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Sammy's Shelf
May 2012:
It looked good but, as we know, you canít tell a book by its cover ...

When I saw Kitty Cornered (Algonquin. ISBN 9781565129993) sitting on a pile of new arrivals, I thought, "Boy, this will be good. I have to read this book right away!"

The subtitle, 'How Frannie and Five Other Incorrigible Cats Seized Control of Our House and Made It Their Home', certainly piqued my curiosity and you know how our curiosity can get us in a lot of trouble. Now I thought this guy, Bob Tarte, wrote Enslaved by Ducks, and that really quacked me up. This has to be just as good. WRONG!

As I read the book's introduction I figured there's something very wrong here. Not only does this guy have cats, six of them to be exact, but he also has a houseful of birds. Now that's not a healthy combination of critters! But I thought, "OK, I'll give Bob the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps this was just to have a fresh food source close by or maybe the birds were occasionally released to provide the kitties with a diversion." Nope!

Then I came across this gem. 'The term cat person was pretty specific, suggesting a tame, middle-aged eccentric who substituted interaction with pets for a healthy social relationship with other people. I resented that whole notion, because it described me perfectly.'

Oh dear, Bob. what have we here? Now I had some serious misgivings about the author and this narrative. No wonder his kitties took over his humble abode. This guy suddenly sounded like a total wimp! And as I got into the book, his self-effacing humor and the deep attachment he manifested to his own, overblown prose confirmed my worst fears.

Of course Agnes, Frannie, Lucy, Maynard, Moobie and Tina took over the household. Someone had to take control, show a little backbone and move everyone in the right direction. Obviously, this task fell on the skinny shoulders of the kitties.

There was even a map of the ground floor of the Tarte home which pinpointed the areas that the various kitties staked out for themselves, or where the litter boxes were placed, or where there was a little collateral damage (shredded wallpaper). Like, REALLY, who cares? Sorry, that's not very nice is it?

Well, anyhow, I did get about half way through this trials and tribulations of a kitty household before I finally had to bail out. I couldn't take any more. Mr. Tarte's felines were, by and large, ill mannered or he was exaggerating (which he probably was!) and chronicling so many examples of their bad manners made for a very unentertaining read.

I should have known better because the book did have a really cute shot of a kitty. Yup, I got suckered in but, like a bad hairball, I did finally gag on the flowery prose and tossed it! Meow!
Sammy shares living quarters with Bob Walch. Not only does Bob provide the basic essentials for this loquacious feline but he occasionally offers editorial assistance. Find more of the Maine Coon's musings at
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