Do you ever imagine about what your cat might be thinking about you? As an owner of two thick and snooty tabby cats, I certainly do. Cats are known for their dismissive, snarky daytime personalities and cuddly, doting nighttime behavior. They showcase a range of emotions, much like you and I do. Young (and handsome) Chinese comic artist Bai Cha is the owner of one particularly haughty house cat. Perhaps because of his fiendish feline he decided to pen this purr-fect pictorial of Your Highness, the cat with a royal personality.
My Cat Hates Me chronicles the misdemeanors of Your Highness, an arrogant cat who believes himself emperor of the house, and his normie owner, “the kiddo.” The two share a mostly symbiotic relationship, except for the fact that Your Highness clearly gets more out of the kiddo’s benevolence than the other way around. In one moment Your Highness is affectionately posing for a photo, and in the next he’s pawing potted plants off the counter.
While he appreciates his owner’s charity, he finds love difficult to extend to a weeb who draws cartoons instead of bathes and frequently sniffs his own feet. And regarding Your Highness—who licks his own butt and cannot resist the occasional cruel joke—the feelings of both fondness and disgust between owner and cat are mutual. Of course, the only reason the moody, deadpan-faced cat keeps coming back is because, deep down, the loyal tabby actually has a heart of gold.
Life in Your Highness’ domain would be mostly quiet—were it not for the day the kiddo brings home a pug to also keep as pet. Bubba Boo, as he is adorably named, is but another dumb dog in the eyes of the kitty overlord. (No seriously, Your Highness went by the name “Overlord” in his stray days before kiddo decided to take him in.) Thanks to the scheming of Your Highness, Bubba Boo is led into one unfortunate situation after the next. Although a hilarious and caring companion, both cat and owner agree that the unassuming pug often invites more trouble on account of his own dull wit.
And this is what everyday life is like for cat and dog living together under one poor man’s roof. My Cat Hates Me is a memoir of all the teasing, chasing, scratching, biting, eating, sleeping, playing, etc. that could possibly go on—and go wrong—in a small Chinese apartment complex. Charmingly portrayed are the moments that make us go “aww” and “eww” alike, from cute, round-eyed pleads for treats to finding out the startling number of the places animal feces can go. (Like, we probably shouldn’t be kissing our pets, but we do it anyways.)
Part of the reason My Cate Hates Me is so effective as a relatable portrayal of pet ownership is its art style. Bai Cha gives life to these floofy fur balls via soft brushwork imagery and a sketch-style vibe. Whereas the detail of Your Highness’ fluffy gray and white fur is always brushed to the nines, the kiddo is drawn with noticeably fewer characteristics, giving his human vagueness a meme-like quality that is instantly humorous. The composite style of simple comics blends with classic Chinese art to create a truly unique tone. Your Highness’ expressions are also some of my favorite in comic artistry, from suspicious slit eyes to maximum pupil dilation. Every cat owner will recognize Your Highness’ signature smugness thanks to the art’s experimental yet universal appeal.
Bai Cha also knows how to structure comics to guarantee a chuckle or two. Like how comedy manga will sometimes utilize a 4-coma (or 4-frame) comic outline, Bai Cha wields a similar template but remains flexible to each comic’s subject and tone. Some “episodes” are a full two-page spread with six or eight boxes on a page. Others demand a single page or even a single frame that contains the premise, the buildup, and the punch in a couple lines of dialogue. The exploratory nature of the design is closely tied to Bai Cha’s commitment to express the wealth of emotions pet owners experience. My Cat Hates Me is about 180 pages long, but one can enjoy a flip through of the entire volume within an hour—until you want to read it all over again.
Furthermore, the comic captures that omnipresent feeling of feline superiority that I’m sure we all observe with our own cats. The kiddo does his best to appease Your Highness, and all the cat king does in return is promote him to “General of Poop Scooping.” He’s one cocky kitty, but I’m sure that’s exactly how my own orange tabbies see me. If our cats determine where we eat, how we sleep, and when we wake up, are we really the masters of our own home? Your Highness certainly doesn’t think so.
My Cat Hates Me is a five-star manhua must-read for pet lovers. Each crude little comic is short yet punchy, and it’ll leave you wanting to chase down your own cat to give them a good scratching behind the ears (and a rub on the belly if they let you). There is a sincere love for cats with attitude packed into every panel, and the messages of loyalty and friendship are long-lasting. Your Highness is already the next big-name cat in the world of comics, and the English debut of Bai Cha’s work ensures he’s not leaving anytime soon. Long loaf the emperor!
My Cat Hates Me, the first volume of Bai Cha’s Cat and Dog graphic novel series to be internationally published, goes on sale October 25, 2022. The sequel, My Cat Really Hates Me, will be released December 6, 2022. Both volumes are available for preorder at popular book retailers like Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million.
Bai Cha’s “Long Loaf the Emperor” brand was awarded “Chinese IP of the Year 2018” at the Licensing International Excellence Awards. Since then, his Cat and Dog comic series has been a consistent best seller, and it will now be available in English translation (by Jemma Stafford) thanks to the wonderful people at Brown Books Publishing Group.
My extended thanks to Adele over at Brown Books Publishing Group for reaching out and sending me an ARC to review. I’m itching to see what antics Your Highness, Bubba Boo, and co. will stir up next!