kitTEA: in which we nibble on tuna and meow about chris kelly’s Downton Tabby

What are you looking at?

You’ve been here almost three seconds and you still haven’t complimented me. Does silky grey fur mean nothing to you? Ill manners are terribly middle class.

*tail swish*

Mr. Cornelius humors Jellylorum.

Oops, how did Jellylorum get hold of my laptop? Mr. Cornelius invited him over for a kitTea so we could discuss Chris Kelly’s  Downton Tabby (Simon & Schuster, 2013).

I hate tea. Give me milk.

We had fun noshing on this whisker-twitching 80-page parody about the upper clawst Clowder family and the downstairs cats who work like dogs waiting on them.

Everyone knows cats are the aristocrats of the animal kingdom. Downton Tabby offers us the privilege of seeing them in all their stately splendor, doing what they do best — looking good, ambling around, being fed, setting a fine example, being admired.

But alas! Their traditional role in society — providing work for others — is being threatened by the “tides of history.” Yes, fur will fly.

Wait, I’ll take tea. No, milk. No, tea. Tea with Milk!

Check out these feisty felines: Robert, Earl of Grimalkin; his beautiful Chat-elaine, Korat; their three daughters, Minxy (the pretty one), Serval (the prettier one) and Lady Etcetera (the other one); heir presumptive Matthmew; and of course, the one and only Dowager Catness, Vibrissa. Let’s not forget Catson the Butler, Mrs. Mughes the Housecreeper, Thomas Farel (Evil Foot Cat), Tom the Chau-fur, Laisy (Kitchen Maid) and Mrs. Catmore the Cook.

Got bacon?

It’s all here, every joy and catastrophe:

Their lives, loves, births, deaths, marriages, affairs, prides, prejudices, senses, sensibilities, mills, flosses, cakes, ales, high teas and fun fairs, car accidents, scandals, bouts of Spanish influenza, and war with Germany.

I will now proceed to languidly shred your upholstery.

We daintily nibbled on our tuna sandwiches as we chuckled over the whole kitten caboodle: the non-stop tom foolery, witticisms, sight gags, revised “history,” bon mots — all essential advice for preserving the gentry’s “Golden Age.” After all, any one of us may someday find ourselves among “Those Who Have Things Done for Them,” and we must follow a solid Code of Conduct. What is the proper way to sleep, feed, groom, feed, loaf (“in a decorative and highly charming manner”), feed, cast a withering glare (to communicate both affection and disapproval)?

Why aren’t you withering?


If, on the other paw, you find yourself among “Those Who Do Things for Those Who Have Things Done for Them,” (think of all those fresh rats and mice!), it’s always good to know how to set a proper table with no fewer than four milk glasses and a goblet, a hair knife and a hair plate. Do you know the difference between a mouse fork, a stoat fork, and a vole fork? Holy hairballs, get with the program. You never know when you might be blessed with the opportunity to feast on juicy rodentia.

*stares out the window and yawns*

Always the one for intrigue, Mr. Cornelius was taken with “How to Keep a Secret at Downton Tabby.” Shhhhh! My favorite part of the whole book? The series of “Uninvited But Necessary Words From The Dowager.” Just when you think you might perish from the wry or the dry (do I look like a camel?), the Dowager Catness pounces with infinitely a-mewsing one-liners.

I’m sorry I bit you, dear. In that terrible suit I thought you were a penguin.

You thought the Language of the Fan was good? Wait till you read “The Language of the Tail.” On second thought, if you already live with a cat, you know this stuff by heart:

Resting the tail: ‘I love you.’

Resting the tail: ‘I hate you.’

Swishing the tip of the tail slowly left:
‘Feed me cold cuts.’

Swishing the tip of the tail slowly right: ‘No one knows you as I do.’

Tapping the tail: ‘I meant it about the cold cuts.’

Sound familiar?

Is there a sunny spot around here?

Now that Season 4 is over (*weeps*), you just might need to fortify yourself with this little meowsterpiece. Whip up a few mouse eggs and kitty tuna sandwiches, and host your own KitTEA. Jellylorum has cleared his calendar and will be happy to join you.

*taps tail*

You may admire me now.

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by Chris Kelly
pen-and-ink illustrations by Cory Godbey
photo illustrations by Jonathan Dorfman & Szymon Weglarski
published by Simon & Schuster, 2013
Parody, 80 pp.
*Lint rollers not included.

* We are an equal opportunity blog: Check out my review of Mouseton Abbey.

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wkendcookingiconThis post is being linked to Beth Fish Read’s Weekend Cooking, where all are invited to share their food-related posts. Put on your cat’s pajamas and join the fun!


Copyright © 2014 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.



32 thoughts on “kitTEA: in which we nibble on tuna and meow about chris kelly’s Downton Tabby

    1. Jellylorum is quite a handful. Kind of wish Mr. Cornelius hadn’t seen this book. He’s taken to ringing a dinner bell for service.


  1. I am giggling all over the place. But I don’t dare let Winchester see this . . . if he had a role, he’d be Thomas Farel, always making trouble. Loved the mouse eggs and cat head tuna sandwiches. Winchester would mess up that plate in two seconds flat (though he prefers Starkist Tuna Select, Solid White Tuna in Water with Very Very Low Sodium).

    Your model behaved purrfectly–there are advantages to stuffed cats! And the purrfect ending to Season 4 (weeping with you). Cheerio!


    1. LONG doesn’t begin to describe it. You could practically swim to England and back before the new season starts. But of course, cats don’t like to get wet. . .


    1. So, you live with Monica. I imagine she’s Queen of the house. Better not show her this book — she’ll get even more ideas about her superiority.


  2. LOVED this!!! For our cats, all tail swishes meant “feed me.” They were clearly of the downstairs variety


  3. This is hilarious on so many levels. But I’m mostly wondering if I could get my toddler to eat tuna sandwiches if they were shaped like little kitty cats. Thanks for the smiles!


  4. Love this! I hadn’t heard of this book or the other parodies that are out there. It’s amazing how much that black cat serving the bananas looks like evil Thomas, the footman! The tea refreshments are so cute, too!


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