The Story of Fester Cat (novel)

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The Story of Fester Cat was a 2014 novel written by Paul Magrs. The story was a memoir,[1] a mix of fiction and non-fiction,[2] consisting of a retelling of how Paul and Jeremy Hoad befriended the late Fester Cat, combining true and fictional elements. Notably, the novel starred Panda in a supporting role.

The novel was styled to read as if it had actually been written by Fester Cat himself; in the novel, it's revealed that Fester Cat is in fact able to communicate non-verbally, and has the ability to fully understand the English language, although Fester is an unreliable narrator.

Publisher's summary[[edit]]

From when he first ambled into Paul Magrs' yard - skinny, covered in flea bites, and missing all but one and a half teeth- Fester knew he'd found his family. Paul and his partner, Jeremy, thought it was the ragged black-and-white stray, tired from a rough life on the streets, who was in desperate need of support. But clever Fester knew better. He understood that it was his newfound owners who needed the help.

Over the course of seven years, the feisty feline turned the quaint Manchester house into a loving home. Through his fierce spirit, strong will, and calming energy, Fester taught Paul and Jeremy how to listen and breathe, how to appreciate the joys of simply sitting and singing (what Fester's sounded like to his silly humans), and how to find joy and contentment in life, even when dealing with hardship.

This is the true story of an extraordinary little cat whose gentle charm and trusting soul turned two young men into a family.


Fester Cat remembers how a few years back, Paul Magrs had asked him to write a review for his blog about one of the books he had read to Fester. Now that he has a taste for expressing himself, Fester plans to write his story.

Before doing so, Fester explains that he's unwell, as he has a headache and his eyesight has gone wrong. He notes that this year has had odd weather.

On Monday, Fester knows that Jeremy's birthday is on Thursday, and Easter the following weekend. The next day, Fester is taken to Mr. Joe in his surgery, as he had just suffered from a stroke. Fester returns home shortly to recuperate until his next appointment later that day. To their horror, the kitchen ceiling collapses, and Paul tries his best to clean up some of the mess, and later, Fester is taken back to the vet for his blood results. That night, as they all go to sleep, Fester sets his heart on telling his story.

On Thursday, Paul, Fester, and Panda celebrate Jeremy's birthday at home, and later, some of his friends pop over for a visit. They take Jeremy out to lunch at a deli, leaving Fester alone at home. Later, after Jeremy and his friends return, different guests arrive.

The next day, Jeremy goes to a meeting about saving Levenshulme Baths and Library, something that Paul and Fester are secretly glad about, as Jeremy had got himself into a rut.

The next day, Fester awakes to find he had a bad night's sleep, so Paul curls up with Fester for a while for comfort, and not too long later they go out into the garden, and Fester is unwell. Knowing that the regular vet isn't equipped to give Fester the help he needs, they take him to another vet in Cheadle Hulme, near the golf course. The drive there is stressful, but Paul and Jeremy remain in good spirits for Fester's sake. The vet does the humane thing to do, and gives Fester an injection that will make him sleep. Fester, now at peace, finds himself running home...


This is where Fester's story began.

Aunty Bessy disparages the optimistic Fester, telling him that he shouldn't hope for a better life than he currently has. As he and Bessy, and Korky (they had banded together at the start of 2006) walk down Chestnut Avenue late one night, Paul is shocked to see the cats in such a group.

As Korky still has a home which he goes to often, he is able to bring food for Fester and Bessy to eat. One night, they eat in Smokey's garden. Speaking of, Smokey turns up, and they share their food with him. Smokey gives them some news about the terrace, such as how "the two young gentlemen" (Paul and Jeremy) were robbed a few nights back.

Korky is now very intrigued by Paul and Jeremy, despite Bessy trying to discourage him.

The next night, Korky catches up with Fester and Bessy, telling them that he had just ventured into Paul and Jeremy's home. He had tentatively entered, and had gotten accidentally locked in. While he was locked in, he had been able to observe a few things, but as he had eaten something funny earlier, Korky had pooed in a corner. Paul and Jeremy were concerned about Korky, but he just wanted to leave, so Paul let him out.

A day or so later, some squirrels in Paul and Jeremy's garden rile Fester up, so he climbs up a birch tree, intending to catch the squirrels, but two storeys up, he freezes. He pretends to not be scared, and Paul comes out to see if Fester is okay, and Fester precariously climbs down, and dashes away.

Spring is coming, and days and weeks pass. Fester decides to pay the couple a visit, "flomping" at their feet, and Paul and Jeremy fuss and feed Fester.

That night, Korky tells Fester and Bessy that he visited his owners, and he found out they are moving away, so Korky must decide whether he wants to go with him. The following afternoon, Fester pays Paul and Jeremy another visit.

Over the course of the summer, Fester spent a lot of time in the garden with Paul and Jeremy, and Bessy acts sarcastically towards Fester's new life. The day comes, and Korky is moving away, and he and Fester have a farewell gathering, but Bessy doesn't turn up.
By September, Paul and Jeremy now feel responsible for Fester, giving him a daily meal. Fester spends a lot of time in their home, relaxing with them until they go to bed, where they let Fester leave for the night. He would return every morning, repeating the routine.

A few days later, Fester is relaxing on top of Paul and Jeremy's Škoda, and Whisper and Three-Legged Freddie go by, and then a "Spanish woman" spots Fester, and starts calling him "Paula". Fester realises that this woman was Fester's previous owner.
Later that day, as Paul cooks dinner, he tells Jeremy about the woman, and her reaction to Fester.

Jeremy takes Fester to the vet on Stockport Road, and a vet gives him an examination. Later, Jeremy tells Paul about the results.

Fester now sleeps with Paul and Jeremy on their bed at night, and Fester favours snuggling up to Paul.

On the day of Korky's departure, he looks for Bessy across Levenshulme, but cannot find her. Smokey, Whisper, and Three-Legged Freddie say goodbye.

One night not long after, Albert, a "friend" of Paul and Jeremy, as he's moving into Manchester to take charge of research in one of the universities.

The next day, Paul, Jeremy, and Fester all take different opinions about Albert's visit.

Shortly, Fester spends time with Paul as he writes, and they talk. Fester feels a little Christmassy, and Paul takes a photograph of himself and Fester.

Soon, Paul and Jeremy go to a garden centre in Cheadle Hulme, and purchase a Christmas tree, much to Fester's bewilderment. The couple start decorating the house with festive ornaments, and they tell Fester about the first Christmas they spent together, back in 1996. Jeremy then puts on some festive music.

That night, Fester cuddles up with Paul, who can't get to sleep, so he tells Fester how he and Jeremy met, back in Christmas of 1995.

A day or so later, a hamper arrives from Marks & Spencer, containing Christmas foods and drinks, and Fester is eager to eat the meats inside.

The hamper was sent by Jeremy's parents, Peter and Rita, who are coming to visit Paul and Jeremy. Paul frantically tidies the home, and prepares several dishes of food, and Fester manages to miaow out Paul's name out to alert him that Peter and Rita have arrived.

They eat dinner, and Peter and Rita tell stories, like how they adopted Jeremy.

A few days after Peter and Rita return to Scotland, the couple find the Fester has worms. Jeremy phones his friend Jasmine for advice. Later, she visits them in their home, and Fester isn't impressed.

On Christmas Eve, more people come to visit, and Fester observes the Cat Passeggiata from in the comfort of his home. Later, they put on some festive Christmas television episodes.

Waking up early on Christmas morning, Fester and Paul go downstairs, and it's clear that Santa Claus has visited, although Fester is sceptical. Fester then spots and catches a baby mouse. Paul manages to set it free, much to Fester's dismay.

Paul tells Fester about one Christmas he experienced, in 1977, and how his parents behaved around each other when they separated. Paul concludes his story and begins preparing for a visit from his family.

The visit goes well, but not perfectly. Paul's family are very finicky, and Paul nad his Mam misconstrue each other. Fester goes outside in the back garden and sees Jeremy and Brian are talking.

A day later, and Paul and Jeremy throw a Christmas party (which they will continue to do for at least seven years). Deborah, Jamie, Alicia, Caroline, Nick, Karen, Mark, Albert, Jasmine, Wayne, and Iain all attend this party.


As the days get warmer, Paul finds another black and white cat in the garden, who is none other than Bessy. She invites herself into their home, despite Fester's objections.

Over the Winter, Bessy had become smelly, a result of living a rough life. She tells Fester she'll stay until Spring, maybe longer.

Fester isn't pleased with Bessy, but something more pressing comes up. His gums start to swell up, so Fester is taken to Mr. Joe, who tells the boys that he'll need to surgically remove the rotting stumps of the teeth that remain in Fester's mouth.

The boys leave Fester at the vet overnight, and the next morning, the boys return and collect Fester after the successful operation.

When Fester eats, he finds it vastly better than before. Later that night, Fester and Bessy venture out towards the railway, but a lot has changed for Fester, and he just longs to go home. After midnight, he leaves Bessy, and returns home to find Paul waiting for him.

At Easter, Fester is visited by Karen, then by Nick, as Paul, and Jeremy have gone off to Manhattan, New York.

The boys headed to New York, as Jeremy's new job required for him to visit a conference, so Paul went off sightseeing. He also bumps into his first boyfriend.
Later, Paul and Jeremy go to 42nd Street to see a musical, and then to the MoMA.
They then came down with the flu, so they remained in their hotel for several days, before venturing out again.

The boys return to their home early one morning, and while Fester is in a sulk for a while, he quickly comes out of it, asking them to tell him about their trip.

Fester then talks about Panda, who had been present for the entirety of Fester's time living with Paul and Jeremy, but Fester had failed to talk about him... because of how Fester didn't know how to talk about a 10-inch tall stuffed bear.
One sunny day in the garden, Panda tells Fester about some of the homes he and Paul and Jeremy had lived in.

The daytime becomes longer over a span of time, and Paul has been marking his students dissertations, essays, and exam papers. That evening, Bessy decides that Fester's home isn't for her, so she leaves. Over the next few days, Fester sees many of the cats of Levenshulme.

Recently, the Paul and Jeremy haven't been getting along well with each other, as Jeremy has been in his study, receiving phone calls from his boss, who constantly criticizes him. Paul reassures Fester, and both of them are upset over Jeremy's situation. As much work as Jeremy does, his boss keeps giving him overwhelming amounts more (Paul speculates that Jeremy's boss is deliberately trying to undermine him). Paul goes away for a week, to teach a writing course, only to find out that he is expected to do it for free. Subsequently, when he returns, he's furious. Albert visits, but does little to cheer them up.
Soon, Paul is writing his latest novel, worrying about his publisher, and he tells Fester that he's writing books about Brenda and Effie.

On a sunny day, Paul and Jeremy purchase a beach house, which is delivered by some men from a garden centre, who also construct it. Several cats ask Fester what is going on.

At the new Beach House, over an undefined period of time, Paul writes more stories about Brenda and Effie and the Doctor, about how his books share a universe. He also receives messages from various people who ask him to write differently, and Paul refuses.

One day, they hear an awful noise, as an Alsatian attacks Smokey. Smokey then ran into his owner's home, hiding away deep in the basement. Months and months go by, and they finally see Smokey, who looks years younger. They see him once or twice more, but no more after that...

In August, Paul, Jeremy, and Panda leave early one morning to go on holiday to Paris. On the third day, Jeremy turns on his laptop that had resisted using until then, finding several work e-mails from his boss, which got more and more unreasonable. Jeremy only takes an hour to complete what is necessary, but, as Jeremy had been so occupied about his work weeks prior, this tips the scales and creates a gap between him and Paul.


The next Summer, Jeremy decides to build a pool in the garden, where there once was a large tree (which was poorly removed by the previous owners). Paul is currently working on two novels and several scripts for Doctor Who CDs. Over the summer, Paul and Jeremy invite many friends and neighbours to many barbecues. By the middle of summer, Fester goes feverish and goes off his food. Paul and Jeremy wait a few days to see if Fester gets any better, but it's soon apparent he's not. The next morning, Jeremy takes Fester to the vet.

Mr Joe takes a blood sample, and Fester remains at the vet while Jeremy leaves. Deliriously, Fester imagines being back home, though he returns to reality within minutes. Fester is accepting the possibility that he might die, so he at least wants to see Paul and Jeremy one last time.

Meanwhile, Jeremy is receiving yet more messages from his boss, and Paul tries to read some books to distract himself but is unable to escape into them as much as he would want. He then tries to write and edit his work but feels it's all rubbish. Paul begins to cry.

At quarter past six in the evening, Paul and Jeremy return to the vet, where they get a diagnosis for Fester's issue. Fester has an infection in his thyroid gland, which is treatable with a daily tablet for the rest of his life. Fester returns home in high spirits.

They try feeding the tablets to Fester, without any luck, as Fester dislikes the taste. They try coating the tablets in chicken liver pâté, and it's enough to get Fester to eat them. Over the next few months, Paul and Jeremy settle into a routine of feeding the tablets to Fester.

Fester then realises that he hasn't seen Three-Legged Freddy or Whisper in a while. The house on Central Avenue that had burned down had now been rebuilt into flats. Fester knew things were changing in Levenshulme. The boys have more barbecues in their garden, and in Autumn, when the kids went back to school, Paul graded many of his students' novels.
Paul starts a Book Club with Caroline, Karen, and Jamie, but Jeremy thinks little of it as they drank and gossiped instead of actually reading. Jeremy keeps obsessing over his work, which causes him to get angrier and moodier.

A few weeks later, after he completed a days' worth of writing, Paul phones up Jasmine, and arranges to stay with her for a few days, as an attempt to get Jeremy to think about something that isn't his job. Paul goes inside to pack a bag, and Fester tries to stop him, to no avail. Paul leaves, catching a train to a station near Jasmine's house in North Manchester. Jeremy only realises Paul had left several minutes later.

The day passes peacefully, but slowly. Jeremy gets a text message from Paul, saying that he will be away for a few days.

Fester tries to contemplate what life would be like if Paul and Jeremy split up, but he can't imagine it.

Fester spends some time in the cellar, catching mice, trying to rid his home of them, convinced it will persuade Paul to return.

A day or so later, Jasmine loses her patience with Paul, so Jeremy goes to pick him up, and they return home, with Fester glad things are back to normal.

Over the Autumn, Paul, Jeremy, and Panda go on holiday as a break from work, and afterwards, Jeremy finds out that his boss has been convincing Jeremy's peers that he isn't doing his job well enough.
Meanwhile, Fester has a rival to contend with. Ralph, a snarky and cocky young cat, moves in near Fester's home, and the two of them get into several fights. Paul initially thinks that Ralph is a sweet little cat, but after Ralph bites Fester on his neck, and it gets infected, Paul takes Fester to the vet to get antibiotics. Ralph now has a vendetta against Fester, and Paul starts tries shooing Ralph away.


Christmas passes after a visit from Jeremy's parents. In the middle of one of Paul's Book Clubs, Jeremy bursts in, in tears, telling Paul that his father has just died. Paul and Jeremy go to the funeral in Scotland.

Sometime after they return, Paul goes out to get coffee with a friend in Heaton Chapel. Fester gets a chill, causing him to sneeze a lot, and Jeremy worries that Fester had a stroke, but it turns out he just has an ear infection. Paul and Fester work together at their writing, and one day, Fester catches a blue tit, much to the boys' horror. They manage to free the spittle-covered bird from Fester. When the weather gets hotter as the year progresses, Fester then catches a frog, but instantly regrets it due to just how disgusting it is, slime and all.

After a while, Paul puts in his notice to the university to say that he's quitting. He finishes going through his students' novel manuscripts, and hands them back into the university. On the way back home, Paul invites Bessy to his home, as he can see that she's rather more battered since they last met.

Over the next couple of days, Fester can tell that Bessy is now getting old. She tells Fester that she's finding it harder and harder to find places to live, as many of the empty houses are being renovated. Fester catches Bessy up on recent developments with Paul and Jeremy, and then, after a day or so, bessy leaves for apparently the last time.

That summer, Paul has a Sunday lunch, inviting Albert and Jasmine among others. Later that summer, Paul's family move to Australia, after announcing on Facebook that they have no reason to stay in England, deliberatly ignoring Paul. At Christmas, Fester reminsces over the six years he's spent with Paul, Jeremy, and Panda. Some of Paul's friends from London come to visit, and then the New Year comes.


Over January, Fester and Paul take things at a slower pace. Fester becomes, as Paul put it, doddery, as he is continually thirsty and now starts doing his business in places other than his litter tray.
On the Monday before Easter, after the snow stops, Paul and Fester race into the garden. This is the day where things changed for Fester.

This is approximately when the beginning of the novel occurs.

In the Beach House, Fester writes his farewell to Paul and Jeremy, thanking them for giving him the happiest time of his life.


In an afterword by Paul, he writes about how Fester had trusted them from the very beginning, how they estimate Fester was twelve when he moved in and eighteen when he died, how he and Jeremy had spent the weekend crying.
Paul thinks by writing down what Fester means to him, he could perhaps will him to life on the page. He writes how he's finishing off Fester's novel, before it's too late. Jeremy slept in until midday, when his friends took him out to celebrate his belated birthday.
While Paul was reading The Neverending Story, he noticed a motif, which was, in essence, how each character might share an adventure, but then will go on to have many adventures by themselves. Paul thinks that every character is a spin-off, with no main story or main character.
Paul writes about what Fester taught him and that Fester made everyone happy...


(In order of appearance)

Referenced only[[edit]]



Fester Cat[[edit]]

  • Fester Cat is eighteen when he writes his book.
  • Because of how Fester's lip is affected by his lack of teeth, Paul likens him to Elvis.
  • In Fester's last home, he lived with a dog.
  • Paul does "mammy cat ears" to Fester - it's a way of stroking Fester's head so his hand smoothes Fester's ears down backwards, like how a mother cat would lick a kitten's head.
  • Fester was Paul's first cat, as a child, his Mam refused to let him have one, and in his time as a student, he was unable to have one due to him moving to a new house every few years.
  • In 2007, Paul sets up a Facebook account for Fester, which enables him to share his adventures, and to make friends from places he couldn't even imagine.
  • Fester thinks he moved in with Paul, Jeremy, and Panda in September, but he can't remember, as "cats don't measure time as humans do".
  • Fester gets a toy mouse in a Santa hat.

Paul Magrs[[edit]]

  • Paul was given a sled for Christmas, 1977. The sled came from Harding's, the posh toy shop in town.
  • When Paul is grading his students work, he longs to tell them to throw it all away and just write passionately, so Jeremy calls him an anarchist.
  • Paul tries to write twelve hundred words daily.
  • Paul and Jeremy wanted to get married, but the death of Jeremy's father put their plans on hold.
  • Paul's family also started leaving horrible messages to Paul.


  • Albert was embarrassed to talk to Panda, and Bessy thought Paul and Jeremy were "freaks" due to them being friends with him.
    • Most people simply accept that Panda is real, and not just a toy, but despite being shown a significant amount of evidence to show that Panda is a real individual, Fester is still sceptical about him.
  • Panda has lived with Paul and Jeremy since 1999.
  • Panda reviews ballet and opera for broadsheets.

Movies, television, and music[[edit]]

Books, magazines, and newspapers[[edit]]



Paul and Jeremy's home[[edit]]
Cheadle Hulme[[edit]]



New York[[edit]]



  • Paul and Jeremy had a home in Norwich before moving to their flat in Manchester.


Food and drink[[edit]]

The Doctor Who series[[edit]]

  • During mid to late 2006, Fester began watching Doctor Who with Paul and Jeremy, and Fester began to love it.
  • K9 and Company first aired around Christmas 1981.
  • Paul was given a Doctor Who jigsaw for Christmas in 1977.
  • Paul's Granddad enjoyed watching Doctor Who.
  • Paul is writing scripts for Doctor Who, and Fester gets excited thinking he's writing television scripts, but Paul clarifies that they're for CDs.
    • Every couple of weeks, Paul goes to a studio in London for the production, where he meets cast members and co-workers, including Tom Baker.
  • Tom Baker is Paul's favourite Doctor Who.
  • Jamie is a fan of the series.

The Brenda and Effie series[[edit]]

  • Paul believes that the publisher of Paul's Brenda and Effie series will drop him and his books, due to Paul not thinking they're selling well enough.
    • The gothic mystery series is about "the Bride of Frankenstein", aka Brenda setting up a B&B in Whitby, solving supernatural mysteries with her best friend Effie, who lives next door.
    • Fester thinks this is straightforward, but Paul's colleagues think they're "quirky", and they ask Paul when he will get back to writing "serious" and "meaningful" books.
    • Paul was at a cocktail party at the university, when a drunk poet said that Paul wrote "populist" novels, which to Paul, translated as "trashy".
  • Every year, at Halloween, Paul, Jeremy, and Panda head up to Whitby, to meet fans of the series at a bookshop, where Paul does a reading of his Brenda and Effie novels, and then does a book signing.

Paul Magrs' family[[edit]]

  • His family have dogs, and they paid for them to be looked after in kennels while they visited Paul.
    • Paul thinks the dogs are sweet, but untrained.
  • When Mam and Louise see Fester, Mam thinks he's a girl, and Louise calls him a "Kitler".
    • As Louise put it, a "Kitler" is "what they call cats with Hitler moustaches". She also said there was a website about it.
  • Paul had his first boyfriend in 1990, who was the same age as him.


  • While the novel is a autobiography written from the perspective of a biography, one would naturally assume that it is not fictitious; this isn't exactly true in this instance, as the book combines both fact and fiction, a fact that Magrs confirmed. Because of this, the book was never released in Britain due to editors finding the book's mixing of genres unmarketable.[2]
  • In reality, Paul, Jeremy, and Fester Cat live(d) on Limefield Terrace, however here, the street was renamed as Chestnut Avenue, presumably not to give away too much sensitive information. Magrs had previously done the same with The Wickerwork Man, also set in Levenshulme. Although since then, Paul has revealed his address to promote the "Levenshulme little library" - a small book exchange outside of Magrs' home.[3]
  • Several portions of the novel are adapted from short pieces on Paul Magrs' blog.[4][5]
  • Paul Magrs confirmed on his blog that Panda in this story is the same as the one from the Iris Wildthyme and The Brenda and Effie Mysteries.[6]
  • Penguin US bought the rights to the book on 14 October 2013. Charlotte Robertson wrote the blurb.[7]


Paul Magrs[[edit]]



External links[[edit]]