The cover of my cat's (Swedish) pedigree booklet.

A document that happened to come to hand the other day was my cat’s Stamtavla, that is to say his Pedigree (he was born in Sweden, and spent his first year and a half there). Before being renamed Murphy, he had originally been given the name “Adolfsbergs Big Me”. Adolfsberg is a place near Örebro; while ‘Big Me’ apparently derives from his tendency (still in evidence today), to want to be at the centre of attention.

The pedigree documents four generations of his ancestry in full, which is a good deal more detail than I have in my own genealogy. That probably goes some way toward explaining why one of us has often drawn spontaneous praise for his good looks, and one of us hasn’t. Had it been left up to me, I would have sooner adopted an unwanted stray, but my wife was dead-set on getting a Birman. hence all this paperwork.

A page from my cat's pedigree booklet, kisting his grandparents, and their parents and grandparents.

His family tree contains a bewildering variety of inventive names, many of them utilising somewhat unidiomatic English, or otherwise mixing languages. His father, for instance, went by “Sun Mountain Gimme Love To Give”, while his maternal grandfather was “Centauri’s Autobahn”. A particular favourite name is that of his paternal grandfather’s paternal grandmother, “Ullstrumpans Qumquat”, Ullstrumpan being Swedish for ‘the woollen stocking’.