At turns hilarious and poignant, Lost Cat by Caroline Paul is a treasure – a simple story that reveals multiple truths and makes you laugh out loud.
Caroline Paul was home recovering from a serious accident when her beloved cat Tibby disappeared. Already weepy and depressed from the prolonged recovery, she was devastated. She and her partner Wendy (who provides charming and very funny illustrations) canvassed the neighborhood, posted flyers and finally mourned him as lost when, five weeks later, in strolls Tibby, fat and happy. Caroline was overjoyed – and suspicious. Where had he been all this time? How had her shy, timid cat survived the wilds of the outdoors? Why wasn’t he eating his food, yet remaining fit and healthy? Most of all, did he love someone else more?
Fueled by painkillers and jealousy, Caroline set out to find where Tibby went on his wanderings, seeking answers through GPS, cat cams, animal communication, pet psychics and pet detectives. With self-deprecating humor – and surprisingly moving insights – Caroline tells the story of their quest and what they found along the way – that technology is great but people are better, that bonkers is in the eye of the beholder. That you can never know your cat (or anyone for that matter), but that’s ok, love is better.
Highly recommended to anyone who has loved a cat, or a pet or anyone.
Brian Hare, dog researcher, evolutionary anthropologist, and founder of the Duke Canine Cognition Center offers revolutionary new insights into dog intelligence and the interior lives of our smartest pets in The Genius of Dogs.
In the past decade, we have learned more about how dogs think than in the last century. Breakthroughs in cognitive science have proven dogs have a kind of genius for getting along with people that is unique in the animal kingdom. Brian Hare’s stunning discovery is that when dogs domesticated themselves as early as 40,000 years ago they became far more like human infants than their wolf ancestors. Domestication gave dogs a whole new kind of social intelligence. This finding will change the way we think about dogs and dog training – indeed, the revolution has already begun. Hare’s seminal research has led him to work with every kind of dog from the tiniest shelter puppy to the exotic New Guinea singing dog, from his own childhood dog, Oreo, to the most fashionable schnoodle.
The Genius of Dogsis nothing less than the definitive dog book of our time by the researcher who started a revolution. (description from publisher)
This book is written by a dog. Granted, a very special dog — a golden retriever named Trixie. And even though Trixie passed away in 2007, she is still, remarkably, writing books. Of course, it probably helps that she was owned by bestselling author Dean Koontz, who may still have a little something to do with her success. In fact, Koontz states that theTrixie page on his website is one of the most visited features.
Trixie has inspired several books, including A Big Little Life, in which Koontz wrote about his relationship with his beloved pet. But she’s also inspired some new children’s books, such as I Trixie, Who Is Dog , the rights to which have recently been purchased in order to create a new family comedy show. But her speciality is definitely books such as Life is Goodor Bliss to You, which are written in dog-speak, as is if Trixie is narrating the story. Though for the most part, this is utterly charming, I’ll warn any ex-English teachers out there (myself included) that dogs apparently do not always use correct syntax. Still, the book is warm, funny, inspirational and short –you can easily find bliss in one short sitting — making it an ideal gift for dog-lovers come Christmas time.
One other reason to support these books: since Trixie originally served as a Canine Companions for Independence (before she went to live with Dean and Gerda) all royalties are donated to this organization.
I have found a new series to listen to as I drive around the Quad Cities and beyond. It is the “Chet and Bernie Series” from Spencer Quinn who introduces the world to two-legged Bernie, a down in his luck private detective and his four-legged pal Chet—a canine with a penchant for solving mysteries. In an interview with the author on how he decided on this series
A. My wife said, How about doing something with dogs? The basic building blocks came to me right there at the kitchen table: two detective pals; narration by the four-legged one; and all in the first person, which I’d never tried before in a novel. Plus the most important thing – Chet would not be a talking dog (or be undoggy in any way) but would be a narrating dog. Anything that thinks and has memory must have a narrative going on inside. I went to the office – over the garage, commuting distance fifteen feet – and wrote the first page. Then I wanted to know what happened next.
Chet is a mixed breed law academy dropout. Bernie is a retired police officer trying to be a private detective. Between Bernie’s divorce, Charlie his sone and Susie Sanchez, Bernie’s reporter girlfriend, Chet can’t catch a nap and is always on the alert. Chet has a dry sense of humor, which the reader, Jim Frangoine, does well.
These are wonderful books for those who enjoy the narrator being the four legged kind.
Deceptively slim and compact, this short novel really packs a punch. Told from the viewpoint of a house cat, emotions run from poignant to laugh-out-loud funny to bittersweet and sad. Through it all, this little cat delivers some great truths about humans and life with an uncanny eye for the truth.
Foudini, the title character in The Autobiography of Foudini M. Cat, starts life as a feral stray, born in a wall. When his mother fails to return one day, his cries alert a passing human who rescues him. Adopted by a young couple, he learns to trust the woman (who he calls “Warm”) and tolerate the man (“Pest”) He also becomes fast friends with the resident dog, Sam. Now the young and foolish kitten Grace has been added to the family and Foudini attempts to fill her in on the important issues of life. Through Foudini’s wise observations, we see the world from a cat’s perspective – fulfilling the basic needs of shelter and food to the more abstract necessities of attachment, friendship and love.
This is one of the funniest books I’ve ever read – Foudini’s disgust at Warm trying to “talk cat” or Grace’s complete disregard of his lessons are hilarious – yet Foudini remains thoroughly cat-like in his thoughts and reactions. Foudini also faces tragedy and loss and must learn to cope and move on – keep the tissues handy for this section. Beautifully written, this lovely story will stay with you long after you put the book away.
If you’re very lucky, you might run across the audio version of this book. However, it’s only available on cassette, is out-of-print and difficult to find. If you do find it, grab it. It’s narrated by David Hyde Pierce (most famous for playing Niles on the tv show “Frasier”) and is a gem of fine storytelling.
You may already be familiar with Marc Marrone – he has appeared on the Martha Stewart Show many times as a pet expert, giving helpful advice and information all while surrounded by a menagerie of animals. It’s a fascinating sight – birds, bunnies, kittens, gerbils – all adorable, all in perfect harmony, the living embodiment of a peaceable kingdom. Meanwhile, Marc calmly explains the best way to brush your cat’s teeth, or gives tips on caring for your iguana, while Harry, his giant red Amazon parrot perches on his shoulder.
A Man for All Species is Marc’s story and, while it’s not a guide to keeping pets, you’ll pick up all kinds of fascinating details that will help you enjoy and understand your pet. Marc owns Parrots of the World, one of the largest pet stores in the world, he is one of the largest exporters of ferrets to Japan (where they are wildly popular) and now Europe, exports birds (many of which he has bred and raised himself) all over the world but always makes time for the smallest birds and animals in his care. Cleanliness and their comfort and safety is always his primary concern.
Some of the most interesting sections of the book include his helping Orthodox Jews during Passover (no grain is allowed in the house during Passover so he has developed grain-free food for birds and small pets; also many cannot have an animal in the house during Passover and board their pets with Marc at his store) and his relationship with Martha Stewart – taping live television segments with animals can forge a strong friendship!
Through all the ups and downs and adventures of all sorts, Marc’s love of animals of all kinds remains unwavering and he shares that love and fascination with us in this fun book.
I’m going to cheat a little. All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot would be my choice, but I love all four in the “All Creatures” series.
The story begins with the author’s arrival in Yorkshire during the Depression when veterinary jobs were scarce. A city boy, James has to quickly learn how to care for horses and cows in very primitive conditions.
He soon learns to love the beauty of the Dales and his eccentric clients. His tales of caring for beloved pets as well as farm animals can be heartwrenching as the patient doesn’t always survive.
There is plenty of humor in his hilarious descriptions of the Yorkshire dialect, way of life, and diet, as well as his volatile boss Siegfried and Siegfried’s irresponsible yet charming brother Tristan.
Not only are the books laugh-out-loud funny but you come to know the village of Darrowby, James, Siegfried and Tristan so well that you never want to leave the little world that Herriot has created.
If you’re looking for book that will just plain make you feel good, look no further. I’ve just discovered Joyce Stranger, a prolific English author who writes novels about animals. That may sound horribly middle-brow and non-literary, but The Go-Between is surprisingly engaging and unpredictable.
The book focusses on Flyer, a Siamese kitten who loves people. He begins life with one family and ends up with a completely different, though equally loving, owner. Through the force of his personality, determination and will to survive , he influences everyone he meets. He also acts as a catalyst – bringing together neighbors who create a new sense of community.
If you ever need a recommendation for someone who wants a good story, with a little romance, and is completely G-rated, here you go.
Homer’s Odyssey by Gwen Cooper is a closely observed tale of a tiny black kitten who lost his sight early in his life.
Beginning his life as a stray in South Beach, Homer’s eyes became so infected that his eyes had to be removed when he was eventually rescued and treated by a vet. The vet, after many failures, finds Gwen who instantly bonds to Homer, only a few weeks old.
His new owner has her own set of challenges, not only adapting her household physically (eliminating obstacles and clutter and padding sharp corners) but also integrating the kitten with the two already ensconced feline inhabitants.
The author clearly adores the newest member of the family, but also studies Homer with a scientist’s eye for detail, as she works to understand the needs of her new kitten. She describes how his sense of hearing and touch compensate for his lack of sight.
Parts of the story are heartbreaking but Homer is the very essence of resilience. The author is careful not to attribute human attributes to her cats but obviously admires Homer’s bravery and his will to survive and thrive.
The book, Cooper says, is written for “those who think that normal and ideal mean the same thing.” They will come away with an appreciation of the “slightly left of…normal.”
This is the subtitle of Competability by Amy Shojai. She notes that there has always been much less research about cats and even less about the relationships of cats and dogs living in the same household.
She traces the integration of dogs (first) then cats into human families and how far domestication has gone in each species. Their senses affect their behavior; a fascinating chapter details how the dog’s extreme sense of smell and a cat’s powerful hearing affect how they relate to each other.
She also explains how an action such as rolling over is interpreted completely different by a cat and a dog. (Cats roll over to fight and dogs roll over in submission). Or tail wagging: “The dog approaching with a friendly wag is interpreted by the cat to be ready to attack; and the dog seeing the waving feline tail thinks it’s an invitation to approach and can’t understand why Kitty breaks the rules and slaps his nose.”
This book helps to bridge the communication gap – the largest being between humans and the canine/feline world…
Bad Behavior has blocked 402 access attempts in the last 7 days.