Friday, October 23, 2015

Review: The Old Man and the Cat


The Old Man and The Cat: A Love Story is a story of how Nils Uddenberg, a retired Professor of Psychology, became a cat guardian even though he had never wanted a pet of any kind. He discovers a homeless cat sitting outside his bedroom window one cold winter morning. He starts out leaving food for her. When he finds her sleeping in a basket that holds gardening supplies in his shed, he lines the basket with a warm blanket.

Cat lovers already know where this story is going: slowly but surely, Kitty makes her way into Uddenberg’s home and heart. As he reluctantly realizes that he is falling in love with the little grey and brown tabby, his background in psychology makes him want to go deeper into the cat’s inner life. Does she have a sense of humor? Is it possible to attach human feelings to her? Is she actually interested in his and his wife’s attachment to her?

This is a sweet little book about the difference one little cat can make in a human’s life.

I was on the fence about this book until I read the final paragraph. Don’t get me wrong: I was in love with Kitty from the start. Any cat who can worm her way into the heart of someone who never wanted a pet has my full admiration. I just couldn’t quite connect with the author. I enjoyed his self-deprecating ruminations about the nature of cats, and his surprise at the feelings the little cat stirred up in him, but something was missing for me.

Perhaps some of the emotional content of the book suffered during the translation from Swedish into English, perhaps I simply got impatient with him for taking so long to realize that he loved Kitty. But when I got to the end of the book, I found myself with a big smile on my face and in my heart.

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