Dec 5, 2020

The Silent Miaow

a Manual for Kittens, Strays, and Homeless Cats 
translated from the Feline 
by Paul Gallico

      A book from the cat's perspective which details how a one may successfully take over and run a human household to their own liking. When done skillfully, the humans won't even realize this is happening. It's all about clever, subtle manipulation, making the humans think they're getting their own way, while really they end up doing everything to the cat's desire. It's more smug and self-assured in tone than The Devious Book for Cats, and very charmingly illustrated with professional photographs of a cat in her home by Suzanne Szasz. It doesn't at all feel outdated, except maybe for a few remarks on the nature of men and women. The feline advice is on things like: getting people to serve what you want to eat, claiming your own chair, making it a given that you will sleep on the bed, dealing with travel and visits to the veterinarian, coaxing the man of the house to give you tidbits from the dinner table, how to treat unwelcome houseguests, making sure doors will be opened for you, training humans to recognize your different miaows (including the voiceless one which must be used very strategically), what poses and attitudes are most becoming to win people's admiration, making the holiday fuss all about you, and finally- if you happen to have dalliance with a tomcat and become a mother- how to properly pass on these lessons to your offspring so that they, too, may acquire and influence a human household. There are also remarks which let you that know in spite of her calm sense of superiority, the cat behind this book obviously loves her humans as well. 

There's more, but really you should have the delight of reading them for yourself! so I will stop here. I still remember very clearly when I first saw this book on my great aunt's shelf. I read it once during a visit there and ever after longed for my own copy. How thrilled I was to finally find one- many years ago now but I think I came across it in a used bookstore. I am sure anyone who loves cats would be charmed by this book, and the photographs, while all black-and-white, are so perfectly composed with precise focus and contrast, you almost forget there's no color to them. 

Rating: 5/5                 160 pages, 1964

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