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4.4 out of 5 stars
Tilly: The Ugliest Cat: How I rescued her and she rescued me
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30 of 30 people found the following review helpful
on 6 July 2012
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
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
on 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
on 6 December 2012
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
Format: PaperbackVine 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
Format: PaperbackVine 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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
First off, I should say that I LOVE cats. I have 4 of my own, all rescued cats, and 2 dogs, 2 guinea pigs (rescued) and tropical fish. I love animals, and when I saw this book, I knew that I was going to adore it. The story of Tilly and Celia has many similarities to my own story with Poppy, one of my cats, who was abused and terrified by humans, and who lived with us for 2 months before she even let us see her!! After many trials and tribulations, she is now a happy, healthy, well adjusted, loving and loved member of our family. Cats are very much a mystery compared to the ease of bonding with dogs. A dog is loving, forgiving, non-judgemental, loving unconditionally. A cat is aloof, temperamental, haughty, funny, playful, and, once you've been accepted by a cat, a very rewarding friend. I love the story of Tilly, and how Celia helped her, and how Tilly helped Celia. It's a very uplifting story, and shows that with time and patience, and of course, love, the most damaged little cat can become confident and comfortable with humans. Cats are sensitive creatures, both to their own needs, and the needs of their 'owners'. It is said that we never really 'own' a cat, that they own us. I think that this is true - if a cat doesn't get what it needs, it will move on until it does. This book has been written with love, by someone who understands cats and their needs. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and wholeheartedly recommend it.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 1 November 2012
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I'm an avid cat lover and have also read a previous book by Celia Haddon, One Hundred Ways For A Cat To Train Its Human :, so I was expecting to love this book. To be honest though I merely enjoyed it, rather than savoring as I'd hoped.

First off, Tilly is not an ugly cat. Even the so called "unattractive" photo of her in the cat home, shows her beautiful and unusual colouring. I would have picked her a heartbeat, but then she shares many similarities with my own nervous tortie!!

I liked reading about Tilly, and her hard road to becoming a happy and healthy pet. There are many instances that are described that will cause cat owners to chuckle and smile ruefully! There are some lovely anecdotes in the book, and many good tips that the reader can pick up and use in their own cat training

However, I did find that much of Tilly's story was overshadowed by the awful personal hardships her owner was going through at the time of her rehabilitation. I'm not adverse to reading about people's difficulties in life, but I wasn't expecting to feel so depressed reading a book about a cat. I also thought the book could have been cut down and shortened. As once Tilly had completed her milestones I began to lose interest in the book slightly, as I was not expecting there to be so many descriptions of medical ailments, hospitals and pills etc.

I think the book will appeal to cat fans as Tilly is an adorable cat, but please be aware that it is also heavily laced with the medical issues of the author and her husband.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I liked this book a lot. If you like cats, or you're interested in animals, you probably will too. It's not silly, soppy, slushy or sentimental. It's a story of (part of) a life told through cats and the author's experience and understanding of them. Plenty in here as well to help understand cats a bit better if they're a mystery to you.

Tilly, however, is not ugly if the photos are anything to go by! Maybe that's me being a cat lover. Tortoiseshells often do make ugly kittens but they turn into beautiful cats and Tilly was 2yrs old and fully grown.

Threaded through this book is also a story about caring and the strain that it puts on people. I often found myself thinking that I wouldn't be able to cope - but as I've been often told: "You just have to carry on". In a very stressful life, animals are often what keep you going. This book illustrates that well.

Unsentimental, yet deeply affectionate, the heart of this story is that of one, small cat and the triumphs and tribulations of winning her trust and confidence. Heartwarming, and a very well-written tale.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
As a cat lover and the owner of a recalcitrant rabbit who sees her aim in life to quickly and efficiently chew every and any electrical cable in the house I was looking forward to this book. I've owned several cats in the past and know how there inherent traits can be shaped to make life easier for both the cat and owner. I was looking for guidance I guess on how to train your cat. I also have friends in Berkeley who help out at a cat protection unit who regularly offer a home to near-feral cats and try to get them more used to human contact. None of the techniques suggested will, I fear, work on the rabbit!

The book covers some of this territory but, as the title suggests, there is also much about the author's trials and tribulations. I didn't find these sections particularly interesting and as such am dropping a star. However, if you like cats and want to understand them a bit better this is a good book that is highly readable.

Just as a final note, Tilly is not ugly at all, having interesting colours in her coat.
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