Debut collection of linked stories focusing on an all-too-common contemporary type: a tense, persnickety woman on one side or another of 30, beset by vague feelings of disappointment and the dawning realization that she doesn't know it all and can't have everything. So what? Well, there's a gimmick: a cat in every tale somehow advances the plot, perhaps expressing emotions hitherto hidden or dragging secrets into the light (if a husband's girlie magazines still count as a big secret). A scrawny stray teaches a self-absorbed young wife raised in affluence to recognize the sacrifices her working-class husband makes for her. A mysterious cat triggers a psychotic rage in a stranger. Another cat unnerves a new mother who, overwhelmed with fatigue and postpartum depression, imagines it sucking the breath from her baby. A stray befriends a lonely girl piqued by the unsentimental attitude toward animals at her boyfriend's Colorado cattle ranch. Very much the kind of fiction that used to be featured in potluck-and-potholders women's magazines, especially since all's well that ends well (more or less) for these undifferentiated heroines. The premise is too slight, though, and the tone too tepid to sustain much interest.