Plum Crazy!

Tales of a Tiger-Striped Cat Vol. 1

by Natsumi Hoshino

Another cat manga I found and read in two sittings, in the middle of a longer book. So cute. Not quite as cute as Chi, but still very endearing. This series is about a cat named Plum, who lives with a woman that teaches dance to younger children, and her older son (high school age, I think?). Plum wanders outside one day and finds a very tiny kitten, brings it home. The family is surprised and delighted. They care for the little kitten at first thinking to find it a new home, but end up keeping it. It’s named Snowball (because of two white spots over the eyes).

In this manga, the cats don’t talk- unlike Chi, where you could read their thoughts in words. (Except, oddly, for the postscript, which includes some panels of little incidents from Plum’s viewpoint, and in those you can read her thoughts). The cats are also drawn more realistically in these illustrations, and the behavior very realistic too, which made it quite enjoyable. There’s all the usual spats between two cats getting to know each other- the older Plum not wanting to share her bed, when the kitten wants to snuggle. Vying (in their subtle ways) for attention with their people. The kitten wanting to hog food. Finding another stray kitten- this one gets returned to its owner- and the curious dynamic that creates for a day among the cats. Plum feeling harassed by the visiting dance students who all swarm around energetically, wanting to hold and pet her. The owner trying to dress the cats up in cute things for a holiday picture (of course they don’t cooperate). There’s a dream sequence here too, and I found it much more interesting and like a real dream, than the odd one in previous book.

Most interesting though, was the biggest theme throughout the story- Snowball’s problem behaviors. Firstly, she likes to bite Plum. And the older cat doesn’t retaliate, but just acts shocked and runs away. In another odd scenario, one day she follows the boy to school, where she has a confrontation with a raccoon in a classroom. It was the weirdest thing. I won’t explain- go read the book! but it showed that Plum could well defend herself, she just didn’t for some reason, with the kitten. Later in the story, Snowball starts sucking and chewing on clothes and blankets- which frustrates the family who try and figure out how to stop it. The boy advises his mother how punishment won’t work, but it’s a school friend who points out that the kitten probably has a compulsion for “wool sucking” because it was separated from its mother very young and didn’t have enough time nursing.

There’s also a part of the story about the mother’s drinking habit, which is sometimes problematic, and how the son tries to deal with that. So unlike Fuku Fuku, which was just little tidbits of cat antics, this one has more depth to the story and things happening with the people as well as their cats, that you want to see get resolved, or at least what it leads to. My public library doesn’t have any more Fuku books, sadly, but they do have a whole run of Plum Crazy! which I checked out all at once. More soon!

Borrowed from the public library. Next in the series.

Rating: 3/5
180 pages, 2008

More opinions: Buried in Print
anyone else?

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