A feisty feline faces the daunting task of negotiating his place in the intersecting worlds of cats and humans as he comes of age in this debut “animal tale for adults.”
Leo, the gray tabby “tough cat” narrator, begins his life story with his impressions of his early days as a “Furball,” or kitten, living in a barred enclosure in what is evidently an adoption shelter. He remembers little of his mother and siblings and nothing of his father, but is haunted by memories of the sterile smell and the mysterious disappearances of several friends, who later returned but “never had natural inclinations again.” Such a fate never befalls Leo, however, and his narrative contains sex scenes explicit enough to warrant the note that this is a story for adults. Cats are “Furs” and people are “E-Yeows” in the language of Leo’s world, and much of the tale revolves around his attempts to balance his independent nature with the convenience of being regularly fed (even with inferior, lifeless food) and stroked (even if seldom in a really satisfying manner). In the course of his journey to maturity, he discovers friends, enemies, and lovers among the Furs he encounters while also learning to avoid and torment the obnoxious, raucous “Wolfers” who E-Yeows seem to like so much. Moye succeeds in endowing Leo with the roguish swagger of a film noir detective, and it is pleasurable to watch him find his purr. It is unfortunate that he so often voices gratuitous sexism and machismo, such as Leo’s complaint that names like “Fluffy” and “Twinkle” are emasculating and his description of a female Fur as “voluptuous.” Indeed, one might wish that the picaresque narrative were longer, so that the details of Fur psyche, society, and worldview might have been more thoroughly developed, distinct from those of humans. The Fur language is both funny and inspired—most of the words are some form of “Meow.”
An entertaining, if limited, peek into the psyche of a cat torn between freedom and domestication.