Speaking as a cat lover myself, I found "I Can't Believe My Cat Did That!", a 2012 volume of the "Chicken Soup For The Soul" series, quite revelatory. I thought I had problems adopting two kittens late last year even though I already share my apartment with a tough 20-pound tabby. But people in this book often go to wider extremes for their cats, from redecorating their homes to serving up a mouse trapped on a pan of melted marshmallow.
They also find life meaning with their cat, or at least claim to in order to appear as one of the 101 stories featured in this collection. For me this got to be a strain to read, with many examples wending their way to inevitable "kitty heaven." One writer tells of how her aging pet visited her in a dream to tell her that she (the cat) is about to go away on a long journey and was very grateful for being looked after. When she awoke, the cat had disappeared, never to return, but there was a wisp of fur next to her (the writer's) pillow. I was doing my best to keep from laughing until she mentioned the fur. Others describe the comfort of a kitty in the wake of some hellacious personal torments, like a husband that doesn't understand or children who don't do as they are told.
Oh, that's another thing about cat owners. Apparently, they are nearly all women. At least that's the case here. I suppose if us men were left to write stories about cats, it would all be about using Whiskers as a mule for transporting illegal drugs, or making him play with a ceiling fan in order to get on YouTube. The women here instead write stories where either the cat is some kind of emotional life raft or else a savage hunter of mice, moles, and even birds whose horribly mangled corpses earn the killer treats. I couldn't get over this dichotomy; it was like switching back and forth between Enya and Ted Nugent.
One problem that I had with the book was admittedly my own; I read it all the way through over the course of a few evenings, rather than dipping into it here and there. Like the dictionary, "I Can't Believe My Cat Did That" is written for dipping, in its case to pull out one or two comforting stories about cat ownership and then have a nice cup of tea or something. Reading them all in a row is kind of like exposing oneself to a glurge deluge. The stories often don't have much of a point, more mood pictures than anecdotes, just long enough to describe a memorable cat in one's past and wind things up with a vision of a memorial flower growing in a field, or a cat draping itself over its owner's head or pregnant belly. All are told in the same voice, kind of soft-focused and frustratingly gentle even if describing a parent's death or a house burning down, suggesting an editor's heavy hand. Some of these stories strain credulity; having them all told in the same way reinforced my doubt.
There are a couple of stories I did like, and which were well told, one about a cat which guards a Siamese fighting fish when a pigeon invades their home. If Jazmyne Rose had written all the stories in the book, instead of only that one, I probably would have liked it more. There's also a piece by Tamra Wilson about a man who is buried with a favorite cat, which may not be that wild but is told well. I think given more time and space, I might have liked other stories as much as I did those two. But asking Jazmyne and Tamra to look after 50 cats apiece may be too much.
By the way, my cats all get along great; adopting two kittens proved my smooth move of 2012. If this book encourages others to adopt homeless cats, it deserves five stars. But as a single reading experience, let's just say I found myself coughing up a few hairballs.