Angel Cats, a collection of stories compiled by Allen and Linda Anderson, tries to set itself apart from the admittedly bloated genre of sentimental feline-themed nonfiction books. It doesn’t just have stories about people who love their cats, it has stories about people who love their cats and think said cats are messengers from the Divine (thankfully left ambiguous, so it includes all faiths), sent from a higher power to heal our spiritual woes. This notion permeates all of the stories, and takes their sentimentality to levels that can nauseate even ardent cat lovers.
The stories themselves vary in quality, as they came from different people with different backgrounds. Some of the stories are rather amateurish, but some of them are genuinely heartfelt. For example, one story deals with a woman who had to flee Hungary during World War 2, and managed to smuggle out her cat, who remained a constant source of love and companionship in a profoundly dangerous time. Another has bereaved parents adopt their dead son’s cat, and feel comfort at seeing some of his personality traits live on in the animal. It’s unfortunate that many of the stories deal with more pedestrian lives, which don’t allow for them to say much more about the cats than fawning over their unique quirks (which are too often just bluntly told to the audience, as opposed to being shown via exceptional writing)
The biggest problem with the book, however, is the presentation. The Andersons are very committed to the idea that cats are messengers of the divine, and make sure to hammer this notion into their readers at every available opportunity. Every story ends with a “Meditation” that asks the reader how they’ve been affected similarly, or how a cat has shown them loyalty, selflessness, kindness, etc. The sections of the book are prefaced with questions and answers from the Andersons’ cats, which are written in as cutesy and cloying a fashion as possible. The word “sugary” does not begin to describe the overall tone.
Then again, if you’re buying a book called “Angel Cats: Divine Messengers of Comfort”, you’re probably expecting sentimentality. You will receive that from this book. However, you won’t receive much else, excluding a few stand-out stories.
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About the author:
A freelance writer/cartoonist living in LA, with my fiance' and our wonderful cat. You can see my work at www.rubysworldcomic.com and rubynation.smackjeeves.com