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The Autobiography of Foudini M. Cat    by Susan Fromberg Schaeffer order for
Autobiography of Foudini M. Cat
by Susan Fromberg Schaeffer
Order:  USA  Can
Fawcett, 1998 (1997)
Hardcover, Paperback
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

My teenage son introduced me to Foudini M. Cat. When I observed how it had changed his behavior (he now remembered to feed our feline companions on a more regular basis) I was keen to read the book myself. It's a charming cat's eye view of a household which includes a most tolerant dog called Sam and two humans. Foudini decides that the woman is his Assigned Person and names her Warm. The feline tells the tale in the hopes of teaching a feckless kitten, Grace, about life, the universe and everything.

Foudini's perspective is good for quite a few chuckles. There is his warning to Grace to avoid complacence as 'thenwe are in for trouble. Trouble with a tail, Grace! Trouble with a drill or a broom or a mop, Grace! Battle stations, Grace! Hiding places! We must always be ready to run for our lives! Always!' But I particularly enjoyed Foudini's account of his person's butchering of the language of cats. She speaks the feline tongue but so strangely that Foudini must apologize for her when in the presence of his own kind. 'Warm believes cats can understand her. She has no idea the cat on the street has just heard someone say, "Goldfish! In the trees! Squirrel milk! The egg is coming! Ear thorns! Collar food!"'

Foudini's mentoring relationship with Grace is cute, and there is an amusing account of the animals' involvement with a new baby who arrives in the household, but the truly endearing aspect of the tale is Foudini's relationship with his own mentor Sam, his dog, whose world was 'small and quiet' before his cat came into it and made it bigger. Foudini becomes anxious as his dog eventually grows old but, as the dream cat tells him 'We are never separated from the ones we love ... if I look into your eyes, I will always see your dog in them.' A charming tale of enduring love between species.

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