How to Wash a Cat (Cats and Curios Series #1) [NOOK Book]


Two cats are better than one...

First in an adorable new series!

A deceased uncle and a surprising inheritance propel a woman and her two very curious cats into the ...
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How to Wash a Cat (Cats and Curios Series #1)

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Two cats are better than one...

First in an adorable new series!

A deceased uncle and a surprising inheritance propel a woman and her two very curious cats into the mystery surrounding his death.

An investigation that starts amid the curios and novelties of a San Francisco antiques shop follows a twisted trail of dangerous deception that leads all the way back to the days of the Gold Rush itself.

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Editorial Reviews

The Pilot
Delightful little mystery with an intriguing cast of kooky characters . . .
—Faye Dasen
The News-Review
...just plain funny ... In today's popular use of cats in storytelling, this one ranks as one of the best.
—Bill Dunan
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781101171325
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 1/5/2010
  • Series: Cats and Curios Series , #1
  • Sold by: Penguin Group
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 44,398
  • File size: 481 KB

Meet the Author

Rebecca M. Hale worked as a patent attorney in the San Francisco Bay Area for several years before taking time off to write her first novel, How to Wash a Cat. Thoroughly addicted to the writing lifestyle, Rebecca and her two cats, Rupert and Isabella, now live in Western Colorado where they are hard at work on the sequel, Nine Lives Last Forever.
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Read an Excerpt

I followed a trail of paw prints, clumped up litter, and splattered flecks of soap up the stairs and down the hall to my bedroom. Sticky wet spots covered the floors, the walls, a roll top desk, a wicker laundry basket, and a half dozen scattered books. A miserable wet lump of fur huddled in the middle of my bed.
"This is for your own good," I said, stealthily creeping towards him as I clutched the corners of a large beach towel. The lump glared back at me incredulously.
"We're almost done. We can't turn back now," I argued, slowly moving closer to the corner of the bed. The lump continued to stare at me suspiciously.
I glanced down at my arms and legs, grimly surveying the map of fresh scratches. Sighing, I gripped the towel and moved into position. The quivering lump dug his claws into the bedspread, anticipating my next move.
I lunged forward, the towel unfolding as my arms spread wide. My target tried to jump out of the way, but the billowing beach towel swallowed him whole. I felt a twinge of guilt as the sheet came down over his disappointed face; then I carried my struggling wet fugitive back downstairs to the kitchen sink.

The day had begun with a sense of foreboding, filled with apprehension of the task that lay ahead of me. Yawning in a reluctant gulp of crisp spring air, I wiggled my toes to rouse the two slumbering cats entwined at the foot of the bed-a mass of white fur tinged with peachy, buff-colored highlights.
One of them stood up, her back arching in a full body stretch before her slender figure leapt nimbly to the floor. Isabella issued a commanding look in my direction and sauntered out of the bedroom.
I swung myfeet down to the hardwood floor, unearthing the second of my feline foot warmers. The more portly of the pair, he hit the ground beside the bed with a squawking grunt and waddled sleepily across the room to his inclined scratching post.
I splashed a basin full of cold water on my face and plodded slowly down the flight of stairs to the kitchen. Isabella greeted me with an impatient chirp and looked pointedly at her empty food bowl. Her imperious gaze followed me through the dark kitchen as I groped for the light switch and stumbled towards the coffee machine. Together, we watched as the first promising drops of brew began to plink into the glass receptacle. Isabella sat down on the floor in front of me, her wand of a tail waving back and forth, while I siphoned off the first precious ounces of the dark, steaming liquid. Coffee in hand, I dribbled a cup of dry cat food into the small white bowls on the floor underneath the kitchen table.
Upstairs, heavy feet padded towards the litter box, creaking the floorboards above my head. Seconds later, the unmistakable sounds of spastic, frenzied digging shook the ceiling, snowing the kitchen table with a light covering of dust. Isabella and I listened as the litter box-a shiny, red contraption complete with a covered hood-began to rock to a lively mambo beat. Thousands of sandy particles pattered against its plastic walls as the commotion above us increased in intensity.
I ran a caffeine-coated tongue over my top lip, waiting for the inevitable culmination of the boisterous goings-on inside the bouncing red igloo. Isabella trilled expectantly as a violent eruption launched the energetic digger out of the litter box and propelled him down the stairs. His fluffy, white blur careened around the corner and skidded through the entrance to the kitchen. He was covered from head to toe with a fine dusting of cat litter.
I greeted him casually. "Good morning, Rupert."
He blinked innocently up at me, grains of litter scattering from his furry eyebrows to the kitchen floor.
As a species, cats are generally known for their cleanliness. For Rupert, however, that objective couldn't quite compete with his love of litter box dancing. Despite his best efforts to remove it, stray pieces of litter clung to his white coat like persistent black fleas.
I had put this off as long as possible. A rank, unpleasant odor had begun to follow him around. It was time to give him a bath.
Biting down on my bottom lip, I strolled over to the sink and pulled out a couple of worn beach towels from a nearby drawer.
"Nothing special going on here," I said breezily, discreetly reaching my hand up to the shelf that held the cat shampoo.
My fingers flailed about in an unexpected vacuum. I risked an obvious glance to the empty shelf, and then down to the smug, satisfied cat sitting on the kitchen floor, munching on his breakfast. He paused, sensing my stare, and beamed triumphantly up at me.
Twenty minutes later, I finally found the shampoo bottle- shoved into a crevice between the refrigerator and the wall, alongside several toy mice and a bouncing ball. Rupert monitored my search from a series of defensive positions in the hallway, under the table, and behind the kitchen curtains. He crept commando style through the kitchen, sliding across the floor on his furry, round belly, eying me warily as I gripped the bottle around its neck and tapped it on the palm of my hand.
"Clever," I said, tapping furiously.
Rupert flashed me an impish grin and slowly began to back away. I reached out to grab him, but caught only air as he spun around and raced down the stairs that led to the first floor. That pudgy, white fur ball could be amazingly fast when motivated. The chase was on.
Rupert's long, feathery tail popped up, bouncing like a pogo stick as he hopped down the steps. He rounded the corner at the bottom of the stairs, spinning out as his claws scrambled on the slick wood floor. I dashed down after him, and, seconds later, stood in the middle of the open room that spanned the commercial, street level of the building. Pivoting slowly, I scanned my dusty surroundings for a hint to his hiding spot.
I was standing in the middle of my Uncle Oscar's antique shop, the Green Vase. At least, I still thought of it as Uncle Oscar's. I had recently inherited his antique business along with the three-story building it occupied.
Rupert's fuzzy, white reflection in the storefront glass revealed his location, hunched behind the edge of the adjacent counter that housed my uncle's antique cash register. I didn't want him to know that he had been discovered, so I continued the pretext of looking under cracked display cases and behind dusty bookshelves, gradually making my way over to the front door. I saw him tense up as I drew nearer.
Easing forward, I inched towards the counter and stepped surreptitiously into position. Rupert held his breath, trying to hold every hair perfectly still.
A small bird landed on the pavement outside. Overwhelmed by his feline instincts, Rupert couldn't help but glance out the window at it. Seizing the opportunity, I swooped around the counter and caught him by the long hairs on the back of his neck. Rupert made a peeved, squelching sound as my fingers locked around his wide midsection, and I hoisted him up.
"Let's get this over with," I said, lugging my captive back upstairs.
Isabella had watched the chase scene from a perch on the top of a bookcase in the showroom. She trailed a safe distance behind as I trudged up the stairs with my despondent cargo.
Rupert's furry face looked up at me woefully.
"It's not that bad," I said soothingly. He shot me a livid look that conveyed his obvious disagreement.
Back in the kitchen, I scrambled to turn on the water and adjust the temperature without loosing my grip on the increasingly agitated Rupert. When I finally managed to lower him into the sink, he splayed his back legs out, catching the rim. After a flurry of skin-gouging scratches, I succeeded in positioning him in front of the running faucet. Vengeful, vicious mutterings emitted from the basin as I dunked him under the stream of running water and began to lather him up.
To wash a large, uncooperative cat is to take on a seemingly impossible and sure to be thankless task. I was just about to start the rinse cycle when his slippery, struggling body broke free. With lightening speed, his soapy, white blur jumped out of the sink, streaked across the kitchen, and sprinted up the stairs. I heard him scamper through the litter box and dart into my bedroom, a shower of damp litter spraying out behind him.
Cursing under my breath, I grabbed a large beach towel and raced after him.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 74 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 74 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 27, 2010

    I Also Recommend:


    I found this book while looking for some books to read on a vacation. Years ago I discovered Lilian Jackson Braun's "The Cat Who....." series in the same way. Unfortunately Ms Hale is no Lilian Jackson Braun. I enjoy mystery stories that have a minimum of gore, and this book fit my tastes in that regard. I get bored with plot lines that have to pause for long sex scenes, but a smattering of romance through the story line can make the book more enjoyable. How sad it is that the heroine of this book cannot get even a hint of romance. Worst of all the ending leaves too many loose ends not only dangling, but also frayed. I am not against a book leaving some mystery for the next book of the series to build upon(Carole Nelson Douglas is excellent at this), but Ms Hale did not accomplish this. It is rare for me not to want to read the next book of a series, but I do not feel that this series would be worth the effort to continue to follow.

    8 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 5, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Perfect for cozy lovers

    I'm so glad I happened upon this book while visiting my local B&N. The book is intelligently written. The mystery is interesting. The characters are likeable, and the cats are wonderful (especially Rupert.) I highly recommend this book for cozy lovers, and I'm looking forward to the next installment in the series.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 23, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Tedious plot and writing

    I agree with Anonymous about the plot and writing. Call the characters quirkly, I just thought they were overwrought. The main character didn't seem to have a brain in her head about the situations she found herself in, which only was annoying in the end. Although I didn't get to the end because it was so frustrating to try and read, that, finally, I didn't. If this is the best she can do, she shouldn't bother with the second book.

    5 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 21, 2010

    Can't recommend~~

    Ms. Hale's new series is so darn wordy and detailed it made my head spin! After several chapters I gave up! It spoils the read to have to sift through paragraphs of endless over described characters, or just her walking from point A to point B, that could have been better summed up in a few sentences. No flow to the book....choppy plot with the back and forth on past and present that left some confusion. An author can over-write and this is a perfect example. I love cats, but not enough to wade through this book.

    5 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 29, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:


    Uncle Oscar was truly one-of-a-kind. Rebecca visited him once a week with her two feline companions for a tasty fried chicken dinner. She really didn't know much about her uncle except that her owned a truly unusual antique store right in the heart of San Francisco's historic Jackson Square neighborhood, that featured some treasured artifacts from the Gold Rush era.

    No one was more surprised than Rebecca when her Uncle Oscar was found dead in his store and couldn't believe that he had left everything he had to her. The Green Vase and all its contents now belonged to her including all the secrets hidden within. A quirky group of friends, a trap door, a strange key, and even a map. There was a mystery to be solved and Rebecca and her cats are ready to down and "dirty" to solve it.

    I LIKED IT!!

    This was a fun mystery, different from other cozies because it doesn't seem the body was murdered. The mystery takes us through history with a series of clues and deception back to the Gold Rush to find something. Don't want to give away the mystery. The plot is one that takes us right to to final pages, trying to piece the clues together. A very unconventional cast of characters and two very bright and curious cats make this book a great diversion for a few hours hours.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 24, 2010

    A rare find I can share with my kids

    I thought this was wonderfully light entertainment, and a great way to spend an afternoon. I didn't find the author too wordy, but then I usually read "The Ecconomist" and "The Atlantic" to unwind. So, I think if you are looking for a pleasent story told with enough sophistication to engage a mature reader while still light-hearted enough to pass along to older kids when you're done, this is a great choice. My middle school aged children both loved it.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 21, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Even Cats Wouldn't Be Happy

    I bought this book because I love cats (I have two) and I enjoy visiting San Francisco, where the book takes place. Although Ms. Hale does a wonderful job describing the cats (and you'll enjoy reading about why the cat needs washing), her descriptions of the human characters aren't nearly as good. Actually, it's hard to tell who are supposed to be sympathetic characters as they all are pathetic. The plot has some interesting elements about the history of San Francisco but overall doesn't work very well. And it's a wonder the heroine has any lips left as she's forever chewing and/or biting them. As far as I'm concerned, this one was a waste of time and money.

    3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 10, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    A Good Read

    This book is a good read, with accurate and funny descriptions of cat-ownership, an intriguing mystery, and fast-faced action. The reader will feel that s/he is right there in the action.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 29, 2010

    Not enough personal growth in heroine!

    Won't buy 2nd in series if one is written. This wimpy doormat heroine kept letting the pushy neighboring storekeeper walk in on her through the end of the book. No character growth to speak of = not the kind of female protagonist I want to continue to read about.

    3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 21, 2010

    Rebecca Hale has a agreat future!

    Well written introduction the characters, great historical links to the gold rush days in California, great depth to each characters personality and role they play in the book. Touching in the relationships she describes very well. And the cats do not detract from the story or plot. I'll look forward to reading her next book. Great mystery! Lots of suspense and thrill of the chase.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 14, 2010

    Incredibly weak editing

    I expected a light mystery with a possibly endearing character with a sleuthing cat. Three chapters in, I had found so many egregious editing errors and misused words and phrases that I put the book on a bench in hopes that whoever found it would forgive such abuse of the language.

    3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 5, 2012

    I loathed this book!

    There is so much wrong with this book that it's hard to know where to start. The plot is a mess, the characters are annoying, the cats are completely unrealistic (seriously, Midnight Louie is more believable), the conclusion is confusing and the whole thing is so overwritten that it took the heroine 2 pages to walk across a room and sit behind a cash register.
    And then there is the heroine... she has no name. Or backbone. Or personality. She spends the entire book being referred to as "Oscar's niece". This affectation grows more annoying as the book progresses, but oddly enough, starts to seem appropriate as we realize the woman doesn't really have an identity. We have no mental picture of her at all, not even the barest of physicsl descriptions. All we know is that she gets pushed around by people and events throughout the book and is stupid enough to try and bathe a cat in a kitchen sink.
    I actually considered throwing this book out after I read it. I donated it instead; my sincere apologies to whoever ended up with it!

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 23, 2011

    Can't give it more than three stars

    At times the story is intriguing, but unfortunately the plot is convoluted and the author's writing style is far too descriptive and wordy. It was as if she was trying to meet a required word count by repeatedly describing things with different adjectives. She also used words incorrectly a few times. With the exception of the main character and her cats, none of the characters are particularly likable. I could have given this only two stars, but I gave it three because it was trying to tell an interesting and different type of story (not a typical murder; it was a different kind of mystery.)

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 14, 2010

    A rocky start

    Ms. Hale's first try at this literary genre is off to a rocky start in this reader's opinion. The story began with promise. But soon, the story stalls and the writing feels forced. Ms. Hales characters are flat and at times either too overblown or not believable at all. Her overuse of metaphors and adjectives derailed most of the narrative. Her hints to "who dunnit" gave away the answer early on in this confusing story. At times, Ms. Hale temporarily lost her self-consciousness, and the story would begin to spark, but alas, it never truly ignited. Even stranger, Ms. Hale waited until the end to provide her protaganist's name. And to make matters worse this author gives her protaganist her own name. I hope that Ms. Hale can work out some of the bugs in her second book. I do admire anyone who tries to write in this difficult and highly competitve genre and I commend her for giving it a second try.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 1, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Tedious reading, but with entertaining cats

    I thought it was interesting that the book had a nameless protagonist. You actually don't learn her name until the very end. Which is a little odd...but interesting nevertheless. I really enjoyed how Hale gave the cats two distinct personalities. They were cute and the way they interacted with the main character was almost human (perhaps a little too human for some readers).

    The plot, well I can't say it was great, but I can't say it was bad either. It was, all right to say the least. Lots of history was involved, and a lot of fact reading which became more tedious than I thought. So there were some parts of the chapter were you had to read slowly as the facts just seemed to be jumbled together and things just didn't make some sense. Things just didn't make sense in some parts of the book either. It felt as if the plot was stuck in a rut and events weren't coming together. Either they came too slowly or they were repetitive and it was starting to bore me. However, then there were times in the book where something would happen all of a sudden and I'm left thinking; "What just happened?" and I found myself re reading certain parts of the book to see if I understood what was going on. The only parts I did enjoy were the ones involving the cats.

    The characters didn't really stand out in my opinion. Monty was bloody annoying. I was also trying to figure out why he was so interested in her Uncle and the Gold Rush mystery - really what benefit would he get out of it? was it just out of interest? or something else? even after the book I was still wondering what was up with him. The other characters in the novel weren't that great to begin with and they did nothing that caught my attention.

    The ending was all right. Although I was left with a lot of questions and I was also left with a lot of confusion. If it wasn't for the cats, I probably would have either put this book down, or might have quit reading it all together.

    Confusing, a lot of fact reading, and leaves the reader with a lot of questions. Not sure if I am going to read the second one. It may deserve a second chance. Perhaps this book will suit cat and cozy mystery lovers, but for those that don't really go read cozies might want to avoid this book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 8, 2010


    Did not enjoy this book. It seemed forever before the characters actually did anything interesting. Sentences were too wordy & used unnecessary words as if the author were trying to impress the reader.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 13, 2010

    How to Wash A Cat

    A little mystery a little fun. Look forward to more stories by Rebecca Hale.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 3, 2010

    A treat for the mind!

    This beautiful book is a rare reading pleasure! I read this breathlessly, I couldn't put it down. I hated to see it come to an end. What more can one ask?

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 20, 2010

    How to Wash a Cat

    A fun, light, romp with plenty of Cat participationand interesting history fact.
    Too often covers lure a cat fancier in with their illustrations then ....
    no cat.
    These cats have personality.

    If you don't like cats, don't bother.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 25, 2010


    What a marvelously delightful and engaging book! I couldn't put it down! This book can be enjoyed by young and old alike. Fabulous vocabulary. Interesting capture of gold rush history in San Francisco. I was lucky to stumble upon this book, and now can't wait for more of Rebecca Hale's books!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 74 Customer Reviews

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