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by Rebecca Silverman,

Love, a Kitten, and a Salty Dog

Manga Review

Love, a Kitten, and a Salty Dog Manga Review

Okuro is a veterinarian who typically works the night shift at a twenty-four-hour veterinary hospital. Mostly he sees hostesses coming in with their pets after they get off work, but one night an earnest young college student named Momo comes in with an injured kitten he found. Momo can't keep the kitten in his apartment, and Okuro agrees to keep it at the hospital while they search for an owner. But as Momo comes in daily to see the kitty, the two fall for each other – and at least one isn't comfortable with that. Is there hope for love between a salty vet and a student?

Love, a Kitten, and a Salty Dog is translated by Kat Skarbinec and lettered by Nicole Roderick.


BL series about veterinarians seems to be a budding, if not booming, subgenre. Alongside Therapy Game and Honey Darling we now have Seven Seas' release of Love, a Kitten, and a Salty Dog. Like Honey Darling (released by SuBLime), the story stars a young man who finds a stray kitten and requires the services of a vet, but in this case, Momo isn't someone just drifting through life. He is a college student. He's genuinely concerned about the kitten, who he worries is too friendly to be a stray and is bleeding. The twenty-four-hour veterinary hospital where Dr. Okuro works is the place he's told to take her. Okuro is impressed by the young man's dedication to helping the kitten, and he agrees to keep her at the hospital since Momo's student apartment doesn't allow pets, with the caveat that Momo searches for a home for the kitten. And as Momo shows up every single day to see her as he promised he would, Okuro finds himself falling for the younger man.

Naturally, nothing can be that easy, especially if you're going to get two hundred pages out of it. As Okuro listens to Momo and watches him, he begins to suspect that the part-time job he keeps talking about may not be working at a store or restaurant. Momo gets prickly whenever these things come up, but eventually, he admits that he's working as an escort, and although he claims to be comfortable with this, the truth appears to be otherwise. But he's not willing to just talk about it with Okuro, even though he's more than willing to have sex with him, and the plot gives way to an interesting push-and-pull as Okuro tries to figure out both how to reach Momo's heart and whether or not they have any sort of chance as a couple, especially since Momo flat-out rejects the idea of them dating.

The storyline about the kitten, although central to the start of the story, is the least important piece of this volume. She's the catalyst to a degree but quickly becomes relegated to the background as Okuro and Momo's struggles take center stage. The crux of the story is really how Okuro is trying to find a way into Momo's life, and he ends up signing up for a friend-finding app when he realizes that Momo is on it. Okuro, under the handle Salty, sends Momo (whose username is Yuu) a request, and thanks to the anonymity of the internet, Momo begins to open up to him. This is the most controversial element of the story, because the entire time Momo is telling Salty his troubles, he's unaware that Salty is Okuro, while Okuro knows that Yuu is Momo and simply isn't saying anything. It could be argued that Okuro is taking advantage of Momo needing a friend, knowingly weaseling himself into that position when Momo has already rejected his overtures in person. This becomes even more contentious when we consider that Momo desperately needs someone he can confide in about his work, his feelings, and his past, and he's relying on the fact that Salty isn't right in front of him to feel safe enough doing so. While he eventually does want to meet his new best friend in person and therefore knows that there's a real human on the other end of the chat, having Okuro conceal his identity runs the risk of not just being dishonest, but also taking advantage of an emotionally fragile and conflicted person.

And Momo is both of those things. We never really get to know a lot about why he is the way he is, but homophobia in high school certainly seems to be one implied source, and working as an escort is a way of both blowing off steam and finding validation in his attraction to other men. His sugar daddies (as he calls them) make him feel at least a little value, even if, by the time he meets Okuro, that value is beginning to tarnish. He's afraid to commit to dating Okuro because that would run the risk of him not being fulfilled, as his short-term relationships are souring in his mind, and to have the same thing happen with someone he genuinely likes is a scary prospect. Salty is safe because he can't see him; he's just an anonymous gay man on a chat app. The real fear comes when Momo has to forge a relationship with someone in person.

Love, a Kitten, and a Salty Dog is, by and large, a pleasant read, but it feels like a story that was shoved into a one-volume format when it might have benefitted from having two. We don't get to know Okuro all that much outside of his feelings for Momo, and even Momo's past isn't explored enough to ground his character in a more meaningful way. We get enough to make the story work and for us to be invested in and pleased with the outcome, but it doesn't go much beyond the surface level. There's one offhand mention of why “salty dog” is in the title (apparently it's Okuro's favorite drink?), and his profession as a vet isn't much more than an excuse for him and Momo to meet. All of that is fine in the reading moment, and for some readers, the explicit sex scenes will make up for it, but upon reflection, it drags the book down a bit.

At the end of the day, this is still a nice story. It's about two people finding each other and overcoming emotional barriers to true intimacy, it doesn't hold back on the racy scenes, and it has a very cute kitten and overall nice art. If you just want to escape for a while, this is a good one.

Overall : B-
Story : B-
Art : B

+ Cute art, story does feel fulfilling. Uncensored art.
Okuro's dishonesty re: the app may not work for all readers, not quite enough character development.

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Production Info:
Story & Art: Nenko Nen
Licensed by: Seven Seas Entertainment

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Love, a Kitten, and a Salty Dog (manga)

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