Cat Book Roundup

Steve Dale, CAT FANCY writer and syndicated newspaper pet columnist, talks about books on cats, such as "Naughty No More."

Cat owners know how to read — even though publishers apparently don’t believe this, or haven’t until recently. With the advent and increased popularity of e-books, and recent top selling cat books, my hope and belief is that we will see a striking increase in books about cats and cat care.

It all started in 2008 with Vicki’s Myron’s surprising best-seller, “Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World.”

When Gwen Cooper, a writer with a successful track record, first pitched her idea – a book about a blind cat, publishers turned up their noses, even though Dewey sales shook the publishing world, and certified cat behavior consultant Pam Johnson-Bennett been at the top of the perch for years – writing top selling cat books.

Like the Dewey book, Cooper’s  “Homer’s Odyssey: A Fearless Feline Tale, or How I Learned About Love and Life with a Blind Wonder Cat” was a smash New York Times best seller out of the gate in 2009.

No matter, these authors finally opened a cat book door for others.

These days publishers are hard pressed to back even dog training books, let alone a cat training book.  

“CAT FANCY’S Naughty No More: Change Unwanted Behaviors through Positive Reinforcement,” by certified cat behavior consultant Marilyn Krieger (Bow Tie Press, Irvine, CA, 2010; $12.95), is essentially a book about how to train cats. Of course, Krieger begins by explaining why you’d want to train a cat in the first place.

Perhaps what’s more valuable in the real world is Krieger’s explanation about how to use the clicker as a tool for dealing with behavior problems. One example, how to use clicker training to encourage a cat to scratch in all the right places (while simultaneously making places — like sofas where the cat has been scratching — unattractive to claw at).

Cat books must be trendy; after all, even a dog author has gotten into the act. Darlene Arden, CABC, known for canine care books like her award-winning toy dog books. “The Complete Cat’s Meow” (Wiley Publishing, New York NY, 2011; $19.99) offers the ultimate complete care book. Arden does everything but adopt the cat, and then personally purchase the litterboxes, food and cat tree for you.

In a recent radio interview, Arden told me, “I’ve been wanting to write this book for a very long, what’s taken years to get a publisher interested.”

Both Krieger and Arden are selling respectably. Presumably publishers continue to be impressed.

The queen of all cat books is Johnson-Bennett. For years, she’s had no problem selling books. Her latest is a newly revised and updated version of “Think Like a Cat” (Penguin Books, New York, NY, 2011; $18). Johnson-Bennett is an amazing interpreter of what our cats are tying to tell us. In fact, I sometimes worry that she may be part cat.  

For just plain fun CAT FANCY special correspondent Sandy Robins teams with illustrator Mark Anderson, “For the Love of CATS: From A to Z” (Triumph Books, Chicago, IL, 2011; $16.95). She authors a Sesame Street for cat lovers, but without Burt, Ernie or the Count.

The book, of course, begins with A, which is for “Adored: By the ancient Egyptians according to statues and entombed inscriptions.” I hate to reveal more – and remove the suspense, but I will reveal that the letter “P is Prowl, Pounce and Purr. That’s what cats do when you pet their fur.” With each letter is a corresponding illustration.

One more book very much work checking out is “Cat Calls: Wonderful Stories and Practical Advice form a Veteran Cat Sitter,” by Jeanne Adlon and CAT FANCY Editor Susan Logan (Square One Publishers, Garden City, NY, 2012; $14.95).

Your perspective of your own cats, that’s one thing — but what happens when you leave town, the pet sitter takes over and your cats transform into rock ‘n roll party animals. Strange things can occur, and they most always seem to happen when people are out of town. Adlon and Logan bring these stories to life.

My hope is that as birthdays and anniversaries pop up, you’ll consider a cat book for your cat loving friend. And holidays aren’t that far away. If you’re seeking to seriously learn more about your own cats, and their quirky behaviors — there are more choices than ever. I hope we all continue to prove the publishers wrong.

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