BOOKS: Cat Be Good

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, January/February 2010:

Cat Be Good:
A Foolproof Guide for the Complete Care and Training of Your Cat
Third Edition
by Annie Bruce
2000, 2003, 2005 — Free online at <>; 208 pages.

After selling out three printed editions in less than 10
years, Colorado cat advocate Annie Bruce has now made Cat Be Good
available for free online.
While the priceless advice in Cat Be Good is now freely
accessible, a free cat is never free of expenses, Bruce cautions.
Who pays for the food, litter and vet bills? Cats also need
scratching posts and toys to keep them occupied, and usually are
happiest with cat companions, who bring their own expenses. Keeping
a cat–or several–is a lifetime responsibility, Bruce emphasizes.

A cat may live 18 to 20 years, especially if the cat lives indoors.
Bruce favors acquiring cats by adoption, though she
acknowledges that there are some conscientious cat breeders. Animal
shelters and rescues are loaded with unwanted kittens and adult cats
in perfect health. They all need a safe snug place to call home and
Bruce encourages readers to give these cats a chance, as she herself
has, many times.
Shampooing cats has come into vogue to reduce allergic
responses to dander and to remove loose hair so that cats don’t
develop hairballs. Most cats, however, believe any bathing is too
much. Bruce advises against frequent shampooing. Brushing,
however, should be done often, Bruce believes, particularly with
long haired cats. A good brushing keeps excess fur off the
furniture, your clothing, and out of the corners of rooms. It
also stimulates a cat’s skin and keeps her coat healthy.
Nail-trimming is a must, both to prevent claw damage to
home, clothing, and furnishings, and for a cat’s own comfort in
any environment where claws will not be constantly worn down by use.
Bruce so strongly opposes declawing cats that declawing campaigners
are among the three categories of people to whom she will still sell
a hard copy of Cat Be Good.
Bruce devotes a chapter to diet, comparing wet, dry,
home-cooked and natural foods. Bruce says cats should eat only wet
food, I disagree. Many experts believe cats should eat mostly dry
food, with only a splash of wet, unless of course they have few or
no teeth. Cat-keepers should do their own research and use their own
Giving pills to a cat can be traumatic for the cat-keeper,
as well as the cat. Bruce offers pointers on how to medicate even
the most cantankerous cat. This is essential, especially since
older cats may need daily pills.
Cats are like people, Bruce says, in that sometimes they
like each other; sometimes not. Hissy fights break out, fur flies,
and screeches follow when two mismatched cats are introduced. That
doesn’t mean the new cat has to go. Bruce has some handy ideas about
how to smooth tense introductions. Give it a chance, she says. The
cats may learn to get along.
Bruce allows her cats to romp briefly in her yard. This will
be a point of debate with many people. I lean toward keeping cats
indoors, where they can have quite happy lives.
Bruce urges cat people to donate used linens, towels and
sheets to local shelters or rescues. Shelter and rescue personnel
will appreciate this–and will appreciate even more her strong
recommendation that cats should be sterilized, to avoid adding to
the numbers of cats who are abandoned at shelters. –Debra J. White

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