A debut collection of essays, poems and thoughts about cats by an author who’s worked as an animal rights lobbyist, cat groomer, animal control board member, veterinary technician, shelter worker and therapy-cat trainer.
Clifford has had a special relationship with cats since childhood. One of her first words was “cat,” and her father took her to a shelter to adopt her first feline when she was only 4. She doesn’t reveal how many cats she’s taken in over the years, but she affectionately refers to her “feline crew” as a “thundering herd.” The author clearly has a unique way with animals, and her pieces here range from lighthearted notes about cats who play fetch to tender reflections about animals who have died. Her range of experiences working with animals includes treating cats with such special needs as deafness and diabetes, and she writes informative chapters detailing the challenges and rewards of caring for them. At over 300 pages, however, the collection eventually feels a bit scattered; chapters are not presented in chronological order, and stories from the author’s early years are interspersed with sections from later periods of her life. As such, the book might have been more focused as a straightforward memoir. Many stories are only a page or two long, and with so many cats mentioned in the book, some of the chapters may start to run together. Some are more anecdotal and less satisfying than others, such as “Things Broken,” in which Clifford becomes angry after breaking a dish and realizes that she was actually upset about the recent death of her Abyssinian. However, “Yes, I Promise!,” about Clifford’s father using his lunch money to buy her first purebred cat, is particularly moving.
An entertaining, if unfocused, read that will be most enjoyed by devoted cat lovers.