It’s been a while since reading bedtime stories to my children featured as part of the daily routine, and I’m more of a dog person myself, so I didn’t think there would be much in Judith Kerr’s Mog the forgetful cat to appeal to me.
I’ve never quite figured what it is that seems to divide the population so firmly into dog and cat lovers. Why is it that some of us prefer the loyalty, obedience and desire for companionship that’s displayed by most canines, while others go for the aloof independence of cats?
Having been house servant to a retired greyhound for the last four years, I’m probably biased. He requires little apart from a couple of twenty minute strolls each day, two portions of food and somewhere to sleep. Greyhounds certainly know how to sleep. Ours must snooze for at least eighteen hours a day. On the plus side, this four-legged footwarmer is great on chilly winter evenings, and he’s always pleased to see us when we return from the shops.
My experience of cats is more limited. One friend’s moggy, who he assures me is a delightful companion, disappears the moment other humans appear, while I’ve yet to see the two cats belonging to another friend. My wife has been feeding an apparently feral cat for the last few years, but despite its clearly desperate need for food, this creature refuses to come anywhere near it if we are in the vicinity.
Judith Kerr’s Mog is the sort of cat even ardent dog fans such as myself would be happy to welcome into their home, and not just because of the warm and appealing illustrations. Mog may be forgetful, but she’s been much-loved by her family and readers for more than forty years.
Despite her age, the appeal of characters like Mog is timeless. So while a burglar (in stripey shirt, naturally) enjoys a cup of tea after being arrested, and there are precious few signs of the modern world like mobile phones or computers, the absence of such details isn’t going to spoil any child’s enjoyment.
For balance, I should also mention Rob Biddulph’s `Odd Dog Out’. Aimed at younger children than Mog, its charming rhymes and bright illustrations contain the message that it’s important for children to be themselves. It’s a lesson that cats have already learned…