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Review: “Cat’s Life” by Marino Degano, Heye – 9.75/10

Publisher: Heye (Germany), published 2014 (currently in stock)

Title:  “Cat’s Life” by Marino Delgano, 1000 pieces 

Finished size: 27.6″ x  19.7″

OUR RATING: 9.75/10


One of the most exciting events of the puzzle year for me (and probably for all cartoon puzzle fans) is the announcment of the new puzzles from Heye. Heye only has one big release a year and they announce it in November. That’s like getting all your gifts for the next year all at once!

I have the new 2017 puzzle info so this week I’m doing a feature week on Heye puzzles with two reviews and then, on the weekend, I’ll post the new 2017 Heye puzzles. Hint: they’re awesome.

View all current Heye puzzles in stock at Puzzle Warehouse

“CAT’S LIFE” by Marino Degano REVIEW

Marino Degano

Marino Degano is an Italian illustrator and cartoonist. He is the creator of the comic strip La Cucaracha , published monthly in Science & Vie Junior. He’s also created many wonderful puzzles for Heye going at least as far back as 1992. He’s still very active with Heye, and has several new puzzles in the 2017 line-up. This is fantastic because many of their classic cartoonists are no longer with Heye. Long live Marino Degano!

Box Quality:  (10/10)

This cartoon puzzle comes in Heye’s signature triangular box. See the front above. The two sides of the front show the central area of the puzzle, the puzzle name, artist name, Heye logo, and piece count.The triangular boxes are fun and so beautifully designed.

Top and Bottom:

Instead of having ‘sides’ like a rectangular box, the Heye triangular boxes have a top and bottom. I love to shelve my Heye puzzles top out, and the top is perfect for that. It shows a detailed close-up from the puzzle image, the piece count, and Heye logo.

The bottom has the artist name, puzzle name, piece count, dimensions, and year of manufacture.


The back of the triangular box shows the complete puzzle image, the Heye logo, and the puzzle and artist name.


The box comes with the bag of puzzle pieces and a big poster. You can see below that the poster is basically the same size as the puzzle itself. The bag of pieces was in excellent condition with no damage to the pieces, fully seperated pieces, and a small amount of puzzle dust.

The back of the poster acts as a mini-catalog of other Heye titles out in the same year. This is wonderful to have for reference years down the road.

I’ve given the box a perfect 10 score. I simply love Heye’s triangular boxes.

The Image:  10/10

All of Degano’s Heye puzzles are fabulous, without exception. But this one, and it’s companion, Dog’s Life, are so much fun. The focal point of the image is the huge cartoon cat. But all over the image are small critters–fleas and ticks and mosquitoes–living it up.

All of the small creatures have unique facial expressions or outfits or are engaged in little scenarios. This not only makes the puzzle fun to put together (I referred to the poster a lot to place each little creature), but also it’s a treat to discover all the little dramas being played out in the image and the puns and jokes.

Furthermore, the layout is so nicely done. Even though the cat’s brown fur takes up a lot of the image, there are things going on all over the fur to break it up and make the puzzle easy to assemble. The same goes for the greenish background and tan floor. It’s clear a ton of thought and care went into this image. There’s activity all over the with no boring or blank spots. Add in the bright, pleasing colors, and the excellence of execution in the cartoon art, and you have a classic Heye puzzle.

I’ve given the image a full 10 score.

(Click on any of the images in this review for a closer look.)

Puzzle Quality: (9/10)

Heye is a premium, German-made puzzle brand that ranks very highly in our brand comparison. You can see our full brand comparison on Heye here.

The manufacture date on this puzzle is 2014, though it is currently still available (and will be in 2017 also). I found the quality of this puzzle excellent. The fit was a little tighter than the 2016 Heye puzzles I’ve done this year, which is a good thing. The pieces feel thick and have a nice matte finish. The image reproduction is excellent, as you can see in the detailed close up below. The puzzle is grid cut, but there’s a good variety of piece shapes. I never had any question about whether or not a piece went somewhere. Also, having the poster to work with is really helpful. Everything about Heye just feels like a high-end German boardgame.

Overall, I’m giving this puzzle a 9 score for quality. The only reason it didn’t score a 10 is because the puzzle cut is a standard grid and I prefer a random cut puzzle and the fit could have been tighter.

Assembly:  (10/10)

This is a fairly easy puzzle. It took me two evenings to complete, which is on the short side for a 1000 piece puzzle.


I assembled the border first and then the bottom of the puzzle– the blue ‘pillow’ in the lower right and the tan floor.

The blue pillow is a unique color and was the easiest section to put together. The rat is pretty cute, and the little ‘cafe area’ on the side is amusing.There’s even a ‘billboard’ promoting the dog puzzle.

The tan area along the bottom of the puzzle is another background color that’s unique and easy to pull out. Between the tan floor, the blue pillow, and the other blue objects at the bottom of the composition, pretty much the entre bottom quarter of the puzzle can be quickly pieced together.

There are some flea politics going on in the lower left of the puzzle. Fleas vs ticks? Okay, Marino. You get extra points for weirdness.

After I finished the bottom of the puzzle, I got sucked into (no pun intended), the main body of the cat. Although there is a lot of brown fur, there are little characters all over the place plus the tabby ‘stripes’ in the fur help to orient the brown pieces. The whole puzzle was fun, but my favorite part was putting together the fleas and other creatures in the fur.

It’s fun to discover the little jokes in the image like the Sherlock Holmes flea below and the “Stray Cats” band. And apparently, it’s dangerous to hold up lighters when you live on fur.



In my second session I completed the puzzle. This included finishing the brown fur and doing all the green and pink background. There’s a lot of ‘edge of cat’ in the puzzle, all around the huge cat figure where the fur meets the green background. There fur/background pieces were easy to identify and put together.

The green background is broken up by color variation, such as in the darker green brush stokes below, and a ton of mosquito characters. In the upper left we have flea commandos using ‘surface to air’ mosquito repellent.

The mosquitoes fight back with “fleabomb” in the upper right. There are some pink swatches in the background which help break up the green area.

I had a blast putting this puzzle together from start to finish. This is exactly the sort of puzzle that makes me enjoy cartoon puzzles so much. I’ve given “Cat’s Life” a full 10 score for assembly.


“Cat’s Life” is terrific fun and a perfect example of the awesomeness of cartoon puzzles from Heye. It’s a fairly easy puzzle to assemble. Despite the large body of the cat and the green background, there are unique little characters (fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes, among others) that inhabit every inch of the brilliant composition by cartoonist Marino Degano. Each little critter has a unique outfit, expression, or action, and you can match your pieces against the large poster that comes in the box. There are many joke and puns and pure silliness to discover as you assemble this puzzle. The quality is outstanding from German brand Heye with sturdy pieces, a matte finish, and a wide variety of grid-cut piece shapes. Heye is simply the best at humorous cartoon puzzles. Highly recommended!

Where to find:

You can find this puzzle at Puzzle Warehouse. Click on the logo below. Look for the Thanksgiving weekend sales coming soon!

More in this series.

There is a new puzzle similar to this one in the 2017 line-up! I’ll be covering it this weekend. There’s also “Dog’s Life”, which is currently out.

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