by Jo Coudert
Conversations with Amber, which is a favorite of mine. The author looks back on her years with seven different cats (she's owned quite a few more) and in describing their different personalities and behavior, draws parallels to how we human beings deal with life. It feels more like a book about living well and fully, than a book about somebody's cats. She talks about character, about patience, about building relationships. She discusses the effects of early childhood- whether secure and loving or stressful and abusive- in influencing one's outlook on life. She talks about having self-confidence, about the value of hard work, about breaking ruts of behavior, making positive changes in our lives, putting on appearances, being needy or self-sufficient, jealousy, meditation, etc. A wealth of insights and observations. It only helps that I happen to agree with or admire many of her sentiments.
I find it a bit amusing that she and I have completely different taste in cats, though. Meaning, how they look. I once fell into error by choosing a handsome cat from a shelter based solely on his looks- he turned out to be not right for our family (see below). Coudret, too, is pleased to have cats that are beautiful or striking in appearance, but our opinion on that differs. She likes stocky longhaired cats with luxuriant fur. I like lean, athletic cats with long, graceful tails. I've always thought white cats with tabby patches were pretty. A cat comes into her house with all those qualities- lean, muscled, white with tabby patches, a long tail- and she is always mentioning how much a ruffian he looks, how scrawny and unkempt. I'm thinking, I'd like to see his photo! I bet I would find him a handsome cat.
Some readers might be a bit put off by her solutions to problems with a few of the cats- one that turned assertive and began spraying all over the house was relocated to a farm where he disappeared and no one knew his fate. I can sympathize, though- I had a cat once that was very aggressive to children and after trying for months to remedy the situation I gave him to a family without children, who lived on a large property where he could roam (he was a passionate hunter). The same day we took him to his new home, he bolted out their door and was never seen again. I still feel bad about it to this day, but also don't know what I would have done differently... Anyway, that's a tangent here. I liked Seven Cats and the Art of Living, so much that I want to find a copy for my own shelves.
rating: 4/5 ........ 192 pages, 1996
From the Recamier