Why Don’t Cat Lovers Buy Cat Books?

Here’s an authentic question for you all, and I would love to hear your answers. The question in the title is based on a phenomenon that seems to be consistent across many years and in many contexts. The ‘word’ in the publishing industry is that, compared to dog lovers, cat lovers buy very few cat related books. I remember when Dogwise (Direct Books) started out they sold both cat and dog books, until they dropped the cat-related items because they didn’t sell well and weren’t worth the trouble. Elizabeth Marshall Thomas’s smash best seller The Hidden Life of Dogs was followed by a book, Tribe of the Tiger, that didn’t sell particularly well.  I get 100 (1,000?) requests to do dog behavior-related seminars for every one cat behavior seminar I’m asked to do (I LOVE doing cat behavior seminars by the way).

But why is that? Cat lovers adore their cats, no question about it. No doubt one explanation is that cat owners have fewer expectations of have a “well-trained” cat, whereas dog owners are always buying training and behavior modification books. That might be the primary explanation, and it fits the fact that the cat books that first pop up on Amazon are usually stories about cats (and look at the recent best selling book, Dewey, about a cat and a small library in Iowa). But on my former radio show, I was swamped with questions about cat behavior. Today on Larry Meiller’s on WPR show we got lots of questions of people who were desperate to get help for the cat’s behavioral problem.

People do need to train their cats, and to solve the behavioral problems they have with them… but they still don’t buy cat behavior books that often. I was thinking about this issue last week when Denise, Andrea and I discussed selling a book we really like,  Starting from Scratch. We did put it up for sale on the site, and we’ll see how it does. But I don’t bring this up as a marketing promotion, it’s a sincere question about why it is almost universal that dog lovers can’t get enough books about dog behavior, while cat lovers may read a lot (and with a cat in their lap!), but not about cats… You’d think cat lovers would buy cat books, because, well, why not? Any thoughts?

Meanwhile, back at the farm, it’s a swamp outside, hot and muggy. My least favorite weather in the world. I’m moving the sheep to a small pasture every day now, and luckily they need to be moved early in the morning and late in the evening. That gives us all a break because we can avoid the hot times of the day, but even then both Willie and I are relieved to get back inside in the air conditioning. The AC hasn’t been on all year until last Friday, but what a luxury it is to have it. I’ve so much gardening to do though… I’m so far behind after being gone and so busy for a few weeks. Oh well, a weed is just a plant in a place you don’t want it, so I get to say, hey?

The bird life continues at at break neck pace… all the songbirds trying to fit in as many nesting attempts as they can before the light changes and the leaves fall. This weekend I was sorry to watch a male Cardinal feeding a round, pushy Brown-Headed Cowbird baby begging successfully from him at the feeder. Cowbirds are nest parasites, who lay their eggs in the nests of song birds. Their young are large and precocious, and are able to trigger a feeding response from a parent of a different species by using “sign stimuli” that elicit feeding from birds like Cardinals and Vireos. A bit like us getting all warm and gooey over a cartoon character that looks infantile with big eyes, a big forehead and disproportionately large hands and feet. Cowbirds are native, so I guess I shouldn’t be too concerned, but I can’t help but feel sorry for the Cardinal, whose own young may well have starved to death given the aggressive nature of the cowbirds begging (and the fact that their large size can result in the ‘real’ nestlings being pushed out of the nest and dying on the ground.)

Life is tough out there, no doubt about it. But not so rough in the house, where Sushi sleeps on the couch as I write. Here are my favorite photos of Sushi, no doubt she’s pondering the heavy issues I’ve raised . . .

Comments

  1. says

    What a curious question! I too love reading a book with a cat on my lap (or rather, in my face), but I’ve never bought or borrowed a cat book. I guess in my case, my two critters are both relatively well-behaved yet also extremely stubborn, so I’ve never thought to read up on cat behavior. I think perhaps the idea of a trained cat is still pretty astonishing and unusual to some people too.
    PS: LOVE the pic of Sushi dazed by the sunbeam! She looks so meditative.

  2. Mary Beth says

    What an awesome picture of Sushi! He looks so grand highlighted by the sunbeams and that gorgeous wood floor. Its pictures like that that I treasure of my critters much more than any studio shot of them.

  3. says

    Good question! I have shelves of dog books, and horse books (though I don’t own a horse), flower books and one sheep book but not one single cat book, although I have always had at least one cat. I can’t really say why. I suppose many of us just accept our cats the way they are and aren’t trying to change them in any way. Problems are often taken care of through management, such as changing a house soiling cat to be out doors only.

  4. Anne says

    What a timely post for me! This weekend I bought six new litterboxes and fifty pounds of litter and am finally embarking on a comprehensive effort that might someday let our three cats be unsupervised in rooms other than the kitchen and basement, for the first time in three years.

    Here’s one desperate owner’s answer to why I have tons of dog books but no cat books, although I have big cat problems. First, cat books often seem to stop at the easy steps I’ve already tried. More boxes, clean boxes, different surfaces, vet checks, been there done that. Second, the few books that suggest going beyond those steps made the project sound very difficult in my situation, with no corresponding hope of success after all that work. It’s very hard to catch the problem when there are three cats, we work all day, the house is on the big side, and until the dog passed away last fall, we couldn’t have any litter boxes upstairs or the poop would get eaten. Closing off a small area where the cats mostly behave seemed the only feasible choice.

    Actually my new energy to solve the problem was prompted by a different kind of cat book — Cat Training In 10 Minutes, by Miriam Fields-Babineau. I started trying to teach them to sit, just for fun, a few weeks ago, and now two of them are getting pretty good at it. This made me think for the first time that we might be able to start over with litterbox training.

    Now I’ve just ordered Starting From Scratch, so I’ll have two cat books! Thanks for this post and for all you do.

  5. says

    Cat’s are rugged individualists and as self-centered as gyroscopes. There’s not much else to it. :)

  6. AJ says

    Perhaps we are more fatalistic about our cats than we are about our dogs. Whether they be “good” cats or “problem” cats, cats in general can be stubborn and we learn to just accept them for who they are. I never really thought of my two cats as trainable, while I feel that my dog is completely trainable. I think we expect more from our dogs than from cats. Besides, when I do have cat problems (literbox issues, anyone?) my first step is to talk to the vet about health problems.

  7. Kate says

    I have two cats, and two cat books. Both by Pam Johnson-Bennett. Good books, but Anne is right that the solutions never really get past the obvious, and it seems like sometimes problems are just inherent and “can’t” be solved. I’ll give an example.

    I adopted a kitten named Basil about six years ago. From the beginning he would pee on my bed now and then. Not really enough to catch a pattern (and, boy, did I try). I tried everything. New litters, new boxes, clean the box more, Feliway, let him out, keep him out of the room. But no matter what, he would always do it again. It got to a point where it was about every 9 months, tolerable for me. I knew his “signs” so I was able to scoop him up and put him in a box, if I could catch him. The vet checked him out, nothing. There were no options, really, except to keep him out of the room, which made it hard for everyone else to come and go. I did try to use food to get him to go (“no wet food till you go, buddy”), which worked until things got really bad, I had to go to work, or I simply let my guard down.

    Everything changed last year, when he lost about 3 pounds in 6 months, and he started displaying other odd behaviors (on top of his existing odd behaviors :), including an increase in the peeing (to every month or more and in new places). Off to the vet for tests and tests, but no definitive answers. Whatever his mysterious medical condition was (he was hypothyroid-rare in cats; and the vets think perhaps IBD or Cushings, again, rare), I realized it wasn’t going to stop the peeing. Basil might have had whatever illness all of his life, but it likely wasn’t causing him to pee on a soft surfaces. My best guess was that it hurt to pee sometimes, so he would go where he felt most comfortable?

    Contrast this kind of problem, and the perception that cats are stubborn and untrainable, to how we view our dogs. Dogs also have intractable problems, some even like Basil’s, but we see them as trainable and we see a bunch of philosophies that provide solutions. The answer about cat books, then, is a result of a perception (or truth?) that cats are untrainable. Trainers don’t write about them because the solutions can be tough, require more energy over a greater time with less predictable results, and owners don’t buy the existing books because they don’t see their cats as changing their behavior.

  8. Crystal says

    I think there’s a perception that cats can’t be trained- I know that I spend oodles of time on my dog, but shamefully, my cats scratch the furniture. And… I just can’t be bothered? I don’t know- there’s no good reason that I allow this horribly destructive behavior in my cats, while I work my butt off with my dog. Even worse, I’ve trained one of my cats to sit on cue, so it’s not even that I don’t think they can be trained. It’s truly bizarre.

  9. Sarah says

    I’ve wondered this same thing for such a long time! I have shelves of books about dogs and quite a few about cats–I’d like to have more, but when I go looking for cat books, I find more stories than behavior and health, which interest me more.

    I do think that many people are perfectly happy having cats and knowing relatively little about them; I’d guess that if dogs with problems were easier to live with, that would be true of more dog owners as well. I do some volunteer training at an animal shelter, and when I’ve tried to drum up interest in more “advanced” cat topics, I’ve gotten no interest at all. (Before I first started to train cat-socializing volunteers, I thought I wouldn’t be qualified, aware of all that I didn’t know about cats. I discovered very quickly that I was wrong, that maybe 1 in 50 volunteers had my level of knowledge about cats, low as I felt that was!)

    So obviously I don’t know. I did have a cat named Sushi for 15 years who was the love of my life. Your Sushi is stunning.

  10. says

    I think cats are just seen differently in our society and unfortunatly undervalued. I am currently catless (need a bigger place first) but have a few cat books on my shelf and I regularly read about cats to. (Check out “A snowflake in my hand” and “The tiger on my couch”) But I consider myself an exception because I just love learning about all animal behavior, not just dogs. We also trained one of our previous cats to jump through a hoop for one of the kids science projects. It was alot of fun. Yes cats are very traineable, but I think people just accept them the way they are (or don’t and they end up in a shelter)and go with that. I agree with those before me that said we simply expect more from dogs.

  11. says

    I agree with everybody else. We see cats as too hard to train. But I have bought books on cat behavior and worked to rid them of bad habits. I work with kittens to make them use a scratching post instead of the couch and to stay off of any tables or counters. Most of the time they are pretty good.

    On another note, here in the Texas Hill Country, we have breeding golden checked warblers which can only live where there are mature cedar trees and oak trees, particularly shin oak. The birds are endangered and public and private preserves have traps for the cowbirds to prevent them from parasitising the golden cheeked warbler nests and putting them at a greater risk of going extinct.

    The cow birds followed the buffalo and are now stuck hanging about with cows and horses since we exterminated the buffalo.

  12. says

    I’ve had cats for the last 18 years and I do not have any cat books. Most of the cat books I’ve seen are on cat breeds or specific issues. I’ve trained my cats and whenever we start to have any problems I just go back to the basics. I think its because people don’t expect much from cats.

    I have had my dog for about 1.5 years and I’ve got a lot of dog advanced training books.

    I think its because with my dog I’m always looking for new training techniques, mainly because I feel her behavior reflects on me.

  13. Susan Mann says

    Well, there are certainly more sports you can do with dogs, though there are the occasional cat agility events, and of course the cat shows for purebred cats, do they call it conformation when its cats? But those are fairly rare! Its my perception, and I could be wrong, that the people who buy lots of books are people who are involved in some sort of dog sport, whether or not they compete. Of course, most of the people I know who have dogs are agility addicts, as I am, and we all buy books, DVDs, attend seminars, and spend our time online discussing dogs (like on this blog!) I know many people who have dogs, but aren’t involved in anything beyond spending time at the dog park or taking a walk around the block, and they look at me blankly if I mention a book or suggest they check one out, have never heard of Dogwise.

  14. Ignacio says

    As a dog-only owner (well, and fish, but they don’t present any training nuisances) I would guess that domestic cats show less behavioral issues than dogs, and/or those issues are more easily trainable or less annoying to deal with. You don’t see cats knocking guests over as they enter the house, for example… :-)

  15. Scott says

    The majority of cat and dog owners I know have very different expectations for what behaviors they expect of a good “companion” depending on the species. If their cats don’t go to the bathroom outside of the litter box, don’t bite or scratch people, don’t shred the furniture and provide occasional attention to them, they consider them “trained” and ask for nothing further. Whereas the dog owners have far greater expectations that I could list for endless paragraphs.

    This disparity in expectations extrapolates to the size of the animal as well. Just look at how many owners of little dogs allow them to get away with bad behaviors for which larger dogs often get euthanized or re-homed.

  16. Susan says

    One or two basic cat books, plus years of experience, help me train or manage all the “normal” problem behaviors like litter box issues and scratching the sofa. But I seem to specialize in cats with unusual behaviors that books just don’t address. Maybe because many of my adopted cats have been trapped as feral kittens, they often seem just a little off-kilter. My current cat has adapted well to being an indoor-only cat, she bosses the dogs around, and will occasionally deign to sit on a lap and be petted (but never cuddled). But she almost never retracts her claws! She _can_, just chooses not to for whatever reason. When you hear claws clicking on the floor, it’s more often the cat than the dogs. Walking across the carpet, she sounds like she’s wearing velcro booties. Often she will tease the dogs into chasing her, but then get her claws caught in the carpet when she runs. I try to keep them trimmed so she doesn’t injure herself when a claw gets trapped on the run, but she hates being restrained and it’s quite a production to cut her nails. The methods I used to teach the dogs to tolerate nail-trimming haven’t worked with Jasmine. (I will not have a cat de-clawed.) She does not use her claws defensively, either. It just seems like so much of the time with my cats, I’m dealing with odd behaviors of this sort, that none of the books mention.

  17. Ruth T says

    My husband (not a dog person, but definitely a cat and book person) thought this was an interesting fact. After he thought a while, he felt the reason for the disparity is that people often bring dogs into their lives to do something with them, such as therapy, obedience, showing, etc. Yet often people don’t have plans for kitty oriented activities other than cuddling and tossing jingly balls for them. That normally comes naturally and doesn’t require research or kitty training classes.

  18. ken says

    I think there are two reasons for this. The first is that we spend our time with the two species in different ways. Dogs tend to be on the go with us. They go to the store, to the park, on vacation and, in general, spend a lot more time being social with us. They also tend to put themselves in the middle of things. When we have a party the dogs will whine the whole time wanting to come out and interact with the guests. We often find them lying under the dinning room table during dinner or in the middle of the living room for nightcaps. Cats, on the other hand, tend to stay at home. They hide when company comes over and are happy to climb up in a lap and pur quietly. Because of this we have different expectations with respect to behavior.

    The second reason, I think, is because we have come to not expect reactions from our cats – at least not the same type of reactions we get from dogs. I can’t count the number of times I bought an expensive toy for one of my cats only to have them look at me in a disgusted way, flick their tail and walk away. Their aloofness leads us to believe that they could careless about what we want.

  19. Kelsey says

    What an interesting question! I own a lovely cat and a charming dog, and it’s true: although I am fascinated by animal behavior, unless you count “Why Cats Paint”, I have a shelf of dog books and no cat books. It strikes me that cat training might generally be done reactively (or at least in reaction to specific problems), rather then as a productive, bond-forming exercise, the way that many people treat dog training. I think part of this has to do with a feeling that the stakes are higher with dogs, since there are so many more opportunities to be out socializing with them in public. I am fortunate that I’ve always had friendly, mellow, problem-light cats, but even with an asocial or ‘difficult’ cat, houseguests tend to react better to a hiding cat or a cat who doesn’t want to be petted than they react to a growling, skitish dog (although the behaviors are often coming from similar places.) Since nobody interacts with my cat outside the house, I am less concerned about her behavior then I am about my dog’s obedience and socialization at the dog park. I think ‘negative’ behavior in a cat is often written of as “well, she’s a cat”, while similar behaviors in a dog are too-frequently read as “what a thoughtless owner”. However, that’s probably driven by the thing I mentioned before: training as reactive rather than proactive with cats. What an interesting thing to think about on the way to buy some cat books!

    Oh, and a note to Ignacio, above: my ‘heart cat’ was a super-friendly 20-lb bruiser of a tabby who had no compunction about standing up on his back legs to say hi to people and twisting around their legs as they entered the house. He knocked people over more than once!

  20. lin says

    In addition to the wise posts above, I’ll add that most dogs have to interact with the public in some way (going to events, on walks, to the dog park), whereas the great majority of cats stay in the house (or are out doing their cat thing without a human escort). So we are much more conscious of the dog’s behavior–if s/he’s dog/people aggressive, overly shy or exuberant–and want to modify it. Since a cat’s behavior stays within the family, we adjust to his/her quirks.

    Like adjusting to a certain unnamed kitty who continues to be very vocal at 5:30 a.m. about being fed, even though that action just gets him put in the kitchen (without any food).

  21. Anna says

    I have had cats all my life and I have never read a cat behavior book. I guess I always figured that they don’t want to please me so I just learned to adapt to them. Like they says cats don’t have owners they have staff. I just was reading Karen Pryor’s new book and it has a piece on clicker training your cat to give a high five… I am going to try it and who knows maybe I will change my belief that cats don’t want to please me.

    Another point to ponder, if an old widow lady has a dog it is great but if she has cats she is an exocentric old bat?

  22. Trisha says

    I love all these comments! I completely agree about the difference between our expectations of cats versus dogs, but cat behavior is SO interesting, wouldn’t you think cat lovers would like just to read about it?

  23. Alessandro Rosa says

    “The squeaky wheel gets the oil.” By this I mean that even a 4LB Maltese or Chihuahua can make one heck of a wracket. Enough to make our neighbor’s despise us at best or call the authorities or poison our dogs at worst. Will a neighbor even hear your 20LB cat if it hisses at a squirrel? When they are in heat is about the only time they are loud enough to hear from them at any distance. If you keep them indoors, then you don’t even have to worry about them digging up the neighbors’ yards or pooping in their vegetable gardens. And will anyone ever complain if they happen to catch a rat or mouse?

    Those of us who welcome dogs into our lives have to accept the responsibility that this brings. In urban areas we are often required to license our dogs with the local government and the idea is that by licensing them, you are technically supposed to know something about how to handle and control that animal. Want cats; feel free. You don’t even need to certify that they have been vaccinated against rabies, even though they are just as capable of contracting it and passing it on as a dog is.

    Plus while there are the rare stories of a cat suffocating a baby or blinding someone with a scratch to the eye, most cats aren’t a liability, unless it is to your antique sofa. Have an under-socialized, overly-aggressive dog of any size that isn’t impeccably trained and you may as well stand on the street corner and play Russian Roulette with people passing by. Have a great dog that is as docile as a duvet and impeccably train but just has a bad day, and you are in the same spot. A dog can do serious damage to you, your family, a neighbor or a stranger and can get you into serious trouble if you don’t know what you are doing as an owner/caretaker.

    So these are a few of the reasons that I feel that dog owners are more active in seeking out books on dog training and behavior. It could also go to the psychology of dog owners versus cat owners? Maybe dog owners are more of a do-it-yourself type that cat people are. Dog ownership, for the most part is a lot more of an active vocation that cat ownership, so maybe it inspires a more active pursuit of knowledge on how to understand our dogs and how to get them to do what we want and need them to do.

    One other thing on the psychological front that comes to mind is how the perception of a dogs behavior in public (or a human child for that matter) reflects on its handler. Have a dog that walks at a perfect heal offleash, comes to you from 100 yards when you whisper their name, even though they were standing infront of the barbeque grill at a college football tailgate, and poops in the doogie doo bag and carries it to the trash can 5 blocks away and you the owner are viewed as a master of the universe (Even if the dog was trained with a shock collar to get them to that level of subjegation). Have Marley at the other end of the leash? You may as well have a four-year-old screaming four letter explitives at the top of its lungs in the middle of Easter Sunday services presided over by the Pope himself. Except for maybe some fur on your coat or the occassional dead song bird, people aren’t going to notice you our your cat’s behavior until you become crazy cat person and have thirty living in a studio apartment the size of a broom closet.

    My two cents, as a first time dog parent with a 5 month old Beagle and more training and behavior books than APDT’s library has.

  24. alh says

    Do you have any recommendations for cat behavior books? I have two cat books: Cats for Dummies (bought before I got my cat to help me prepare), and Tribe of Tiger, which was a gift. I thought ToT was interesting, but the non-cat parts were depressing. (I’m still haunted by some of the descriptions of “civilization”‘s effects on native wildlife).

  25. LynnSusan says

    I was brought up as a “dog person”, but became a “cat person” as an adult.
    Cats are fascinating creatures and the stuff of legend. I have several cat books–one by Desmond Morris. The one I refer to frequently is called “The Total Cat”, not scientific, but good practical advice regarding introductions of new animals into the household, elimination behavior problems etc. But I think that there is a dearth of cat literature to choose from–is that cause or effect?

    I never tried to train my cats, but both come running to me when I call their names, they stop behaviors when I ask them to (one tries to open closed doors in the middle of the night and rattles the door knobs, but he will always stop when I ask him nicely to “Knock it off!”) they invent games, and my little patch tabby has a puppy’s obsession with a game of Fetch. They problem solve. I actually think that cats’ intelligence is frequently underrated. It is just not as measurable to us the way that a dog’s intelligence is. We base a dog’s intelligence on things we want them to do. Cats intelligence is evidenced inthe way we do what they want us to do.

    Canines live in family groups whereas felines are largely solitary in the wild, and that may be the key to the difference in how we draw them each into our lives. My dog needs me, emotionally, but my cats—ah, my cats– feed me emotionally, with no quid pro quo.

    I love my dog, but she’s the last dog I will ever have. I will,however, always have a cat.

  26. Kristin T says

    Here is another question: Why don’t so many cat owners take their cats to the vet regularly? Far more people own cats than dogs, but far more dogs have preventative health care. Many people have both dogs and cats and only bring the dog in regularly. An often heard phrase at the animal hospital where I work is “she doesn’t go outside so she doesn’t need to come in”. While I have no desire to engage in an argument about vaccines, there are so many things that an annual wellness exam can look at. Who brushes their cat’s teeth? Almost no one and many cats suffer quietly with painful mouths. Routine bloodwork can uncover so many things at an early stage when treatment has its best chance to work. Cats get heartworm disease too! If infected their lungs can be seriously damaged and a single mature heartworm can kill an otherwise healthy cat. I could go on and on, but I’m sure you get my point. I think possibly that many cat owners are simply unaware, much like 40 years ago dogs were treated very differently than they are now. I’d love to read some responses from cat owners, and for the record I too tend to take my cats in for care much less often than I do my dogs!

  27. Dena Norton says

    Our household is one of the many dog- and cat-owning ones. I’m pleased to say that I *DO* have a few cat-behavior books on my shelves. They are greatly outnumbered by the dog-related books, but many of those relate to either dog-sports or teaching puppy classes. I actually find that many of the things I learned from dog books are also helpful with our cats.

  28. J9 says

    The reason why I haven’t bought/read as many cat books as dog books is because our 3 cats trained themselves as well as us. They are very well-mannered, use the litter box, tell us when they want to go outside or come inside, and understand when I ask them not to climb the window screens and that they are allowed to scratch the tennis balls on the chair legs. They also have us trained to give them the food that they want if they prefer something other than what we are offering. They know that when Edith and Arthur come over that he will give them frozen mouzies and they know what it means when the bag is empty.

    I have read many books on cat nutrition since we had never been a human to any animals before 2004 but not so many books on dog nutrition because the dog lets us know what she wants to eat and how much. As a smallholder, I don’t have the same work expectations of cats (I only want them to keep the rodent population down and keep us company.) as I do dogs (I want her to help me herd the sheep and goats, deter predators such as foxes by her presence, keep me company, ) which requires training on MY part (hence all the books, clinics, and asking questions of my friends who are doing it all) since the dog already knows how to do it.

  29. nan marks says

    fascinating topic, I’ve been chewing on it once I got past my personal guilt. Yes I have both dogs and cats, love and am fascinated by both. I do have books on both but far more books on dogs. I think the points made about training are true, I’m an endless consumer of dog training and dog relationship building books where as I don’t really expect to train my cats (or at least anywhere near as much) instead, if the behavior is not dreadful, I tend to adapt around them (and become a better person for it I expect). In some ways I suspect I’m driven to understand all aspects of my dogs behavior but often because I may want to either meddle with it or take advantage of it. With my cats I am far less inclined to meddle and perhaps even inclined to preserve some of the mystery. That said I read your line “isn’t cat behavior fascinating” and I realize yes it is and now I am eager to do some reading on it. Related thought–I realize though that this book bias extends even into stories and fiction and there I think it is the issue of dogs being in more aspects of our lives making the books more about humans and animals, the interactions between them and the interactions between the human and animal team and the world at large.

    Two other notes:

    First I was away (at dog camp) and catching up. Your tale of Lassie’s deep slumbers really touched me. I’ve recently faced those days with a beloved 22 year old cat. Towards the end sometimes I was not sure what I hoped for when I touched him to check for breath. Treasure all the good days–I know you will.

    Second a thought for your pod cast. I don’t suggest this in an early segment, starting with gloom is probably a poor choice. At some point though I think it would be great if you discussed bloat. I am educated enough to be aware of it and to carefully avoid the potential triggers (food/water/exercise/anxiety combos) and I thought I knew what to look for but a few weeks ago my 10 year old rough collie bloated late at night and I almost went to bed (in fact I did lie down for 3 minutes before shooting up). I think I expected I would see some abdominal tension, a bit of distention or rigidity, a bit more of something. All that really happened was that he paced, couldn’t settle (he’d curl up but 10 minutes later move), and seemed to have gone inside himself to a place I couldn’t reach and comfort. Ironically since I got him from rescue we had to spend a lot of time desensitizing him to someone being near his rear end. He still jumps up if my lab curls next to him and hits his bum. When she did that and he didn’t shoot up but then popped up 10 minutes later and paced it was my real cue something was very off. When I shot out of bed saying this is just wrong he did then try to vomit without producing anything. I took him to the emergency clinic in the middle of the night sure I would pay a great deal to be told I was a paranoid fool. Instead they said his stomach was 180 degrees torsed. It was, however, about the earliest they’d seen and there was no tissue damage. My apologies for rambling on but I consider myself an informed and careful dog owner and I almost blew this one–I’ve now become an apostle for education and you’re reach is powerful.

  30. Kat says

    I have two cats and several cat books. There are several reasons that I don’t have more. First, I haven’t learned much that I didn’t already know from the books I have now which doesn’t argue much in favor of buying more. Second, there aren’t that many books to choose from, it’s something of a self-fulfilling prophecy on the part of the publishers, give me good books that have information I want and I’ll happily buy them. And third, it is much easier to physically control either of my cats should I need to than my 80 lb. dog so I don’t feel as great a need to understand what makes them tick so that I can keep them under control. The dog goes with me everywhere he can. The cats prefer not to travel if they can possibly avoid it. The dog greets visitors, the cats avoid visitors. I have a greater need to have a well mannered canine in a variety of social settings.

  31. says

    I find these blog responses to be wonderfully revealing. Much mention is made about either having or not having cat behavior books, but little is said about cat books pertaining to the health of our kitties. I’m wondering if people view cat health books (and the need to have them or not) as they do books on feline behavior and training.

  32. carolyn says

    Thank you for the book suggestion. I’ve added it to my reading list. Can you recommend any other worthwhile reads?

  33. Jane says

    I just started reading your blog, what a great thing it is! I have a dog and one cat (one died in October :-( )
    I have both but many more dog books even though I have had a dog for less time. I don’t think the cat books are as good. If you have read one, you have read them all. I would love to read something new. More of the cat books are on health issues as recent cats both had IBD.

    I have clicker trained my cats. My late cat could do a decent high five. I also clickered him to come out of the closet as people didn’t think I really had a cat. I think cats learn very well but it seems a little more contrived than a dog, since my dog goes all sorts of places.

    Sushi is lovely and such a good photo!

  34. says

    I think there are two reasons. One is the one mentioned by a few folks…culturally speaking, our dog’s behavior reflects on us as people. We expect to be able to take our dogs out in public and have them be reasonably well behaved.

    The other reason I don’t think anyone has mentioned yet. We *want* to think of our cats as untrainable. That’s what we like about cats. They are totally self-contained and if I died on the couch and couldn’t feed them for several days, they would totally eat me. The dog probably would too, but that isn’t part of our cultural mythology. If you want the sort of animal to which you apply behavior modification techniques, you get a dog. If you want the sort of animal that you can leave to fend for itself in the barn, you get a cat (even if you live 20 miles from the nearest barn and your cat will never leave the apartment). This cultural myth doesn’t reflect the reality of the trainability of cats of course, just our beliefs about them and the role we want them to play.

  35. Mary Ellen says

    I am not sure why others do not buy book, but I know why haven’t (and I have a huge cat issue with jackcrash). They just are not at local bookstores or in the library. most of the books on cats are for kittens, or are picture books. It’s very frustrating. I have read lot’s of interesting and informative theories and ideas, (found online) but not about my cat. I have a cat on dog aggression problem, and sexual problem. jack either loves Floyd or hates him and is very aggreessive in his displays. He is reacting to outside smells (cat, birds etc). The problem seems to be taken out on the dog, who comes in from my small urban yard smelling like the great outdoors.
    I have googled cat behavior many times and simply do not ever get books like the one you have posted. i would be willing to buy it, but will it cover such an odd issue? not sure. The most help i got was from a vet who has him on prozac in certain seasons, and took chicken out of his diet (chinese meds)

  36. Terry says

    Although the number of books related to canine behavior and nutrition do by far outnumber the cat books on my shelves, I do have quite the collection on cats. Cats are remarkable creatures. I did not start out being a “cat” person. I liked them well enough but never really appreciated their individual character. I cannot even imagine my life without a cat. I also never expected the positive, comical interaction between my cat and 2 dogs. (My cat joined our houshold at 7 yrs old, having never seen a dog. One of my dogs had never interacted with a cat.) I always tell my husband that a cat gives a home “character.” By the way, he’s on his way to becoming a convert, but I’m sure he would not admit it…………yet.

    As for training, or inability to train a cat – I needed to find a way to replace our Teddy’s need to claw our carpet. I clicker trained him in one evening to use a slanted post (he is both a horizaontal and vertical scratcher). I’m sure he thinks that he trained me and that may be true. All I know is that he now finds it rewarding to use the post and NOT the carpet. Also with use of the clicker, he now sits nicely to have his nails trimmed on all four feet by the Peticure.

    I have noticed that when I peruse the shelves in the bookstore, the cat selection is lacking.

    Two of my favorite books on cat care and behavior are “The Cat Bible” by Tracie Hotchner and “Your Cat” by Elizabith M. Hodgkins. No matter how many cat books you’ve read, these will give new information and insight into the nutritional needs, health and behavior of your feline friends.

  37. RTL says

    It’s a very good question. I’m certainly one of the people you refer to–I love my cat dearly, to the point of not minding medicating her twice a day or spending $81/mo in medication. I knew when I brought her home that there was a chance she had serious medical problems. I knew I could handle it. But I do not now own a single cat book.

    Part of it is that I don’t see any cat books in my local bookstores. Well, let me rephrase that… I do not see any cat books about cat behavior or training. I see books on cat breeds, but I’m not interested in that.

    Could I search these seemingly elusive cat behavior books out online and purchase one? Most definitely! But I admit to being wary as the last cat behavior book I read included tips on inducing false labor in a cat (with a q-tip!) to end a heat cycle.

    So, I have read cat behavior books (at the library), but they were old and outdated. I do not yet own any cat books. I may yet buy some. And one day I may have questions about cat behavior. But as of this writing, my cat’s health is improving and she has no behavioral problems (knock on wood). Also, I tend to borrow ideas for training dogs to work with my cat. (I’m clicker training my cat. I used a clicker and yummy treats to desensitize my cat to my dog and vice versa. It worked great!).

  38. Cassie says

    I never gave much thought to training cats since they always seemed to do that themselves. Then I adopted “Kittenface”, a traditional style siamese that is ALWAYS into something, trying to get me (or the dog) to play fetch with him, or demanding he be a part of the household activities.

    And then I realized the sheer entertainment of clicker training a cat.
    It just takes a little more patience than training most dogs, and the desire to find a good motivating reward.

    I too have tons of dog books, but all of my cat book are coffee table books, beautiful to look at, but no behavioral information.

    And even in vet school during my behavior rotations, the cat behavior cases we saw were always much less complex than the dog cases, which never really made me interested in searching out more. (there were also far fewer of them, as people seem less inclined to take their cat for a behavior consult as well)

  39. Bronwyn says

    The timing of finding your website, and consequently your question on cat books is actually perfect for me.

    When I was growing up not only was I a dog person, but I HATED cats. In retrospect I realize that I simply met a disproportionate number of ‘mean’ cats. My husband, however, LOVES cats and it only took a year of marriage before he convinced me to get a cat. Since then I’ve learned to like cats generally speaking and love the ones we own. Now with three cats ranging in age from 9 months to 8 years (all rescues) and still waiting for the right time to add a dog to our family I recently started wondering why I have read virtually every dog book I can get my hands on, but have never read a cat behaviour book.

    This led me to getting out a book from the library which was purportedly on cat behaviour. Having read through the book I am actually disappointed. I was expecting something along the lines of ‘cats engage in behaviour X because of biological/phychological/social/other reason A and a good way to solve it is . . . ‘, instead what I got was a series of chapters dealing with an individual cat’s problem behaviour, detailing the behaviour and then saying that it was the result of, lets say insecurity and that the cats confidence needs to be built up and perhaps a certain medication was also prescribed without saying very much about how the reason for the behaviour was arrived at or how to actually enact the solution.

    My own three cats have basically been treated like dogs (I knew no other way to train them) and as such have been socialized to a wide range of people and situations, come when called (well, usually), know where they are and are not allowed to be, and know some basic commands, one is even leash trained and plays fetch. Certainly I don’t have the same number of expectations of them as I would have of a dog, for example they know ‘lie down’, but not ‘sit’, but they are still expected to show good manners and be sufficiently responsive so that if they do find themselves in a dangerous situation a command can ‘save the day’.

    Cats, as it turns out, do make wonderful companions and I am more than happy with the level of training and socialization my cats have. That being said I would still love to know the why’s and wherefore’s of their behaviour and as such have decided to put more effort into finding good books on cat behaviour. I’ll certainly have to keep my eyes open for ‘Starting from Scratch’, but if the previous posts are any clue I suspect I will have a hard time finding the kind of books that might be satisfying.

  40. Rigel Morgan says

    I think all the previous posters have covered the issue but thought I’d add this tidbit. When it comes to fabric for sewing, cat prints are much more popular and have a greater variety to choose from.

    I was told by the sales person that cat people will buy prints with assorted cats but dog people seem to want just their breed, or at least a print that includes the breed they like best in the mix. Since there are so many breeds and colors there is less likelihood of finding your dog in a print so people choose things with dog bones and paw prints that are universal.

  41. Jane says

    Rigel, same with a whole host of other products: decorative tiles, t-shirts, totes, etc. You see a lot more generic cat items.

    I was over at Petsmart today, and got a dog book. There were maybe 20 (not counting breed books) books about dogs and two for cats. Not as extreme at the bookstore– but still more dog books than cat books.

    Casie, I agree. Clicker training cats is really fun, but it is more of a game to me. I have done useful behavior with it (using the cat box rather than the tub) but mostly I just play with it. I would love to have more help with it. There is a great yahoo group but only a tiny little book from Karen Pryor. I don’t know how many people would actually enjoy this though.

    –Jane

  42. says

    I don’t think cat people train their cats or really do anything else with them besides cuddling. They might do things around the cat, or for the cat, but there’s only so much you can do *with* a cat.

  43. Jane says

    Well Jorge, I don’t know. I really really love cats! But I might be a strange one in liking to clicker train my cat. (BTW, the cats do love it.) It is a way of bonding with your cat in a different way. I have heard of people who have used their cats as therapy cats and take them out like people take their dogs out. But that is surely the exception. There is something called “cat agility”. http://www.catagility.com/ Be sure you look at the pictures! You can also do youtube and get some interesting results. :-) There is also a cat clicker group on yahoo, but you have to join to look at the pictures.

    I don’t know if I am a cat person, as I am crazy about my dog as well.

    –des

  44. Kat says

    I had a new thought on this subject today. Could it be because dogs are so much like humans that we get tripped up by the differences but cats are much less like humans so the differences are less surprising and thus of less concern? Look at the number of parenting books, we’re the same species as our children but sometimes that just makes it harder to understand them.

  45. Jean says

    I’ve read Patricia’s books and booklets but I’m new to this website. My husband and I have 4 dogs and 8 cats, all rescued; but we have also had pedigreed pets plus other species. Everyone in my family, as far back as we can trace, has been an animal lover. I also have many books about dog behavior and training as well as breed books, and I have some cat books but they’re mostly coffee-table breed picture books. Cat behavior and health books seem to be more simplistic and boring than dog behavior books. As other posters have said, they should be labeled “for beginners only”. Others are depressing, like _Tribe of Tiger_ . I am a member of several rescue and humane groups so I see enough depressing things without choosing to read about them too. As also noted by others, there aren’t many cat books as compared to dog books; and cats don’t go on walks or to play groups. Cats are easily trained, but the cat wants to understand what’s in it for him – and a bribe won’t be enough. Dogs see training as play, while cats see it as a negotiation.

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