An Interview with Kristina Hutch Matthews

Why did you write The Cat Flap: A Tale of Harmony and Balance?

I wrote The Cat Flap to entertain and bring people joy, but also to stimulate thought and inquiry about how we might better balance the masculine and feminine energies within ourselves and on the planet. I am fascinated by polarities and the beautiful way they work as catalysts for human growth; and it seemed as if my pen and ink illustrations would be a natural way to bring these thoughts and this line of questioning to a broad audience of people.

Why did you decide to make the book wordless?

People talk too much, especially me! I wanted to see if I could do this in a way that the truth came through very clearly without me forcing my truth upon someone with words. They could just see the pictures and tell their own story about it.

What is the lesson or message in this story?

This book has so many lessons, I am not even sure I have squeezed every last one out of it yet, to be perfectly honest. From the original message that I set out to share, I learned an exponential number of lessons, while working on the book. (That’s what happens when you are open to higher guidance while you create!) I feel that the story teaches tolerance, understanding, compassion and appreciation for other points of view or perspectives; and I believe that these are the most important things that we need to work on as a planet, to move towards peace.

What is your favorite lesson that you learned in the writing of this book and why?

We really need both the masculine and feminine energies to be whole. We need to be balanced within ourselves as healthy individuals; and we need this balance within relationships in order for them to be healthy, supportive, and truly unconditionally loving. We need to learn from the things that we are attracted to in the other person, so that we can slowly see that we are those things too. We see things we like in another person, and then we can slowly allow those things to grow and emerge from within us, as well. And finally, our whole planet can move towards peace when we incorporate the feminine energy, rather than operating from the predominantly masculine perspective that we have operated from in the recent past, which tends to lead us into disputes and wars. By better balancing these energies, we naturally move away from the polarized thinking that tells us that there is one side that is “right” and one side that’s “wrong.” That is the kind of thinking that gets us into trouble. When you are so sure that you are right and the other person is wrong, there is much less of a tendency to try to understand the other person’s point of view. You just dismiss it.

Working on this book gave me a lot of time to ponder these issues and to come to a much better understanding. I love it when a creative project teaches me about life.

Why did you decide to express this lesson in a book? Why not a picture or a poem or a song?

I decided to do it in a book because I felt that the organic nature of this book -- wherein you can read one side and then turn it over and read the other side -- was very symbolic of how we need to turn over our way of thinking, how we need to look at things in a different way, how we need to let our way of thinking come full circle from what our original, subjective understanding is. I think that the only way that you can know the TRUTH, truly, is to see all sides of the story. In this tale, there is even a third point of view that we don’t get to fully appreciate; and that is the viewpoint of the spotted leopard cat. This cat takes on a completely different appearance depending upon the viewpoint of the story. It’s really true that our fears tend to greatly magnify ‘the enemy.’

In addition, I was intrigued by the idea of communicating a story visually, and all the nuances I could utilize to convey the energy and feeling of each moment in the story. Each choice I made was very deliberate, and, though some might have advised against it (particularly in a book that is designed to include children as a large part of its audience), I chose to include a lot of stimulating information because I was hoping that the nature of the book was such that the reader would be inclined to read and re-read it, taking away something different that he or she could apply to him or herself, with each viewing. 

For example, I chose to compress the action scenes where the cats come face-to-face with the leopard cat, because I wanted to illustrate how conflict feels constricting, and how we often don't know which way to look first when we are in the midst of drama. The arrows I used to denote the movement in those scenes are actually alchemical symbols; I illustrated it in this way because I see conflict as our greatest catalyst for change, growth and transformation. This is what happened in the case of these two cats.  

I think it's a beautiful thing that the symmetry of the book is reflected even in the reaction the book receives from the outside world. Truly, the world would not be the vibrant, alive, interesting place that it is if everyone viewed life in the same way.

Why is this book important NOW?

The thought that came to me most often while I was writing this book is: “Life is a circuitous route to the truth.” I do not believe that you can get to the truth by thinking in a purely linear way, like we used to. The world needs to be viewed with a much more open heart and open mind, with an equal value being placed on both the masculine and the feminine. We need that masculine energy to move forward (I found this energy within myself as I finished The Cat Flap and got it published.) And the feminine energy is going to guide us to all kinds of compassionate, creative, intuitive places.

It’s an exciting time to be alive.

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