Abraham the book cat turns final page

CAITLIN PORTER
Last updated 05:00 19/06/2014
Abraham the cat
FAIRFAX NZ
PRIME TIME: Celebrity cat Abraham was patted by hundreds of children during many school visits he made before his retirement 10 years ago. He is pictured with owner Gideon Couper at Waimairi School in 2002.

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Abraham, the much-loved star of children's book The Builder's Cat, has died, aged 20.

The black half-Burmese feline was a kitten when Canterbury builder Gideon Couper started taking him to work - a move that inspired the 1999 book by award-winning author Gwenda Turner, who died in 2001.

Abraham's death had been hard for the family, Couper said.

"It's left a real hole. You don't want to clean up the cat bowl.

"On his last day, he had a stroke in the middle of the night and he was meowing. I was able to pick him up and take him to my bed and I just lay my hand on him for his final night."

The book that shot Abraham to fame was based on his real-life adventures on building sites.

"He was an extraordinary cat," Couper said.

"Not many cats pay their way and the royalties from his book still pay for his cat food. That is pretty rare."

Couper retired Abraham when he was 10 but not before the cat was patted by hundreds of children during his many school visits.

"I always wanted to encourage [children] to read and I'd take the cat and they would see that real people were in books."

Children's Bookshop owner Sheila Sinclair said The Builder's Cat was really popular.

"When it first came out it sold very well. All [Turner's] books did," she said.

Although the book is now out of print, Couper wrote his own sequel in 2002 to share more stories about Abraham's adventures.

"He was a special cat. and I am sure there are many people that loved him."

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- The Press

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