I picked up this compilation of stories to take on vacation as a beach read, and was very much looking forward to indulging in some great cat themed essays.
The first offering turned out to be disappointing, and unfortunately set the stage for the entire book. It was written by Sophia Dembling about her cat Aretha. By her own admission it is a tale of neglect. It begins with the author packing to get away for the Christmas holidays. Her cat slips out the front door and instead of doing the right thing, which would have been to miss her plane and find the cat, the writer abandons Aretha, boards the plane and is off on her merry little holiday. When the owner returns, she finds Aretha sitting in her neighbor’s backyard with no interest in the author, nor any intention of ever returning to Dembling’s home. This story showed me that the author was not writing about her feline “friend,” as is promised within the forward to this book. Unless, of course, you are the type of person who abandons your friends whenever it might inconvenience you to help them out.
A few of the essays that followed were of a similar theme written by women who weren’t crazy about their cats. In fact, some were by individuals who didn’t even like cats, much less loved them. Let’s just call them, “feline tolerant,” and rejoice in the fact that no cat haters were included.
That said, many of the essays were actually very gratifying, written with great love for the cats personified, and befitting the description of this collection. A very nice touch is that all the stories are accompanied by black and white photos of the felines in question, and these add to the tributes paid to these remarkable and well loved feline companions.
So, be a little finicky and read the ones you like and bury the rest. You’ll be happier if you do both!
Cat Women: Female Writers on Their Feline Friends