalingrad to deliver important messages.
"A Curious History of Cats" remembers many of the most intriguing and eccentric cat-obsessed people of history, science, art and literature, including Dr Johnson and his beloved muse; Horace Walpole and his noble Maida; Sir Walter Scott, whose constant companion, Hinse of Hinsfield, would wait for a snap of his masters fingers, then rise and lay his head on his master's knee; and Winston Churchill, whose Nelson performed a crucual fuel-saving wartime role as water bottle.