“Cat Sense” by John Bradshaw
c.2013, Basic Books $27.99 / $31.00 Canada 336 pages
Your pantry is filled with things you can’t eat.
You never sleep alone, either, and there’s a definite lack of black clothing in your closet. Small scratches cover the backs of your hands, clay is embedded in parts of your carpet, and you’re pounced upon at least three times daily.
Yep, you’re owned by a cat, that’s for sure. And you love her, but does Kitty love you back? In the new book “Cat Sense” by John Bradshaw, you’ll learn the surprising answer, and more.
So you’ve got a cat in the house, maybe two. You’re in good company: around the world, pet cats outnumber dogs by some three to one, and many of them are descendants of cats domesticated as long as fifteen thousand years ago.
For that, you can thank the house mouse, says Bradshaw. When humans started storing food (rather than constant foraging), mice seized a chance at free meals. Feline hunters were the answer to that freeloading, so kitties were welcomed in homes and shared by ships on new shores.
Some records indicate that, during at least one time in history, one cat was equal in value to a fully-grown sheep; kittens, same as a piglet. In the Dark Ages in Saxony , Germany , “the penalty for killing a cat… was sixty bushels of grain…”
But back to the cat on your couch: strictly speaking, and especially if it spends significant time outside, Bradshaw says it “cannot be considered completely domesticated” because you don’t have total control over it like you would a dog.
For cat lovers, that revelation should come as no surprise.
To make your cat happy, says Bradshaw, train it by utilizing its inherent “raw material” and by taking advantage of its catlike traits. Understand that Kitty is probably “mentally incapable” of using tools. Pay attention to its body language, specifically its tail: an “upright” tail is usually a good thing. Try to find out when, during its kittenhood, your cat was socialized; that timeline makes a big difference.
And lastly, don’t force your cat to spend time with other, unrelated cats. It causes stress, the likes of which owners can only imagine…
Does your cat love you? Author John Bradshaw says she does, although her way of showing it is “somewhat limited.”
So are the learning opportunities in this overly-wordy book.
“Cat Sense” begins with three chapters on how cats went from jungle to bungalow. While relatively interesting, that’s almost unnecessary: who, for instance, doesn’t know that cats were historically valued as mousers, or that the Egyptians made cat mummies? There’s a good chunk here that’s devoted to cat DNA and genetics; another lengthy, detailed passage on socialization; and yet another on mutual grooming. This info is all well and good, but there’s just too much of it.
I think this book is great for cat lovers who understand little-to-nothing about their pets and don’t mind having overabundant, overly-detailed information. If you know your Kitty well, though, then stalk past “Cat Sense” and pounce on something else.
“Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Dare to Look!”
c.2013, Ripley Publishing $28.95 / $32.95 Canada 256 pages
You’ve always loved dogs.
You love playing with them, throwing sticks for them to retrieve, wrestling with them on the floor. You love their soft fur and their goofy grins and there’s nothing better than snuggling with a dog on a cold night.
Yep, it’s great that you love dogs because you’ll need two of them if you want a good challenge: a double-dog dare is practically required when you read “Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Dare to Look!”
It takes a very daring kid to look at a book with eerie, scary things in it, but that’s what you’ll find inside here. Learn how Canadian artist Maskull Lasserre created a skull out of a pile of old books. Find out about the Swiss actor who becomes an evil clown, or read the mystery of the corpse bride and decide if she was human once or not.
Bravery is absolutely necessary for even looking through this book because you’ll see pictures of a Shark Whisperer, a jellyfish lake, and an alligator who goes fishing with nothing but his teeth. And then – if you’re really brave, you can make plans to visit the Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada and see real piranhas and a giant octopus.
Would you put yourself in danger to get to school? If you lived in the Xinjiang Uygur region of China , you would: kids there have to walk a narrow path on the sheer side of the mountain to get to class.
Would you have the guts to try extreme skiing, crack climbing, or camel-jumping? There are people who do – and more – but don’t try that at home.
In this book, you’ll learn about a man with two mouths, a pig with two faces, people with unusual tattoos, and others who’ve swallowed more than just food. You’ll learn about the assassination of a president and snakes on motorcycles, read back-from-the-dead stories, and visit a museum for real dummies.
And yes, you’ll even read about dogs: bike chain dogs, a dog with his nose missing, surfing dogs, dogs that get married, and one that got into a stick-y situation.
You’ll read about it… if you dare…
What kid doesn’t like knowing about weird, eerie oddities? Even the most reluctant reader does, which is why “Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Dare to Look!” is the perfect book to have in your house.
Yes, it’s true that the Ripley’s folks do these big, gorgeous books every year, and they’re always filled with fun-to-know facts, full-color pictures, jaw-dropping feats, and squirmy things. But this latest entry in the series is a little different: with this book in-hand, kids can download an interactive app to enhance their reading. They’ll get footage, more info, backstories, and more. Who wouldn’t like that?
Meant for 9-to-15-year-olds, I don’t see any reason why older kids and adults wouldn’t like looking through this book, too - so go ahead, be pro-active, and grab it. “Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Dare to Look!” is a book your kids will be doggin’ you to find anyhow.
(The Bookworm is Terri Schlichenmeyer. Terri has been reading since she was 3 years old and she never goes anywhere without a book. She lives on a hill in Wisconsin with two dogs and 12,000 books.)