Remember the Cat at the Birmingham Oratory?

I am sure you will remember the now famous ‘Pushkin’ at the Birmingham Oratory, and the moment the Holy Father tickled his chin thus ensuring the cat was forever in the annals of immortality! I am sure this book will find its way into a Christmas stocking or two.

Fr Anton Guziel of the Birmingham Oratory (I suppose he may be described as Pushkin’s ‘minder’) has now written a book – ‘Pushkin the Pontifical Cat’.

Here is a chapter from Pushkin’s memoirs – his version of meeting HRH Princess Michael of Kent. (Courtesy of St. Pauls):

‘I think there must be a world out there,’ mused Pushkin, placing a claw thoughtfully on the side of his nose, ‘that is bursting with curiosity to get into the Oratory and find out what my world is really like.’

One Sunday morning our house was invaded by the police; they even brought sniffer DOGS with them. My Human told me that it was all because a real live Princess was going to visit us – Princess Michael of Kent.

Being of aristo-catic blood myself, I was determined to meet her, only to find that my Human had shut me in my room. I suppose he thought I would have frightened the sniffer dogs too much. So, I devised a plan. I decided upon a strategy to allow enough time for me to slip out of my room when he came to check on me. As I jumped on the chest of drawers, I knocked over two pieces of fine porcelain which, luckily for him, were unbroken as they fell on the bed.

Everyone knows that cats are far too discerning to break valuable china. ‘You naughty pussy,’ he said, as he began to put the plates back on their stands. That gave me the chance I was looking for.

I was out of the door like a bolt of lightning and galloped determinedly down the corridor, with my Human in hot pursuit. ‘Don’t worry,’ beamed a friendly looking bodyguard, ‘the Princess adores cats and she would love to see him.’ When I heard these words my confidence grew to immense proportions. I fluffed out my mane to look its magnificent best and waved my tail proudly in the air as I mounted the library steps.

I could hear the hum of human voices. ‘Did Cardinal Newman manage to read all of these books?’ chimed a lady’s voice with a German accent. ‘I wouldn’t be at all surprised,’ said Father Paul. There stood the Princess, wearing clothes very like mine, and she was wearing diamonds. I always wear collars with diamonds myself and it was marvellous to meet a kindred spirit with such similar taste.

I made a dramatic entrance into the library. I ran in a big arc and let out some tuneful yowls. ‘He is so beautiful!’ she gasped with delight. ‘Let me hold him.’ She glanced towards the camera men. ‘Photographs, photographs!’ she commanded, and the photographers were happy to oblige.

From that moment, all talk of Cardinal Newman ceased and the conversation turned naturally to the subject of cats. I was delighted to hear that the Princess had recently opened Battersea Cats’ Home, so that my less fortunate relatives would have a roof over their heads.

Since then, Princess Marie Christine and I have become firm friends. I believe she always talks about me when the occasion arises, and we send each other Christmas cards. I always sign my name in my best paw writing and my Human addresses the envelope. This encounter was enough to ensure my place in history, but other honours were to come, to my delight and amazement as you will see.

If you want to read more tails of Pushkin, you will have to buy his book Pushkin the Pontifical Puss: Tails of an Oratory Cat.

About Gertrude

Sáncte Míchael Archángele, defénde nos in proélio, cóntra nequítiam et insídias diáboli ésto præsídium.
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8 Responses to Remember the Cat at the Birmingham Oratory?

  1. Toadspittle says:


    Superstar Pushkin!
    Cult of Personality!
    Personal cat to His Holiness!

    Toad rests his case.

    ” ‘Did Cardinal Newman manage to read all of these books?’ chimed a lady’s voice with a German accent. ‘I wouldn’t be at all surprised,’ said Father Paul.”

    With dialogue like this – off the cuff eat your heart out, Noel Coward!

    …a real live Princess was going to visit us – Princess Michael of Kent.

    Although it all depends on what one means by, “real live,” supposes Toad.

    Still it’s nice to read something serious on CP&S, for a change.


  2. kathleen says:

    Oh come on Toad, tell the truth! We all know you are a dog lover/owner. And dogs and cats, well, like dog owners as opposed to cat owners, just don’t get on……. or so they say ;-). (I own one of each, and my dog and cat are pretty good friends, having grown up together.)

    Yup, I hope to buy this mentioned book, but no book about a cat for me could ever beat that old book, “Jennie” by Paul Gallico.


  3. Toadspittle says:


    Toad has a very fine cat named Murphy. A great friend of the dogs.


  4. Wall Eyed Mr Whippy says:

    I liked to read of Pushkin. A fine cat, despite the purple prose – is Barbara Cartland still with us? And the woman with the German accent ; did she say, “Ve have vays of pulling ze vool over your eyes”? I don’t think so.

    I am saddened by the perennial dewy eyed love of royalty which seems to be a feature of English Catholic life, despite the fact that Catholics are excluded from succession to the throne.

    There is less forelock tugging in Wales, Scotland and of course Ireland, which has offered the French solution to royalty.


  5. annem040359 says:

    As one who loves not only animals in general, but in a special way, cats, this is truly a touching, very touching story. :)=^..^=


  6. kris coia says:

    I am proud to say i have met this cat before he was famous ,i visited his human ,and stroked pushkin ,he was rather posh even then


  7. Gertrude says:

    Lucky you Kris. I too was at the Birmingham Oratory a few weeks before the Holy Father, but sadly, didn’t see Pushkin or his human (just Father Richard, the then Provost – not nearly as furry!) I would imagine now that he is a ‘celeb’ his audiences will be selective! 😉


  8. kris coia says:

    Hello Gertrude ,i did not see Pushkin at the Oratory ,it was when he lived in Fenton,i know his “human” from when he was priest in our parish ,and i went to visit with friends


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