Hard Times for Cats

Overview

When the recession hits, this witty behind-the-scenes peek reveals the lifestyles of out-of-work cats.

How are cats coping with a dire economy? How are they spending their leisure hours? (They're playing a lot more pinball, for one thing.) How are they managing to put meaning back in their lives? These are the topics of this timely portrayal of out-of-work cats.

In happier times, cats could find work anywhere. From catching mice to making ...

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Overview

When the recession hits, this witty behind-the-scenes peek reveals the lifestyles of out-of-work cats.

How are cats coping with a dire economy? How are they spending their leisure hours? (They're playing a lot more pinball, for one thing.) How are they managing to put meaning back in their lives? These are the topics of this timely portrayal of out-of-work cats.

In happier times, cats could find work anywhere. From catching mice to making antique shops look homey to starring in commercials to sitting by the cash register giving customers hostile stares-the jobs were out there, and all an enterprising cat had to do was look for them.

Now all that has changed. For every cat lucky enough to collect a regular paycheck, there are dozens more sitting at home-scratching the furniture, shedding, and waiting for jobs that may never come.

Hard Times for Cats! reveals the countless ways cats contend with unemployment. We see angry cats plotting revenge on the bosses who fired them, anxious cats going for cat counseling, and resigned cats deciding that they never really liked working after all. We watch cats getting evicted from their offices, a cat drowning his sorrow (in his owners' wineglasses), and cats taking the Grand Tour through Europe in a futile attempt to forget their troubles at home. (In some cases, the attempt actually succeeds pretty well.)

With ninety funny full-color photographs and humorous captions, Hard Times for Cats! will appeal to anyone who'd ever had either a cat or a job.

Other Details: 80 full-color illustrations 96 pages 7 x 7" Published 1992

gave ulcers to a whole generation of Sputnik-era first-graders and got cats everywhere into trouble when they tried to balance fishbowls on the points of umbrellas.

Now that the world, or at least the United States, appears to have given up reading entirely, some intrepid cats are looking to television for work. Unfortunately, Morris used up all the jobs in TV before he died or retired or whatever he did. But now that he's safely out of the way, new jobs as Morris impersonators may give cats in the future something to reach for.

I haven't even mentioned all the unsung employed cats: the humble, ordinary creatures who held lowly jobs chasing moths in laundromats and sitting in the ticket windows at Off-Off Broadway theaters and playing with peoples' shoelaces at shoeshine stands. The reason I haven't is that—well, the recession came along. They're all out of work now, and more unsung than ever. For many of them, that's not so bad: I'm sure we all know cats who, if they don't feel like working in the first place, don't. For the rest, being unemployed is just as painful as it is for humans; perhaps it's even more so, since an out-of-work cat can't collect unemployment or go bowling.

He or she—or "gender-free," as the two neutered cats in my household always like to remind me—can do a lot of other things to pass the time, though. One of them, of course, is giving interviews. Herewith we salute the job-hunting cats who put down the want ads long enough to share their fears, their dreams, and their grooming tips with us. Hard times have made them so cooperative and so polite that we can't help hoping these cats never find work again.

The recession has hit hard, as revealed by this witty behind-the-scenes peek at the lifestyles of out-of-work cats. With funny, full-color photos and humorous captions, this book will appeal to anyone who's ever had either a cat or a job. 80 full-color photos.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781558593954
  • Publisher: Abbeville Press, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 10/1/1992
  • Edition description: 1st ed
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 96
  • Product dimensions: 7.30 (w) x 7.30 (h) x 0.56 (d)

Read an Excerpt

Introduction: The Unemployed Cat

Poor cats. Just because they like hunting rodents, we expect them to work for us. "Look!" we think. "An animal with a useful trait! Let's domesticate it and then enslave it." (I'm not exactly sure why we think a cat's ability to spread a vole's entrails over our back steps is useful, but we'll let that pass.) Before the cat can even unsheathe its claws, we've given it a social security number and started docking it for lateness.

Catching mice is the least of it, too. In ancient Egypt, cats worked as gods, a great job if you can get it, but that was the high point of their career history. Later on, they had much less happy occupations as the butt of medieval Europeans' yucky superstitions.

Apparently these jobs consisted mainly of spoiling humans' jobs and being hated for it. In medieval France, for example, cats were believed to prevent bakers' bread from rising and to wreck the catch for fishermen. Of course we now realize that the medieval French were a little bit eccentric—and yet anyone who's ever tried to prepare for a dinner party with a cat sandbagging itself around his ankles will acknowledge that cats do have an almost supernatural ability to get in the way when you're in a hurry. Perhaps some of these old superstitions are truer than we think.

Medieval cats were also expected to "work" in the medical arts, largely by donating parts of themselves that they would probably have preferred to hang onto. It was said that the blood from a tomcat's tail could cure the injuries of someone who had fallen; cats' ears in red wine could cure pneumonia; fresh cats' brains could turn people invisible; and cat stew could cause human womento have kittens. Do the last two count as medical procedures? I guess so—at least for the cat.

Not surprisingly, cats' lives became more pleasant once Western civilization stopped thinking of them as witches' accessories. More pleasant from a physical point of view, that is. The many cats who found jobs inspiring writers must have been mortified by the quantities of bad cat-related writing their owners turned out. Take, for example, the poet Christopher Smart's paeon to his cat Jeoffrey, written in 1763:

For I will consider my Cat Jeoffrey.

For he is the servant of the Living God duly and daily serving him.

For at the first glance at the glory of God in the East he worships in his way.

For this is done by wreathing his body seven times round with elegant quickness.

For he leaps up to catch the musk, which is the blessing of God upon his prayer. . . .

And so on and so on, all the way down to "For he is of the tribe of Tiger."

Smart was a madman, of course, and thus perhaps shouldn't be held up to the same scrutiny as a real writer. Even the usually reliable Keats, however, composed a—well—not-so-good sonnet about the cat of his friend John Hamilton Reynalds; the worst lines, I think, are these:

Pr'thee do not stick

Thy latent talons in me—and unpraise

Thy gentle mew—and tell me all the frays

Of fish and mice, and rats and tender chick.

Nay, look not down, nor lick thy dainty wrists—

For all the wheezy asthma . . .

Some years later, Thomas Hardy wrote a cat poem ("Lines to a Dumb Friend") whose opening couplet's awfulness has never been surpassed: "Pet was never mourned as you,/Purrer of the spotless hue."

As the twentieth century dawned and people forgot how to read, more and more cats found themselves fired from the task of making good writers write badly. The pluckier among them managed to find work in the comic strips: among others, Krazy Kat, Heathcliffe, Garfield, and Fritz. Here the pay was fine, but money hardly compensates for the knowledge that one is a negative role model. (Actually it compensates pretty well, but it's got to be stressful pretending that you don't think it does.) Nastiest role model of all was the Cat in the Hat, a sub-cartoon character whose horrifying antics gave ulcers to a whole generation of Sputnik-era first-graders and got cats everywhere into trouble when they tried to balance fishbowls on the points of umbrellas.

Now that the world, or at least the United States, appears to have given up reading entirely, some intrepid cats are looking to television for work. Unfortunately, Morris used up all the jobs in TV before he died or retired or whatever he did. But now that he's safely out of the way, new jobs as Morris impersonators may give cats in the future something to reach for.

I haven't even mentioned all the unsung employed cats: the humble, ordinary creatures who held lowly jobs chasing moths in laundromats and sitting in the ticket windows at Off-Off Broadway theaters and playing with peoples' shoelaces at shoeshine stands. The reason I haven't is that—well, the recession came along. They're all out of work now, and more unsung than ever. For many of them, that's not so bad: I'm sure we all know cats who, if they don't feel like working in the first place, don't. For the rest, being unemployed is just as painful as it is for humans; perhaps it's even more so, since an out-of-work cat can't collect unemployment or go bowling.

He or she—or "gender-free," as the two neutered cats in my household always like to remind me—can do a lot of other things to pass the time, though. One of them, of course, is giving interviews. Herewith we salute the job-hunting cats who put down the want ads long enough to share their fears, their dreams, and their grooming tips with us. Hard times have made them so cooperative and so polite that we can't help hoping these cats never find work again.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: The Out-of-Work Cat

Feline Firings: People aren't the only mammals to lose their jobs

No Cats Need Apply: Cats in the job jungle

Cat Counseling: God grant me the courage to change the things I can . . .

Home Chores and Other Horrors: The best thing about an office is that you don't have to change the storm windows

Hey, Who Needs a Job?: Turns out there are some advantages to not working . . .

Why Go Back to Work?: The lure of the open road, where you never need a litterbox

Author Biography: Ann Hodgman is a contributing editor at Spy and has had her work published in many other magazines. She is the author or co-author of several humor books for adults and has also written 30 children's books. She lives in Washington, Connecticut with her husband David Owen, their two children, and two cats who have never worked a day in their lives

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