Thursday, January 22, 2009

Ghost Cats: Human Encounters with Feline Spirits

What is it about cats that so captures our imaginations when it comes to the paranormal? According to author Dusty Rainbolt:

"Our cats seem to live in that mysterious realm between the natural and the transcendental, betwixt the living and the dead."

Cats do seem to dominate the literature about phantom apparitions, and if you're endlessly fascinated with their uncanny--and sometimes eerie--appearances as translucent beings, then Ghost Cats: Human Encounters with Feline Spirits is for you.

Unlike Kim Sheridan's Animals and the Afterlife, which chronicled afterlife visitations from dogs and cats who came back to the people they knew and loved, not all of the emphemeral cats whose stories are documented in Ghost Cats are known to the people who see them. Some inhabit hotels and public places, and the author even includes a list of "locations that may have ghost cats," in case you'd like to go in search of them. According to Ms. Rainbolt:

"There's a mystery and a tension that comes with cat entities when you never knew that cat in life. I selected these tales for their strangeness. In most cases, the people featured in the stories were visited by ghost cats they'd had no connection with. Why die these cats come back? Did they select the people to haunt, or were they simply trapped in their place of death?"

Often, the spirit felines are encountered after a family moves into a new home. The cats' previous human companions may have vacated the premises, but these kitties aren't going anywhere. Some of them may not even have realized that they have passed into another dimension: they continue to play with living cats and dogs and jump up on tables and beds, and on occasion, even make distinctive mewing sounds that can be disconcerting, indeed.

Most of the people whose stories are told in this enjoyable volume had no prior experience with ghosts or spirits. They are not psychic, they don't possess special powers, and they seem to have "an easy acceptance of the occurrence." Ms. Rainbolt notes that:

"Few people felt threatened or disturbed by the dead kitty's appearance. People usually felt blessed and happy about their cats' spiritual return, while they might have gone into a complete panic had a dead parent or spouse shown up instead."

Having recently lost my beloved cat, Casey, I've been hoping that she might reappear--even fleetingly--to reinforce my belief that she continues to live on another plane, albeit one where I cannot see or touch her. Ms. Rainbolt's deep understanding of the bond between cats and their people is what gives Ghost Cats its power, and what prevents it from being just another compilation of scary stories:

"During their lives with us, cats act as our companions, caretakers, nurses, counselors, and even entertainers. And after that all-too-short life comes to an end, their absence leaves a huge hole in our lives. Nothing will ever be the same. You feel incomplete, empty.

But that spirit who loved you so unconditionally in life continues to love you despite that vast invisible gulf that divides you."


I'm thrilled to announce that Dusty Rainbolt will be my guest at the inaugural "Conversations with Animal Authors" Teleconference, on January 29th!

More details will follow!

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