Mr Monty’s Art Emporium pops up at… Smithbrook Kilns, Cranleigh

Smithbrook Kilns Smithbrook Kilns 2

From now until Christmas, Mr Monty’s Art Emporium is collaborating with Icon Stamp Art at Smithbrook Kilns, Cranleigh not far from Guildford.

You’ll be able to see (and buy of course!) a selection of work by the fabulous UK-based artists who are part of my Emporium.

I don’t get out beyond my territory much so I can only go off what The Staff tell me but they’re usually pretty reliable, so here goes.

Smithbrook Kilns has grown from the site of a derelict brickworks into a hub for an eclectic (big word for a little cat!) mix of businesses which include:


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Surbiton Festival Congratulations

A huge thanks to everyone who took part in the competitions The Staff organised (under my instructions of course) at The Surbiton Festival in September. And many congratulations to our winners.

Sorry it’s taken so long – you can blame the talented under 10s who took part in our draw a cat competition! Their entries were so good The Staff and I had a hard job judging them. So good in fact,  we decided to award honourable mention prizes. Without further ado, here they are:

Under 10s


We all loved this amusing drawing of a very evil looking cat by Leo Cox – winner of the under 10s section. Turns out his name is Blackie and he’s not evil at all. Thank you Leo – you get my paw of approval for making us smile! Leo won a set of art materials.

And here are the honourable mentions who each won either a pastel, paint or pencil set.



Congratulations to Georgina Standerwick for winning this category. The Staff told me she spent ages on this lovely drawing. In fact they thought she’d disappeared until they found her sitting on the pavement drawing away.

Well done everyone! We hope you make lots more fab drawings. Maybe one day you’ll join the talented professional artists in my Emporium!

Caption competition

Say Ahhhhh

The winner of our caption competition with was Steve Burniston who was born and bred in Surbiton but now lives in Teddington.

His winning caption was ‘How long do I have to say ‘aaaaaaghhhhhh?’

Here’s Steve with his prize – a Jane Adams ceramic sculpture called ‘Laughing Cat’.  Jane is one of my Emporium artists and you can see other examples of her work here.

Steve the winner

Prize draw

On the day, The Staff asked people to pin the names of their cats onto a map of Surbiton which we named ‘The Mappa Monti (get it?!). We wanted to find the most exotically named cats in Surbiton. We think Caramelo takes that title!

People who took part in this survey were invited to enter a prize draw to win a Kickeroo (my favourite toy) for their feline friend.

The lucky winner was Charlie who lives with the Duncan family.  Congratulations Charlie! I hope you love your Kickeroo as much as I love mine. It was a good day for the Duncans because their daughter, Bailey was one of our highly commended artists.

Why cats love catnip

CatnipCatnip (Nepeta cataria) is a well-known cat favourite, and stories abound about its effect on felines – not only house cats but some of my larger cousins too.

It’s easy to grow and strangely enough the plant is quite safe from cats until you pick a few leaves and bruise them to release the smell we love. There are exceptions of course and some cats will dig it up.

catnip-leaves-loNepetalactone is the whoo-hoo stuff that really does the business in catmints. It cleverly attaches to our nose channels, and can cause us temporary euphoria, sometimes it makes us playful or a bit aggressive, and some cats I know just want to roll around in it.

There’s no known danger if a cat eats catnip. If I were to eat too much I might be sick but I wouldn’t be poisoned. As catnip is mildly sedative (for humans too) it might make me rather sleepy –  but it’ll be hard to tell really because me and all the other cats I know can sleep 15 hours a day anyway!

Cat in catnipTypically the reaction to catnip lasts about 5-10 minutes then cats will be quiet and sleep.  We won’t react to catnip for another two hours.

The science boffins say catnip resembles a component of female cat urine odorant MMB. Some people have even suggested it might mimic kitty sex communication pheromones.  Talking of sex, I’m told there’s no difference in reaction whether a cat is male, female or spayed – so there!

But little kittens don’t like the smell and some are even afraid of it.

Noses apart, some of the catmints have nicer flowers and a more human-friendly smell than others. Herb catalogues will be a source of these more exotic catnips. Your cat probably doesn’t care – I know I don’t.

There are other plants we like too but for different reasons. For instance if catmint is my party plant, the indoor spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum) is my salad bowl. Nice to chew on, but it has zilch effect on my mood.

A huge thank you to Valerie Munro of Auntie Planty for helping me write this post and for the scientific bits.

Valerie is a horticulturist who helps people create the garden of their dreams by mentoring them and solving their plant problems. So you’re still in control of the work but you know exactly what you need to do to achieve what you want.

She has two cats – Jack and Buddy and here they are.






Inspired by Monty does Surbiton Festival 2014

The Staff are frantically getting ready to take Inspired by Monty to the Surbiton Festival on Saturday 27th September. They’ll be in St Andrew’s Road – stall number 60 – I’d be grateful if you could make sure they’re working hard…

They’ll be promoting both strands of the business – Mr Monty’s Fuss and Feed, and my Art Emporium.  And we’ve got lots of fun things for you to do too!

Sharpen your wit and take part in my caption competition, which will be judged by Tim Harrison – The Good Life newspaper owner and editor, and master of the witty one-liner.

The best caption under a photo of my good self will win a delightful ceramic called Laughing Cat by Cornwall based artist, Jane Adams.

Laughing Cat - ceramic by Jane Adams

Laughing Cat – ceramic by Jane Adams

You’ll have chance to reveal your inner artist too with our draw a cat competition. There are some fabulous prizes in three cat-egories (tee hee – see what I did there?)

The under 10s winner will get a lovely art set which includes a drawing book, coloured pencils, connector pens and clips, grip pencils, and a fish shaped pencil sharpener.

An art set for the under 10s winner

An art set for the under 10s winner

The 11-16s winner will get art materials (sketch book, brush set, Windsor and Newton gouache set) and a book – Draw Paint Print Like the Great Artists by Marion Denchars (plus a Cass Arts bag to keep everything in!).

Fabulous art materials for the 11-16s winner

Fabulous art materials for the 11-16s winner

The over 16s winner will win a delightful machine embroidery by Linda Miller whose work is in the permanent collection of the Victoria and Albert museum.


Beautiful machine embroidery by Linda Miller

Beautiful machine embroidery by Linda Miller

LindaAnd please help us find the most popular, and the most exotic, cat’s names in Surbiton by telling us your cat’s name and sticking a pin on the, ahem, Mappa Monty!

Competition winners, and Surbiton’s most popular feline name, will be announced on the website after the festival.

So please do go along, say hello to The Staff and take part in the fun.




Mr Pickles moves to Cornwall

A couple of weeks ago, Elaine was having coffee with her friend Jules.  Jules asked if Elaine knew anyone who would be willing to take on Mr Pickles, a 15-year-old cat who lived outside of Bracknell in Berkshire.

Mr Pickles had semi-adopted Jules’s friends – Stacey and Julie – two years ago. Although he didn’t live with them on a permanent basis, they had an understanding. He would turn up for food, sit with them in the evenings, and he had even allowed them to take him to the, ahem, V.E.T. Mr Pickles and the couple’s young son had become firm friends and would cuddle up together on the sofa.

Anyway, the family were emigrating to Australia and knew Mr Pickles, elderly gent that he was, probably wouldn’t survive the flight let alone the quarantine. They were desperate to find him a good home.

They’d asked around the village but no-one knew where he’d come from.  A few people suggested he lived in a shed, but none of them were willing to give him a home.

Jules told all this to Elaine one Friday – Jules and Stacey were emigrating the following week!

So Elaine set to work – with my help of course. I Tweeted and put it on my Facebook page. I also suggested she contact our lovely Cornish friends – David and Paula. These fabulous people have six lady cats!

Turns out they were on holiday in Greece, but Paula answered E’s message and said her postman, Simon may take Mr P. She messaged him and he said yes straightaway.

So The Plight of Mr P went from Bracknell to Surbiton to Greece to Cornwall in a matter of minutes!  Elaine gave Jules Simon’s phone number and she passed it to her friends.

They contacted him the very next day and on the Thursday, the day before he was due to emigrate, Jules’s friend Stacey set out at 6am and drove Mr Pickles to Redruth, Cornwall.

Simon loves all animals, which is why Paula thought of him immediately. Simon had been semi-adopted by Doofus – a neighbour’s cat who used to come in for food and to sleep. Sadly he died suddenly not long ago at the young age of seven.

“It was a big loss,” says Simon. “He was a real companion. So naturally when Mr Pickles came a calling, I jumped at the chance to help someone else and to welcome a new companion into my home.”

Mr Pickles

Simon reports that Mr Pickles is settling in well after a week of staying in while he got used to his new surroundings. Simon has had him micro chipped and has put in a cat flap so he can come and go as he pleases.

“He has realised this is his home now and seems quite content here,” says Simon.

Ahhhh. I love a happy ending – don’t you? Huge thanks to Simon for having such a big heart and taking on this lovely elderly gentleman. And to Jules, her friends Julie and Stacey for doing the right thing by him, and of course to Paula for thinking of Simon.

Mr Pickles 2 Elaine and Graham tell me Cornwall is very beautiful. They get all misty eyed when they talk about it so I’m sure Mr P’s twilight years will be very happy in such a wonderful place.








What to do if your cat gets a scratch

The Staff have had their first Fuss and Feed V.E.T. drama. In fact, Monday evening turned out to be quite a round.

At the first house they discovered the clients had decided they were fed-up with Whiskers and had begun to prepare their own supper by placing a small (dead) bird in one of their bowls.

The second house was the scene of the drama – more later – and at the last house there was vomit.  Nice.

But back to the House of Drama. Three of our clients live there – two lady cats and a street-wise, battle-scarred wily old campaigner. Well, it looked like he had lost this particular campaign and The Staff are not unconvinced that one of the lady cats was responsible. Meow.

He had a nasty scratch over one eye heading towards his ear. So, much to his disgust, The Staff gently cleaned it with saline solution. This is the best thing to use and here’s why.

Most of our minor wounds will heal on their own but it’s really important to keep them clean to avoid infections.

Use a saline solution to clean the wound. It will disinfect the wound without stinging and it doesn’t have side effects.

Completely dissolve 1/4 teaspoon of table salt in 237ml (1/2 pint) of room-temperature water. Use cotton wool to gently bathe the wound with the solution three or four times a day until it heals.

Make sure you make a new solution each time though because bacteria can form if it’s been sitting around. And of course use new cotton wool balls or pad for every treatment.  

Please don’t use an antiseptic that you’d use on yourself though. We cats do like to lick ourselves clean and human antiseptics can be toxic to us. Apparently Savlon and Dettol can give us a chemical burn on our tongues.  And they are too abrasive for our skin if it’s broken so please do avoid antiseptics intended for humans.

The Staff bathed the scratch again the next day but decided it would be sensible to take Mr Scrapper (not his real name) to the vet. They asked themselves what they would do if it had happened to me and of course they would bundle me into my carrier and take me off to see He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.

Happy to report Mr Scrapper is fine and doesn’t even have to wear The Collar of Shame. He did, however, get an antibiotic injection and a course of tablets for his troubles.

So, if you’re in the slightest bit concerned about a scratch or wound on your cat, or one you’re looking after, clean it with mild salty water first, then always consult your vet.

The Staff report that, despite being carted off to the V.E.T. this morning, Mr Scrapper came running to greet them this evening so he’s obviously forgiven them.





Remembering the brave war animals


Image of the Animals in War memorial, Park Lane, London (taken by Cat Morley!

Image of the Animals in War memorial, Hyde Park, London (taken by Cat Morley

I’m hearing lots of things about World War I at the moment because this week marks the 100th anniversary of its start.

I’m learning that it was a terrible time and many people lost their lives in dreadful circumstances. Really, you humans are a strange breed. You are capable of the most amazing acts of kindness and love, creativity and invention, and yet you also commit the most terrible atrocities.

Anyway, I’m also learning that many animals were involved in the First World War and that they did some very brave things.

These brave creatures, and other animals that have served with the British forces throughout history, have their own war memorial on Park Lane in London. It was designed by David Backhouse – an English sculptor, and was unveiled in November 2004.

Mules from the Animals in War Memorial, Hyde Park, London (Image by Dominick Kosciuk

Mules from the Animals in War Memorial, Hyde Park, London (Image by Dominick Kosciuk )

And if you go to see it, look out for the goat – it was modelled on Rosie, who lived with The Staff’s friends Annie and John in Wales!

Back in 1914 The Blue Cross – a wonderful charity that still does a terrific job today – cared for many animals injured during the conflict.

Originally, The Blue Cross was a fund set up by Our Dumb Friends League, which was formed in 1897. ODFL used the fund to care mainly for horses that were casualties during the Balkan wars of 1912-13.

It was reinstated during The Great War and sent vets, nurses, first aid and clinical supplies out to the front.

But as well as looking after injured animals, it also had a happier role. It’s kennels in Shooters Hill, London acted as a quarantine centre for animals returning from the war.

Monty (my namesake!) was a dog who had befriended a British sergeant in Turkey. He served with him in Gallipoli and apparently was instrumental in saving the lives of two soldiers.

But at the end of the war, the sergeant couldn’t afford to pay the quarantine fees. Blue Cross to the rescue! They stepped in and paid the fees so Monty and his human companion were reunited and able to spend the rest of their days together in more peaceful circumstances.

The kennels disappeared long ago and houses now stand where animals once lived. However, there’s still a pet cemetery with around 240 graves – some dedicated to brave animals who served beside their humans in various conflicts.

You can hear the story of The Blue Cross and Shooters Hill here 





Why loud noises make your cat jumpy – and how to help

I don’t like loud noises. The sound of the ironing board being set up. Graham blowing his nose or sneezing (he’s very loud). Elaine yelling at football matches on TV (again, very loud. And most unladylike). Thunder. Fireworks. They all make me jumpy and distressed.

It’s hardly surprising really when you consider cats’ hearing is supremely acute. Apparently my hearing goes up to something called ultrasonic which means I can pick up very high-pitched sounds. Cats’ ears swivel like satellite dishes to pinpoint the source of a sound, and our ear-flaps can independently point backwards, forwards and sideways.

If you want to get very technical, we cats can hear 100,000 hertz compared to you humans who can only hear 20,000.  That’s a big difference isn’t it?

It’s perfect for hunting; not so good when Elaine is watching football or Graham has a cold. And don’t mention the vacuum cleaner, although that doesn’t come out very often.

This hot weather has brought a couple of storms, and I’ll admit I was pretty scared.

Then there’s fireworks, which I’ve noticed you don’t just bring out on bonfire night. Any excuse isn’t it? Especially during the summer when you seem to like setting them off at concerts and festivals.

So please spare a thought for the cat in your life. Here are some things you can do to help us through thunder and fireworks, and other dins.

1) Stay calm. Try to distract your feline friend with their favourite toys – my Kickeroo and laser pointer would do it for me.

2) Some of us hide under the bed or behind the sofa because it muffles the sound. If your cat hasn’t found anywhere in particular, encourage them into a nice dark hiding place by putting their favourite treats there.

3) You could try a pheromone spray or plug-in. They help to relieve stress and you can get them from pet shops or the V.E.T.

4) The best thing you can do though is be reassuring, soothing, and make your cat feel safe and secure.

Thanks to the following sites for the information:

The Nest

Love Meow


Keeping it cool for cats

Lounging 2


Now we cats are highly intelligent creatures and we can cope with most situations – including hot weather. We’ll find the coolest spots in the house and garden but there are one or two things you humans can do to help make sure we’re nice and comfortable when the temperatures rise.

Here are some of my top tips

1) Make sure there are nice, dark cool places around the house. I like lying on the bed during the morning, so my staff keep the bedroom curtains closed when it’s hot and sunny. It’s hard to snooze with the sun in your eyes!

I also like to curl up and nap under a shady plant in a large pot in the garden – the soil keeps me nice and cool.

In the plant pot

You could find a nice box, pop a towel in it and place it somewhere nice and cool, for your cat to snooze in. And you could wrap an ice pack in a towel and put that in the box for extra coolness.

In the box

Or dampen a towel with nice cold water and leave it on the floor. We’ll know when it’s right for us to lie on so don’t try to force us. Ha ha – as if you could!

The main thing here is not to leave us in excessively hot conditions such as an unventilated room. And be careful if you need to take us to the V. E. T.  – don’t cover our carry cases no matter how much noise we make. Try the ice pack in a towel trick to make sure we stay cool.


Cool and shady

Cool and shady

2) Another way you can help to keep us cool is by dampening a cloth and stroking from the top of the head and down the back. You can do this a couple of times during a hot day. Well, you can try…

Our tummies, pads, armpits, under the chin and on the outside of our ears are where we get the warmest, so please focus on keeping these spots cool!

3) Most of us like to be combed and for good reasons. Did you know that matted fur traps heat? So by combing us you’re making sure air flows freely through our fur which will help to keep us cool. I’m a short-haired chap but I can imagine how horrible it would be to have long fur with tangles and knots in it.

4) Just like humans, we cats can become dehydrated during hot weather. So please make sure our water bowls are kept full. Leave some extra bowls around as well and in the garden too.

5) I’m a playful kind of chap and I like nothing more than chasing the laser dot. But my staff are under strict instructions not to encourage me to run around in the heat. I’ve told them it’s best to help me stay calm by sitting and stroking me. And there’s nothing wrong with that!

6) We are very susceptible to heatstroke in excessive heat conditions. That’s because we have small body weight compared to a high surface area. I’ve already mentioned how to avoid excessive heat conditions but just in case you think your cat has a problem, here are the symptoms to look out for

  • Panting like a dog
  • Anxiety, possibly demonstrated by pacing
  • Increased heartbeat
  • Hyperventilated breathing or heaving
  • Dark red gums
  • Lethargy, weakness and or wobbliness

7) Don’t be concerned if we sleep more on hot days. We need 16 hours a day and are likely to nap more when it’s hot rather than rushing around like mad things.

8) You may notice your cat grooming more than usual. Again, no cause for concern – it helps us to cool down. It’s a bit like sweating in humans only not as unpleasant.

9) Take notice of your cat’s feet. We have sweat glands on our paws, so if we leave wet prints, we’re sweating and will need to top up our fluids. You can try cooling us down by dipping our paws in water, but you may not get a good reaction!

10) We don’t pant very often – certainly not as much as dogs, but we will pant to take on cooler air if we are very hot. But keep an eye on it because heavy panting could be a symptom of heat stroke (see above).

11) Fleas – little parasites – who needs them? Certainly not us cats. Please make sure you protect us with monthly parasite control. Even if we make a fuss… My staff got me a one-off injection at the V.E.T. to see me through the year.  Er, thanks guys.

12) Did you know that outdoor cats can become sunburned, particularly on the tips of their noses, ears and other less hairy bits?  And white cats are more susceptible. So apply a pet sunscreen, which can’t be licked off, to the nose and ears of pale-coloured cats when they do go outside. Check with your V.E.T. first though to make sure the sunscreen you choose is safe for cats.

Of course, you do realise it will start pouring with rain the minute I post this don’t you? Well, that’s another post for another day :)

with fan

 Thank you to:
Franny Syufy of Cats
Rachel Dixon – The
Care 2  





Introducing Mr Monty’s Art Emporium

Elaine and Graham – ‘the staff’ have been out and about searching for talented UK artists for Mr Monty’s Art Emporium.

They’ve gathered together some excellent work and I can hardly wait for the open house weekend on 10 and 11 May at our cosy little home in Surbiton.

I’d like to welcome on board, in no particular order, the following lovely talented artists. Drum roll please…

Linda Miller imageLinda Miller – embroiderer extraordinaire who has created five exquisite little pictures exclusively for my Emporium.  Linda has work in the permanent collections of the V&A and Crafts Council and we are delighted she wanted to be part of the Emporium.

It was one of her pictures – Sooty the Wonder Cat – that started the staff’s collection. They had just got a gas bill for the same amount as Linda’s picture cost. The decided that, in 20 years time, they wouldn’t remember the day they paid the gas bill, but they would still have Sooty.

They’ve looked at this lovely picture every day since. And the gas bill got paid somehow.

Cat-Bag.jpgShane Thompson – illustrator based in Falmouth, Cornwall. Shane has designed a fabulous motif and printed it onto tote bags. Again, the design is exclusive to Mr Monty’s Emporium.

Peeping-cat.jpgBridie Cheeseman – illustrator, also from Falmouth. Bridie has produced five delightful gouache images for the Emporium. I call them ‘secret cats’ because you have to look hard to find the cats in some of the paintings. Take a close look at the self-portrait in her bio too…!

Laughing-Cat.jpgJane Adams – ceramicist, painter and gallery owner in St Just, Cornwall. The staff have been customers of her gallery for a few years now, and love her fun, quirky, cat ceramics and paintings. They were thrilled she wanted to be part of my Emporium.

Jane has been owned by many cats over the years and is now employed by four felines.

Sweet-Peas.jpgAlison Barter – Herefordshire-based painter. Alison works from an idyllic studio in her garden surrounded by beautiful countryside. And it’s reflected in her work. Her main focus is botanical painting but she adores cats and can’t resist including them in her work. The staff tell me her work reminds them of Elizabeth Blackadder’s paintings – I’ll have to take their work for that.

Alison also does commissions. So you could ask her to do a painting of your cat together with your favourite flower. Or you could commission a gift for a cat lover.

Cute-cat-admiring-cushion.jpgNicola Barter – Alison’s daughter. Nicola has a business called The Catkin Boutique and she makes cushions, bags, earrings and even temporary tattoos printed with images of cats.

And she’ll make earrings based on your own cat! I think Elaine should have some of moi…

Lost-cats-quartet-4-of-4.jpgPaddy Hamilton is a Dungeness based artist. He doesn’t usually do anything to do with cats – he has two dogs…

But he did have these very poignant prints called ‘Lost Cats’. They were inspired by a notice stuck to a lamppost about a cat that had gone missing. The notice was still being replaced three years on. So sad. I think the story reminded the staff of when I went missing and they stuck notices on trees and lampposts around where we live.

Oh OK then. Here are the dogs

Fly - he's the daddy.

Fly – he’s the daddy.


Jet - Fly's boy.

Jet – Fly’s boy.

Elaine Mason and Michael Farnsworth run Glass on Glass from their studio in Herefordshire.  Elaine is the main designer and produces a beautiful range of glassware including bowls, coasters, candle shades and cheeseboards.

The staff have chosen some very nice cat inspired pieces!

Dena O’Brien is a very talented fine art printer based near Redruth in Cornwall. She’s busy making some pieces exclusively for my Emporium, which will include a print of me! I hear she’s making cat print lampshades too…

Dena will do commissions so keep a look out for the Monty print to give you an idea of what she could do for you.

Poppy Robinson is an illustration student at Falmouth University. Although she’s never had the good fortune to share a home with a cat, she has always been drawn to us. She says she is inspired by our colourful personalities, our elegance, and our playfulness. What a nice, clever lady!

Poppy has created paintings in gouache just for my Emporium. Thank you Poppy!

CushionNicola Walker is a Surrey-based textile artist.

She’s producing several pieces of work including some fabulous cushions with applique cats. You could ask her to make one for your cat too!

The staff will also have work in my Emporium. Graham has made a range of fabulous painted textiles of my good self, each with a quotation. Some are about books and reading, and others are quotes about leadership inspired by me and my cleverness.

Elaine has a range of feline photos – framed and unframed, and some have been made into cards.

We’ll have other artists joining us over the next few months as well, so keep an eye on the website.

And we have a fabulous vintage range too. I do like to keep Elaine and Graham busy and focussed.

How you can buy the work
We’re launching Mr Monty’s Art Emporium with an open house weekend on the 10th and 11th May, then you’ll be able to buy work online.

If you’re interested in something online but would rather see it in person, you can make an appointment to come and see us. Or my staff will come to see you with the piece of work you’re interested in if you don’t live too far away.

I’m planning to send the staff off to do markets and fairs too so  watch this space!