The CATalyst: Steve Tackles Cat Behavior in New Books

Steve Dale, CAT FANCY writer and syndicated newspaper pet columnist, provides a weekly cat news roundup.

Cat Behavior Issues
What are the most common dog and cat behavior complaints? No one source of data exists for this, although I have my own sources of information. In fact, at least one veterinary behaviorist quotes my data in her lectures.

And data, I have. I’ve been answering reader questions in my Tribune Media Services (TMS) newspaper column for 17 years. That’s about four questions and answers a week; if my math is correct, the grand total comes to more than 3,500 questions and answers. Those are the ones I have the space to answer. I’ve received at least five times that amount of questions.

By far, the most frequent question I receive isn’t about barking, aggressive dogs or cats scratching in the wrong places. The most common pet owner behavior complaint? Cats who “think outside their litterboxes.” As a result, cats are losers.

I love that people write me, and I hope that I can help. I’ve received more notes saying I have saved lives, as desperate readers considered me their last resort.

When TMS asked me to write two electronic books based on a collection of questions and answers, I jumped at the chance. My hope is to help more people my newly released ebooks, “Good Cat!” and “Good Dog!

Lots of expert veterinary behaviorists, applied animal behaviorists, cat and dog behavior consultants and dog trainers participate in answering questions with me, including CAT FANCY and cat behaviorist Marilyn Krieger.

Aside from the many cat litterbox complaints, I come down pretty hard against declawing and explain how you can train kittens (and even adult cats) to scratch in all the right places.

In “Good Cat!” I answer questions about keeping cats off counters, cat vs. cat aggression, cat aggression to human family members and even compulsive behaviors. There are tips on adopting kittens, and training kittens and tips on cats who adopt you.

Most of the Q-and-As in the books are common questions, but I also included some wacky questions. Forewords for the ebooks were authored by some awfully impressive friends. Victoria Stilwell of Animal Planets It’s Me or the Dog begins “Good Dog!” and the best-selling cat book author of the past 20 years, certified cat behavior consultant Pam Johnson-Bennett, contributed to “Good Cat!”

To ensure veterinary medical accuracy all these years, Dr. Sheldon Rubin has reviewed nearly all my columns, so who better to author the introductions to both books.

Saving the best for last, I am incredibly honored that Betty White herself authored the prologue for each book. I have interviewed her several times. Truly an animal lover, she is familiar with my work, and eager to support science-based information. And I will let you in on a little secret, Betty agrees with my contention that in many ways cats are kind of like second-class citizens.

A great last minute gift idea, I thought it important to also maintain a reasonable price; “Good Dog!” and “Good Cat!” are $2.99 each, wherever ebooks are sold. As a added bonus, if you have an Apple device, such as an iPad, an enhanced version of “Good Dog!” includes several embedded videos. So, not only do I write how to solve problems, you can watch some explanations in action and see experts discuss solutions, $4.99 (at

Susan Little’s “The Cat”
I hope my ebooks are helpful when it comes to behavior, but if you seriously want to know everything about cats, and I do mean everything, check out “The Cat: Clinical Medicine and Management,” edited by Dr. Susan Little, feline veterinarian and past president of the Winn Feline Foundation. This 1,398-page bible collects a who’s who of renowned expert veterinarians with many letters after their names.

The book includes reports of the latest cutting edge science — a perfect gift for cat breeders, veterinary students, veterinarians or people intent on learning the latest about feline medicine. The book includes the latest in drug therapies, guidelines and precautions; management of chronic illness; cancer treatments; immune mediated disorders; ophthalmology; cardiovascular diseases and treatment; nutrition and nutritional disorders; dermatology; infectious diseases; reproduction; pediatrics; geriatrics and the feline genome and clinical genetics as some topic examples. Published Elsevier, it’s $177.18 on

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Cats · Lifestyle