So many tarot lovers are also cat lovers. I must admit I am the exception. Yes, I have loved a few kitties over the years, but I am not what you would call a "cat person." Therefore, I would likely never meet the artist of the new Cat's Eye Tarot in her day job as a veterinarian.
I love it when smart people go public as tarotists. I admire someone who is multi-talented enough to make it through veterinary school, keep a medical practice, read tarot, be an artist and create a tarot deck.
The marriage of cats and tarot has created some interesting offspring. We have Tarot of the Cat People, Medieval Cat Tarot, Tarot of the Pagan Cats, and Baroque Bohemian Cats' Tarot, to name only a few.
One might ask if the world needed yet another cat tarot. Given the number of tarot-reading cat-lovers, there can probably never be enough, and Cat's Eye Tarot differentiates itself from the rest of the litter quite nicely.
The cats drawn by Debra M. Givin are extremely realistic housecats. Any of them could be a patient at her felines-only veterinary hospital in Portland, Maine.
One of my favorite aspects of Cat's Eye Tarot is that these cats, unlike most tarot cats, don't wear clothes, ride horses, mix potions or brandish swords. They do cat things.
The cat things they do are enough akin to Rider Waite Smith symbolism that many of the images are immediately understandable.
Dr. Givin has taken care, in many cases, to identify the type of cat in each card within the Little White Book. Happily, the multi-talented Debra M. Givin is a decent writer, and the LWB is detailed and informative.
The deck follows RWS symbolism, structure and interpretation, so it will be easy for RWS-schooled readers to make the transition to this deck. New readers, especially if they are cat-lovers, will find the interpretations logical and appropriate for the images.
The cards are standard size, glossy with white borders, and of the quality we expect from US Games. Packaged in the classic simple box, the deck is affordable and ecologically sensitive.
The card back features a close-up of a cat's face with green eyes. The back is not reversible, and the LWB gives no reversed meanings.
One of the two title cards features a "Nine Lives Spread," designed specifically for the deck.
The art is colorful watercolor, and very reminiscent of Maine.
Non-feline creatures in this deck include prey (mice, lizards, snakes), companions (humans, dogs), enemies (also dogs), and temptations (birds, fish).
In the LWB, and the deck's website, we are encouraged to use Cat's Eye Tarot to read for our cats. That's not as crazy as it might sound. I spend a great deal of my professional life reading for clients' pets, both living and deceased. Tarot is an effective tool for animal communication, and spirit communication. I would imagine such a realistic cat tarot would be even more effective for communicating with, and about, cats.
Cats themselves have an affinity for tarot. When I give tarot readings at a party, every feline in the house will spend the entire evening at my feet, under my tarot table. Some of the less well-behaved cats will choose to be on top of the tarot table as well.
The thing I love most about Cat's Eye Tarot is also the thing I like least. That is its realism. I love the Empress kitty, sitting on the staircase with her kittens. I love the Hierophant kitty, prowling the desktop amongst the keys and books. The Ten of Wands kitty carrying the huge snake up the stairs - yuk! It must be good art, because it produces in me a visceral response.
The final straw for me is the excrement in the Suit of Swords. A cat spraying the wall illustrates the Seven of Swords. It's clever, but gross. The Ten of Swords shows a messy kitchen filled with uncared-for cats. The litter box is overflowing. It's a smart interpretation of the Ten of Swords from a cat's eye view.
The reason I don't keep cats in my house is the same reason I won't use Cat's Eye Tarot - I don't want to deal with cat urine and feces.
But for the many, many people who love their cats unconditionally, Cat's Eye Tarot is the best cat tarot ever. Cat's Eye Tarot is clever, pretty, playful, intuitive, and cute- just like a kitty!