By Way of Introduction

I am terrible at beginnings, worse at introductions.
Cats are, as a general rule, better at middles and endings.

One day, several weeks ago, my human went to the grocery store and returned, not with tuna, but with books. This is not uncommon; he is fond of books and one of the grocery stores he frequents has a fairly large selection of books available, potboilers of the usual vulgar variety. Action thrillers indulging the most basic of adolescent male power fantasies; prurient “romances” which let women privately admit they’re every bit as superficial and appearance-obsessed as men; children’s books featuring the pop culture phenomenon du jour. They’re all so uniform in their plots and characters and prose that one wonders why anyone ever buys more than one. You read one, you’ve read them all. But this time! Oh, this time he returned with two books of particular interest to someone of my species – books about cats.

Moi!

l’chat, c’est moi

We cats bear a tremendous burden, shepherding humanity towards its destiny as providers of food and comfort and napping-places for feline-kind. It is thanks to our gentle guidance that reasonably fresh, raw fish may be had in mountain and desert communities, that indoor heating has advanced past the stage of fireplaces, and that beds, pillows and couches have grown ever softer. Much of what humans now value, from technology to fine dining, from fashion to warfare[1], may be laid at the paws of felis silvestris catus. There have been sacrifices – the larger felines of the world, bellicose and intransigent as they are wont to be, have suffered for the sake of progress, and the large, box-like televisions and computer screens where once we warmed ourselves have had to be abandoned in favor of those precarious, flat devices simply to increase the amount of time humans spend seated and petting us. But this is a burden we felines bear with stoic grace, and I flatter myself that I have trained my human well – guiding him, molding him, but always with such a light touch that he believes he is acting of his own volition. So if the obeisance he pays me as my rightful due means I must also endure the occasional eccentricity, well, so be it!

His fondness for cat-related merchandize is one such eccentricity. During the recent All-Hallow’s season he returned from shopping trips with tea-light holders and water bottles modeled crudely after my own regal countenance. And these books about cats were no different – mere fripperies, I assumed, until he explained (in that distracted way of his) the specific reason he had purchased them. It seems, dear reader, that these books were both part of two long-running series! He picked the earliest entries in the series he could find, though both were recent entries – and he assured me that there were at least three other cat-centric mystery series on sale at the same store. Whilst I have been contentedly acclimating to the new world of digital devices and internet investment, a whole genre of cat-centric fiction has sprung up without my noticing! And not merely the mystery stories my human brought back from the grocers or the children’s books which often unfairly misrepresent us, but cat-centric fiction of every stripe – historical romances, epic fantasies, science-fictions, thrillers, mythologies, games, etc. etc. etc.

I think it should hardly come as a surprise that the new manifestation of proper feline-adoration by humans is to be found in literature. It makes perfect sense that the literate, the erudite, the educated should be our most ardent admirers. I am aware of the internet’s decade-long fascination with us – it predates my birth, though its legacy remains with us to this day. But those manifestations, comical pictures of us with poorly-spelled captions, humiliating videos of certain cats’ foibles and mishaps, bespeak a subconscious schadenfreude, a human desire to see their betters laid low.

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So petty! So puerile!

But not so with the new explosion in cat-fiction. There, ah, there we are shown as noble heroes, thoughtful philosophers, wise mystics, and champions of all that is good and decent! Some are tricksters, some are sleuths, some are warriors and some are prophets, but all are heroes in their way. A truer representation of felinity than I ever could have imagined, given the state of our profile on the internet.

But who am I, you might be wondering?

Well, you may call me Charles. I am a cat. This is my “’blog,” and here I hope to give you a cat’s-eye view of the state of feline literature (“cat-lit” as my human so endearingly dubbed it). I will try to read as much cat-centric fiction (and maybe even a bit of non-fiction) as possible, evaluate it based on its merits and my own unimpeachable tastes, and let you know what is worth reading and what isn’t.

After a busy day at the office.

After a busy day at the office.

If you are a cat as well, this may help you sift the wheat from the chaff.
If you are a human, this may help you better understand why your feline friends seem so irritable or despondent at points – it isn’t easy, after all, living in a world in which 99% of the popular literature is produced by an entirely different species.
If you are a dog… well, I’m surprised you read this far. Or that you can read at all. Bully for you, Fido!

Starting next week, I expect to update this with a book review each Monday, and maybe an additional review of something else cat-related (comics, calendars, songs, movies, etc.) on Fridays.

And the title? Well, my human thought it would be a cute pun.
“So let it be kitten, so let it be done.”
This is the sort of thing we felines endure on your behalf, humans.

*******

[1] Consider, for example, drone warfare, by which means our noble species has ensured that many humans need never leave the country to complete their terms of military service; their combat may be carried out while providing (in the not too distant future) warm, safe laps upon which a furry companion might rest!

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