Books

Book Review: Your Cat – Simple New Secrets to a Longer, Stronger Life by Elizabeth M. Hodgkins, D.V.M., Esq.

Elizabeth Hodgkins, a successful veterinarian for more than twenty years, formerly served as Director of Technical Affairs at Hill’s Pet Nutrition, and as such, has had an insider’s view of one of the giants of the pet food industry.  In her book Your Cat – Simple New Secrets to a Longer, Stronger Life, Dr. Hodgkins raises the alarm regarding the dry pet food we feed our cats and the degenerative diseases that result from a diet that is completely contrary to what an obligate carnivore like the cat needs to thrive.

From kitten through adult life to the senior years, Dr. Hodgkins explores the full spectrum of proper cat care, and offers a closer look at the common chronic diseases that afflict so many cats – diabetes, kidney disease,  thyroid disease, allergies, heart disease, and more.  The underlying cause for many of these diseases, as well as the key to managing or even curing them, is nutrition.

I’ve been passionate about feline nutrition for a long time, and I’ve done a lot of research and reading about it, but I have not found a book that presents the reasons why cats need protein and not carbohydrates as the mainstay of their diet as succinctly and convincingly as this one.   Going back to the cat’s origins as a desert-dwelling predator, Dr. Hodgkins explains why cats cannot thrive on dry food, but need a high protein, low carbohydrate, moisture-based diet.  She examines the problems with today’s pet food industry with an insider’s view and explains in detail why dry food is so harmful for cats.  She offers her recommendations for what we should feed our cats, including how to choose the best canned food, or how to safely prepare raw food for cats.

She also takes a thorough look at many common feline diseases, sharing case histories of cats she has treated in her practice.  The stories are convincing and provide a wonderful resource as well as hope for cat owners who may be dealing with these conditions.

This book should be required reading for all cat parents – in a way, it’s almost like an “owner’s manual” for cats.  It should also be required reading for veterinarians.  Sadly, most veterinarians receive very little education on nutrition in veterinary schools, and what little they do receive is sponsored by the large pet food companies.  The science presented in veterinary school nutrition courses is based on limited in-house studies by the pet food companies that typically only test their products with an eye to proving what they want the studies to prove.  Dr. Hodgkins explains the limitations of these studies in detail in her book.

This book will change the way you view what you’re feeding your cat.  It will also change your view of the pet food industry and what you may have considered good cat nutrition.  Your cat will thank you!

Coming on Monday on The Conscious Cat:  learn more about why dry food is not a good choice for your cat.

Book Review and Giveaway: Vet Confidential by Louise Murray, D.V.M.

Vet Confidential – An Insider’s Guide to Protecting Your Pet’s Health is a must have for every pet parent’s library.  Written by an experienced and highly respected authority in the veterinary world, this book is a comprehensive guide to everything you need to know to ensure high-quality  health care for your furry family members.  

While much progress has been made in veterinary medicine, there is still a wide disparity in the level of care provided for pets, and choosing a veterinarian can be a daunting proposition.   Without knowing what to look for, pet owners may unknowingly wind up with substandard care.  Dr. Murray presents thorough information on a variety of topics, such as

  • how to choose a veterinarian
  • what to look for during your pet’s exam
  • when it’s time to seek a specialist
  • how to make sure your pet is properly monitored and protected during anesthetic procedures
  • proper pain management for your pet
  • the lowdown on vaccinations
  • the growing realm of alternative veterinary medicine
  • the latest pet insurance plans

I was particularly impressed with the chapter on the use and misuse of steroid medications.  This is one of the most notorious issues in the practice of conventional veterinary medicine, and many veterinarians are frustrated by what they feel is a misuse of this drug by some in the profession.  Dr. Murray looks at the issues surrounding steroids one by one, and explains why these drugs need to be used judiciously.

Filled with solid information and a variety of check lists and work sheets to help the reader put the information  in the book to practical use, this book will help pet parents become knowledgeable and effective advocates for their pet’s health.

I’m giving away one copy of this book to one lucky reader.  For a chance to win, please leave a comment telling me why you want to win this book .  For an extra chance to win, tweet about the giveaway or share on Facebook.  This giveaway ends Sunday, April 4.

Louise Murray, D.V.M., is the director of medicine at the ASPCA’s Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital in New York City.  Dr. Murray is a specialist in veterinary internal medicine and has appeared on national and local television, including ABC’s Good Morning America and World News Tonight, CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360 and American Morning, CBS’ The Early Show, and more.  She lives and works in New York City.
 
 

 

The Cats in My Life

Two weeks ago, Clea Simon told us about her fictional cats in The Cats in the Pages.  Today, she shares some of the stories of her real life cats with us.

Guest post by Clea Simon

Before James came into my life, I knew too much about certain areas of life, but in terms of cats, I was feline ignorant. Roughly eight years old when my older brother brought home the black-an-white tom, I’d lavished my affection on turtles, hamsters, and one particularly fine toad (named Dyatt), finding my best family in these four-legged creatures. But never, before James, was my nearest and dearest a cat.

James, when he came to us, wasn’t particularly my pet. My brother had adopted him at college and, as is so often the case, only discovered afterward that cats are not allowed in dorms. Thus, his next trip home he brought the large thumbed cat to stay with us – only temporarily, we were told. But James – full name, James from Nashville (no, I don’t know why) – soon became a full-fledged member of a family that was, in many ways, odd.

Like so many cats of that era, this being the ‘70s, our family’s approach to James was very live and let live, a condition that I might now associate with neglect. In many ways, this was symptomatic of other elements of my family, which had been disrupted early on by the schizophrenia of my brother and my sister, and my parents’ inability to communicate, or cope. But in the case of cat care, I suspect it was largely out of ignorance that we let James wander at will, and soon he – an intact male – was getting into fights. Half the kittens in town resembled him, or had his big mitten-like paws. The other half resembled the hated “red cat,” whom we would see in our yard on occasion and against whom we united as a family, often yelling at the orange-red tom to scat even when James was happily napping on one of our beds.

James returned our hospitality by keeping us well stocked with a variety of prey. The local voles, we discovered soon enough, didn’t agree with him, and after a while he would bring those in whole. We couldn’t figure out why we were only the recipients of squirrel tails, however. Was he only able to catch onto the end of these fast arboreal rodents? We were disabused of this rather silly notion when we found his cache, under a dormer window. He was bringing us the tails – and keeping the rest for himself.

His freedom would bring him to tragedy. A fighter as well as a lover, he often disappeared for days, often coming back with wounds that we’d wash and try to treat, usually from animal combatants, sometimes of more mysterious origin. I still remember the morning he slunk in, covered in motor oil and heavy green paint. Sick, listless, and heaving, he’d obviously tried to clean himself, with disastrous effects. After attacking my mother in a panic when she’d tried to rinse him off, we wrapped him up in a beach towel and rushed him over to a neighbor. She had been raised on a farm and would brook no nonsense from a cat. While we watched, wringing our hands, she submerged the howling tom in a basin of soapy water and scrubbed him clean. By the time she was blow drying him, all the while holding him firmly by the scruff of his neck, he wasn’t even mewing. My mother got a tetanus shot. Our neighbor, Jeannie, undoubtedly saved his life. When he went missing before a ferocious summer storm, several years later, we waited for such a return, calling for him all around the neighborhood. He was gone.

But we were hooked, and James was followed by Thomas, who was hit by a car. A neighbor brought his still body to us, crying, and influenced forever my “indoors only” policy. Tara was next, the cat of my teen years, and I missed her more than I missed my family when I went to college. When I returned after my sophomore year, for a brief break, my mother broke it to me that my tuxedo’d pet, had died in a freak accident weeks earlier. Later that day, I was told that my brother had died, too, during my absence – committing suicide after years of disappointment, of hospitalizations, and dashed dreams.  I remember my shock and disbelief, that these essential beings were gone – and that I hadn’t known – but my family has always been silent, and I didn’t question my parents further. I returned to college quietly devastated, and determined to avoid the kind of toxic secrets my family held onto so tightly.

Small wonder, perhaps, that after graduating, some of my closest bonds were with my cats. First, there was Cyrus, my eminence grisé – a longhaired grey who served as confidante, comforter, and wise counselor for sixteen years. A quiet cat, Cyrus was a gentleman from kittenhood on. In fact, the only time he ever bit me – when I was trying to remove a piece of Styrofoam from his mouth (he did have a bad Styrofoam habit) – was an accident. He looked at me, then, as shocked as I was, and swallowed the foam pellet. It passed through him safely, and until the day my husband and I had him put to sleep, he remained a devoted and sweet companion.

Musetta, as my readers will know, is every bit as sweet. But compared to Cyrus’s gentlemanly behavior, she’s a regular riot grrrl – a rowdy punk rocker of the feline world. Where Cyrus would rarely mew, perhaps gracing us with his near-silent open-mouthed “meh,” Musetta is a chatterbox. Demanding, too, and capable of an amazing range and volume when she wants something or simply has something to express. She also, I am embarrassed to admit, likes to bite. Not hard – never hard – but after a morning spent watching squirrels out the window, she’ll display some displaced aggression by pouncing on my foot, throwing a paw over it, and neatly nipping at where my foot’s spine would be, were it in fact a small independent animal. Should I have trained her otherwise? Possibly so, but I confess, after so much loss – after my own silent childhood – I love my cat’s freedom of expression. I love the joy she takes in life, her spirit. Her will. 

At times, I think I love all the cats in my life for all the ways they are themselves, for they are the model of what I aspire to be.

***

Be sure to check out Clea’s brand new release, Grey Matters, the second book in the Dulcie Schwartz series.  And you’ll get a chance to ask Clea questions about her books, her cats, writing, murder mysteries, and more during our teleseminar on Tuesday, March 30 at 8pm Eastern

Clea Simon is the author of the Dulcie Schwartz and Theda Krakow mysteries and the nonfiction The Feline Mystique – On the Mysterious Connection Between Cats and Their Women as well as several other nonfiction books.  For more information about Clea, please visit her website or her blog.

The Cats in the Pages

Guest post by Clea Simon

“How’s Musetta?” These days, people I know ask about my cat more often than about me. “Is she still plump? Have you had her teeth cleaned yet?”  While I answer (well, yes, and soon again) with the facts about my real cat, the flesh-and-blood feline who often sleeps in a chair behind me as I work, snoring gently, I know that’s not who they really mean. These inquiries are often from readers, and they’re really addressed to my little pet’s black-and-white doppelganger: the feline heroine of my Theda Krakow series.

I started writing those books in 2003. By the time the first, Mew is for Murder, was published in 2005, the real Musetta – whom we adopted in 2001 – was already a full-grown housecat. But in the book, she’s still a tiny little tuxedo kitten, an awkward lost stray who wanders into my heroine’s life and steals her heart. She grows up in the subsequent books – Cattery Row and Cries and Whiskers – to the point where she has “fish breath” and needs that dental appointment in Probable Claws. And by that point, I have managed to not only endanger her person, Theda, and several of their two- and four-legged friends, but also Musetta herself, as my real kitty has never, ever been. When the fictional Musetta apparently gets lost in a wild winter storm in Cries and Whiskers, I had trouble writing. (The real Musetta is indoors only, though she did once creep up my apartment’s back stairs and gave me a scare.) When she gets into worse trouble – I’m not telling – I found that I was typing as fast as I could, and had to remind myself to breathe. Only the presence of the flesh-and-blood jellicle on the chair behind me reassured me, and helped me finish the scene.

In many ways, this literary version of my pet is restorative for me. After all, she was first introduced in my nonfiction book,  The Feline Mystique. She is the kitten I adopt after the death of my long-time pet Cyrus, the little bundle of love that begins to heal my broken heart. And I get to relive that reawakening, that healing, that warmth, every time I write about her, particularly every time I risk her in some fictional adventure – and then get to write about how happy she is, safe home at last, in Theda’s arms.

But there’s another side of feline love, and I have tried to bring that to the pages of my Dulcie Schwartz books: “Shades of Grey” and the new Grey Matters. These books deal with a beloved cat, very much like my Cyrus, who is no longer with us. But unlike the real Cyrus, who lives on in my heart and my memory, Mr. Grey remains a palpable presence in Dulcie’s life. As we so often hope our pets will, perhaps in part of our hearts believe they do, he stays with his person. A loyal cat to the last, Mr. Grey appears when Dulcie needs him – when she discovers her roommate’s body or falls out with her boyfriend, her professor, and her roommate –  and, unlike the real cats in my Theda books, he also dispenses advice, going over her various predicaments with the kind of bemused affection I always imagined a cat would have.

I wrote him like that because this is so often what I wanted, after Cyrus was gone. And it was so often what I felt I almost had – the voice I almost heard in the wind, the weight and warmth at the foot of the bed As for the rest, I figured that, as a ghost, he would be exempt from most of the restrictions placed on real cats. But because he is, after all, still a cat in spirit – if not in body – his advice would be enigmatic and loving, wise but never exactly direct.

While I have thoroughly enjoyed writing Theda and Musetta, and like to think that even without words, Musetta managed to make herself very well understood, I’m enjoying this new direction. Correction: I love writing a talking cat. It’s so much fun! Like our real pets, our fictional cats can have such distinct personalities. And since I’m now meeting them in the realm of fiction, I am free to let them express themselves however they want.  It is liberating.

A confession: At various times, I have spoken out against “talking cats” in mysteries – and now I’m living to happily eat my words. In fact, I am now sending around yet another mystery manuscript, a book in which the protagonist – a bad-girl animal psychic – takes a lot of grief from her cat, a crotchety tabby named Wallis. And I am also preparing to start on yet another Dulcie Schwartz book, too. So as I begin to think about “Dulcie #3” (as my publisher calls it  – I’m thinking “Grey Zone”), I find myself listening – an ear for the wind, for my real-life Musetta’s purr – hoping to catch Mr. Grey’s voice, once again.

Clea Simon is the author of the Dulcie Schwartz and Theda Krakow mysteries and the nonfiction The Feline Mystique – On the Mysterious Connection Between Cats and Their Women as well as several other nonfiction books.  For more information about Clea, please visit her website or her blog.

Book Review: Grey Matters by Clea Simon

I had been eagerly anticipating the release of Grey Matters from the moment I finished Shades of Grey, which was the first book in Clea Simon’s Dulcie Schwartz series.  Grey Matters picks up a few months after the end of Shades of Grey (click here to read my review of Shades of Grey).  Dulcie is a doctoral student at Harvard university who is fascinated with 18th century Gothic novels.  She is deeply immersed in the fall semester, hard at work on her thesis, and frustrated with her thesis advisor, who seems distracted and uninterested in her work.  When she finds the body of a fellow graduate student on her advisor’s doorstep, her life gets even more complicated. 

Her best friend is busy with her own studies and a new man in her life, Dulcie’s boyfriend is working long hours and seems to be withdrawn and distracted, she hits a significant snag in her thesis, and finds herself on her own as she gets caught up in investigating the murder.   The ghost of Mr. Grey, her beloved deceased cat, returns to offer his wise and comforting, but often veiled and cryptic advice.  Dulcie’s new kitten is trying her best to make her way into Dulcie’s heart, but since she doesn’t “speak” to Dulcie in the same way as Mr. Grey’s ghost, it’s slow going on that front.

Immensely likeable and multi-dimensional characters, exceptional plotting, and a fascinating academic setting make this a highly entertaining and enjoyable read.  The cats are an important part of the book.  Unlike other cat-themed mysteries, they do not help with solving the crime, but rather, are an integral part of the story.  I absolutely loved the ending of this book. 

A real treat for cat lovers and mystery lovers alike!

Clea Simon is the author of the Dulcie Schwartz and Theda Krakow mysteries and the nonfiction The Feline Mystique – On the Mysterious Connection Between Cats and Their Women as well as several other nonfiction books.  For more information about Clea, please visit her website or her blog.

Book Review: Wagging Tales by Tim Link

Wagging Tales: Every Animal Has a Tale , subtitled Conversations with Our Animal Friends, is a collection of conversations animal communicator Tim Link held with a series of cats, dogs, and even a praying manthis. 

From the publisher:  Many people have a special bond with animals, but few have the ability to understand the innermost thoughts, feelings, and desires of different creatures. Author Tim Link is one such individual–a man blessed with the ability to communicate with animals telepathically.

In this book, the author details some of his most dramatic and moving encounters with the animal kingdom. From helping a lost cat find her way home to comforting a Catalan sheepdog after back surgery, Link shares stories that are both entertaining and heartfelt. A full-time animal communicator and a Reiki energy healer for animals, Link has never failed to reach an animal, even if that animal has transitioned to the next world. In these dramatic and moving stories, Link describes how he communicates with animals, not only in words, but also through feelings, smells, tastes, emotions, and images. By building powerful intuitive connections with other species, Link has transformed the lives of numerous animals and the people who care for them. His stories will transform the lives of readers as well, as they learn to open their minds and hearts to all creatures great and small.

Whether it’s a story of joy, loneliness, or redemption, every animal has a tale, and Tim Link has brought magically resonant tales to life in this powerful collection of stories.

My own experience with animal communication has been that each communicator develops his or her own unique style of accessing and relaying the information they receive from the animals they communicate with.  The spectrum ranges from those who connect directly with the animal’s spiritual nature and convey profound messages of insight and guidance, to others who relay more practical messages.   This book offers a look at how animal communication works for this particular animal communicator.  The stories are sometimes charming, and sometimes heartbreaking.  The author’s love for animals and delight in his role as interpreter between the species as well as his desire to build stronger relationships between animals and humans comes through in each tale told.  

This is a light-hearted and quick read,filled with lots of practical insights about what animals think and feel about their lives, from human work schedules that they don’t like to why they don’t want to share their toys.  The book offers an entertaining and unique look at animals, along with lovely photos and practical pet care tips. 

Tim Link is President and CEO of Link’s Wagging Tales, Inc.  He has been featured nationally and internationally in numerous articles and television and radio programs.  Tim and his wife live near Atlanta, GA, with their many pets.  For more information about Tim, please visit his website.

FTC full disclosure:  a review copy of this book was sent to me by the author.

Book Review and Giveaway: Why My Third Husband Will Be a Dog by Lisa Scottoline

third husband

While not technically a book about animals, Why My Third Husband Will Be a Dog– The Amazing Adventures of an Ordinary Woman by crime fiction author Lisa Scottoline deserves to be reviewed here because Scottoline’s love for her assorted menagerie of dogs, cats, and chickens comes through in almost every single one of this collection of her wildly popular columns from The Philadelphia InquirerScottoline writes about life, love, family, pets, and murderous toasters, among many other things.  As a woman of a cetain age, you will find yourself nodding your head in recognition, laughing out loud, and applauding the author for both her irreverance and her sense of humor as well as her deeply felt and beautifully expressed love for her family, both human and furry.

I love Scottoline’s novels and I’ve always wondered about how much of herself was in her heroines’ characters.  This book answers that question, and it made me like a favorite author even more.  

In some of the animal related chapters, she writes about her two kittens; one of whom adores her, and the other, in the author’s words, “wishes me dead.”  She writes about Ruby, the corgi on Prozac.  She writes about Lucy, her golden dog in more than just breed. 

Here are some examples of Lisa’s wit and wisdom:

“Mothers are a natural force and maybe an alternate source of fuel.”

“I have never been in an accident, unless you count my two marriages.”

“My mother taught us that if you eat baked beans from a can that has dents, you will get botulism.  This was before people injected botulism into their faces.  Nowadays, the dented can will kill you, but you’ll look young.”

“Ruby (the Corgi) was intended to replace Francesca (her daughter), which is not working out exactly as planned.  How many parents can say that their dog is on drugs but their kid isn’t?”

I thoroughly enjoyed this book.  These brief, funny, sometimes biting, but always warm-hearted slices of life will resonate with most women, and they will also delight animal lovers.

For more information about Lisa Scottoline, please visit her website.

I’m giving away one copy of this book to one lucky reader – please leave a comment and tell me why you’d like to win this book.  Giveaway ends Friday, February 19.

Book Review: Guardians of Being

Guardians of Being combines the words of Eckhart Tolle, author of The Power of Now and A New Earth, with the whimsical illustrations of Patrick McDonnell, the creator of the MUTTS cartoons,  in a heartwarming, inspirational and joyful package.  The Oprah Magazine has called the book “an inspired collaboration between spiritual teacher Echkart Tolle and comic strip artist Patrick McDonnell.  A book to make you wiggle with joy.”

From the publisher:  “More than a collection of witty and charming drawings, the marriage of Patrick McDonnell’s art and Eckhart Tolle’s words conveys a profound love of nature, of animals, of humans, of all life-forms.  Guardians of Being celebrates and reminds us of not only the oneness of all life but also the wonder and joy to be found in the present moment, amid the beauty we sometimes forget to notice all around us.”

This is a book to be treasured.  The wisdom of the words, combined with the charming illustrations, make this a book to be savored, not just to be read.  Browsing through this book is an almost meditative experience, and it will most definitely remind the reader about what really matters in life.

Two of my favorite quotes from the book are:

Everything natural – every flower, tree, and animal – has important lessons to teach us if we would only stop, look, and listen.

Just watching an animal closely can take you out of your mind and bring you into the present moment, which is where the animal lives all the time – surrendered to life.

I have always believed that animals are amazing teachers.  It’s nice to see that I’m in good company.  Treat yourself to this book – and while you’re at it, pick one up for your closest friend.

Book Review: Unexpected Miracles by Dr. Shawn Messonier, D.V.M.

unexpected-miracles-book-coverUnexpected Miracles – Hope and Holistic Healing for Pets is a must read for anyone interested in integrative medicine, holistic health and natural remedies for pets.  Dr. Shawn Messonier, D.V.M.  is a nationally recognized authority on holistic pet care and integrative medicine.  He is the author of the award winning Natural Health Bible for Dogs & Cats, the host of the weekly radio show Dr. Shawn, The Natural Vet on Martha Stewart Radio, and his column  The Holistic Pet is featured in newspapers throughout the United States.  He owns Paws and Claws Animal Hospital in Plano, Texas.

From the publisher:  Dr. Shawn Messonnier has been a veterinarian for more than fifteen years. Once a conventional practictioner, he’s embarked on a crusade to help pet owners keep their treasured furry friends healthy and happy, treating each patient not as a disease but as a unique living entity. Dr. Messonnier brings the reader into his waiting room and introduces them to some remarkable animals…and the courageous owners who never gave up on their pets. Using case studies and higlighting diseases that commonly afflict our pets, Dr. Messonnier shows us the integrative methods he has developed to help these creatures not only survive the maladies they were originally diagnosed with but in many cases go on to live long and healthy lives.  Unexpected Miracles will change the way you think about your  pet’s healthcare forever.

The book is a fascinating collection of often heartwarming stories of cats and dogs who were either given a poor prognosis, a death sentence or a completely wrong diagnosis, and whose owners were coming to Dr. Messonier in hopes of finding a cure or at the very least a way to help their pet live a longer life.  It also offers a thorough look at what truly integrative medical, or in this case, veterinary, care really means.  An integrative approach to veterinary care uses both conventional treatments, commonly thought of as Western medicine, and natural, alternative and holistic treatments ranging from supplements to herbs to acupuncture.  By taking a truly holistic approach, Dr. Messonier treats the patient, not the disease, and uses the best of all available treatment options to achieve optimal healing for each individual patient.  This includes looking at the pet’s environment and potential exposure to toxins, reducing vaccinations from the old paradigm of annual “shots” to only those required by law or no vaccinations at all, to eliminating by-products and low quality ingredients from the pet’s diet.

While each story shared in this book is about the individual pet and the condition the pet’s owner sought help with, there are definite commonalities in all the cases, and it’s these commonalities that will give the reader a thorough understanding of what an integrative approach to health is truly all about.

In addition, the book is a testament to how much we love our pets and that most of us will go to great lenghts to find ways to keep these wonderful creatures happy and healthy by giving them the best possible care.

I think this book should be on every pet owner’s book shelf as not only a reference book, but also as a reminder that sometimes, hope is the best medicine.

For more information about Dr. Messonier, visit his website at http://www.petcarenaturally.com.

Book Review: Houdini by T. J. Banks

Houdini coverFrom the publisher: 

A Siamese only gives his heart to a human once.  For Houdini, an abandoned, down-on-his luck Siamese kitten, that human is Jill Leonard.  After smuggling him home on an airplane, Jill gives Houdini a good home with her other cats.  It’s not long before Houdini settles into life as a loved pet.  Hidden dangers abound when he inadvertently strays from home.  Will Houdini ever find his way back home?

This description hardly does the book justice.  Houdini is a wonderful story for adults and children, and is sure to melt the heart of any cat lover.   Most of the story is told from Houdini’s perspective, and the author’s deep connection with the feline soul shows in every word.  You’ll fall in love with Houdini from the very first chapter.  Banks masterfully shares Houdini’s story from a cat’s point of view, from his despair at being abandoned to his joy when he meets his special person.  You’ll delight in sharing Houdini’s world.  His interaction with other cats, and with the humans in his life, as told from his perspective, are recounted with the sensitivity and grace you’d expect from a feline.  You’ll appreciate the special relationship he shares with Jill, his person.  You’ll worry for him and with him when he gets lost.   You’ll find your heart in your throat as you live through the dangers he encounters as he’s trying to find his way back home.

This is not the kind of book that you’d expect to be unable to put down, but for me, it was exactly that.  It’s impossible to not fall in love with this sweet cat, and you’ll find yourself nodding your head in recognition as you compare some of Houdini’s observations and personality traits to those of the felines in your life.  The book is a celebration of the unconditional love between cats and their humans, as told by one very special Siamese.  Four  paws up for Houdini!

T.J. Banks is the author of  A Time for Shadows and Catsong.  Her work has appeared in numberous anthologies, including Chicken Soup for the Single Parent’s Soul and A Cup of Comfort for Women in Love.  She lives with her daughter Marissa and their cats and rabbits in a sometimes peaceable, but always interesting kingdom in Connecticut.

I previously reviewed T.J. Bank’s book Catsong right here on The Conscious Cat.  Click here to read the review.

Book Review: Cat Tales by Dr. Sharon Eisen and Linda Francese

Cat Tales book

Cat Tales is a heartwarming and inspirational collection of stories about cats that will make you smile, laugh and cry, sometimes all at the same time.  The stories will most certainly bring fond memories of all the cats that have graced your life, and they will make you love and appreciate your current feline companions even more.  These cats that come and go from our lives leave indelible pawprints on our hearts, and the authors have captured many of these special cats in the tales they share in their book.

There’s TiVo, the shy orange cat who tended to avoid human contact, and who broke through an autistic boy’s seemingly impenetrable shell of silence and showed him that it’s not so bad to be a little different, and in the process, taught the boy’s mother to be a little more patient and have a little more faith in the future.  There’s Chloe, the cat who saved her human’s life who was going through cancer treatments.  There’s Bentley, an international winning show cat whose beauty and huge spirit touched everyone he came into contact with and who turned his human from a die-hard dog lover into a cat-loving, cat-fancying addict.  There are many more stories like these, and they all touch the heart.

The book is interspersed with fascinating and entertaining facts about cats, and the photos that accompany each story enhance the tales being told.  Cat Tales celebrates cats in all their wonderful variety and glory, and it illustrates how much these wonderful creatures impact their humans’ lives in often unexpected ways.  A must read and a wonderful gift for any cat lover.

Dr. Sharon Eisen has been a practicing veterinarian since 1984.  In 1991, she realized her dream and opened a feline-only practice in Brookfield, CT.  The Complete Cat Clinic was the very first cat only hospital in the state.  In addition to devoting her career to the care and well-being of cats, Dr. Eisen has an abiding interest in the human-animal connection.  She has conducted programs in elementary schools to teach students about pet care.  She has led pet bereavement groups, and has brought cats and dogs to nursing homes to serve as pet therapists.

Linda Francese is a well-known radio personality for over 20 years, fulfilled a lifelong dream in 2004 and began working with cats as the head technician at the Complete Cat Clinic in Brookfield, CT.  A year later, she joined Dr. Eisen as co-owner of the Plaid Plus Cattery, breeding British Shorthair cats.  Mrs. Francese’s serious interest in the healing powers of the human-animal connection inspired her to co-author this book.