Thursday, 27 August 2015

The Guest Cat by Takashi Hiraide

This is the perfect book to read when you've just got a cat and in fact I read it immediately after we adopted Treacle, but having been asked to review other books, I've had to delay this review.

The Guest Cat is the story of what happens when a neighbour's cat starts visiting writer Takashi Hiraide and his wife, Michiyo Kawano. The couple become more and more drawn to the lovely visitor but are always aware that it isn't theirs. There's an intriguing little scene, which sheds light on Japanese social conventions as much as on any human and cat intereaction, where Hiraide apologises to the neighbour for spending so much time with the cat (in secret no less!).

The book is full of lovely (often whimsical) observations of feline behaviour, here, the writer finds another family of cats:

'... one of the kittens (always the same one) would position herself between the planters in a location where she would not get in the way of people entering or leaving - she would sit there politely, paws tucked in front. The remaining three including the father cat would stay hidden in the shadow of the azaleas. 

How their roles had been decided I did not know, but it seems as though the idea was for the best looking of the cats to attract the residents attention. Thinking she was cute, they would leave scraps....'

As well as an endearing tale of how a couple make friends with a cat, this is a story that gives interesting insights into Japanese culture and society and the changing face of Tokyo, as developers knock down historical buildings to create new housing.

Definitely a book worth reading for anyone who loves cats or who is interested in Japan. 

The Guest Cat by Takashi Hiraide published by New Directions  


Unknown said...

I have 3 beautiful cats, so this sounds like the perfect book for me. Great review!

Maureen @ Josephina Ballerina said...

Just requested it from interlibrary loan. Thanks!
:) m & jb

dosankodebbie said...

People would leave new born kittens on the porch of our house when I was a child in Japan (instead of drowning them) because they knew we would always take them in. I married a man who is horribly allergic to cats, so now I read books about cats instead. Thanks for the introduction to this book!