BOOKS: Is Your Cat Crazy?

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, June 1995:

Is Y our Cat Crazy?
Solutions from the Casebook of a Cat Therapist
by John C. Wright, with Judi Wright Lashnitz. MacMillan Publishing USA
(15 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10023), 1994. 227 pages, cloth, $18.00.
Here is a book that may save
many a cat from being cast outside to live as
a quasi-feral because of undesirable,
unfathomable, and intractable indoor con-
duct. A behaviorist, not a “shrink” for ani-
mals, Dr. Wright stresses that this is not a
how-to book, because each cat is an indi-
vidual whose actions are actually reactions
to specific situations within each particular
household.

He says we may not be able to
see our lives objectively enough to analyze
how our actions affect our cats. Thus his
help is not case-specific advice so much as
the strong suggestion that troubled cat own-
ers should call the nearest animal behavior-
ist who specializes in cats and discuss prob-
lems with a pro. If effective advice cannot
be given over the phone, the behaviorist
will visit one’s home and study the case
first-hand. Wright says it is irrelevant what
a cat did in the past. Instead of dwelling on
history, he works to set up mutually accept-
able new habits. Sometimes he must pro-
pose a compromise. Owners are then care-
fully instructed in their role in creating
change. Wright closely monitors progress.
This book is interesting both from
a psycho-scientific viewpoint and as a series
of entertaining anecdotes about felines who
frustrate. Cat behavior, he tells us, is
rarely due to the emotions to which owners
ascribe it, such as jealousy and thirst for
revenge. Wright tries to show how cats
respond in ways that are feline and instinc-
tive, rather than as owners think they would
respond if they were the cat. Though fully
sympathetic to those of us who regard our
darlings as a furry companion or surrogate
child, Wright loves cats for their catness.
Animal behavior counseling is,
incidentally, a growing career opportunity
for those who want to work with both
humans and pets, in a capacity less physi-
cally involved than veterinary work and less
stressful than humane work. A member of
the certification board for animal behavior-
ists, Wright holds a Ph.D. in psychology.
––Phyllis Clifton
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