I heard about the 2016 documentary Kedi on the podcast “Movie Therapy with Rafer & Kristen.” The hosts were advising a listener looking for comfort after her beloved cat passed away.
Kedi is a documentary about street cats in Istanbul. The film explores the many ways the cats are viewed by the city’s human inhabitants. For example, one restaurant owner prefers a cat for pest control over chemicals. Another bakery owner considers the neighborhood street cat a nuisance, begging customers for food and refusing to be shooed away. Most often, the cats are loved. A market vendor is the to-go person when a cat is found injured. He has a running tab at the veterinarian’s office. A woman lets one cat come and go as she pleases through the apartment but can’t imagine even attempting to make the street cat a house cat.
Underlying clever cat camerawork is a commentary on a changing city. With buildings rising up and green spaces shrinking at ground level, the documentary’s human participants wonder how the cats will continue navigate their space. But after surviving for thousands of years in the city already, the cats are sure to adjust and change along with the city.
The film is subtitled but like many great documentaries the story is told through visual narratives from which it is impossible to look away. The cats are the stars of the film. Unlike internet cat videos, this isn’t a short clip of a cute trick. Rather, it’s a long observation of the joy and comfort cats can bring to the human experience.
Hello Challenge Readers!
So, it’s been another difficult month in the year 2020. I know many of us – myself included – are taking a hard look at long-held beliefs and starting the ongoing work of educating ourselves. It may seem overwhelming, but it’s minor compared what too many of our citizens have suffered. Reading and comprehension are more important than ever – reading can be a source of education, a way to get a glimpse of another person’s life and it can be a comfort. I hope that this month you were able to find exactly what you needed, including for our monthly Reading Challenge!
I read Lawyer for the Cat by Lee Robinson, a lighter than air mystery about a cat that has inherited a large plantation house and a fortune. Attorney Sally Baynard is assigned to choose a caretaker for the cat (and therefore live in the house and earn a substantial salary) from the three candidates listed in the will of the cat’s former owner.
Beatrice the cat is quite self-contained and has strong opinions about who she likes and who she won’t tolerate. Sally has to juggle finding the right fit for Beatrice (and the estate) while juggling a Mother with advancing Alzheimer’s, her regular load of Family Law cases and a boyfriend that is pushing for more of her attention. Not all of the candidates in the will seem above-board either – there seems to ulterior motives as some people are more interested on getting their hands on the estate than taking care of Beatrice.
Overall, this was an interesting mystery. Sally is a woman who has found success in the old boys club of Southern politics and law. I did worry some about how casually she handled Beatrice – at one point losing her altogether! – but you can be assured that Beatrice comes out with the best possible results. Interesting and fun, but very light.
What did you read this month? Let us know in the comments!
Guest post by Laura V
Legend has it that ships sailing from far and wide, docking at Constantinople in the Ottoman Empire carried cats for mouse control and the cats disembarked and stayed there. Today, hundreds of thousands of cats wander the streets of Istanbul, Turkey (formerly Constantinople). Over thousands of years these felines have carved a permanent niche in the fabric of the city. According to the website promoting Kedi, “Claiming no owners, the cats of Istanbul live between two worlds, neither wild nor tame — and they bring joy and purpose to those people they choose to adopt. In Istanbul, cats are the mirrors to the people, allowing them to reflect on their lives in ways nothing else could.”
After losing my initial and anxious gut reaction that all of these cats should be spayed or neutered that persisted for a good 20 minutes, I was able to relax into the film. The stories of the relationships between these cats, who have very distinct personalities, and the people who befriend them are beautiful. People named the cats, fed them, let them in their houses, and even took them to the vet, sometimes multiple times but the cats were ultimately ownerless and lived their own lives as they pleased. I was struck by the diversity and attractiveness of the kitties since it would appear that they have come from all over the world and have interbred freely.
If you’re a cat lover, you’ll love this film.
I don’t know what I expected when I started reading Talking with Dogs and Cats, but it wasn’t what I got. I’ve read quite a few of the animal behavior books we have in the library, and this one is unique. It was actually pretty gratifying to know that, instinctively, I’ve been doing a lot of things the author, Tim Link, suggests. For example, he encourages us to talk to our pets – not just a lot of orders and instructions, but greet them in the morning and when you come home from work. When they go to the window and bark madly, walk over and try to see what set them off. Acknowledge the squirrel or UPS man, and thank them for bringing it to your attention. Tell them when to stop and reward them for stopping.
Pets need to feel that they have a job, and that job may be watching out that window and letting you know what’s going on in the wide world. Yelling at them to be quiet is likely to be ineffective, and, actually, counterproductive.
When you have multiple pets, it’s hard not to have a favorite, but you still need to spend time and pay focused attention to the others. You’ll be rewarded with a better understanding of the animal and a better relationship. I can attest to this. Since reading the book, I’ve made a point of communing with the dog who is not my favorite – an dachshund whose single-minded dedication to finding any edible object and barking about it, does not usually make one want to spend discretionary time with him. His sister, on the other hand, is incredibly loveable and has many interests other than seeking out and swallowing things before she’s quite clear about what they are.
Anyway, Mini Mutt and I have been having one-on-one conversations and I really feel that we have been connecting. When we run out of things to talk about, we sit companionably together. It’s very nice to have these calm times to balance other times where we’re both shouting in our own ways.
You may not agree with every bit of advice in this book, but any book that causes you to look at things from another’s point of view is always valuable.
I have a dilemma. I think cats are adorable, but I’m allergic, so I can never own one. I get my cat fix by visiting my friends who own cats, where I’m forced to admire them from afar and not get too close. Let me tell you something that I’ve noticed: cats are WEIRD. Don’t get me wrong, I admit cats are significantly smarter than my dogs, but I can never be 100% sure what exactly is going on in any cat’s head.
Enter in I Could Pee on This: And Other Poems by Cats. This book has become my go-to manual for figuring out what that tabby cat is thinking as it stares me down from the corner of the room. Ever wondered how they feel about catnip, laser pointers, traveling, or even that new fuzzy kitten you brought home? Let the cats tell you all about it. The next time you decide to try to sleep in, are wondering what happened to your curtains or couch, or are even curious about why your cat seems to change his mind so quickly, turn to this book to gain a humorous understanding of why cats behave the way they do(and then maybe swing by the pet store on your way home and pick up some catnip and a brand new toy – they’re not opposed to bribery).
For people who both love and hate cats comes the tale of Alec Charlesworth, a librarian who finds himself suddenly alone: he’s lost his job, his beloved wife has just died, and to top it all off, his sister has disappeared. Overcome by grief, he stands in his sister’s kitchen staring at the only witness to what’s happened to her – her cat, Roger. Who then speaks to him.
It takes a while for Alec to realize he’s not gone mad from grief, that the cat is actually speaking . . . and that much of what we fear about cats is true. They do think they’re smarter than humans, for one thing. And, well, it seems they are! What’s more, they do have nine lives. Or at least this one does – Roger’s older than Methuselah, and his unblinking stare comes from the fact that he’s seen it all.
And in Cat Out of Hell he’s got a tale to tell, a tale of shocking local history and dark forces that may link not only the death of Alec’s wife, but also several other local deaths. But will the cat help Alec, or is he one of the dark forces? (description from publisher)
Cat owners know the struggles of creating living spaces that are both functional and stylish for owner and cat. Don’t just go to your local pet shop and adorn your home with unattractive cat towers and kitty beds. In Catification, Jackson Galaxy, the star of Animal Planet’s My Cat from Hell, and Kate Benjamin, of the popular cat design website Hauspanther.com, walk readers through a step-by-step process of designing an attractive home that is also an optimal environment for cats.
This gorgeously designed, full-color book includes more than twenty fun DIY projects, from kitty beds and litter boxes to catios (cat patios) that will be sure to make readers–and their cats–purr in approval. (description from publisher)
James Bowen and Bob are back in The World According to Bob –a touching and true sequel about one man and the cat that changed his life.
As James struggles to adjust to his transformation from street musician to international celebrity, Bob is at his side, providing moments of intelligence, bravery, and humor and opening his human friend’s eyes to important truths about friendship, loyalty, trust – and the meaning of happiness. In the continuing tale of their life together, James shows the many ways in which Bob has been his protector and guardian angel through times of illness, hardship, even life-threatening danger. As they high-five together for their crowds of admirers, James knows that the tricks he’s taught Bob are nothing compared to the lessons he’s learnt from his street-wise cat.
Readers who fell in love with Dewey and Marley, as well as the many fans who read A Street Cat Named Bob, will be eager to read the next chapters in the life of James and Bob. (description from publisher)
Nancy Davidson uncovers the inspiring, funny and sometimes bizarre stories behind lost cat posters, revealing how our relationships with cats compel us to both love and live with courage. The Secrets of Lost Cats traces the evolution of Nancy Davidson’s passion for lost cat posters.
When her orange tabby, Zak, disappeared, Nancy Davidson did what countless people before her had done. She made a lost cat poster. And after days of frantic searching, she found him. Nancy was ecstatic. Zak seemed happy, too – although being a cat, it was hard to tell. Zak may have remained his old self, but Nancy had changed. From that moment on, she became acutely aware of lost cat posters. She studied their language, composition, and design. She was drawn to their folk art. Mostly, however, she was intrigued by the messages themselves – the stories behind the posters. It wasn’t long before Nancy reached out to the owners calling them to offer empathy and support. And it wasn’t long before they confided in her and sought her advice. What they told her – and what she learns – forms the basis of this engaging and insightful book. From the astonishing, almost implausible posters she encounters across the country – and indeed, the world – to the daring, dedication, and emotional complexity of the lost cat owners themselves, The Secrets of Lost Cats provides readers with an absorbing read that illuminates love, loss, and learning to love again, even more deeply. (description from publisher)
James is a street musician struggling to make ends meet. Bob is a stray cat looking for somewhere warm to sleep. When James and Bob meet, they forge a never-to-be-forgotten friendship that has been charming readers from Thailand to Turkey. A Street Cat Named Bob is an international sensation, landing on the bestseller list in England for 52 consecutive weeks and selling in 26 countries around the world. Now, James and Bob are ready to share their true story with the U.S. in this tale unlike any you’ve ever read of a cat who possesses some kind of magic.
When street musician James Bowen found an injured cat curled up in the hallway of his apartment building, he had no idea how much his life was about to change. James was living hand to mouth on the streets of London, barely making enough money to feed himself and the last thing he needed was a pet. Yet James couldn’t resist helping the strikingly intelligent but very sick animal, whom he named Bob. He slowly nursed Bob back to health and then sent the cat on his way, imagining that he would never see him again. But Bob had other ideas.
Perfect for fans of Marley & Me and Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat, this instant classic about the power of love between man and animal has taken the world by storm and is guaranteed to be a huge hit with American fans as well. (description from publisher)