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books

I'm always on the lookout for a good read, and the following are books I've read and recommend.


Cat Care/Reference

The Cat Who Cried for Help: Attitudes, Emotions, and the Psychology of Cats
by Nicholas Dodman
An excellent reference book to have at home. Dodman shares several stories of cats he's treated over the years and discusses how diet, exercise, and the home environment affect your cat's behavior.

***

The New Natural Cat: A Complete Guide for Finicky Owners
by Anitra Frazier, Norma Eckroate
Frazier's book is considered to be one of the best reference books out there on cats. Topics covered include:

  • desirable behavior in cats and their people, including a section on dealing with abused or neglected animals
  • diet do's and don'ts
  • litterbox selection and requirements
  • scratching posts and what to look for
  • cats as part of the whole family picture
  • neutering/spaying
  • grooming
  • traditional and holistic veterinary approaches
  • home nursing and healthcare
  • common cat health problems

***

Think Like a Cat: How to Raise a Well-Adjusted Cat — Not a Sour Puss
by Pam Johnson-Bennett
Johnson-Bennett explains that most often, cats' "misbehavior" is actually the result of their people not properly understanding cats' instincts and needs. This is a must-read for all cat folks. Well-written, easy to read.

***

Keep Your Cat Healthy the Natural Way
by Pat Lazarus
Covers alternative medicine for cats and the latest news from holistic veterinary medicine. Diet and vitamins are discussed, among other topics.

***

The Tribe of Tiger: Cats and Their Culture
by Elizabeth Marshall Thomas
By exploring the evolution of cats, Thomas explains — in anthropological terms — how their physiology and behavior is influenced by their hunting background. She then describes her experience (over 30 years' worth) with various lion prides in Africa. This is an excellent companion to Think Like a Cat.

***

Dr. Pitcairn's Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats
by Richard H. Pitcairn, DVM, PhD; Susan H. Pitcairn
An A-to-Z encyclopedia of common pet health problems and their treatments, plus an extensive section on the importance of proper diet and nutrition (recipes included). This one's in our home library, right next to The New Natural Cat.

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Fiction

Summon the Keeper (first of the series)
by Tanya Huff
What got my attention was the tuxedo kitty on the cover, but the story drew me in and kept me chuckling. It's all about Claire Hansen, a 27-year-old "Keeper" whose job it is to keep order in the universe and fight evil. She and her cat companion, Austin (who, aside from Hell itself, has the best lines in the book), are summoned to seal a hole to hell in the dilapidated Elysian Fields Guest House. Huff knows the fantasy/science fiction genre well, and works in sly nods to Star Trek, Star Wars, and H.P. Lovecraft, among others. Another bonus: the book's set in Kingston, Ontario!

Huff continues the story in the following sequels, which I enjoyed:

***

CatFantastic (first of the series)
Edited by Andre Norton, Martin H. Greenberg
Collection of short stories about cats. Very entertaining, and a wide variety of genres included. I especially like the selections by Elizabeth Ann Scarborough and Mercedes Lackey.

***

Star Ka'at (first of the series)
by Andre Norton
I first read this book when I was a girl in grade school and it totally captured my imagination. Highly-advanced alien cats (Ka'ats) return to earth to rescue their earthling counterparts (descendants of Ka'ats stranded on earth thousands of years ago), with the help of a human girl and boy. While the book is targeted to a younger audience, folks of all ages can enjoy it.

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Food/Nutrition

Food Pets Die For: Shocking Facts About Pet Food
by Ann N. Martin, Michael W. Fox
A well-documented and researched book (detailed endnotes and bibliography are included), that exposes the pet food industry and tells you exactly what goes into pet food. To help you get started with home-cooking for your cats, Martin includes several recipes at the back of the book. Endorsed by Dr. Michael W. Fox, Vice President of the HSUS.

***

Protect Your Pet: More Shocking Facts
by Ann N. Martin
Martin's follow-up to Food Pets Die For. In addition to her documentation of the pet food industry's sordid practices, she provides information on vaccination schedules, the raw food diet, recipes for homemade pet food, a listing of pet food and pet health-related web sites, and a state-by-state list of agencies concerned with food safety.

***

Cat Nips!: Feline Cuisine
by Rick Reynolds, Martha Reynolds
The authors share plenty of cat-friendly recipes, but the real gems of this book are the cat stories, which appear before each dish. The one about the cat whose favorite toy was a pineapple (yes, a pineapple!) had me laughing so hard I was crying. I also loved the story about the cat who hunted tomatoes.

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Humor

All I Need to Know I Learned from My Cat
by Suzy Becker
Becker fills this charming little book full of wonderful advice and great watercolor cartoons. As the title states, the lessons learned are from her cat Binky, and some of my favorites include: "Take some time to eat the flowers," "Make your own hours," and "Know all the sunny places." Her drawings of cats are the best I've ever seen. The spine on my copy is worn out from repeated reading.

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Inspirational

Chicken Soup for the Pet Lover's Soul
Edited by Jack Canfield et al
True stories about pets as friends, family members, teachers, and heroes. Excellent and inspiring! I couldn't put this down.

***

Chicken Soup for the Cat and Dog Lover's Soul
Edited by Jack Canfield et al
Sequel to the previous. Again, a compelling and uplifting page-turner.

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Mystery

The Cat Who Could Read Backwards (first of the series)
by Lilian Jackson Braun
The first of the "Cat Who ..." series. Jim Qwilleran, a reporter making a comeback at a small-town paper, solves a murder with the help of his Siamese, Koko. I adored Braun's dialogue and crisp pacing. She's an excellent writer who obviously took the time to research the newspaper industry and art world, both of which are featured prominently in the plot.

***

Wish You Were Here (first of the series)
by Rita Mae Brown, Sneaky Pie Brown
The first of the "Mrs. Murphy Mystery" series. With the help of Mrs. Murphy (her cat) and Tee Tucker (her dog), Mary Minor Haristeen investigates an unlikely string of murders in her small, quiet Virginia town of Crozet. I enjoyed the characters and dialogue; light, easy weekend reading.

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Non-Fiction

A Cat is Watching: A Look at the Way Cats See Us
by Roger Caras
Full of stories about the cats in Caras' life; plenty of witticisms. He methodically explores how cats view us and the world around them. Not only is this entertaining, it's wonderfully informative.

***

A Celebration of Cats
by Roger Caras
More delightful stories of the Caras cats.

***

The Cats of Thistle Hill: A Mostly Peaceable Kingdom
by Roger Caras
More well-told cat stories about the Caras family cats. (Pretty much anything by Caras is a great read.)

***

Out of Harm's Way: The Extraordinary True Story of One Woman's Lifelong Devotion to Animal Rescue
by Terri Crisp, Samantha Glen
The former national director of the United Animal Nations' Emergency Animal Rescue Service (EARS), Crisp explains how she became involved in animal rescue work and relates stories of her disaster experiences. An appendix of basic tips for safeguarding cats during disasters is an invaluable resource. This book is engaging, touching, uplifting, painful, and unforgettable. I just couldn't put it down.

***

Emergency Animal Rescue Stories
by Terri Crisp
A follow-up to Out of Harm's Way. Again, a wonderful read.

***

Sasha's Tail: Lessons From A Life With Cats
by Jacqueline Damian
Damian writes about her life with a longhaired, black-and-white tom called Sasha, and what he and her other cats (Charcoal and Tigger) have taught her. Entertaining, well-written, humorous, touching.

***

The Cat Who Went to Paris
by Peter Gethers
Gethers shares how his life was changed forever by his adoption of Norton, a charming Scottish Fold. Since Gethers' career involves plenty of travel and Norton is extraordinarily sweet, calm, and self-possessed, Gethers decides to take his cat traveling around the US and, yep, Paris. Nortonís debonair attitude and ability to handle being in all sorts of new environments floored me. Gethers' writing style is engaging, and I felt like I was saying goodbye to a dear friend after I finished this book. Luckily, Norton's adventures continue in ...

***

A Cat Abroad: The Further Adventures of Norton, the Cat Who Went to Paris, and His Human
by Peter Gethers
More wonderful stories of the world's most-traveled cat, Norton.

***

The Cat Who'll Live Forever: The Final Adventures of Norton, the Perfect Cat, and His Imperfect Human
by Peter Gethers
Gethers describes Norton's final years and exploits. This book is not a weepy lamentation, but a zesty, funny, touching, caring account of a beloved friend's life and death.

***

Cats Are Not Peas: A Calico History of Genetics
by Laura Gould
Gould wound up adopting a male calico, which made her wonder how genetics could produce the little guy, since calicos are supposed to be girls. So, she delves into the evolution of cats and their genetics. If this sounds a little stuffy, it's not. Gould's a great storyteller and her two cats, George (the calico) and Max, provide for lots of entertaining anecdotes.

***

Hiss and Tell: True Stories from the Files of a Cat Shrink
By Pamela Johnson-Bennett
True stories of some of Johnson-Bennett's more memorable clients (and their people). She's a great writer and the stories read like mini-mysteries as she tries to figure out what's causing the cats' behavioral problems. I laughed a lot.

***

Claude
by Randy Moravec
A playful, funny, "investigation" into the average day of Claude the cat. Moravec's photos of Claude alone are worth a look at this book, and his writing style is flat-out side-splitting. Moravec's list of Claude's nicknames rings hysterically true (my favorite: Clauddles) for those of us who have a litany of nicknames for our furkids. I adore this book.

***

The Feline Mystique: On the Mysterious Connection Between Women and Cats
by Clea Simon
This book is a great Crazy Cat Lady manifesto! Simon explores the bond between women and cats, and takes on the crazy cat lady stereotype and urban myths about lonely women and their cat companions. A wonderful look at the myths, folktales, and stereotypes that affect our perceptions of cats and the women who love them.

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