Review by Bonnie Cehovet
In her introduction, Given posits that it is possible that cats are our spiritual guides. Anyone who has even been owned by a cat will agree with that! Given has portrayed the cats in this deck as thinking and acting as cats. Again, anyone who has ever been owned by a cat will look at the imagery and situations in this deck, nod, and smile. They will have seen these same situations many times over in their own experiences with their pets.
Given notes that cats are experts at reading body language, as they rely upon visual signaling to communicate at a distance, and to avoid conflict with other cats. People can also learn to read their cat's body language. Does anyone out there not know what ears laid back flat means? It is mot definitely not an invitation to pet them!
The imagery in this deck is, as the author states, clean and uncluttered. As in, this deck is minimalist as far as esoteric symbols are concerned. What you see are the cats, in their everyday environment, doing everyday things. Given has followed the Rider-Waite-Smith tradition as interpreted by author Joan Bunning in her book “Learning the Tarot”. The Major Arcana carry the traditional titles (with the exception of the Hanged Man, which becomes the Hanged Kitty, with Strength at VIII and Justice at XI. The suit titles are Wands, Cups, Swords, and Pentacles, and the Court Card titles are King, Queen, Knight, and Page. Continuity in this deck is established through the use of color: the Major Arcana are purple, Wands are orange, Cups are red, Swords are blue, and Pentacles are green and brown.
The suit of Wands shows Red Tabbies, the suit of Cups Black and White Tabbies, the suit of Swords Siamese, and the suit of Pentacles Brown Tabbies. The suit symbols have also been replaced: Wands are represented by reptiles, the suit of Cups by fish, the suit of Swords by birds, and the suit of Pentacles by mice.
The LWB (Little White Book) presents the cards in text only, with keywords, a short paragraph on the card's energy, and how the card appears in a reading. At the end of the LWB is a unique spread called the “Nine Lives Spread”. (This spread is also presented as an extra card with this deck.) Nine cards are drawn – three for youth, three for mid-life, and three for maturity. At the end of the book are blank pages for notes.
The cards are 2 3/4” by 4 3/4”, of good quality, glossy card stock. The backs have a 1/4” white border, surrounding the image of the face of a cat with green eyes. The image is done landscape style, and does not lend itself to reversals. This is the only thing that I did not like about this deck – the card backs could have been done in a different format.
The card faces show the same 1/4” white border, with a color coded border at the bottom of the card fot the card title. The Major Arcana carry the card number in Roman numerals and the card title. Th Pips (numbered cards) show the card number in text and the suit. The Court Cards show the card title and suit.
One of my favorite cards in this deck is the Ten of Swords (I never thought that I would be saying that!) Here we see a Siamese cat walking very gingerly on a cluttered kitchen counter. Another Siamese is using the kitty litter box (yes, in the kitchen!), while a young mother guards her kittens in the cabinet under the counter.
The Fool shows a young cat, balanced on a porch railing as he goes after a bumble bee. The Page of Pentacles shows a brown tabby barn kitten slowly approaching a mouse, who is hiding in the hay. The Four of Swords shows a Siamese cat on the top tier of a cat perch, looking out the window. On a limb outside the window we see a sparrow gazing up at the cat.
The Empress is one of those “Awwwwwwweee” cards, showing a mother cat sitting on the bottom step of a staircase, with her two kittens sitting between her front paws. The Emperor is really cute – here we see a black smoke Persian seated on a chair in front of a lit fireplace. Struggling to make his way up into the chair is a young orange kitten.
The Hanged Kitty shows a gorgeous Maine Coon on his back in front of a lit fireplace. He knows that he is safe, and that he does not need to be ready to fight, or to flee. Temperance shows a pure black male cat and a pure white female cat, curled together in the yin/yang position, balanced on a balustrade above a rugged coastline.
The Two of Wands is a “laugh out loud” card, showing a young orange tabby precariously draped over a tree limb, reaching out for a small, green lizard. The Ten of Wands shows a scenario that has actually happened to me: we see an orange tabby about to go up the steps to his house with a snake in his mouth. It is hard for the little fur balls to drag a snake around, but they can do it! I have had to rescue more than one snake from my living room!
Last, but not least, the Ace of Cups. Here we see a brightly colored fish in a bowl, fascinated by the friendly cat paw that is on the outside of the bowl. In my personal experience, the paw is usually over the top of the fish tank, trying to drag the fish out!
This is a beautifully done, “believable” deck. Not just for cat lovers, and an excellent choice for clients that may be a bit nervous getting a Tarot reading.
© November 2011 Bonnie Cehovet
Bonnie Cehovet is Certified Tarot Grand Master, a professional Tarot reader with over ten years experience, a Reiki Master/Teacher and a writer. Bonnie has served in various capacities with the American Tarot Association, is co-founder of the World Tarot Network, and Vice President (as well as Director of Certification) for the American Board For Tarot Certification. She has had articles appear in the 2004 and 2005 Llewellyn Tarot Reader.