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My Cat, My Guide

Reviewing: Kwong Kuen Shan The Philosopher Cat, Isbn: 0434013102  |  Rating:
rachelreviews By rachelreviews on
Badge: Publisher | Level: 13 | Other Entertainment Expertise:
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I bought this around three or four years ago. I was waiting for a friend in a bookstore, in the back room where a big couch was. In this rear room, there were a bunch of marked down books. When I saw this title, I immediately picked it up. I was drawn to the artist's style and the idea that cats could be philosophers to us, mere mortals.

This is a hardcover book. There are 12 pages right before the content starts. These pages include publishing information, acknowledgments and an introduction. The content is 80 pages long. The end pages have an explanation note which gives background on the use of seals. Shan uses seals on her artwork throughout the book. There is an index with pictures of the seals with an English translation. The book is 96 pages total.

The introduction is interesting. It describes how Shan went from cat-phobic to a cat-studying and painting extraordinaire. She also gives her take on cats as a species. It's a brief intro (4 pages) which is something I appreciate, and it helps the reader understand the work as a whole.

Some people might wonder what sort of advice a cat could give and would it come out in little meows? It probably would, which is why Shan included translations of text from old Chinese classics, proverbs, poems from the Tang Dynasty and Zen teachings. Much of the included writings is from the following philosophers and teachers: Confucius, Mencius, Lao Tse and Chong Tse.

Shan's watercolor paintings illustrate the pages of the book. They are so expressive. She nails every nuance of the cat. From completely at peace, with eyes closed, sleeping in the sun to doing the "long body" cat stretch, she catalogs them all in here. A great thing about the book is Shan doesn't just paint one cat. She paints many different cats, including all body types and colorings. You should be able to find your cat in here!