Thomas Dunne Books, c/o St. Martin’s Griffin (175 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10010), 2015. 164 pages, hardcover. $22.99.
Reviewed by Debra J. White
Retired psychology professor Nils Uddenberg was content with his retirement in Lund, Sweden. But, not long after returning home from a vacation with his wife, Uddenberg noticed a stray cat staring at him when he opened the blind to let in the sunshine.
That morning would change their lives. Although the professor assumed the stray cat belonged to a neighbor, the brown speckled cat returned. And returned.
A call to the local police station turned up no missing cat reports. She could belong to anybody or nobody. Since winter was bearing down at the time and Uddenberg worried about the cat’s survival during months of snow, ice and frigid temperatures, he started leaving out food. Then he fixed up cozy places for the cat to sleep, all the while saying no, don’t get too attached.
But he did become attached. The mysterious cat worked her way into his heart and eventually his home. He called a veterinarian to have the cat examined and to alleviate pregnancy concerns. She was spayed, vaccinated and micro-chipped.
Given a name
Finally, she was given a name: Kitty.
Uddenberg’s The Old Man and the Cat, which is not to be confused with the 1984 and 2009 books of the same title by Anthony Holcroft and Lance Smith, is as delightful a book as any I’ve read about a man and his cat. Uddenberg, who initially hedged about taking in the stray cat lurking around their property, loves and adores Kitty. He dotes on her and relishes her company.
He does, however, let Kitty outside to roam, even installing a cat door. An ensuing short disappearance left him bereft.
Since Kitty was spayed there were no unwanted litters. Having been vaccinated, she probably won’t contract any feline diseases. Cats who roam, however, can be attacked by wild animals. They are sometimes victims of car accidents or pranks by hooligans. Sometimes they are poisoned, shot, or trapped and taken to pounds by irate birders.
Thankfully, Uddenberg reports that nothing disastrous happened to Kitty. We can only hope that she will stay safe on her romps throughout the Swedish town of Lund and remain in good health so that Dr. Uddenberg and his family may continue to enjoy Kitty and her feline gifts.