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Sammy's Shelf
Oct 2011: One Cat's Grand Misadventure or Who Needs the Great Outdoors!

If you read my last column you are aware of the fact that I am a very intelligent Maine Coon. You also know that I am a bibliophile (I love to show off with big words!) and enjoy sharing my literary discoveries.

Fuddles (Aladdin. ISBN: 9781416991557) by Frans Vischer is my latest find. This picture book centers on a rather well fed feline (I dislike the term fat cat, although the author insisted on using it!) who decides he would like to see the great outdoors. The problem is that Fuddles' housemate does not allow him to leave their residence. Now I can really sympathize with that. I am in the same situation. And I know the beguiling attraction and allure that Mother Nature holds for creatures like me.

Once Fuddles decides his life needs a little adventure, he becomes determined to slip out the door and see what experiences await him beyond the walls of his abode. He even practices climbing, hunting and the other skills he might need to call upon once he crosses the threshold.

Of course, the day does arrive when the front door is accidentally left ajar and Fuddles can launch his great adventure. Now I won't bore you with a blow by blow narrative of what occurs, but I'm sure you can see what's coming! The Grand Adventure becomes a total nightmare. Of the problems poor Fuddles encounters, none is more demeaning and dangerous than his clash with a very big and unfriendly dog.

Before he can say, 'Holy hairball, what have I done?' (my words, not his!), our adventurous hero has ended up far from home and night is rapidly approaching.

Yes, he does make it safely home where he is embraced by his greatly relieved person And rather than being punished for going astray, Fuddles is given a welcome back feast. So all ends well, but since this is a book for preschoolers, what did you expect? I mean the more realistic scenario of Fuddles being flattened by a car (that's what happened to my predecessor), torn to shreds by the neighborhood pitbull or captured by the local pet control officer would be too traumatizing for a toddler, so that's not an option for the author.

Although it's a nice story with cute kitty illustrations that little children will love, I wouldn't want another cat who might read this book to get the wrong end of the stick! The message here is that house cats should be happy to remain indoor creatures and accept their fate with grace.

What nonsense! Let me tell you, whenever I manage to slip out the door to enjoy a little patio or front yard time, it is an ABSOLUTE BLAST. I love sampling all the wonderfully exotic smells and there's so much cool stuff to mark with my this-belongs-to-me scent that I have a terrific time.

There is tasty grass to chew (even though it does make me upchuck!), really cool surfaces to roll on and interesting things to scratch. I can honestly say I've never encountered a nasty dog (it is true I don't really care for the neighbor's cat) nor have I had a close call with a moving vehicle, but then I don't leave my own yard either.

So human readers, by all means enjoy this picture book. But those of you who travel on four, furry paws remember this is fiction. The great outdoors is just that ... GREAT! Of course, I also have to be honest and admit it's pretty cool to have a nice, secure, indoor domicile that features a clean litter box, two square meals a day (plus sundry treats) and big bed privileges too!
Sammy shares living quarters with Bob Walch. Not only does Bob provide the basic essentials for this loquacious feline but he occasionally offers editorial assistance. Find more of the Maine Coon's musings at
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