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The Autobiography of Foudini M. Cat

The Autobiography of Foudini M. Cat

4.7 7
by Susan Fromberg Schaeffer

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Grace the Cat is not at all like me, as she is forever bent on mischief. But because I am an older and wiser cat, she looks to me for counsel, and so I have allowed Grace to prevail upon me to set down the story of my life as a housecat in the human world. . . .

As the irrepressible Foudini M. Cat regales us with his adventures, an exciting story unfolds. After


Grace the Cat is not at all like me, as she is forever bent on mischief. But because I am an older and wiser cat, she looks to me for counsel, and so I have allowed Grace to prevail upon me to set down the story of my life as a housecat in the human world. . . .

As the irrepressible Foudini M. Cat regales us with his adventures, an exciting story unfolds. After his valiant but frail mother leaves him in search for food and never returns, the starving kitten is taken, hissing and spitting, to a frightening room with cages and men in white coats. Facing the specter of eternal sleep, the homeless cat is adopted by a woman he later calls "Warm." ("All cats like to make up strange names for things.")

From here Foudini enchants us with splendid tales of his unlikely but ultimately poignant friendship with Sam the Dog; their trips between Cold House in the city and Mouse House in the country; his mystical experiences with famous felines of the past; his near-death in a raging river that leads to a profound act of sacrifice; and his introduction to a silly young thing named Grace, which evolves into something completely unexpected.

Editorial Reviews

Kimberly B. Marlowe
This entertaining cat's-eye view of life. . .can be recommended even to those who are less than entraced by felines. —The New York Times Book Review
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In what surely is a fictionalized version of the life of a beloved pet, Schaeffer spins an appealing story via the feline narrator of this short novel. Ostensibly recording his experiences for the benefit of a young cat brought into the household, Foudini tells of a perilous kittenhood after his mother died; adoption by a couple he calls Warm and Pest, who transport him between their city and country houses; his initial fear of their huge dog, Sam; and the gradual growth of respect and love between feline and canine. However, Foudini's fearful personality and his lectures on the dangers of life are more than a series of funny and touching anecdotes (the day the woodchuck got in the house, the time Foudini was almost pulverized in the washing machine, etc.). Schaeffer (The Golden Rope) persuasively interprets a cat's view of the world and how it differs from a dog's and a human being's. She interjects feline fables into Foudini's dreams (one night Freud's stuffy cat appears to give advice). The story acquires poignancy when Sam becomes ill and doesn't return from the vet's hospital, and Foudini grieves for his gentle and protective friend. In the course of the narrative, Foudini's personality changes from nervous pessimism to a more trusting acceptance of love and domestic contentment. If at first rather cloying, the story gradually becomes affecting. Animal lovers will find it irresistible.
Library Journal
From an author noted for probing the psyche (e.g., The Golden Rope), a cat's story.
School Library Journal
A fast, easy-to-read novel. Foudini, a proud but not pompous feline, narrates his life story for Grace the Cat so that she might learn from his knowledge and experiences. His musings include everything from philosophy and Flying Feathered Feasts to the manipulation of Warm and Pest, their owners. The description of the relationship between Foudini and a dog is particularly touching as he moves from enemy to beloved friend. The story is realistic, correctly portraying the life of a pampered cat. Schaeffer's imagination is further shown as Foudini learns ancient cat wisdom from the ghost cats of Freud and Cleopatra. -- Claudia Moore, W. T. Woodson High School, Fairfax, Virginia
Kirkus Reviews
Another addition to the cute cat book genre, this one more graceful and evocative than most. The question remains, though: Why has this author of serious, provocative fiction (The Golden Rope) wasted her time on a book about pets? Born the only child of a resourceful alley cat, Foudini M. Cat (the "M" stands for Mouser), enjoys a few good months with his mother before she goes off hunting for food one day and doesn't come back. Alone and frightened in his basement home, Foudini hides out behind the dryer until a thoughtful human rescues him and another adopts him. Of course, Foudini has no reason to trust humans at first, but after a while he allows himself to be befriended by his captor. Eventually, he realizes that the woman he calls "Warm" (for obvious reasons) is his "assigned person," and he thereafter devotes himself to keeping her company. Sharing the city house and country house between which Warm and her husband (called "Pest") shuttle with Foudini is a dog, Sam, who happens to like cats. The two pets strike up a lifelong friendship in which Sam protects Foudini from occasional life-risking behavior and Foudini reciprocates by cleaning Sam's fur. After Sam dies (apparently of old age), Warm and Pest provide a kitten, Grace, as his replacement. Foudini's wry commentary on Grace's foolish ways evolves to affection and, finally, love, as the ghosts of cats past, as well as Sam, advise him in his dreams. Schaeffer has been accused of getting a little too intense and weighty in her fiction. That's certainly not a problem here.

Product Details

Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.44(d)

Meet the Author

Susan Fromberg Schaeffer was born in Brooklyn and educated at the University of Chicago, where she received her Ph.D. in 1966. In addition to The Autobiography of Foudini M. Cat, she is the author of ten other novels and five volumes of poetry, one of which, Granite Lady, was nominated for a National Book Award. She lives in New York.

Brief Biography

Date of Birth:
March 25, 1941
Date of Death:
August 26, 2011
Place of Birth:
Brooklyn, New York
Place of Death:
Chicago, Illinois
B.A., University of Chicago, 1961; M.A., University of Chicago, 1963; Ph.D., University of Chicago, 1966

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The Autobiography of Foudini M. Cat 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is great for animal lovers, cats in particular! Its kind and passionate. It can make you laugh and cry. A perfect book to read while cuddled up with a nice cup of tea!
Maenad More than 1 year ago
Foudini M. Cat writes his biography on the premise of teaching a kitten the ways of the cat world. While growing up, Foudini's attitude towards his owners' dog develops from hostility and jealously to a sincere friendship, one that would make any cat lover look at canines in a new light. Interspersed with Foudini's narrative are fables, psychology, and history with a feline twist. What evolves is a cat's philosophy of life that is both playful and speculative on the human condition.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
Very fun quick read, highly recommended.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. I recommend it to anyone who owns cats. A fictional? look into the mind of a cat. I can imagine that my cats share some of Foudini's thoughts. A great beach read!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is totally different than most books. It really wasn't much of a stretch for me. The author explained his point of view to a tee. There was never a time I didn't believe in Foudini.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I love cats and I love this book. The cat telling the story is the best way for the story to be told. I was moved to so many different emotions; from humiliation for doing what I thought was right to laughter at human attempts at cat conversation. I am recommending this book to all my cat loving friends.