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The Unadulterated Cat by Terry Pratchett

Updated on August 31, 2017

A semi-autobiographical, occasional scientific, guidebook to surviving your cat

The Unadulterated Cat is Terry Pratchett's take on living with those terrifying little bundles of fur known as Real Cats.

The Campaign For Real Cats aims to celebrate the low number of Real Cats that lurk among their Unreal fellows. A short, highly rereadable book, enlivened with evocative cartoons by Gray Joliffe, any cat owner will find themselves cringing. snickering or nodding along.

In The Unadulterated Cat , Terry Pratchett describes eleven types of Cat - classic farm cat, boot-faced cat (as Real as they come), arch-villain's cat (always Unreal) and cartoon cats - as well as how to spot a Real Cat.

The best part of the book is almost probably the section on cat games... that is, games cats play. With you, with other cats, with themselves... and if that sounds ominous, then you have a keen instinct into the feline mind.

It is not the greatest book in the world, and it is not consistently brilliant, but parts of this book are incredibly funny. It's also a fascinating analysis of actual cat behaviour and will arm you well against your pets. It has even been translated into Russian!

The Unadulterated Cat - Humans, eh? Think they're lords of creation. Not like us cats. We *know* we are. Ever see a cat feed a human? Case proven.

This book is good for:

Anyone who loves humourous cat books.Anyone who wants a few extra tips on dealing with pets (it is not an exhaustive 'how to raise your cat' manual, but it does offer tips on approach and protective gear when bathing/feeding pills to your cat, and the cat games section alone is worth buying it for).Anyone who wonders what their cat really thinks of them - the book is written from the perspective of a Real Cat..Anyone wanting to identify and avoid the various types of feline..Anyone wondering about cat psychology....Anyone who loves Pratchett already..

I read this years ago, and to this day I still notices the games of Cat chess - in which each cat places itself where it can see at least one other cat.

What is a Real Cat?

A Real Cat is what you are, not what is done to you

Real Cats can hear a fridge door opening from two rooms away.

Real Cats catch things.

Real Cats eat nearly everything of what they catch.

The best line ever:

Consider the situation. There you are, forehead like a set of balconies, worrying about the long-term effects of all this new 'fire' stuff on the environment, you're being chased and eaten by most of the planet's large animals, and suddenly tiny versions of one of the worst of them wanders into the cave and starts to purr.

Rate it, if you dare... - Does it help you survive your cat?

"If cats looked like frogs we'd realize what nasty, cruel little bastards they are. Style. That's what people remember."

- Terry Pratchett (Lords and Ladies)

Image credit to Hark! A Vagrant

On a scale of 1-7, what did you REALLY think?

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Your turn - Write a review, add a comment, or debate someone who disagrees with you.

Well? Are you a Cat lover, a Pratchett lover or just confused?

What did you think?

Real Cats in Pratchett's Writing - "In ancient times cats were worshipped as gods; they have not forgotten this."

Pratchett has a number of cats popping up in his books - from the young adult Pied Piper parody The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents to the terrible Greebo, who is definitely a real Cat, to Death's love of felines. He has several of his own and therefore knows what he is talking about.


A cat who is good at doing what cats do, ie steering people. A miouw here, a purr there, a little gentle pressure with a claw...Add a human-level intelligence induced by eating somebody he shouldn't (Additives), whilst foraging in the Unreal Estate, and we have a master scam artist with a vastly expanded repertoire.


The Aching family cat. Ratbag would aspire to be a Greebo, if he wasn't so fat and idle. Nominally the Aching farm mouser, Ratbag also sees his remit as involving a one-cat war on anything with wings and feathers. Tiffany deplores this, and the Nac Mac Feegle oblige her with some behavioral psychology to train the cat out of its avicidal mentality. This involves a Feegle dressing up in bird costume, offering itself as bait, and then repeatedly nutting the cat until it gets the idea.


A white kitten, given to Granny Weatherwax by Tiffany Aching in a mood of calculated headology. (Wintersmith).Thus far, You has trained Granny into taking her everywhere she goes, usually in the warmth and comfort to be found in the space between Granny's tightly bunned hair and pointy hat.


Greebo is Nanny Ogg's cat.

To Nanny, Greebo is still a sweet little kitten that plays with balls of wool.

To the rest of the world, Greebo is an enormous tomcat with a skin that looks less like fur then a patchwork quilt, no ears and only one eye. Greebo is a malevolent collection of life force who won't hesitate to fight or rape anything (As a matter of pride). Dogs hide when Greebo's on the prowl, Foxes detour around Lancre and even Wolves avoid him.

More books by Terry Pratchett - Vote for your favorites, or add any I missed.

"And then there were cats, thought Dog. He'd surprised the huge ginger cat from next door and had attempted to reduce it to cowering jelly by means of the usual glowing stare and deep-throated growl, which had always worked on the damned in the past. This time they had earned him a whack on the nose that had made his eyes water. Cats, Dog considered, were clearly a lot tougher than lost souls. He was looking forward to a further cat experiment, which he planned would consist of jumping around and yapping excitedly at it. It was a long shot, but it just might work."

— Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman (Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch)

Simon's Cat 'Cat Man Do'

Nanny Ogg found herself embarrassed to even think about this, and this was unusual because embarrassment normally came as naturally to Nanny as altruism comes to a cat.

-- (Terry Pratchett, Maskerade)

Real Cats have an innate distrust of white coats and can predict the future very accurately when it involves vets. They can erupt from even the stoutest cardboard box like an ICBM. This generally happens in a crowded waiting room.

In or Out? - It doesn't matter. They'll return straight away anyway

"I meant," said Ipslore bitterly, "what is there in this world that truly makes living worth while?"

Death thought about it. "Cats," he said eventually, "Cats are Nice."

-- Terry Pratchett, Sourcery

The real reason cats are so frustrating about wanting to go out, then coming straight back in again is that they are usaully just checking out their territory (or didn't realise that is was COLD outside!)

Pratchett's reasons ... are more interesting.

Other Cat Books - A cat is more intelligent than people believe, and can be taught any crime.

Cats are an endless source of terror, cuteness and hilarity. I fully recommend all these books for a full dosage of each.

More about Real Cats

One of the most successful animal species to colonise the Discworld. Felis Domesticus, by devious routes all of its own, has managed a symbiotic relationship with Homo Sapiens in every part of the galaxy that Man has made his own.

The contract between Cat and Man is clear. The human signatory is expected to provide, on demand, ample qualities of:

i) Food;

ii) Warmth;

iii) Dry comfortable sleeping places;

iv) toilet facilities of the feline party's choosing;

v) Entertainment;

vi) maternity facilities for occasional kittens.

In return for this, the feline party consents to occasionally turning up (as and when it feels like it), and kindly condescends to make a show of what the human party misinterprets as affection every so often. The feline party will also undertake to excrete or spray in inappropriate or inaccessible places and at inappropriate times, and to deliver gifts of fresh - well, fairly fresh - entrails as and when appropriate. The human party is not to complain about this as, well, you hang game for a few weeks because it tastes better, don't you?

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    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Great lens for a great book. Pratchett early on really finding his voice in this whole writing thing.

    • rewards4life info profile image

      rewards4life info 

      8 years ago

      What a wonderful review. Really enjoyed my time here. Also, thanks for featuring my cat and kitten lens. Best wishes!

    • admiralglass lm profile image

      admiralglass lm 

      9 years ago

      You have to laugh at those comic strips. Cat coming in and out drives anyone crazy =D 5* lens

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Excellent lens that makes me want to see the book. SquidAngel Blessings for you.

    • FlynntheCat1 profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago

      @pkmcruk: Thank you!

    • FlynntheCat1 profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago

      @wilddove6: Oh yes, it is :D And yes, I remeber that bit. There was ... um, the hopeful stage, the realism stage (a cat is basically a tube. Pill goes in one end) and a few others.

    • FlynntheCat1 profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago

      @oztoo lm: Definitely. Very definitely!

    • pkmcruk profile image


      9 years ago from Cheshire UK

      Really excellent lens! Blessed by a Squid Angel :-)

    • wilddove6 profile image


      9 years ago

      Oh this is just SO cat :)

      Fantastic lens! I laughed all the way through it!

      I'm going to have to get this book *just* to read the section on "protective gear while pilling a cat".

      I tell you, I would rather face down a day of raccoon vaccinations at the wildlife centre than pill one cat!

      Wing high five!

    • oztoo lm profile image

      oztoo lm 

      9 years ago

      I've never read any of Terry Pratchett's books. Something I 'll have to amend I think.


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