Over the past 30+ years I’ve read hundreds of books about cats and I’ve learned something new from each one. I like to keep an open mind and even experts can and should keep learning. Educating yourself about cats is the best gift you can give your cat.
One book, described as an all-in-one resource for cat owners fits the bill from novices to experts. No matter how much you think you know about cats, I think you’ll learn something new from The Complete Cat’s Meow by the queen of pet experts, Darlene Arden. Written in easy to understand chapters interspersed with cat photos and info blocks, there is something for everyone. I especially liked the section on socializing kittens and what to consider before adopting a cat. With cats living longer than ever, a commitment to a cat may span 20+ years and is not to be taken lightly.
After reading, take action. Apply tips appropriate for your cat and keep observing your cat for cues from their behavior and body language. If there is a specific section that appeals i.e. cat breeds, diets, training, body language etc., I suggest reading a more detailed book on that specific topic. Keep learning.
While Ms. Arden and I espouse different behavioral approaches, we share much common ground, primarily the goal of helping and not harming an animal. I hope the scientific approach and the holistic, intuitive approach will one day dovetail for a greater fluency of speaking “Cat”.
Darlene Arden is an award-winning writer, lecturer, Certified Animal Behavior Consultant and one of the few lay members of The American Association of Human-Animal Bond Veterinarians.
- LMW: Cats are enjoying a statistical increase in popular interest. What’s your take on why cats are suddenly hot?
- DA: I think it’s because people perceive that they don’t require as much work as dogs and are less trouble. I hope some of them are going home to people who really do understand cats and what they need to thrive.
- LMW: You have an important section to a help a reader decide how, where, when and who to adopt. What is the most important consideration before adopting a cat or kitten?
- DA: Do you have the time to devote to a new family member? It’s a lifetime commitment of time, caring and love.
- LMW: You were an expert on dogs, specifically toy breeds before discovering the joys of cats. Myths and misconceptions about cats VS dogs continue. What’s the biggest misconception about cats that you wish would disappear?
- DA: That you can leave them alone and they’re fine, that you don’t need a pet sitter for the weekend. That one just drives me crazy because they need the attention and there’s a safety factor as well. What if your house caught on fire during that weekend? What would happen to your cat(s)?
- LMW: There is more awareness about cats and behavioral issues in recent years. What in your opinion is the most common feline behavioral issue and why?
- DA: Litter box issues remain the most common that I encounter. People get upset and don’t question why this is happening and what they can do to change it. Most people just get rid of the cat. That’s unthinkable. With a little investigation and some work, the issue can be resolved.
- LMW: You are a Certified Animal Behavior Consultant. Would you explain about that means and how do you feel about animal communicators who use intuition or alternative forms of healing like Reiki?
- DA: I’m certified for both cats and dogs, hence the Animal designation. It means that I am a member of The International Association of Animal Behaviorists, have passed their criteria for certification and keep up with the field, renewing my certification periodically, earning Continuing Education Units, etc. Some people who communicate with animals are charlatans, some people have a natural affinity for animals and learn to read body language. As for alternative therapies, if they can’t hurt and might help, you can try it but it wouldn’t be my first choice. You can, for example, try Reiki while working with a professional consultant or behaviorist. As my veterinarian says, “If it can’t hurt and it might help, try it.” But the first rule of thumb before calling in any behavior specialist is to take your cat to his or her veterinarian to rule out an organic cause of the problem.
- LMW: Every decade brings new pet experts, new information and new research findings on cats. There are pet experts on TV who are not certified behaviorists, pet food companies with huge advertising budgets who stretch the truth, writers who continue to trot out old myths or put out radical new platforms. With so much information available at our fingertips, how does the consumer know who to believe?
- DA: That’s a really good question, Layla. It’s very hard for people to know. Look for credentials. Board certified veterinary behaviorists, Applied Animal Behaviorists, Certified Animal Behavior Consultants – look at their affiliations, credentials, etc. I believe that to trust sources one should look into their background and see if they have based their work on scientific methods that are positive to build trust and strengthen the human-animal bond.
- LMW: Our readers always enjoy hearing about the pets of writers. Tell us what four-legged friends currently share your home a little about them and why you love them.
- DA: I live with Aimee, a now 13-year-old Chartreux, the smiling blue cat from France. I got her at 3 1/2 as a retired show cat. I brought her in for my mother but I did all of the feeding, litter box scooping, etc. After my mother died, Aimee became my little angel, always watching out for me, taking care of me, loving me. We enjoy daily play sessions and daily cuddle sessions. She’s amazingly expressive. So many expressions will play across her face and she wags her tail when she’s happy or interested, not the usual tail swishing you see from an angry or upset cat. She will pat my cheek with her paw, snuggle under my neck, kiss me gently on the lips and nose. She’s just wonderful and I adore her. I love her because she is made of love, pure unconditional love. I cannot imagine life without a cat and I certainly don’t want to contemplate life without Aimee.
Visit Darlene Arden at her website DarleneArden.com
The Cat’s Meow received our highest rating of 4 Paws. Merlin won’t share his copy but you can enter to win your own copy by simply leaving a comment at this post anytime until 11:59 PM EST September 8, 2012. The winner will be announced next Friday. If you must get your paws on a copy right away, click here.
The Complete Cat’s Meow by Darlene Arden.
- Paperback: 256 pages
- Publisher: Howell Book House; Imprint of Wiley 1st edition (April 5, 2011)