THE CAT WHO WALKED A THOUSAND MILES is one of the longer free stories on the Tor.com website, but well worth it. It's a story about a cat, named Small Cat, who lives with a whole bunch of other cats in a garden. After an earthquake and a fire, the cats scatter, and suddenly, Small Cat is left utterly alone.
Small Cat immediately goes out into the greater world of Japan to search for other cats. Her quest is driven by her desire to be part of a "fudoki": an interesting concept, which, from what I understand, consists of the collective stories of your ancestors, your family members, and you, that form your identity and give you a place in the world with which to carve out your niche.
Small Cat's quest to find a fudoki result in a long journey. There are bears and boats; monks and Shinto shrines; snow and fire; wolves and dogs; she even meets a few other cats, although many of them are unfriendly or have no place for her in their fudoki.
Reading this book made me want to hug my own cat extra tight. Small Cat's loneliness is the driving force behind this book, and it was really sad that no matter where she went, or how good her situation was, she never completely felt as though she were completely at home without having the stories of others like her to define her life and make a home.
Also, if you like the cover, you're in luck, because this is the first story I've seen on the Tor website that's illustrated. The art work is beautiful, and really captures the je ne sais quoi that is cat. I feel sure that both the author and the artist have cats of their own, because they really managed to capture the temperament and personality of that furry little animal that's an enigma wrapped in a riddle wrapped in a fudoki.
4 to 4.5 out of 5 stars