Listen up cat-loving bookworms. There’s a new book on cats and history you’ll want to add to your reading list.
And don’t tune out because it’s a book of history. A Cat’s Tale: A Journey Through Feline History offers a lesson in history from the feline point-of-view. Rather than telling the story of humans in the past, art historian and author Paul Koudounaris and feline friend Baba are re-centering the historical focus to cats with their book.
With Koudounaris’s help, Baba narrates how cats have padded their way through the ages, journeying “from the laps of pagan gods to present-day status as meme stars,” according to the book’s description.
In the opening chapter, Baba tells us, “We cats have been allies to humankind for a very long time, and while you have reserved the sobriquet ‘man’s best friend’ for the dog, I may now provide you reasons to judge differently.”
And she certainly does. With her keen curiosity, Baba and her human have tracked down tales of forgotten felines, reviving legacies like the army mouser Colonel the tomcat and the Puss’n Boots Award of the 1950s.
Meowdel of History
Baba also provides vibrant imagery of historical felines, meowdeling elaborate costumes that illustrate a moment in time. When it came to taking the pictures, one might think Koudounaris struggled to capture that purrfect shot thanks to cat prerogative, but smart cat Baba conducted herself in exemplary ways. In an interview with Smithsonian Magazine, the proud cat dad shared, “Amazingly, like 99 percent of the time, she’d get exactly what I want.”
Such a pro, Baba only needed a single shot for the Andy Warhol shoot. “I did a test photo and was like, ‘Oh, that’s good—got it.”
And the whole amazing idea began in 2011 when a paw reached out and hooked Koudounaris as he passed a cage at the Los Angeles’ North Central Animal Shelter.
Best Furriends Meet
Koudounaris originally went to the shelter to adopt a certain cat, but the kitty had already found a forever home. As he was leaving, here came the paw of destiny punching holes in his shirt! When Koudounaris met the eyes of the tabby who’d stopped him, a connection was made.
“I knew immediately that I had discovered a feline companion, but hardly could I have guessed I was also getting a model, a muse, and even a writing partner,” shared the smitten cat dad.
Not only did the pair collaborate on the masterpiece of imagery, but together they spent hours researching cats and their place in history. What they’ve created is a journey that should not be missed by any cat lover.
“It was more than just a book, it was a part of the continued process of bonding with my cat,” explained Koudounaris. “It’s feline history, it’s cosplay, and underneath it, it’s a love letter to all the cats in all our lives.”