Fritz the Cinema Cat
The Life of a Local Hero
The tale of Fritz the Cinema Cat, of Salt Spring Island
We were born in Ontario, but in 2011 we moved with our human to beautiful Salt Spring Island BC, on the west coast of Canada. We are delighted to find ourselves living in a community that loves and respects cat-kind; where cats are admired for their individual contributions to society.
We'd like to share the story of our local feline hero, Fritz the Cinema cat with you.
Fritz wasn't born famous, in fact he came from unremarkable beginnings, and yet he never lost touch with his community, although he rose to a position of prominence on the island.
Fritz was born in 1996, long before we were (actually, he'd be old enough to be our great great grandfather) and he started out living with a family, an unremarkable beginning shared in common with cats all over the world.
Fritz had a private youth, living as an unremarked character on the island until he began his career at the cinema, where he worked as a greeter. Little is known about the period after he left his first home in 1998 and before he took up residence at the theater in 2000, but we suspect his career aspirations developed in that period.
Fritz' work at the cinema involved more than just greeting movie goer's. Central Hall on Salt Spring Island is a busy place and many types of activities are held there. Fritz even greeted the dogs who attended obedience classes there!
Fritz, on the phone booth, photo from the Driftwood
When he wasn't needed in the hall, he could often be found outside, on duty overseeing his domain from the top of the phone booth. When 'off duty' Fritz would retire to his custom built house on the porch of the theater, where he enjoyed luxuries his many friends and admirers brought for him; a lamb's wool bed, a hand sewn privacy curtain, and other gifts of comfort from his community. |
Although Fritz had several "owners" (we call them "slaves") and many more caretakers (also slaves) he was really a cat who enslaved an entire community. For cats who have only one or two humans to do their bidding, this may seem excessive, but Fritz made it work.
Fritz photo by Michael Levy
In 2005 a well-meaning visitor attempted to abduct Fritz, and the whole cat-loving community rushed to his defence. The RCMP were called in, BC Ferries staff alerted, a description of the alleged abductors vehicle was quickly circulated by email all over the island, so everyone could be on the lookout for Fritz. The cat-napper returned Fritz the next day. |
After the abduction incident, and the newspaper coverage it generated, Fritz was as well-known as any other islander (well, from our point of view - Randy Bachman, Robert Bateman and Arthur Black might disagree). Fritz was certainly the most famous cat in the Gulf Islands.
Fritz made the paper on other occasions too; when his house was vandalized (his lovely little windows broken) but repairs were quickly made and his house was renovated to make it more vandal-proof (plexi-glass windows). His daily caretaker who brought him fresh water did occasionally find his water bowl spiked with beer, but Fritz didn't seem to have any interest in alcohol.
Fritz met a sad end, the victim of a traffic accident, but even after his death, he was bringing his community together. Salt Spring held a beautiful memorial service in honor of Fritz' life. The intersection near where Fritz was killed has since been changed to a four-way stop, hopefully making it a safer intersection for all creatures in the future.
2014 Update - Fritz Still Remembered by Salt Spring Island
Flick, Dot and Buzz get an E-Meow from Micheal Levy
In 2006, I bought the cinema and renamed it The Fritz in honour of our little friend. I had worked at the cinema since 2000 and it was one of the concession girls, Pam, who finally managed to tame him a bit. He'd been hanging around for some time mooching treats when he could (he even ate popcorn when he could!) but was very wild and skittish. One day in the summer of 2000 when Pam and I came in for our shift (I was the projectionist), Fritz was outside with a bag stuck to his bum and none too happy about it!
Pam coaxed him over and quickly removed the bag, since that incident he became more and more friendly and that's when we all began to look out for him, bringing him real food and eventually letting him into the hall during films. I'm not sure who built his original tiny home but my brother Geoff built his second and final home in 2003-4. It had a removable fibreglass roof so that his pad could be cleaned regularly and a custom made flap door by our local cobbler... everyone loved helping out on Fritz projects!
He never liked to be picked up very much other than a friend's son, Zac, who braved many, many scratches to get Fritz to trust him over the years. I could pick him up for a while when he was misbehaving (not very often!) but he weighed quite a bit and was very strong so he didn't get grabbed often!
We used to keep him in the hall when there was a lot of snow or prolonged freezing temperatures (his water would freeze over) along with food and a litter box which he knew very well how to use. He was always very friendly and would just walk away if someone was bothering him to much.
The greatest honour for any of our patrons was when Fritz would saunter down the darkened aisle of the cinema and choose a lap to sit in. Many people were quite startled (he was sneaky!) but once he settled down they'd just pet him and continue to watch the movie and then, as they were leaving, brag about being one of the chosen!
We all loved him very, very much and miss him to this day. The cinema has since passed into other hands but the name remains the same: The Fritz!
All the best,
- freelance photographer -
Even a hardworking cinema cat like Fritz took time to enjoy a nap in a sunbeam!
Fritz the Salt Spring Cinema Cat
photo by Michael Levy - www.flatearthphoto.com
The back of the Fritz Theater T-shirt, designed by Lithographer Geoffrey Levy
2013 Update - Fritz gets a shot at the silver screen
As reported in the Gulf Islands Driftwood
The author of the Fritz books, Louise Nye, has been contacted by her publisher to discuss the possiblity of making the Fritz books into a movie! Publishing company executives will be pitching the book to movie producers in Las Vegas in February 2013. We are SO excited at the possibility of a Fritz movie... we'll keep you posted when we hear more.
2014 Note - Still no word on the Fritz movie... we've got our paws crossed tho'!
Fritz coverage in the local media, the Gulf Islands Driftwood
Abduction of Fritz - Final Bow - Tribute - Letters to the Editor - Fritz Books - Book Review - Video of his memorial
Image from the Driftwood newspaper, of Fritz outside his house
Fritz inside his house at the cinema
- TOP -
Much of Fritz' story is well document by the local newspaper, The Gulf Islands Driftwood (below), and by local authors, but we've speculated about the 'missing years' in the Fritz story - the years between his first home and his tenure at the Cinema. What motivated Fritz to go on walkabout? |
Theories on the 'missing years'
'I think Fritz set out for adventure... maybe he read a biography of David Thompson, the Canadian Geographer and map-maker, and decided that he wanted to explore and map Salt Spring. Or maybe he set out thinking he'd adventure in a kayak, like Thor Heyerdahl; until he got to the ocean and saw what it really looked like... I think Fritz definitely wanted to explore his natural environment. '
'Maybe Fritz was a different type of explorer; maybe he was a feline anthropologist, who set out to study humans in their natural environments outside the home. Maybe Fritz read the Farley Mowat books about Dian Fossey 'Virunga' and 'Woman in the Mists' or maybe he became a fan of anthropologist Louis Leakey. Anyway, Fritz decided that if human biologists could live with the primates in the mountains, he could travel the island and observe humans where they work and play. That's how I think he ended up at the movie theater.'
'I think Fritz went traveling in search of love... or perhaps he was running away from an unhappy love affair at home.'
'Oh, Buzz!, you're such a romantic... remember what our mom-cat said? Un-neutered boy cats go wandering to find unwary girl cats to rape. She warned us about that.'
'Look at where Fritz ended up. If he'd gone in search of love or cartography, why did he end up at the cinema?'
'Maybe Fritz was working undercover in the movie industry, reviewing and reporting on audience reactions for Blockbuster video... they went under not long after Fritz's death - do you think the two might be related?'
'I think Dot might be right; if Fritz had wanted to study map making, he would have gone to the high school, or maybe the library. Since he selected a home base with so many people, that must have been what he was interested in. Maybe he was writing an anthropology paper like Dot said.'
'Or maybe he was considering a career in politics, getting to know all the locals as the theater greeter.'
'We may never know for sure what Fritz planned, but he ended up with a whole bunch of people who loved him, so he must have been a very special cat.'
'Ya, he enslaved an entire island, that's pretty impressive.'
'He certainly lived his life his own way.'
'We've found a wonderful place to live, where cats are respected and admired... which is as it should be, don't you think girls?'
*3 furry heads nod solemnly*
We would love to hear your stories of Fritz the Cinema cat If Fritz touched your life, please send us an e-meow and share your story?
Thank you Salt Spring! We think you are fabulous!
Fritz coverage in the local media, the Gulf Islands Driftwood
Abduction of Fritz - Final Bow - Tribute - Letters to the Editor - Fritz Books MORE: Book Review - Video of his memorial
The Abduction of Fritz
From the Gulf Islands Driftwood, Wednesday, August 03, 2005
Cat-loving visitor stirs up Fritz fracas
By Susan Lundy
While islanders celebrated the return of Fritz the Cinema Cat to his home at Central Hall Monday, a Richmond woman who hoped to adopt him remains concerned for his welfare.
"Everyone thinks it's so cute [that he lives at the Central Hall movie theatre] and that really burns me up," said Donna Arola-Guler Monday as she stopped by the hall to purchase placemats from a weekend vendor before returning home.
"People go whipping in and out of here in their cars," she said. "He's going to go running out there one day and meet his end." But Fritz's official owner and a local police constable disagree. Cathie Newman, a longtime local SPCA volunteer, says Fritz is "car smart" and only runs out to greet her vehicle when she brings him food in the morning.
Salt Spring RCMP Const. Lindsay Ellis is also comfortable with Fritz's living conditions.
"It seems to me that if he's been living there seven years, he's quite traffic wise," Ellis said. "He's well cared for and well loved. I have no concerns."
Newman spent a sleepless night Sunday after learning that a woman in a red car had packed Fritz into a crate and planned to take him off island.
Police were contacted, e-mails circulated, and locals hit all three ferry terminals to search for the suspect vehicle and missing cat.
"Jen at the ticket booth at Long Harbour said 'don't worry, I'm checking every car that goes by,'" Newman said.
Ellis told the Driftwood that two members attended the hall as soon as they were alerted to the "cat-napping."
"We couldn't believe someone would take the cat," she said. "We considered getting the dog man out [to track him]."
She said the police would have "absolutely" considered the situation theft under $5,000 had the cat not been returned.
Fritz was still missing as Newman set out for the Long Harbour ferry terminal Monday morning, but was back when she checked again at about 8:15 a.m.
"Now he's safe, sound and well fed," she said.
Arola-Guler said Fritz spent Sunday night in an "undisclosed place." "I was hoping to adopt him, but I was told I couldn't," she said. Arola-Guler has four indoor cats and volunteers for the Richmond Animal Protection Society. She says the society will not adopt out cats if they will be living outdoors.
"I'd like to see him have a home where it's safe and he has a nice yard to run in."
She saw Fritz on earlier visits to Salt Spring and expressed concern over his safety at the busy Central intersection. She also feels he is being used as a publicity draw by theatre personnel.
"This is not a cute story, believe me."
But Newman and the swell of islanders who lobbied for his return Monday believe that Fritz's residency at Cinema Hall is special. "He's such a happy cat," said Newman, noting he has lived there since he wandered away from his Fort Street home as a young cat some seven years ago.
After Fritz settled in at the cinema, the SPCA helped out with his care, neutering him and giving him all necessary shots. Newman officially adopted him, and continues to feed and brush him every morning. She admits she has had some discomfort with "yahoos" around the theatre — dealing once with broken glass outside his box and the occasional dousing of beer in his water.
But community members have also cared for Fritz, building him a "lavish" new wooden home, providing lamb's wool to sleep on and, most recently, sewing him a new curtain door.
"He's everybody's cat," Newman says. "He loves voting day because there are so many people around at the hall."
His disappearance prompted immediate and emotional reaction as islanders rallied to gather information about his disappearance, circulating hundreds of e-mails to lists all over Salt Spring.
"People were really upset about this," Ellis said, adding that several islanders came by the police detachment in an attempt to file complaints on Fritz's behalf.
But on Monday afternoon, Arola-Guler said, "I'm really upset at people's reaction."
Her hope, she added, is that the situation will bring awareness to Fritz's plight and hopefully initiate community action to make his home safer. In the meantime, Fritz yawned as he sat in front of his box at the cinema Monday afternoon, and a "Found Cat" sign was posted on the door.
After checking out the action, he apparently found the excitement lacking, picked himself up and sauntered away.
From the Gulf Islands Driftwood, Wednesday, August 03, 2005
- TOP -
A Tribute to Fritz' life
Fritz the Cat takes his final bow
By SEAN MCINTYRE, Driftwood Staff
Michael Levy still finds it hard to believe Fritz the Cinema Cat isn't there when he shows up for work at Central Hall each afternoon.
"Normally I would open the door and he'd be waiting," said The Fritz owner-operator last week-end. "Now you open the door and he's nowhere to be found. It feels very strange."
Not only has the news of Fritz's passing left a sense of emptiness among those who cared for him, but many island residents are wondering if life will ever be the same at Central Hall.
"He was so much to so many people," Levy said. "The response has been incredible. Some people just enjoyed seeing him on their way to and from work."
Just before 6 p.m. on Wednesday, February 21, Fritz, aged 11, wandered into the path of an on-coming vehicle in front of the theatre. Reasons for the incident remain unclear, although some accounts report Fritz was "spooked" off the Central Hall steps.
Fritz was dead by the time he arrived at veterinarian Malcolm Bond's office.
"He bled out internally and was dead on arrival," said Bond.
Well-wishers began placing flowers and notes in front of Fritz's modest yet cozy home within hours of his death. Over the weekend, a small plant appeared atop the telephone booth Fritz used to catch the late-afternoon sun.
Animal lover Cathie Newman still finds herself in the habit of stopping by the hall some mornings after years of caring for the cinema cat.
"He was my little bit of sunshine," Newman said. "I bet he had more friends than anybody on the island."
When Fritz arrived at Central Hall from his kittenhood home on Fort Street near Walker Hook, he bore little resemblance to the cat so many island residents have come to know and love.
Life was tough up north and Fritz eventually decided he'd had enough and began his great southward trek, only to end up at the centre of an island's attention.
Within weeks, community members donated a felt scratching post, a makeshift shelter and wool bedding, and Central Hall's board of directors warmed to the idea of having a resident cat.
"Part of what made him an integral member of the cinema was that it took some time to develop this relationship," Levy said. "At first, it was just like there was this cat hanging out and it kept hanging out and that sort of started a whole chain of events. He just showed up and developed this relationship with everybody. After all was said and done and people got used to him, he got used to people."
Levy named the cinema in the cat's honour when he purchased the business in September 2006. His decision stemmed more from a desire to capture the Fritz spirit rather than using Fritz as a gimmick to publicize the theatre.
"It was never a type of thing where you ring a bell and expect him to show up," he said. "This is a defining part of who we are. Fritz showed that we can come together even though we don't always agree."
"We do have this spirit and we are not Vancouver, Victoria, Nanaimo or Duncan. We are Salt Spring Island and there are a lot of unique features here."
Fritz achieved off-island fame in August 2005 when a Richmond animal rights activist attempted to save the feline from what she deemed the cinema's opportunistic use of the animal to sell movie tickets and concern for his welfare. News of the cat-napping triggered an island-wide search and Fritz was eventually returned.
Levy said he still cannot believe the community's response to the event.
"This is a little animal and people were willing to go to bat for him. You can only imagine what would have happened if a small child was taken," he said. "Salt Spring came together to fight for an animal that had no means of fighting for itself when somebody came along and grabbed him."
Louise Nye, author of the recently published Fritz the Cinema Cat, couldn't help but feel inspired by the feline's tale.
Fritz, she said, proved happiness could always be found close to home and showed the grass isn't always greener on the other side of the fence.
"He showed us that something good can come from tragedy," she said.
Nye is planning to write a sequel titled Fritz and the Afterlife.
"I want to show that life can continue, that there is not an absolute end," she added.
Judging by the community's response, the island isn't likely to hear the end of Fritz for some time.
The driver behind the wheel of the vehicle has offered to lend her creative talents in the sculpting of a commemorative statue and Levy would like to install a plaque just above Fritz's home.
Central Hall Society chair David Holt said Fritz's legacy can hopefully translate into some long-needed action to improve traffic safety at the Central intersection.
"We are all quite devastated," he said. "If anything, this might be the impetus for something pos-itive at that intersection. How hard can it be to put up two more stop signs?"
Organizers are planning what they hope will rank among the island's largest memorial services when the cinema doors are opened for people to bid Fritz a final adieu on March 10.
Humourist Arthur Black will host the event at 2 p.m. and Salt Spring musician Jamie RT will perform a special number in the cat's memory.
"It a time for Salt Springers to get together and remember one of their own. I hope we can really celebrate Fritz's spirit," Levy said. "He defined what it is to be a good community."
Plans to replace Fritz with a theatre cat from Prince George remain premature, Levy added.
While arrangements are underway to rescue Dave the cat, Levy added, there is no guarantee he will take up residence at The Fritz cinema.
"I don't think it's the right time," he said. "We'll have to wait and see what happens."
- TOP -
Another Tribute to Fritz
Published in the Gulf Island Driftwood, March 2007
Fritz's independence should
By DAVID BORROWMAN
"Now a cat is an animal who is utterly pleased to be himself."
That may be a loose quote from Doris Lessing, or perhaps some other cat-loving writer. No matter, as Fritz was an archetype among cats, it describes him to the whisker.
He lived on a busy corner and he would not have it otherwise. Attempts to make him more comfortable failed famously. The bargain he made was that we would have to fear for him, but he would become our icon. This is what he wanted all along.
And it turned out Fritz was wise, because we learned what he already knew: that we wanted to know a creature who was utterly himself. Fritz was thus daily exposed to his fate, with our collaboration. But there was no shame in this. As a lesser race, we avoid fate, in favour of passing comforts, and it is to our credit that we honoured Fritz's independence.
Now, why all the attention? Fritz was just a cat. But therein may already lie the answer to the question of why we doted on him. Our feeling for him is unalloyed with the dross of ordinary sentimentality. It is an unreserved kind of feeling. And that alone is remarkable. When our greatest die, there is always a sense of reserve: he was great, but . . . (now list the deficiencies of this late luminary).
Not so with Fritz. No one will now say he was no doubt a great lap cat, then lower their voice and confide that he was a mouser of the second class; or that he was beloved in his time but lingered too long; or he was just a subsidized icon who should have been left to free enterprise to value properly. He was frankly and simply loved. And as Michael Levy says, he had more friends than anyone on the island. That is a pretty good testament.
When Fritz was temporarily kidnapped by a well-meaning lady from back in Canada, she wanted to protect him from his dangerous life. We reacted with force (and the RCMP) that our icon was not to be tampered with. That gave a great sense of unanimity around Fritz as an idea.
The lady, of course, was right. Fritz has succumbed to his dangerous corner. But she was right only in the ordinary sense that caring for things means caring about the body while neglecting to care for the idea. Fritz could not be Fritz without his prominence and his location. In our hearts we knew the bargain we were making on his behalf.
If he could have stood for it, he would have lived longer as an ordinary house cat. But he would have been lost to us as a symbol. He would never have made the front page of the Vancouver Sun, or been eulogized on the CBC by Arthur Black. We could all wish now to be the lucky one who watched the latest flick with Fritz in his lap.
So there you have it. Fritz was better to us than any animal properly can be. And we were more caring toward him that we dare to be toward our fellow man. And there was a price to pay. It was worth it. Farewell Fritz.
I try to provide a parting wish. But I wonder: "do we perhaps need your benediction more than you need ours?"
The writer is a cat lover residing in Vesuvius.
- TOP -
People write to the Driftwood, about Fritz
Driftwood Letters to the Editor
Published in the Gulf Islands Driftwood, after Fritz's memorial service in March of 2007
Island spirit alive
The Fritz Theatre was full to overflowing on Saturday to honour a Salt Spring treasure.
The tone of the eulogies and anecdotes, the number of people in attendance, and the outpouring of feelings for this beloved cat was heartwarming. While I have only been on the island for a short time (10 years), I sense that this event was symbolic of a community spirit and an earlier time that is truly valued by the "old-timers" on the island.
If we can hold on to this spirit as the island changes and grows and slow down our rush to urbanize, both physically and psychically, then we may be able to retain a small bit of a treasured way of life - the lifestyle that attracted most of us to the island in the first place. And we would owe it all to Fritz for showing us the way.
Wouldn't this be a fitting tribute to his memory?
I have heard that the Salt Spring rumour mill has been active and that some people think that my dog clients may have had a part to play in the demise of Fritz the cinema cat.
I'm here to set the record straight and say that this is simply not true.
As I was, indeed, present immediately after Fritz' accident, I can tell you that my husband and I were instrumental in getting hold of the vet and expediting Fritz on his journey to get help as quickly as possible. My dog clients were nowhere around during this time. I checked with the vet three times that evening concerning Fritz' welfare.
As I stated at Fritz' memorial service on Saturday, he loved attending dog class. He would greet me at the door and I would chat to him as I set up. He would often settle on his "throne" and watch the dogs as they arrived in class as if to say "All are welcome here - even dogs!"
It took more than a dog to "spook" Fritz. Eventually, I would have to gently pick him up and show him the door, telling him that the dogs simply couldn't concentrate with him around. Even though he was great at the activities we teach in class such as: calm behaviour, good greeting manners and the long down - the dogs just weren't quite up to his level yet.
Fritz was a rare cat and a great ambassador for his species. We, at dog class, miss him a lot - but I can still feel his presence as I open up for class.
Thanks for the memories, Fritz!
Salt Spring dog trainer
Prevent a Fritz II
So, the action of the woman from the mainland who rescued Fritz from the most dangerous intersection on our island outside of downtown Ganges was entirely justified. Her only mistake was in listening to the clamour of those who wanted to return him to a life of mortal danger. His return shortened his life by six to eight years.
I hope the cinema will not get a Fritz II. They should post a large black-edged photo of Fritz with an abject apology to him below.
If they are so unthinking as to get a Fritz II, I will financially help anyone who rescues and hides him. We should not put a sentient being in danger as a commodity to advance business interests.
North End Road
- TOP -
From the Gulf Islands Driftwood
Famous Fritz immortalized in hot-off-the-press autobiography
By ELIZABETH NOLAN, Driftwood Staff
One of Salt Spring's most famous residents is about to "tell all" in the upcoming, self-titled autobiography, Fritz the Cat.
In the past couple of years Fritz has survived a misguided abduction and had the local cinema renamed in his honour. He explains his perspective on these and other matters as told to Louise Nye, a former owner of the cinema Fritz now calls home.
Nye, who Fritz refers to as "the lady in the black hat," decided the cat's story must be told when she met his former owner last year.
"It was a year ago this late November, I was in the Pharmasave and a woman came over to me who was the first owner of Fritz," said Nye. Nye was given some baby pictures of Fritz, which she copied, framed, and passed on to the cinema later that evening.
"While I was sitting in the show I thought 'You know what? There should be a book about Fritz. I was flying to Toronto, so I wrote it on the plane. And I got it back there and I read it to my granddaughter at her birthday party. There were 11 kids there and they all said they'd buy it - they loved it."
With the input of her grandchildren and of her two sisters - artists and educators who once owned the cinema with Nye - she reworked the story to reflect their criticisms. The story changed from a "once upon a time" tale to one told by Fritz himself. Nye also included more humour in the book on the advice of grandson Sam.
Nye reports, "I told him, 'I want your honest opinion,' and he said, 'Well, I really like the funny parts but there weren't enough of them.'" So more funny parts went in.
At some point Nye became discouraged but says she was inspired to continue by several sources. Initially, it was her stint last year as judge for the Driftwood Christmas Story Contest that got her going.
"I get such a kick out of that and it reminded me of how much I liked to write as a kid," Nye recalled.
Later, it was Fritz himself who intervened when the going was tough. In a special conversation at the cinema (where Nye has a lifetime pass and unlimited popcorn), Fritz jumped in her lap for the very first time and encouraged her to continue.
The resulting 50-page book clears up some mysteries about Fritz's life, such as why he left home and got into trouble before being rescued by the cinema staff.
"I had little talks with Fritz, and he told me all about this, you see," said Nye.
Readers will also enjoy identifying the Salt Spring landmarks and movies that Fritz refers to but doesn't know by name. As Nye explained, "Fritz has trouble with language; he's a very smart cat but he gets words confused."
With illustrations by local artist Jo Lundstrom-Smith, Nye says the book will appeal to a variety of ages.
"It's mainly geared towards children, but I've had adults who have read it and who get a kick out of it because they know Fritz and they know the story."
Nye apologizes to local Christmas shoppers about the late publication date. Those who are in a rush to send the book away as a gift can order copies online at www.trafford.com; otherwise the author asks that people buy locally.
This is Nye's first published book, although she has been working for years on an ongoing project, an historical novel based on her family's experiences in India during the 1850s.
The SECOND Fritz Book
From the Gulf Islands Driftwood
Fritz the Cat memorialized in popular book's sequel
Louise Nye launches Fritz Gets His Wings on Saturday
By ELIZABETH NOLAN Driftwood Staff
The most famous and well-beloved public animal figure in Salt Spring history will be back in the limelight with the launch of a second book in his honour on March 1.
Louise Nye, biographer of Fritz the Cat, offers Fritz Gets His Wings as a possible post-death adventure for the feline, who was killed by a car in February 2007.
Fritz died just two short months after the launch of Nye's first book, Fritz the Cinema Cat. The author was in the midst of performing readings for various school groups, and had read to the Salt Spring Centre School only two days before the cat's death. Both the author and the island children for whom the book was written were therefore con-fronted with the death on a very personal level.
The inspiration for the new story came shortly after Fritz's death, when a cinema staff member told Nye about seeing the cat's spirit walking up the theatre aisle.
"That's when I realized there could be another book," she recalled.
Nye says Fritz Gets His Wings is intended to play a part in the healing process for all those who knew and loved Fritz, and for those who did not know him but have dealt with other deaths. At the same time, it is a light-hearted story that won't scare children, without evading the actual details of the cat's passing.
"At first I was going to just allude to the accident, but my editor and illustrator, Jo Lundstrom Smith, said 'that's kind of a big thing - you can't just skirt over it.' And for lots of kids, their first introduction to death is through a pet."
While the first book explains Fritz's mysterious past, the sequel proposes his crossing into the even more mysterious realm of the afterlife. This book, which Nye says "has a little more plot than the first one," begins with the accident and follows Fritz and his new friend Misty on a tour of Salt Spring, during which Misty tries to help Fritz say goodbye to his old life and move on to the next phase. This important supporting character was Nye's own pet, who was hit by a car three months previous to Fritz.
Similar to the first book, during Fritz and Misty's tour of Salt Spring they visit several lo-cations that local children will enjoy recognizing, including all the elementary schools. The animals also go up Mount Erskine to see the fairy doors, pop soap bubbles and visit the amazing video store that gives out free popcorn.
As the book's title suggests, Fritz does learn to let go and move on to the next phase of his journey. But Nye says she has been careful to make her vision of heaven as open as possible.
"I wanted it to be generalized to fit all religions and everyone," she explained. "I didn't want to be preachy or offend anyone."
One key feature is that this heaven doesn't segregate pets and humans; "everyone is all together over there, just like they are here."
With over 700 copies of the first Fritz book sold in local bookstores in just over year, Nye can expect an enthusiastic response to the sequel. The original launch at Sabine's book store in December 2006 saw record-breaking sales for a local author at that location, and Nye even ran out of books and had to run a waiting list.
The upcoming launch will be held again at Sabine's (where Lundstrom Smith also works) at 1 p.m. this Saturday. Nye is hoping more children will attend the event, which will include a reading, free Fritz bookmarks and cookies.
- TOP -
We sent our friend Susie, in the USA, copies of the Fritz books, since she's such a cat lover... she really enjoyed reading about Fritz of Salt Spring, and she's sent us this book review to include, thanks Susie!
Fritz the Cinema Cat by Louise A Nye, c2007
Fritz the Cinema Cat Gets His Wings by Louise A Nye, c2008
Book Review of the Fritz Books by Susie, who has 10 feline overlords/ladies (5 of each)!
Ms Nye may have intended the Fritz books for teens to young adults, but I found them suitable for anyone of any age who loves or has loved cats. Even precocious primary-school youth!
Fritz tells of his own exploits & adventures from kittenhood to adulthood, & beyond in the second book. This approach permits readers to incorporate themselves into the books & involve themselves more easily into the feline psyche. Fritz, an actual cat on Salt Spring Island, British Columbia, lived from February 1996 to February 2007.
The best reviews are actually the ones on the back covers of the books, which feature photos of Fritz on both.
Book Review by Susie
- TOP -
Produced by Salt Spring Pictures' James Falcon, the video focuses on the memorial service held for Fritz on March 10, 2007. The event was hosted by CBC Radio personality and author Arthur Black and was attended by a packed audience.
"It is dedicated to a cat we all loved and won't soon forget," said Falcon.
See the YouTube video of Fritz's Memorial Service
More Fritz Reading
The Fritz Cinema website - http://www.thefritz.ca/
Fritz reading in the Fritz Cinema Website
About the Fritz movie theater - article PDF - http://www.thefritz.ca/CTA-fritz%20rgb.pdf
Fritz's final bow - http://www.thefritz.ca/Fritz%20the%20Cat%20takes%20his%20final%20bow.pdf
Fritz's introduction in the theater website - http://www.thefritz.ca/The%20Story%20of%20Fritz.pdf
The story of Fritz from the theaters website - http://www.thefritz.ca/story.htm
The Fritz Books
By Salt Spring Island author Louise Adela Nye
Amazon listing for Louise Adela Nye's books about Fritz
Buy locally - Black Sheep Books on Salt Spring Island
Gulf Islands Driftwood www.gulfislandsdriftwood.com
The Fritz Movie Theater www.thefritz.ca
Michael Levy www.flatearthphoto.com
- TOP -