I take a ridiculous number of pet photographs. Every time one of our pets strikes a new pose or just looks extra adorable, I snap a picture. Most of my animal-loving friends do the same thing, and have a ton of pet photos on their camera phone. When I look at the photos of my pets or photos other people have taken of their pets, it’s a treat to see the strong connection between photographer and pet. Without trying to sound too cheesy, it’s like I see the animal through a lens of love.
That’s probably the first thing that grabbed me when I stumbled upon artist John Dolan’s sketches of George the Dog. Long before I learned about their incredible life together, I responded to the connection that was so evident in the simple black and white portraits John drew of his beloved George. And, like me, it seems that John picks up pen and paper as often as I pick up my camera; he’s created hundreds of pen and ink drawings of George the Dog in a variety of positions and circumstances. It’s heartwarming.
To discover Dolan’s art is one thing, but when you learn more about the back story, it’s quite another. The first time his art and story came to my attention was via an article in the UK publication, the Hackney Citizen. Apparently this exceptionally talented guy has a rocky past that includes multiple jail stays. He eventually ended up living on the streets of London before he was “discovered,” and he attributes all of his success to George the Dog.
I have had the pleasure of a cat’s company for all of my life. Without giving away my age, let’s just say that this amounts to a very long time. Cats have been my BFFs ever since the cute yellow kitten my toddler self inexplicably wanted to name Blacky (sadly, I was outvoted). I think it’s safe to say I know a thing or two about cat behavior. Which means that whenever I start reading a new cat book, I can tell within the first few pages whether the author really “knows” cats, or not.
As it happens, sometimes people who have a cat decide to try writing some funny stories about the cat. The stories are indeed humorous, but they don’t really describe feline behavior. As you might imagine, I enjoy books about cats more when they’re portraying at least semi-realistic things the cats do … or might do, if given the chance.
When I began reading Lessons in Stalking: Adjusting to Life with Cats, it was obvious that the book’s author, Dena Harris, was a bona fide cat lady. Not everyone gets cats, but Dena Harris most definitely does. Moreover, she captured their feline quirks perfectly, and the stories – although slightly exaggerated for comic effect – were plausible. Events may not have happened exactly the way she described them…but they could have.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
The personal opinions and/or use of trade, firm, corporation or brand names, in this blog is for the information and convenience of the reader. Such use does not constitute an official endorsement or approval by CANIDAE® Natural Pet Food Company of any product or service to the exclusion of others that may be suitable. All opinions in this blog are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® Natural Pet Food Company.