For anyone who has ever been owned by a cat, these selected letters from readers of Michael Capuzzo's (with coauthor Teresa Banik Capuzzo, a Pulitzer Prizewinning journalist) syndicated column, ``Wild Things,'' will surely sound many familiar notes. This is very much an either/or book: Either you'll be nodding merrily along as the correspondents detail the strange and curious, the edifying and touching moments of a life shared with a cat; or the whole thing will fly right over your head (likely you and a cat have never cohabited), perhaps setting your teeth on edge when things get mawkish or infantile. A few of the names encountered here will be familiar to any reader of feline literatureElizabeth Marshall Thomas, Roger Caras, James Herriot, Cleveland Amory, though all of their letters read more like snippets from their booksbut for the most part the folks writing to Capuzzo are everyday Joes and Janes (and Hartriono Sastrowardoyos, whose cat, unbeknownst to Hartriono, recorded a greeting message on his answering machine), and they feel fresh and spontaneous and at times terribly vulnerable and quite personal. The chapter headings tell it all: ``On Love,'' ``Loyalty and Friendship,'' ``Heroism,'' ``Healing and Faith,'' ``Mystery and Mischief,'' etc.; the letters, most just a page or two long, are humble tales of a good mouser or a cat that felt the presence of the departed. Some retell an apt folktale, and there are a few poems and many stories of saying good-bye, of letting go. Not surprisingly, a number of the better pieces, those that with an economy of words convey the beguiling, sphinxlike qualities of a cat, are bylined Michael Capuzzo. In the end, all these letters attest to one simple point: Cats play cat-lovers like stringed instruments.
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