THE HOUSE OF THIRTY CATS by Mary Calhoun

THE HOUSE OF THIRTY CATS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The situation, even the title is similar to last season's 27 Cats Next Door by Anita Feagles (p. 177, J-57). This is the better written story, but the other offered a more realistic and honest portrayal, and was more thought-provoking. In both there is an elderly, eccentric old lady, solitary except for a super-abundance of cats, and a neighborhood child who makes the effort to offer her friendship. Here it is Sarah Rutledge, who is herself a lonely, almost friendless person. Sarah is very well drawn. Her inability to be at ease with others is painfully evident, so are her imaginings. Her understanding of the varying personalities of each of the thirty cats, and later, as she attempts to match the cats to people she knows, her gradual comprehension and sympathy for humans, leads to a very genuine development and maturation. The trouble with the story is that reader sympathy is entirely directed toward the cats and their mistress, Miss Tabitha. When her next-door neighbor, Colonel Mace, is enfuriated that the cats have destroyed his carefully tended plants and disturb him with their noise, and has them declared a public nuisance, he is shown only as a cold, unfeeling man. Other complaints of yowling and garbage-scrounging are off-handedly directed to one bad alley cat. And it is totally denied that Miss Tabitha's house is anything but spotless and odor-less. It's hard to accept, so is the town council's soft-hearted reversal of the ruling that the cats be removed. Individual characters and descriptions are excellent, but the story fails in its inability to locate the boundaries of social responsibility.

Pub Date: Sept. 22nd, 1965
Publisher: Harper & Row