Meet the Cats

With the new addition to the Books On My Cat family this year, I thought it would be nice to share a little more here about us. If you’ve been around for a bit, you may have seen the about section, which will soon be updated to coincide with this post! Since you may already know about Boris’s love for books and cheese-flavored snacks, I will try to stick to new information, as well as some more background on our new little girl.

Boris was born in May 2015, but came into my life in November 2015. He originally belonged to the coworker of one of my housemates. The family had a young child and a new baby, and quickly became concerned about the “rough play” the kitten would engage in with the kids. There was also concern about his “constant growling,” although after some investigation we realized they were talking about purring! The family was talking about taking him to a shelter, but instead my friend said that she would find him a home, and that we would foster him in the meantime. He was intended to stay with us for two days, but when it was time to take him to his new home, it was discovered that he absolutely hated being in the car: he cried constantly for the first 30 minutes of a 5 hour drive, before the car was turned around and he was brought back to our apartment. The plan was to search for another suitable home, but at the insistence of our third housemate, and the insistence of Boris, he stayed.

Originally, Boris was intended to be “our” collective cat. We had a rotation of chores related to his care, and all initially vied for his attention. Boris had other ideas. Although we all viewed him as our sweet and lovable boy, very early on into his stay, he began to show clear preference for me. He would happily spend time with any of us, especially if there were snacks to be stolen, but when the snacks were away my lap was the preference, and my feet were clearly the best to sleep on each night. After others had they affections repeatedly rebuffed, most of his care fell to me. The only thing that remained for others to do was to feed him in the morning, as I had the latest work start and he would typically start pestering for food much earlier. Despite the fact that I was not the person to feed him through the week, I was always the one that he woke in the morning when he was ready to eat, clearly marking me as “his person.” We all stayed in the house together for another 3 years, but when I bought a house and moved out, Boris came with me.

One more thing I feel I have to comment on is Boris’s size. You may have guessed this from photos of him with the books, but just to make clear: Yes, Boris is huge. When we first got him at 6 months old, we assumed the family must have been a little off about his age, since he appeared to be nearly full-grown. But then he just kept getting bigger. While his penchant for snack stealing and tricking others into thinking he had not yet been fed was a contributing factor, even at 23 pounds he did not appear to be a particularly fat cat. Perhaps a little fat, but much more noticeably: tall, long, large. Our vet affectionately refers to him as “the puma.”

The new addition to the Books On My Cat family, Minka, is a sassy little calico around the same age as Boris was when I first met him. I know less about her origin: my dad owns a scrap yard, where he found her in mid-July 2019. We do not know for sure where she came from, or when she was born, only that when she was found, she appeared to be too young to be away from her mother. Mother was searched for, but did not return, and no other kittens were found nearby. Our assumption was that she was either abandoned, or perhaps her mother had been hit by a car on one of the busy roads nearby. My dad quickly began to care for her. For several weeks, he brought her back and forth between home to work each day. When my mother insisted that they were not going to be keeping a cat at home, Minka moved into the office building at his scrap yard. The office is not in use as an office, but more of a storage space, with many places for her to climb, explore, and hide.

Minka lived there for several months, visited daily by my dad, brother, and Axel the dog, who soon became her favorite playmate. She seemed mostly happy, but was very attached to anyone who would come to visit her. After some time, my dad decided that it was time for her to have a proper home, where she could get some attention more than an hour or so per day. I was reluctant to take in another cat—Boris is quite independent, and is also a bit of a scaredy-cat. I worried that he would not do well with another cat in the house. After setting up a contingency plan (a potential home in case things did not work our between the cats), I decided to bring Minka home on a trial basis.

Since moving in with us at the end of December, the cats have started to become adjusted to each other. They are not quite friends, but we seem to have passed the point of fights and are moving toward friendly. Minka has also started to show a bit more of her personality. She is very affectionate, and wants to be as close to people as she can. She loves to sit on my lap or feet, and the two have started taking turns with one in each place. She is interested in any food that I may be eating, but is not quite the scavenger that Boris can be. Her favorite thing in the world is to play with her big brother’s tail! Our little girl is still a kitten, so she has a lot to learn from her big brother. He is definitely annoyed with her, but is starting to come around. I am looking forward to seeing this little girl grow up!

A Year of Books (On My Cat)

It’s hard to believe, but it has been a full year since I have started this blog! Along the way I have shared some of my favorite books, as well as many pictures of my favorite cat!! It has been a ton of fun, and I am looking forward to see where the next year will take me. I have some ideas to mix things up a bit for the next year, and hope that you enjoy the ride!

To celebrate my first year of posts, I thought it would be fun to show a little glimpse onto the other side of this project. While I will fully admit that I am in no way a professional photography, I try to choose the best of my pictures to include with my blog posts. While Boris is generally a good sport about these things, cats have a fickle nature, which has lead to quick a few “outtakes” along the way. Enjoy!

Snowmen at Christmas

img_8529It’s December! Do you know what that means? (Of course not, I have never done this before.) It’s Children’s Christmas Book Month!!!

Let me explain: In addition to the holidays and a busy month at work, I have quite a few other things going on that are keeping me EXTRA busy. It’s impacting both my time to blog, and keep up with my reading. I did not want to put the blog on hold for the month, but I need to pause a bit. And so, I introduce to you: Children’s Christmas Book Month! For the month of December I will be sharing some fun holiday themed Children’s Books.

First up, there is Snowmen at Christmas by Caralyn Buehner. I actually bought this book as a pre-Christmas gift for my nephew– he is two, and while he obviously cannot read yet, he enjoys a good story and loves to turn the pages himself. This one pictured is a board book with him in mind, but this book can also be found in hardcover and paperback.

This is a cute, fun story told in verse. It begins with a boy building a snowman on Christmas Eve, and then imagining how snowmen might celebrate the holiday. Their celebration is full of all the traditional holiday events: treats, singing, and even a Snowman Kris Kringle! I love the imaginative aspect of the book, and think it can be a great jumping off point to get kids thinking creatively. Have you ever built a snowman? How do you celebrate the holidays? How do you think a snowman might celebrate?

The Hallo-Wiener

img_8015I love the creepy of Halloween, but the season would not be complete without a little bit of the goofy of Halloween. Who better to bring that element than Dav Pilkey?

Poor Oscar doesn’t quite fit in with the other dogs, being that he is a dog and a half long, but only half a dog tall. The other dogs tease him, and while his mother means well, the Halloween costume she made for him is certainly not helpful. But when the other dogs are attacked by a “monster,” Oscar isn’t going to just run away!

This is a fun book for the season, and can be a good teaching tool for kids too– the other dogs tease Oscar, but they learn that sometimes being different as its advantages when Oscar comes through to save the day. Good for a read aloud in October, and also a relatively easy read that incorporates some bigger vocabulary (such as the ornery cats!). Like in some of the other Dav Pilkey books, I like the little “extras” added into the illustrations– we can see that Oscar’s last name is Myers on his mailbox, and the title page has the book title lettered in hot dogs!

Boris’s thoughts: “Seriously? Cats as the bad guys? Boo. Hiss. 1 paw.”

The Boy of a Thousand Faces

img_8077At 48 pages, this is not quite a children’s picture book, but not quite a novel either. Something in between: perhaps a children’s novella? I am a big fan of Brian Selznik. I love the style of his novels and the way he combines words with illustrations to tell a story. This is a little different than his longer works, in that he uses the pictures to supplement this story rather than to continue driving the plot. However, the pictures are no less essential here than in his novels.

Being born on Halloween, it is no surprise that Alonzo has a fascination with monsters. His love is fueled by the late-night horror film show hosted by Mr. Shadow, where he discovers the greatness of Lon Cheney. Alonzo is inspired by the films, which turns into a dream to become the “boy of a thousand faces.” I love that his character has a dream that is outside of what might be considered normal. Alonzo goes beyond “I want to be a movie star” to actually working on and creating something new. His goal is not to be famous, but in the creation of something to be enjoyed by others.

The reciprocal relationship between Alonzo and Mr. Shadow is interesting as well. Alonzo is inspired by Mr. Shadow and his show, reaching out to him when he is beginning to feel disillusioned with his dream. At the same time, Mr. Shadow believed that nobody was interested when his show ended, but was inspired by Alonzo to “bring back” something that he loved in a new way.

I love this as a tribute to traditional horror films, special effects, and Lon Cheney. I think it is also a great introduction to the horror genre. It is a bit creepy, but not something that would truly scare most children. It’s perfect for kids who might have an interest in things that are a bit dark seeming, that might seem a little weird to others.

Boris’s thoughts: “Hmmm… dark and weird… I approve. 3 paws.”

The Year of Goodbyes

img_7713Date Read: July 7, 2018

Rating: 4 (of 5) stars

Following the World War II theme from last week, I have a book with a very different feel. Debbie Levy presents this book based off of her mother’s posiealbum from 1938. It is an autograph book, filled with poems written by her friends. These poems provide the framework for a series of journal entries and reflections that string together the events of the year, from the perspective of the 12 year old author.

It was an interesting read, although a bit unsettling. The book shows the gradual change from normal life to the fear and uncertainty that lead Jutta’s family to flee Germany. Goodbyes from friends leaving, or in some cases disappearing without explanation. I suppose the gradualness of the change, people slowly losing their friends, family, and rights, is what is most unsettling, knowing what comes next. While there is definitely an emotional element in the book, it seems stronger in retrospect, realizing the history of what happened just after the year of the posiealbum.

I can see this being a good book as an introduction to the history of World War II for kids in upper elementary, middle school, and perhaps high school. Much of the content is taken from the perspective of someone in that age range, and there are certainly many possible discussion topics. The poetry is an interesting element, although admittedly not really my personal cup of tea.

Boris’s thoughts: “Short and sweet and lighter than your hardcovers. 4 paws.”