Books Reviews

The Cat with Three Passports

The Cat with Three Passports by CJ Fentiman


A girl struggling to fit in. A homeless kitten. An unexpected job offer in an unfamiliar country that changes everything.
C.J. Fentiman had a long history of escaping places and people she wasn’t fond of. But for the sake of a silver tabby, she decided to stay in Japan for a while. This decision helped her open up her heart and mind, revisit her way of thinking, and reconnect with her estranged family.
Let this heartwarming memoir take you to the land of cats and cherry trees as you read about CJ’s adventures – from the craziness of Furukawa’s naked men festival, the experience of forest bathing and the significance of finding a life purpose or ikigai, to the temples of Takayama, and wonders of Cat Island – you’ll see what a homeless kitten found outside a temple in Japan taught her about an old culture and new beginnings.



  • I dislike people using their initials as their first names.
  • The title The Cat With Three Passports was misleading: 
    • The cat Gershwin with the passports does not feature in the book as much as I expected.
    • He did not travel to three countries but stayed in Japan throughout the book. He was expected to leave for the UK with the author but she changed her mind and moved to Australia with him in the end.
  • The author refers to her oldest friend Karina, with whom she visited Cat Island, as ‘Karen’. Was this a typo or a mistake? Why wasn’t this caught by the editor?


  • The author and her partner Ryan travel to Japan to take up teaching jobs. They are entrusted with looking after two cats by their predecessors in those jobs. They also take in a stray cat and name him Gershwin.
  • The book refers to some difficult times in CJ’s life but it is a comfortable and easy read. The writing style is frank and upbeat.
  • You get to see how the author’s experiences in Japan and her interactions with the people she meets there—both Japanese and expatriates—bring about a positive change in her outlook towards life.
  • The book has a lot of interesting tidbits about living, working, and traveling in Japan. It would be of great help to anyone thinking of visiting Japan.
  • Each chapter starts with a Japanese saying about cats. I loved this (I am a typical cat person). 

To summarize, a heart-warming, entertaining book despite the negatives.

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