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Originally published in 1957, The Fur Person is one of the most endearing cat stories I’ve ever read. Featuring the true adventures of Tom Jones, May Sarton’s own cat, this little book captures the essence of what a cat is all about in the beautiful prose of this gifted and sensitive writer and poet. The book has been reissued numerous times with different covers.
Prior to choosing Sarton as his person, Tom Jones was quite the cat about town, but as he was tiring of life on the streets, he began his search for a “housekeeper.” “This was to be a systematic search for a housekeeper suitable in every way,” writes Sarton. When he finds a sunny porch, he thinks that perhaps, his search is over. When the two women inside the house he’s chosen (Sarton and her partner, Judy Matlack) offer him some food, his mind is made up. “…the Fur Person bounded up the stairs, and at the very instant he entered the kitchen, the purrs began to swell inside him and he wound himself around two pairs of legs (for he must be impartial), his nose in the air, his tail straight up like a flag, on tip toes, and roaring with thanks.”
As Tom Jones settles into his new home, we follow his adventures as he comes to understand that he has found so much more than just his forever home. He realizes that he is not just a cat, but a Fur Person. “A Fur Person is a cat who has come to love one, or, in very exceptional cases, two human beings, and who has decided to stay with them as long as he lives.”
I’m still partial to the cover of the 1981 edition I own.
This was one of the first cat books I remember reading. It was also my first book by May Sarton, and I went on to read everything she ever wrote. I particularly enjoyed her journals, Plant Dreaming Deep and The House by the Sea, perhaps partially because cats feature in both books. Sarton clearly loved and understood cats.
The Fur Person is available from Amazon.
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Ingrid King is an award-winning author, former veterinary hospital manager, and veterinary journalist who is passionate about cats.