Category Archives: book review

The Psychokitty Speaks Out: Diary of a Mad Housecat

By Julia Williams

I am addicted to cat books. No, not books about cats; books written by cats. I can’t get enough of them. Luckily, it’s easy to get a fix. There are so many cat authors now, that I wouldn’t be surprised if they outnumbered human writers one day. Amazon often has kindle versions of cat books for .99 to $1.99 (sometimes even free!), and like a good pusher they email me to let me know.

My latest cat author discovery is Max Thompson, who describes himself as “14 pounds of sleek black and white glory, with an attitude…and opinions… on everything.” That’s accurate, I think. Max the cat is quite a character. He’s got “catitude,” as they say.

Max first dipped his paws into the writing water in 2003, with a blog called The PsychoKitty Speaks Out. Spurred on by the appreciation of the masses for his witty quips, enlightened feline wisdom and snarky attitude, Max put his musings into book form. Diary of a Mad Housecat contains short daily entries about Max’s life as a “put-upon and under-appreciated feline.”

The book puts a humorous spin on common feline behaviors that every cat lover will identify with. Such as: “If you don’t want me to lick the chicken, don’t leave it on the counter. Simple as that.” The diary format makes it easy to read in snippets, as time permits. It’s a funny look at the day-to-day life of a sarcastic, smart-aleck cat.

Max is cool, but he does have a potty mouth. Yes, he swears. A LOT. If Max were human, I imagine him as a beer swilling, chest thumping macho man who cusses like a drunken sailor, but still has a soft spot for Mom even though he claims not to like or need anyone. The idea of a swearing feline is admittedly not everyone’s cup of tea. I didn’t hate that aspect of Max’s character, exactly, but also feel the bad language could have been toned down because it started to detract from the humor.

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The Art of Purring Book Review and a Comment-a-thon!

By Julia Williams

Because it’s the giving season, CANIDAE decided to hold a comment-a-thon to benefit PAWS (Pets are Wonderful Support)! I’ll give you all the important details for that below. But first, I want to tell you about a pawsome novel that should be on the bookshelf of every cat lover.

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The Dalai Lama’s cat is back, which makes me so happy that I’m purring! Not actually purring, mind you, but metaphorically. I was over the moon when I received my copy of The Dalai Lama’s Cat and the Art of Purring, because it’s a sequel to one of the best books I read in 2013.

In that first book, The Dalai Lama’s Cat, I met and fell in love with a witty, wise and mischievous feline who “had me at hello.” She’s every bit as charming in this delightful new book, which also offers pearls of Buddhist wisdom from a cat’s point of view. The principles are sprinkled so subtly throughout the book that you may not even be consciously aware of them, but they will have a lasting impact nonetheless.

The Dalai Lama’s Cat and the Art of Purring offers gentle but profound lessons about life and most importantly, happiness – where it comes from, how to be joyful not just in the moment but for a lifetime, and how to discover more of the things that make you purr. Although the Dalai Lama’s cat walks on four legs instead of two, the wisdom she uncovers through various events can be applied to all of our lives.

My only disappointment is that the Dalai Lama was absent for most of the book, having left on a trip at the start of the story and returning just a few pages from the end. I do understand the point for his absence – a valuable lesson learned – but I loved the interaction of the Dalai Lama and Little Snow Lion (his affectionate name for the cat) in the first book, and was hoping for more of that.

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I Could Pee On This (and Other Poems by Cats)

By Julia Williams

Sometimes “Meow” doesn’t quite get the point across. At least, that’s the premise behind I Could Pee On This (and Other Poems by Cats), a delightful book that I am totally in love with.

If we buy into the notion that cats can write – and why shouldn’t we? Scads of cat blogs and cat memoirs already exist, which suggests that felines have found a way around the whole “lack of opposable thumbs” thing – then it’s not such a stretch to believe that cats can also pen poetry. Not just any poetry, however; witty, wise, laugh-out-loud poems that claim to “reveal the true artistic and neurotic genius that every feline possesses.”

Indeed. I Could Pee On This does that and so much more. The 64 short poems delve into the reasons behind funny feline behaviors, explore hilarious eccentricities and even include some existential musings. All from the cat’s point of view, of course.

At approximately 5” x 6” and 112 pages, I Could Pee On This is a tiny little thing. Nevertheless, every page is a gem, each poem one that will elicit a knowing smile from every cat lover. Because clearly, these poems have captured the very essence of what makes felines so enticing to us.

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Lil BUB’s Lil Book Will Charm Your Socks Off!

By Julia Williams

A few of the things I love most are: reading, writing, books, blogging and cats. So you can imagine how delighted I was when pet blogger extraordinaire Layla Morgan Wilde, of Cat Wisdom 101 fame, notified me that I’d won Lil BUB’s Lil Book in her recent giveaway. Score!

I am a big fan of BUB. Well, to be honest I can’t imagine how anyone could look at this cat’s adorable face and not be smitten with her. BUB is a “perma-kitten,” which means she will always be kitten sized and have a kitten-like face no matter how old she gets. BUB was born with several genetic mutations that give her a unique appearance, but she wasn’t bred to be that way – it was Mother Nature’s doing. Adding to BUB’s charm are her extra-large, expressive green eyes and a tongue that is usually hanging out because her teeth never grew in. Despite looking a little different than most felines, BUB’s doting human (her “Dude”) says she’s a healthy, happy cat.

BUB is also quite the witty kitty, and her new book is a testament to that. Along with lots of beautiful full color photos of BUB, the book showcases a feline with a quirky sense of humor, one who isn’t afraid to declare herself “The Most Amazing Cat on the Planet.” Now I ask you, what other cat could get away with that?

After a two-page foreward from BUB’s Dude and a one-page introduction by BUB, the book presents a series of cleverly captioned photos of BUB in all sorts of different environments: traveling through space, exploring Earth, sleeping in a cute little BUB-sized bed, meeting up with Colonel Meow and other famous friends, skateboarding, and just doing what she does best —looking so darn cute it makes you melt!

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Whiskerslist: the Kitty Classifieds

By Julia Williams

Have you ever wondered what kind of kooky trouble cats would get into on the internet if they could type? (Wait, what? You mean they can’t type? Then how do they write all of those cat blogs, tweets and Facebook status updates? Oh right…“Staff.” Who needs opposable thumbs when you can get an unwitting human to do your bidding?).  So yeah, every cat who is anycat has an online presence and legions of adoring fans. =^..^=

And now, as if our internet-savvy cats needed any more inspiration for their online escapades, there’s Whiskerslist: the Kitty Classifieds, a clever book that is sure to become every feline’s favorite. Whiskerslist features 160 craigslist-style classified ads written by cats, for cats. With categories like Personals, For Sale, Help Wanted, Services, Discussion and Gigs, this book delves into the devious feline mind like never before.

Cats will find everything they could possibly want in Whiskerslist, whether they are looking for love (or just some heavy petting), trying to sell their slightly-used-but-still-in good-condition cat toys, hoping to rent out their sink, find a job or score a new nip connection.

Whiskerslist has a few recurring characters that I loved, including Mittens McCullen, opportunistic Attorney at Law, and the smarmy Hector, a Lothario wannabe. Hector starts off being picky about the type of female companion he wants to hook up with, but when that doesn’t work he attempts to seduce pretty much any female cat who will have him. E.G., “I am an 8-year-old gray-and-white mancat who likes whatever you like. You are a thin/fat/purebred/crossbred/stray/one-eyed/three-legged female with or without fleas, mites, ticks, kittens or mange.”

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Book Review – The Existential Musings of an Angst-Filled Cat

Belle loves Henri!

By Julia Williams

William Braden, the creative genius behind the Henri, le Chat Noir empire, has done what I’ve dreamt of doing for years. William not only put his cat to work, but now supports himself fully with Henri-related ventures!

Whereas most pet owners merely watch their cat or dog blissfully sleeping away and just wish they’d wake up and do something to defray the cost of their kibble, William had a vision.

Well…actually I made that last part up. I don’t really know if William had a vision for his now-famous French-speaking cat or not, way back in 2006 when Henry (the tuxedo kitty’s real name) appeared in his first internet video. But after the second video catapulted Henri to fame, lightbulbs surely went off in William’s brilliant mind.

He had created an unforgettable character — the world’s first existential cat philosopher – who was filled with ennui and bent on pondering his tormented existence. Filmed in black and white to parody French film noir, William’s video won the Golden Cat Award at the 2012 Internet Cat Video Film Festival, and late film critic Roger Ebert declared it “The best internet cat video ever made.” Yes, it’s that good!

Legions of Henri fans snapped up the t-shirts, coffee cups, posters, mouse pads, Henri “pawtographs” and other merchandise that followed, and now…William lives off his cat! At least that’s what the press release said for the latest Henri endeavor – a delightful little book titled The Existential Musings of an Angst-Filled Cat.

The hardcover book (in black and white, naturally!) is a collection of doleful Henri quotes that purrrfectly illustrate the disenchanted house cat’s cynical outlook on life. There are also 45 gorgeous photos, mostly of the handsome Henri but a few of his supposedly simpleminded feline roommate, aka “the white imbecile.”

If you’re a fan of the Henri videos, you simply must have The Existential Musings of an Angst-Filled Cat in your library! It also makes a great gift for a cat lover. Here are a few of my favorite quotes from the book:

“When I watch you go about your activities, make no mistake about my intentions. I am not curious or coy. I am judging you.”

“I sleep because every time I open my eyes, the world is still there.”

“Looking into the garden today, I saw another version of myself meeting my gaze. A celestial counterpart, free in all the ways I am trapped, yet longing for the safety of my prison. It turns out it was just a raccoon.”

Cat treats are a poor substitute for real answers to the mysteries of our existence. Yet, I do not reject them.”

“My thumbs are not opposable, yet I oppose everything.”

If I had one itsy bitsy quibble with this great book, it would be that the experience of reading it is far too short. It’s certainly not a book you’ll take on summer vacation to while away a lazy day at the beach. In fact, you can finish the book in ten minutes. I definitely wanted more Henri after that last page! But here’s the thing – you’ll come back to the book again and again, and each time the experience will be just as enjoyable.

Buy it. Read it. Give it to a fellow cat lover. Or keep it on your coffee table to (in Henri’s own words) “make you look smart.” Indeed!

Henri, le Chat Noir: The Existential Musings of an Angst-Filled Cat is sure to become a cat classic.

Disclosure: The publisher provided me with a copy of this book for review, but all opinions and philosophical musings in this post are wholly my own.

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