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The Cat Tarot perfectly captures the personalities of different cats while still managing to be a usable RWS-style deck. Being honest, I bought this tarot deck on a whim, but I am glad I did. The cards are playful and have a great sense of humor. If you already have a solid grounding in RWS decks, I think this may be a perfect set of cards for you or the cat lover in your life.

Artwork

The Tower, Cat Tarot, (c) Chronicle Books
The Tower, Cat Tarot, (c) Chronicle Books

Megan Lynn Kott, the illustrator of this deck, has sone a wonderful job of painting loose watercolors that perfectly sum up cats and their behaviors. The colors areall rather soft, but I would not call this deck “pastel” in any way. I really appreciate Kott’s attention to the cat’s various fur coats and their colors, markings and patterns. She also does an amazing job with these animal’s facial expressions and personalities. And, the sense of humor inthis deck is possibly the best I’ve seen in any deck, animal-related or not.

For these reasons, I especially love the Tower, Devil, Justice, Death, Emperor and Justice cards in the major arcana. In the minor arcana, I am fond of the Two of Swords, Five of Swords, Ten of Swords, Three of Pentacles and the Page of Cups. The illustrations in these cards are dead on, and anyone with cats will get a good chuckle from them.

The Cat Tarot Symbols and Suits

Obviously, a lot of thought was put into how to portray the scene on each card. And, since this is a RWS deck, all of the cards are illustrated, including the pip cards. However, the cards are light on the typical symbolism associated with more traditional RWS decks. So, don’t buy this tarot deck expecting lots of white roses and pomegranates.

Also, this deck does have a fun spin on the traditional suits. Instead of wands , there are cat toys. Cups are food and water bowls. Pentacles become kibbles and swords are the cat’s claws and teeth. (Anyone who has ever had a cat knows this is accurate.) My only consideration about this is that the illustrations do not always make the suits one hundred percent obvious. For example, a variety of cat toys (e.g. yarn, feathers) can symbolize the wands, not just one. So, this can lead to some identification confusion at times. This is especially true when first learning the deck. But, after a while and with good use of the guidebook, it does start to click.

Content

The LWB for this deck is far thicker and more substantial than most. It is also bound with a color cover and is illustrated inside. The illustrations are black and white but a full size for the major arcana cards and smaller for the minor arcana cards. They are generally clear and easy to see, but I would have like a little more color contrast in the smaller images. The card descriptions are brief, but they are pithy and give nice insight. The key meanings and reversed meaning are nicely done. I really enjoy the writing style in this LWB and like it very much overall. I will say, however, that the type font (while nice) is very small. So, it may be hard for some to read.

Layout and Feel

Five of Swords, Cat Tarot, (c) Chronicle Books
Five of Swords, Cat Tarot, (c) Chronicle Books

The cards are matte and have decent card stock. They seem to be about average in terms of size. The backs are “mostly” reversible and are done in purple with a nice pattern on small deck-related images done in dark purple line work. The imagery is reversible, but his deck has some color variation in the background that may make it possible for a reader to tell if the card is upside down or not when pulling cards.

The cards themselves are bordered on the front, but would be very easy to trim. The only caveat I have with the design of these card is in how the suits are marked. As I mentioned above, the suit imagery is not completely consistent. So, there is a small symbol of each of the suits that encircles the card number on each pip card. This symbol is not an illustration of cups, pentacles, wands, etc. It is also not the traditional alchemical symbol for each element, and so it has to be learned for this deck. The court cards are fully labeled.

That Box!

Ace of Cups, Cat Tarot, (c) Chronicle Books
Ace of Cups, Cat Tarot, (c) Chronicle Books

Finally, I love the box for this deck. The box is a rigid, two-part box that is sturdier than most tarot boxes on the market. But the attention to detail makes this box a win. First, there is silver holographic detailing on the lid that is very tastefully done and adds a little unexpected sparkle. Second, since it is in two parts, there are thumb cut outs. These are on the long side of the box, so they aren’t very practical, but this is is where the magic is. The cut outs serve as a hose for a sweet illustration of a cat to peek through on each side. Adorable.

Conclusion

I do think this deck is best for readers with some experience under the belt since the illustrations are not “obviously” RWS (though they are more in line with that system than it appears). Otherwise, the reader would need a good background in cat psychology and/or heavy use of the guidebook to get used to the deck. That said, what a charming little deck!

Deck Specs

Name: Cat Tarot
Type: Tarot
System: RWS
Card Number: 78
Backs: Mostly reversible
Card Size: 2.76 x 4.72 in (7 x 12 cm) 
Box: Rigid
Author: Megan Lynn Kott, Julia Smillie
Illustrator: Megan Lynn Kott
Publisher: Chronicle Books, 2019
Availability: Amazon

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