I blog about being the Happy Owner of Happy Dogs. No one knows that before I was an dog owner, I had cats for over 25 years. Up to 3 cats at a time. And as much as I adored (most of) them, I was always mystified by their behavior. I had one cat who pulled the hair from her back (I considered it "Cat Trichotillomania"); I had another cat who loved to eat plastic bags (I just considered it "Cat Pica") and a third cat whose favorite toy was twister seals that she would rather bat around than play with the squeak or chase toys we purchased for her.
So I was delighted when I had a chance to read Steve Dale's book: "Good Cat! Practical Answers to Behavior Questions." I skimmed it once for content and was so enthralled by it, that I settled down for a good read. An informative read. There is so much that I didn't know about cats that was clarified by this wonderfully concise book. I plan to read it yet a third time.
The amount of information and detail in "Good Cat!" is incredible. Steve covers such issues as kitten socialization (which I had never heard of), a guide to training your cat via clicker training to shape behaviors (which I never had thought of), desensitizing frightened cats (described in elaborate detail), pooping and peeing outside the litter box (which I had gone through), and psychological issues of aging felines. In each and every chapter, he covers the possible physiological causes for problem behaviors, with links to specific websites as needed, followed by psychological (behavioral) suggestions, homeopathic remedies, including a calming diffuser ("Feliway"), and if needed, suggestions that cat owners use anti-anxiety medications if recommended by their veterinarians. What could have been a somewhat dense book is made very readable by Steve's sense of humor about cat behavior in general, commenting: "Understand that cats are control freaks who do far better when they believe they are in command of the situation (and they usually are)."
One of my favorite chapters addressed the issue of cats who either fail to use or miss the litter box. Because this is one of the most frequent reasons cats are dropped off at shelters, it is worth the read in and of itself. For example, I had never known that in multiple cat households the rule of thumb is 2 litter boxes per cat or that medical issues were often the culprit in failure to use the box. When I owned cats, I had one cat who would have all 4 legs in the litter box but the poop would fall outside the box! Thank goodness the boxes were in an inconspicuous place where newspapers were spread around it. Another thing I learned was that cats who like to void in high places may be worried about being ambushed in lower places. Steve's final chapter, Grab Bag of Offbeat Questions, proved to be as fun as his similar chapter in Good Dog! covering topics including kitty kleptomania, talking to birds, and herding cats.
If you are thinking of adopting a kitten or cat, if you already own one but are mystified by their behavior (as I was), or if you have a feline companion that has an 'issue,' this book is a must read. On a personal level, I am happy to learn that interest in cats and cat behavior is now being considered important in both popular and scientific circles so that many of the myths about cats and people who own them can be debunked.
Whether you use it as a reference or read it in its entirety, enjoy "Good Cat!" and enjoy expanding your "cat learning curve" like I did!