By Carol / Everett Public Library staff
Well hello there, kittens! With the holidays behind us and that calendar somehow saying “December,” it’s the purrfect time to do a wrap-up of the best cat books of 2017! Stick with me like fur to black pants as I jump into the list like a cat into an empty cardboard box.
For all you modern cat ladies out there who can’t have a real live cat of your very own, I have some fantastic news! You can make your own lifelike kitty companion if you follow the steps outlined in “Needle Felted Kittens” by the amazingly talented Hinali. OK, so this can be more than a little creepy and the techniques are way beyond my less-than-novice needle felting status. However, I can’t help but be fascinated with the eerily lifelike felines in this book. There are step-by-step instructions for everything from making the right shaped head to adding specific color patterns — the tortoise shell cat is especially adorable — and even advanced posing (a movable head and neck! Oh my). I mean, I would even love just a cat head on its own. Seriously! There are some instructions to teach you the basics of felting, like needle techniques and how to blend different colors of wool. My girl Kathy says this is definitely advanced, but beginners might like to see it as something to aspire to. Also, the author taught herself all this, so there’s hope for us all!
Want to make a cat but lack felting skills? If you can knit you’ll definitely want to check out “Knitted Cats & Dogs” by Sue Stratford. Yes, yes, there are dogs included. But all modern cat ladies should be secure enough in their cat lady-ness that they won’t balk at a couple of canines peppered throughout the book they’re reading. From fuzzy kittens to gorgeous Siamese and even a super cat — complete with superhero outfit, eye mask, and cape — you’re sure to find your next fun knitting project in these pages.
For a more sophisticated look at our feline friends, there’s no better place to start than Desmond Morris’s “Cats in Art.” This book is organized by time period, starting with prehistoric depictions of cats on cave walls in France and continuing through Warren Kimble and beyond. All but two of the 137 illustrations are in full color, which really brings the cats to life. Don’t miss the hidden gem at the back of the book: a three-page bibliography of sources of more kitty information.
If quirky is more your speed, you’ll want to pick up “Crafting for Cat Ladies” by Kat Roberts (OMG even the author’s name is on point!). Inside you’ll find 35 projects using a variety of mediums and techniques. From party bunting to a clay jewelry tray, storage bins (with whiskers, so adorable!) to paw print stamps and bracelets — there really is something for everyone in here. The skill level seems to be low to medium, so for the crafty cat ladies with more enthusiasm than experience, this is the book for us.
Next, I’ll briefly list some of the more traditional cat books that were published this year. Jackson Galaxy has a new book out with Mikel Delgado (another cat-named author! How cool!) called “Total Cat Mojo: the Ultimate Guide to Life with Your Cat.” It covers the basics of cat ownership, as well as techniques for dealing with common kitty-human conflicts like biting and scratching. “The Inner Life of Cats” by Thomas McNamee also digs into the thoughts and psyche of our cat BFFs. “The History of Cats in 101 Objects” shows the direct influence cats have had over us (and vice versa) in some truly unexpected ways.
Poetry has been having a modern renaissance lately and I was delighted to find a book of poems focused solely on our relationships with our pets. Reading “Darling, I Love You: Poems from the Hearts of our Glorious Mutts and All Our Animal Friends” by Daniel Ladinsky and written by Patrick McDonnell is guaranteed to give you the warm fuzzies and maybe even shed a tear or two. This one gets me misty-eyed every time:
Food in my bowl
no longer alone
on the street weeping
if you see me
I’m not crying; you’re crying!
Okay, let’s pep ourselves back up with some fun books about real-life cats who have lived extraordinary lives in one way or another. “Bolt and Keel” by Kayleen VanderRee and Danielle Gumbley is based on the Instagram account of the same name. Follow these rescue cats as they go on outdoor adventures with their owner in the Pacific Northwest. “Bookstore Cats” by Brandon Schultz has the absolute best opening line in the introduction: “Confession: I’m a crazy cat person.” Do you really need to know anything other than that?! If cats living in bookstores aren’t quite enough awesomeness for you, check out “Distillery Cats” by Brad Thomas Parsons. In addition to all the cool cats between these pages, Parsons includes some cocktail recipes, too. Disclaimer: I’m fairly certain all cats survive to the ends of these books, but please read with caution. Nothing makes me sadder than reading about an amazing animal only to have to grieve for them at the end.
And last by not least is my favorite combination of practical nonfiction with an extremely humorous slant. If you’ve ever been accused of equating cat ladyship with being in a cult or religion, I can definitely relate. Some things are just different for us, you know? Thankfully the genius Jeff Lazarus has written “Catakism: Bow to the Meow.” It’s a funny take on how obsessed we humans can be with cats. While the photographs are downright hilarious and the text can be tongue-in-cheek, don’t miss the actual good advice inside. Covering cat pregnancy and kitten weaning as well as advice for human relationships when one person is pro-cat and the other is — not? Is that A Thing? I suppose I’m lucky I married a modern cat sir, but it’s good to know there’s help out there for those who want to make it work with someone who really isn’t as into cats as you are.
Those were my favorites, but of course there are so many more gems waiting for you to discover them in the stacks. Start at 636.8 (cats as pets) and go from there. And who knows? Maybe someday soon you’ll be a Modern Cat Lady as well.