I am a cat person. I've always felt a deep kinship toward felines. Their personalities suit me. I admire their independence, their intolerance of foolishness. I have nothing against dogs, but I like it when they keep their distance.

That said, I have never been driven to read cat books. No Tad Williams novels about anthropomorphized cats, no cozy books where a cat solves a crime. I don't care if Rita Mae Brown wrote the screenplay for The Slumber Party Massacre; I'm not reading her collaborations with her cat Sneaky Pie.

So when a trusted friend sent me a copy of The Travelling Cat Chronicles, by Hiro Arikawa, I was a bit skeptical. It looked like a good book, but Japanese fables aren't my preferred reading materials. I was waiting for some library reserves to come in, and the book looked like a quick read, so I jumped in.

The Travelling Cat Chronicles is a simple tale of a man and his cat. A story of the love only cat lovers will understand. The unique relationships people have with the feline species. It's not the same as with a dog or another human being.

Satoru must find a home for his beloved cat Nana. I'm going out on a spoiler limb, but it was obvious to me from the onset that Satoru's health was failing. Why else would he give up Nana? He loves the cat above all else.

The two embark on a journey to find a suitable home. They see glorious sights and meet old friends, but none of the potential homes work out. Along the way we get glimpses of Satoru's past tragedies and his unshakable humanity. As well as his abiding love for cats.

Satoru and Nana face eternity together, finding strength from the boundless love they share. Their story is as profound as it is heartbreaking.

Cats are often misunderstood. People see them as aloof and uncaring. All real cat lovers know otherwise. They are complicated creatures, with infinite dignity and great emotion. Their loyalty rivals that of any dog, but it is always on the cat's terms. Cats and humans are equals. We don't own them.

The Travelling Cat Chronicles
stands among the most profound and moving books I have ever read. I openly wept as I finished it, but they were tears of joy as well as of sadness.

If all that isn't enough, Hiro Arikawa makes a lovely reference to one of the greatest novels featuring a cat: Heinlein's The Door Into Summer.

If you are a cat lover, buy this book. If you know any cat people, get it for them. You will be grateful, and they will, too.

Big thanks to Jason Cavallaro for giving me The Travelling Cat Chronicles. I owe you one, buddy.

Written by Mark Sieber

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