20 March 2013

Review: The Cat Whisperer by Mieschelle Nagelschneider

In The Cat Whisperer: Why Cats Do What They Do--and How to Get Them to Do What You Want, Mieshelle Nagelschneider, cat behaviour specialist, covers seven major behaviour problems (litter box issues, spraying, multiple-cat tension, aggression, yowling, destructive and otherwise unwelcome behaviours, and compulsive behaviours), and demonstrates with case studies how each can be overcome using her CAT plan – Cease, Attract and Transform. She guarantees results, but warns that it could take owners 30-60 days of consistent training to achieve a positive result, depending on the severity of the problem and the personalities involved (feline and human).

The Cat Whisperer is a well-written and easy-to-read book, based on over twenty years of experience working with cats (and another dozen or more childhood years playing with and taming feral cats, among other animals). She has a humorous writing style which quotes both Alice in Wonderland and Rudyard Kipling (but not Garfield). It seems to me that used methods such as these to refine cat behaviour is a lot more sensible that banning the domestic cat, especially given Nagelschneider’s point about what happened the last couple of times a nation tried to get rid of cats (no cats meant the rats were free to spread the Black Death).

My one area of disagreement with the author is cultural: she prefers that cats live indoors (which she says is the status quo for 75% of domestic cats in the US). I prefer that cats be permitted outside, partly because that is normal in my non- American culture and partly because my cat is a stray who adopted us and was initially scared to come inside. Her description of declawing (an operation performed primarily on indoor cats) made me feel physically ill (and glad that I live in New Zealand, where this operation is apparently illegal).

As a result, while she went into great detail about litter box etiquette and providing appropriate environmental stimuli for indoor cats, nothing was said about resources for outdoor or indoor-outdoor cats. Do I need to do prey play with my outdoor cat when she can stalk real birds and rats? And the author’s preference for indoor cats means she doesn't provide advice for dealing with one outdoor cat issue: what to do when they bring you a 'present'.

Despite this, I think The Cat Whisperer is a valuable resource for cat owners whether or not they currently have behaviour issues (after all, prevention is better than cure). It will be especially useful for those with indoor cats or those with more than one cat. Recommended.

Thanks to Bantam and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review. You can find out more about Mieshelle Nagelschneider at her website.

No comments:

Post a Comment