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Lee JA. Three Rivers Press (Random House), New York, USA, 2008. Paperback, 248 pp. ISBN 978-0-307-39350-0. $15.95.
This informal (chatty) text in question-and-answer format divided into 10 chapters covers the entire gamut of queries — there are 219 — veterinarians field about cats, and does so in palatable fashion. It is directed at a lay audience, one which is primarily female, given the character of much integral commentary and numerous asides, which can be off-putting to a male reader — and comments such as the flippant single-word response “Yes” to the question “Should I dump my boyfriend because he doesn’t like my cat?” don’t help.
In general, the information given is up-to-date and clearly presented. The author dispenses sensible advice (e.g., cat litter, cats’ claws) and dispels various myths (e.g., human equivalents of dog and cat years).
Dietary advice is generally on the mark, but some is contradictory. While noting in response to one question that cats are strict carnivores and recommending canned diets, in response to another question the author recommends dry food, which supposedly helps “scrape away plaque and tartar when they chew the food.” Beyond the fact that cats do not “chew” (masticate) as do humans and herbivores, remnants of carbohydrates (which generally constitute ~50% of dry diets) may adhere to the upper cheek teeth (all properly designated as carnassials, not molars or premolars, based on function) and promote plaque and tartar.
Somewhat disconcerting is the author’s assertion that the mechanism of purring is elusive (based on a single source, the author of which uses certain unscientific source material), when in fact the subject was long ago adequately elucidated (1).
The detailed table of contents and index make this a handy reference book. On the other hand, there is a paucity of references, which may be tolerable for the intended audience but which might prove frustrating to those seeking more in-depth discussion of various issues. The section on Internet resources is brief and parochial (i.e., only US Web sites) and could have been profitably expanded.
I only caught a couple of typographical and grammatical errors.
This is an engaging little reference manual for the cat lover and potentially too for veterinarians who wish to up their feline IQ.