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Tilly: The Ugliest Cat: How I Rescued Her and She Rescued Me [Kindle Edition]

Celia Haddon
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (209 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Tilly has spent most of her adult life in an Oxfordshire shelter, unchosen, unwanted and practically feral. Seeking a distraction from her own troubles, the author and renowned pet columnist, Celia Haddon begins a project to transform Tilly into a household pet. Through Tilly's journey from unwanted and unadoptable cat to adored pet, Celia begins to explore her own inward journey and the way that cats had helped her through the difficulties of childhood and middle age, through to self knowledge. By loving Tilly she found she could love her inner self.

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Product Description

Book Description

A heart-warming narrative that will appeal to cat lovers. The UK remains a nation of animal lovers with 1 in 3 people now owning a cat and the petcare industry is worth GBP2 billion a year. Previous books by Celia Haddon, including 100 Ways for a Cat to Train its Human and 100 Secret Thoughts Cats Have about Humans, have combined sales of 450,000 copies. This true-life story is written by a well-known and respected writer on cat ownership.

About the Author

Celia Haddon was the Daily Telegraph pet agony aunt whose knowledgeable yet sentimental column delighted cat lovers. She has sold somewhere between one to two million books and is an author recognised by bookshops and the general public. Her manual One Hundred Ways for a Cat to Train its Human has sold more than a quarter of a million copies so far and her One Hundred Secret Thoughts Cats have about their Humans has sold 147,000. A cat behaviour practitioner with the Centre of Applied Pet Ethology, she has a B Sc. in applied animal behaviour.

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More About the Author

My latest cat is Toby and his story is told in Toby the Cross Eyed Stray. I adopted Toby to cheer up Ronnie, my husband when he was slowly dying of cancer. Toby was scruffy and ill but now he is handsome and fluffy - though he has 7 missing teeth and acne on his chin! I think his immune system went down when he was starving on the street and he was rescued just in time.
His companion, and my most special cat, is small, brown tortoiseshell, nervous and very loving. In Tilly the Ugliest Cat in the Shelter, I told the story of how I rescued her from 18 months without adoption; and how she rescued me in the darkest moment of my life.
I have loved animals from as far back as I can remember. As a child, I realised that some animals suffered at the hands of ignorant humans. To right this I have published several books about cats. Cats make me laugh. We humans don't really understand them, though. If we did, they would have a happier life.
For 20 years I wrote about companion animals (pets) for the Daily Telegraph. For 12 of these years I was a pet agony aunt and dealt with about 100,000 letters. My aim was to improve animals' lives by giving good information - and, with luck, to make my readers laugh at the same time.
I have also written several daily quotation books, now out of print, and a history of the first English Olimpick Games in 1612 - now republished in Kindle.
Tilly tweets at My former cat George lives on digitally and advises other cats how to train humans at
My websites with useful animal behaviour information are and

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
30 of 30 people found the following review helpful
Once I started reading this wonderful book I simply couldn't put it down. It is a heart warming account of how an ugly and frightened young cat helped her owner through the most difficult time of her life. It is extremely touching. Through Tilly's journey from unadoptable cat to adored and adoring pet, Celia her owner begins to embark on her own inward journey, exploring how cats had helped her whilst facing the difficulties of childhood and middle age. Celia comes to realise that she needs Tilly as much as Tilly needs her.

I have a beautiful cat of my own and know how comforting they can be in times of need, and this is a book for all who have gained solace from a pet. This book will always stay with you.
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70 of 71 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a lovely, well-written book by a determined, thoughtful woman (Celia), who gently wins the trust and love of a little mud-coloured cat.

Tilly is the ugliest cat in the Cat Protection League shelter, where she has resided for eighteen months without being adopted. She is supremely distrusting of humans and cowers away from them, ears flattened to her head and eyes wide with fear; Celia's husband, Ronnie (ever-ready with a bon mot) describes her as being the "colour of sewage".
Celia takes Tilly home with her, to foster her in a normal home environment, in an attempt to rehabilitate her. She initially justifies her actions to herself by considering it dispassionately as a scientific exercise to make Tilly into an acceptable cat for adoption.

As Tilly stubbornly refuses to engage with her, Celia wonders whether she has undertaken an impossible task as her husband's health deteriorates. But what follows is a wonderful story of patience and resilience in the face of (as any cat owner knows) a cat's determination to be what and how it is, doing what it wants to do. Throughout the book there are entertaining asides about other cats and cat owners' experiences which are used to illustrate the author's reasoning. There is also a heart-rending account at the beginning of the book about the author's childhood, which she discloses in an attempt to analyse and explain her character. I found one particular incident, in which Celia describes her farmer father's punishment of her pet cat, exceptionally harrowing.

In summary, this is a "must read" book for cat lovers and those interested in ameliorating cat behaviour; it is also ultimately up-lifting and an explanation of just how much animals can enrich and enliven our lives.
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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A lovely story - and true! 5 July 2012
What can I say? If you're a cat lover - as I will confess to being - then you'll adore this book. Beautifully written, it details a relationship between pet and owner that's every bit as intense and important as between people. A great read. And the most amazing part is that it actually happened.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Bit of a let down 6 Dec. 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I had high hopes for this book... the cat is so cute , although its not the prettiest cat in the world. As the book went on I got more and more frustated with the author seeming to treat having Tilley as an experiment . There was far too much detail about what was planned to be done and not enough about the actual cat .I got fed up with it and struggled to finish it.. I wont be recommending it to any of my family or friends it was far too boring for me.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not a cheery read! 18 Feb. 2014
By Ms. R. L. A. Amelan VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Like many would-be readers of this volume, I am a cat lover and chose this book as a light bedtime read. Celia Haddon is clearly an experienced owner and I thought that I would empathise a little and perhaps glean some new information.

Firstly, I would say that I actually found Tilly quite a pretty kitty, which does say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder but I do sympathise with the difficulties she experienced socialising her. I think that Celia did extremely well here and clearly persevered with her charge.

The book, however, was not just about Tilly. There was much information on the author’s personal life and I had not bargained on reading this. I do truly feel for her in the face of her and her husband’s health issues and I am sure that the cat brought her much comfort, but this made for a less than light read and I put down the book with a slightly heavier heart than I should have done. I even feel sad about having to mention this in a review, for I am sure that I should be a little more empathetic but, no, I really would have preferred the whole volume to be more upbeat.

In summary, if you are buying this book, do be prepared to read about the sad illnesses that beset both Celia and her husband. It is part and parcel of the book even though Tilly’s story is a triumph. For my part, I would have preferred to smile just a little more and you may feel that way too.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars HEART-WARMING - AND NOT JUST FOR CAT-FREAKS 3 Sept. 2012
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I'm not a cat freak; but I do like cats, probably because, for reasons only a cat could explain, they mostly seem to like me; owners often tell me how "privileged" I am. But I would never want to own one, still less read about them. However, this book came up on the Vine programme, which is proving pretty useless to me because they NEVER offer me books on subjects I'm interested in, so I thought, what the heck, or words to that effect, at least I'll have something this time; and ordered it. Pleasingly, I was not disappointed.

As well as a seemingly hopeless cat-freak, and, indeed, thorough-going cat-expert, Celia Haddon is a long-time professional journalist and author; and as we have a right to expect, her prose is limpid, her style engaging, and her story absorbing. I never thought I would say that about a cat biography.

In fact, it's not just a biography of the cover star, there is plenty of revealing autobiography in here as well, alongside brief biographies of other cats who have owned this author, together with sound, practical advice on cat-rescue and cat-management, all strung along the central thread of life with Tilly. The narrative never falters, and interest never flags, and although one can easily imagine that Mrs Haddon, being a thorough-going professional, would have had the working maxim "heart-warming" guiding her fingers along (as being a good money-spinner), she managed to win over this old cynic quite comprehensively.

I should think that any true cat-lover would be gaga about this book, and will need no urging from me to buy it; so my review is directed at those who, like me, would never dream of buying a book about a cat; If you simply like a good story, you will not be disappointed.

I can't resist noting that Mrs Haddon's cats tweet. (And blog). I'm not going there...
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