and it's Someplace to Be Flying by Charles de Lint. I've read a few of his others and enjoyed them without quite seeing what all the fuss was about, but this book is really amazing--it's got a great urban fantasy vibe, the characters and writing are very good and the First People/animal people stuff is really well-done. (Hmmm. I liked the crow character in Tamora Pierce's Trickster's Choice, but I hadn't realized he might owe so much to de Lint's crow girls, who are admittedly one of the most appealing things about this book....)
There was an appealing author interview sometime back--unfortunately I can't remember the author or venue, perhaps someone who knows better will give it to me in the comments--that ended with the writer (female) basically saying in response to a question perhaps about whether she might write chick lit someday that either you were the kind of person who wrote novels about people finding true love or else you were the kind of person who found it more interesting to think about what kinds of thing a cat would talk about if it could speak. She put herself in the second category, and so I'm afraid do I; I think the genre of fantasy sometimes makes people anxious because of this aspect, it seems childlike or regressive, and yet though I am a hardheaded and pragmatic and wholly unsuperstitious person I must say that life would be much, much more exciting and interesting if I could change shape into an animal (or had a daemon like in Philip Pullman's books).