On Cats is a posthumous collection of Charles Bukowski’s poetry about cats compiled by former Fulbright Scholar Abel Debritto, who is also editor of the Bukowski collection On Writing. This tightly knit collection brings Bukowski back to his gritty best with Debritto harkening to Bukowski’s original wording and manuscripts when possible. Interspersed with the poems are various photographs of the cats written about.
Whether stalking their prey, using the unanswered letters from fans as litter, or being rushed to a vet, Bukowski’s poetry brings to life the deviltry, beauty, and “cool”-ness of the cats that rescue him in turn for shelter and cans of tuna. It is quite clear that the grungy poet loves cats and has a soft heart for the downtrodden, flea-bitten, hard-knock cats who become kings and queens in his household. The poems range from pithy to Neruda-esque odes, from short to long prose-poetry pieces, offering just a glimpse of the creative range of Charles Bukowski, a beautiful exposure to the saccharine-free poignancy with which Bukowski intelligently and brusquely writes.
This collection is not for any and all cat lovers, but for people who either enjoy Bukowski’s poetry and don’t mind whether or not the collection is on cats or whores or drunken evenings, or for people who enjoy the raunchy and realistic, the wine-soaked views of the grizzled poet as he watches his cats and admires their knowing and calmness, the universal knowledge reflected in their eyes.