Review by Chris Norfolk
The Tarot of the Cat People is very much an unusual deck, for several reasons. The deck has at least one cat on every card (as it should!) making it different for a start, but also the style of Kuykendallís artwork is unique. All the people in the cards have an Asian/Indian look to them, and the clothing is bizarre and in many cases the hair/headdresses (I canít distinguish between the two on some cards!) is extremely strange, almost as if it came from the 70ís. But when you look at the cards and the whole way the images have been done, it looks quite good. Another interesting thing about the deck is the fantasy type story that accompanies the deck, in which each suit represents a kingdom and its people in some sort of parallel dimension called the Outer Regions, home to the Cat People, a race of humans that love, honour and even obey cats.
Each kingdom gets its name and its peopleís name through a combination of the meanings that each suit (all traditional titles, Wands, Cups, Swords and Pentacles) entails and characteristics of the area and people that the cards of that suit depict. The Major Arcana show the people of Vapala, the Diamond Kingdom, whose inhabitants are called the Sky People. Swords show Thnossis, the Ruby Kingdom and home to the Fire People, Wands show Twahihic, the Emerald Kingdom whose inhabitants are called the Sand People, Cups have Azhengir, the Topaz Kingdom and whose people are known as the Salt People, and Kahulawe, the Sapphire Kingdom whose inhabitants are the Rock People have the suit of Pentacles. It is the people and their cats from these kingdoms and their lifestyles that form the basis for the symbolism for the deck.
I like this deck a lot due to the way in which the creator has given the deck an unusual theme of a fantastical world with cats, but has stuck closely to Rider-Waite style symbolism, and the way the cats themselves play a large part in the actual meanings of the cards, as they do in the culture of the humans shown in the cards. They donít just happen to be there, which is the feeling I gotten from other decks that have used animals or other creatures as a theme for the deck. I particularly like the Knights of this deck; each one depicts a member of the Kingdom involved, riding a big cat native to that part of the Outer Regions instead of a plain old horse. For readings, this deck is a fun alternative to other Waite based decks, with enough symbolism to be useable when reading for others or yourself. There is a fine balance of fun with this deck, as well as seriousness. There are two title changes in the Major Arcana; the Hierophant is the High Priest, and Judgement has become Rejuvenation, but both cards convey the same meanings as before. Strength is number 11 and Justice 8.
This standard-sized 78-card deck is perfectly suitable for beginners; particularly those who like fantasy stories and-or like cats (obviously!), and an experienced reader could also use these cards as well with no difficulty. The cards are good for children as well due to the fact that there is no death very little nudity The thick booklet that comes with the deck is VERY good, providing a brief description on the cards so that the reader can understand whatís going on, and when new to the deck that is sometimes more difficult than you might think, gives detailed divinatory meanings for all cards, even reversed, gives a detailed set of instructions on how to use the ten-card spread, info on the artist and what inspired her to make this deck, and gives a lot of information about the Cat People of the Outer Regions, which again, is important to the reader to figure out what is happening on each card, but anyone who has used a Waite deck will have little trouble with that.
A final word, if you were going to buy this deck, I would definitely recommend getting the deck-and-book set, as while the booklet is very detailed, the actual information that it gives on the cats and the Cat People is very limited, and the book provides even more insight into what goes on in the Outer Regions and what goes on there and in the cards, both with the people, the cats and in geographical terms, as it all adds to the symbolism and the fun of using this deck.