You may have already heard about San Francisco author Caroline Paul's new book Lost Cat on a recent episode of KQED's Forum. Or you might have heard of it through mentions by media outlets such as The New York Times, who recently called 2013 The Year of the Cat. Cats are famous these days, from the internet, to literature, to film festivals, and Lost Cat is a nice, psychologically-charged gem of a story to add to the mix.
When I started reading Lost Cat, I immediately realized it was more than just a story about trying to find out where cats go when they're off on their own. Paul was recovering from a serious injury when her beloved cat Tibby disappeared for five weeks, before returning with a completely new attitude. The author went to extreme lengths to figure out what he'd been up to. Running parallel to the narrative of Paul's obsession with Tibby is the story of her new (human) relationship, forming a complex tale about love between both people and pets.
The story has unique characters described in detail by Paul and illustrated by her partner, Wendy MacNaughton. MacNaughton is one of our favorite local illustrators, you might recognize her work from The Rumpus or our recent studio visit. Her signature journalistic illustrations are the perfect match for Paul's wry tone. The illustrations are subtle and frequent, adding richness and color to the emotion and humor of the story.
Lost Cat brings up unexpected debates, like the argument about indoor vs. outdoor cats, what it means to be a crazy cat person now that 90% of the world seems to be crazy about cats, and whether cats have true relationships with their owners beyond the cat chow. Paul's incessant obsession with her furry pal's whereabouts and her feelings of being snubbed by him will speak to any pet owner. And her raw, revealing portrait of herself and her relationships is completely relatable. Lost Cat emphasizes that life is hard, but life with the right cats (and people) is full of mystery and wonder.