Lost Cat, Found Humour

There’s little enough humour in our lives and when there is, we don’t always appreciate it or even get it. I admit there is a lot of humour that doesn’t work on me, it’s not enough to know the English language, the cultural  and political context is critical and as for French humour – way too difficult! – however I do admire anyone able to write with humour, speak with it or just be it!

012413_1956_LostCatFoun1.jpgCaroline Paul has something of the gift, in a kind of self-deprecating way, and her book Lost Cat, allows us to have a few laughs at her expense, although they are situations that could equally apply to many of us and especially cat and dog owners.

She has written this light and entertaining tale which will appeal to all ages, a story of love, desperation and the many tools available to obsessed animal lovers in search of a missing pet. It is a true story which comes with a caveat, three in fact, (1) painkillers, (2) elapsed time, (3)normal confusion for people of a certain age.

Knowing that the author has previously written a book about her job as a fire-woman,  it came as less of a surprise to learn that she was involved in a light plane crash in an ‘experimental plane’. Her sense of humour is established not long after this revelation when hospital staff inform her that she has broken her tibia and her fibula.

“The Tibia and Fibula?!” I said, tasting the blood in my mouth, feeling the bruises on my arm, laughing through my morphine haze. When I explained that these were my cats, the staff just nodded, expressionless; to them, I was just another numskull hallucinating on a gurney. But it was true. Two thirteen –year-old tabbies, affectionately nicknamed Tibby and Fibby, were now wondering where the heck I was and why I hadn’t come home.

The accident leads to a period of enforced convalescence and a bout of the blues ; she is unable to venture out, most likely taking up too much space, both mental and physical in what had been the cats’ territory. The home dynamic has also changed since the author became involved in a new relationship, her partner not exactly a cat lover, although as a graphic artist, she has contributed sketches to the book that add to its entertainment value.

Then, a month into her recovery, without warning, something terrible happens. Tibby disappears.

Caroline panics and in the aftermath of his disappearance indulges every possible theory to find out where he is, from walking the neighbourhood to visiting the pound, from prayer to consulting a psychic. Then five weeks after his disappearance, Tibby returns, just like that.  In perfect health.  He’d even gained half a pound and his coat was as shiny as silk.

Confusion. Jealousy. Betrayal. I thought I’d known my cat of thirteen years. But that cat had been anxious and shy. This cat was a swashbuckling adventurer back from the high seas. What siren call could have lured him away? Was he still going to this place, with its overflowing food bowls and endless treats.

012413_1956_LostCatFoun3.jpg

Allia’s cat Noisette

Rather than accept the fact he is safe and has returned, the author then turns detective to try to figure out where he has been, some place he’s clearly still visiting as he is no longer interested in his food. This when I discover things about animal behaviour and the obsessions of animal owners that have me laughing out loud and wanting to tell everyone about  all the crazy things it is possible to spend your hard-earned cash on when you are under the influence of an animal obsession.

And then I quieten down, remembering I have a ten-year-old who is heading in that direction, big time. I’m just thankful that dinosaurs are extinct or he’d be begging for a pet one of those too! I’m afraid of what will happen when he becomes financially independent, the ‘overflowing with life’ rooms, in the virtual home he has created online, possess no furniture or accessories, unless you call a peacock in the living room an accessory.

Camping Neighbours cat – can you believe this cat goes camping!

Where do our pets go and what do they do, when we’re not around? And why? Aren’t we enough for our furry companions? For animal lovers, these are the ultimate questions. And so began a quest familiar to anyone who has realised that the man in their life isn’t who he seems: the quest to find out where Tibby had been for those five weeks.

This book landed on my lap in a busy work period a little while ago and was the perfect antidote, even if you are not a fan of animals, it is worth reading for the enlightenment of the lengths people will go to, to understand their animal.  I wish this book had been available just before Christmas, it’s the perfect gift. There’s always next Christmas! I’ll be buying multiple copies.

Highly recommended.

Note: This book was an Advance Reader Copy provided by NetGalley on behalf of the publisher.

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21 thoughts on “Lost Cat, Found Humour

  1. Oh Claire, a delicious post about what sounds like a delicious book –
    it sounds just up my alley -(cat)
    I know where she is coming from, and have gone to any lengths to find my errant adventurer, tears streaming down my cheeks, unable to call loudly because my voice breaks with tears!!!

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    • You will love this one Valerie, so many wonderful anecdotes about cats, I’m hoping it’s going to inspire many to write a post about their cats and the heart-break, anxiety they put their mistresses through. They soften even the hardest hearts and are one of life’s little blessings 🙂

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  2. Claire loved your review and the pic of Allia. Our cat Siena whom Allia picked up when she was here is very like the cat she has in yr pic. Have you read Cleaner of Chartres by Salley Vickers? Love and Easter blessings, Brian

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    • Hi Brian, thanks for coming on here and commenting, yes I agree, this camping cat does look like how I remember Siena, including that look in it’s eye 🙂

      I haven’t read Cleaner of Chartres yet, but it is on my list and absolutely will do so when I can get hold of it. Have you read it? Do share your recommendations. Love to know what you are reading.

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  3. Okay, this is a MUST read for me. One of my cats disappeared once for a couple of hours and I went insane. Truly insane, no exaggeration.

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    • Definitely for you and I want you to come back and share your thoughts, or even better write a post about it when you’re finished, encourage your readers to take the same journey if they’re cat lovers 🙂

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      • I am in love with Lost Cat. I am sorry I’ve finished reading it. She is an amazing writer. I love, love, love the illustrations. And she is as crazy as I am. I cannot tell you how I related to this book. It is like she channeled me when she wrote it. I AM going to post about it. Not tomorrow but the day after. Tomorrow’s post is already done. You don’t know how happy I am that you reviewed this book! Thank you!

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      • Like me I think you’ll need to get the print version, just to be able to turn those pages and look at the illustrations and reminisce. I know you are a rereader and I can imagine you’ll be rereading this one many times, such a feel good, finish in an afternoon book! I can’t wait to read your post, there’s no doubt a book in you just on the subject of your cats 🙂

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  4. Claire,
    Thanks for covering our book with such insight. Both Wendy and I were so happy to see this review, and the reader comments, in our alerts (yes, sigh, we alert to our names, to our book titles, to our initials, to our hair color….) Best to you, Caroline

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    • I adored your book and couldn’t wait to tell people about it; the illustrations are sublime and will be the icing on the cake for readers who come to the book via my review. Enjoy the following, I imagine you’ll be generating quite a feline fan club now. Bonne Continuation to you all. Claire

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  5. Thank you for a great post. One of my very small dogs went missing for two days while staying with a friend. I didn’t even know about it until I returned from vacation, and Sophie was safely back — but it was a very traumatic experience. I can’t imagine 5 weeks!

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    • I think that is the best kind of disappearance Susan, the one we don’t know about! Our Noisette went missing one day when there were lots of children here and doors flying open and shut and we drove around the neighbourhood becoming acquainted with a whole legion of stray cats out there with no luck despite many near sightings. Much, much later after all the kids went home and the house quietened down, around 9pm, our Noisette appeared making a big stretch asking for his dinner. He’d found some little hiding place and had slept for more than 7 hours, he’d never left at all!

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  6. I have a friend who is one of those cat ladies you hear about. She goes to fairs to adopt out cats for the Humane Society, and ends up taking home the three-legged ones, the ones who wear diapers, the cats with Alzheimers, etc. She is a saint, and I am going to get this book for her!

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  7. Beautiful review, Claire! Loved the story told in the book. I want to find out where the cat disappeared and what adventures he had when he was away. This book makes me think of a John Cheever story called ‘The Yellow Room’ which also features a cat who disappears and then comes back and the interesting story behind that.

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    • This is one of those laugh out loud books Vishy, you will be amazed at the extent cat lovers go to, to uncover their habits. But the route to understanding the cat’s behaviour turns on its head the perception of whom is really betraying who. These creatures who have no master teach us to consider our own attitudes and behaviour. 🙂

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