Tag Archives: cats

38 Species x 9 Lives

Wild cats

Wild Cats of the World by Luke Hunter, Illustrated by Priscilla Barrett (Bloomsbury, $40.00, 240 pages)

Wild Cats of the World is a coffee table sized book that at first glance looks like it would be the perfect gift for any feline lover. The book examines 38 species of small and big cats, augmented with beautiful photos and sketches. It also imparts interesting information, like the fact that female cats are actually more efficient hunters than males – since they don’t stalk things they can’t kill, and that wildcats can live a full 19 years in captivity. It’s also repeatedly stated that wildcats can and do interbreed with domestic cats.

Wildcat 2

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Unfortunately, this book has several weaknesses. Hunter is far too concerned with what each type of cat kills and eats; there are too many photos of cats with their prey – which deems it unsuitable to be kept around children; and the book over-emphasizes the issue of extinction of species. What could have been a joyful celebration of the world’s most successful mammal – one that exists in both large and small forms – becomes a depressing, dragged-out, textbook-like read.

There’s not enough attention paid to the 43 breeds of domestic cats, which are far from extinct with 500 million of them serving as beloved pets, and an additional 500 million living as feral creatures. (500 million feral versions of Felis catus/Felis silvestris definitely equals a very successful type of wild cat!) And the high-priced book is poorly edited (“[a] survey must… continue for a long enough to sample…”).

Overall, a miss instead of a hit.

Joseph Arellano

A review copy was provided by the publisher. This book was released on October 13, 2015.

Note: There’s another book titled Wild Cats of the World, authored by Mel Sunquist and Fiona Sunquist (Chicago University Press).

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Baubles, Bangles and Beads

Cat Bearing Gifts (nook book)

Cat Bearing Gifts: A Joe Grey Mystery by Shirley Rousseau Murphy (William Morrow, $19.99, 304 pages)

Get ready for another charming tale about talking cat Joe Grey and his pals – both feline and human. This episode focuses on Kit, the cat who has wanderlust in her veins. She and her elderly humans, Lucinda and Pedric Greenlaw, are the victims of some serious road rage. The three of them are nearly killed as Pedric drives home from a lovely visit and shopping spree in San Francisco.

Readers of the series know that the featured town, Molina Point, is a version of Carmel-by-the-Sea, yes, that Carmel where Clint Eastwood was mayor for a time. Anyone learning that a car is traveling on Highway 1 toward Molina Point would immediately know that the car occupies the outside lane. The drop to the Pacific Ocean is abrupt and poor Pedric is driving a huge Lincoln Town Car in the dark!

The scruffy, easy-to-dislike bad guys who are also on their way to Molina Point cause a horrific and deadly collision. The mayhem that ensues brings the spotlight on the feline character, Pan, who has been featured in the most recent Joe Grey mystery with his father, Misto. Kit is his counterpart and when she is lost in the coyote-filled hills above the crash site, Pan is beside himself with worry for her safety. Pedric and Lucinda are injured as might be expected and their welfare is in the hand of the humans with talking cats.

Greed and apathy are the featured evils that must be dealt with in order to bring the Molina Point clan back together safely. As usual there’s plenty of skulking around the quaint neighborhoods, and more than one rooftop race to outwit the bad guys. Author Murphy ties together the human and feline dramas with plenty of friendship, devotion and sleuthing. The heart warming story is a purrfect read during these cold winter months – or during the upcoming weeks of Spring.

Highly recommended.

Ruta Arellano

A review copy was provided by the publisher. Shirley Rousseau Murphy is also the author of Cat Telling Tales: A Joe Grey Mystery.

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A Homer Run

Homer The Cat by Reeve Lindbergh, Illustrated by Anne Wilsdorf (Candlewick Press, $15.99, 32 pages)

Any child that lives with an indoor cat is likely to both love and identify with this story of Homer the cat.   Homer’s a contented feline…  Although he does not go outdoors, he’s got toys to play with and birds to watch and is well fed by a nice, quiet lady who lives in a quiet house.   Then one day, as the quiet lady is off at work (at a place unknown to Homer), a window suddenly falls out of its housing and Homer finds himself out in the world.   It’s a place that – to his sensitive ears – is loud and frightening, and no matter where he goes in town, he can’t find the “cozy, cat-size space” that he craves.

Homer visits various locations on his unplanned journey, and has a few near-misses with bad consequences before he discovers  “a quiet building across a quiet floor.”   This turns out to be the public library where his quiet lady owner is reading books aloud to several children.   Quiet lady and Homer are ecstatic to see each other, and the children naturally love seeing and petting the great orange cat.   So Homer decides to make the library his new second home, a plan approved by the library kids as being “purr-fect!”

This is a beautifully illustrated children’s book, which will make a fine addition to the library of any young reader aged 4 and above.   The moral of the rhyming tale (or is that tail?) seems to be that no matter what happens, a splendid place to call home can always be found.   This should prove reassuring to any socially nervous young ones.

Well recommended.

Joseph Arellano

A review copy was provided by the publisher.

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If You Could Read My Mind

Cat Telling Tales: A Joe Grey Mystery by Shirley Rousseau Murphy (William Morrow, $19.99, 384 pages)

Just in time for the holidays, this Joe Grey mystery dishes up a warm serving of human kindness.   Of course there’s plenty of evil and mayhem for the team of kitties and their humans to get their teeth into.   There are human victims in the mix, old and young, dead and alive.   (Please see the prior review of Cat Coming Home on this site for background on the story line.   The review, “Dead Man’s Curve”, was posted on November 17, 2010.)

As with prior books in this series, Cat Telling Tales provides an opportunity to champion the victims of crime.   Rather than a specific victim, in this tale the focus is on the pets that have been dumped by folks made homeless by the economic meltdown in recent years.   Author Murphy provides ample evidence of how pets are abandoned and what can be done to put their lives back together.   She champions the townsfolk who take the time and make the effort to gather the resources to give the abandoned pets a fresh start.   Readers who love cats, and dogs for that matter, can use the ideas presented for fundraisers in their own communities or join their local organizations that are the counterparts to ones referenced in the book.   (Please see the links and contact information below for the organizations supported by this site.)

Not all the victims in this tale were guiltless; however, in the hierarchy of crime murder takes the top spot.   The body count adds up to three this time around.   Joe Grey, Dulcie and Kit are joined by Misto who was introduced in the aforementioned book as the older yellow tom cat.   As is her style, Ms. Murphy enriches her cast with yet another newcomer.   Yes, he’s fascinating and he does catch Kit’s attention.   Some things don’t change.

Highly recommended.

Ruta Arellano

A review copy was provided by the publisher.   Cat Telling Tales was released on November 22, 2011.

Happy Tails Pet Sanctuary – Sacramento, CA

http://www.happytails.org/   E-mail: purrball@happytails.org   Telephone: (916) 556-1155

Sacramento SPCA – Sacramento County

http://www.sspca.org/   Telephone: (916) 383-7387

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Coming Up Next…

A review of Cat Telling Tales: A Joe Grey Mystery by Shirley Rousseau Murphy.

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The Big Cat Book

Leo the Snow Leopard: The True Story of an Amazing Rescue, told by Juliana Hatkoff, Isabella Hatkoff, and Craig Hatkoff (Scholastic Press; $17.99; 40 pages)

“Snow leopards by nature are survivors.   They withstand almost impossible conditions – frigid snow, harsh winds, unsteady ground.”

As a very young cat (my humans call me a kitten), I was anxious to read this book about one of my big cat distant cousins.   I look like a small gray-blue-black leopard, and this book’s about Leo, a cool spotted snow leopard.   Like me, Leo was found wandering around without his mother, an orphan.   But unlike me, Leo was located mewing and hungry in the snowy Karakoram mountains of northern Pakistan.   That’s a lot higher place than I’ve ever been!

Leo happened to be found by a goat herder, a nice man who gave Leo a new, safe home with lots of goat’s milk to drink.   (I don’t know if goat’s milk is tasty or not.)   Sadly, Leo wound up getting sick when he was just a baby cub – all of seven weeks old – so he was turned over to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) offices in Pakistan.

The WWF veterinarians (ooh, those white-coated doctors scare me) fixed him up, then got the idea of sending Leo to a zoo in the U. S. that was the first to exhibit a snow leopard.   And that was?   Yes, you guessed it, the Bronx Zoo!

Finally, Leo got lucky ’cause he was put in a big natural forest setting at the zoo where he, naturally, chose to stay high up on a man-made cliff.   That is, until he got an enclosure mate – the gorgeous female snow leopard named Shelby.   Leo and Shelby have a  lot of fun together, and they might be thinking about producing some snow leopard cubs.   (I have no idea what the process is for this…)

Anyway, this is a neat-o book for anyone who likes cats, especially the small humans in your household.   A  librarian told me that this book is recommended for young humanoids between the ages of four and eight and/or for those in Kindergarten through grade five.   What does grade five mean?

This book’s filled with four extra pages of information on endangered animals and zoos for the older kids and adults to read.   I read them and found out that I’m not endangered – whew!; but, snow leopards are.   There are only a few thousand of them left on this planet.   Anyone reading this book, human or animal, will realize that we need to save the snow leopards, especially the loveable big ones like Leo.

I’ll see you at the Bronx Zoo sometime, my furry cousin!

I loved this book as much as a bowl of Tillamook cheddar cheese.

Highly recommended.

Sasha the kitten

This children’s book was purchased by Sasha’s dad of the human persuasion.   One of the books in this series, Winter’s Tale: How One Little Dolphin Learned to Swim Again, has been made into a motion picture (Dolphin Tale).   Another, Owen & Mzee, was a #1 New York Times bestselling book.

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My Best Friend

Do You Have a Cat? by Eileen Spinelli (Eerdmans Books for Young Readers; $16.00; 32 pages)

“A cat who likes to caterwaul is better than no cat at all!”

There’s an old saying that dogs and their owners begin to look like each other.   Well, I may be just a kitten but even I know that’s not true just for dogs…  And this book, Do You Have a Cat?, proves me to be right.   This book shows us – and especially the young humans in the reading audience – that 14 very famous people owned felines (that’s a cat, to you).   And, guess what?   These famous people looked just like their cats and vice-versa!

If you don’t believe me, just look at the swell drawings in this book.   You’ll see that everyone from Cleopatra to Queen Victoria and Charles Lindbergh and Albert Schweitzer and President Calvin Coolidge owned very special cats, all of whom just happened to be the spitting-image of their home owners!   And you’ll learn some very cool stuff, too, like the fact that President Coolidge went on the radio to tell the folks when his cat was lost.   Luckily, for Cal, Tiger was soon found and returned to the White House!

So, I’m a young cat but I know good books.   This one’s as good as a bowl of half-and-half!

Highly recommended.

Sasha (the kitten) Arellano

A review copy was provided by the publisher.   Geraldo Valerio is the illustrator of this children’s book, recommended for ages 4 through 8.  

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