Susannah Fullerton is Australia’s best-known speaker on famous authors and their works. Susannah is President of the Jane Austen Society of Australia, the largest literary society in the country and Patron of the Kipling Society of Australia. Susannah is an enthralling storyteller. She brings to life the lives and writings of great novelists and poets in her fascinating lectures. She is also Australia’s most popular leader of literary tours to UK, Italy, Ireland, USA and Europe.

Susannah says there are many fabulous stories connected with famous authors and their love of animals. She shares her favourite story about Mark Twain and his relationship with felines. Susannah and her husband live in Sydney with two beautiful Maine Coon cats called Pearl and Topaz. Susannah reveals the secret lives of her Maine Coon cats Pearl and Topaz, and who really is the boss in her household.

Who’s the Boss:  What do you like about Maine Coon cats?

One of Susannah Fullerton's Maine Coon cats called Pearl

Pearl. Photo: Susannah Fullerton

Susannah: I think they are a breed with a huge personality. They love water and my two cats often go outside to play in the rain, or sit and watch the running taps in kitchen or bathroom. They are wonderfully sociable, and Topaz, in particular, is very affectionate. Pearl has socialised with the whole neighbourhood – neighbours have woken up to find she has come through the window and made herself totally at home on their bed.

I also really love their looks. They are a delight just to look at. Maine Coons have adorable tips on their ears, magnificent tails and their size is truly impressive.

Who’s the Boss: What do Pearl and Topaz get up to when you’re not around?

Susannah: Being cats, they know how to make themselves comfortable. They have both sorted out all the sunny resting places in the house and garden, and use those during the day. They can also explore, climbing over rooves and fences to go into the gardens of other Paddington terraces. They are both experts at taunting the dog next door – sitting where he can see them, but knowing that they are well out of his reach – it drives the poor dog crazy! Pearl also likes to sit in the window of the lounge, looking out at the street to watch all that happens there. And she is fond of the local bus-stop – if she hangs around there long enough, she’s sure to get stroked and made a fuss of. I’m terrified that one day she might decide to explore the inside of a bus and take a trip to town!

Who’s the Boss: Who’s the boss in your household?

Susannah: Definitely the cats – they go in or out of doors before us humans. They get fed first. But then, dogs have masters, cats have slaves, and we are happy slaves to both our cats.

One of Susannah Fullerton's Maine Coon cats called Topaz

Topaz. Photo: Susannah Fullerton

Who’s the Boss: What’s your favourite story about an author and his pet cat?

Susannah: There are many fabulous stories connected with famous authors and their love of animals. I think my favourite concerns, Mark Twain. He was certain that if you crossed the human being with the cat, it would improve the human and deteriorate the cat. He was so passionately fond of playing with cats that, whenever he stayed in a hotel (which was often, given his hectic lecturing career), he would hire kittens so that he could relax by playing with them. He also liked to provoke by the names he gave his cats – Satan, Beelzebub, Lazy etc.  He enjoyed seeing the reactions of his friends when they heard his cat’s name. He was suspicious of anyone who disliked cats – I have to say, I share his suspicions!