Felix the Railway Cat: 03/18/17
Felix the Railway Cat by Kate Moore is the biography of the senior pest controller and internet sensation of the Huddersfield Railway station in West Yorkshire. She currently has over 100K in followers on Facebook and her railway station receives hundreds (thousands) of tourists every year coming for a glimpse of the cat and her station.
Railway cats aren't a new thing, though the did fall out of vogue for a while. Poet T. S. Eliot (and later by Andrew Lloyd Webber) brought to life Skimbleshanks. Just like Skimbleshanks, Felix once stopped the trains into and out of her station (by hunting rabbits).
Like the late Tama the station cat Kishi station in Japan, Felix has her own uniform (including hi-vis safety vest and name tag), though she usually works au naturale, relying on her magnificent tuxedo floof.
Felix, who is nine months younger than my own floofy tuxedo, Tortuga (also briefly misgendered as a boy because of her floof), has been working for and living at (reigning over) the Hudderfield station since the summer of 2011. She was hired (adopted) for a variety of reasons — tradition (though her station never had a cat before), companionship (for the staff), pest control (mice), and for calming down stressed out travelers (something she does remarkably well). She was not adopted to be on Facebook.
Nonetheless, Felix ended up on Facebook on 2 July 2015 — and I've been following her the entire time (weird for an American as her page didn't take off until last year when she was promoted to Senior Pest Controller and the Daily Mail (among others) reported on it.
So how did I beat the curve on Felix? Well, I happened to be in the UK and I happened to be researching railway times because would be using the rail to travel from Cambridge to Cardiff. Facebook, my following of a variety of cat fostering sites on Facebook, recent searching, and proximity (more or less) to Huddersfield Station, resulted in Felix's page being recommended during a bought of insomnia (jet lag). Of course I clicked like.
The Facebook posts early on where primarily of Felix sitting on the nearly empty Platform One at night or in the predawn hours. That meant that even after my trip to the UK was done, I was able to follow Felix's adventures in realtime because she would always post right around the time I was going to bed or eating my breakfast. It was obvious that the person maintaining her file was someone who as on at the railway station early in the morning and at night. I thought it was staff who had free time at the start and stop of their shift. Turns out the page was created by a local commuter and fan.
Regardless, the Facebook page gave Felix (and her station and coworkers) the unexpected publicity that has given them a chance to give back to the community. Felix's biography, for example, is a fundraiser with proceeds benefitting Prostate Cancer UK (and reading the book will explain why that charity was chosen).
Felix the Railway Cat is a delightful book for railway fans, cat lovers, and for people who enjoy celebrity biographies. It's hard to put down and will easily help you lose an afternoon or two to reading. There are some full color photographs included.