Friday, December 4, 2009
By Julia Williams
My friends and family all know that I’m crazy about cats. As a result, I’ve been given my fair share of cat gifts over the years. I love them all (well, most of them) but being a writer my favorite gifts, paws down, are the cat books. Since the gift giving season is upon us, I thought this might be a good time to compile a list of some of my favorite books about cats. If you have a cat lover on your gift list, any one of these great cat books will please them. And if you just want to treat yourself to a good read, that’s fine too!
The Cat Who Came for Christmas, by Cleveland Amory. This classic cat book is a true tale of how the author rescued a bedraggled stray cat that was so dirty, he didn’t even know what color it was. After a bath, a beautiful, pure white cat emerged, and was christened Polar Bear. In a rambling, roundabout way, Mr. Armory recounts their first eventful year together. First published in 1987, this book was on the New York Times bestseller list for years, and is still one of my all-time favorites.
The Cat and the Curmudgeon, also by Cleveland Amory, is the second of three books about Polar Bear. It continues the story of their relationship with humorous and heartwarming tales, including visits to interesting places and Polar Bear’s “catitude” on his newfound celebrity status. I didn’t find it as endearing as the first book, but it’s still a fun read that all cat lovers would enjoy.
Catwings, by Ursula K. Le Guin, is billed as a children’s book (for ages 7 to 10) but I think cat fans of all ages will love it. Indeed, who could resist a delightful tale about four wee kittens with wings? The book chronicles the adventures of the kittens as they fly away from their dangerous city neighborhood in search of a safer place where they can (and do) live happily ever after. Catwings had three sequels, making up a series called the The Catwings Collection.
All I need to Know I Learned From My Cat, by Suzy Becker, is one of the funniest cat books I’ve ever read. It’s a collection of hilarious life lessons dispensed by Binky, a quirky feline with a viewpoint that every cat owner will instantly recognize as “truth.” Such as, help with the crossword (i.e., sit on top of it), recycle (dig in the garbage), and finally, try not to obsess about cholesterol (stick your face in an ice cream carton). Binky’s sage advice is accompanied by super-cute illustrations. This bestselling book was first published in 1990 but there is a new edition with additional wisdom. One anonymous reviewer on Amazon said it best: “It's true that you can learn all you need to know from your cat because, after all, if your cat doesn't know it, it probably isn't worth knowing.”
The Nine Emotional Lives of Cats, by psychoanalyst Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson, explores nine basic emotions (narcissism, love, contentment, attachment, jealousy, fear, anger, curiosity and playfulness) using observations of his own five cats as examples. I don’t believe there is any real “proof” that his explanations correlate to how cats really feel, why they do certain things or what they are thinking when they do them, but I did find this book interesting and entertaining.
Natural Health for Dogs and Cats by veterinarian Richard H. Pitcairn and his wife Susan, is a terrific resource for animal lovers who are interested in taking a more holistic approach to pet care. The book has chapters devoted to important issues such as how to choose a healthy animal, creating a healthier environment for your pet, responsible pet ownership, how to give your pet a checkup, and what to do in emergencies. It also has an in-depth, alphabetical listing of common pet ailments and detailed information on holistic and alternative therapies. (Please remember that while books can be a great help in expanding your knowledge of pets, you should always see your vet if they are sick or injured).
101 Favorite Cat Poems is a nice anthology of poetry by John Keats, Emily Dickinson, William Blake and other poets who show that they clearly understand the feline psyche. Another wonderful book of cat poems is Purr, by James Servin, featuring whimsical poems that are a true reflection of life with cats.
Cat books make great gifts for a number of reasons: they’re easy to wrap and easy to ship to your faraway friends, they fit nicely into Christmas stockings or under the tree, and last but certainly not least, they’re just so much fun to read!
Read more articles by Julia Williams