BOOKS: Cats For Dummies

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, March 1998:

Cats For Dummies
by Gina Spadafori
and Paul D. Pion
IDG Books Worldwide
(919 E. Hillsdale Blvd., Suite 400,
Foster City, CA 94404), 1997.
360 pages, paperback, $19.99.

“Care killed a cat,” Shakespeare
warns us in Much Ado About Nothing. The
best way to avoid that dire fate is to learn
proper cat care, and an excellent starting
place would be this latest entry in the For
Dummies series.
The 22 chapters of this user-friendly
textbook should be required reading for
would-be cat companions. A veterinarian,
Paul D. Pion, has joined syndicated pet care
columnist Gina Spadafori, the author of
Dogs For Dummies, to educate the curious
about the pleasures and problems inherent in
caring for a cat. For example, what you
might assume to be the opening section––
”Choosing Your Feline Companion”––does
not appear until Chapter Four, following a
cat-alogue of sensible advice about the kind
of cat to choose. My favorite section, however,
lists the top ten cat myths, including
“Cats need to drink milk,” and systematically
debunks every one of them.

This guide for feline fanciers is
clearly aimed at the novice, with a wealth of
warnings worth remembering, as in “You
can’t make a cat do anything he doesn’t want
to, so praise is the only way to go.” Written in
clear, simple prose, the book provides
humor along with step-by-step guidance,
from the items needed for a start-up kitten kit
to the addresses of cat-related organizations.
Do not overlook the encouraging foreword by
Lilian Jackson Braun, the author of cat mysteries,
who asks the book’s most basic question:
“Which end of the cat is the front?” An
exhaustive 18-page index provides quick reference
to the hundreds of topics covered.
As a primer, Cats For Dummies
may not be for everybody. I would imagine
that long-time feline friends may consider
some of the advice too obvious to bother
reading, including an entire chapter on
“Feeding Your Cat.” But we novices, dummies
or not, need all the help we can get.
––Jeffrey McQuain
[McQuain, co-author of Coined by
Shakespeare, from Merriam-Webster, is secretary
of Doing Things For Animals, Inc.]

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