BOOKS: Cats Behaving Badly, by Celia Haddon
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, June 2012:
Cats Behaving Badly by Celia Haddon
Thomas Dunne Books (175 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10010), 2012.
239 pages, hardcover. $23.99.
Originally published in Britain in 2010, Cats Behaving Badly, by longtime Daily Telegraph pets columnist Celia Haddon, nails cat behavior better than any other book I have reviewed for Animal People.
“A surprisingly high number of people do not choose cats; cats choose them,” Haddon observes. Although six times more people adopt cats from shelters and/or rescues than buy them from breeders and pet stores, cats still acquire their people more often than
people set out deliberately to get a cat.
I was absorbed by the historical part of Haddon’s fact-filled book. The common ancestors to all domesticated cats were North African desert cats, who remain abundant and at a glance are almost indistinguishable from feral domestic cats.
Haddon includes a section on how cats communicate by hissing, yowling, spitting, purring, or meowing. Cats do let attentive observers know what brands of cat food and litter to bring home, Haddon believes.
Haddon offers helpful hints on how to introduce a new cat into the household and how to break up a cat fight–very carefully. On many pages there are small sections called “Cat tip,” including advice such as what to do if you find an injured cat on the road.
No one really knows why cats like sitting in the sink, but Haddon provides the address of a web site devoted to that behavior, <www.catsinsinks.com>. Haddon reminds the reader that cats instinctively scratch. So buy a scratching post, or don’t be peeved
if they use the living room sofa to relieve that natural urge.
Haddon also entertains readers with cat stories from her personal experience. For example, a black and white cat named Charlie had three homes. Allowed to go outdoors, he split his time between two “easy-going” households and his original night home. All
three households thought he was their cat. None of them realized what was going on.
Haddon says in the last chapter, “We can’t change cats except by changing ourselves.” Cats are fun, mysterious, clever, stubborn and many of us cannot live without them.
–Debra J. White